Tuesday, February 28, 2023

February Wrap-Up

Hello, all!

Even though I managed to read a decent amount this month, I felt slumpy for most of it. Here's hoping my reading mood improves for March!



Audio:

The Nickel Boys- Colson Whitehead; 3/5
How to Sell a Haunted House- Grady Hendrix; 2/5
Lost in the Moment and Found- Seanan McGuire; 4/5
The Beast of Beswick- Amalie Howard; 2/5
The Tropic of Serpents- Marie Brennan; 3/5
Silence in the Library- Katharine Schellman; 3/5
Queen Among the Dead- Lesley Livingston; 3/5
Amari and the Great Game- B.B. Alston; 3/5

Digital:

The Neighbor Favor- Kristina Forest; 4/5
The Shadow of Perseus- Claire Heywood; 3/5
Practice Makes Perfect- Sarah Adams; 4/5
The Love Wager- Lynn Painter; 5/5
A Sinister Revenge- Deanna Raybourn; 3.5/5
The Sprite and the Gardener- Rii Abrego; 3/5
My Phony Valentine- Courtney Walsh; 2/5

Physical: 

Queen of Shadows- Sarah J. Maas; 4/5 (re-read)
The Well of Ascension- Brandon Sanderson; 3.5/5
Fables: Legends in Exile, Vol. 1; 3/5
Daisy Jones & The Six- Taylor Jenkins Reid; 5/5 (re-read)
Marvel 1602- Neil Gaiman; 3/5
The Last Tale of the Flower Bride- Roshani Chokshi; 4/5
Georgie, All Along- Kate Clayborn; 3/5
Light from Uncommon Stars- Ryka Aoki; 2/5

Some favorites were: The Love Wager, The Neighbor Favor, and Practice Makes Perfect. Least favorites were: How to Sell a Haunted House (I need to just accept Grady Hendrix isn't for me), The Beast of Beswick, and The Shadow of Perseus.

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

Thursday, February 23, 2023

Library Haul

Hello, all!

Time for another library haul! As always, if you've read any of these, let me know what you thought.


1. The Tropic of Serpents- Marie Brennan
2. Silence in the Library- Katharine Schellman
3. Queen Among the Dead- Lesley Livingston
4. The Golem and the Jinni- Helene Wecker
5. The Well of Ascension- Brandon Sanderson

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Mini Thoughts

Hello, all!

Pub Date: 2-21-23
Adult - Historical Fiction/Retelling

The Shadow of Perseus- Claire Heywood: Danae was once a princess of Argos but was banished from her homeland after a prophecy foretold her father's death at the hands of her unborn child. After spending her life being coddled, starting a new life for herself and her young son, Perseus, proves more difficult than she ever imagined. As a member of a reclusive band of women called Gorgons, Medusa has severed all ties to the outside world. The Gorgons are especially wary of men and the corruption and pain that usually follow in their wake. But when Medusa stumbles upon an injured Perseus in the woods, she defies all she knows to help him. When a harsh sandstorm threatens her tribe's way of life, Andromeda offers herself up as a sacrifice to appease the gods. But when a passing Perseus misunderstands the ritual, Andromeda's life is upended. As Perseus becomes more obsessed with his destiny, his actions lead to severe consequences in all three women's lives. But he'll find the more he tries to silence them, the louder their voices become.

I enjoyed Heywood's previous release, so I was looking forward to picking this one up, and it was fine. I think it was a very straightforward retelling. I liked how it was told in different parts focusing on each woman. It made the story feel cut and dry, but it still got the point across. I was looking forward to Medusa's storyline the most since she is one of my favorite characters in Greek mythology, but Heywood's Medusa was different from any other take I've seen, and I'm just not sure it worked for me. I did like Danae's and Andromeda's storylines but found myself leaning more toward the latter as I thought she was slightly more interesting to follow. I thought Heywood's writing was easy to read, and I think this would be a good introduction to retellings, but I was hoping for a little more.

Rating: 3/5

*Big thanks to the publisher for the copy!

