Tuesday, May 31, 2022

May Wrap-Up

Hello, all!

Another month seemed to fly by! I had a pretty mixed bag this month. I've been craving more historical romances lately, and I picked up some new ones that I'm excited for, so expect to see a lot of those in next months wrap-up.


The Bone Orchard- Sara A. Mueller; 2/5
Archangel's Kiss- Nalini Singh; 3/5
A Magic Steeped in Poison- Judy I. Lin; 3/5
The Kindred Spirits Supper Club- Amy E. Reichert; 2/5
Delilah Green Doesn't Care- Ashley Herring Blake; 3/5
Along for the Ride- Sarah Dessen; 3/5 (re-read)
The Woman in the Library- Sulari Gentill; 2/5
Where the Crawdads Sing- Delia Owens; 4/5


For the Love of the Bard- Jessica Martin; 3/5
Book Lovers- Emily Henry; 4/5
How to Fake It in Hollywood- Ava Wilder; 3/5
A Thousand Miles- Bridget Morrissey; 4/5
Something Wilder- Christina Lauren; 3/5


Love Radio- Ebony LaDelle; 3/5
The Heiress Gets a Duke- Harper St. George; 3/5
My Fake Rake- Eva Leigh; 4/5
Book of Night- Holly Black; 2/5
Set On You- Amy Lea; 3/5
Portrait of a Thief- Grace D. Li; 3/5
Dark Matter- Blake Crouch; 4/5
Ordinary Monsters- J.M. Miro; 3.5/5

Some favorites were: A Thousand Miles, Where the Crawdads Sing, and Dark Matter. Least favorites were: Book of Night, The Woman in the Library, and The Kindred Spirits Supper Club.

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

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Mini Thoughts

Hello, all!

Pub Date: 5-31-22
YA - Contemporary

Love Radio- Ebony LaDelle: Prince Jones has always been a romantic. At only seventeen, he's the youngest DJ at a local radio show, spinning music and dishing out love advice to the Detroit masses. Despite helping others find their happy endings, Prince has put his own on the backburner to help support his family. Until he meets Dani Ford. Dani doesn't have any time for relationships. Her sole focus is on finishing her senior year, getting into a good college, and moving to New York City to become a writer. If only she can get past the incident at a party months ago that blocked up her creativity. When Prince and Dani meet, neither can deny the attraction, but Dani can't afford any more distractions. So the pair agree: Dani will give Prince three chances to prove to her that he's worth the risk.

I thought this was a nice coming-of-age story. I liked watching the relationship blossom between Prince and Dani. I thought it was heartwarming to see how gentle Prince was with Dani and how much he respected her boundaries. The dates they went on were adorable, and I liked watching the two of them grow closer and open up. LaDelle did a great job creating these two characters who were going through things, but who weren't afraid to ask for help when they needed it and knew that you never have to face something alone. It led to open and honest dialogue that was refreshing. I also loved the dynamic between Prince and his group of friends. It was so cute watching how they hyped one another up, but also called each other out when necessary. The letters that Dani wrote to her favorite authors were also a lovely touch. Since I'm a bit older than the targeted demographic, there were times I had a hard time connecting with what was going on, but I still think it's a good read.

Rating: 3/5

Pub Date: 11-2-21
Adult - Fantasy

A Marvellous Light- Freya Marske: Robin Blyth is juggling a lot on his plate. He's struggling to be a good older brother, a responsible employer, and finding ways to secure his failing lands after his late parents' excessive habits. All Robin wants to do is keep his head down, but when an administrative error lands him in a position working as a civil liaison to a hidden magical society, Robin finds his life is about to get even more complicated. Now, Robin must contend with dangerous magic, a deadly curse, visions of the future, and the company of his counterpart, Edwin Courcey. Edwin is cold and doesn't hide that he finds Robin more hindrance than helpful, but the two must work together to unravel a mystery that threatens every magician in the British Isles.

I had high expectations going into this one because I've heard nothing but amazing things, but I thought it was just okay. I liked the premise and thought the characters were fine, but nothing stood out. Robin and Edwin were enjoyable, and I liked how they were both so grumpy. They butted heads a lot, especially at the start, but I liked seeing them warm up and develop feelings for one another. The magic system was also engaging and easy to follow. I did think there were some pacing issues with some parts dragging, but I'm still intrigued to see where this series goes from here.

Rating: 3/5

Pub Date: 9-4-18
Adult - Historical Fiction

The Silence of the Girls- Pat Barker: Briseis was once a queen, but when her city is attacked by the Greeks on their way to Troy, she is taken as a slave and given to the famed warrior Achilles as his war prize. Now, Briseis finds herself warming the bed of the same man who butchered her family, destroyed her city, and took away her freedom. With her unable to overpower her captor, Briseis knows her chances of escaping are very slim, so to survive, she must play a dangerous game. She turns her attention to the camp itself. Observing every detail, listening in on conversations, and in doing so, lends a voice to those who need it most: the women. With the winds of war changing, Briseis knows that the coming weeks will be full of petty men trying to boost their egos and gain power, and it's up to her to make sure the sacrifices of the women aren't overlooked in the aftermath.

