Saturday, January 7, 2023

Book Series I Finished in 2022


This past reading year was an interesting one that I'm overall satisfied with. I read 63 books, of which a lot of those were rereads. And of all of those, I finished 8 book series. I am including rereads in that number, but only for series that I reread in their entirety during 2022. Let's go ahead and dive in! 




The first series I finished was the Sands of Arawiya duology by Hafsah Faizal which consists of We Hunt the Flame and We Free the Stars. These were the first two books I read in 2022 and the first series I finished. I rather enjoyed these books, though I do think I would have enjoyed them more if I hadn't read them as the first books out of a reading slump over the holidays. They needed more time and attention than I gave them. But I still enjoyed them and look forward to rereading them in the future. 

GOODREADS     |     BOOK 1 REVIEW     |     BOOK 2 REVIEW




The second series I finished this year was the Fable duology by Adrienne Young. These two books are in my top reads of the year and I had so much fun with this duology. I've enjoyed everything I've read by Adrienne, but I was pushed to read these ones sooner because a family member was raving about them. These books were pure escapism and fun for me. The world was so vivid and I felt like I never wanted to leave. I've thought about these books a lot since I finished them and I can't wait to dive into the spin-offs in the future.

GOODREADS     |     SERIES REVIEW




Up next, I reread the entire Fablehaven series by Brandon Mull. This is one of my all time favorite middle-grade series from when I was younger. I was really in the mood for a middle-grade so I ended up just picking up the first one again...which spiraled into me rereading the rest of the series and the sequel series in one long binge. It was a pure joy being back in these books and going on these adventures again. I've loved these books since I was a child and there's so much nostalgia wrapped up in these pages that it was a very comforting reread. 

After Fablehaven, I decided to just dive straight into reading the sequel series, Dragonwatch, also by Brandon Mull. This series follows the same characters (and some new) on new adventures and trials. We got to explore a lot more of the world and it was so fascinating. Most of all, this series felt like a warm hug and a pure comfort. Getting to be back with characters I love but going on new adventures in new places was such a treat. I know that I'll be revisiting this series just as much as I revisit the original. 

GOODREADS     |     SERIES REVIEW




The fifth series I read was the Raybearer duology by Jordan Ifueko. This is an African-inspired fantasy duology that was so incredibly vivid and fascinating. I'd heard nothing but good things about it so when it was on sale I picked up a copy as fast as I could. I binged these so fast because I just couldn't put them down. The one thing I wish was different, though, is that there was more on-page found family. So much of the story revolves around protecting loved ones and connecting with family. But it felt like most of it was us being told how close this family was and not so much seeing it happen which I wished for. Though that's probably the only issue I have with them. 

GOODREADS     |     SERIES REVIEW




Then I reread the entire Curse of the Gods series by Jaymin Eve and Jane Washington. This is one of my favorite RH series and I just needed a fun reread so I picked it up. I also realized I hadn't reread these in a while and it was only my first time rereading the last book since it came out. It was so much fun being back in this fantasy romance. Overall, just a fun revisit to a great series that I love. 

GOODREADS     |     BOOK 1 REVIEW     |     BOOK 2 REVIEW




Then I read one of my new all-time favorites: the Mindf*ck Series by S.T. Abby. This is a five book series (though each book is pretty short) that I stayed up reading in one night. It's a super dark story with a bit of romance in it and I was absolutely obsessed. It's about a serial killer (though you're on her side) who falls in love with the FBI agent working to find her. Of course, the story is about so much more than that. I laughed, I cried, I got angry, I got scared...it was a whole emotional rollercoaster. It's also now one of my all-time favorites that I think about constantly, though I definitely recommend checking out the trigger warnings before reading. 

GOODREADS     |     SERIES REVIEW




The last series I finished in 2022 was the STEM-inist Novella Collection by Ali Hazelwood. These are three romance novellas focused around women in STEM. I definitely have my favorites within these novellas but overall I enjoyed them. They weren't particularly groundbreaking and I still prefer her longer works but it was still cute and fun. 

