Wednesday, May 11, 2022

April 2022 Book Haul


Another month, another book haul! This month was pretty interesting in terms of hauling as I mainly preordered books for future months. However, I did get eight books this month which I'm quite excited about. Let's go ahead and just dive right in!



The first book I got was the Illumicrate edition of The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake. This is my third edition of the book and I haven't yet read it...oops. However, this edition is stunning and I've heard such good things. I was able to get this during the regular sale for retail price, thankfully, as the secondhand prices are insane! I'm hoping to finally read this later in 2022 when the sequel releases!

The next book I picked up was Redemptor by Jordan Ifueko. This is the sequel to Raybearer and I read both books in this duology in April. I really enjoyed this fantasy duology and have definitely grown to like the UK covers a lot more than I initially did. Did you notice that there's a face hidden in the cover? I was stunned when I realized! I also definitely love this cover more than the first book...something about the color purple makes me happy. 

Of course, when Heartstopper came out on Netflix, I got pulled back into the world. I picked up Heartstopper, Volume 4 by Alice Oseman and I'm pretty excited. I definitely think this is my favorite cover, seeing as purple is my favorite color. I haven't yet read the third and fourth volumes so I'm excited to have this one finally so I can catch up. Though, I might binge them all on Webtoon instead as there's content past this fourth volume on there. Also, if you haven't seen the show yet, you definitely need to! 

Up next, I grabbed the UK hardcover of Illusionary by Zoraida C√≥rdova. This edition goes out of print when the paperback publishes and I've been collecting this series so I wanted to grab it before that happened. Now, my Hollow Crown duology collection is almost complete! These books are stunning. Now, to just finish reading it...I anticipate reading it in the very near future after an extended reading slump that prevented me when it first game out. 

Then I got the Broken Binding editions of The Unspoken Name and The Thousand Eyes by A.K. Larkwood. These are signed, numbered editions with absolutely stunning stencil sprayed edges. The edges on these are some of the most complex, intricate edges I've seen done on a book and I couldn't pass up the chance to own these before they ran out. 

The next book I got was the Fairyloot edition of The City of Dusk by Tara Sim. I was really intrigued by this book and when I saw that Fairyloot was doing it for their Adult box, I knew I had to have it. It has an alternate cover, sprayed edges, special artwork and embossing, and is signed. It's absolutely stunning and I'm so excited about this edition. Plus, the book itself sounds so intriguing!

The final book I got in April was Winterkeep by Kristin Cashore. I got the first three books in this series (the Graceling series) on sale. When this one popped up on sale as well, I knew I had to get it. With the sale price for these four books, I got the entire series for less than the retail price of just a single book. I'm pretty excited about that, plus these UK covers are stunning! I can't wait to binge these. 



Thanks for reading!
xoxo
Lauren



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Sunday, May 1, 2022

April 2022 Wrap-Up


How are we already done with four months this year? 2022 seems to be flying by but it also feels like the start of April was ages ago. Either way, this month was pretty eventful, both in terms of reading and my personal life. I read a total of ten books this month, though I definitely could have read way more if I'd watched less TV...Either way, I'm really happy with what I read. 

I enjoyed every single book this month and didn't rate a single one less than 4.5 out of 5 stars. This year I've been mood reading a lot and I think that's why my ratings have been so high. I also finished three series this month! Two were brand new but I also reread the entirety of one of my favorite series. I guess you could say I'm pretty happy with how this reading month went. Hopefully this momentum carries into May! 


