Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Book Review: "Fall of Ruin and Wrath" by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Title: Fall of Ruin and Wrath
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Series: "Awakening" #1
Genre: Adult Fantasy Romance
Page Length: 432 pages
Publication Date: September 12, 2023
Rating: 4 // 5 stars

I've been reading Jennifer L. Armentrout books for over eight years now and after all this time, I can count on the fact that I'll enjoy her books. Some I love more than others, some I enjoy and then forget about, and some I become absolutely obsessed with. This was everything I expected out of a JLA adult fantasy romance and I wasn't disappointed in the slightest. However, it also wasn't anything particularly revolutionary for the genre so it also didn't blow me out of the water despite my enjoyment. 

There's romantic fantasy, fantasy romance, and then fantasy romance. This book is about as far as you can get in fantasy romance and still have a plot. The whole dynamic in the book is based off of pleasure, physical attraction, sex, etc. It's very normalized in the world but it is also the basis for the developing romance in the book. If you don't like smut in books or if you like more plot over romance or more of the soft romance over the smut, this book is not for you. 

I will say, this felt a lot more developed than her other high fantasy series, From Blood and Ash. I have to imagine that the better writing and development are down to the fact that this one is traditionally published so likely went through stricter editing than that one. Now, I love what I've read of the FBAA series so far, but it's definitely not an objectively great series by any means. But I think readers who didn't like FBAA because of the editing and world building would enjoy this one more as it is a bit better in terms of actual writing. 

The plot outside of the romance was interesting, though minimal. Most of the book seemed to be spent on the romance or the main character contemplating the romance. But the actual plot regarding the kingdom politics was intriguing and I'm interested to see how it develops in the next book. The ending was also quite explosive and I'm eager to see how the events of the end influence the story in the next. However, I think what intrigues me most outside of the romance is the magic system. Our main character has really unique magic and I think it presents a lot of opportunities to drive the plot in various ways.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It was quick, addicting, and steamy. However, it's nothing particularly new or revolutionary for the fantasy romance genre and I do think we could have used more time getting to know the characters instead of more smut. I'm looking forward to the next one and can add this to the list of JLA books that are a hit for me. 



Thanks for reading!
xoxo
Lauren



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Tuesday, November 28, 2023

End of the Year Book Tag: 2023 Edition


Another year past, another end of the year wrap up to start getting into! This is my favorite time of the year on my blog where I get to wrap-up a bunch of fun things from this year and look ahead to the next year. It always kicks off with the End of the Year Book Tag. This is my fifth year doing it and it's one of the tags that I enjoy every time. Let's go ahead and dive in! 



1. Are there any books you started this year that you need to finish?


I've not started and DNF-ed any books that I want to finish but there are a few series I want to continue with before the year is over. First, I want to finish my reread of the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas. I've gotten through Queen of Shadows and I've started Empire of Storms. It's so much fun being back in this world and with these characters. It truly feels like returning home.


I also want to continue reading the Ironside Academy by Jane Washington. Jane is one of my favorite indie authors and this is her newest book series. I've read the first book and loved it. The sequel came out a few months ago and the third book just came out a few days ago. I'm so excited to continue with more in this world and I've heard nothing but great things about the second and third books. I'm hoping to binge them all in one go after I finish the Throne of Glass series. 



2. Do you have an autumnal book to transition into the end of the year?


I always think that fantasy books are the perfect fall and winter books. There's a few on my TBR for the rest of the month but I'm pretty excited about hopefully getting to One Dark Window by Rachel Gillig. I've known about this book since it came out but it seems like it hit a popularity surge this year and I've heard nothing but good things about it. I just feel like this has the perfect autumn/winter fantasy reading vibes. 



3. Is there a new release you’re still waiting for?


Ruthless Vows by Rebecca Ross is probably my last confirmed release that I'm anticipating for the year. It comes out in the US in December but in the UK in January so it's technically one that I'm excited for this year and next. I might not get to read it until January but I'm very much looking forward to it. 



4. What are three books you want to read before the end of the year?


I want to get to Emily Wilde's Encyclopaedia of Faeries by Heather Fawcett, The Hurricane Wars by Thea Guanzon, and Heartstopper Volume 5 by Alice Oseman. I've heard great things about the first two and I absolutely love Heartstopper so I'm really excited to see how the story continues.  



