Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Finally Fall Book Tag


Hello friends! It's almost fall. Where I live we had about a week of cool weather before it warmed back up again and, while it's not super hot, I still wish it was the weather where I can wear fuzzy socks and leggings all day without overheating. Alas, soon that weather will come!

Today I'm here to do an updated version of the Finally Fall Book Tag. I originally did this tag back in 2018 (and you can read it here) but I thought it would be fun to see how my answers have changed over the years!



1. In fall, the air is crisp and clear: name a book with a vivid setting!

For this one, I decided to go with The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty. Shannon has written an absolutely stunning story set in an equally stunning world. Her descriptions and writing made the image of Daevabad so vivid for me. I truly cannot wait for the Netflix show to see how the city comes to life!

The City of Brass (The Daevabad Trilogy, #1)



2. Nature is beautiful… but also dying: name a book that is beautifully written, but also deals with a heavy topic like loss or grief.

For this one, I went with Only A Breath Apart by Katie McGarry. There are a few heavy topics in this one but it mainly deals with abuse. This book impacted me so much and I felt such a deep connection to the characters in it. It was such an emotional book and so well done!

Only a Breath Apart



3. Fall is back to school season: share a non-fiction book that taught you something new.

I haven't yet finished this one but I chose Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi. I'm not even halfway yet but there's already been a huge amount of history that I've learned. This book truly is an amazing informative tool even if the subject matter itself is infuriating. Not only that, but reading about the backgrounds of some things that I learned about in my African American Lit class has been really eye-opening.

Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America



4. In order to keep warm, it’s good to spend some time with the people we love: name a fictional family/household/friend-group that you’d like to be a part of.

I have so many that I could chose for this one but the Inner Circle from the A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J. Maas is truly the one that comes to mind first. They all just have such a tight-knit bond and the novella set after book three has me just dying to spend some holiday time with them all.

A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #2)



5. The colorful leaves are piling up on the ground: show us a pile of fall-colored spines!

This was actually a bit difficult but I think that all of these spines have fall colors! I posted this on Instagram a few weeks ago and I'm absolutely in love with all of these editions!




6. Fall is the perfect time for some storytelling by the fireside: share a book wherein somebody is telling a story.

There are a few of these but one of my current reads definitely fits the bill: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. There are actually a few different stories being told within this book which I wasn't expecting when I first started it. However, I'm actually really enjoying it and I'm excited to see where the book goes next.

Frankenstein



7. The nights are getting darker: share a dark, creepy read.

For this one I chose Capturing the Devil by Kerri Maniscalco. This book felt so different and darker to the other books in this series to me. I was genuinely terrified at times while reading this and I wasn't expecting that at all. All of these books have some level of darkness and creepiness to them but I feel like this one just went up a whole level.

Capturing the Devil (Stalking Jack the Ripper, #4)



8. The days are getting colder: name a short, heartwarming read that could warm up somebody’s cold and rainy day.

I'm going to go with She's With Me by Jessica Cunsolo. This book is just one that always makes me smile and feel warm. I read the first drafts of this book as it was being published on Wattpad a chapter at a time and absolutely fell in love. It's such an enjoyable read for me and I'm so excited for the second book to be updated and released later this year!

She's With Me (She's With Me, #1)



9. Fall (luckily, it’s my favorite season) returns every year: name an old favorite that you’d like to return to soon.

For this I've chosen the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead. I recently read around 60 pages of the first one and have decided that it's necessary for me to do a complete series reread over the next few months. I haven't read these books in almost 10 years and I miss the characters and world so much. I have also forgotten so much (like pretty much all of the series) so I can't wait to revisit and experience it all over again.

Vampire Academy (Vampire Academy, #1)



10. Fall is the perfect time for cozy reading nights: share your favorite cozy reading “accessories!"

I don't like to snack much while reading but I do love a good cup of hot chocolate. I'm also a big fan of wearing fuzzy socks, specifically the cozy cabin socks from Field and Stream, and curling up under a blanket while I read. 



11. Spread the autumn appreciation and tag some people!

I tag anyone and everyone who wants to do this tag!




