Monday, April 6, 2020

Book Review: "House of Earth and Blood" by Sarah J. Maas

House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City, #1)
Title: House of Earth and Blood
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Series: "Crescent City" #1
Genre: Adult Fantasy
Page Length: 803 pages
Publication Date: March 3, 2020
Rating: 5 // 5 stars

This was my most anticipated release of 2020 and I have to say...it didn't disappoint. I had very high expectations going in and, while it was still different than what I expected, I'd say that overall this book did what I wanted it to.

Before I get into the bulk of the review, I also want to say that I got spoiled for a major plot point very early on in my reading of this book. I'd like to say that knowing that didn't impact my enjoyment, but I think a lot of the tension from this book comes from the murder investigation and the question of who committed all the murders. However, since I was spoiled for who was behind it all, I noticed that I felt like a lot of the tension and stakes in the book weren't hitting me as hard as they would have if I hadn't been spoiled. And it makes me mad because this was my most anticipated book and I didn't get to find everything out on my own.

But other than being spoiled, my experience reading this book was very good. This is Sarah's first official adult book and it definitely felt like it. While her others books have dealt with mature things, they've always been less descriptive in terms of cursing, violence, and sex. This book didn't hold back on any of those things and I loved it! Say what you want about Sarah J. Maas but she built a readership with Throne of Glass and a lot of those original readers are now adults and she's provided more content for them (aka me) throughout the years that ages with us. Despite the content she wrote about being different, this still felt like a Sarah J. Maas book to me.

Alright let's get into the actual book. So the world itself was a bit confusing at first, understandably, as it's an entirely new city, time period, magic system, etc. The world-building was pretty good throughout most of the book but the front end felt very info-dumpy to me. Looking back, I was a bit overwhelmed with all of the details and names being thrown at me that I just kinda skimmed most of the info-dumps at the beginning. Throughout the rest of the book, I was able to get a better understanding of what all was what so I definitely think that I would have been fine without the info-dumps.

The world itself is fascinating. It's a modern fantasy world with technology mixed in with magic and different non-human beings. It felt very much like an urban fantasy, which I enjoyed since I don't really read much urban fantasy. We got a lot of looks at different magic and I'm excited to see the magic system explored in more depth in the upcoming books. Not to mention, I really want to know more about all of the Vanir (non-human magical beings) and their systems, magic, etc.

The plot itself was interesting. Like I said, I did get spoiled for the outcome of one of the biggest questions of the book so that was a bit disappointing. I enjoyed everything else and there were plenty of smaller plot lines that I was thrilled to read about. The plot twists were also quite good. What really drove this story for me, however, (like all of Sarah's other books) was the characters.

We follow a pretty solid cast of characters and I think that's my favorite thing about all of Sarah's books--the ability to write solid characters and friendships. In this book, the importance of friendship is very much emphasized from page one and I'm glad that we got to see that continue throughout the book.

My favorite character was obviously Bryce. I feel for her and I'm so excited to see where her story goes. There were a couple things that I felt were a bit too easy plot-wise with Bryce's character, but overall I loved Bryce and I'm excited to read more about her.

As for the main love interest, I won't say who it is, but I liked him. I liked him and I really connected with him as a character. I liked how his and Bryce's relationship developed, though I do think I need another book for them to be cemented as one of my top ships. I've noticed in Sarah's books it usually takes me until the second book with the pairing to fully ship it.

I liked all the side characters as well. We've got a lot of characters who are on Bryce's side but not necessarily after the same things and there's a lot of interesting characters in the mix. Sarah made each of the side characters stand out from each other and I was able to form connections to them all very easily.

That being said, because I connected to well to the characters, I had a lot of feels throughout this book. From the beginning all the way to the end, I was emotionally invested in Bryce but, as the story grew, I became attached to other characters as well. The last 60 pages of the book involved me just crying the whole time. There were happy tears, sad tears--just so many tears! I love that Sarah can bring out such emotion in me, though, because it's a sign that I really connected with the book.