I've read a few retellings of the Trojan war, so it's hard to find one that stands out from the rest, but this one did just that. Barker doesn't shy away from the brutality of war and the toll it takes on those affected by it, especially the women. It was so compelling to read from Briseis' perspective and I felt like it made you see the events in such a different light. Everything she and the other women had to go through was harsh and unfair and tortuous, but despite it all, Briseis never faltered in her resolve. She was determined to make it out and did everything she could to make it happen. The relationship between her and Achilles was different than in other books I've read which also helped it feel unique. I do wish we only got her perspective though because at times I felt taken out of the story when it switched over to Achilles. The majority of the time, history gives all the glory to the men, but Barker rewrites the narrative and gives the women the respect they deserve in a way that is so heartbreakingly beautiful.

Rating: 4/5

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

May OwlCrate Review

Hello, all!

The theme for this month was "The Chosen One." Let's get into it!

I love getting stationery supplies in boxes, and these pens are inspired by The Song of Achilles, so they're a total win in my book.

 I've got to hand it to the OwlCrate team for trying to think outside the box with their items lately, but realistically, I'll probably never use this chess set. It's inspired by The Raven Cycle, which I've also never read, but the design is cool.

The next installment of their Literary Luggage pin collection was inspired by Throne of Glass which I love. I just think these pins are so cute.

Then we also had the next installment in their LOTR inspired ceramic bowl collection. This one is designed for the Shire, and while it's cute, I'm not really a LOTR fan, so I'll be passing this along to someone who'll appreciate it more.

I love the design of this double-sided bookmark. It features quotes from Jade Fire Gold, and I think it's so pretty.

The last item was this wooden wall banner inspired by A Darker Shade of Magic. Is it just me or have we been getting a Shades of Magic inspired item in almost every OwlCrate box so far this year? It's a cool item, but I wouldn't use it.

The book for the month was Ballad & Dagger by Daniel José Older. Almost sixteen years ago, Mateo Matisse's island homeland disappeared into the sea, and the survivors fled to New York City. While the rest of his Brooklyn community dreams of a way home, Mateo is focused on one thing: getting the attention of locally-grown musical legend Gerval. Mateo finally gets his chance while at the Grand Fete, an annual party celebrating the blended cultures of their home. But on the night of the celebration, Mateo witnesses a murder and his life is changed forever. Suddenly, Mateo is thrust into an ancient battle that spans years and oceans, and a power awakens inside Mateo that holds the key to unlocking the dark mystery behind his lost homeland.

I think this is a Rick Riordan presents book, so I'm hoping it has a lot of mythology woven throughout, and I'm interested to see what I think. Let me know what you thought of this months box!

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Mini Thoughts

Hello, all!

Pub Date: 5-10-22
Adult - Contemporary

Everything for You- Chloe Liese: Oliver Bergman is known for being a nice guy, both on and off the soccer pitch. His career has taken off, and after two years of paying his dues, Oliver is allowed to become co-captain. The only problem is he has to work with Gavin Hayes. Oliver has idolized Gavin ever since he was young, and was thrilled to get to play alongside him, until he realized that below the handsome exterior, Gavin is as prickly as a cactus. The pair butt heads at every turn, and if they can't be civil, they can kiss their captaincy goodbye. As they're forced to spend more time together, neither Oliver nor Gavin can deny the heat building between them. Both have been running from love for years, but what will happen if they finally give in?

Liese does it again! She has this way of writing romances that just suck you in. She always has the perfect mix of sweetness and steam. I don't usually love age gap tropes, but Oliver and Gavin worked so well together that I completely forgot about it. I thought the two of them were adorable together. Oliver is so sunshiney and positive, and Gavin is an irritable grump, which happens to be one of my favorite combinations. They both had different sides to their personalities they don't show to anyone else but felt comfortable enough to be vulnerable with one another, and it was so lovely. As in all her other books, the banter was top-notch and I found myself chuckling a bunch. I also love how inclusive her books are, and how they deal with a lot of topics not usually found in other romance books. There were a few times I felt the pacing was a little slow but other than that, I thought this was another solid addition to this series, and I'm excited to see where the next one goes.

