Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Book Blitz: "Kingdom of the Feared" by Kerri Maniscalco


It's a fantastic Tuesday and do you know why? Because Kingdom of the Feared by Kerri Maniscalco released today! This is the third and final book in the Kingdom of the Wicked trilogy and I'm so excited to be apart of this book blitz tour from TBR and Beyond Tours. Make sure to check out the rest of the tour here before diving in! 


*Spoilers for Books 1 & 2*

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Stalking the Jack the Ripper series comes the steamy conclusion to Kingdom of the Wicked trilogy.

Two curses.
One prophecy.
A reckoning all have feared.

And a love more powerful than fate. All hail the king and queen of Hell.

Emilia is reeling from the shocking discovery that her twin sister, Vittoria, is alive. But before she faces the demons of her past, Emilia yearns to claim her king, the seductive Prince of Wrath, in the flesh. Emilia doesn’t simply desire his body, she wants his heart and soul—but that’s something the enigmatic demon can’t promise her.

When a high-ranking member of House Greed is assassinated, Emilia and Wrath are drawn to the rival demon court. Damning evidence points to Vittoria as the murderer and she’s quickly declared an enemy of the Seven Circles. Despite her betrayal, Emilia will do anything to solve this new mystery and find out who her sister really is.

Together Emilia and Wrath play a sin-fueled game of deception as they work to stop the unrest that’s brewing between witches, demons, shape-shifters and the most treacherous foes of all: the Feared.

Emilia was warned that when it came to the Wicked nothing was as it seemed. But, have the true villains been much closer all along? When the truth is finally revealed, it just might end up costing Emilia her heart.

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy Romance
Publication Date: 27 September 2022
Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers


AMAZON     |     BARNES & NOBLE     |     BOOK DEPOSITORY
INDIGO     |     INDIEBOUND


Kerri Maniscalco grew up in a semi-haunted house outside NYC where her fascination with gothic settings began. In her spare time she reads everything she can get her hands on, cooks all kinds of food with her family and friends, and drinks entirely too much tea while discussing life’s finer points with her cats. She is the #1 NYT and USA Today bestselling author of the Stalking Jack the Ripper series and the forthcoming Kingdom of the Wicked.

WEBSITE     |     TWITTER     |     INSTAGRAM     |     GOODREADS
FACEBOOK     |     TUMBLR     |     PINTEREST



Thanks for reading!
xoxo
Lauren



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Sunday, September 25, 2022

Spooky Season Book Recommendations


It's spooky season, aka the start of my favorite few months of the year. September through December are my favorite months, for many reasons. The cooler weather, the changing leaves into snow, the holidays...it's all amazing. While this year is a bit stressful, I'm still hoping to get into the spooky season vibes soon. This, of course, starts with some spooky book recs. I'm not a big scary book/movie person, but I do love books with witchy and autumn vibes. Here are some I've read and loved or ones I'm looking forward to this year! 




Up first I have City of Gods and Monsters by Kayla Edwards. I read this during the summer, but the vibes are the perfect mix of fantasy and magic that's perfect for autumn. It's also my favorite read of this year so far. Read on for the synopsis...

Welcome to the city of Angelthene. We hope you survive.

Loren Calla has only ever been ordinary. As a human struggling to survive in a city that caters to the needs of vampires, werewolves, witches, and other supernatural creatures, she always assumed her life would remain simple, predictable, and as safe as her world would allow.

Until she barely escapes abduction at the hands of Darkslayers—supernatural bounty hunters that possess the Sight, a magical tracking ability that allows them to see a person’s aura—and one of her friends is taken in her place. The abductors are demanding a ransom: Loren's life in exchange for her friend's safe return. Loren will do whatever it takes to get her friend back—even if it means accepting help from Darien Cassel, the leader of the Seven Devils, the most feared Darkslaying circle in the city.