5. Is there a book you think could still shock you and become your favorite book of the year?

Any book could shock me at this point as all of my TBR for the rest of the year are ones that I'm highly anticipating. It could be The Hurricane Wars or Emily Wilde's or One Dark Window or Sauter or Foul Heart Huntsman or a random book I decide to pick up on a whim. Any one of them could surprise me and become a favorite. 



6. Have you already started making reading plans for 2024?

You bet I have! I have some books scheduled in various months throughout the year to coincide with the releases I'm most excited for. I am very excited as a bunch of my most anticipated releases are coming in the first few months of the year. I'm not going to set a number goal for the year but I do have some goals planned around series and my backlist TBR. 



Thanks for reading!
xoxo
Lauren



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Monday, November 13, 2023

Series Review: "WITSEC" by Ashley N. Rostek


Series: WITSEC
Author: Ashley N. Rostek 
Reading Order & Individual Ratings:
  1. Find Me - 3.5 // 5 stars
  2. Save Me - 3 // 5 stars
  3. Love Me -  3 // 5 stars
  4. Free Me - 3 // 5 stars
Overall Rating: 3 // 5 stars

I first heard of this series on TikTok when people were talking about why choose romances that they loved. Everything about the idea of this series appealed to me: why choose, a heroine on the run, badass characters, etc. However, despite the surface level enjoyment I had in these books, I think overall they were disappointing to me. 

I'll preface this by saying that these books are addicting as hell. I read all four of them in 24 hours and couldn't put them down. The nature of these books means there's a certain thriller element where you're always wondering if the next hit is about to come. 

The first book was the most enjoyable to me, I think. It was a good start to the series, if not a bit insta-lovey. I thought we got a good idea of our characters and the situation with some pretty good pacing. I do prefer a more slow-burn romance, especially for my why-choose books, but I could overlook it because I was enjoying it nonetheless. The second book upped the suspense quite a bit. I didn't like it as much as the first as we went right into a full blown love scenario whereas I would have preferred a bit more development. 

The third and fourth books were I think where my disappointment in this series really came out. For starters, I could no longer tell the love interests apart. One of my minimum requirements for a why choose series to become an all-time favorite is good character distinction for the love interests. Basically, I don't want the love interests to be a copy-paste of each other simply for the novelty of having multiple love interests. 

For me, a good way to test this is to ask myself the following question: "If you were to take a page of dialogue and actions and remove any names or nicknames, could I tell you which love interest it is?" My favorite why choose romances, I can do that. This is not one of those cases. In the first book, it was that way. But once the romance developed, the love interests became exactly the same in how they acted and talked. And since we didn't get much background information on them besides a few sentences here and there, I felt very disconnected. 

I also think that while I liked the main character, as the series went on she became very annoying to me. I understand she's been through incredible trauma and she's not healed nor has she gotten any help dealing with it. I understand that. At the same time, I found the constant outbursts, tantrums, and blaming others to be excessive. These are men she's supposed to love, yet there was a point where every chapter was either smut or her yelling at them and storming off. If we needed these angsty moments, we also needed the soft moments that show the relationship that aren't smut scenes. 

This brings me to my next issue with the last few books. The amount of smut in these books was too much. If you are reading for smut, you'll probably like that. I don't read for smut. Smut can add to my reading experience if it's done in moderation and doesn't overtake the plot or development. But there was a point it seemed every single chapter had a smut scene. There were times we had more smut than anything else (plot, character development, romance) combined. I began skimming over them and completely skipping those scenes. 

That may put me in the minority, though. I just am indifferent to smut in books. I grew up reading fanfiction and on the early-2010s internet so I feel like I've been well desensitized to explicit content by now. Smut just for the sake of smut doesn't do it for me in books anymore because I'd much prefer other romantic moments, plot development, etc over that. 

Overall, did I read this series in less than 24 hours and was it incredibly addicting? Yes. Was it an objectively good series? No. I think the rate at which I read them and how addicting they were are the only reason I was able to give it 3 stars as otherwise I think these aren't offering that much to the why choose genre. Incredible concept, poor execution is what I think I'll leave this review with. 



