Friday, August 16, 2019

Book Review: "Brave" by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Brave by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Title: Brave 
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Series: "A Wicked Trilogy" #3
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Page Length: 362 pages
Publication Date: December 11, 2017
Date Started: August 11, 2019
Date Finished: August 12, 2019
Rating: 4.5 // 5 stars
Book 2 Review

I have to say, this was a great conclusion to this trilogy. I enjoyed pretty much every second of reading this book and it took me only two sittings to finish it. While I don't think it was perfect, because really no book is, I thought it came pretty close while still staying in the realm of a believable ending.

I loved how this book balanced internal character struggles with the big outward tensions going on. Yes, the world has the potential to be in danger, but also the main character is struggling. I liked that this wasn't one of those moments of a character going through something traumatic and then being fine two days later. Nope. In this book we can see the consequences of what happened and the start of a healing and recovery process. That felt so real to me.

I obviously loved the characters. Now that this is over I wish there were more books with our two main characters, though there's also so many side characters that I really want stories about. I know there's already some spin-off novellas following two side characters that I'm excited to read, but I also want two other characters specifically to get a storyline following them. Even if it's just them sitting around not doing anything other than drinking coffee and eating beignets. I just loved the characters--both good and bad. I thought they were well written and compelling and really made me that much more invested in the story.

I will say, Jennifer was able to completely shock me a few times. There were a few things I'd been accidentally spoiled for that I could see coming only because I knew they were, but other things completely blew me away. Looking back, though, they're believable and a natural turn for the story. But after expected betrayal after betrayal after incident in this trilogy, I'm happy to say Jennifer was able to shock me.

I love how this book wrapped things up nicely yet still left things open-ended for the spin-off novellas. Two of the three novellas have currently been released but I've heard they end in huge cliffhangers so I don't want to read them yet. Having this book wrapped up and with things mostly okay at this point in time is giving me the peace of mind to wait until the third novella's release date is closer before I dive into the first two.

Overall, I just loved this book. I thought it was a great ending and I already miss these characters. I would definitely read another book just about our two main characters doing mundane things. I have found another favorite series in Jennifer L. Armentrout and I can't wait to see what she does next.



Thanks for reading!
xoxo
Lauren



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Wednesday, August 14, 2019

GUEST POST: "Unhappy Endings in The Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories About Unlikely Heroes" by Francesca Burke


Hey all! Today I have a super exciting post that is something I haven't done in a while: host a guest writer! Today's Guest Post is from Francesca Burke, author of the YA fantasy novel THE PRINCESS AND THE DRAGON AND OTHER STORIES ABOUT UNLIKELY HEROES. Currently, this novel is being released chapter-by-chapter on Patreon which I think is such a cool idea! Without further ado, here's the author to tell you more about this awesome-sounding book! 



Official Blurb

A collection of the sort of fairytales you wish you’d read as a child, The Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories About Unlikely Heroes follows the adventures of three teenagers living on the magical island of the Three Kingdoms. Princess Amelia uses her wits to rid her kingdom of a terrible dragon; Prince Richard must prove his bravery to his kingdom and himself; clairvoyant Esme Delacroix can’t ignore a vision of something terrible happening to the magic users of her kingdom. The official blurb:

This is a book of fairytales, but not of happy endings.

Welcome to the Three Kingdoms.

Princesses hatch plans; princes embark on quests; the forces of evil gather in dark corners like spiders in an ancient tower. There’s an ancient tower. Don’t expect to fall asleep to sweet dreams when you’re done.

The novel is young adult and features multiple LGBT and BAME characters.



Francesca's Post

I didn’t mean to write a YA fantasy novel. I wanted to write a fairytale that I would have enjoyed when I was 10 or 12, with witches and magic and pretty dresses, just without the weirdly athletic princes and true-love’s-kiss nonsense. Three years later, I had a book about princesses, witches, and international political instability. I blame Brexit.

No, really. Also Trump. When I was chatting to Lauren about this blog tour, she suggested I write about why the blurb of the novel emphasises unhappy endings. To be honest, I just thought it sounded dramatic and hopefully eye-catching, like the title THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END. Edgy new YA novel combines fantasy elements with Real Life Painful Stuff! But when I went away and considered her question, thinking back to when I was outlining the book, it was spring of 2016. British traditional media and social media were tyre fires of people shouting at each other. We’re in summer 2019 right now, and I don’t think anyone has really stopped shouting. I watched the evening news before writing this; the main stories were about a police officer being stabbed, the rise of knife crime amongst women and the UN’s recommendations about changing our diet to combat climate change. The police officer’s going to live, by the way. Jury’s still out on the planet. 

My point is, it felt false to write a ‘traditional’ fairytale ending for THE PRINCESS AND THE DRAGON AND OTHER STORIES ABOUT UNLIKELY HEROES. I made sure my princesses rescue themselves and my princes are kind of geeky and a bit rubbish at sword fighting, so it made sense to write story arcs that felt real, too. I have never come across a real life ‘happily ever after’; we live too long for that these days. Most people just muddle along living some days that are fabulous and some that are horrendous and quite a few that are, you know, not too bad. In a world where Donald Trump is president and bees are nearing extinction and women’s trousers still do not come with pockets, I will take ‘not too bad’.

