Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Book Review: "The Bone Houses" by Emily Lloyd-Jones

Title: The Bone Houses
Author: Emily Lloyd-Jones
Genre: YA Horror Fantasy
Page Length: 352 pages
Publication Date: September 24, 2019
Date Started: August 27, 2019
Date Finished: August 27, 2019
Rating: 4 // 5 stars

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

Seventeen-year-old Aderyn ("Ryn") only cares about two things: her family, and her family's graveyard. And right now, both are in dire straits. Since the death of their parents, Ryn and her siblings have been scraping together a meager existence as gravediggers in the remote village of Colbren, which sits at the foot of a harsh and deadly mountain range that was once home to the fae. The problem with being a gravedigger in Colbren, though, is that the dead don't always stay dead.

The risen corpses are known as "bone houses," and legend says that they're the result of a decades-old curse. When Ellis, an apprentice mapmaker with a mysterious past, arrives in town, the bone houses attack with new ferocity. What is it about Ellis that draws them near? And more importantly, how can they be stopped for good?

Together, Ellis and Ryn embark on a journey that will take them deep into the heart of the mountains, where they will have to face both the curse and the long-hidden truths about themselves.

When I read the synopsis for The Bone Houses, I knew it was going to be different from books I normally read but I was excited nonetheless. It was a good different for sure. The horror slash fairy tale setting definitely sucked me in as I've never read anything quite like it. I'm not big on horror because I'm a huge scaredy-cat but I feel as if the fairy tale feeling helped temper some of the horror, which is nice because it means that more non-horror readers can pick this book up.

Even though this book was super unique, it also felt very comfortable to me. It had some of my favorite tropes in it such as a quest, strong sibling relationships, a badass main character, and a slow-burn romance. I thought all of those were done pretty well. It was really refreshing to see a close sibling group since a lot of books I've read recently have featured characters without any siblings at all. I'm also a sucker for a romantic sub-plot and I loved how this one was slow-burn and didn't take over the story at all.

The whole idea of the bone houses, how they began, what they can do, etc was so fascinating. We got bits of folklore sprinkled here and there about the fae, the forest, how the bone houses were created, and other stories that were really interesting to read. Upon finishing the book, I can definitely go back and look at how they were important with our storyline.

The writing was really nice. It was easy to fall into and understand while not being overbearing with details or heavy dialogue. I was able to read this book pretty quickly because the writing was simplistic and the story was engaging.

I think the one thing that kept me from rating this 5 stars was the fact I didn't connect with the characters more than the story needed. Yes, I cared about them and I want them to be happy, but it's not as if they're characters I'm thinking about every five seconds like with some books. I do think this is because a lot of my favorite characters are ones in series that I've had multiple books to spend with them and see their character growths. Because this is a shorter standalone, I didn't get that chance to feel as deeply. However, I still really liked the characters and I was very invested in their stories even if I wasn't in love with them.

Overall, I'm not quite sure what else to say. This was a standalone fantasy and I really liked how it ended. Even if there was a sequel I'm not quite sure what there would be to do next. I'm very content and happy with how things finished up. It was a great book that I can see a lot of people enjoying! This was a quick, heart-pounding read that I'm sure would be absolutely wonderful to read in October when we're all looking for those spooky books.



Thanks for reading!
xoxo
Lauren



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Monday, August 26, 2019

Book Review: "Serpent & Dove" by Shelby Mahurin

Title: Serpent & Dove
Author: Shelby Mahurin
Series: "Serpent & Dove" #1
Genre: YA Fantasy
Page Length: 528 pages
Publication Date: September 3, 2019
Date Started: August 24, 2019
Date Finished: August 25, 2019
Rating: 5 // 5 stars 
Goodreads

Bound as one to love, honor, or burn.

Two years ago, Louise le Blanc fled her coven and took shelter in the city of Cesarine, forsaking all magic and living off whatever she could steal. There, witches like Lou are hunted. They are feared. And they are burned.

Sworn to the Church as a Chasseur, Reid Diggory has lived his life by one principle: thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. His path was never meant to cross with Lou's, but a wicked stunt forces them into an impossible union—holy matrimony.

The war between witches and Church is an ancient one, and Lou's most dangerous enemies bring a fate worse than fire. Unable to ignore her growing feelings, yet powerless to change what she is, a choice must be made.

And love makes fools of us all.

Ok so this is probably my favorite book of 2019. Considering I've read almost 120 books so far this year, that's pretty high praise as it means this book has beaten out every single other one. I just...I loved it. That's as simply as I can describe my feelings for this book. I loved it.

