Monday, February 28, 2022

February Wrap-Up

Hello, all!

I feel like this month was very hit or miss for me. I either absolutely loved something or couldn’t be bothered, there wasn’t much in between. I’m not sure if maybe it was because I was in a bit of a reading slump at the beginning of the month, but here’s hoping that March will bring me more amazing reads!


Audio:

Anatomy: A Love Story- Dana Schwartz; 2/5
What Happens in London- Julia Quinn; 2/5
Dreams Lie Beneath- Rebecca Ross; 2/5
From Hollywood with Love: The Rise and Fall (And Rise Again) of the Romantic Comedy- Scott Meslow; 3.5/5
The Penelopiad- Margaret Atwood; 3/5
Forestborn- Elayne Audrey Becker; 3/5
Under One Roof- Ali Hazelwood; 4.5/5
A Flicker in the Dark- Stacy Willingham; 4/5
Love and Other Words- Christina Lauren; 5/5

Digital:

How to Love Your Neighbor- Sophie Sullivan; 3/5
Josh and Gemma Make a Baby- Sarah Ready; 2/5
The League of Gentlewomen Witches- India Holton; 5/5
The Roughest Draft- Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka; 2/5
House of Sky and Breath- Sarah J. Maas; 4.5/5
If You Ask Me- Libby Hubscher; 2/5
A Far Wilder Magic- Allison Saft; 2/5
Blindsided- Amy Daws; 3/5

Physical:

The Assassin’s Blade- Sarah J. Maas; 4/5
Strange Practice- Vivian Shaw; 3/5
The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street- Helene Hanff; 4/5
The Blacktongue Thief- Christopher Buehlman; 3/5
Good Girl Complex- Elle Kennedy; 3/5

Some favorites were: Love and Other Words, House of Sky and Breath, and The League of Gentlewomen Witches. Least favorites were: The Roughest Draft, Josh and Gemma Make a Baby, and What Happens in London.

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

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Florida Trip: Weddings and Parks Galore

Hello, all!

As I mentioned in my January wrap-up, I recently went to Florida for one of my best friend’s weddings. Since most of our friend group had to travel, we decided to make the most of it and stay a few extra days to visit some of the parks.

We did Disney, Hollywood Studios (I finally got to see Galaxy’s Edge!), and Universal. I hadn’t been to Disney since I was maybe 8-year-old, I’d never been to Hollywood Studios, and the last time I went to Universal was around 6ish years ago, so I was very excited! We packed so much into a few days that I was absolutely knackered by the time I finally got home, but it was such a fun time.

Here are some pictures from my trip!

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Blog Tour: Last Duke Standing Review

 Hello, all!

Does anyone else want to read all the romance books during February? If you're looking to squeeze one more in before the end of month, look no further than Last Duke Standing by Julia London. Big thanks to the publisher for having me as part of the blog tour!

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

With her father ill, Crown Princess Justine is to inherit the throne of Wesloria sooner than expected. But before she can do so, she needs a little, ahem, polish. Justine is sent to England to learn the ropes of royalty from none other than Queen Victoria herself. Between lessons of comportment, Justine must also find herself a husband suitable for her standing. At the very bottom of that list is Lord William Douglas, the future Duke of Hamilton.

William is a notorious rake, but Justine's advisors have decided to use him to their advantage. Everyone who's everyone knows William, making him the perfect escort of sorts. William is tasked with keeping an eye on Justine and making sure that the royal matchmaker they've paired her with picks a man befitting the Weslorian crown. Justine and William have no choice but to put past slights behind them and work together. The more time they spend scrutinizing the English nobility, the closer they become. What if the perfect choice for a husband has been right in front of Justine the whole time?

This was my first book by London, and it was so much fun! I loved how cheeky the writing was. There was so much flirty banter between Justine and William, and I was here for every moment! I can't deny a hate-to-love romance, and the animosity and tension between them was *chefs kiss*. I found William charming and liked him right off the bat, but it took me a while to warm up to Justine. I thought she was a little rude and uppity, but she grew on me by the end. I liked watching them open up and start to realize how much they mean to one another. My only complaint is that I felt the pacing was a little slow at times but other than that I enjoyed this.

