Thursday, May 12, 2022

April FairyLoot Review

Hello, all!

I know I've only just started getting my FairyLoot subscription, but this is actually going to be my last full box with them. They started offering a book only option, and I jumped at the chance to switch to save myself some money! But let's get into April's box, the theme was "Bittersweet."


First up, there was this little catch-all tray inspired by The Night Circus. I've noticed a lot of items in both this and OwlCrate lately surrounding this book, and as much as I love it, I'd like to see a little diversity.


Then there was this canvas pouch inspired by The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue. I've seen a lot of people use these as TBR baskets which is a cute idea.


I believe these playing cards were supposed to be sent with last month's box but were late, so they were included in April's. I always like to keep cards in my junk drawer because you never know when you may need them.


I love fairy lights and think they make your space feel so cozy, and these heart shaped ones are so cute!


Another item I feel like I've gotten so many times in book boxes is an enamel pin based on Strange the Dreamer. I like the colors, but I'll probably pass this off to someone else.


I didn't realize this box was going to have two books in it. The first was An Arrow to the Moon- Emily X.R. Pan. This is a Romeo and Juliet retelling inspired by Chinese mythology. I haven't heard of this before, but I'm intrigued.



The second book was Blood Scion- Deborah Falaye. Fifteen-year-old Sloane is a Scion, a descendant of the ancient Orisha gods, and can incinerate any enemy at will. But under the Lucis’ brutal rule, her identity can lead to death if she's discovered. When she's forced into the Lucis army, Sloane sees a new opportunity: to overcome the bloody challenges of Lucis training, and destroy them from within. But will Sloane be able to rise through the ranks without losing herself in the process?

This is inspired by Yoruba-Nigerian mythology and is said to be perfect for fans of A Song of Wraiths and Ruin, which I loved, so that's exciting. Let me know what you thought of April's box!

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Every Summer After Review

Hello, all!

Are you looking for the perfect summer read for this year? If so, Every Summer After by Carley Fortune is it. I was only a few chapters in before I texted my friends that they needed to read this. It was so magical and nostalgic, and I need to get my hands on a physical copy so I can highlight all of my favorite parts. Big thanks to the publisher for the copy!

Pub Date: 5-10-22
Adult - Contemporary

At one point in her life, Percy spent every minute either thinking about or being around Sam. Her parents bought a summer lake cottage right next to Sam's, and from the moment they met when they were thirteen, Percy and Sam became a packaged deal. Whether it was swimming in the lake, working at his mother's restaurant, or just hanging out reading and watching a scary movie, the pair were joined at the hip. Sam was Percy's first everything: her greatest love and her biggest heartbreak.

Now, Percy is thirty and hasn't seen or spoken to Sam in years. But when she receives a call from his brother informing her their mother passed away, Percy wastes no time jumping in the car to be by Sam's side. Percy is nervous to see Sam, knowing how terrible they left things between them, but the moment they lock eyes again, it's like the years have fallen away, and they're teens again. Neither can deny the attraction that still simmers between them, but Percy will have to confront the mistake she's spent years beating herself up for before the two can hope to rekindle the flame that once burned so brightly.

Oh, my heart. I adored this. I read it in a day because I didn't want to put it down. Fortune did a stellar job weaving together both timelines so we got the whole picture of Percy and Sam's relationship from beginning to end. I thought she nailed the feeling of being a teen and experiencing your first love and heartbreak. I loved the dynamic between Percy and Sam. It felt so believable, and the progression of their relationship was so natural. The chemistry between them was electric, and I couldn't get enough. As the plot developed, I could see how the conflict would play out, and I was wary because it was one that I don't love, but I thought Percy and Sam resolved it in a very mature way. I can't wait to see whatever Fortune comes out with next because I thought this was great. If you're a fan of Love and Other Words then I think you'd love this.

Rating: 5/5

Friday, May 6, 2022

Book Haul

Hello, all!

It's been a very long time since I've done a book haul! My library had their annual book sale the other weekend where they let you fill up any size bag with however many books/CDs/DVDs you want and it's only $5. Last year, I went towards the end of the day and it was slim pickin's, so this year I made it a point to go right when they opened, and I'm excited about what I was able to snag. 

Let me know what the last book you picked up was!


1. Jurassic Park- Michael Crichton
2. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil- John Berendt
3. There's Someone Inside Your House- Stephanie Perkins
4. The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle- Stuart Turton
5. In The Woods- Tana French
6. S.T.A.G.S.- M.A. Bennett
7. The Queen's Assassin- Melissa De La Cruz
8. The Guest List- Lucy Foley
9. The Last Voyage of Poe Blyth- Ally Condie
10. This Scot of Mine- Sophie Jordan
11. Scandal Takes the Stage- Eva Leigh
12. When a Rogue Meets His Match- Elizabeth Hoyt
13. The Most Eligible Viscount in London- Ella Quinn
14. Say Yes to the Duke- Eloisa James
15. Counting on a Countess- Eva Leigh
16. Too Hot to Handle- Tessa Bailey
17. Dare to Love a Duke- Eva Leigh
18. The Highwayman- Kerrigan Byrne

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

The Murder of Mr. Wickham Review

Hello, all!

I don't know about you all, but I love a good murder mystery. So when I heard that was the premise of The Murder of Mr. Wickham by Claudia Gray, I knew I needed to pick it up. 

Pub Date: 5-3-22
Adult - Historical Mystery

Emma and George Knightley have decided to gather their closest acquaintances for a house party. They've invited everyone from the Wentworths to the Darcys to engage in some good old-fashioned country fun. The one person not on their invite list is Mr. Wickham. So when the man unexpectedly turns up, it throws a damper on everyone's good mood. 