Darien specializes in tracking down demons and criminals that are better off dead than alive, so when he takes a job to track down Loren and finds out she is human—and couldn't hurt a fly if her life depended on it—he decides to protect her instead of turn her in for a reward. As much as Loren doesn't want to admit it, Darien is her best and only chance at finding her friend alive, if she can somehow manage to get along with him—and not fall head-over-heels in love with him in the process, which is far easier said than done.

When more women start disappearing, and some of them slowly turn up dead, Loren and Darien's search for answers takes them deep into Angelthene's corrupt underbelly, where they discover a dark secret that threatens to unravel their world. And when tragedy strikes, Loren learns that love can make an ordinary person do extraordinary things.




Up next is The Ex Hex by Erin Sterling. This is the first in a witchy romance series set during autumn and I loved it so much. What I loved the most is that there's a balance between romance, magic, and plot. It was a lot of fun and I can't wait to revisit it in the future and read the next ones. Synopsis incoming...

New York Times bestselling author Rachel Hawkins, writing as Erin Sterling, casts a spell with a spine-tingling romance full of wishes, witches, and hexes gone wrong.

Nine years ago, Vivienne Jones nursed her broken heart like any young witch would: vodka, weepy music, bubble baths…and a curse on the horrible boyfriend. Sure, Vivi knows she shouldn’t use her magic this way, but with only an “orchard hayride” scented candle on hand, she isn’t worried it will cause him anything more than a bad hair day or two.

That is until Rhys Penhallow, descendent of the town’s ancestors, breaker of hearts, and annoyingly just as gorgeous as he always was, returns to Graves Glen, Georgia. What should be a quick trip to recharge the town’s ley lines and make an appearance at the annual fall festival turns disastrously wrong. With one calamity after another striking Rhys, Vivi realizes her silly little Ex Hex may not have been so harmless after all.

Suddenly, Graves Glen is under attack from murderous wind-up toys, a pissed off ghost, and a talking cat with some interesting things to say. Vivi and Rhys have to ignore their off the charts chemistry to work together to save the town and find a way to break the break-up curse before it’s too late.




These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong is the first in a historical fantasy duology set in 1920s Shanghai. It's a Romeo & Juliet retelling with a murder mystery and warring gangs. The book was so spooky and mysterious which gave me such great fall-read vibes. I loved this duology so much and can see myself rereading during many fall seasons to come. 

The year is 1926, and Shanghai hums to the tune of debauchery.

A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets red, leaving the city helpless in the grip of chaos. At the heart of it all is eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, a former flapper who has returned to assume her role as the proud heir of the Scarlet Gang—a network of criminals far above the law. Their only rivals in power are the White Flowers, who have fought the Scarlets for generations. And behind every move is their heir, Roma Montagov, Juliette’s first love…and first betrayal.

But when gangsters on both sides show signs of instability culminating in clawing their own throats out, the people start to whisper. Of a contagion, a madness. Of a monster in the shadows. As the deaths stack up, Juliette and Roma must set their guns—and grudges—aside and work together, for if they can’t stop this mayhem, then there will be no city left for either to rule.

Perfect for fans of The Last Magician and Descendant of the Crane, this heart-stopping debut is an imaginative Romeo and Juliet retelling set in 1920s Shanghai, with rival gangs and a monster in the depths of the Huangpu River.




Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker and Wendy Xu is the perfect spooky queer graphic novel. The artwork is gorgeous and the story is just as great. It's spooky, heartwarming, and all around a light fun read in the lead up to Halloween. 

A story of love and demons, family and witchcraft.

Nova Huang knows more about magic than your average teen witch. She works at her grandmothers' bookshop, where she helps them loan out spell books and investigate any supernatural occurrences in their New England town.

One fateful night, she follows reports of a white wolf into the woods, and she comes across the unexpected: her childhood crush, Tam Lang, battling a horse demon in the woods. As a werewolf, Tam has been wandering from place to place for years, unable to call any town home.