Rating: 3/5

Thursday, February 17, 2022

All the Right Reasons Review

Hello, all!

Do you have any guilty pleasure TV shows? I went down a rabbit hole of Love Island UK last summer and now I'm obsessed with it. When I heard All the Right Reasons by Bethany Mangle had a reality TV-dating show element, my interest was piqued. Big thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy!

Pub Date: 2-15-21
YA - Contemporary

Cara Hawn's life went downhill the moment her father cheated on her mother and remarried a woman Cara can't stand. One night, Cara accidentally records a private conversation between her and her mother regarding the hurt her father caused them and posts it online. When the video blows up, it quickly catches the attention of TV producers casting for a new reality dating show for single parents.

Soon, Cara and her mother are whisked away to Florida to film the show where they're to narrow down the suitors and their kids to the winning pair. Cara's mom is hoping to find a true love match, but Cara isn't so certain. Cara feels an instant distrust towards some of the suitors, and her concerns lead to some friction between her and her mom. Throw in some meddling producers and a crush on one of the contestant's sons, and Cara can't help but think they may have made a terrible mistake.

The premise of this sounded cute and I liked the reality show element, but it read a little too young. That's not to say it was a bad book or anything, I'm just a bit older than the targeted demographic so I couldn't connect with Cara or most of the other characters. I did still enjoy a lot of aspects of this, though. Particularly the relationship between Cara and her mom. I loved how they were friends as well as mother/daughter. I saw this compared to Gilmore Girls, and their dynamic does give off a little Lorelai/Rory vibe which I liked. I also liked how the romance between Cara and Connor felt like a footnote, and the real focus was on Cara's mom and finding her happiness. I just thought it was so sweet and loved how it played out. If you like books with a dating show trope, I'd still recommend checking this one out.

Rating: 3/5

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

December OwlCrate Review

Hello, all!

The December box has finally arrived, so let's get right to it. The theme was "Beneath the Waves."


First up, we had this little reusable bag by Janine Lecour. This is inspired by To Kill a Kingdom and I love the sea vibe. These are always handy to have, so I'm sure I'll be getting a lot of use out of it.


Next, there was the last installment in their seasonal drinkware collection. This winter-themed mug was designed by Macarena Chomik, and features a quote by Toni Morrison. I drink tea every day, so this is perfect.



Then we had this little cleaning cloth inspired by Fable created by @Meaningfulletters_ and @NicoleDeal.Art. I wear glasses so I'm always in need of one of these.


This was probably my favorite thing in the box. It's a spinning pendant necklace inspired by A Darker Shade of Magic created by @paperbackbones. I've never really liked any of the jewelry that has been included in past boxes, but this is subtle and way more my vibe.


OwlCrate always do a wooden ornament in December, and this one created by Juniper and Ivy Designs was inspired by The Mermaid, The Witch, and the Sea


We also got the reading planner which was supposed to come in November's box. I love the design, but I already use my own journal for tracking my reading, so I've already passed this off to someone else.


The last item was this Percy Jackson inspired magnetic dry erase board by Chatty Nora. I love the idea of this and the design is stunning, but I won't actually use this.



The December book was Skin of the Sea- Natasha Bowen. This is a West African inspired story that's said to be a mix of Children of Blood and Bone and the Little Mermaid in which a mermaid takes on the gods themselves. Simi serves the gods as Mami Wata-- a mermaid-- who collects the souls of those who die at sea and blesses their journeys back home. But when she defies the gods and saves a drowning boy, she must travel to the Supreme Creator to make amends. Danger lurks at every turn, and the boy she saved seems to know a lot more than he should. Simi must brave treacherous lands, vengeful gods, and legendary creatures in order to get to the truth of what's happening before it's too late.

This sounds super interesting and I do love anything with mermaids, so I'm excited to get to it soon. Let me know what you thought of this box! 

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Blog Tour: A Perfect Equation Review

Hello, all!

