Book Reviews

House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas Review

44778083Bound by blood.
Tempted by desire.
Unleashed by destiny.

Bryce Quinlan had the perfect life—working hard all day and partying all night—until a demon murdered her closest friends, leaving her bereft, wounded, and alone. When the accused is behind bars but the crimes start up again, Bryce finds herself at the heart of the investigation. She’ll do whatever it takes to avenge their deaths.

Hunt Athalar is a notorious Fallen angel, now enslaved to the Archangels he once attempted to overthrow. His brutal skills and incredible strength have been set to one purpose—to assassinate his boss’s enemies, no questions asked. But with a demon wreaking havoc in the city, he’s offered an irresistible deal: help Bryce find the murderer, and his freedom will be within reach.

As Bryce and Hunt dig deep into Crescent City’s underbelly, they discover a dark power that threatens everything and everyone they hold dear, and they find, in each other, a blazing passion—one that could set them both free, if they’d only let it.

With unforgettable characters, sizzling romance, and page-turning suspense, this richly inventive new fantasy series by #1 New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas delves into the heartache of loss, the price of freedom—and the power of love.


I’m not gonna lie, I was nervous at first because it took me a while to get into this one.  The world was so big and confusing at the beginning, and it took me a bit to grasp all of the different races, ruling hierarchies, and vernacular, but once it sunk in I was hooked.  The steam-punk atmosphere was so unique and cool and I loved all of the different types of supernatural beings in one world with the mix of magic and technology.  There is also so much room to grow with this world.  It’s already huge and could go in a million directions, which is very exciting.  I absolutely loved the main character, Bryce.  Her sarcastic and biting nature combined with her loyal and fierce heart made me root for her throughout all of her obstacles.  Even through her sometimes irritating stubbornness, I wanted her to succeed.  Her friendship with Danika was wonderful and I felt their connection in my soul with every interaction and how it drove her and motivated her every decision.  I really liked our other main character, Hunt, too, especially the more we learned about his past and his current situation among the angelic hierarchy.  His relationship with Bryce progressed so nicely with sexual tension galore and a deep and meaningful friendship.  I loved the arc of their relationship and how they both helped each other overcome their demons, literally, but there is still room for them to grow together in the next book.  The plot was interesting, action-packed, and different, and had a couple really good twists.  There were a few moments towards the end that felt a little out of character for our two heroes behavior-wise, but I still bought it.  Overall I thought it all worked out well and really enjoyed the conclusion. So, thank you Sarah J. Maas for once again giving us a gripping and epic story and world to fall in love with.  I cannot wait to see where it takes us.

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Discussion Posts

Cleaning Up My TBR: Down the TBR Hole #22

I joined Goodreads a few years ago, way before I started blogging, so my profile is kind of a mess.  I really want to clean it up so I can make better use of it.  I thought what a better way to do that than to join the Down the TBR Hole meme started by Lia @Lost In a Story! I am going to do it once a month instead of weekly, and hopefully make my Goodreads a pleasant place to be again.

Here is how it works:

  • Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books
  • Read the synopses of the books

Decide: keep it or should it go?


The Bay At Midnight by Diane Chamberlain

161084Her family’s cottage on the New Jersey shore was a place of freedom and innocence for Julie Bauer — until tragedy struck when her seventeen-year-old sister, Isabel, was murdered.

It’s been more than forty years since that August night, but Julie’s memories of her sister’s death still color her world, causing turmoil in her relationships with her teenage daughter, Shannon, and her mother, Maria.

Now an unexpected letter from someone in her past raises questions about what really happened that night. Questions about Julie’s own complicity, about a devastating secret her mother kept from them all. Questions about the person who went to prison for Izzy’s murder — and about the man who didn’t.

Now Julie must harness the courage to revisit her past and untangle the shattering emotions that led to one unspeakable act of violence on the bay at midnight.