Rating: 4/5

Pub Date: 5-17-22
Adult - Contemporary

The Love Connection- Denise Williams: The only risks Ollie is willing to take are when it comes to her business endeavors. Set up a pet grooming salon in an airport with her best friend? Sure! But talk to the handsome frequent flyer she constantly lusts after from across the terminal? Never. Ollie has never been able to work up the courage to approach the stranger she always sees flying in, but when a runaway dog lands in the arms of said stranger, it seems fate has finally decided to intervene on her behalf. Bennett is a risk assessor by day and romance novelist by night who has hit a major writer's block. His meticulous life is shaken up after an encounter with a soapy little pup and a gorgeous dog groomer whose infectious laugh inspires him to finally put some words to paper. Soon, Ollie and Bennett find themselves going on airport dates whenever Bennett has a layover, which leads to late-night texting and, eventually, real feelings for one another. But can their romance exist past the baggage claim?

Novellas can be tricky for me. I'm either obsessed and crave more, or feel like they slightly missed the mark. This one fell in the middle for me. The concept was cute, but the execution felt lacking. I liked Ollie and Bennett but would've loved to have seen a bit more character depth and development for them. I thought their flirtation was cute, but once it evolved into a relationship felt stagnant. The chemistry wasn't there, which was surprising since I've loved the relationships in Williams' other books. My other issue was the plot itself. There were a few mentions of Ollie's aunt's wedding and how she didn't want to go alone, and her ex-boyfriend, who we see for about two paragraphs, will also be attending, so I thought we'd eventually see this wedding, and we didn't. It just felt like unnecessary details to throw in. Despite that, it was still a quick read, but I was hoping for a little more.

Rating: 3/5

Pub Date: 5-3-22
Adult - Fantasy

Book of Night- Holly Black: Charlie Hall is a thief and con artist just trying to fly under the radar. She now works as a bartender doing random odd jobs here and there to pick up some extra money. But when a terrible figure from her past hires her to steal a dangerous book, Charlie's life is thrown upside down. In Charlie's world, shadows have power. They can be altered for cosmetic purposes, entertainment, or even to change a person's feelings or emotions. But doing so comes at a price. A person's shadow holds all the hidden parts of yourself-- the dangerous parts no one wants others to see--, but if you're not careful, your shadow could manifest into a life of its own. Soon, Charlie finds herself surrounded by murder, secrets, and thieves desperate to control the magic of shadows. Charlie has no choice but to use every wit and skill she possesses if she hopes to make it out alive.

This sounded right up my alley, but oof, I didn't like it. I didn't mesh with the plot at all. The writing felt very dry and dull, and I could feel my focus wavering every time I picked it up. I kept waiting to be hooked, but it never happened. There were times I was skim-reading to get it over with. I also didn't like or care about any of the characters. Most of them felt unnecessary and did nothing to move the plot along. The magic system was interesting, but I think could've been fleshed out more. Same with the world-building. I got a sense of how things worked, but not enough to invest me into what was going on. I did like the ending, but it wasn't enough to save the rest of the book for me.

Rating: 2/5

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Book Lovers Review

Hello, all!

Do you love books about books? Or the book industry? Or people who love books? Then you need to pick up Book Lovers by Emily Henry.

Pub Date: 5-3-22
Adult - Contemporary

 Nora Stephens has two priorities in life: her job as a literary agent and her sister. After their mother died, Nora shouldered every burden so her sister, Libby, wouldn't have to. She worked multiple jobs and gave up her dreams so her sister could pursue hers instead. Her ambition and drive may have led to her being one of the top agents in her field, but it also left Nora with a reputation for being cold and unfeeling. So when Libby mentions taking a sister's vacation to Sunshine Falls, North Carolina, the setting for one of Nora's client's bestselling books, Nora can't say no. 

With checklist in hand, Libby has curated the perfect small-town getaway for Nora to become her own rom-com heroine. But instead of falling in love with the town lumberjack, Nora constantly finds herself running into Charlie Lastra, a broody book editor from back home. It would be the perfect bookish meet-cute if only the two hadn't butted heads years before. But when the pair find themselves co-editing a book for a client, it's hard to deny the sparks igniting between them. Neither has had much luck with relationships in the past, but can't help feeling as if their perfect endings could be found in each other if only they're willing to put in the effort.

I've read and loved every one of Emily Henry's adult book so far, so I couldn't wait to pick this up. That said, this was my least favorite of hers so far. It just felt slow. Nora reminded me of Cameron Diaz's character from The Holiday--high-strung and not very in touch with her emotions. Because of that, it took me a minute to warm up to her, but once you learn more about her backstory and everything she's had to shoulder throughout her life, it made sense. Charlie was the sweetest, and I loved him so much. Their relationship was so good and felt very realistic. They're both career-driven and would do anything for their families. It was full of that signature Henry dry, sarcastic banter that's always my favorite part of her books. I liked how it wasn't just a romance, but also touched upon grief, familial bonds, and sacrifices. Despite a slow start, I still really enjoyed this, and it had my heart fluttering by the end.

Rating: 4/5

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