Pub Date: 7-13-21
Adult - Historical Mystery

Silence in the Library- Katharine Schellman: Instead of living the typical life of a widow, Lily Adler finds she much prefers spending her time helping to solve murders. When her disapproving father unexpectedly shows up on her doorstep looking to stay while recovering from an illness, Lily will take any excuse to leave the house. So Lily finds herself drawn to Lady Wyatt, the new wife of her father's close friend, Sir Charles. To the outside world, they have the perfect marriage, so Lily is just as shocked as anyone to hear of Sir Charles's death and how it might not have been an accident. Lily's suspicions only grow when she's given information by one of Wyatt's maids, who is then also found dead. Lily is determined to uncover the truth, so she again teams up with her friend, Captain Jack Hartley, and Bow Street constable Simon Page to catch a killer.

I read the first book when it came out and enjoyed it, so I've been looking forward to continuing with the series. You can tell that Schellman puts a lot of time, effort, and research into getting the period just right, and I appreciate how she doesn't shy away from touching upon the differences between class, race, and gender. It makes the story even more believable. Lily faces so much adversity due to her gender, so it makes it all the more satisfying to watch her use her intellect to put others in their place whenever they doubt her. I thought the mystery aspect was well-plotted and had some twists I wasn't expecting. I did find the overall pacing to be a bit slower than I'd like, but I still enjoyed this and am looking forward to continuing with the series. If you like historical or cozy mysteries, I'd recommend checking these books out.

Rating: 3/5

Pub Date: 10-27-20
Adult - Historical Romance

Love is a Rogue- Lenora Bell: Lady Beatrice Bentley would rather have her nose buried in a book than prance around ballrooms looking for a husband. She's come to her brother's home in Cornwall to get away from the noise of London to work on her etymological dictionary. Unfortunately, her peace is constantly being disturbed by Stamford Wright, the roguishly charming carpenter renovating the mansion. When Beatrice gets called back to London, she discovers that she's inherited a bookshop from an estranged aunt, but it's in dire need of repair. Unable to find anyone suitable, Beatrice reluctantly hires Ford to complete the job. As the pair work side-by-side, neither can deny the spark between them, but they're both from different worlds. Is Beatrice willing to go against what society expects of her to follow her heart?

I love a bookish main character, so I was excited to pick this up. I could relate to Beatrice's desire to stay home and read rather than socialize. I also appreciated how Beatrice was born with facial palsy, and instead of letting the rude words of her family and others affect her, she embraced her so-called "imperfections." I've never read a historical romance where the female character had any disability. Usually, it's the male love interest whose ruggedly scarred in some way, so I liked the representation. As for her relationship with Ford, it was fine, but it didn't wow me. It started very quickly (I'm talking flirting innuendos within the first few pages), and I would've liked to have seen a more natural build-up. Ford was protective of her and only wanted what was best for her, and it was all very sweet. Plus, he built her bookshelves, and isn't that the dream? Overall, I found it a cute, fast read, and I'm interested in reading the rest of the series.

Rating: 3/5

Thursday, February 16, 2023

The Davenports Review

Hello, all!

Something about the wintertime makes me want to read all the historical fiction, and if you're the same, then you need to check out The Davenports by Krystal Marquis.

Pub Date: 1-31-23
YA - Historical Fiction

For some, Chicago in 1910 is a golden age. Olivia and Helen Davenport are members of a prominent Black family, one of the only ones in Chicago, and are surrounded by wealth and opportunity. Anything they desire is within their grasp--except for what they truly want. Olivia has spent her entire life being groomed to be the perfect housewife and is ready to do her duty by marrying the most eligible bachelor until she meets a charismatic activist from the South. Helen would rather spend her days fixing engines than falling in love, but then she meets her sister's would-be suitor, and her life is turned upside down.

Like the Davenports, Ruby grew up around wealth, but with her family's finances in dire straights, she must make an advantageous marriage and fast. Her parents have their eyes on John, Olivia, and Helen's brother, but Ruby's heart begins to yearn for another. Amy-Rose, the childhood friend turned maid of the Davenport girls, longs for a life away from servitude and dreams, not only, of opening her own business, but marrying a man well above her station, John Davenport. Olivia, Helen, Ruby, and Amy-Rose have spent their entire lives doing what's expected of them, but with courage and determination, are ready to forge their paths.