If you've been following this blog for a while, you'll know I'm a big fan of historical romances. I'm always on the hunt for more to devour, so big thanks to the publisher for having me as part of the blog tour for A Perfect Equation by Elizabeth Everett!

Pub Date: 2-15-22
Adult - Historical Romance

For the past six years, Letty Fenley has been shunned by most in high society, but she's found her place among the other women scientists at Athena's Retreat. All Letty wants to do is focus her time preparing for the prestigious Rosewood Prize for Mathematics, but is roped into managing the Retreat while her friend Violet is away. Despite wanting to help her friend, Letty has no desire to oversee the comings and goings of the other club members and she definitely doesn't want to work alongside the insufferably handsome Lord Greycliff.

Lord William Hughes, the Viscount Greycliff is so close to securing the position of his dreams. He's spent years training to become the director of a powerful clandestine agency, but there's one blemish against him: Athena's Retreat. Grey promised his stepmother he'd help Letty run the Retreat despite their mutual animosity, but with his career in the balance, Grey is being pressured into shutting it down for good. Grey knows he should close the Retreat, but the more time he spends with these brilliant women, especially Letty, the more he can't bring himself to tear away the one place they can fully be themselves. Will Grey walk away from the opportunity of a lifetime, or can Letty solve the problem and prove that love and brains always persevere?

I have to admit I wasn't a fan of the first book in this series, but I'm glad I gave it another try. I ended up liking this one way more. I thought Letty's storyline was more compelling, and I liked her dynamic with Grey. There's this history between them that led them to hate one another, and you can't help but want to know more. Is it a silly reason once you find out? Yes, but I can look past that. They had great banter and weren't afraid to give as good as they got. Like in the first book, I thought the pacing of the relationship was a little off as it felt like it started and stopped quite a bit, but I did think the chemistry worked better. Also, there were moments where the plot felt clunky and didn't flow as smoothly as I'd like. While this is a companion novel, there are a lot of references to the first book, so it might be helpful to read that before going into this. Overall, I thought it was an improvement and I'd recommend if you're a fan of the genre.

Rating: 3/5

Thursday, February 10, 2022

An Impossible Imposter Review

Hello, all!

It's that time of year again, folks. Time for me to crow from the rooftops my love for the Veronica Speedwell series by Deanna Raybourn. Every new installment of this series solidifies the fact that it's my favorite, and I'm so happy I was able to get an early copy of An Impossible Imposter from the publisher, so massive thank you to them!

Pub Date: 2-15-22
Adult - Historical Mystery

Veronica Speedwell and her natural historian beau Stoker have just solved another mystery and are looking forward to some downtime. The pair have been on non-stop adventures ever since they met, mostly involving being shot at, abducted, or nearly drowned, and are just hoping to get back to their actual job of cataloging the vast array of items collected by their employer. But unfortunately, Sir Hugo Montgomerie, head of the Special Branch police force, has different plans. He summons Veronica and Stoker to assist with a personal matter involving his goddaughter, Euphemia Hathaway, and her brother Jonathan, who returned to the family home after years of being thought dead from a volcano eruption. 

Sir Hugo knows that Veronica has worked with Jonathan in the past, so off Veronica and Stoker go to Hathaway Hall to determine whether or not an imposter is in the mix. Is this Veronica's old friend? Or is it all a conman's ruse to gain possession of the family's famed jewels? When they arrive, they find a man who closely resembles Jonathan with no apparent memory. But Veronica knows exactly who he is, and she'll have to decide if outing him is worth bearing the secrets she's kept buried for so long.

This one did feel different from all the past books, but I enjoyed it a lot. It felt much lighter on the mystery and more focused on the personal relationships between the characters. Raybourn drops a bombshell about Veronica's past, and I loved getting a glimpse into her life before becoming the intrepid sleuth we know and love. However, it did leave the relationship between her and Stoker up in the air, and now I'm stressed at having to wait a whole year to find out what's going to happen. (If anything happens to those two, I will riot.) Aside from the characters, I thought the mystery itself was fun. My main issue with the last book was that I felt they were starting to get a little stale, and despite this one not being as prominent, it still kept me on my toes with all the twists and moving parts. It almost felt like a mystery within a mystery, and I was entertained the entire time. One of my favorite parts of these books is seeing what sort of wild situation Veronica and Stoker find themselves in because it always leads to hilariously witty quips, and this one was no exception. It continues to be a series that I harass everyone to read because it's just so good.

