Monday, October 30, 2023

Halloween Creatures Book Tag


Happy spooky season everyone! September to December is my favorite time of year, thanks to autumn, spooky season, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas all happening in quick succession. Today, I have a Halloween-themed book tag I'm pretty excited to do. This tag was originally created by Paperbacks and Planners so make sure to check out the original after this one!



1. WITCH - a magical character or book


There are so many magical books, mainly because I primarily read fantasy book with magic in them. Of course, I can only choose one. I'm going to go with Rookesbane from The Crown of Oaths and Curses by J. Bree. Rooke is a witch, so of course she fits this prompt perfectly. This whole book is phenomenal and I can't wait to read more about Rooke's adventures as a witch. 



2. WEREWOLF - the perfect book to read at night


For this, I'm going with The Ex Hex by Erin Sterling. I am not a scary book type of girl and I much prefer spooky, magical reads to scary reads, especially in autumn. This is a perfect night-time autumn read. It's set around Halloween in a witchy town with lots of shenanigans. It's fun, it's spooky, it's witchy, it's romantic, it's just perfect for Halloween reading. 



3. FRANKENSTEIN - a book that truly shocked you


There are many books that could fit this one but I think I'm going to go with Divine Rivals by Rebecca Ross. There were a couple of twists but mainly the ending is the one that shocked me the most. It was shocking for sure and painful. I desperately need the next book in my hands after that one. Only a few more months to go...



4. THE DEVIL - a dark, evil character


There is no one more qualified for this prompt than Maeve from the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas. I'm not going to get super into it for spoiler reasons but she is just a vile character. Sarah has crafted such a monster and I have to applaud her writing because she is definitely one of my most-hated characters. 



5. GRIM REAPER - a character that never should have died


There are a lot of deaths in Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros, there's no denying that. However, there's one death in particular that I'm sure anyone who has read this will immediately understand. I'm not going to say who, just that this particular character wormed their way into my heart and their death was so unexpected and heartbreaking for a myriad of reasons. 



6. ZOMBIE - a book that made you “hungry” for more


I'm going with Plier by Jane Washington. This is the first book in the Ironside Academy series and I absolutely blew through it when I read it. It was addicting and the slow burn is hella slow burn and the ending left me hungering for more. With multiple books in the series still to come out, I have a lot of waiting ahead of me. 



7. GARGOYLE - a character that you would protect at all cost


I'm going with Charlie Spring from Heartstopper by Alice Oseman. Charlie is just one of those cinnamon roll characters you want to wrap in a blanket and protect from the world. Of course, I think Nick is probably first in line to do so. If you've read the graphic novels or seen the TV adaptation, I'm sure you know exactly what I mean when I say that Charlie deserves to be protected at all costs. 



8. VAMPIRE - a book that sucked the life out of you


There's lot of books I've disliked over the years. I'm going to go with Stealing Their Harley for this one, though. It's not a particularly bad book per se. However, it's so short and quick that trying to fit the entire story of it into this one did not work. I was really excited for this one but it ended up just being incredibly disappointing. 



9. GHOST - a book that still haunts you


The Mindf*ck series by S.T. Abby will forever be a series that haunts me and has a place in my heart. The things the main character goes through in her life and in this series is traumatizing and heartbreaking to say the least. Even though I love this series and it does have lighter moments in it, it's also a haunting story for sure. 



10. DEMON - a book that really scared you


I'm going with Capturing the Devil by Kerri Maniscalco. I've said it before but this book absolutely scared the shit out of me when I read it at certain parts. This is the fourth book in the Stalking Jack the Ripper series which is definitely one of my favorites. It's a historical mystery series and I loved them so. This final book had moments so well-written that I could feel myself getting terrified just imagining the setting. 



11. SKELETON - a character you have a bone to pick with


I'm going with The Jackal from the Hannaford Prep series by J. Bree. He's a crazy psychotic man and a great antagonist for the series. The things he's did prior to the series and during put him near the top of my shit list of characters. He definitely deserved what he got and then some.  



12. MUMMY - a book you would preserve throughout time


There are many books I would preserve through time. One that feels like a modern, timeless classic though is The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. This is a retelling of Achilles and Patroclus from Homer's Illiad. It is so beautifully written and I loved every minute of it, which a lot of people must agree with seeing as it's one of the most popular books of our time. 



13. CREEPY DOLL - a cover too scary to look at


I don't read scary books so there's not a lot of scary book covers for me to chose from out of the ones I've read. However, I do think some of them are a little creepier than others. One that is creepy but still hautningly beautiful is Illusionary by Zoraida C√≥rdova. 