My Thoughts: Ok, this sounds really good.  It’s hard cuz it’s probably not something I will seek out, but the story sounds engrossing and exciting… VERDICT: KEEP


Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

Paris, July 1942: Ten-year-old Sarah is brutally arrested with her family in the Vel’ d’Hiv’ 556602._SX318_roundup, the most notorious act of French collaboration with the Nazis. but before the police come to take them, Sarah locks her younger brother, Michel, in their favorite hiding place, a cupboard in the family’s apartment. She keeps the key, thinking that she will be back within a few hours.

Paris, May 2002: On Vel’ d’Hiv’s sixtieth anniversary, Julia Jarmond, an American journalist, is asked by her Paris-based American magazine to write an article about this black day in France’s past. Julia has lived in Paris for nearly twenty-five years, married a Frenchman, and she is shocked both by her ignorance about the event and the silence that still surrounds it. In the course of her investigation, she stumbles onto a trail of long-hidden family secrets that connects her to Sarah. Julia finds herself compelled to retrace the girl’s ordeal, from the terrible days spent shut in at the Vel’ d’Hiv’ to the camps and beyond. As she probes into Sarah’s past, she begins to question her own place in France and to reevaluate her marriage and her life.

Writing about the fate of her country with a pitiless clarity, Tatiana de Rosnay offers us a brilliantly subtle, compelling portrait of France under occupation and reveals the taboos and denial surrounding this painful episode in French history.

My Thoughts: I don’t normally like to read World War II novels because they just make me sad.  I always end up liking them because the stories are usually great, but I just know they are going to emotionally wreck me and make me feel sick.  I’ve been told this book is amazing though, and I’m pretty sure my mom has a copy and once I run out of books here during the quarantine…. VERDICT: KEEP


Triangles by Ellen Hopkins

10843755Three female friends face midlife crises in a no-holds-barred exploration of sex, marriage, and the fragility of life.

Holly: Filled with regret for being a stay-at-home mom, she sheds sixty pounds and loses herself in the world of extramarital sex. Will it bring the fulfillment she is searching for?

Andrea: A single mom and avowed celibate, she watches her friend Holly’s meltdown with a mixture of concern and contempt. Holly is throwing away what Andrea has spent her whole life searching for – a committed relationship with a decent guy. So what if Andrea picks up Holly’s castaway husband?

Marissa: She has more than her fair share of challenges – a gay, rebellious teenage son, a terminally ill daughter, and a husband who buries himself in his work rather than face the facts.

As one woman’s marriage unravels, another’s rekindles. As one woman’s family comes apart at the seams, another’s reconfigures into something bigger and better. In this story of connections and disconnections, one woman’s up is another one’s down, and all of them will learn the meaning of friendship, betrayal, and forgiveness.

Unflinchingly honest, emotionally powerful, surprisingly erotic, Triangles is the ultimate page-turner. Hopkins’s gorgeous, expertly honed poetic verse perfectly captures the inner lives of her characters.

Sometimes it happens like that. Sometimes you just get lost. Get lost in the world of Triangles, where the lives of three unforgettable women intersect, and where there are no easy answers. 

My Thoughts: I vividly remember seeing this cover at Barnes and Noble for the first time and being so drawn to it.  I didn’t buy it though and have never gotten around to reading it.  Reading the description now, it doesn’t really appeal to me anymore.  VERDICT: TOSS


The Last Letter from Your Lover by JoJo Moyes

It is 1960. When Jennifer Stirling wakes up in the hospital, she can remember nothing-not10163292._SY475_ the tragic car accident that put her there, not her husband, not even who she is. She feels like a stranger in her own life until she stumbles upon an impassioned letter, signed simply “B”, asking her to leave her husband.

Years later, in 2003, a journalist named Ellie discovers the same enigmatic letter in a forgotten file in her newspaper’s archives. She becomes obsessed by the story and hopeful that it can resurrect her faltering career. Perhaps if these lovers had a happy ending she will find one to her own complicated love life, too. Ellie’s search will rewrite history and help her see the truth about her own modern romance.

A spellbinding, intoxicating love story with a knockout ending, The Last Letter from Your Lover will appeal to the readers who have made One Day and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society bestsellers.