Rating: 4/5

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Blog Tour: Jane and the Year Without a Summer Review

Hello, all!

I love Jane Austen, so I'm thrilled to be a part of the blog tour for Stephanie Barron's Jane and the Year Without a Summer. A historical mystery series based around Austen's life? Sign me up!

Pub Date: 2-8-22
Adult - Historical Mystery

It's May 1816, and the stress of family burdens and writing a new manuscript has finally started taking a toll on Jane Austen. Plagued with stomach issues, fatigue, and fevers, Jane is instructed by her local apothecary to rest and advises her to seek out the restorative waters at Cheltenham Spa. Jane decides to use some of the funds from her last book, and sets off with her sister, Cassandra, in tow.

Jane was hoping for a quiet, peaceful respite, but Cheltenham Spa proves to be anything but. It's clear that the rest of the guests at the Spa have stresses, and secrets, of their own, and some prove to be deadly. After an incident at a masquerade ball turns into murder, Jane finds herself once again thrown together with the handsome artist Raphael West to solve the case. Can the pair uncover the culprit before it's too late?

I was hesitant going into this seeing as how it's the 14th installment of a series I'd never read before, but I quickly realized there was nothing to fear. There was never any point where I felt confused or didn't understand what was happening. I did get overwhelmed just given the huge cast of characters, but once I found my footing it didn't feel as daunting. I did find the first half very slow, but it picked up nicely by the second half. I enjoyed the mystery aspect and wasn't expecting it to be as twisty as it was. Mysteries aren't that fun to me if I can predict what's happening, but this one left me guessing which I appreciated. I also wasn't expecting an element of romance to be in this between Jane and West, but I thought it was lovely, and it tugs at your heartstrings. My favorite part of this was how much Barron nails Jane Austen. You could tell how much research she must've done into Austen's background to make the narrative sound so spot on and as if you were reading from her perspective. It felt very authentic. Overall, if you enjoy historical mysteries or Jane Austen, this series is one to check out.

Rating: 3/5

Thursday, February 3, 2022

Let's Talk: the Captain Kit Brightling Series

Hello, all!

Today I'm here to tell you all about a new series that I've been loving lately. I've always liked stories involving the sea and ships and all that, and I kept seeing this one particular book swirling around and finally decided to pick it up. That book was the first in the Captain Kit Brightling series by Chloe Neill, and it quickly became one of my favorites. There's only two books so far, but I'm dying for more!

Pub Date: 11-17-20
Adult - Historical Fantasy

The Bright and Breaking Sea: After being orphaned as a young girl, Kit Brightling was taken in by a foundling home and raised with other talented girls. Kit spent years honing her skills and has become one of the Queen's most trusted captains in the Isles' Crown Command fleet. Kit's ship, the Diana, may be small, but she's swift thanks to Kit's affinity to control sea magic. Due to this, the Queen sends Kit on a perilous rescue mission with a partner she never asked for. Rian Grant, Viscount Queenscliffe, may have fought bravely during the Continental War, but Kit's dealt with many of his social standing and isn't quick to trust his motives. But the pair will have no choice but to put their faith in one another as they travel to a dangerous pirate fortress to rescue a spy who's been gathering intelligence on the exiled emperor. If they fail, the fate of their entire country may be at stake.

I went into this only having a vague notion of what it was about, but I ended up loving it! It was such a fun time. Kit had such a carefree and confident demeanor and always had a witty remark ready for any man who questioned her authority. I loved her dynamic with her crew; they all felt like a family, and the way they interacted and joked with one another was entertaining. She and Rian started a little rocky, both not trusting the other, but they quickly became such a tight pair. Watching them volley off one another was hilarious, and you could cut the tension between them with a knife. I'm looking forward to seeing how that progresses in the next book. I thought the plot was solid, but there were moments, especially towards the end, where I thought things wrapped up a little too conveniently, but overall I liked it a lot. If you enjoy books that are a little bit fantasy, a little bit historical fiction, and a whole lot of adventure, this is the one to pick up.