Thanks for reading!
xoxo
Lauren



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Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Book Review: "Blood & Honey" by Shelby Mahurin

Blood & Honey (Serpent & Dove, #2)
Title: Blood & Honey
Author: Shelby Mahurin
Series: "Serpent & Dove" #2
Genre: YA Fantasy
Page Length: 532
Publication Date: September 1, 2020
Rating: 4.5 // 5 stars

*I was provided a free e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are my own*

Okay so if you've been following my blog for a while, you will know that Serpent & Dove was my favorite book of 2019. Blood & Honey was my *most* anticipated release of this year. And I will start this review by saying that I enjoyed this book. Did I love it? No. Is Serpent & Dove still my favorite? Yes. But did I enjoy this book? Also yes.

So I've actually been sitting on my thoughts for a few days and ending up raising my rating. I originally gave Blood & Honey four stars but, after looking back on it, I decided to raise it because of how good this book was.

Let me be clear: this book is not like Serpent & Dove. Serpent & Dove has just the right amount of angst amongst all the fluff and humor to be a multi-faceted book. But there's a feeling of hope throughout. I'm always happy reading Serpent & Dove even if the characters are in tough situations.

Blood & Honey is not that.

I knew going in that Blood & Honey was going to be different. Not only is doing the same book twice boring but, with the way things were left at the end of Serpent & Dove, it wouldn't have been realistic. Blood & Honey is a natural progression of the situations that we were in at the end of book one.

Blood & Honey made my heart ache almost from the very beginning. This is not a happy book. The characters are in a very tough situation at the end of the first book and there's very little time passed between that ending and this beginning. We're tossed right into the mess of it all and things are happening right away. Every scene had a purpose and added to the plot or character development even if it doesn't initially seem that way.

Serpent & Dove is a layered book but still relatively uncomplicated whereas Blood & Honey is complex and makes you think. Decisions made in the beginning were impacting events towards the end of the book. Little offhand comments in the first few chapters were thought back to when the climax was coming. This was an incredibly intricate storyline and I really liked that. I liked getting the foreshadowing and how it made me have so many theories as I read. I liked that it made me think.

One of the main things that I liked about Blood & Honey, apart from all the clever foreshadowing, was the expansion of the world. I loved Serpent & Dove but at the end of reading it I was wanting to know more about the witches and other aspects of the magic system. I was really happy to see that explored in much more depth in this book. Not only did we get to see more of Lou's type of magic, but also blood witches and other magical creatures. I honestly can't wait to see more of all of it in the third (and final) book!

The characters go through a lot. It seems like everything that can go wrong for them, goes wrong. Add in tense moments between each other, mistakes they made, and the stress of their situation and no one is really having a good time. There is one character in particular who my heart went out to the entire book and just gave me all the feels even more than the others. Also, I found myself really becoming more attached to a certain character from book one that I hadn't really felt anything about before so that felt nice.

I've seen a few people nagging on Lou and Reid in this book but I just think that the way they were portrayed and developed throughout was natural and realistic. After the ending in book one and the situation they're in during Blood & Honey, there's a lot of strain on them and their relationship. I think what would have been more annoying, for me, is to see everything return to the way it was between them before the ending of Serpent & Dove. Can you tell I'm trying not to spoil anything and that's why everything sounds so vague? I thought that their relationship development in this book was actually really well done, even if a bit frustrating at times.

There were a few things that made me drop my rating but I don't want to spoil anything and to talk about them would do that. I'll just stick with saying that there were some unresolved questions I had and some inconsistencies that I noticed. Additionally, there were a few times where I felt the story wasn't grabbing me as much as the first book had. I think that can be attributed to the two books having such different feels but it's still something that I was noticing as I read. I also will say that, although I enjoyed this book and gave it four and a half stars, I think that there is a little bit of second-book slump happening here.

Overall, Blood & Honey made me an emotional mess. Out of all the possibilities I could have predicted, the way this ended was not one of them. There were a couple things at the end that really hit me and I am still an emotional mess. I am so excited for the third book and I honestly can't wait for all of my copies and book boxes to come in so that I can be immersed in the feels again!



Thanks for reading!
xx
Lauren



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Friday, September 4, 2020

August 2020 Book Haul


Okay so where I didn't read very many books in August, I did haul a bunch of them. I got 16 books in August, which is one of my bigger hauls of the past year. However, considering last summer I had a haul with over 30 books in it, I'm not too ashamed at this number.