My Thoughts: Despite several of my friends telling me I need to read a JoJo Moyes book, I have yet to get around to it.  I hear they’re really great, and this one does sound like something I would like a lot.  VERDICT: KEEP


Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close

10047589Wickedly hilarious and utterly recognizable, Girls in White Dresses tells the story of three women grappling with heartbreak and career change, family pressure and new love—all while suffering through an endless round of weddings and bridal showers.

Isabella, Mary, and Lauren feel like everyone they know is getting married. On Sunday after Sunday, at bridal shower after bridal shower, they coo over toasters, collect ribbons and wrapping paper, eat minuscule sandwiches and doll-sized cakes. They wear pastel dresses and drink champagne by the case, but amid the celebration these women have their own lives to contend with: Isabella is working at a mailing-list company, dizzy with the mixed signals of a boss who claims she’s on a diet but has Isabella file all morning if she forgets to bring her a chocolate muffin. Mary thinks she might cry with happiness when she finally meets a nice guy who loves his mother, only to realize he’ll never love Mary quite as much. And Lauren, a waitress at a Midtown bar, swears up and down she won’t fall for the sleazy bartender—a promise that his dirty blond curls and perfect vodka sodas make hard to keep.

With a wry sense of humor, Jennifer Close brings us through those thrilling, bewildering, what-on-earth-am-I-going-to-do-with-my-life years of early adulthood. These are the years when everyone else seems to have a plan, a great job, and an appropriate boyfriend, while Isabella has a blind date with a gay man, Mary has a crush on her boss, and Lauren has a goldfish named Willard. Through boozy family holidays and disastrous ski vacations, relationships lost to politics and relationships found in pet stores, Girls in White Dresses pulls us deep inside the circle of these friends, perfectly capturing the wild frustrations and soaring joys of modern life.

My Thoughts:  In this season of my life when all of my friends are getting married, I relate to this book already.  I’ve been wanting to read this for a while and it’s one of those books that every time I see it somewhere I think, “Yeah, I need to get to that one.”  Maybe I’ll read it for my Charms O.W.L. in The Magical Readathon this month since I need a white cover…VERDICT: KEEP


Alright, mostly keeps this time!  I feel like that hasn’t happened in a while.  Have you read any of these?  Which would you have kept?  Which would you have tossed?  Let me know in the comments 🙂

Reading Challenges

2020 Magical Readathon: O.W.L.’s

Hello everyone! As you all know, I’m a huge Potterhead.  I found Book Roast’s  Magical Readathon last year during the N.E.W.T.’s, and I was so sad to have missed the start of it all.  This year I get to participate, and I am so pumped.

The Magical Readathon is a month-long reading challenge hosted by Book Roast, based on the wonderful Wizarding World we all know and love.  You pick a wizarding career path and based on your choice you have certain O.W.L.’s that you need to pass.  Each O.W.L. class has a specific prompt for a book to read to “pass the exam.”  The N.E.W.T’s happen later in the year and are a step up from the O.W.L.’s.  You can check out the readathon in more detail here.

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I was struggling to pick which career I wanted to do this year, but I finally settled on Hogwarts Professor.  As of right now, I’m leaning towards teaching Charms, which I have always thought would be my best subject at Hogwarts, but we’ll see what happens as we go along.  I might have bitten off more than I can chew with 7 O.W.L.’s to pass, but I figured what better to do with my quarantine time than study for my O.W.L.’s?

For this career, I need to pass 7 O.W.L.’s: A subject I wish to teach (Charms), Defense Against the Dark Arts, and 5 additional subjects of my choice.  I have chosen Herbology, Potions, Transfiguration, History of Magic, and Divination.

I will update each O.W.L. as I pass.  I don’t wanna make a TBR for this since I am such a mood reader and it will be fun to search out the books for each prompt.