Rating: 4/5

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

A Swift and Savage Tide: Being Aligned to the magic of the sea makes Captain Kit Brightling an invaluable asset to the Saxon Isles and its Queen. And the crown and its allies will need all the help it can get after the escape of Gerard Rousseau. Once an emperor but now the scourge of the people, Gerard has escaped his island exile with one plan in mind: to recapture control of the Continent using whatever means possible. Kit and her crew aboard her ship the Diana, are tasked with finding Gerard and stopping him before his plans can come to fruition. In the process, Kit once again finds her path crossing with the dashing Rian Grant, Viscount Queenscliffe, who is working undercover on his own mission of stopping Gerard. But the pleasure of seeing Grant doesn't last long, as the pair discover an old enemy has seemingly risen from the dead, wielding power on behalf of Gerard with the ability to destroy everything in its path.

This series has quickly become one of my favorites. It's an action-packed, whirlwind of a ride, and I can't get enough. Everything from the characters to the magic system to the plot is done brilliantly. Kit has all the elements I love in a character. She's fiercely loyal to her crew, fearless to a fault, and not above a bit of snark. She's a great character on her own, but when you add Rian into the mix, it's explosive. Both are so stubborn and strong-willed, and the banter between them is everything. They don't have the kind of in-your-face chemistry, but instead this subtle flirty tension that simmers below every interaction, and it's so satisfying once they finally act on it. I still had the same issue as the first book where I thought things came together a little too conveniently, but the way things left off has me so excited to see what happens next.

Rating: 4/5

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Blog Tour: A Lullaby for Witches Review

Hello, all!

If you enjoy books with subtle magical vibes that are super atmospheric, then you need to check out Hester Fox. Big thanks to the publisher for having me as part of the blog tour for her newest release, A Lullaby for Witches.

Pub Date: 2-1-22
Adult - Historical Fiction

In the 1870s Tynemouth, Margaret Harlowe is the beautiful and carefree daughter of a wealthy shipping family. She never quite fit in with the high society she was born into, and from a young age, knew there was something different about herself. Margaret was always aware of the power bubbling under her skin and would use her knowledge of herbs to help the women of her small town, providing everything from spells to tinctures. Despite townspeople calling her a witch and steering clear, Margaret longed for love and companionship and thought she found it in a local shopkeeper. But soon their affair turns sour, and Margaret can’t help the power inside her as it begins to twist and turn into something darker.

In the present day, Augusta Podos finds herself in desperate need of a change. When the opportunity arises to work at Harlowe House, a small museum that was once the home to a wealthy New England family, Augusta jumps at the chance. She can’t wait to put her degree to work cataloging the contents of the museum and immediately begins combing the archives. While going through historical records, Augusta stumbles upon mention of a Harlow daughter who seems to have been completely eradicated from history. Intrigued, Augusta can’t help but investigate, but it doesn’t take long before she realizes she may have gotten more than she bargained for. As the past and present start to collide, Augusta discovers a dark power linking the two women together, and if she can’t resist its sinister pull, then everything she knows could be lost forever.

I’ve been taken with Fox’s writing style ever since her debut, and this quickly became one of my favorites. I thought the story flowed super well despite the dual timeline/POVs. Typically, when we’re following two different characters, I always tend to favor one over the other, but I liked both Margaret and Augusta equally. Both were so interesting, and I loved seeing how they were intertwined. The way they were connected was predictable, but I still liked it. As always, Fox weaves in magical elements beautifully, and though I found some bits a little too far-fetched and the conflict resolution too easy, I thought it was highly entertaining. If you enjoy historical fictions that have a dash of mystery, fantasy, and romance elements or are looking for something with a darker atmosphere, I can’t recommend her books enough.

Rating: 4/5