Mr. Wickham has never been popular in society, but his latest financial schemes have left him with an even longer list of enemies. His presence is unwelcome and puts all the guests on edge, but due to propriety, the Knightley's can't kick him out. As the days go by, it's clear that Wickham has some scheme planned and secrets that tie him to more than one of the guests. Despite many wishing ill will on him, all the guests are shocked when Wickham's body is found murdered in the gallery. Nearly everyone at the house party had motive enough to kill, so it's up to the youngest of the party, the Darcy's son Johnathan and Catherine and Henry's daughter, Juliet, to uncover the culprit before it's too late.

If you love Jane Austen or cozy PBS-style murder mysteries, then this is the book for you. The idea of throwing together all of her most beloved characters in a whodunit mystery was so entertaining. I loved getting glimpses into the characters many know and love, but the highlight here was the new ones introduced. Juliet was intelligent and free-spirited, and Jonathan was so sweet and even more noble than his father (if you can believe it.) I'm not sure if Gray intended this, but, to me, Jonathan had some neurodivergent tendencies and I appreciated that representation. There were times he mentioned how he doesn't understand the world like everyone else, or how he has to pace or rock when he's overwhelmed or thinking through something. It made me feel for him. I thought he and Juliet had a nice dynamic and worked so well together. I loved trying to ferret out clues alongside them. As for the mystery aspect, I was on my toes the whole time and I had no clue where Gray was going to go. I liked how she wrapped it all up, but my issue was it took a long time to get there. If you enjoy historical mysteries and don't mind a slower-paced plot, then I would recommend this.

Rating: 3.5/5

Monday, May 2, 2022

Elektra Review

Hello, all!

It's no shock to anyone that if there's a Greek mythology retelling, I'm going to read it. I loved Ariadne by Jennifer Saint (review here), so I was so excited to receive her latest release, Elektra. Big thanks to the publisher for the copy!

Pub Date: 5-3-22
Adult - Historical Fiction

Everyone has heard stories that the House of Atreus is cursed. How a long time ago, one of its members insulted the Gods, and now their wrath has poisoned each generation. But no one knows of its curse better than Clytemnestra. As the wife of Agamemnon, Clytemnestra is expected to sit back and go along with whatever her husband says. But when Clytemnestra's sister, Helen, is taken to Troy and Agamemnon sacrifices their eldest daughter to aid in his war efforts, Clytemnestra decides enough is enough.

Cassandra is a princess of Troy who was cursed by Apollo to see the future, but for no one to believe anything that comes out of her mouth. Cassandra can see the fall of her great city, can see the harm that one woman will bring upon them, but she's powerless to stop it. When her city finally falls after years of fighting, she's brought back as a trophy by Agamemnon. Cassandra thought the war was over until she glimpses the future waiting for Agamemnon on his return. Elektra is the daughter of Agamemnon and has waited years to finally see her father again, but is robbed of that chance due to her bloodthirsty mother. Will Elektra be able to stop the curse that plagues her family before it destroys her too?

If you're familiar with the Trojan War, or have read retellings of it, then you'll know how violent it was both during and after. We always hear about the lengths the men went to enact their revenge, but the women were just as cutthroat. One aspect I've always felt was underrated in its brutality was the story of Clytemnestra and Elektra. I was so intrigued to see how Saint was going to put her spin on this tale, and I thought she did a fantastic job. Saint just has this mesmerizing way of retelling these myths. Her writing is so vivid and lush that it feels as if everything is playing out in front of you. I loved following all three women on this journey. They're all so different, but have each been affected by this war in such traumatic ways. You feel for each one, and your heart breaks for them. The only issues I had were that I would've liked to have seen a little more from Cassandra's point of view and that there were times the pacing felt a bit slow, but neither lessened my enjoyment any. I thought this was a beautifully dark story of family and revenge and would recommend checking it out if you love mythology retellings.

Rating: 4/5

Saturday, April 30, 2022

April Wrap-Up

Hello, all!

Did this month fly by for anyone else? I feel like I blinked and the month was over! I had some solid reads this month, so I'm hoping that momentum continues into May.


Audio:

Only a Monster- Vanessa Len; 2/5
Meet Me in the Margins- Melissa Ferguson; 3/5
Pandora's Jar: Women in the Greek Myths- Natalie Haynes; 3.5/5
Below Zero- Ali Hazelwood; 4/5
The Wolf Den- Elodie Harper; 3/5
Battle Royal- Lucy Parker; 2/5
Better Than the Movies- Lynn Painter; 4/5
The Life and (Medieval) Times of Kit Sweetly- Jamie Pacton; 2/5

Digital:

How the Wallflower Was Won- Eva Leigh; 5/5
Heartstopper, Vol. #4; 4/5
A Botanist's Guide to Parties and Poisons- Kate Khavari; 3/5 
Everything for You- Chloe Liese; 4/5
Beach Read- Emily Henry; 5/5 (re-read)
Every Summer After- Carley Fortune; 5/5
The Promise of a Kiss- K.C. Bateman; 5/5
The Love Connection- Denise Williams; 3/5

Physical:

Steel Crow Saga- Paul Krueger; 2/5
Spy Family, Vol. #2; 4/5
The Diamond Eye- Kate Quinn; 4/5
Elektra- Jennifer Saint; 4/5
Angels' Blood- Nalini Singh; 3/5
The Murder of Mr. Wickham- Claudia Gray; 3.5/5
The Rake Gets Ravished- Sophie Jordan; 4/5
Gallant- V.E. Schwab; 4/5
For the Duke's Eyes Only- Lenora Bell; 3/5
Throne of Glass- Sarah J. Maas; 4/5 (re-read)

Some favorites were: How the Wallflower Was Won, Every Summer After, and Gallant. Least favorites were: Steel Crow Saga, Meet Me in the Margins, and Battle Royal.