When I saw that this was based on a real family from history, I knew I wanted to pick it up. I enjoyed the setting right off the bat. Marquis perfectly managed to showcase both the glamour and harshness of this period. We're following four main characters from different stations in life. There are the Davenport children, who grew up with a silver spoon and never really wanted anything. Then you have Ruby, whose family is struggling to stay afloat. Finally, you have Amy-Rose, who has had to work for every morsel given to her. With this, we get a sense of the class differences within the community. I worried about them all blurring together, but each had such a distinct personality. There were some pacing issues, but overall, I enjoyed following each along on their journeys of self-discovery.

Rating: 3/5

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Mini Thoughts

Hello, all!

Pub Date: 8-25-20
YA - Horror
Clown in a Cornfield- Adam Cesare: After the death of her mother, Quinn Maybrook and her father are looking for a fresh start, so they move to the small town of Kettle Springs. But this town isn't like the quaint, sleepy towns you see on TV. Ever since the Baypen Corn Syrup Factory shut down, the residents of Kettle Springs have been divided. The older generation believes tradition should be upheld and will do whatever it takes to make their town great again, while the younger generation wants to have fun and get out as soon as possible. These clashing views soon turn deadly when Frendo the clown, the Baypen mascot, shows up at a party in the fields and starts culling the teenage crop.

What a wild ride this was. I had heard this read like a slasher movie, so I knew I had to pick it up. I was entertained the entire time. Was it a perfect book? Not by any means. But was it fun? Absolutely. It was so fast-paced, and the slasher elements were a lot better than I was expecting. There were times I thought the writing skewed a little too YA for my tastes (I think it's so lame when characters use internet lingo in actual conversations), and the characters did come off as way too childish. You could tell quite quickly who was responsible for the murders, but there was one twist I wasn't anticipating, which I thought was a nice touch. If you're a fan of '90s campy horror movies, then I recommend checking this out, and I'm excited to pick up the next book.

Rating: 3.5/5

Pub Date: 9-29-20
Adult - Historical Romance

Beauty Temps the Beast- Lorraine Heath: Althea Stanwick was once a lady whose biggest decision revolved around which duke to marry, but when her father is hanged for treason, she and her family are left disgraced. Althea lost everything-- her home, her title, her friends. But she has a plan. Althea will learn the ways of seduction and enter back into society on her own terms, and she knows just the man to teach her. Benedict "Beast" Trewlove gained a reputation on the streets of Whitechapel as someone not to mess with. He's quick to use his fists to help those in need and always willing to offer his protection to those who ask, but he's never had someone come to him with a proposition as wild as Althea's. Against his better judgment, Beast agrees, but only if Althea helps him polish up the girls living in a brothel he oversees so they can get better employment. As the pair spend their days together, they're unable to stop the growing attraction, but when Beast uncovers the truth of his past, will Althea still have a place by his side?

I recently read The Earl Takes a Fancy and fell in love with these characters, so now I'm binging the series, and this one was just as good! I love the Trewlove family. I can't get enough of their dynamic, and they always manage to make me chuckle or smile with their banter. I was curious about Beast from the previous book with how little we saw of him, so I was excited to read his story. I thought he and Althea were perfectly matched, despite their differing backgrounds. They were both strong-willed and a little stubborn, and I liked watching them open up and be vulnerable. I wish the lessons between them lasted a little longer to draw out the tension, but it was still enjoyable. I also didn't love the third-act conflict, but it wrapped up nicely, and I enjoyed how the epilogue tied up everything.

Rating: 4/5

Pub Date: 5-3-22
Adult - Contemporary

The Missed Connection- Denise Williams: Gia loves her job as a professor, but she doesn't love receiving feedback from her reclusive academic rival who has made it a point to nitpick her work. When Gia learns she'll have to go on a work trip with the said rival, she is less than pleased. But when the pair finally meet in person, Gia is shocked to discover she's met him before. He's the same attractive stranger Gia spent a dreamy New Years Eve with at an airport sharing nachos and kisses. Felix couldn't be more different from Gia. He's quiet and likes things ordered, whereas she's loud and quick to laugh. Despite their differences, neither can deny the attraction that still lingers between them. Can they keep things between them professional or will they give in to temptation?

I liked the first novella in this series, so I wanted to give this one a go, and it was okay. It was a cute premise, and I liked the academic-rivals-to-lovers vibe it had going on, but it was kind of boring. Gia and Felix were decent characters, but there was no chemistry. I don't usually mind opposites attract trope, but it needs to be believable, and I wasn't buying it here. They had fun banter, but for me, they came across more as friends than lovers. I also felt the pacing was a bit off which didn't help. If you're a fan of Williams or the previous novella, I still think it's worth it to pick up, but it won't be super memorable for me.