Pursued by dark forces eager to claim the magic of wolves and out of options, Tam turns to Nova for help. Their latent feelings are rekindled against the backdrop of witchcraft, untested magic, occult rituals, and family ties both new and old in this enchanting tale of self-discovery.




Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin is the first book in a witchy fantasy trilogy and just so wonderful. While I haven't finished the trilogy, I adore this first book so much and truly think that it can be read as a standalone if you want it to be. It's one of my favorites and I love reading it in the fall season. 

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.





Now getting into the books I'm looking forward to reading during spooky season, let's start with Payback's A Witch by Lana Harper. This is a sapphic witchy romcom that was on my tbr last year but I didn't get around to it for a variety of reasons. However, I have a copy this year and I'm incredibly excited to finally get to it (and buddy read it with a friend!). 

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina meets The L Word in this fresh, sizzling rom-com by Lana Harper.

Emmy Harlow is a witch but not a very powerful one—in part because she hasn't been home to the magical town of Thistle Grove in years. Her self-imposed exile has a lot to do with a complicated family history and a desire to forge her own way in the world, and only the very tiniest bit to do with Gareth Blackmoore, heir to the most powerful magical family in town and casual breaker of hearts and destroyer of dreams.

But when a spellcasting tournament that her family serves as arbiters for approaches, it turns out the pull of tradition (or the truly impressive parental guilt trip that comes with it) is strong enough to bring Emmy back. She's determined to do her familial duty; spend some quality time with her best friend, Linden Thorn; and get back to her real life in Chicago.

On her first night home, Emmy runs into Talia Avramov—an all-around badass adept in the darker magical arts—who is fresh off a bad breakup . . . with Gareth Blackmoore. Talia had let herself be charmed, only to discover that Gareth was also seeing Linden—unbeknownst to either of them. And now she and Linden want revenge. Only one question stands: Is Emmy in?

But most concerning of all: Why can't she stop thinking about the terrifyingly competent, devastatingly gorgeous, wickedly charming Talia Avramov?




Up next I'm excited to read The Kiss Curse by Erin Sterling, the sequel to The Ex Hex that I mentioned earlier. I loved the main character when she was a side character in the first book so I'm quite excited to get around to her story this time around! 

Welcome to Spooky Season!! The follow-up to Erin Sterling’s New York Times bestselling hit The Ex Hex features fan favorite Gwyn and the spine-tinglingly handsome Wells Penhallow as they battle a new band of witches and their own magical chemistry.

Gwyn Jones is perfectly happy with her life in Graves Glen. She, her mom, and her cousin have formed a new and powerful coven; she’s running a successful witchcraft shop, Something Wicked; and she’s started mentoring some of the younger witches in town. As Halloween approaches, there’s only one problem—Llewellyn “Wells” Penhallow.

Wells has come to Graves Glen to re-establish his family’s connection to the town they founded as well as to make a new life for himself after years of being the dutiful son in Wales. When he opens up a shop of his own, Penhallow’s, just across the street from Something Wicked, he quickly learns he’s gotten more than he bargained for in going up against Gwyn.

When their professional competition leads to a very personal—and very hot—kiss, both Wells and Gwyn are determined to stay away from each other, convinced the kiss was just a magical fluke. But when a mysterious new coven of witches come to town and Gwyn’s powers begin fading, she and Wells must work together to figure out just what these new witches want and how to restore Gwyn’s magic before it’s too late.




I'm incredibly excited to get to The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna. This is a new release with witches, found family, romance, etc that I've heard nothing but good things about. I already have my copy and it'll be my next read after I finish my current one. Plus, the cover is so cute!

A warm and uplifting novel about an isolated witch whose opportunity to embrace a quirky new family—and a new love—changes the course of her life.

As one of the few witches in Britain, Mika Moon knows she has to hide her magic, keep her head down, and stay away from other witches so their powers don’t mingle and draw attention. And as an orphan who lost her parents at a young age and was raised by strangers, she’s used to being alone and she follows the rules...with one exception: an online account, where she posts videos "pretending" to be a witch. She thinks no one will take it seriously.