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

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Gallant Review

Hello, all!

I know the warmer weather has only started to begin, but that doesn't stop me from craving spooky reads. One that I've been looking forward to all year was Gallant by V.E. Schwab, and I'm happy to report it more than delivered!

Pub Date: 3-1-22
YA - Fantasy

When Olivia was a child, she was left on the stoop of the Merilance School for girls with only a faded journal to remember her mother. Olivia is shunned by the other girls and disregarded by the school matrons because she can't speak, so she seeks solace within the journal and her mother's drawings and writings. Olivia has always wondered what happened to her mother, but all she knows is that as the journal progresses, her mother's writing gets more and more unhinged-- warning her to stay away from a place called Gallant. But when Olivia receives a letter calling her home to that very place, she has no choice but to go.

Once Olivia arrives at Gallant, she can tell it's hiding something within its stone walls. Though the house is large, its only inhabitants are two workers, her hostile cousin Matthew, who constantly tries to make Olivia leave, and the ghouls that haunt the halls. Olivia is determined to find out what's going on, and despite being warned about the wall in their garden, she slips past it and finds herself facing another Gallant. Only this one is crumbling, and Death roams the halls. Olivia soon learns she has ties to this shadowy place, and that only she can protect her world and home from the Master of the House.

I've always found that Schwab has a knack for writing quiet, captivating stories that draw you in from the first page, and this was no exception. The atmosphere in her stories is always immaculate. I was gripped by the world she created and with Olivia. I loved how strong she was and how she never let herself be silenced even though she couldn't speak. I liked how she was of two worlds which gave her these strange powers. From reading other books by Schwab, I went into this expecting it to focus more on characters rather than plot, so I wasn't too surprised that nothing much happened in this. The action takes a while to play out and then is over quite quickly, but I didn't mind so much. If you like a story with a Gothic, haunting feel, I'd highly recommend this one.

Rating: 4/5

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Blog Tour: The Mad Girls of New York Review (Nellie Bly, #1)

Hello, all!

Do you enjoy fiction that's inspired by real people or events? If so, then you need to check out The Mad Girls of New York by Maya Rodale. Big thanks to the publisher for the copy!

Pub Date: 4-26-22
Adult - Historical Fiction

It's 1887, and Nellie Bly has come to New York City in hopes of becoming a journalist who covers more than just the ladies' pages. Unfortunately for Nellie, every editor on Newspaper Row believes women aren't cut out for hard news. But Nellie has never been one to back down. In desperation, Nellie convinces one paper to take a chance on her by pitching an assignment no sane person would ever undertake: to pose as a patient at Blackwell's Island Insane Asylum for Women. 

Rumors have been swirling for months surrounding the inhumane treatment at Blackwell's, but no reporter has been able to step foot inside its walls. Nellie knows she only has one shot to pull this off, so she feigns insanity and gets committed, hoping to survive inside the asylum for ten days. Nothing could've prepared Nellie for the horrific conditions she encounters. Nellie knows this could make or break her career, but when rival journalists try to scoop the story out from under her, she finds herself in a race against time and madness to make headlines first.

I went to school for journalism and had heard of Bly in classes, so I was immediately intrigued by this. I loved the idea of a fictionalized version of her life and her career and thought Rodale did a solid job with it. It felt like a nice homage to such a pioneering woman. I did wish some of the other characters felt as fleshed out as Nellie, but I still enjoyed them, especially the group of other women journalists Nellie befriends. I thought the plot itself was interesting but did drag in some places. Despite that, I was still hooked the entire time. This is a darker story, but Rodale balances it nicely with hopeful moments, and I'm interested to see where this series goes from here.

Rating: 3/5

Thursday, April 21, 2022

April OwlCrate Review

Hello, all!

The theme for this month was "Peek Behind the Curtain." Let's take a look!


First up we had this clock inspired by The Night Circus. I've never gotten a clock in a subscription box before, so I like that OwlCrate did something different. 


Then there was this super pretty wax seal kit inspired by Once Upon a Broken Heart. I think the fox seal and the wax colors are so beautiful, but this isn't something I'd actually use.


The next two items that were in the box I found to be so random. First was this Moulin Rouge mouse pad. I like the design and practicality of this, but it was just something I wasn't expecting from them. The design also gives me such old-school traditional tattoo vibes which I love.


Random object #2 was this silicone popcorn holder inspired by Where Dreams Descend. I would never think to put popcorn into a little holder, so I wouldn't ever reach for this. It also had that overwhelmingly silicone smell which I'm not a fan of. 


I'm not a coffee drinker, but I so wish I was since this chocolate eclair flavor sounds delightful. Anytime we get coffee in these boxes, I always pass it along to my friend, so I'll just live vicariously through her.


The last item was the next enamel pin in their Literary Luggage collection. This one is obviously inspired by The Night Circus, and I think it's so cute.



The book for this month was Hotel Magnifique by Emily J. Taylor. Seventeen-year-old Jani has years scraping together whatever she could to provide for her and her sister. But then the mysterious Hotel Magnifique comes to town. The hotel is legendary not only for its whimsical enchantments, but also for its ability to travel—appearing in a different destination every morning. Jani and her sister apply for jobs at the hotel and are soon whisked away on the adventure of their lives. But once inside, Jani quickly discovers their contracts are unbreakable and that beneath the marvelous glamour, the hotel is hiding dangerous secrets.