Thanks for reading!
xoxo
Lauren



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Friday, October 27, 2023

Book Review: "Divine Rivals" by Rebecca Ross

Title: Divine Rivals
Author: Rebecca Ross
Series: "Letters of Enchantment" #1
Genre: Historical Fantasy Romance
Page Length: 368 pages
Publication Date: April 4, 2023
Rating: 5 // 5 stars

I'm sure by now you've all seen the hype for this book all over BookTok and Bookstagram this year? It is one of the biggest books of the year in my corner of the book world and...well...I knew I had to read it and see for myself if it was worth it or not. And y'all...this book was amazing! For me, the two main things that I loved about this book were the characters and then just how beautiful the writing was. I read it one sitting and it was absolutely stunning...

So obviously the main thing that drives me when I read is the characters. A strong plot is, of course, essential to my enjoyment but even more than that are strong characters that I can really get attached to. My favorite books, the ones that stick with me long after I read them, are the ones where the characters burrow deep into my heart and refuse to leave when I finish the last page. 

Iris and Roman are two such characters to me. Reading about them...about their desires and fears and what they long for...was incredibly special to me. These two characters are so full of love and passion and just sheer goodness. I am desperate to know how their story wraps up. If it seems like I'm being vague, it's mainly because I don't want to give much away about this book because I truly think it's best to go into it without knowing too much. To let the twists come as they may...

The writing is absolutely beautiful. I believe Rebecca Ross is known for beautiful writing and I can definitely see why. Beyond the plot and the characters, this book truly felt like a love letter to words and the power they hold. Between the love letters and the general writing, I was consistently blown away. As a lover of words, this book felt so special. 

Overall, I am incredibly excited to read the next one, especially after the pain of the cliffhanger in this one. I completely understand why this is such a hyped book and I think it deserves all the excitement and love that is has been getting. I highly recommend it to everyone who loves a romance, a fantasy, or just a compelling story about family and loss and the consequences of war. 



Thanks for reading!
xoxo
Lauren



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Monday, October 23, 2023

Book Review: "Immortal Longings" by Chloe Gong

Title: Immortal Longings
Author: Chloe Gong
Series: "Flesh and False Gods" #1
Genre: Adult Fantasy
Page Length: 384 pages
Publication Date: July 18, 2023
Rating: 4 // 5 stars

So I'm a big fan of Chloe's books. I love her Secret Shanghai universe and I have been eagerly anticipating this adult debut since it was announced. And I really enjoyed it. I'm writing this review a few months on from having read it so I've had some time to sit with my thoughts since I initially finished. 

Besides the characters, what most intrigued me about this book was the setting. Immortal Longings is set in San-Er, a city much like the demolished Kowloon Walled City that once stood in China. It's a city built on top of itself with people packed in like sardines. It's a setting unlike any I've ever read about and was so incredibly vivid. I definitely think the setting is part of what drew me to this story. 

I really liked our two main characters. Calla is a badass and I loved getting to know her. Anton is a compelling adversary turned ally and I really enjoyed him as well. I think mainly I loved the dynamic between these two with the competition and being forced to work together. I will say I'm rooting for the romance but I do think it needs a lot more development before it would become one of my favorites. 

The plot is intriguing. I am a sucker for a competition and I think it's one of those things where tension and conflict is automatically built in to the story. The magic system was interesting. People can jump between bodies which leads to a lot of openings for deception and treachery...potentially a future point of conflict? 

There's not really much I can say about this book. I think it was a pretty good first start to a series and I read through it quickly. It was engaging and I couldn't stop reading. However, I do think it's not as strong as Chloe's other books yet. I'm eagerly anticipating further books in this world, though, especially after the cliffhanger. Overall, it was an enjoyable addicting read but not as particularly mind-blowing as I was hoping for. 



Thanks for reading!
xoxo
Lauren



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Monday, October 9, 2023

BookTok Hit or Miss? Part 2


It's been a couple years since I did my first BookTok Hit or Miss challenge and I've been wanting to do another one ever since. I've read quite a few BookTok darlings since then and I figure that now is the time for part 2 of this new series, with part 3 coming in the next few months most likely. The last time I did this it was mostly just romances and I'd definitely say my tastes have changed a bit since then. For today, I've got a few misses and a few hits to talk about so let's go ahead and dive right in! 



Priest by Sierra Simone: Miss

I read this a while ago and the longer it goes from reading it, the more my disappointment in this book grows. I was really anticipating this one as I'd heard nothing but amazing things for years about how good it was. Unfortunately, this book was not for me. I think the way this book was marketed to me and the actual way this book went were completely different. This isn't a bad book per se, but it was a miss for me. 

The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood: Hit

Now, like many people, I read this when it was at the height of its popularity. It's still very popular and Ali's books continue to perform well on BookTok, though this is the only one of her full novels I've read so far. I absolutely loved this book. Fake dating, an academic setting, good side characters...it was so fun and addicting, which is really the main thing I look for in a romcom. Even some tropes I don't typically enjoy were ones I enjoyed in this one. Because of this one, I'm also excited to continue reading Ali's other books. 