GOODREADS     |     SERIES REVIEW



Thanks for reading!
xoxo
Lauren



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Thursday, January 5, 2023

My Favorite Books of 2022




In many ways, 2022 was one of my most successful reading years. While the number of books I read might not be as high as usual, this reading year was successful for other reasons. I finally got out of a reading slump that had lasted over a year. I finished multiple series. I reread some long-time favorites. I discovered new favorites. Most of all, I enjoyed the vast majority of books that I read. My average star rating this year was 4.7/5 which is the highest it has ever been. A lot of that is definitely attributed to rereads of favorites but a lot is also due to embracing being a mood reader and only reading books when I was really excited for them. 

I read 63 books this year. I was hoping to get that number up to 70 but the holiday season snuck up on me. I'm hoping to start January off strong and keep that momentum through the year and all the stress that is ahead of me. Of the 63 books I read, 26 were rereads, which I typically exclude from this list as it's unfair to consider past favorites as new. Of the 37 remaining books, a lot of them were a part of series which I only give one spot each on this list. All in all, it wasn't too hard to make this favorites list. 

I've got my top 10 new reads of the year here. If you'd asked me for my top 10 predictions at the beginning of 2022, I would have had a drastically different list for you. But I discovered new authors and new series that have brought me a lot of joy and hours spent on the couch reading. So, without further ado, here are my top 10 of 2022...




Coming in at number 10, we have Foul Lady Fortune by Chloe Gong. This is the first book in a spin-off/sequel duology to These Violent Delights, which was a series that featured on my top book of 2021 list. Foul Lady Fortune was definitely one of my most anticipated books of this year and I was lucky enough to read an advance copy over the summer. 

This book surprised me in many ways. I wasn't sure where the story was going to go when I started it, but the path it took me on was nothing I could have imagined. I loved the characters, though that's unsurprising as many of them were side characters in These Violent Delights. I don't want to ramble too long, so if you want more of my thoughts you can check out my non-spoiler review here. I am very much looking forward to the sequel and a companion novella bind-up in the new year! 




At number 9, I have Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao. From even before this was released, I was excited to read it. Everything about this book sounded epic, from the characters to the plot to the sci-fi/fantasy world. It feels like it's been so long since I read this (almost a year at the time of writing this post) and I long to return to this story. 

The sequel is coming in 2023 (finally!) and I am so excited to see how things progress. The way this first book ended absolutely shook me to my core and with the release coming over a year and a half after the first book, the wait has been intense. There's still eight months of waiting but I'm very much looking forward to Heavenly Tyrant. For my full non-spoiler thoughts, check out my review here




Coming in at number 8, we have House of Sky and Breath by Sarah J. Maas. This may be a surprising placement, seeing as her books are usually my top books of the year when they release. But even though I enjoyed it overall, I did have some issues with this book that have knocked it out of the top spot. You can find my immediate non-spoiler thoughts in my review here, though I will have to say I've thought a lot about it over the past few months and my thoughts have definitely changed a little. 

All in all, the majority of the book I enjoyed. The characters, specifically, are what earned it a spot on this list as I loved being reunited with them. Through all the secrecy and the spying and the drama, this book is definitely a new move for Sarah and I am eagerly anticipating the next book's release (hopefully in 2023 though it may be 2024). Most of all, I'm still just caught up by the ending and how it shook me to my core. 




The number 7 spot goes to The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood. I loved it. There's not much else to say other than it was just fun and light and warmth in a time when I was stressed and just down. The actual story was so fun and enjoyable and I couldn't put the book down. I most loved the focus on science and STEM and badass girls doing badass academic things. I am eagerly looking forward to reading more books by Ali as, so far, I've enjoyed everything I've read. Plus, here's my full review if you want to know more of my thoughts! 




Number 6 goes to the The Bonds That Tie series by J. Bree. I've finished the first three books, Broken Bonds, Savage Bonds, and Blood Bonds and am currently reading the fourth. This is a "why choose?" urban fantasy romance and I'm obsessed. It's very much enemies-to-lovers and very slow-burn, which is one of my favorite breeds of "why choose?" romances. 