This book has been on my radar for a little while now, so I'm excited to get to it soon. Let me know what you thought of this months box!

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Let's Talk: The STEMinist Novellas

Hello, all!

The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood was one of my favorite reads of 2021, so I was really looking forward to her series, The STEMinist novellas. This series follows three best friends as they navigate falling in love and making an impact in their respective fields. 

Pub Date: 5-3-22
Adult - Contemporary

Under One Roof: Environmental engineer Mara has just inherited a house from her mentor, Helena, but it turns out it's not as cut and dry as Mara was expecting. When she arrives at her new home, she finds someone already living in it-- Helena's nephew. Liam is a grumpy giant of a man and the two butt heads from their very first encounter. The pair fight over everything from Liam's job as a lawyer for a big-oil company to Mara's Disney playlists. Mara is convinced the two will never get along, but she is determined to live in the house regardless. As more time passes, the pair eventually strike a tenuous friendship, and Mara is pleasantly surprised to learn there's a softer side to Liam. She spent so much time hating her roommate when she could've been falling in love with him instead.

This was so much fun! It was forced proximity-hate-to-love at its finest. I enjoyed the banter between Mara and Liam so much. You could cut the tension between them with a butter knife, and it's so satisfying watching it develop into something more. Their relationship was playful yet steamy, and I couldn't get enough. I do wish this was an actual novel rather than a novella so we could get a little bit more depth and development, but either way, I loved this.

Rating: 4.5/5

Pub Date: 6-7-22
Adult - Contemporary

Stuck with You: For the most part, engineer Sadie believes in logical and rational thinking-- except when it comes to pitching to would-be clients. Sadie needs two things if she's to nail her upcoming proposal: her lavender underwear and a not-so-great croissant from the local bakery. Unfortunately for Sadie, she has the underwear but the last croissant was snatched up by a towering Thor-like man. The man, Erik, graciously gives Sadie the pastry, and the pair strike up a flirtatious conversation that leads to a steamy one-night stand, and eventually to Sadie nursing a broken heart. Now three weeks later, Sadie and Erik find themselves stuck in an elevator together after a power failure. For Sadie, this is hell on earth, but for Erik, it's a chance to figure out why the woman of his dreams completely shut him out. As the hour's tick by, Sadie is forced to realize that maybe she had Erik pegged wrong all along.

After enjoying the first book so much, I had high expectations for this one. While I liked it, it didn't hit as hard. I think it mainly had to do with the insta-love between Sadie and Erik. Maybe if this were a full novel and their relationship had more time to develop, I would have found it more believable, but it just didn't feel realistic to me. I think it would've benefitted by having a little more character development and a stronger plotline. That said, the banter was still fun and the steaminess spot-on, and I liked the use of the forced proximity trope. I'd still recommend it if you're looking for something quick to pick up.

Rating: 3/5

Pub Date: 4-5-22
Adult - Contemporary

Below Zero: Since she was a teen, all Hannah wanted to do was work for NASA. Luckily for her, one of her best friend's cousins is an esteemed scientist who offers to meet with her to give her some professional advice. Hannah is instantly attracted to Ian, but the two-part ways after getting hot and heavy in his office. Five years later, Hannah has landed her dream job, but her proposal for an arctic expedition has been vetoed by none other than Ian. Hannah can find a workaround but soon finds herself injured and isolated at the remote research station. To her shock and surprise, Ian, the man who tried to ruin her career, is the only person willing to brave the elements to rescue her. Could it be there's more to Ian than meets the eye?

I was hesitant going into this one since I didn't love the second novella in this series, but I enjoyed it! I liked the plot of this one a lot. I thought the idea of this arctic rescue mission sounded ridiculous but in the best way. I loved Ian from the start and thought he was so sweet if a bit too overprotective. It took me longer to warm up to Hannah, though. I found her to be a little too cold and standoffish, but I liked her by the end. They had great chemistry and reminded me of Adam and Olive from The Love Hypothesis. I could've done without the scientific pillow talk because it was a little too weird for me to listen to Ian compare Hannah's body parts to Mars, but that's just me being nitpicky. Overall, I thought it was a solid and well-rounded end to this series.

Rating: 4/5

Friday, April 15, 2022

Star Wars: The Fans Strike Back Exhibit

Hello, all!

A new Star Wars exhibit just opened up in NYC, so you know I had to check it out! It's called The Fans Strike Back, and every thing displayed came from one fan's personal collection. The exhibit itself takes up about two floors, so I just kept wondering where the heck this guy keeps all of it. It was so fun, and I definitely recommend checking it out if you're in the area.

You can find more info about the exhibit here and below are some pictures I took!

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

March FairyLoot Review

Hello, all!

The theme for March's box was "Threads of Fate."


The first item was this Circe inspired wooden bookmark by @avendellart. Circe is one of my favorite books, so this is great.


Then there was this Raybearer inspired cushion cover by @blanca.design. I don't have many throw pillows, so this isn't the most practical item for me, but the design is pretty.


Next up, was this tea tin inspired by The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea by @chattynora. The pastel colors in this are just so pretty.


The last item was this sticker sheet inspired by The Raven Boys designed by @vvivaa. I haven't read this series, so I'll probably be passing this along.