I first heard about this book through bookstagram or BookTube? I can't remember which BUT I knew from the moment I heard about it that this was a book I was dying to read. Fate was kind to me and I ended up winning an advanced copy of this book in a giveaway! I literally was jumping up and down screaming because of how excited I was. As I was waiting for my copy to arrive and trying to find the time to read it over the summer, I started seeing all these reviews start trickling down. All of them were 5 stars. All of them talking about how great this book was. It made me that much more excited but also a bit apprehensive. I'll admit--the hype intimidated me. That's why I waited so long from when I got my copy to when I finally read it. I didn't want anything significantly influencing my reading experience. I can finally say that this book deserves all the hype and then some.

I think the first thing about this book that stands out the most is that I was hooked every. single. second. Even in some of my favorite books of all time, there have been moments I've skimmed over without reading too in depth or parts that I thought were a tad boring compared to everything else. Don't get me wrong, I still love those books, but Serpent & Dove man...I never had one of those moments while reading this. Obviously I was anticipating finishing it because I wanted to know what was going to happen, but I was also loving every second of the book. I would go back and reread different scenes right after I finished them just so I could experience it again. I was hooked from page one and couldn't stop thinking about this book the entire weekend I was reading it over.

The writing style was wonderful. Shelby managed to write a compelling fantasy with all these different magical and societal systems yet it wasn't difficult to read. I was able to just fall into the world from the first page. There's something so effortless and easy about the writing in this book that allowed me to sink fully into it. While the writing was amazing in itself, the world was wonderfully written too. Information came when it was relevant so that we weren't confused about a situation but we weren't overburdened with it too soon. The way the world was introduced seemed to make it that much more accessible. Additionally, the magic system is one that I am absolutely fascinated with. We got a lot of bits and pieces of it in this first book but I'm eager to see even more in the sequel. It will also be interesting to see how certain revelations at the end of this one impact the previously held beliefs.

The story itself was one that I was obsessed with from page one. We got a bunch of my favorite tropes: forbidden romance, enemies to friends to lovers, marriage of convenience, badass main characters who are only soft for each other, etc. When I read the synopsis for this book the first time I was so hopeful that these tropes would be done well and they definitely exceeded my expectations. Not only that, but as I said before, there wasn't a single moment I was bored or skimming to get through faster. Yes, I liked some scenes more than others but I'm confident in saying I loved every scene in this book. Each had a purpose and contributed to the overall storyline. I've already gone back and reread a few of my favorite angsty scenes because I'm a sucker for them. The pacing was also very well done. I thought the story progressed well and even though it was 500+ pages, I felt like I flew through it. I would have been happy if it had been even longer.

My absolute favorite part about this book, though, was the characters. From the first page I knew I was going to love Lou. Then came Reid. These two are complete opposites of each other and I loved both of them for different reasons. Lou is unapologetically herself and doesn't care whether or not it offends someone. Reid is always trying to do the right thing by his beliefs, but sometimes that doesn't always work out. Both are stubborn and some of my favorite moments came when they were bickering. I could go on and on about how much I love the two of them but for sake of keeping this already-long review a bit shorter, I'll refrain from saying more than that.

Of course, the side characters were also great. Coco and Ansel, specifically, are some of my favorite side characters I've ever read. I would love to read more about them--I'd honestly just love an entire collection of short stories or scenes of all the characters that either didn't make it into the final book or were just fun bonus shorts. Another thing I liked about all of the characters is that none of them are wholly black or white. Each has something they're striving towards that could be an admirable goal, but maybe the way they're going about it isn't necessarily the greatest. I loved that aspect of this book. Nothing is ever completely black or white.

Some other things I enjoyed about this book...
The steaminess. Of course, the way everyone was talking about it made me think that there was going to be a lot more of it, but what we did get I liked. I would love to see even more in the next book.

The twists and reveals. Oh lord was the last 100-150 pages just twist after turn after bombshell. But none of it seemed unrealistic. Looking back at the entire book, little foreshadowed bits here and there really do make those reveals seem realistic while still surprising.

The humor. Oh god the humor was the best. I already went back to reread a couple scenes and found things I had missed that made me die of laughter. Lou is just hilarious and I was laughing so much throughout this book.

Speaking of laughter, the last line of the book had me rolling on the floor (metaphorically, of course). I'm not going to say what it is but everything about that line was perfect. Not only was it hilarious but it also showed a lot of character growth from the first part of the book to the end. I just...I'm still dying over it.

Overall, I loved this book. It's my favorite read of 2019 so far and I just know that it's going to sit on my favorites list from now on. I absolutely cannot wait to get my hands on as many special editions as I can. I may even bring a copy with me abroad so that I can reread it before the year is over. I just...do yourself a favor and preorder a copy of this book!