I am very interested to see where book two goes. This one wrapped up well and there wasn't a big cliffhanger, but there were a lot of open plot lines and questions I had at the end. I think there's so many ways that Sarah could take this book and I'm not quite sure where the next ones are going to go. Either way, I'm excited to explore more with these characters and world.

I'm not sure how coherent this review was, but overall my thoughts boil down to this: I really enjoyed this book. I think being spoiled made me enjoy it a little less than I would have if I could have experienced all the tension and mystery like I was supposed to, but I still loved it. We have a very solid beginning to Sarah's new series and I'm excited to see what happens next!



Thanks for reading!
xoxo
Lauren



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Friday, April 3, 2020

March 2020 Book Haul!


So...I got a lot of books in March. After not purchasing a single book in February (though I did get some for free) the number I bought this month is a bit much...though I do have my reasons. I got 17 books this month, though 8 were preorders or used gift cards, 3 were sent to me by publishers, 2 were for class, and the others were ones that I really wanted to treat myself to. Let's just go ahead and dive right in!



Chain of Gold (The Last Hours, #1)The first book I got this month was Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare. I had preordered this months ago with a gift card so I was eagerly anticipating the date that it would finally arrive. While I don't expect to read this soon, I am beginning my reread of the Infernal Devices so that I can dive into this new book with fresh eyes! Plus, the cover and book itself is just absolutely stunning.

House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City, #1)Up next, I have two copies of House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas. One is the regular US hardcover that I picked up from Barnes & Noble on release day and the other was the Waterstones edition with red-stained edges that I picked up while I was in London. I am also getting the special tour edition and another copy with a bookplate, so look forward to those in April!

Ash PrincessThen I got the entire Ash Princess trilogy by Laura Sebastian. This was sent to me by the publisher for my participation in the Ember Queen blog tour that was hosted by FFBC (you can find my post here). I was really happy to get copies of this trilogy since I'd only had the ebooks of the first two! I also read this entire trilogy in March and it was quite a great ride!

A Court of Thorns and Roses - WikipediaUp next, while I was in London, I got the entire A Court of Thorns and Roses trilogy (minus book 2 since I already had it) in the gorgeous UK paperbacks. This series is getting an entire new set of covers and I knew that I wanted these editions before they went out of print, so while I was visiting London I picked them up.

CursedI also picked up Cursed by Jennifer L. Armentrout while I was in London. Jennifer is one of my auto-buy authors and I'm slowly trying to collect all of her books. Since she has over 50 published, it's taken me a while to buy them (and I'm still only halfway). This is one of her young-adult standalones and I figured that it's cheaper to buy in the UK so I picked it up when I saw it in Waterstones.

When I got back, I had to buy a couple of books for my classes since I no longer have access to the campus library. These were The Escape by William Wells Brown and The People Could Fly by Virginia Hamilton. The first one is a play written about escaping slavery while the other is about African-American folktales. I'm taking an African-American Literature class and it's probably my favorite class this semester, so I'm really excited about both of these books.

Amazon.com: Kingsbane (The Empirium Trilogy) (0760789291593 ...Up next, I have five books from Barnes & Noble. One of my amazing friends gave me a gift card that she wasn't going to use and I went a little bit crazy? I actually didn't spend over the gift card amount but I did try to get as many books as I could.

First, I picked up the paperback edition of Kingsbane by Claire Legrand, which actually releases April 7. I thought I was preordering it but I guess they sent it early because it arrived with the rest of the books. Anyway, this was one of my favorite books of 2019 and I am so excited for the final book to be releasing later this year. This book absolutely wrecked me and I cannot wait to reread it. The paperback is also a lot simpler than the hardcover and it's just so pretty.

Review: A Court of Thorn and Roses Trilogy – Mrs K ReadsI also got the A Court of Thorns and Roses trilogy in the US paperbacks (minus book 2 since I already had it). Again, as with the UK paperbacks, I picked these up because I wanted them for my collection. Since the series is getting new covers, I also knew I wanted to get them before the new covers released so that I wouldn't run into the challenge of trying to find out of print books (because I hate that).