Rating: 3/5

Thursday, February 9, 2023

Mini Thoughts

Hello, all!

Pub Date: 2-7-23
Adult - Contemporary

Secretly Yours- Tessa Bailey: Hallie Welch has held a torch for Julian Vos ever since they almost kissed at a party when she was fourteen. Now, Julian is back staying at his family's vineyard, and Hallie is determined to get another shot with him. The pair run into each other when Hallie gets hired to revamp the gardens around the guesthouse, but it's clear they have nothing in common. Hallie is flighty, chaotic, and unorganized; Julian is stuffy, straight-laced, and schedules everything down to the minute. One night, Hallie gets the brilliant idea to leave Julian anonymous letters confessing her feelings. While Julian is intrigued by this mystery admirer, he can't help falling for Hallie. Julian has always viewed the world in black and white, but with Hallie, everything is bursting with color, and it begs the question-- do opposites really attract?

I've enjoyed everything I've read by Bailey, but this didn't do it for me. I had a hard time feeling invested in the story because I didn't care about the characters. I thought Hallie was annoying, and Julian was way too overprotective of her after only a few interactions. They both felt underdeveloped, and their relationship also felt lacking. It didn't feel like it had much depth. I wanted more tension and build-up, but they went from acquaintances to ripping each other's clothes off too quickly. I thought there would be more focus on the love letters, but they felt like an afterthought. I also didn't love the anxiety representation and how it played into the conflict at the end. Unfortunately, this whole thing was a big miss.

Rating: 2/5

*Big thanks to the publisher for the copy!

Pub Date: 10-11-22
Adult - Horror

Little Eve- Catriona Ward: Eve and Dinah were raised on a remote Scottish island called Altnaharra by a man they call 'Uncle.' Along with the rest of their clan, the girls have been preparing for the coming of the Adder. The girls have been taught to believe that when the Adder comes, one will inherit its powers, and the outside world will be cleansed of its impurities, leaving only those worthy. All wish for power, but only Eve is willing to go to extreme lengths to secure it for herself. But when a body is found in town, leading a detective straight to their door, things start to go awry for the inhabitants of Altnaharra, and soon their secrets are brought to light.

I've only read one other book by Ward that I enjoyed, so I was excited to pick this one up. Sadly, it wasn't for me. There were some bits I liked, such as the cult itself, which I thought was interesting, and I loved the setting. It was everything else that was a miss. I never found myself invested in the story, so I didn't care much about what was happening. I listened to this on audiobook, which I don't think helped because it's told in alternating timelines and POVs, and it was occasionally hard to keep track. Overall, I found it to be a lackluster plot with characters I couldn't root for, and just entirely underwhelming.

Rating: 2/5

Pub Date: 12-28-22
Adult - Historical Romance

Get Thee Off My Lawn- Daria Vernon: If there is one thing April Nightingale is determined to do, it's to get her pet swans, Daphne and Gerald, to mate. She's convinced it would've happened by now if Gerald wasn't so fond of spending his days in their neighbor's pond. Determined to get her wandering waterfowl back, April decides to steal him back, only to find herself waist-deep in pond scum, staring up at the most beautiful man. Leopold Derring wasn't expecting to come across a swan thief in his pond, especially not a charming one with the cutest gap-toothed grin. Ever the gentleman, Leo comes to April's rescue, and it's clear to him that one day with this woman will never be enough. But with April set to wed another, can Leo convince her to be more like her swans and follow her heart rather than duty?

I don't care for swans, except when they're in a historical romance helping our two main characters fall in love. I mainly picked this up because the title was so absurd, so I didn't know what to expect, but I loved it. I thought the writing was so witty and had me laughing out loud. It's impressive how Vernon was able to tell an entertaining story in such a short amount of time. I enjoyed watching April and Leo fall for one another (though, yes, it's very insta-lovey), and I thought they had great banter. And their chemistry? Whoo, boy, was it off the charts. I was a little nervous that the characters wouldn't feel well-developed given the shorter length of this, but that wasn't the case. Vernon did a good job at bringing depth to both of them, and they never felt one-dimensional. If you're looking for a fun, steamy romance novella, I recommend checking it out.