That’s not to say that the entire book is as gloomy as the evening news. It’s totally not! At least three couples are true love couples, although we don’t necessarily watch them fall in love. A few people meet their best friends on page. There’s a joke about call centres. I included the most princess dress of all princess dresses. THIS IS A FUN READ, I PROMISE. 

You can read the prologue and opening chapters here and the rest here.



Author Links

Francesca's Personal Blog

Francesca's Website



Thanks for reading!
xoxo
Lauren



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Sunday, August 11, 2019

Book Review: "Torn" by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Torn (A Wicked Trilogy, #2)
Title: Torn
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Series: "A Wicked Trilogy" #2
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Page Length: 360 pages 
Publication Date: July 19, 2016 
Date Started: July 24, 2019
Date Finished: August 8, 2019
Rating: 4 // 5 stars
Book 1 Review

Jennifer has done it again. I've said it before and I'll say it again, Jennifer just has this way of writing stories that suck me in and don't let me go until I'm finished. I have never disliked a book of hers and this one was no different.

After a few bombshells and plot twists at the end of the first book, I was eager to see how the story was going to progress in this one. I was also excited to see the different character relationships shift and grow. I have to say, the characters were one of my favorite things about this book.

Our main character, Ivy, is having a rough time. Let's just put it that way. Seeing her journey in this book was a touch inspiring and a touch heartbreaking. Most of all, it was fun to be back with her and all the side characters.

The plot moved pretty well and I enjoyed all of the expansion we got to the world. Not only was there more action and background to the fae, but the relationships between fae and humans were explored a bit more, we got to know more about the Otherworld, and we got to see different creatures than just fae make an appearance.

Oh my baby Ren. I just have to touch on him. He's great, just like before. I love him and just want to snuggle him up in a blanket and protect him from the cruel world. Well, I'd like to snuggle him and Ivy up and protect them from everything but I'm not sure if that's going to be possible considering Jennifer is a sadist and probably collects readers' tears in jars.

This review has kinda been all over the place but it's hard for me to formulate words when all I wanna say is that I enjoyed this book so much and I'm already starting the next one because I refuse to wait any longer to discover what happens next!



Thanks for reading!
xoxo
Lauren



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Thursday, August 8, 2019

Book Series Review: "Rich Boys of Burberry Prep" by C.M. Stunich


Series Title: Rich Boys of Burberry Prep
Author: C.M. Stunich
Genre: Mature Reverse Harem Romance
Reading Order & Individual Ratings: 
  1. Filthy Rich Boys-3 // 5 stars
  2. Bad, Bad Blue Bloods-3 // 5 stars
  3. The Envy of Idols-3 // 5 stars
  4. In the Arms of the Elite-3.5 // 5 stars
Date Started Book 1: July 25, 2019
Date Ended Book 4: July 30, 2019
Overall Rating: 3.25 // 5 stars

It feels like it's been ages since I finished reading this series even though it's only been a week. I already want to go back and reread! 

I found this series because I'd read one of C.M. Stunich's other reverse harem trilogies. I enjoyed that one quite a bit and I'd heard a lot of people raving about this newer series. When Amazon offered me a free 3-month trial to Kindle Unlimited, I decided now was the time to read these books! I ended up reading all four books (each at almost 400 pages) in under a week and it was a blast. 

I will start by saying that this series definitely isn't for everyone and it's not one that I go around recommending to everyone I meet. It's very much a niche-specific series. You have to be specifically into books like this to enjoy it or be prepared to not like every aspect about the series. The main three aspects of this story I like to think appeal to certain tastes are bullying turned romance, boarding school & elite people drama, and reverse harem. 

So I definitely enjoyed all of the books, though I don't think they're literary masterpieces or anything. I like to think of reading this series being something akin to watching reality television--it's drama filled which makes it addicting and bingeable. At the same time, I wouldn't want to be a character in these books dealing with everything going on. But that's the reason I enjoyed this series so much even though it's not amazing or spectacular--it was addicting and a guilty pleasure read full of drama and rich lifestyles. 

One thing I think that C.M. did well was dealing with many sensitive topics while also keeping the general lighthearted feel of the books. A lot of shit happens to a lot of people. It can get dark and graphic at times. Yet, the feel of these books is fun and drama-filled angst, not dreadful. (You can find a list of trigger warnings for the books at the bottom of this review)

Another aspect I really enjoyed was the characters. I've read a lot of reverse harem stories where each love interest feels pretty much the same. The reverse harem books I like the most make sure to give each love interest their own personality, their own voice, etc. C.M. did a great job at distinguishing between each of the boys to where I could remember who said what, what each boy liked, their personalities, etc even three books later. 

Overall, I really enjoyed this series but I wouldn't say it's a literary masterpiece or an astounding read. It's fun, it's addicting, it's bingeable, and it's something I will most likely buy my own ebook copies to read again. 

Trigger warnings: hardcore bullying, underage drinking, drug use (consensual and non-consensual), mentions of attempted suicide, attempted murder, attempted rape, assault, kidnapping, and I think more but I can't remember off the top of my head. 



Thanks for reading!
xoxo
Lauren



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Monday, August 5, 2019

July 2019 Book Haul!