March's book was The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea by Axie Oh. This story is inspired by the Korean folktale of Shim Cheong. It follows Mina, who's homeland has been ravaged by storms for generations. Her people believe that the Sea God, once their protector, now curses them with death and despair. The only way to appease him, is by sacrificing a maiden to the sea every year to serve as his bride, hoping that eventually the "true bride" will be chosen and end their suffering. Many believe that bride to be Shim Cheong, the most beautiful girl in the village—and the beloved of Mina’s older brother Joon. But on the night Cheong is to be sacrificed, Joon follows Cheong out to sea, even knowing that to interfere is a death sentence. To save her brother, Mina throws herself into the water in Cheong’s stead. Swept away to the spirit realm, Mina sets out to wake the Sea God and bring an end to the killer storms once and for all.

I'm probably going to say this about every FairyLoot book, but I can't get over how stunning their editions are. I love books inspired by folklore/mythology, so I'm excited to pick this one up. Let me know what you thought of this box!  

Monday, April 11, 2022

Mini Thoughts

Hello, all!

Big thanks to the publishers for these copies!

Pub Date: 4-12-22
Adult - Contemporary

The No-Show- Beth O'Leary: Siobhan, Miranda, and Jane could not be more different. Siobhan is confident to a fault, Miranda is used to being seen as "one of the guys," and Jane actively tries to make herself as invisible as possible. The one thing that connects these women is that they were all, unbeknownst to them, stood up by the same guy on Valentine's day. Joseph Carter is your typical handsome sweet-talker, and despite hurting each woman in turn, they all take him back. All three believe herself to be the only woman in Joseph's life, but can they truly fall for someone who has one foot out the door?

I was hesitant to pick this up at first because I'm not a fan of a cheating trope in books, but I'm glad I gave this a chance. It was more of following these three women on a journey of self-discovery and coming into their own. I enjoyed how we got perspective's from each woman and got to see how their relationship with Joseph played out. Aside from that, we also got glimpses into their day-to-day lives that helped to flesh them out. My favorite of the bunch was Miranda, so I enjoyed her chapters a bit more than the other two. I also liked watching her find a new relationship with AJ and thought they were so playful and sweet together. Aside from the romance aspect, I thought O'Leary did a nice job incorporating more serious topics such as mental health. The only issue I had with this was there were a few times I was confused as to the timeline of events but other than that I thought this was pretty good.

Rating: 3/5

Pub Date: 4-12-22
YA - Dystopian

Gone Dark- Amanda Panitch: While most kids her age grew up playing video games and going to the mall, seventeen-year-old Zara was learning how to shoot a bow and trapping at her father's survivalist's compound. Five years ago, Zara and her mother left the woods behind and have been trying to move on from their traumatic experiences. When a malware attack cuts off electrical grids across the US, Zara can't help but remember her father's lessons about the end of the world. At first, everyone brushes off Zara's concerns, but soon she's the only hope for getting her friends to safety. Zara will have to draw upon her childhood skills and lessons to help get her friends across the country back to the only hope they have to survive: her father's compound. But with every mile they cover, the fear of seeing her father again after so many years causes Zara to consider maybe the dark is the better option.

If you're looking for something to transport you back to that early 2010's-YA dystopian-Hunger Games-Divergent time, this is the book for you. It's action-packed and has all the tropes you'd expect to find in this type of book. I did enjoy it, but I think I'm just a bit older than the targeted audience. It read very YA, so I had a hard time connecting to any of the characters. That said, I still found Zara compelling to follow. I thought her backstory was interesting and sad, but I liked how she used it to make herself stronger. While the plot/dialogue could've used some work, I thought Panitch did a pretty decent job showing you what life would be like if everything goes to hell and makes you question how you would handle it.

Rating: 3/5

Pub Date: 4-19-22
Adult - Contemporary

Part of Your World- Abby Jimenez: Alexis Montgomery has spent her entire career trying to live up to the Montgomery name. She and her family are a part of a medical legacy that goes back generations, and despite being a successful ER doctor, it still isn't enough for her demanding father. If her father had his way, Alexis would be the chief of emergency medicine and married to her ex-boyfriend, who he keeps pressuring her to take back. Frustrated and unhappy, Alexis is desperate for a change, then she meets Daniel. The pair couldn't be more different-- Alexis comes from a wealthy family and doesn't even know how to sweep a floor, and Daniel is the unofficial mayor of a small town and nurses baby goats. Alexis is hesitant to start anything due to Daniel being almost a decade younger, but the chemistry is undeniable. Alexis can't deny that being with Daniel makes her happier than she's been in a while, but knows he doesn't fit into the plans her family has for her. But the longer they're together, the more impossible it becomes for Alexis to picture her life without Daniel, and finds herself having to decide what's truly important to her.

I'm not a big fan of the age gap trope, but dang, if Jimenez didn't charm me with this one. I liked Alexis and Daniel and was rooting for them from the moment they met. Jimenez always has top-tier love interests, and Daniel was no exception. He was adorable and so sweet. I loved how caring he was, not only towards Alexis but to every person in Wakan. I also liked how the town became a character itself and had so much personality. Despite loving the pair and their relationship, there were some bits I didn't enjoy. Mainly, Alexis's reluctance to be with Daniel due to their differences. It all got a bit tiresome after a while. For a grown woman, I thought she spent too much time worrying about what her family would think of her decisions even though they were having such negative effects on her mental health. However, it was so satisfying watching her finally choose her path. Aside from little nitpicky things, I thought this was great and can't wait for whatever Jimenez comes out with next.

Rating: 4/5

Friday, April 8, 2022

March OwlCrate Review

Hello, all!