I've not yet posted an official review as I'm waiting to do a full series review when I'm done but all I can say for now is that I'm obsessed. The main character is so much fun to read from and I adore the slow-burn romances and the conflict that comes with it all. I'm very much looking forward to the rest of the series, which means you might see the rest on my favorite books of 2023 list next year! 




At number 5 I have the Fable duology by Adrienne Young. These are not the first books I've read by Adrienne and I've enjoyed all the ones I've read previously. But this duology was completely different than her other books I've read thus far yet still the same comforting writing. What made me enjoy these books so much was the escapism I got from them. I experience escapism with most books and it's why I love reading so much. But there are some books that just suck you in so hard that you can barely remember you're reading. 

This duology was that for me. The world, specifically, was so vivid and bright. I felt like I was swimming in the ocean and baking under the sun. It was so amazing. I love swimming and I love nautical stories. I think a strong plot combined with those elements featuring heavily made me love these books so much. You can find my full gushing review here. What's even better is that there's two spin-offs that I haven't gotten to yet that I am so eagerly looking forward to. 




The number 4 spot goes to the Dragonwatch series by Brandon Mull. This series is a spin-off/sequel series to Fablehaven, which is probably my favorite middle-grade series from when I was a kid. I've known about this sequel series for ages but hadn't really felt the urge to finally dive in until this year. I reread Fablehaven this year, which was so much fun, and knew that this series had finally released the last book. So, when I finished Fablehaven, I decided to keep the momentum going and just dive straight into Dragonwatch

This series felt like returning home. It felt like a warm hug. I'm sure that so much of my enjoyment came from nostalgia but it was just so much fun getting to revisit these characters and go on new adventures. We visited a lot of new parts of the world, encountered new magical creatures, and made new friends that I loved. It was just so much fun and I'm looking forward to revisiting it in the future yet again. You can find my full review here




The number 3 spot goes to Triply Duty Bodyguards by Lily Gold. This is a why choose romance standalone and I am obsessed with it. I was wanting a bodyguard romance and this one with multiple love interests fit the bill. I was hoping for an enjoyable story to pass the time and satisfy my bodyguard-trope craving. But this book absolutely blew me away. 

I loved the characters, I loved the slow-burn, I loved the story...it was just great. I think what made it amazing for me was that there was conflict and plot that was outside of the romance alone. I always like when there's conflict the protagonists have to work against together and this was one of those. Plus, the love interests were swoony and it was just so much fun seeing them all figure things out. You can find a mini-review here.  




Coming in at number 2 is a new all-time favorite that I haven't stopped thinking about since I finished it: the Mindf*ck Series by S.T. Abby. Now, I've read other books by this author (may she rest-in-peace) under her other pen-name Kristy Cunning and enjoyed them. But this has to be my favorite of them all. 

This is a dark (and when I say dark I mean dark) story about a serial killer who falls in love with an FBI agent (who's hunting her). The romance is a big driving point of the story, but honestly it's not even remotely why I loved it so much. Before I get into a long ramble, you can find my review here. All that to say, I stayed up literally all night (until 8 AM) to finish this series and I loved every moment.  




And for my number 1 read of the year we have City of Gods and Monsters by Kayla Edwards. Rarely does a day go by the I don't think about this book, honestly. It's a fantasy romance set in a modern urban city with the bodyguard trope, slow-burn romance, and found family. Honestly, as much as I enjoyed Crescent City this book is actually what I wanted from it and I'm so glad I got it in this one. 

I loved every moment of this book. I didn't want to put it down. And this book, like many on this list, was a stellar reminder of why I love reading so much. It's because of stories like these...the ones that suck you in and grip you tight and don't let you go. Honestly, having to put the book down and go to work was one of the hardest things I'd done. I loved it so so much and I'm just so happy that the sequel is out in January as I need MORE. You can find my full review here



Thanks for reading!
xoxo
Lauren



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Tuesday, January 3, 2023

December 2022 Book Haul

My last book haul of 2022 is here! I hauled *a lot* of books this month and I'm excited about all of them. I got 13 books this month, which was a mix of preorders the finally arrived, gift card purchases, and Christmas gifts. Let's go ahead and just dive right in!