This month was a big book haul month for me for a few different reasons. The first was that it was my birthday and I got a few books and gift cards (that I then spent on books). Additionally, I had a few books that I had to buy for my classes this semester since I don't have access to the school library right now. Lastly, I was sent a couple of these for various promotional reasons. There's quite a few to talk about so let's just dive right in!



Midnight Sun (Twilight, #5)The first book that I got this month was Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer. Twelve-year-old Lauren was dying when this book was announced earlier this year. There were a few chapters of this leaked many years ago but I didn't actually read them because it wasn't something I was interested in. However, I was so excited when this was announced. I'm a little over halfway through at the moment and it's not quite as great as I'd hoped, but I'm still enjoying it overall.

Boyfriend MaterialUp next I have a physical copy of Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall. I listened to this book on audio early in August and absolutely fell in love with the characters and story. While listening, I knew that I needed a copy for my shelves. I'm absolutely in love with this story and the paperback is so floppy and just nice to hold and look at. If you want to know my thoughts on this book, you can find my review here.

If you read one sci-fi series this year, it should be The Broken Earth |  Ars TechnicaThen I got the entire Broken Earth trilogy by N.K. Jemisin from my grandmother for my birthday. I was so excited that she got these for me because this trilogy has actually been on my list for a while now and I've heard nothing but amazing things. I would ideally like to read it this year but with school and my internship I don't see that happening, but I know I'm going to make it a priority in 2021!

A Court of Mist and FuryMy grandma also got me the new hardcover edition of A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas. This is my favorite book from the ACOTAR series and I'm really excited to have this new edition in my collection. While I do still prefer the original covers and don't think the new ones match the story very well, I do think that the new covers are pretty. Hopefully I can collect the rest of these over the next few months in time for the fourth book's release!

Vampire Academy: The Ultimate Guide
Then I picked up a copy of the Vampire Academy: Ultimate Guide by Michelle Rowan with Richelle Mead. This is a companion guide to the Vampire Academy series which is one of my favorite series I read when I was younger. I really want to do a reread of the entire series next year but in the meantime I'm excited to learn more about the characters and world from this guide.

Millionaires for the MonthThe next book I got was sent to me by Random House Kids and Storygram Kids for a tour I did on Instagram a few days ago. The book I got was Millionaires for the Month by Stacy McAnulty and it sounds so cute! It's a middle grade story about two boys who find a billionaire's wallet and are challenged to spend over $5 million in just 30 days. This just sounds like such a fun story and I'm really glad I was able to be on this tour.

Archenemies (Renegades, #2)Then I snagged a copy of the Archenemies Barnes & Noble Exclusive edition by Marissa Meyer. This is the second book in the Renegades trilogy which is one of my new all-time favorites. I discovered that the B&N edition had an exclusive bonus scene included and I knew that I had to get my hands on it! I saw it on eBay for cheaper than it had originally been sold for and jumped at the chance to add it to my collection.

JackpotUp next I got a copy of Jackpot by Nic Stone from my dad for my birthday. You may know Nic Stone from her debut, Dear Martin, but she has a host of other published books that I have on my wishlist. I'm so excited to have Jackpot in my hands because it sounds so good. In just one sentence it's about a girl working at a gas station who has to team up with a guy to find the person who bought a winning lottery ticket so that hopefully she can get a reward.  Hopefully I can read it soon!

Phantom's Mask (Chronicles of Avilésor: War of the Realms #2)A Fallen Hero (Chronicles of Avilésor: War of the Realms #1) I then was sent hardcover copies of A Fallen Hero and Phantom's Mask by Sara A. Noë. These are the first two books in the Chronicles of Avilseor and I'm so excited to have them! A Fallen Hero was one of my favorite books of 2019 and I am so excited to read Phantom's Mask now that it's finally out! I'm hoping to get reread A Fallen Hero and then dive into Phantom's Mask this month.

Lastly, I got a few other books for school and whatnot: Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy, the Norton Anthology of English Literature Volume 2, News: The Politics of Illusion, and The Intelligent Investor. Nothing too exciting here, but these are books that I'll be reading soon-ish!



Thanks for reading! Did you get any exciting books this month? Let me know in the comments!
xx
Lauren



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