Icebreaker by Hannah Grace: Miss

Icebreaker is a more recent read and it's a sad miss for me. Now, unlike with Priest, I actually did enjoy parts of this book. Overall I would say I didn't dislike it but it fell flat. It was so much longer than it needed to be and I felt like there wasn't much of an actual plot. For example, this is supposed to be a story about a hockey player and an ice skater teaming up to skate and...yet...there's not much actual skating in this story. I liked the characters a lot but overall it was a bit of a disappointing read. 

The Mindf*ck Series by S.T. Abby: Hit

I read this last summer and then reread it this summer and it remains a massive hit for me. It's a new all-time favorite series that I absolutely love. It's about a serial killer who starts dating the FBI agent who's hunting her. Of course, it's about more than just that and throughout the series we really dig deep into the cruelties of humanity. Mindf*ck is not for the faint of heart and it's got an extensive list of trigger warnings but it's so good. It's heartbreaking and addicting and I couldn't stop reading. 

Twisted Love by Ana Huang: Miss

This is mostly a miss for me. Twisted Love was enjoyable at first, but when I finished it I realized it was nothing memorable for me. I think it's mainly because even though I enjoy romances, I struggle with finding romances memorable when the only plot is the romance. There's only a few over the years that have made my overall favorites and, unfortunately, this wasn't one of them. However, I am interested in continuing the series with some side characters we met in this one that have their own spotlight. 

Broken Bonds series by J. Bree: Hit

I've dubbed 2023 the year of J. Bree for a reason...her books just hit all the boxes for me. Of the 62 books I've read at the time of writing this post, 20 of them have been J. Bree books. This series is huge on BookTok and I can definitely see why. It's a paranormal why choose enemies-to-lovers romance series that's just completely addicting. I blew through the series. While I do think the last two books were a bit long and unnecessary, overall the series is a hit for me and I will be rereading it in the future. 



Thanks for reading!
xoxo
Lauren



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Friday, October 6, 2023

September 2023 Book Haul


Another month, another book haul! Surprisingly, I didn't get anything in August but I did pick back up in September. I visited home this month finally and I had a giant stack of books waiting for me at my parents' houses. Anything I didn't bring back with me to the UK isn't going to be in this haul but is safely stored away for future moving plans. Either way, let's dive into the five books that I do have for this haul! 



The first book I hauled this month was an ARC of Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros. One of the books waiting in the giant stack at home was this one and I absolutely flipped out when I saw it. Fourth Wing is one of my favorite books of the year and I am so excited to have the ARC in my hands. This is, of course, the first one I packed to bring back to the UK with me and I'm thrilled to be able to add it to my Fourth Wing collection.
One of the first things I did when we landed was go to Target for shampoo and snacks. Of course, I had to check out the book selection while I was there. Assistant to the Villain was one of my most anticipated reads of the year and I couldn't help myself when I saw it at Target. It's such a floppy fun paperback and I decided to get it rather than wait until I was back for the UK edition. One of the things I miss most about the US is the floppy paperbacks. 

Then I picked up The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna. This has been on my wishlist for over a year now and when I did my trip to Barnes & Noble I had this one as my top pick. It also ended up being my only pick because wow book prices have gone up in the US. Either way, I'm so excited to have this in my hands finally and it's on my immediate TBR for October and spooky season. Plus, this paperback is super floppy and comfy to hold so I'm quite excited just about the physical aspect of it as well as the content. 

When I got back, it was time for the monthly book boxes. Up first was Illumicrate with A Study in Drowning by Ava Reid. When I saw it was going to be in the September Illumicrate box, I knew I was going to get it. And this edition is absolutely beautiful with the edges and artwork. I've been intrigued by this book for a while and I've heard nothing but good things from a lot of people who I trust with book opinions. I've also heard nothing but good things about this author so I think it's only fitting I start with this one. 

Lastly, I have the Fairyloot edition of Sun of Blood and Ruin by Mariely Lares. This edition is beautiful but I'm also pretty excited about the book itself. It's a gender-bent Zorro retelling and I am beyond intrigued by that premise as I loved Zorro as a kid. Plus, this edition is absolutely stunning with the edges and the cover change. 




Thanks for reading!
xoxo
Lauren



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Monday, October 2, 2023

September 2023 Wrap-Up


It's time for spooky season! Now that we're in October, I'm settling down for all of the spooky and atmospheric reads that are coming my way. However, let's first recap on September before I get all excited about October.

September was a small reading month for me. I went on a long holiday and there wasn't much time for reading. I reread two childhood favorites and examined them in a new light and then I also read one of my more anticipated releases of the year. Let's dive in! 


1. 
Title: Little House on the Prairie
Author: Laura Ingalls Wilder
-reread-

2. 
Title: On the Banks of Plum Creek
Author: Laura Ingalls Wilder 
-reread-

3. 
Title: Assistant to the Villain
Author: Hannah Nicole Maehrer
Rating: 4 // 5 stars
Review TK





Thanks for reading!
xoxo
Lauren



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