Well, I have to say I'm pretty happy with this month's book haul. I did get a pretty large number of books but the majority were free or on-sale ebooks so I'd call this month a win. I only got 6 physical books this month and two of them were free! If we add the ebooks and audiobook I got then we end up with 31 books for the month of July....oops? But, like I said, all of the ebooks were either on sale or free so we're calling this month a success. I have a feeling that August will be a lot smaller, though. Anyway, let's just go ahead and dive in!



The first physical book that I got this month was Fight or Flight by Samantha Young. I ended up buying this at an airport in Texas because I wanted to finally check "Buy a book at an airport" off my bucket list! I also thought that this was the perfect-themed book to buy there as it's a New Adult Romance about two people who meet on a flight and spend a steamy overnight layover together.

The next book I got was A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer. I was recently accepted onto the Cursebreakers Street Team for this trilogy and since I'm going to be promoting these books, I figured that I should actually read them. I ended up finding this at over 50% off on Prime Day, so it was a pretty good deal that I didn't figure I could pass up.

The next two books I got were The Demon King and The Exiled Queen by Cinda Williams Chima, which are the first two books in the Seven Realms series. I really want to read this series but I also wanted to collect them in hardcover, so when I saw these two in hardcover for really good prices I couldn't pass them up!

Up next I was sent a free copy of A Fallen Hero by Sara A. Noe. This is the first book in a new series that sounds pretty interesting. There was a bunch of swag that came with it and the book itself was signed! I'm really excited to read this in August so stay tuned for a review coming soon!

The last physical book I got was an ARC of The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones which releases on September 24. I signed up to be considered for a copy and I was so excited when this landed on my doorstep. It's a fantasy about necromancy, curses, quests, and it's a standalone! There's no pressure to read an entire series which I am all for at the moment. 



Since I got so many ebooks this month (24 to be exact), I'm not going to be writing out paragraphs for each one but, rather, just list them all here in case you want to know what they are. You can also check out Goodreads for any of these if they sound interesting. As a reminder, all of these were either on sale, cheap, or free!
  1. Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan 
  2. The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
  3. Senlin Ascends by Josiah Bancroft
  4. Precursor by AJ Anders
  5. Grace and Fury by Tracy Banghart
  6. The Traitor's Kiss by Erin Beaty
  7. Becoming the Dark Prince by Kerri Maniscalco
  8. Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas
  9. Nevernight by Jay Kristoff
  10. The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon
  11. Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst
  12. The Girl with the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke
  13. The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
  14. The Crier's War by Nina Varela (free e-ARC)
  15. Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton
  16. Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker (free e-ARC)
  17. The Black Mage by Daniel Barnes (free e-ARC)
  18. Witchy by Ariel Slamet Ries (free e-ARC)
  19. Run by B.L. Brunnemer
  20. The Girl the Sea Gave Back by Adrienne Young (free e-ARC)
  21. Hidden Light by Nikki Bolvair
  22. Bridge Over Snake Creek by Nikki Bolvair
  23. Steel Crow Saga by Paul Krueger (free e-ARC)
  24. Tetchy Sleuth by Nikki Bolvair


I also got one audiobook this month: Teeth in the Mist by Dawn Kurtagich. This was actually sent to me by the publisher to review and I'm pretty excited. I'm actually going to be starting it this weekend and I'm both excited and nervous. I know there's a lot of awesome special effects and it'll be pretty spooky, but I've also heard that the story itself is really good. Hopefully I'll enjoy it and stay tuned for my review coming later in August! 



Thanks for reading!
xoxo
Lauren



You can follow my bookstagram here. A brand new giveaway will be posted soon!

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Friday, August 2, 2019

July 2019 Wrap-Up!


You know, July was a pretty good reading month for me despite how stressful the month was in general. I think I was so stressed that I turned to reading a lot more than usual. I ended up reading 21 books, though 7 of those were pretty quick graphic novel reads. I think towards the end I slacked off a bit from reading my TBR and just dove headfirst into a bunch of Fanfiction, but I'm really happy with this number nonetheless! Additionally, I enjoyed almost everything I read this month, with only a few books not being up to my expectations. Let's just dive right in!



BOOKS READ
1.
Title: Fix Her Up
Author: Tessa Bailey
Rating: 4.5 // 5 stars
This was a fun and enjoyable New Adult contemporary. I'm pretty picky with the contemporaries I read but I'd heard some good things about this one and decided to give it a try. I'm really glad that I did because I really enjoyed this book. Obviously it wasn't perfect but as I don't read contemporaries very often, this was so refreshing and fun for me. 

2.
Title: Hypnotizing Beat
Author: Katherine McIntyre
Rating: 4 // 5 stars
Review

3.
Title: Amulet: The Last Council
Author: Kazu Kibuishi
Rating: 3.5 // 5 stars
Once again, Kazu has completely astounded me with how beautiful the artwork is in these graphic novels. I really enjoy these even if I don't love them. I definitely think binging them is the way to go since you could forget quite a lot between graphic novels. 