But someone does. An unexpected message arrives, begging her to travel to the remote and mysterious Nowhere House to teach three young witches how to control their magic. It breaks all of the rules, but Mika goes anyway, and is immediately tangled up in the lives and secrets of not only her three charges, but also an absent archaeologist, a retired actor, two long-suffering caretakers, and…Jamie. The handsome and prickly librarian of Nowhere House would do anything to protect the children, and as far as he’s concerned, a stranger like Mika is a threat. An irritatingly appealing threat.

As Mika begins to find her place at Nowhere House, the thought of belonging somewhere begins to feel like a real possibility. But magic isn't the only danger in the world, and when a threat comes knocking at their door, Mika will need to decide whether to risk everything to protect a found family she didn’t know she was looking for....




Then I have The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy by Megan Bannen. I got this in my Fairyloot box this summer and I'm incredibly intrigued. I've heard it described as a cozy contemporary fantasy and that just sounds awesome. Plus, the reviews have been stellar for it, so I'm incredibly invested in getting to it soon.

Hart is a marshal, tasked with patrolling the strange and magical wilds of Tanria. It’s an unforgiving job, and Hart’s got nothing but time to ponder his loneliness.

Mercy never has a moment to herself. She’s been single-handedly keeping Birdsall & Son Undertakers afloat in defiance of sullen jerks like Hart, who seems to have a gift for showing up right when her patience is thinnest.

After yet another exasperating run-in with Mercy, Hart finds himself penning a letter addressed simply to “A Friend”. Much to his surprise, an anonymous letter comes back in return, and a tentative friendship is born.

If only Hart knew he’s been baring his soul to the person who infuriates him most – Mercy. As the dangers from Tanria grow closer, so do the unlikely correspondents. But can their blossoming romance survive the fated discovery that their pen pals are their worst nightmares – each other?




And, lastly, I am looking forward to These Witches Don't Burn by Isabel Sterling. This is the first in a YA sapphic witchy duology that's been on my radar for a few years now. I hope this will be the year that I finally get around to reading it as it sounds so cute and fun. 

Hannah's a witch, but not the kind you're thinking of. She's the real deal, an Elemental with the power to control fire, earth, water, and air. But even though she lives in Salem, Massachusetts, her magic is a secret she has to keep to herself. If she's ever caught using it in front of a Reg (read: non-witch), she could lose it. For good. So, Hannah spends most of her time avoiding her ex-girlfriend (and fellow Elemental Witch) Veronica, hanging out with her best friend, and working at the Fly by Night Cauldron selling candles and crystals to tourists, goths, and local Wiccans.

But dealing with her ex is the least of Hannah's concerns when a terrifying blood ritual interrupts the end-of-school-year bonfire. Evidence of dark magic begins to appear all over Salem, and Hannah's sure it's the work of a deadly Blood Witch. The issue is, her coven is less than convinced, forcing Hannah to team up with the last person she wants to see: Veronica.

While the pair attempt to smoke out the Blood Witch at a house party, Hannah meets Morgan, a cute new ballerina in town. But trying to date amid a supernatural crisis is easier said than done, and Hannah will have to test the limits of her power if she's going to save her coven and get the girl, especially when the attacks on Salem's witches become deadlier by the day.



Thanks for reading!
xoxo
Lauren



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Friday, September 16, 2022

Book Review: "Babel" by R.F. Kuang

Title: Babel
Author: R.F. Kuang
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Page Length: 560 pages
Publication Date: August 23, 2022
Rating: 4.5 // 5 stars

What can I even say to describe this book? It was, in all honesty, a masterpiece. As I was reading, all I could think about was how much research, effort, and skill went into crafting it. Babel is a book with so much depth that tackles so many difficult themes and it was simply amazing. 