Thanks for reading!
xoxo
Lauren



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Saturday, November 11, 2023

Book Review: "Assistant to the Villain" by Hannah Nicole Maehrer

Title: Assistant to the Villain
Author: Hannah Nicole Maehrer
Series: "Assistant to the Villain" #1
Genre: New Adult Fantasy Romance
Page Length: 352 pages
Publication Date: September 5, 2023
Rating: 4 // 5 stars

I'm sure if you've been on BookTok this year that you've seen this book floating around. It's the next big release from Red Tower Books (yes the Fourth Wing guys) and debuted on the NYT bestseller list. And it was one of my most anticipated releases for this year. 

I first heard of this book just by following the author with her TikTok skit series about what it would be like as an assistant to a villain. It was such a fun series and everyone loved it. When it was announced it would be published this year, I was beyond excited to see how it finally came to life. 

I had so much fun with this book. It gave comedy fairytale vibes as opposed to gritty serious fantasy vibes, and sometimes I just like the silly goofy time. But if you go into this expecting a serious fantasy with deep world-building and a complex plot, you're not going to get that. 

I liked our main characters and a lot of the side characters wormed their way into my heart. It was a great mix of personalities and I'm definitely getting found-family vibes from it all. I think the interactions between all the characters are what drive this book the most. 

The plot was engaging and fun, though nothing overly special. I like the slow-burn element of it all and I was definitely not expecting the cliffhanger at the end. I didn't realize this was a series when it was first announced but now I'm incredibly intrigued by where this is all going to go in future books. 

My only critique of this book is the editing. It felt very much like a first draft with surface level editing. It wasn't a small issue, either. Most of the book's sentence structures, grammar, pacing, etc could have been greatly improved with another couple rounds of editing. I definitely think that if not for the editing, I would have rating this book 5 stars. It's a fun book and the characters are equally fun, but the actual writing and editing needed work. 

Overall, I really enjoyed it and am going to continue with the rest of the series. It's a silly, goofy time and I love books that bring that lightness to me. My hope, though, is that the editing will get better in future books with a longer publication schedule as I think the main issue with the book is that. If you can overlook the editing, I think this is definitely a book worth reading. 



Thanks for reading!
xoxo
Lauren



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Monday, November 6, 2023

October 2023 Book Haul


Another month, another book haul. I got 10 books this month using a combination of preorders from ages ago, gift cards, and some questionable financial decisions. This is one of the biggest hauls I've had this year and I'm really excited about all of them, so let's go ahead and dive in! 



Up first, I have My Roommate is a Vampire by Jenna Levine. I've heard such great things about this one and when I saw it for super cheap I decided to go ahead and get it. I love a good paranormal book and a good romcom, so the two of them combined sound right up my alley. A few bookish friends have raged about it so it's got me very excited to read it, hopefully soon. 

Then I got my preorder of the Fairyloot edition of Foxglove by Adalyn Grace. This is the sequel to Belladonna, which I got last year when it first came out. It really is a stunning edition, so I knew I wanted to get the matching sequel. So far, I've not yet read the first book but it is on my rather soon-ish tbr and I've heard great things. I've read the author's debut book and I really loved it so I'm hopeful that this one will be just as good. 

Then, I had a gift card I found in my wallet that I'd forgotten about so I decided to treat myself to some books. I got three from Waterstones that I'm excited about. Up first is Divine Rivals by Rebecca Ross. I read this a few months ago on Kindle Unlimited and absolutely loved it but was holding off on getting a physical copy until my end of the year spree. But when I found the gift card I knew I wanted to pick up a copy sooner for my shelves. 

The next one I got with my gift card was The Pumpkin Spice Cafe by Laurie Gilmore. Now, right after I bought it with my gift card it showed up in my local Works for £2.50 so I kinda wish I'd waited just a week and gotten it for lower and had used my gift card for something else. But either way, I'm excited about this one. I've heard it's like a Hallmark movie in book form for autumn and I'm all about those vibes. Plus, a lot of people seem to be enjoying it. 

The last book I got with my gift card with A Witch's Guide to Fake Dating a Demon by Sarah Hawley. This is another paranormal romcom and the perfect vibes for the October/Halloween time. I love a fake-dating scenario as well so this sounds great. I've seen some of my bookish friends read and enjoy this one so I'm hopeful that I'll enjoy it as well. 