4. 
Title: Amulet: Prince of the Elves
Author: Kazu Kibuishi
Rating: 3.5 // 5 stars

5.
Title: Red, White & Royal Blue
Author: Casey McQuiston
Rating: 4.5 // 5 stars

6.
Title: Escape From Lucien
Author: Kazu Kibuishi
Rating: 3.5 // 5 stars
Escape from Lucien (Amulet, #6)

7.
Title: Firelight
Author: Kazu Kibuishi
Rating: 3.5 // 5 
Firelight (Amulet, #7)

8.
Title: Supernova
Author: Kazu Kibuishi
Rating: 4 // 5 stars
Supernova (Amulet, #8)
I decided not to do mini-reviews for all of the Amulet graphic novels I binged this month, so these thoughts pertain to all of the others mentioned in this wrap-up. This world and these characters are so much fun and it's been a blast to read about their adventures. This world and story are so unique and I am eagerly anticipating the final installment when everything comes to a finale. 

9. 
Title: Forgiven Are the Starry-Eyed
Author: Christine Doré Miller
Rating: 2 // 5 stars

10.
Title: The Package
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Rating: 5 // 5 stars
This was super short and didn't have much to it but I loved it very much. It was a short fluffy scene between two of my favorite book characters and I'm so happy to have been able to revisit them and see an update on their lives. If anything, this has motivated me to finally finish my Lux series reread and finally get into the Origin series! 

11.
Title: Mooncakes
Author: Suzanne Walker
Illustrator: Wendy Xu
Rating: 4 // 5 stars
Review

12.
Title: The Black Mage
Author: Daniel Barnes
Illustrator: D.J. Kirkland
Rating: 3.5 // 5 stars
I really enjoyed this graphic novel. There was a lot that I liked about it but I also didn't think that it was perfect or a masterpiece. It was shorter than some that I usually read so I felt like I read it pretty fast, which is one of the reasons that I like graphic novels in the first place. I would have liked to have seen it a bit longer just to get more interaction between the main two characters and to discover more about the magic and societal systems. Other than those small issues, I really enjoyed it. I thought the overall idea of the story was very interested and well-thought out. I liked that it was a social and racial commentary set in a magical society. I liked how there were certain historical figures that were included in this story. Overall there's really not much I can say. I liked it but I didn't love it. I enjoyed it but I didn't think it was amazing. Would I read more if there were future graphic novels published following these characters? Absolutely. Am I absolutely dying for another installment? No, but mostly because the story ended in a good enough way that a sequel isn't needed.

13.
Title: A Darkness Strange and Lovely
Author: Susan Dennard
Rating: 4 // 5 stars
Review

14.
Title: Strange and Ever After
Author: Susan Dennard
Rating: 4.5 // 5 stars
Review

15.
Title: Wicked
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Rating: 4.25 // 5 stars
Review

16.
Title: Hidden Light
Author: Nikki Bolvair
Rating: 3 // 5 stars
I've enjoyed some of Nikki's previous works so I was really interested in this one when I saw the description. I enjoyed it for the most part but what I think did me in what the fact that it was only about 150 pages so I didn't get too much of a chance to connect with the characters. Additionally, the books after it aren't about the same main character so it seemed like a really small introduction to the world and maybe a prequel explaining some of these influential characters. I'm excited to continue though.

17.
Title: The Bridge Over Snake Creek
Author: Nikki Bolvair
Rating: 3.5 // 5 stars
This installment was way longer and I loved that so much. It follows a different main character but I think I liked this one even more than the first book's. We get to see a lot more relational development between characters and the plot has time to actually breathe. Not only that, but I think the main character is going to play a pretty substantial role in book three so I'm glad this isn't the only time I'll get to see her.

18.
Title: Filthy Rich Boys
Author: C.M. Stunich
Rating: 3 // 5 stars
Series Review

19.
Title: Bad, Bad Blue Bloods
Author: C.M. Stunich
Rating: 3 // 5 stars
Series Review

20.
Title: The Envy of Idols
Author: C.M. Stunich
Rating: 3 // 5 stars
Series Review

21.
Title: In the Arms of the Elite
Author: C.M. Stunich
Rating: 3.5 // 5 stars
Series Review






TV/MOVIES

For this month, I rewatched seasons 5, 6, and 7 of Bones. I absolutely loved binging this series last year and it's been a real treat rewatching it these past couple of months. Because there's so many episodes, I don't remember how each case ends. It's like watching the cases for the first time but being reunited with all these characters that I love.

I also finally got to see Spider-Man: Far From Home on the last day of July with one of my best friends. It was such a blast not only hanging out with her but also just seeing Tom Holland in action again as Peter Parker. Homecoming was one of my favorite movies when I saw it and, I have to say, I really enjoyed this one. The humor was there, the stakes were pretty high, and there was a lot more angst this time around. Overall, though, after watching the after-credits I just have SO MANY questions and the need to immediately watch the next one even though it hasn't even been written probably.



Thanks for reading!
xoxo
Lauren



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Monday, July 29, 2019

Book Review: "Wicked" by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Title: Wicked
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Series: "A Wicked Trilogy" #1
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Page Length: 375 pages
Publication Date: December 8, 2014
Date Started: July 23, 2019 
Date Finished: July 23, 2019
Rating: 4.25 // 5 stars
Goodreads

Jennifer L. Armentrout has done it again folks. She's gotten me addicted to yet another series of hers. I still think that her Dark Elements trilogy is my favorite of hers, but I'd have to say that this is a strong contender for second place.