1. 
Title: Legend of the Dragon Slayer
Author: Brandon Mull

2. 
Title: Champion of the Titan Games
Author: Brandon Mull
Rating: 4.5 // 5 stars

3. 
Title: Return of the Dragon Slayers
Author: Brandon Mull
Rating: 4.5 // 5 stars

4. 
Title: Raybearer
Author: Jordan Ifueko
Rating: 4.5 // 5 stars
Review TK

5. 
Title: Redemptor
Author: Jordan Ifueko
Rating: 4.5 // 5 stars
Review TK

6. 
Title: Trickery
Authors: Jaymin Eve & Jane Washington
Rating: 5 // 5 stars
-reread-

7. 
Title: Persuasion
Authors: Jaymin Eve & Jane Washington
Rating: 5 // 5 stars
-reread-

8. 
Title: Seduction
Authors: Jaymin Eve & Jane Washington
Rating: 5 // 5 stars
-reread-

9. 
Title: Strength
Authors: Jaymin Eve & Jane Washington
Rating: 5 // 5 stars
-reread-


10. 
Title: Pain
Authors: Jaymin Eve & Jane Washington
Rating: 5 // 5 stars
-reread-





Thanks for reading!
xoxo
Lauren



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Sunday, April 17, 2022

Book Series Review: "Dragonwatch" by Brandon Mull


Series Title: Dragonwatch
Author: Brandon Mull
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Reading Order & Individual Ratings:
  1. Dragonwatch - 4.5 // 5 stars
  2. Wrath of the Dragon King - 4.5 // 5 stars
  3. Master of the Phantom Isle - 4.5 // 5 stars
  4. Champion of the Titan Games - 4.5 // 5 stars
  5. Return of the Dragon Slayers - 4.5 // 5 stars
  6. Legend of the Dragon Slayer (companion)
Overall Rating: 4.5 // 5 stars

Let me just start out by saying that this series was a delight, I had so much fun reading it, and I look forward to returning to it again in the future! Okay, now that that's out of the way, let's get into the actual review.

So Dragonwatch is the sequel/spin-off series to Fablehaven, which is a series that is all about two kids who find out that their grandparents' house is actually on a magical preserve and grandparents interact with magical creatures every day. Obviously it's a bit more complicated and exciting than that, but at the very core that is what Fablehaven is about. Before I get into Dragonwatch, I want to warn that I cannot write this review without spoiling certain aspects of that first series. 

Dragonwatch is set just a few months after the events of the final Fablehaven book. Things have quieted down and our characters are mostly chilling after an intense couple of years. But, unrest among the dragons is brewing and only intensified after they were given a taste of freedom. That's where this series picks off, with Kendra and Seth on a new mission to save the world. 

This series was a delight. It was also very different than Fablehaven. For me, a lot of my feelings and thoughts around the first series come from reading the books as a child. In contrast, I am in my early twenties having just finished Dragonwatch so the feelings and experiences are different for both series. However, there remains a lot of nostalgia even with these new books that definitely made this sequel series fantastic. 

The main thing I liked about this series was getting to be back with these characters and this world. As I read this when I was really young, this has always been a very vivid, magical world for me and I've always connected hard with the characters. That made it very easy for me to fall back into this world, especially as I reread Fablehaven right before reading this series. 

Kendra and Seth have gotten a little wiser and a little older, but they still remain the same characters I grew to love and look up to as a child. Their younger cousins are introduced to this series and it's a very interesting dynamic to have Kendra and Seth be the experienced ones this time around. I found it really fascinating to watch how their characters have evolved and taken on these new roles. I honestly also expected Seth to take the forefront in this series, so when there was a pretty equal balance between Kendra and Seth, I was pleasantly surprised as Kendra has always been my favorite since I was nine years old. 

Of course, not only do Kendra and Seth return, but we also get a whole host of return side characters that I was so excited to see. Now, there were some side characters who I wish had gotten more page time but I am just happy to have more content with these characters in general. I also know that Kendra and Seth couldn't have grown and done the things they did if all of these side characters were present 100% of the time. 

I would say my favorite characters to see return were Warren, Tanu, Vanessa, Newel, and Doren. Of course, we have plenty of other side characters and new ones. There were some really great new characters that I loved reading about and being introduced to. The cast of characters is now quite large for this world. 

Apart from getting to spend more time with these characters and this world, one of the main things I loved about this series is getting to explore what was previously unexplored. This refers to not just new preserves and parts of the magical world but also legends and lore and types of magic and the like. It was fascinating and I would love an updated Caretaker's Guide that incorporates all of this new knowledge. 

I could live forever in this world and I don't think we would be able to explore it to its fullest extent, and that is really fascinating to me. Brandon Mull has taken our modern world but made it so much more magical than it already is. 

