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



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

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