I enjoyed pretty much everything about this book. The setting was magnificent (I mean...you can't go wrong with New Orleans), the magic and world building was easy to follow and interesting, the characters and their struggles and relationships were so compelling. The writing was easy to fall into and the book itself was a pretty quick read despite being almost 400 pages. Everything was wonderful.

The only reason that this book isn't five stars is because I suspected one of the bigger plot twists that happened (and spoiled myself on another one of them so that my guess was confirmed). However, if I hadn't spoiled myself for one of the twists, I would have been absolutely shook. As it is, even with spoiling myself, I already am starting the second book even though I wasn't planning on reading it yet. I just have to know what happens next because this changes everything.

I loved the characters. Jennifer always writes such compelling and relatable characters, in my opinion, and this time was no different. I think my favorite was obviously our main character and my second favorite was Tink, a spunky sidekick. I love sidekick characters. I do think I need more time with the love interest to really fall in love with him, but as it is right now, I do enjoy his presence in the book and I'm excited to see what he brings to the table next.

There's really not much to say other than I really enjoyed it and have the second book ready to go despite not planning on reading it for a few more weeks. I am super intrigued by what is going to happen and I can only hope that the second and third books, as well as the novella spin-offs, are just as good as this one! With Jennifer, they probably are.



Thanks for reading!
xoxo
Lauren



You can follow my bookstagram here. A brand new giveaway will be posted soon!

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Friday, July 26, 2019

Book Review: "Strange and Ever After" by Susan Dennard

Title: Strange and Ever After
Author: Susan Dennard
Series: "Something Strange and Deadly" #3
Genre: YA Supernatural/Paranormal/Steampunk
Page Length: 387 pages
Publication Date: July 22, 2014
Date Started: July 22, 2019
Date Finished: July 22, 2019
Rating: 4.5 // 5 stars
Goodreads
Book 1 Review
Book 2 Review

This book. THIS BOOK. You guys...I just have no words. Well, I actually have a lot of words but a lot of them are just me repeating "No" and incoherent screaming. This book kept me up until past midnight and then broke my heart. There's really no other way to put it. This book broke me and then healed me.

This is the third and final installment in the Something Strange and Deadly trilogy and boy did it deliver! If this is any indication on how epic Susan's conclusions to series are, then I'm both very worried and excited for the final Witchlands book (even though we still have a few to go). Everything from the first book in this trilogy has been culminating up to this finale. The stakes are even higher and relationships are on unsteady ground heading into this book.

The whole book was interesting. It was fast-paced, fun, and also anxiety-inducing with everything going on. The characters were great and compelling. I think the only way I can express how good it was for me is that I started reading it at 9:30 or so at night and stayed up past midnight just to finish it despite having to work the next morning.

I think the one thing that really surprised me was the fact that this book didn't throw plot twists at you and then magically fix things so that everyone had a happy ending. Nope. Betrayals were actually betrayals with no redemption. Deaths were final--which, in a book trilogy about necromancy, that hurt. The stakes were so high and the ending wasn't magically easy or happy. Nope. It hurt.

But the thing is...as bittersweet as the ending was, it was also perfect. It was so well-written and made so much sense. I wish it wasn't so perfect because then I could be mad over was broke my heart, but it all made so much sense within this story that I can't even be that upset over what happened (even though I'm still crying).

I think the main thing that this trilogy has done for me, though, is show me how amazing of a writer Susan Dennard is. I've read all of her Witchlands books and I've been following her Luminaries choose-your-own-adventure Twitter thread and this girl can write! Each of these three things are so diverse and different from each other yet each are so amazing. Susan is such a well-rounded author and after reading things she's written from different genres, I feel comfortable putting my trust in her hands and adding her to my auto-buy list. She's amazing, this book was amazing, and I can't wait to see what she does next (though I am a little scared).



Thanks for reading!
xoxo
Lauren



You can follow my bookstagram here. A brand new giveaway will be posted soon!

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Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Book Review: "A Darkness Strange and Lovely" by Susan Dennard

Title: A Darkness Strange and Lovely
Author: Susan Dennard
Series: "Something Strange and Deadly" #2
Genre: YA Paranormal/Supernatural/Steampunk
Page Length: 406 pages
Publication Date: July 23, 2013
Date Started: July 22, 2019
Date Finished: July 22, 2019
Rating: 4 // 5 stars
Book 1 Review

Y'all...this book was great. There's just something so easy about Susan's writing that allows me to just fall into it. I read this entire book--start to finish--at work and I loved it. I didn't even realize how much of it was passing until I turned to the last few pages.

I think what I like most about these books are how addicting they are. Once I start, I can't stop until I finish. This could be partly because of how they are written but I also attribute it to the mystery aspects and high stakes present.

This book definitely amps it up from the first one in terms of everything. The plot gets more intense with sacrifices, necromancy, and trying to catch a murderer while fight off dead things all set against the backdrop of high-society Paris. The relationships between the characters are evolving and it was interesting to see how choices each of them made either made their relationships stronger or start to crumble. Additionally, the inner struggles that our main character goes through are so compelling. The characters are still my favorite part of this. I'm an angst-lover and this book was FULL of angsty moments between characters.