This is my first book by R.F. Kuang. The Poppy War is on my TBR, but I know I'll need to be in the right mindset for it based off of the trigger warnings I've seen and friends who have read it. However, the hype around Babel had me really intrigued and wanting to start it the moment I got my copy. 

Babel is not a book that you read in one sitting and breeze through. It has so many different elements to it that interweave that I think it would be impossible for me to read it in one sitting, even on a reread. It took me well over a week to get through, but I honestly thought it aided in my experience that I took my time reading it. 

This novel covers such a wide expanse of time (I want to say around 10 years?). To finish it and then look back at where it all began just 560 pages prior was a bit of a mindblowing moment. To think that Kuang was able to write a succinct story that covers so much time in just one self-contained book and have me still connect with it is a true nod to her storytelling skills. 

As I have a degree in English Writing and have moved from a different country to the UK, so much of the beginning of the novel felt so familiar to me. Of course, my experiences and who I am is wildly different from Robin and what he has to go through. But seeing a book character obsessed with reading and language and authors I also studied who is going through the same cultural shocks made me feel very connected early on. 

The characters truly shine in this novel. We have a solid cast of characters and it's incredibly easy to fall in love with them (like our main four) or to hate them (like antagonistic classmates or professors). Each had depth, had struggles, had varying life experiences that, at times, clashed with each other. It was fascinating to see how the characters and their relationships changed over the years and span of the novel. I have to say, my favorite is definitely our main narrator, Robin, though I have lots of love for others. 

One thing that is very prevalent in this novel is the way it addresses colonialism, racism, misogyny. Whereas many Western historical fiction books romanticize history and paint it in a prettier, more accepting light, Babel does the opposite. It pulls forth the dark, violent, and harmful past of the British Empire and the Western world. It critics it, it fights it, it seeks to dismantle it. While this is a historical fantasy, so much of what the book critiques was happening in real life. It was so powerful. 

Part of the exploration of colonialism comes from the way that language and translation was included, for example, in the British Empire profiting off of foreign languages while simultaneously looking down on said languages and where they originated from and treating foreigners who speak them as lesser beings. The dissonance and inner conflicts the characters go through as foreigners benefiting from studying translation at Oxford was something explored throughout the entire novel that ultimately leads to an explosive ending. 

Again, as someone who studied English and just loves learning, I loved all we got about language and etymology and translation. The amount of research that must have gone into this novel just in terms of etymology and languages must have been massive. I never felt like I was reading a boring textbook for school. Instead, I felt like I was learning to think about the world and communication in a new way. 

Lastly, I'll speak on the magic system of silver working. It was incredible. The magic was based around language and translation combined with silver to create magical effects. It's honestly so impressive that this historical setting relies so much on magic yet the magic talk is kept rather subtle. The magic isn't the forefront...the language and the plot and the themes are there instead. But the magic system plays such an important role in the book because of how reliant the country was on silver. This system is so unique and unlike anything I've read before and it just added that extra element to an already fantastic novel. 

Now, I will say, I subconsciously kept a distance I think as I saw loads of people online (specifically TikTok) posting videos of them sobbing and saying the ending was devastating. In that, I suspected at least part of the ending and honestly expected more heartache. I think if I had gone in without knowing other people's reactions, I probably would have also been sobbing. But I was mentally preparing myself the entire book and looking for all the subtle foreshadowing as to what would come. 

Overall, this was a phenomenal book, even from a purely objective standpoint without factoring in my emotional connection. It was amazing, it was so well-written, and it is sure to be a modern classic. Even though the plot is nothing like The Poppy War, I find myself so excited that I still have more works from Kuang to explore in the future. 



Thanks for reading!
xoxo
Lauren



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Sunday, September 4, 2022

August 2022 Book Haul


Another August, another substantial book haul. I definitely wasn't planning on getting this many books but I also feel I did okay this month in terms of what I got. I got a total of ten books, some used, some new, some special editions. September will definitely be smaller, though, as I'll be focused on moving apartments and an increase in bills (thanks inflation). Let's go ahead and dive in! 