The plot itself was interesting and I could see the similarities to other Brandon Mull books I've read. However, the way this story was told was different from Fablehaven which I think both worked and didn't work in ways. Obviously it sets it apart as a new series that doesn't need to be a carbon copy to be interesting. On the other hand, it was a bit difficult to go from the high stakes of the last Fablehaven book to the events of this first book in Dragonwatch

This is not to say that the plot is unengaging or boring but the stakes feel lower. The big climax in the first book is less intense than any before in this world. And for me that made the first book feel more like part one with the sequel being part two of the same book. That's not to say it was boring, but it felt less complete than the other books.

On the other hand, the plot within this series was definitely more of a plot across five books rather than five books with interconnecting plots like Fablehaven seemed to be. This was enjoyable and I felt that it aged up the series a bit as you had to reflect on past books a lot more. I really liked that. 

While the main feelings I had at the end of each book were that I loved it, I also had a slight feeling of wanting more that never went away even with the final book. I loved them and I had such a fun time. I think being an adult who is no longer the target audience and who now reads such complex fantasy may be the reason for this feeling so it's definitely not a critique of the series. I am no longer the target audience no matter how much I love this world.

Overall, this was such a great series. I spent so long thinking that the stories in this world were done. To get another long series with so much more magic and adventures was a childhood dream come true. I could live forever in this world. I would read dozens of books about these characters, the adventures, the lore. It's just a fascinating world that I am so happy to have discovered all those years ago. 

It was also very bittersweet to finish this series. I finished this spin-off series in just a few days, but I've spent so much time with this characters that a final ending (supposedly) is very conflicting. It's a wonderful journey we've been on and I was so grateful to have this new one with them after having loved this world for over ten years. But Brandon Mull also said this is likely Kendra and Seth's final ending and that makes me a bit sad. However, I would also read any spin-off book about the side characters or the origins of this world in a heartbeat. 

This series was such a joy and, especially when paired with Fablehaven, will be one that I return to for years and years to come. I look forward to introducing my niece to these book and to rereading them when I miss the world and going on all these adventures again and again. But for now and until I picked back up Fablehaven again, I say goodbye. 



Thanks for reading!
xoxo
Lauren



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Friday, April 15, 2022

Book Review: "Neon Gods" by Katee Robert

Title: Neon Gods
Author: Katee Robert
Series: "Dark Olympus" #1
Genre: Adult Romance
Page Length: 380 pages
Publication Date: June 1, 2021
Rating: 4.5 // 5 stars

Hands up if you like romance or Greek mythology? Boy do I have the book for you...

I first encountered Neon Gods last summer when it got big on BookTok. I've had it on my TBR since then, but the timing to read it never felt right. I wanted to wait until I was reading it because I was interested, not because I wanted to fit in. And, well, that time finally came. 

This book was everything I wanted and expected it to be. It hit my expectations dead on, which sometimes doesn't happen in a book. However, it also didn't exceed my expectations which is something I always wish for. That being said, this was a strong novel that kept me engaged from the first page.

So, let's dive into it then. The main thing I liked about this book was the main character. I liked our narrator, I liked her character voice, I liked that she was strong but also accepted help when she needed it. I just liked her a lot. When it comes to the love interest, I enjoyed him. I think he's a lot more nuanced than a lot of romance leads tend to be a lot of the time. But I mostly enjoyed him when he was interacting with the main character.

The romance itself was great. I liked how it seemed to grow naturally. It felt, to me, that even if there was insta-lust at the beginning the emotional elements of the relationship grew on their own. And we actually got to see some of that formation rather than these characters just being instantly in love and as close as can be. Obviously I read romance books for the romance, and this one didn't disappoint. 

When it comes to most romance books, I always kind of expect some level of steam to them. But I also have to be in the mood for steamy books and I'm not always wanting to read these types of scenes. I purposefully waited until I was in the mood for this kind of spice before reading this book because I didn't want the necessary steamy scenes to negatively impact my reading when they otherwise would make it better. Since I did wait until I wanted them, I really enjoyed them. I won't get too deep into the sexual dynamics in this book but, honestly, it all was great and very much what I'm into reading about. 

What honestly sets this romance book apart for me from so many others that I've read is the world, the relationships outside of the love pairing, and the plot. This is such an interesting world based in Greek mythology and I'm so fascinated with the world and society itself outside of any romance plot lines. I would probably read a book that had no romance in it that was set in this world purely because it fascinates me so much.