The theme for March's box was "Artistic Obsession," let's get into it!


First up, we had the next installment in their Literary Luggage pin collection. This one was inspired by Sorcery of Thorns. I loved that book, and this reminded me that I need to do a re-read soon.



Then we had this book sleeve designed by @bloodydamnit featuring character art and a quote from Daughter of Smoke and Bone. I've never read that series, but the artwork is super pretty.


I'm the annoying one in my friend group who always is taking pictures of whatever we do, so this An Enchantment of Ravens inspired photo album by Stella Bookish Art is perfect for me. 


As I've mentioned in the past, I'm always weary of getting face/bath products in subscription boxes since I have such sensitive skin, so I know this face mask by Fiction Bath Co is an eczema flare up waiting to happen. I like the concept, but I know it just won't work for me.


Then there was this sticker sheet by Isabel InaƱez featuring quotes from Wintersong, The Kingdom of Back, Woven in Moonlight, and Henry Matisse. I always put stickers in my journals, so I'm sure I'll find some use for these.


The last item we received was this Night Court inspired embroidery kit. I love the idea of this, but realistically, I don't think I'd ever have the patience for this.


March's book was A Forgery of Roses by Jessica S. Olson. Myra Whitlock has a gift that many would kill for. She's an artist whose portraits have the ability to alter a person's real-life body. Guarding her secret is the only way that she can keep her family safe. But one night the governor's wife discovers Myra's secret, and blackmails her into creating a portrait to resurrect the governor's dead son. Once Myra arrives at their mansion, it's clear that the son didn't die under natural circumstances. Myra then turns to the eldest son and together they dive into the family's secrets, hoping to uncover the truth before it's too late.

I saw this described as a gothic murder mystery, and I mean, say less. It sounds right up my alley, and I'm hoping to pick it up soon. Let me know what you thought of this box!

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Mini Thoughts

Hello, all!

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

Reputation- Lex Croucher: After her parent's leave for the seaside, Georgina Ellers is left in the care of her aunt and uncle. Georgiana is resigned to spending her time going from one dull party to the next, but then she meets Francis Campbell. Francis is everything that Georgiana isn't: she's wealthy, has a gaggle of friends, and isn't afraid to participate in things that would make other ladies of their standing blush. Desperate for any kind of companionship, Georgiana latches onto Francis, and soon her life is turned upside down. She's introduced to a world of debauchery where the drinks and hands flow freely. Georgiana is willing to do whatever it takes to stay in Francis's good graces, but can't stop embarrassing herself. Especially in front of Thomas, who is quickly taking up residence in Georgiana's mind. But Georgiana learns that in their social circle, reputations are everything-- but at what cost?

If you were to take Mean Girls mix it with Gossip Girl and set it in Victorian London, you would get this book. Croucher's writing style is very cheeky and easy to read. I went into this thinking it would be a breezy read and was surprised when it was a bit darker than I anticipated. Character-wise, I thought Georgiana came across as very young and impressionable. She was so willing to go along with whatever Francis did, even if that meant being rude or mean towards those who didn't deserve it. Due to this, I had a hard time warming up to her and didn't feel much of a connection. Despite that, I did still enjoy this. It didn't blow me away, but it was a fun time.

Rating: 3/5

Pub Date: 3-1-22
Adult - Contemporary

A Brush With Love- Mazey Eddings: Harper is a driven dental school student anxiously awaiting a spot in a top residency program when she (literally) stumbles into Dan. Harper offers to help Dan fix the model she broke, and the pair strike up a friendship. Unlike Harper, Dan isn't as enthusiastic about dentistry and is only going to school to appease his family. As the pair spend more time together, sparks start to fly. The last thing Harper needs is a distraction, but can't deny that Dan checks all her boxes when it comes to a romantic partner. When it comes to fillings, Harper is a pro, but feelings? Not so much. Is it possible Harper can have the residency and the man of her dreams?

I'm a bit torn on this one. On one hand, there were a lot of cute moments I liked, but on the other, there were just as many things I didn't like. For starters, I enjoyed the dental school setting and appreciated the representation of women in the medical field. I thought the way that Harper was treated just because she was a female in the field was, sadly, very realistic, but she handled all the comments with grace. I also appreciated the mental health representation, how it affects everyone differently, and the different forms of help that are out there. That said, my issues were with the pacing and the characters. It felt very long and a bit repetitive. I also didn't feel any connection to Harper or Dan. I did like Dan a smidge more, but only because there were times Harper frustrated me. Overall, it was cute but didn't leave much of an impact on me.

Rating: 3/5

Pub Date: 3-15-22
New Adult - Fantasy

The War of Two Queens- Jennifer L. Armentrout: After a run-in with the Blood Queen leaves Casteel a prisoner, Poppy vows to stop at nothing to get her King back. With the power of the Primals flowing in her blood, Poppy convinces the Atlantian armies that the time for war is now. Poppy isn't thrilled about the idea of a war with her mother, but she knows the only way to ensure the peace the land deserves is to fight for it. After a daring rescue, Poppy and Casteel must embrace old traditions to ensure the safety of all they hold dear. But the pair and their allies quickly learn they have much bigger problems than the threat of war. When ancient primal magic begins to stir, uncovering a horror from eons before, it leaves Poppy with no choice but to face her biggest fear-- become the Harbinger of Death and Destruction or let everything she knows slip away.