Thanks for reading!
xoxo
Lauren



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Saturday, August 24, 2019

Graphic Novel Series Review: "Fence" by C.S. Pacat


Series Title: Fence
Author: C.S. Pacat
Illustrator: Johanna the Mad
Genre: Sports Romance 
Reading Order & Individual Ratings: 
  1. Fence, Vol 1 - 4 // 5 stars
  2. Fence, Vol 2 - 4 // 5 stars
  3. Fence, Vol 3 - 4.25 // 5 stars
Date Started Volume 1: August 11, 2019
Date Ended Volume 3: August 20, 2019
Overall Rating: 4 // 5 stars
Goodreads

Fence has quickly become one of my favorite comic series. I'm so glad that I found the first two volumes right before the release of the third because I didn't have to wait very long for what happened next. But now I have to wait for the next volume which doesn't even have a release date!! (Insert crying emoji here). Ok but seriously, I am so glad that I finally got to read these after seeing them around over the past year or so.

For starters, I just love what these graphic novels are about. I've never fenced before but I like how some basics of fencing are explained so that we're not left in the dark. Additionally, just getting to read about a whole new sport is fun.

The characters are great. I love our main characters and I just can't wait to see what happens with Nicholas and Seiji in the next volumes. Are they going to become friends? More than friends? Or stay roommates and teammates who barely tolerate each other? But I'm not just interested in them--the side characters are all very interesting. I enjoyed getting to see glimpses of their personalities, aspirations, families, and relationships. I definitely hope that these side characters get further explored in future volumes.

I think the thing I like most about these graphic novels are the pacing. Because I'm a fast reader anyway, I speed through graphic novels pretty quick. A lot typically happens in graphic novels--and while these do have a lot happening in them--they are paced a little slower which I very much enjoyed. It gave me more time to connect to the characters,

Lastly, I just love the art. It's simple, clean, and beautiful. Not to mention there are sometimes strips where the characters turn chibi-like and it's hilarious to see. I just love seeing how the artists brought all of the expressions and actions to life. We didn't just see characters standing around but you could look at a page and see how one was feeling about a certain situation.

Overall, these are definitely some of my favorite graphic novels and I can't wait to get my hands on copies of all of them since I borrowed them this time around. I cannot wait to see where volume 4 takes us and the Fence novelization coming next year!



Thanks for reading!
xoxo
Lauren



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Thursday, August 22, 2019

Series Review: "The Redemption Saga" by Kristen Banet


Series Title: The Redemption Saga
Author: Kristen Banet
Genre: Urban Fantasy Reverse Harem
Reading Order & Individual Ratings: 
  1. A Life of Shadows - 3.75 // 5 stars
  2. A Heart of Shame - 3.75 // 5 stars
  3. A Nature of Conflict - 4 // 5 stars
  4. An Echo of Darkness - 4 // 5 stars
  5. A Night of Redemption - 4 // 5 stars
Date Started Book 1: August 12, 2019
Date Ended Book 5: August 16, 2019
Overall Rating: 4 // 5 stars

Sawyer Matthews knows how to put one foot in front of the other, to keep moving while the nightmares haunt her, and her own failures taunt her. She's become a master at doing awful things with good intentions, terrible things for the sake of those who need her. She's long given up on being the hero, trying to find peace in no longer being the villain. 

When her past comes back and she finds herself caught by the International Magi Police Organization, she'll have to revisit her own personal hells and finally confront the very monster that made her what she is. The very monster that has already killed her once before. 

Will the “dead” Magi assassin Shadow finally come out of the dark to begin a fight for a redemption she doesn't believe she deserves? Or will her nightmares drag her back into the shadows that have defined her life? 



First Thoughts

I wasn't planning on reading this series so soon, but I knew that I wanted to give it a try when I got a free Kindle Unlimited trial. I had the first book downloaded to try and one night, at around 11:30 pm when I should have been going to bed, I started reading book 1. I ended up finishing it all that night at about 3 am. Thus began a binge of the entire series. I read all five books (and a short novella) in five days and I loved it. While I wish there were more books, I also just love how it all came together.

So, I'm going to start by saying that these books aren't literary masterpieces and they won't appeal to everyone in the same way they did to me. In fact, when I read the first one, I enjoyed it but I wasn't sure I loved it. Upon finishing it, I can now say that I love this series. Every time I look back on the books, I just want to reread and I get such a good feeling. I already want to reread them and it hasn't even been a week since I finished them for the first time.



The World

Let's start with the world. This series is set in our modern day world but with the addition of Magi (people who can use magic and have special abilities). Regular humans know about Magi and there's even an entire government, military, police force, and society dedicated to and run by Magi. We even get to see the Magi criminal underworld. I think that everything about the Magi community was fascinating, from their rules and laws to the social classes and more.

Not only that, but each Magi has a different set of between one and five abilities ranging from rare to common. Different combinations determine how strong a Magi is, what they could do for a career, etc. I absolutely loved seeing the different types of magic and how each worked. It was also fun to see the limits that each different Magi could hit as it all varied depending on the skillset. Seeing the magic in action was so fun because it really impacted how a fight could play out.