Overall, I don't have much to say about this book other than I really enjoyed it! As I'm writing this review, I've already finished the third and final book and I have A LOT to say about that one and I don't want to spoil this book so I think I'll leave this review with these parting words: I highly recommend this trilogy for anyone who is a fan of paranormal/steampunk books or any book-lover in general!



Thanks for reading!
xoxo
Lauren



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Sunday, July 21, 2019

Graphic Novel Review: "Mooncakes" by Suzanne Walker & Wendy Xu

Title: Mooncakes
Author: Suzanne Walker
Illustrator: Wendy Xu
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Page Length: 256 pages
Publication Date: October 15, 2019
Date Started: July 17, 2019
Date Finished: July 17, 2019
Rating: 4 // 5 stars
*I was provided a free early copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

Mooncakes was my most anticipated graphic novel release of this entire year. I was going to be studying abroad, however, when its release came and I knew I wasn't going to get to read it until December at the earliest. However, then I saw that it was on Netgalley. Once I had it downloaded, it was only a matter of time before I completely devoured this graphic novel. I started it the same night that I got it and I stayed up past midnight to finish it despite having work the next morning.

My absolute favorite thing about this graphic novel was how cute it was. The two main characters were so cute together and you could tell how much they cared for each other. I loved the main characters, of course, but I also loved the supporting relationships they had with outside friends and family. Seeing Nova and her relationship with her two grandmothers was wonderful. I honestly love the grandmothers and would love to see an entire graphic novel about them and their stories growing up.

The representation was so on point. We had a multitude of different queer, ethnic, and disability representations and I loved it. Diverse characters doing badass magical things in a cute graphic novel was definitely everything that I needed this year.

The plot was also interesting. I would have loved to have gotten even more information about the world and the magical systems but overall I would say it wasn't necessary to understand the plot well. I thought it moved pretty well and I think the ending was wonderful. I would absolutely love to see a sequel to this graphic novel even though it's not strictly necessary with how this one ended. I just want more of these characters!

The art was also beautiful. It was simplistic, colorful, and amazing. I got such cozy vibes from reading it and I can't wait to get myself a physical copy upon release to see the colored versions of the last two chapters!

Overall I just thought this graphic novel was the cutest. I will probably reread it sometime this year, maybe around Halloween, and I encourage everyone to pick up a copy when it releases later this fall!



Thanks for reading!
xoxo
Lauren



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Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Book Review: "Forgiven Are the Starry-Eyed" by Christine Doré Miller

Title: Forgiven Are the Starry-Eyed
Author: Christine Doré Miller
Genre: YA Fiction
Page Length: 220 pages
Publication Date: April 24, 2019
Date Started: July 14, 2019
Date Finished: July 16, 2019
Rating: 2 // 5 stars
Goodreads

*I was sent a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*

I'm honestly struggling with writing this review. I had moderate hopes for this book but I was still let down, which is disappointing considering this book deals with a pretty serious topic close to my heart. I knew this wasn't going to be a book that I necessarily had an amazing time reading or loved with all my heart, but I was hoping it would be a good, powerful novel representing dating violence that made me feel something. It didn't.

As a brief intro, this book is about a girl--Andie--who starts dating her first boyfriend--Josh--and is so happy with finally dating someone until he turns into an abusive partner. Now, obviously readers aren't meant to like the relationship and I wanted to punch Josh in the face most of the time. One of the things this book did pretty well, though, was in writing this relationship and how someone can go from happy one second to manipulative and controlling the next.

But I had a lot of issues with this book outside of that with pretty much everything you can think of. I didn't really like any of the relationships or characters except perhaps Stephanie--a friend of the main character and someone who got so little page time that I actually had to look up their name for this review. It seemed to me like all of the characters were very one dimensional and written to fulfill a  specific stereotype: shitty best friend, abusive boyfriend, knight in shining armor, absentee friend, etc. Even with the main character, I didn't get much from her. She felt stereotypical and the only part of her we get to see is the one who's with an abusive boyfriend and trying to heal from that. We don't get to see who she truly is even before the relationship.

The overall plot of the book felt meh to me as well. Yes, there were some stakes with having an abusive boyfriend, but what happened other than that? I guess if I revert back to elementary school I can categorize the climbing action, climax, falling action, and resolution but it's not very clear cut at all. I got about five pages to the end and the internal journey the main character was going through hadn't changed at all. Only in the last two pages did her mentality change.

Additionally, the main character was understandably in a not-so-good place mentally and emotionally throughout the book. It seems like the only reason she starts to get better, though, is because of a boy affirming for her that she's beautiful. I couldn't understand their relationship development at all because it was so quick and then all of sudden he was the reason she was getting better. Like, yes, other people can help along healing processes but if the only reason she gets better is because of a boy? Well...that just doesn't send a very good message to teenagers about what a healthy relationship is. They have a great example of an unhealthy relationship in Andie and Josh, but relying on a boy "fix" your mental state isn't a healthy relationship either.

I think just overall this book tried to do a good thing. It tried to tackle a very sensitive topic and bring light to it and possibly be inspiring. However, I don't think the execution was very good. A lot of the characters were unlikable and for a story so centered around inner growth, it's important to have a connection to the character. The plot, at times, was unrealistic. And I just don't think that this book did a very good job at showing how to get out of an abusive relationship. Overall, I'm just disappointed that this book didn't do as good a job at tackling such a sensitive topic.