I hate to say it, but I feel like I'm being punked with this series. I thought the first two books were solid, but I feel like somewhere along the way the plot has been thrown out the window. To be fair, the entire series as a whole hasn't been the best-- the writing isn't great, there's been little to no world-building, poor character development, and smut just for the sake of it-- but at least I've always been entertained. With this, I couldn't wait for it to end. Again, it was unnecessarily long (seriously, you could've chopped it in half and told the same story), and it felt like there were moments thrown in to appease fans rather than help move the plot along. And the plot! It just keeps getting more and more convoluted. I shouldn't be this confused as to what's going on when we're four books in. All that said, I'm apparently a glutton for punishment because I'll still pick up the next book despite not enjoying this one. I've invested too much time into this series already that I may as well ride it out, but yeah, this was not my favorite.

Rating: 2/5

Monday, April 4, 2022

To Marry and to Meddle Review

Hello, all!

One romance trope I love but don't talk about much is marriage of convenience. So, when I heard that was the premise of To Marry and to Meddle, the latest installment of one of my fave historical romance series, by Martha Waters, I knew I had to pick it up. (You can read my review of the last book here.) Big thanks to the publisher for the copy!

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

After six seasons, Lady Emily Turner should have secured a marriage proposal by now. But thanks to her father's debts, the only man to show her any interest is the loathsome owner of a local gambling hall where those debts were racked up. Emily will do whatever it takes to keep her family's name out of the scandal rags, so she has no choice but to grin and bear the unwanted attention. Despite it all, Emily has never given up hope of finding a love match.

Lord Julian Belfry, the second son of a marquess, would rather spend his nights overseeing the plays put on by his theater than standing around ballrooms full of people who look down on him. Julian is aware that his theater doesn't have the best reputation, so he concocts a plan: to show the ton that it's a respectable establishment, he needs a prim and proper wife to boost his standings. When Julian and Emily's paths cross at a house party, they hatch a plan to benefit the both of them. They agree to a marriage of convenience where Emily will use her social connections to promote the theater, and Julian will save her from her father's bad decisions. But, things start to get very inconvenient once real feelings begin to stir.

I loved the other two books in this series, so I was very much looking forward to this one. I don't think the plot was as solid as the previous books, but I still liked it a lot. Emily and Julian are complete opposites-- she's very reserved and he has a rakish reputation--, but they worked so well together. They had great banter, and there were so many times I was either laughing or swooning over their interactions. Waters did a nice job balancing the steamy moments with genuinely adorable moments (aka every moment between Julian and his tiny kitten nemesis), and I loved watching the pair fall for one another. Aside from their relationship, I loved the dynamic between Emily, Violet, and Diana. Their friendship is what truly shines throughout these books. They're so hilarious, and I love how they champion one another so much. If you like historical romances that have a more contemporary feel, I can't recommend this series enough.

Rating: 4/5

Thursday, March 31, 2022

March Wrap-Up

Hello, all!

I had such a manic reading month. Everything I picked up just wasn't holding my attention, so there were times I had four books going at once because I just didn't know what I was in the mood for. On the bright side, it helped me make a dent in my Netgalley shelf!


Audio:

The Women of Troy- Pat Barker; 3/5
Percy Jackson and The Lightning Thief- Rick Riordan; 4/5 (re-read)
The Maid- Nita Prose; 3.5/5
The Nineties- Chuck Klosterman; 3/5
The Dragon Reborn- Robert Jordan; 3.5/5
The Anatomist's Wife- Anna Lee Huber; 3/5
Stuck With You- Ali Hazelwood; 3/5
A Brush With Love- Mazey Eddings; 3/5
The Tower of Nero- Rick Riordan; 4/5
Into Every Generation a Slayer Is Born: How Buffy Staked Our Hearts- Eva Ross Katz; 4/5

Digital:

Mr. Wrong Number- Lynn Painter; 3/5
The Good Girl's Guide to Rakes- Eva Leigh; 5/5
To Marry and to Meddle- Martha Waters; 4/5
Part of Your World- Abby Jimenez; 4/5
The War of Two Queens- Jennifer L. Armentrout; 2/5
The No-Show- Beth O'Leary; 3/5
Reputation- Lex Croucher; 3/5
The Mad Girls of New York- Maya Rodale; 3/5
Loveless- Alice Oseman; 3/5

Physical: 

The Paris Apartment- Lucy Foley; 3.5/5
Lease on Love- Falon Ballard; 4/5
Spy Family, Vol. #1- Tatsuya Endo; 4/5
The Night Sister- Jennifer McMahon; 2/5
Bet On It- Jodie Slaughter; 3/5
Gone Dark- Amanda Panitch; 3/5
A River Enchanted- Rebecca Ross; 5/5
The Impossible Us- Sarah Lotz; 3.5/5

Some favorites were: The Good Girl's Guide to Rakes, Spy Family, and A River Enchanted. Some least favorites were: The War of Two Queens, The Night Sister, and The Anatomist's Wife.

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

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

A River Enchanted Review (Elements of Cadence, #1)

Hello, all!

Have you ever read a book and known within the first few pages it was going to be a new favorite? A River Enchanted by Rebecca Ross was one of those for me. 

Pub Date: 2-15-22
Adult - Fantasy

Jack Tamerlaine was born and raised on the magical island of Cadence, but when he was a boy, he was sent away to the mainland to become a bard. In the decade since he's left, Jack has learned to be content with only his music and his job at the university, rarely lending much thought to the home he left behind. So when he receives a summons calling him home, Jack can't help but wonder why. When he arrives, he's met by his old childhood enemy and heiress to the east, Adaira. She advises Jack that young girls have started going missing, and she's hoping Jack will play for the spirits of the island to help uncover their whereabouts.