My Prompts are:

Charms– Lumos Maxima: A book with a white cover
Defense Against the Dark Arts– Grindylows: A book set at the sea/coast
Herbology– Mimbulus Mimbletonia: Title that starts with an “M”
Potions– Shrinking Solution: A book under 150 pages
Transfiguration– Animagus Lecture: A book/series that includes shapeshifting

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History of Magic– Witch Hunts: A book featuring witches/wizards
Divination– Third Eye: Assign numbers to your TBR and use a random number generator to pick your read.

Are you participating in The Magical Readathon this year? Let’s cheer each other on!  Post in the comments if you have any good ideas or recommendations for any of these prompts 🙂 Here we go!

Monthly Wrap-Ups

March 2020 Wrap-Up

MonthlyWrap - Up

Well, this month has taken quite an unexpected turn with the world wide quarantine.  I made my way out of NYC and back to Wisconsin to be with my family for the next…. who knows how long.  I am so happy that I get to spend this time with my favorite people in my favorite place.  It’s a crazy time for everyone, but I hope you are all able to make the best of it and stay well and safe.  I surprisingly haven’t been able to read as much as you’d expect, but I did FINALLY finish Anna Karenina, which was a big accomplishment for me and took up most of my reading time for a while.  I also fell behind on a few posts in the craziness, so thank you for bearing with me.  We’ve been doing a lot of puzzles, playing a million games of Settlers of Catan, filming audition videos, and watching a lot of movies.  Here’s to hoping that I’ll be able to get some more reading in this month and that we’ll all come out of this quarantine stronger and that we’re able to get back to the real world soon!! ❤


Books Read:

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon ★★★★

Anna K by Jenny Lee ★★★★

From Twinkle, With Love by Sandhya Menon ★★★

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy ★★★★

Divergent by Veronica Roth ★★★★


Favorite Book of the Month:

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Currently Reading:


Challenge Updates

Goodreads Challenge: 21 of 100

Classics Club Challenge: 9 of 50

Beat the Backlist: 13 of 50


March Reviews

Anna K.: A Love Story by Jenny LeeAnna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

March Posts

Cleaning Up My TBR: Down the TBR Hole #21Top 10 Tuesday: Spring 2020 TBRThe Perfect Book Tag • Top 10 Tuesday: Favorite Dystopian Heroes


Book Reviews · Reading Challenges · The Classics Club

Classics Club Challenge: Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

151Summary:Anna Karenina” tells of the doomed love affair between the sensuous and rebellious Anna and the dashing officer, Count Vronsky. Tragedy unfolds as Anna rejects her passionless marriage and must endure the hypocrisies of society. Set against a vast and richly textured canvas of nineteenth-century Russia, the novel’s seven major characters create a dynamic imbalance, playing out the contrasts of city and country life and all the variations on love and family happiness. While previous versions have softened the robust, and sometimes shocking, quality of Tolstoy’s writing, Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky have produced a translation true to his powerful voice. This award-winning team’s authoritative edition also includes an illuminating introduction and explanatory notes. Beautiful, vigorous, and eminently readable, this “Anna Karenina” will be the definitive text for generations to come.


I’m still processing my feelings about this book.  I started off absolutely loving it.  I loved the big mix of characters, multiple perspectives, and where the plot was going.  While Anna and Vronsky’s relationship escalates really quickly, I felt their connection, and the introduction of their passion seen from Kitty’s eyes was incredibly brilliant.  Anna is a very elusive character, and I find it interesting that the entire book is named for her when she is the character that I find to be the most mysterious.  However; all of the other characters are related through her, so it makes sense in that regard.  My thoughts about all of the characters changed over the course of the novel drastically.  I was so enamored with Anna at the beginning, but as the story went on, while I felt for the difficulty of her situation, her behavior was driving me nuts and I even found it hard to empathize with her and I felt bad for Vronsky as she crumbled.  My favorite characters ended up being Kitty and Levin, who I felt that we got to see and understand the most.  While I loved sweet Levin for most of the book, his whining towards the end started to annoy me.  I also enjoyed Anna’s sister in law, Dolly’s, character and the juxtaposition her relationship with her cheating husband posed with Anna’s infidelity.  The double standard with men and women is super apparent in this time period in society, and the use of the Oblonksy siblings as an example of this was brilliant.  About halfway through, the story started to lose me and became a bit of a chore to finish.  This book is so long.  It was easier to read than I had anticipated, and don’t get me wrong, I did like most of it, but I was left with a bit of a “blah” taste in my mouth.  I feel like you could probably cut half of it, preferably all of the parts about Russian farming and some of the Russian politics that were over my head, without losing any of the plot.  The ending was a little strange, and I would have liked to have felt a better sense of closure with all of the characters, but I guess that feeling is part of the tragedy of the story.  I definitely feel a sense of accomplishment for having finally finished this book that I have had on my list forEVER and overall really enjoyed the experience.