Trigger warnings for: abuse, sexual assault and rape, self-harm.



Thanks for reading!
xoxo
Lauren



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Monday, July 15, 2019

Book Review: "Red, White & Royal Blue" by Casey McQuiston

Title: Red, White & Royal Blue
Author: Casey McQuiston
Genre: New Adult Contemporary
Page Length: 423 pages
Publication Date: May 14, 2019
Date Started: July 7, 2019
Date Finished: July 13, 2019
Rating: 4.5 // 5 stars

Since before this book even came out people have been raving over it. Everyone talked about how it was phenomenal, funny, and one of the best debut books of the year. After reading it, I'm inclined to agree.

Do I think this book was perfect? No. There were a few times while reading it where I felt like it was dragging. I thought it could have been a bit shorter than 400+ pages. However, that was pretty much my only issue with this book. My overall thoughts of this book consist of: "Oh my gosh" and "AHHH" and "I love it."

I think one of the reasons I liked this book so much was that I could see myself in it. Now, obviously I'm not a princess or a the daughter of the president but when I saw I could see myself in this book I mean it in a different way. I could see myself in the struggles of the characters when they discuss their childhoods, their relationships, their sexualities. That representation is something I don't typically get in a fantasy book so I really enjoyed seeing it here. Additionally, I could see my political views represented in this book and that's something usually not shown in books.

I thought the story itself was compelling and interesting, though it felt a bit insta-love to me. I know the characters have big backstories with each other, but we didn't get to read those and were only told about their previous encounters. While I liked where we started, it felt a bit sudden to me when we'd moved so quickly past the just-friends stage. Still, I loved their relationship and the plot outside of just theirs.

Another thing that was absolutely amazing was the relationships the characters had outside of each other. Seeing strong sibling relationships, parental ones, etc was wonderful since so many books I read have negative relationships in them. Also, seeing a character with divorced parents like I have was great since usually parents are either in a (happy or unhappy) marriage still or one of them is dead. I have to say, I'd read an entire book about Henry, Alex, and all their friends hanging out at the lake house.

The political journey was interesting. I'm not one who enjoys politics but am more someone who is being forced to pay attention because it affects almost every aspect of my life. Seeing different political processes that I'd never much thought about was interesting to say the least and I'll definitely be looking more into it.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It's definitely going to be one of my favorite contemporary books for a long time and I know for sure that I'll reread it at some point. I also highly recommend it to anyone who doesn't know much about American politics but wants to learn the basics without having to go to school for 10924 years.



Thanks for reading!
xoxo
Lauren



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Saturday, July 13, 2019

Book Review: "Hypnotizing Beat" by Katherine McIntyre

Title: Hypnotizing Beat
Author: Katherine McIntyre
Series: "Discord's Desire" #2
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Page Length: 208 pages
Publication Date: May 27, 2019
Date Started: June 8, 2019
Date Finished: June 8, 2019
Rating: 4 // 5 stars

*I was sent a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review*

I was pretty excited when Katherine reached out about a review for this book. I'd really enjoyed the first book in this series and I'd also enjoyed Katherine's other books that I've read so far. Additionally, something about the synopsis of this book just pulled me in.

I have to say, I think this is my favorite of Katherine's books. It involves some of my absolute favorite things to see in books such as friends to enemies to lovers, heists, steamy smut, and paranormal tensions. While the first book in this series was good, this one took it to a whole new level.

One thing that I find is my favorite part of books is the connection I make to the characters. These characters were so well-written and fleshed out that it was easy to connect to them and see their growth. I swear, a solid character arc is one of the best and hardest things an author can write. Seeing both Danica and Trevor grow throughout this book was just great. They both have their issues in the beginning and this book isn't one where they're just suddenly fixed---no, it takes time for these characters to work through their pasts. They're not perfect, it's not easy, and it's not instantaneous. But that makes it realistic and I really enjoyed the characters.

Like I said, plot wise this included some of my favorite things: heists, friends to enemies to lovers, paranormal tensions, smut, being on the run, etc. It was like a checklist of one thing I loved after the other. There were even more bits that I loved but don't want to talk about because of spoilers.


There were two reasons that I dropped a star. The first was that I felt like we didn't get to see as much of the band as we did in book 1. The two band members that haven't had a book felt like they didn't get much page time to me or bonding with the main characters. The other reason was that I felt for how high the stakes seemed to be, the ending was pretty fast and seemed a bit too easy to me. BUT that's not to say I didn't like how it ended because I did.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It's probably my favorite Katherine book and I already want to reread it. I really hope that Katherine writes more in this series and that I can see more of the characters we haven't yet heart from! I highly recommend this series for anyone who likes paranormal romance!



Thanks for reading!
xoxo
Lauren



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Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Mid-Year Book Freakout Tag


Hey all! Today I'm finally doing a tag that I've been excited to do for months: the Mid-Year Book Freakout Tag. I've seen so many people doing these and I've loved watching/reading all of it so I'm especially excited for this post. This tag was created years ago and this is my first time actually doing it! 