The first book I got this month was Husband Material by Alexis Hall. This is the sequel to Boyfriend Material, one of my favorite romcoms of all time. I am so incredibly excited about this one and definitely would have read it already were it not for having to finish my dissertation this month. The cover is also stunning and looks spectacular next to the first book. I can't wait to dive into it in the coming weeks!

The next few books I got were from a charity/thrift shop I went to. I got four books for less than the price of one brand new, so I consider it to be a pretty good deal. The first one I got was the original UK paperback edition of A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas. I was shocked to find this cover there as it's been out of print for a couple years but I had to get it even though I already had one. 

Then I grabbed Orphan Monster Spy by Matt Killeen. I've never heard of this but the cover drew me in and then it sounded like a pretty badass historical fiction book I might enjoy. I've not got much else to say about it as I haven't read it yet or know too much but I will say that I am looking forward to reading it eventually. 

Up next I grabbed The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman. I'd seen the cover around for a few years so I decided to finally read the flap and I decided that it was right up my alley for the price. It's a murder mystery and I'm a big fan of those in TV shows, so I'm looking forward to potentially diving into similar books. This was apparently pretty popular and is the first in a series, so if I like it I'll definitely pick up the others too. 

The last book I got from the charity shop was Becoming by Michelle Obama. I've had this one my wishlist for years, so I couldn't leave it behind when I saw it. I'm not sure when I'll get to finally reading it but I am looking forward to it as I've heard nothing but good things over the years. I'm also just so happy with thrift shops and the ability to get hardcovers like this for affordable prices. 

Then I got my August YA box which included Violet Made of Thorns by Gina Chen. This Fairyloot edition has an exclusive cover, ombre sprayed edges, artwork on the endpages and hardcover, a ribbon bookmark, and came with a signed bookplate. I think this is a stunning edition and it looks great on my shelves. I also have heard pretty good things about this one so I'm looking forward to reading it soon. 

Up next I got the UK hardcover of She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan. I wanted to get this because it's such a beautiful cover, the paperbacks in the UK are so stiff, and the hardcover goes out of stock once the paperback is released. Luckily I was able to get this right in time before it sold out and it really is just as stunning in person. I also have just heard excellent things and am looking forward to eventually diving into this one. 

My Illumicrate book-only arrived next with Babel by R.F. Kuang. This edition comes in a slipcase with artwork printed on the hardcover, an exclusive cover, digitally sprayed edges, bonus content, and is signed. I knew when it was announced that I wanted to get it and this edition does not disappoint. It is stunning in person and I already know how I want to display it on my shelves in the future. I'm hoping to get to this book in the next few months as well as the hype around it has been insane.

I then got my Fairyloot preorder of Blade Breaker by Victoria Aveyard. I ordered this a few months ago to match the first book's edition and I think it's beautiful. I like the simplistic elements of the special edition features and I think I prefer it over my Waterstones edition. I think the Fairyloot editions of this series are going to end up being my favorite and I can't wait to see what the third one will look like. 

Lastly, I couldn't help but get a physical copy of Triple-Duty Bodyguards by Lily Gold. I read this in the beginning of August and absolutely loved it. It quickly got put on my favorites list and I stuck the paperback on my wishlist to eventually buy. Then it went out of stock for ages and is undergoing a new cover so I decided when I saw this cover back in stock to get it immediately just in case. I'm so excited to have this and annotate it when I decide to reread in the future. 

Well, those are the ten books I got in August. The autumn in general will be a slower book buying time for me but I hope it's a time to power through all the books I've gotten lately. Did you see any favorites in this haul? What have you gotten lately? Let me know in the comments! 