We weren't overwhelmed by world-building details, either. We learned details as we needed to rather than be told everything all at the beginning. Throughout the course of the series, we were continually learning new details about the world as issues around them arose.

As for the actual physical world, the characters went all over. The story wasn't all based in one location, but many different locations all over. I enjoyed the world traveling that went on, though I do wish we could have gotten some more details about the physical setting because I do love a good vivid setting in my head, but I also could just subconsciously fill in the blanks on what everything looked like.



Characters & Relationships

What really made me love this series wasn't the world, it wasn't the plot or action, it wasn't the magic...it was the characters. From the first page of the first book, I knew that I was going to love Sawyer as a main character.

Our main character, Sawyer, has five abilities (the most any Magi can have) and has such a unique mix of common and rare skills that she's considered one of the strongest Magi. She's an ex-assassin turned thief who now runs a gym where abused kids can learn self-defense. She's a badass, plain and simple. But she's also funny and caring and imperfect. Honestly I just loved her so much.

The five love interests were also wonderful. A lot of the time when I read reverse harem, the love interests all kind of blend together into carbon copies of each other. The personalities aren't too diverse and I can't tell one from another. That was not the case in this book. I could easily tell you about the backstories, differing personalities, and even some of the Magi abilities of the love interests: Zander, Jasper, Quinn, Vincent, and Elijah. In fact, it's also pretty easy for me to recall specific scenes that each character has with our main character, Sawyer.

I think it helped that we also got POV's from the love interests. The majority of the POVs were from Sawyer's perspective, but we also got the guys at different points. Being inside their heads really helped with connecting with them and also seeing situations in different ways.

Of course, one of my favorite parts of the characters and budding romance was the fact that it was pretty slow-burn. Each of the guys had a different timeline to how their relationship with Sawyer progressed. It took different characters different amounts of time to for it to form and I really liked that. I just loved the slow-burn as I'm a sucker for seeing relationships develop over the long run.

The last thing I wanted to talk about was the diversity in this series. I personally cannot attest to how well written it was as I'm not an own-voices reviewer, but there was a lot of diversity in our main six characters. Our main character is a POC (and she's not the only one0 and it wasn't just something that was mentioned once in her physical description and then never talked about again. Throughout the course of the series it was talked about and we saw how she was treated differently than she would have if she'd been a white character--like when they went to a backwoods Southern town and two of the characters endured racism and discrimination.

There's a lot of mental illness rep that's not just limited to our main character but also a few of the guys and other side characters. Additionally, there's bisexual rep, disability rep, anxiety rep, and even more that I'm sure I'm missing. I just really loved seeing all the different rep in this series because, as awesome as the reverse harem genre is, a lot of what I've read is very white and straight.

Like I said, the characters and relationships are what made this series great for me. I could go on for hours addressing each character individually but that would make for a super-long review. If you read the books, you'll see what I mean.



Story, Plot & Pacing

This series is definitely for mature readers. It's dark, can be graphic at times, and has mature scenes (I have trigger warnings listed at the end of this review for those who might need them). But while this series can get dark at times, there are plenty of light moments and when I look back on these books, I don't feel weighed down or uncomfortable. I thought that balance between the darker moments and the mundane, easy times was a good representation of how life can be.

Going off of the occasional dark moments, this series definitely explores just how dark and cruel people can be. We have some pretty messed up people doing bad things while others are trying to counteract those. There's the obvious things such as murder, torture/kidnapping, abuse etc but there's also corruption, racism, sexism, etc. But for every cruel or dark person, there were more coming back at them trying to change things and make the world a better place.

The plot was very multi-faceted, which I enjoyed. We had a lot of different plot lines all separate from each other yet connecting in different ways that brought their issues into the lives of the characters. I liked seeing a story where it wasn't a group of characters focused solely on a single goal but, rather, they're working towards a goal while also not letting it consume them.

The pacing over the course of the series was good. However, I noticed that for most of the books (not all), any action or issues mentioned in the description typically didn't start showing up or being dealt with until about a third to halfway in. Not to say I didn't enjoy the first parts of the books, but the pacing wasn't super consistent when looking at a single book. Now, taking a step back and looking at the series as a whole without chopping it into bits, it was pretty good. 



Final Thoughts

Overall, I've definitely found a new series to add to my favorites list. It's not perfect but it's fun, addicting, and I can lose myself in the pages of these books. I think it really solidified in book 4 when I was reading the last 50 pages or so and just screaming or on the verge of throwing the book across the room the whole time. Any book that can make me feel that way is one I know will be a long-time favorite. I'm already working on getting physical copies of all of the books, which only happens for books that I really love. I highly recommend this series!

Content and Trigger Warning including PTSD, Rape, Child and Domestic Abuse, & Suicide.



Thanks for reading!
xoxo
Lauren



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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



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

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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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