So far in 2019 I've read 87 (!!) books. I'm still not quite sure how I've managed to do that but I can only hope that the second half of the year is going to be as good. I have read so many great books and I have so many books that I'm excited to get to so let's just dive in! (P.S. just so that things don't get too crowded, all of these questions pertain only to this year and exclude rereads. P.P.S. some of these I could have listed 10+ but I've limited all but the last question to 5 or less). 



1. Best Book You've Read 

This was so hard to narrow down BUT I have a few. I'm not going to go super in depth on any of these since there are more of them than some other questions, but in no particular order we have:
  • The City of Brass and The Kingdom of Copper by S.A. Chakraborty
  • Hunting Prince Dracula and Escaping From Houdini by Kerri Maniscalco
  • Bloodwitch by Susan Dennard
  • Kingsbane by Claire Legrand
I have so many other books I loved this year so far but these are the ones that are tied for top book of the year (so far). 



2. Best Sequel You've Read 

For this one I only have two, so I will be discussing them a bit but, again, not super in-depth. Also, I only picked books that were the second in a series even though I did read some books that were third, fourth, etc in a series. 

First up is Kingsbane by Claire Legrand. I was so highly anticipating this sequel that I was worried it wasn't going to live up to my expectations. It did. Everything got so much more intense in this book and the stakes were a lot higher. Additionally, that ending had me absolutely shook (and still does).

I also have The Kingdom of Copper by S.A. Chakraborty. I loved the first book so much and this book takes things to a whole new level. You care even more about the characters, the political intrigue and tensions are that much higher, and you're on the edge of your seat the whole time. 



3. New Release You Haven't Read but Want To

I have so many of these, so I've again narrowed it down to five. These are also only books I currently own and not all of the books I haven't yet bought but want to!
  • Storm and Fury by Jennifer L. Armentrout
  • Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
  • Finale by Stephanie Garber
  • We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal
  • The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

I'm actually currently reading one of these right now, but I'm not very far in yet so I still decided to count it for this question. 



4. Biggest Disappointment

I have three of these so I figured I would actually talk about them in this section. For two of these, I still enjoyed the book but it wasn't what I was expecting. For the last one, I just flat out did not like it.

First we have Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare. Now, I didn't hate this book but I also was expecting something so much better. After the amazingness that Lady Midnight was, this book just let me down so much. I can't even get into it too much without making this super long so...just...here's my review.

Second is Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff. Again, I still enjoyed this book but I also didn't think it lived up to my expectations, the hype, or the greatness that was the Illuminae Files. I also think that it might not have been the right time for me to read it as I was super stressed and basically forcing myself to get through it. You can find my full review here.

Lastly is Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan which I just genuinely did not like. I can see from a rational standpoint where the hype is coming from but I also don't understand how so many critical readers think that this book is so amazing and has nothing wrong (insert shame-faced emoji here). When I first finished it I thought it was pretty good but looking back over the past few months...I did not have a fun time reading it. I could go on a whole tangent as to why this book disappointed me.



5. Biggest Surprise

First I have Bloodwitch by Susan Dennard which surprised me in the sense that it took this series to another level that the first two books hadn't reached yet. Also, all the twists in the end were just BAM BAM BAM.

Second, I have Kingsbane by Claire Legrand due to that killer plot twist at the end of the book that I still cry over. I honestly didn't see it coming and that in and of itself was a big surprise this year. 



6. Favorite New Author

S.A. Chakraborty, hands down. I'm so excited that she's going to be releasing another series after the conclusion of the Daevabad Trilogy



7. Newest Fictional Crush

I don't really have one? I just don't crush very hard anymore and a lot of the characters I love are ones that I loved before this year. I think I crush hard in the moment but for crushes I constantly think about, I've noticed that it usually takes a few books for me to die-hard love them. 



8. Newest Favorite Character

Nahri from The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty. She's just so strong and amazing even though she's in such a terrible situation. I love her so much and we STAN. 



9. Book that Made You Cry

The short list?
  • Only A Breath Apart by Katie McGarry
  • Kingsbane by Claire Legrand
  • Bloodwitch by Susan Dennard
  • The Kingdom of Copper by S.A. Chakraborty
  • The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
Some of these were happy tears, some were sad tears, and a lot had a mix of both. There were others, but here are the books where I cried the most. 



10. Book that Made You Happy

Pretty much everything above but add Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey and so many other books. I read a lot of books that made me happy so far this year and I'm so glad about that fact.



11. Favorite Book to Movie Adaptation

I didn't see any. 



12. Favorite Review You've Written
I think the main reason I liked these were because I could just gush or put a lot of discussion into them. Also, I loved most of these books. 



13. Most Beautiful Book you Bought

To go with one that I haven't yet talked about: Storm and Fury by Jennifer L. Armentrout.



14. What do you need to read by the end of the year? 

Pretty much my entire TBR but especially:
  • Red Queen series by Victoria Aveyard
  • Godsgrave and Darkdawn by Jay Kristoff
  • Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin
  • The Beautiful by Renée Ahdieh
  • Red Rising saga by Pierce Brown
  • Finale by Stephanie Garber
  • Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
  • The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo
  • Storm and Fury by Jennifer L. Armentrout



Thanks for reading!
xoxo
Lauren



You can follow my bookstagram here. A brand new giveaway will be posted soon!

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