The spirit's that rule the island can be cruel and unforgiving, so Jack and Adaira must tread lightly. Singing for them requires a sacrifice, and with every song, Jack can feel his health draining, but he's determined to do whatever he can to find the missing girls. As he and Adaira work, the tension between them starts turning into something neither expected. But when their investigations start pointing to the Breccans, a warring clan on the other side of the island, secrets long buried start coming to the surface. Secrets that will rock the balance of the entire island and everything Adaira holds dear.

I adored this. The atmospheric vibes are immaculate. I kept picturing myself standing on a cliff overlooking the seaside while a Hozier song played in the background. Ross's writing felt very folky and whimsical. I was completely swept away by the magic of this world and these characters. I loved the elemental spirits that roamed the island and how Jack was able to call to them with his music. The magic system was very much give and take which I liked. The highlight for me was the relationship between Jack and Adaira. They were said to be childhood enemies, and while I never fully got that impression, the tension between them was perfection. They felt like two sides of the same coin. Plot-wise, I was hooked from the start, wondering what happened to these girls and how the warring clan tied into it. Normally, I'm a fast reader but I found myself slowing my pace to savor every bit of it. I can't wait for the next book and will pull a Jack and sing to whatever spirit I need to to get a copy of it in my hands.

Rating: 5/5

Friday, March 25, 2022

Mini Thoughts

Hello, all!

Pub Date 1-18-22
Adult - Contemporary

How to Love Your Neighbor- Sophie Sullivan: Grace Travis is months away from graduating with a degree in interior design and has finally decided to move into the little bungalow she inherited from her late grandparents. Grace hopes this is her chance at finally getting a sense of stability that her flighty mother could never give her. But what Grace is most excited about is transforming the house from a shabby little beach hut into the home of her dreams. But first, she has to deal with her neighbor. As a real estate developer, Noah Jansen has never met a deal he couldn't land-- until he meets Grace. Noah is determined to buy her house to extend his property, but Grace refuses to budge. Their mutual animosity catches the attention of the reporter doing a piece of Noah's house, and the pair are forced into working together on Noah's renovations. It doesn't take long before the tension between them turns into something neither one was prepared for.

If you mixed The Hating Game with an interior design show on HGTV, you would get this book. It had all the aspects I enjoy from a hate-to-love trope. Grace and Noah couldn't be more different which leads to a lot of head-butting, but after they take the time to get to know one another, they realize they aren't so different. There was this sweetness to their relationship that felt very tender and vulnerable, and I liked them together, despite their stubborn moments. I would've liked to have seen the nagging banter stretched out a teensy bit more before they got together, but that's just me being nit-picky. Aside from Noah and Grace's relationship, I also liked the interior design aspect as well as the secondary characters. While it didn't knock me off my feet, I still think it was a cute read.

Rating: 3/5

Pub Date: 5-25-21
Adult - Fantasy

The Blacktongue Thief- Christopher Buehlman: Kinch Na Shannack learned all the tricks of thieving from the Takers Guild and now owes them a small fortune for his expertise. The debt is why Kinch finds himself hiding along the old forest path, waiting to rob the next traveler who passes. Unfortunately, Kinch chose the wrong mark. Galva is not only a knight who survived the brutal goblin wars, but also a handmaiden of the goddess of death. She's on a mission to find her missing queen, who hasn't been seen since a distant country in the north fell to giants. After botching the robbery, Kinch now finds his fate twined with Galva's, and the pair, along with a witch and an assassin posing as a cat, are bound for a quest no one could've prepared them for.

I'd heard a lot of good things about this book, so I was excited to dive in, but I thought it was just okay. I found the story itself slow and a little dull at times. It took me a while to get my bearings, and even then, I wasn't all that interested. There was just a lot going on, and I didn't care all that much. I did enjoy the characters, though. Kinch had this air of self-deprecation about him that kept me chuckling the entire time. He was cheeky and sarcastic, and I loved how that played off Galva and her stoicism. His humor is quite juvenile, but I didn't mind so much, but I can see how it would grate on people. The magic system was also interesting, and some bits were gorier than I'd expected. All in all, it wasn't a bad book, but it also wasn't the greatest.

Rating: 3/5

Pub Date: 3-1-22
Adult - Contemporary

Mr. Wrong Number- Lynn Painter: The one thing Olivia Marshall can count on is her amazingly bad luck. After breaking up with her boyfriend and accidentally burning down her apartment building leaves her with nowhere to go, she has no choice but to move in with her brother and his roommate. Olivia is ready to stew in her misery but then receives a wrong number text, and it turns into one of the hottest and most entertaining relationships of her life. Colin Beck has always looked at Olivia as his best friend's train wreck of a sister, but then she moves in with them, and it's as if he's seeing her in a whole new light. The two still bicker constantly, but there's an underlying sexual tension neither can deny. Knowing his best friend wouldn't love the two of them together, Colin decides to back off. Until he realizes Olivia is the anonymous phone number he's been flirting with all along.

I've come to realize I love this You've Got Mail-like trope of two people who are usually annoyed with one another falling in love without realizing it. It always makes for such an entertaining time. And this was exactly that. I was fully invested the whole time. I did find Olivia a little annoying and didn't think her ridiculous bad luck was all that believable, but she had this charisma that grows on you by the end. She and Colin had great banter, and I loved watching their verbal spars with one another. I would've liked to have seen a little more chemistry between them, but it was alright for the most part. I found Painter's writing to be very breezy and fun, albeit a bit cheesy and repetitive at times. If you're looking for a cute, quick read, I'd recommend it.

Rating: 3/5