The plot itself was a little similar to some romance books but because of the way the world and society are set up, it seemed unique while reading it. Even if looking back it has familiar elements, the way it was done for me was unique as someone who doesn't read a lot of dark romance or mafia romances. If I read more of this type of romance, which I always enjoy but don't reach for nonstop, I would probably have found the plot a little less original. But, because I don't read this as often it was perfect. 

Additionally, the characters had relationships (friends, family, etc) outside of the main romance pairing and it was nice to see these explored and discussed. I think not only did it add depth to this book, but it also made me care about the characters that we're going to be seeing featured in future books set in this world. 

Overall, this book was great. I was sucked in from the first page and read it in one sitting. I loved the world and enjoyed the characters a lot. I am excited to see how the rest of the series goes and can only hope that they are as good, if not better, than this first book. 



Thanks for reading!
xoxo
Lauren



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Sunday, April 10, 2022

Unboxing: Fairyloot's "Threads of Fate" (March 2022)


Another month...another Fairyloot unboxing. Fairyloot has been smashing it so far with the boxes this year and March was no exception. This box was beautiful and I'm quite happy with it. Like usual, not every item is a favorite but I don't think I've ever had a box where that's been the case. So, without further ado, here is my unboxing for March's "Threads of Fate" box. 



The first item this month was a woodmark inspired by Circe by Madeline Miller and designed by @avendellart. Woodmarks are absolutely gorgeous and I'm thrilled to add another one to my slow-growing collection. I haven't yet read Circe but it is on my TBR and I've enjoyed everything else I've read from Madeline Miller. Even if I don't like the book, this woodmark is stunning enough that I would use it anyway. 

The next item was a sticker sheet inspired by the Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater and designed by @vvivaa. I have read the first book in this series and it was just okay. However, I've lately been wondering if I should give the series another chance. But, for now, I don't have much use for this item. Whereas some items can be used no matter the fandom, stickers of book characters are pretty specific. I'm not sure if I'll end up giving this series another go so I'm not sure if I'll end up keeping these.

Up next was a cushion cover inspired by Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko and designed by @blanca.design. This cover is absolutely stunning! Coincidentally, I recently ended up needing a new pillowcase for our couch pillows and I had yet to pick up a replacement. This one has some gorgeous colors and the back is just the design without text so it can serve as a neutral item if needed. I plan on reading Raybearer within the next few months and if I love it I'll definitely be happy to have this pillowcase.

The next item was a tea tin inspired by the book of the month, The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea by Axie Oh designed by @chattynora. This is actually the third tea tin I've gotten from Fairyloot and I'm always happy with the quality of it. These are great for little knickknacks (bookish or otherwise) and are great for keeping out dust and whatnot. I just hope that I like this book enough to want to keep this. I also am looking forward to the day that I have proper bookshelves again and can properly display this with my books.

The last item was a foiled deck of playing cards inspired by characters from four stories and designed by @naiivu. According to the spoiler card, "the artwork on the Diamonds suit is from Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim, Spades are from Jade Fire Gold by June CL Tan, Clubs are from Only A Monster by Vanessa Len, and the Hearts are from Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan." All of these stories were previous Fairyloot books and the art is beautiful. I do like a good playing card deck and this will definitely get used. 

The tarot cards of the month are from a new celestial deck (the old deck ended in February). This month's cards were illustrated by @arx28 and are The Fool and The Magician, featuring characters Xingyin and Wenzhi from Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan. I do quite like the artwork on these but I wish the Fairyloot tarot cards were designed a bit differently this time. I wish they were sized differently and a bit higher quality considering the fact that they're doing another entire tarot deck after spending the last few years on it. As long as the artwork stays high quality, though, I am interested in collecting these this time.

The book of the month was The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea by Axie Oh. This edition features an exclusive cover, two coloured stencil sprayed edges, artwork on the endpapers, foil embossing on the hardcover, and is signed by the author. Included was also an author letter with an art print designed by @naiivu on the other side. This book was one I was looking forward too and I'm in love with the edition. I can only hope that I enjoy this book as much as I hope I will. 