Then I grabbed up Plier by Jane Washington. I absolutely love this book and everything I've read by Jane. I first read Plier in July I think and I loved it. The third book comes out at the end of November and I'm really looking forward to rereading this one and continuing with the series. Of course, I needed a copy of the book in order to do that...so here we are. I'm just excited to add more Jane Washington books to my shelf. 

I'm subscribed to Fairyloot's Adult box and this month was The Hurricane Wars by Thea Guanzon. This edition is absolutely beautiful with fancy edges, a new cover, and plenty of artwork. I believe there's also bonus content, which is really exciting. This was one of my more anticipated releases of the back half of the year so I'm really happy that it was in a Fairyloot box. I'm very much looking forward to reading it, hopefully soon! 

Then I impulse-bought The Stars are Dying by Chloe C. PeƱaranda. I've read one book by this author and enjoyed it but this is the first in a completely different series. I've seen a lot of hype for it and it just got picked up for publication by a traditional publisher. It was on my TBR on Kindle Unlimited but when it was announced, it was pulled off and I knew I wanted to grab a copy to read it when I wanted. So here we are...

Then I finally got my preorder of the Fairyloot edition of Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros. I love this book and I was so excited that I managed to get a signed copy in the original sale. And it's finally arrived! It's got a reversible dust jacket, stenciled edges, and embossing. It's in great condition, though the dust jacket has some nicks in it. However, they're already sending out replacement dust jackets so I'm not too worried about it either way. I also snagged a matching copy of the Iron Flame in the sale recently so I'm quite excited about that.

The last book I got was Powerless by Lauren Roberts. I'd seen this around on TikTok a lot and the hype is real. It sounds quite interesting and like it'd go well since I love a good fantasy romance. I saw it for cheap at The Works when I was doing some early Christmas shopping so I went ahead and snagged a copy. I'm not quite sure when I'll read it as the sequel is still a ways away but I'm looking forward to it nonetheless. 



Thanks for reading!
xoxo
Lauren



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Friday, November 3, 2023

October 2023 Wrap-Up


October was a wild month. Personal life wise, it was rather rough. In terms of reading, I read a lot of books (though most of them are not new favorites). In total, I read 14 books and two complete series. My favorite was definitely my reread of the Bonds that Tie series, continuing J. Bree's hold on my reading year. But I also really enjoyed Daughter of the Drowned Empire and have already continued on with the series. I'm also going to continue with the sequel to An Heir Comes to Rise soon. 

I'm hoping that November will be a good reading month in terms of both quantity and quality. There's some new releases I'm looking forward to and some books on my TBR that I'm quite excited about. But, for now, let's get into my October wrap up!


1. 
Title: An Heir Comes to Rise
Author: C.C. PeƱaranda
Rating: 3 // 5 stars

2. 
Title: Broken Bonds
Author: J. Bree
Rating: 5 // 5 stars
-reread-

3. 
Title: Savage Bonds
Author: J. Bree
Rating: 5 // 5 stars
-reread-

4. 
Title: Blood Bonds
Author: J. Bree
Rating: 4.5 // 5 stars
-reread-

5. 
Title: Forced Bonds
Author: J. Bree
Rating: 4.5 // 5 stars
-reread-

6. 
Title: Tragic Bonds
Author: J. Bree
Rating: 4.5 // 5 stars 
-reread-

7. 
Title: Unbroken Bonds
Author: J. Bree
Rating: 4 // 5 stars
-reread-

8. 
Title: Chameleon
Author: Jane Washington
Rating: 3 // 5 stars

9. 
Title: Find Me
Author: Ashley N. Rostek
Rating: 3.5 // 5 stars
Review TK

10. 
Title: Save Me
Author: Ashley N. Rostek
Rating: 3 // 5 stars
Review TK

11. 
Title: Love Me
Author: Ashley N. Rostek
Rating: 3 // 5 stars
Review TK

12. 
Title: Free Me
Author: Ashley N. Rostek
Rating: 3 // 5 stars
Review TK

13.
Title: Too Safe
Author: Abby Millsaps
Rating: 3 // 5 stars
Review TK

14.  
Title: Daughter of the Drowned Empire
Author: Frankie Diane Mallis
Rating: 4 // 5 stars
Review TK





Thanks for reading!
xoxo
Lauren



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