Top Ten Tuesday

Top 10 Tuesday: Favorite Dystopian Heroes

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Happy Tuesday folks!  This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted at That Artsy Reader Girl, is a “Genre Freebie” and since we are basically living in a Dystopian novel right now, I decided to do My Favorite Dystopian Heroes.


Offred from The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

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This book is such a scary reality to think about, and I love Offred’s constant hope and determination to make it through her horrible circumstances.


Jonas from The Giver by Lois Lowry

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This is one of my favorite books that we read in school, and probably one of my first experiences with the dystopian genre.  The story is so beautiful and I love Jonas’ sweet innocence and love for the world.


Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

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Katniss is the ultimate badass dystopian heroine.  She cares so much about others and is willing to do whatever it takes to make the world a better place.


Mare Barrow from Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

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I wasn’t sure about Mer at first.  I thought she was whiny and played the victim too much, but she grew SO much and I really loved who she turned out to be.


Father from The Road by Cormac McCarthy

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This book was SO good but SO tough to read.  I could not wrap my head around the world fully because it was so terrifying.  The father is an absolutely incredible character.  He is utterly selfless, doing everything he possibly can to keep his son alive.


Tris from Divergent by Veronica Roth

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I am rereading this right now (or I guess re-listening to the audiobook) and I forgot how much I loved Tris.  I admire her bravery to discover who she really is and break the norm.


Tally Youngblood from Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

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Another one of my earliest dystopian memories, I devoured this series as a teen.  Tally has such a great arc throughout the whole series.


America from The Selection by Kiera Cass

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You can’t help but root for Mer in The Selection.  She sticks up for what she believes in no matter what.


Juliette from Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

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Juliette has been through so much it’s insane.  The fact that she can hold it together at all under her circumstances, let alone remain a good human, is amazing and makes you want to fight for her.


Wade Watts from Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

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We love a power nerd.  Wade is smart, funny, caring, hard-working, and nerdy as hell.  He uses his brain and his friendships to win and save the world.


Who are your favorite dystopian heroes and why?? Let’s chat in the comments! ❤

Tags

The Perfect Book Tag

a baby shower for amelia

Hello everyone!  I hope everyone is doing well and is staying safe and healthy.  Today we’re doing The Perfect Book Tag, which I found over at Sophie’s Corner.


The Perfect Genre: pick a book that perfectly represents its genre

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Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett is the epitome of everything good in Historical Fiction.  It is well researched and educational, has amazing characters, and an exciting and engaging plot.  There is a reason this is my favorite book of all time.


The Perfect Setting: pick a book that takes place in a perfect place

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Is there a better setting than Hogwarts? I don’t think so.  Fight me.


The Perfect Main Character: pick the perfect main character

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Celaena Sardothien is my PERFECT main character.  She is strong, feminine, bad-ass, caring, reckless, contradictory, stubborn, smart, and confident.  She is such a complex character and I love her so much.


The Perfect Best Friend: loyal and supportive, pick a character that you think is the best friend ever

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Hermione Granger.  Never was there ever such a supportive, loyal, and loving friend.  They literally would not have survived without her and she was ALWAYS there for her friends in every possible way.