The first book I got this month was I'm Glad My Mom Died by Jeanette McCurdy. I'm sure most people know what this one is about but I've been eager to get my own copy for a while. I picked up this copy at the supermarket where it was on sale and I made an impulse buy. Hopefully when things settle down in the new year I'll get a proper chance to sit down and devote some time to this one. 

The next book I got was A Light in the Flame by Jennifer L. Armentrout. My copy finally arrived and I'm so excited. I haven't yet read the first book as I was waiting for this one to come out. I've heard good things and I've also heard that it's better than From Blood and Ash. The new hardcovers now also come with fanart and foiling on the hardcover, which is the main reason I was excited to finally get this. 

Up next I finally got my Fairyloot edition of Foul Lady Fortune by Chloe Gong. This is my second edition to arrive and it's absolutely gorgeous. This one has an alternate cover, stenciled edges, embossing, artwork, and is signed. I'm obsessed and can't wait to put it next to my Fairyloot editions of These Violent Delights and Our Violent Ends

The next book I got was the Fairyloot edition of The Ones We Burn by Rebecca Mix. This was the November YA book that finally arrived mid-December. This edition has ombre edges, an alternate cover, artwork, embossing, and is signed. This was one of my most anticipated debuts to come out and I'm quite interested to see how it goes. This edition is also pretty nice and I'm eager to put it on my shelves when we're moved into our new place. 

Up next I got the Illumicrate edition of A Fire Endless by Rebecca Ross. This edition has an exclusive cover, stenciled edges, artwork, and is signed. I got this one to match my Illumicrate edition of the first one, A River Enchanted. I haven't yet read these but I've heard nothing but good things. This edition is also stunning and I think I like it even more than the first book's edition. 

I then finally got my Waterstones edition of Alone With You In The Ether by Olivie Blake. I ordered this ages ago and it was late arriving in store. I finally picked it up though and it's rather stunning with its stenciled edges that match the cover. I've not yet read this one but I've heard so many good things about it (and ngl the hype is a bit scary). But I'll go ahead and add this to my shelf of unread Olivie books that I'm looking forward to lol. 

Then I got my Fairyloot edition of Emily Wilde's Encyclopaedia of Faeries by Heather Fawcett. This was the December Adult book and I'm in love with it. The cover is stunning but my favorite is definitely the stenciled edges. This edition has an exclusive cover with foiling, artwork on the hardcover, stenciled edges, artwork, and is signed. This book sounds like the epitome of cottage core and cozy fantasy. I'm so excited to read it and hope to get around to it soon.

Then I got some books for Christmas. Up first I have All of Our Demise by Amanda Foody and C.L. Herman. This is the sequel to All of Us Villains which I got last year. I was waiting for this sequel to come out before binging them both and I'm thrilled to finally have this one in my hands. It's the UK edition that will match my copy of the first book. Once we're moved into a place and I have my books out of storage I'll be binging these ASAP. 

The second book I got for Christmas was A Broken Blade by Melissa Blair. This is one of my favorite books and I originally read it in the self-published form. It was picked up and republished by a traditional publisher, though, and I knew that I wanted to get the updated version before the sequel came out. I was lucky enough to get this for Christmas and I'm thrilled. It's so floppy and shiny and I can't wait to reread it when the sequel comes out later in 2023. 

Then my preorder of the Fairyloot edition of Kingdom of the Feared by Kerri Maniscalco arrived. I ordered this ages ago to match my Fairyloot editions of the first two books and it finally arrived a few days ago. It's beautiful and the edges are just as stunning as the others. Once our books are out of storage I'll be able to put this next to the others and see them in all their glory together. Then maybe I can finally finish reading them.

The last three I got were the first three Animal Crossing: New Horizons: Deserted Island Diary mangas by Kokonasu Rumba. I just discovered recently that there are Animal Crossing mangas and I knew I had to get them. These are so cute and I will definitely be reading through them all in the next few days before I have to head back to work. From what I've heard, they're definitely a bit wacky and silly as well. 



Thanks for reading!
xoxo
Lauren



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