Overall, I liked this month's box quite a lot. I will be using most of the items (minus the sticker sheet, which is a small item anyway) and the book is stunning. I'm also quite enjoying Fairyloot's recent trends of including items inspired by their monthly books. I think it's a great way to incorporate new fandoms rather than repeating the same big ones (like Schwab, Clare, SJM, even though I'll never say no to SJM). 

I am skipping April's box because I'm not as interested in the theme or books as of yet and need to save some money. However, they've announced the May theme and I am quite looking forward to that one (the items and the book!). 

What do you think of March's box? Let me know in the comments!



Thanks for reading!
xoxo
Lauren



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Friday, April 8, 2022

Unboxing: Fairyloot's "To the Moon and Back" (February 2022)


This is my third Fairyloot box since I re-subscribed and, I have to say, it's my favorite. This is one of my favorite Fairyloot boxes of all time, in fact. The book this month is not only one that I've been looking forward to for a long time, but it's also stunning. Though there were a couple items I just felt neutral about, the main items are absolutely gorgeous and completely make up for any neutral feelings I had about others. The February box features five items, the monthly collectible tarot cards, and an absolutely stunning book. Let's go ahead and dive in! 



The first item this month was a pair of socks inspired by The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern and designed by @jezhawk. This is one of the items that I'm more neutral about because I haven't read this book and don't have it on my immediate TBR. On the other hand, I do love socks and these will most definitely get used despite me not having read the book. 

Up next was a necklace inspired by Crescent City by Sarah J. Maas designed by Fairyloot. This is one of my favorite books and I'm in love with this necklace. It's just discreet enough to wear about without people knowing it's a fandom item. It's also beautiful and very simplistic, which is exactly my style. This is a perfect item for me as well because I just read the second Crescent City book in February.

The next item was a pair of metal bookends in a fandom-neutral celestial theme that were designed by @jezhawk. I was so excited when these were announced and, I have to say, these definitely are even better than I anticipated. They are stunning and seem to be very high quality. I also have a bookshelf right now that doesn't have sides so bookends are 100% needed and I'm happy to actually have a use for them. 

The fourth item was a tote bag inspired by the book of the month, Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan, designed by @rosiethorns88. This is a beautiful tote bag but I don't think it's very practical for me for everyday use. I don't think I would use it while out and about in the city or when grocery shopping but I would use it when going to book conventions/events or while moving. Plus, I like that Fairyloot has been including items inspired by the books each month the past few months. 

Lastly, there was an art print inspired by Wicked Fox by Kat Cho and designed by @cyt_draws. Well, there was supposed to be one included but my box was missing it. I'm okay with that, though, as I haven't yet read the book and art prints aren't as important to me as bigger items. I was able to get in touch with Fairyloot, though, and had a replacement within a few days! It did come bent and dinged but that's okay as I was able to mostly flatten it out. 

The tarot cards this month were the Queen and King of Pentacles and were designed by @lizzart_zardonicz. They're inspired by Red Rising by Pierce Brown and feature Mustang and Darrow. Like with January, I haven't yet read this book series but it is on my TBR and these cards are stunning. I don't particularly like a monthly tarot card, though, and would prefer a different item. However, I will use these as mini art-prints for Red Rising instead so they will still get used.

The book of this month is Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan and it is absolutely stunning. I was really excited when I got saw the announcement for this month as I was hoping they'd do this book. And this edition absolutely blows me away. This edition features an exclusive cover, digitally sprayed edges, artwork on the endpages designed by @gracezhuart, foil embossing on the hardcover designed by @gracezhuart, and is signed by the author. Additionally, there is a character art print designed by @rosiethorns88 on the backside of the author note that is stunning.





Overall, I am very happy with this box. The book itself is absolutely stunning and I'm so happy to have a copy of it (especially when people are reselling it for twice as much as I paid for the box). It was a bit touch and go when the shipping carrier lost a bunch of my packages but, thankfully, they found them and finally delivered them at the beginning of March. 

I think that while all the items aren't to my taste, the ones that are make up for the others. I am thrilled to have the necklace and bookends and will definitely find a use for the other items. But, for me, the value in this month's box definitely comes from the gorgeous edition of Daughter of the Moon Goddess. Now I can't wait to see what they do for March...



Thanks for reading!
xoxo
Lauren



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