She's With Me
The last book I got from Barnes & Noble was She's With Me by Jessica Cunsolo. This was originally published on Wattpad and was my favorite story on there, so when I found out that it was being traditionally published by Wattpad Books, I was so excited. I finally got my hands on a copy and I ended up reading it the same day that it got delivered! I also just want to reread it immediately!



So those are all of the books I got in March. I definitely didn't expect to get that many and I am setting a goal to myself of not purchasing a single book in April (though books that I previously purchased that are on their way don't count). It will be tough since I have more time to read and I find that my urge to buy books goes up whenever I'm reading more, but I am trying to be strong and not spend money because of this whole pandemic situation. Either way, I do know that I'll be getting some books from publishers this month, so I'll see you in the next haul!



Thanks for reading!
xoxo
Lauren



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Wednesday, April 1, 2020

March 2020 Wrap-Up!


Well hello everyone! March is finally over. The only thing I can say is about damn time! Looking back, March seemed like it lasted a decade. At the beginning I had midterms, then I was in London before the pandemic really hit, and then I was moved out of college and back home in isolation doing online classes. Suffice to say, this month wasn't a great reading month. I did read 8 books, but half of them were rather short and my TBR was quite a bit longer for the month. However, I am not too upset because I was already stressed about life and I'm glad I didn't stress over books as well. Anyway, let's just dive in! 



BOOKS READ
1. 
Title: Lumberjanes, vol 1: Beware the Kitten Holy
Authors/Illustrators: Stevenson, Ellis, Watters, & Allen
Rating: 4 // 5 stars
Beware the Kitten Holy (Lumberjanes, Vol. 1)
This was super cute and adorable. It was a bit different than I expected, but in a good way. I'm definitely getting a lot of family of friends vibes and I like that it's set at a camp. Also, the introduction of supernatural events and whatnot has me really intrigued! 

2. 
Title: Lumberjanes, vol 2: Friendship to the Max
Authors/Illustrators: Stevenson, Ellis, Watters, & Allen
Rating: 4 // 5 stars
Friendship to the Max by Noelle Stevenson
I was a bit more confused at times with this one but it was still super cute and fun. I'll definitely be continuing on with the next one!

3.
Title: Lumberjanes, vol 3: A Terrible Plan
Authors/Illustrators: Stevenson, Ellis, Watters, & Allen
Rating: 4 // 5 stars
A Terrible Plan (Lumberjanes, Vol. 3)
This was so cute. It was less intense than the last ones but the entire thing was so cute and fun. I really liked getting to see a more laid back installment with the characters hanging out together and just being cute.  

4.
Title: The Confessions of Nat Turner
Edited By: Kenneth S. Greenberg
Rating: n/a--read for class
The Confessions of Nat Turner by Kenneth S. Greenberg

5.
Title: Ash Princess
Author: Laura Sebastian
Rating: 4 // 5 stars
Review
This was a reread that I did in order to continue on with the trilogy for a blog tour and...I think I liked it even better this time around. It still wasn't perfect and there were moments that dragged, but I enjoyed it even more than the first time around.

6.
Title: Lady Smoke
Author: Laura Sebastian
Rating: 4 // 5 stars
Review
Lady Smoke by Laura Sebastian

7.
Title: Ember Queen
Author: Laura Sebastian
Rating: 4.25 // 5 stars
Review
Ember Queen (Ash Princess Trilogy, #3)
8.
Title: She's With Me
Author: Jessica Cunsolo
Rating: 5 // 5 stars
Review
She's With Me



BLOG POSTS

February 2020 Wrap-Up!
Book Review: "Lady Smoke" by Laura Sebastian
Blog Tour: "Ember Queen" by Laura Sebastian + Giveaway
Book Review: "She's With Me" by Jessica Cunsolo



Thanks for reading!
xoxo
Lauren



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