Rating: 4/5

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Blog Tour: Code Name Sapphire Excerpt

Hello, all!

I love historical fiction, so I'm so excited to bring you all an excerpt from Code Name Sapphire by Pam Jenoff. This follows a woman who joins up with a secret resistance network to rescue her cousin's family from a train bound for Auschwitz.

Pub Date: 2-7-23
Adult - Historical Fiction

Check out an excerpt below!

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Seven Faceless Saints Review (Seven Faceless Saints, #1)

Hello, all!

If you're craving a new fantasy book to put on your TBR, look no further than Seven Faceless Saints by M.K. Lobb. Big thanks to the publisher for the copy!

Pub Date: 2-7-23
YA - Fantasy

In the city of Ombrazia, citizens are separated into two categories: those blessed by the Saints with magical abilities and the unfavored ones who aren't. Rossana "Roz" Lacertosa is one of the disciples blessed by Patience, but she resents her abilities. She doesn't believe she should be treated differently for being granted a power she never asked for. She especially doesn't want to use her powers to aid in the war effort after her father was brutally killed by the Ombrazian military. Roz decides to join the growing rebellion looking to dismantle the corrupt system in place, but to do so, she must team up with the boy who broke her heart.

Damian Venturi went from trying to survive on the front lines of a battle to becoming the youngest captain in the history of Palazzo's security. He's expected to be loyal and serve the saints without question, but the war has left scars deep within and a growing suspicion that something isn't right in Ombrazia. When a murderer starts stalking the citizens, the Palazzo is keen to look the other way-- until a disciple becomes the latest victim. Damian and Roz reluctantly team up to uncover the killer, but their investigations unearth an even more sinister plot. With time running out, will they be able to save their city from a powerful evil that threatens to destroy everything in its path?

I love when fantasy books have a murder mystery element to them, so I couldn't wait to pick this up. The writing was engaging, and nothing about the world-building felt info-dumpy. I liked the magic system and how it tied into all the different saints, with each of their disciples having different abilities. It was interesting seeing how Roz dealt with being one of these disciples. Instead of flaunting her abilities, she would make her powers smaller so people would overlook her. I also enjoyed her dynamic with Damian. It was very friends to lovers-to enemies-to allies-to maybe something more, and I can't wait to see how it develops from here. There were moments where I think Lobb was trying to do too much, but overall, I really enjoyed this and am looking forward to the next book.

Rating: 4/5

Thursday, February 2, 2023

Hell Bent Review (Alex Stern, #2)

Hello, all!

I loved Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo when it first came out (review here), and I've been anticipating the second book, Hell Bent, ever since and it's finally here. 

Pub Date: 1-10-23
Adult - Fantasy

After losing her mentor, Darlington, to a hell beast, Alex Stern is determined to do whatever it takes to get him back. Even if that means dragging him out of hell herself. Alex knows by attempting this mission, she's not only jeopardizing her position at Yale and Lethe, but her very life, but she can't let Darlington down again. Her plan is simple: find a gateway to hell, steal a soul, and don't die in the process.

Alex knows she can't call on the Ninth Houses for help after they expressly forbade her from a rescue attempt, so she turns to Dawes for help. The pair assembled a team of reluctant allies--including Detective Turner, who is investigating a string of mysterious murders on campus--to aid in bringing back Darlington. The team will find themselves navigating ancient passageways and decoding texts and, in the process, uncovering the societies' most guarded secrets. And, of course, breaking as many rules as possible. Alex knows something deadly is just around the corner, and not all will come back from their suicide mission, but she also knows she'll risk anything to save the gentleman of Lethe, even at her own expense.

As I mentioned, I'd been looking forward to this book, so it almost pains me to say it was just okay. It was just way too long and drawn out. I was so bored for most of it. I don't think I became invested in the plot until the last 30%. The tone felt different from the first book. I was hoping for all the same dark academia vibes, but it felt almost like an urban fantasy, which was fine but not what I was expecting. The characters also felt lacking, like they were dulled down. However, I enjoyed watching them work together and form this little ragtag family. I think I went into this with high expectations, and they just weren't met. Despite that, I'm still interested in where the story will go, and I'm looking forward to the next book.

Rating: 3/5