Thanks for reading!
xoxo
Lauren



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Thursday, September 1, 2022

August 2022 Wrap-Up


What a month. August was an insane month for me in so many ways. My family came to visit and we spent a week being tourists in our own city, I finished and turned in my postgraduate dissertation, and we've begun the search for a new apartment. All that said, I didn't get much reading done. I read three books this month and they were all finished in the first few days of August, meaning it's been about a month since I've actually read anything. I enjoyed all of them, though, and have a new all-time favorite. 

I'm hopeful that now that September (and fall!) is here and my dissertation is finished that I'll be able to focus on reading more. I have an extensive witchy TBR for the next two months leading up to Halloween that I hope to get through in between moving logistics and increase in work at my job. Either way, I'll recap that in a month but for now let's discuss August! 


1. 
Title: Triple-Duty Bodyguards
Author: Lily Gold
Rating: 5 // 5 stars

2. 
Title: Below Zero
Author: Ali Hazelwood
Rating: 4.5 // 5 stars

3.
Title: Stuck With You
Author: Ali Hazelwood
Rating: 4.5 // 5 stars





Thanks for reading!
xoxo
Lauren



You can follow my bookstagram here for more bookish content!

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Friday, August 26, 2022

Unboxing: Fairyloot's "Tell Me Lies" (August 2022)


Another month, another amazing Fairyloot box. This is my eighth box since I resubscribed and I absolutely adored it, yet again. This month's theme was "Tell Me Lies" and in the reveal we were told it would also include an item Fairyloot had never included before. I absolutely loved every item and the book they chose so let's just not wait any longer and dive into the unboxing! 



The first item included was a bookshelf-patterned tote bag designed by @chattynora. This is absolutely stunning. I love useful items in book boxes and this is one that I can see myself actually using, especially for bookish events. The books on the shelves on this tote are actually all books Fairyloot have featured in their boxes or done special editions for in the past, which I thought was pretty cute. 

The next item was a Romeo & Juliet inspired list pad designed by @catarinabookdesigns. The quote they included is also very reminiscent of the R&J retelling, These Violent Delights, that I love. I am a big fan of stationary and I am 100% going to be filling this with meaningless lists and to-dos. The only thing I wish is that there was a sticky bit so that I could stick it to places when I wanted to use it. 

Then is the item that they've never included before: a celestial-themed travel jewelry box designed by @jezhawk. For starters, this is absolutely stunning. It's also fandom-neutral and feels quite sturdy and well put together for a book box item. I will definitely be using this, either for bookish jewelry or for my growing collection of pins. 

The next item was an enamel pin inspired by Gilded by Marissa Meyer and designed by @no0nedesigns. This is a stunning little pin and the design is quite intricate for how small it is. I am very much looking forward to finally reading this book soon, though I'm probably going to wait at least until the sequel is out to dive into it. Marissa Meyer hasn't steered me wrong yet, though. 

The last proper items are the next in the collectible mythology bookmark series designed by @gracezhuart. This month we have Anubis from Egyptian mythology and Apate from Greek mythology. I'm a big fan of this collectible series and I also love that they're including mythologies from around the world (as I originally thought it would only be Greek as that's what their first two were). I find bookmarks to also be a very fun item as a reader can never have enough bookmarks.

This month's tarot cards are from Only A Monster by Vanessa Len. We have Joan as Justice and Nick and Aaron as Wheel of Fortune. I've not yet read this but it's on my list closer to the sequel's release. I also am just really enjoying the tarot card series (mainly because the artwork is completely gorgeous). One of my favorite things is that they are doing tarot cards after the books they include in their boxes. 

The book this month was Violet Made of Thorns by Gina Chen. This edition features an exclusive cover, ombre sprayed edges, artwork printed on the hardcover and endpages designed by @_saintdri, and comes with a signed bookplate. I'm absolutely in love with the cover changes as it created this beautiful sunset imagery that goes well with the sprayed edges. I am very much looking forward to reading this as well. 




Overall, this was another stunning box from Fairyloot. I know not every month will be a winner but Fairyloot have been smashing for the majority of this year. I will use everything in this box and I think the quality and design are beautiful. I am incredibly excited for September as it's been revealed there is going to be a blanket and I think their blankets are some of the comfiest things ever. 

August was also the last month that included five items. Due to inflation and the rising costs of everything, Fairyloot announced that from September onwards there will only be four items. This is so they can keep the quality high and not have to raise the cost of the box. Honestly, I'm happy with that decision and I look forward to the boxes nonetheless (especially as it feels like the tarot cards and various paper items that come with the book work very well as bonus items). 



Thanks for reading!
xoxo
Lauren



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Sunday, August 14, 2022

Series Review: "The STEM-inist Novellas" by Ali Hazelwood


Series Title: The STEM-inist Novellas
Author: Ali Hazelwood 
Genre: Romcom
Reading Order & Individual Ratings:
  1. Under One Roof - 5/5 stars
  2. Stuck With You - 4/5 stars
  3. Below Zero - 4.5/5 stars
Overall Rating: 4.5 // 5 stars

I, like many people, read The Love Hypothesis because of the hype it received on BookTok. I, like many people, absolutely adored it. The Love Hypothesis, which is Ali Hazelwood's first book, is one of my all-time favorite romcoms. It was so funny and kept me engaged the entire read. But this isn't a review for The Love Hypothesis. No, today we're going to talk about three more Ali Hazelwood works!

The STEM-inist novellas, which include Under One Roof, Stuck With You, and Below Zero, are a trilogy following a trio of friends as they navigate romances in their lives. Each novella follows a different main couple, though the others do make their appearances, in a variety of situations. First publishing solely as audiobooks, the novellas were then released a few months later as ebooks, which is how I read them. 

Under One Roof is my favorite of the three, I think. It's an enemies-to-lovers-esque story about two characters who each own half of a house but neither wants to sell or move out. One is an environmental scientist and the other is a lawyer at an environment-destroying company. It's absolutely hilarious but also incredibly heartwarming following their reluctant relationship growth across the time they live together. By far I think it's also the best written, in terms of character development and story progression. It was just so cute and I couldn't stop smiling the entire time I was reading it. 

The second is Stuck With You which follows two engineers at rival companies who get stuck in an elevator a few weeks after having a whirlwind 24-hour romance that ended in betrayal and anger. The novella is told in a series of flashbacks to their romance and their present setting in an elevator. I enjoyed it, and it was cute, but it definitely didn't feel nearly as developed as the other stories. I think the main thing with this was that it was based around a miscommunication trope and I don't really like those much. It felt like there wasn't much story progression or plot from that except for them having an actual conversation and realizing they were both wrong. Because of that, I just didn't swoon as much as the others even if I still enjoyed it. 

The last novella is Below Zero and follows two NASA scientists with a hint of rivals-to-lovers. One is injured and stuck in a life-or-death situation and the other is coming to save them. This novella also switches between past and present but I felt like it did it in such a better way. The main plot for this also didn't feel like it was based around the miscommunication trope, though there was some of that. Instead, there was other stuff going on that made it a well-balanced story in my mind. It was quite cute and enjoyable seeing the potential relationship that has spanned years finally culminate in this novella.

One of my favorite things about Ali Hazelwood is the inclusion of science and academia in her books. While I studied humanities in university, I still took STEM classes and they always fascinated me. I also just think it's great to see science represented in romance books because I rarely ever see it. My ranking of these would have to go Under One Roof, Below Zero, and then Stuck With You. Each was quite different but they also all felt like Ali Hazelwood stories. I'm beginning to get a vibe for how she writes and I'm quite looking forward to the fact that I can reach for her books when I'm in the mood for these types of stories. I quite enjoyed this trilogy of novellas and think they've been great to hold me over until her next full-length novel, Love On the Brain, comes out later this month. I also am very much looking forward to the paperback bindup of these novellas that is coming out at the beginning of next year! 



Thanks for reading!
xoxo
Lauren



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