The Perfect Love Interest: pick a character you think would be an amazing romantic partner

James Alexander Malcolm McKenzie Fraser from Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

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I mean COME ON.


The Perfect Villain: pick a character with the most sinister mind

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Elara Merandus from Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard.  She is SO manipulative and vindictive.  The things she does are so appalling and messed up and I love her for it.


The Perfect Family: pick a perfect bookish family

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The Grant family from Save the Date by Morgan Matson.  I fell in love with their family dynamic and even through all the ups and downs, they were there for each other.


The Perfect Animal or Pet: pick a pet or fantastic animal that you need to see in a book

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I love Nifflers.


The Perfect Plot Twist: pick a book with the best plot twist

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Twist after twist after twist.  This book kept me on my toes the entire time.

The Perfect Trope: pick that trope you would add to your own book without thinking

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I shamelessly love a love triangle.

The Perfect Cover: pick that cover that you would easily put in your own book

I love these covers.  They’re beautiful and clean and perfectly evocative of the stories inside them.

The Perfect Ending: pick a book that has the perfect ending

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The ending of this series was perfect.  It was everything I wanted and it was the first series ending that I have read in a while that actually felt satisfying.


I tag everyone! 🙂

What are your perfect choices? Let’s chat in the comments! ❤

Top Ten Tuesday

Top 10 Tuesday: Spring 2020 TBR

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The entire world is in this crazy quarantine… what more could a bookworm want than to be trapped inside with all the free time in the world to read?!  All joking aside, this is a very scary and confusing time for everyone and I am so ready to find a bit of escape into some fictional worlds.  I flew home to Wisconsin to be with my family and unfortunately left most of my books in NYC, so my TBR for Spring is gonna be a little different than expected.  I am sure I will find plenty to read and I’m going to try to bang out some of my ARC’s as well.


Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

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I’ve been reading this bad boy for a while, and I am ready to GET HER DONE.  I am really enjoying it, but she is a beast and I am itching to finish it and start something new.


House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas

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I am SO excited about this book.  I just recently finished the Throne of Glass series and have been aching for a new SJ Maas series!


From Twinkle, with Love by Sandhya Menon

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I absolutely loved the When Dimple Met Rishi audiobook, so when the New York library didn’t have the next one in that series, I borrowed this one instead.  It’s super cute so far and the narrators are awesome once again.


City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

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I have been wanting to read this book for so long and my sister is about to finish it here at home.  I’m going to snag her copy so I can finally read it too.


The Scapegracers by Hannah Abigail Clarke

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I just got this ARC from Netgalley.  It comes out this May and I am looking forward to some witchy goodness.


My Summer of Love and Misfortune by Lindsay Wong

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This book is being billed as Crazy Rich Asians meets Love & Gelato, both of which I loved, so I’m super excited to have an ARC of this one.  I also feel like I’m gonna need a good contemporary soon to bring some escapist joy into my world.


Chasing Lucky by Jenn Bennett

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I loved Lady Rogue by Jenn Bennett and I know she is one of the queens of YA contemporary, so I am excited to read this ARC too.


Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles

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Circus, romance, intrigue?! Sign me up!  This book sounds so cool and that cover is gorgeous.


Influence by Sara Shepard and Lilia Buckingham

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I shamelessly loved Pretty Little Liars, both the books and the TV show, so when I saw this book on Netgalley I freaked out a little bit.  Hopefully, it’ll live up to its predecessors and give me that dark and twisty scandal that I live for.


Chasing Starlight by Teri Bailey Black

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I always need a historical fiction fix, and I love me some Old Hollywood glamour.  Throw in a thrilling mystery and I’m sold.  I never really read thrillers or mystery books, but I’ve been getting into them more recently.


What books are you guys excited about this Spring? Let me know in the comments so I can add some to my TBR! 🙂 Stay well and safe out there friends! ❤

Tags

Cleaning Up My TBR: Down the TBR Hole #21

I joined Goodreads a few years ago, way before I started blogging, so my profile is kind of a mess.  I really want to clean it up so I can make better use of it.  I thought what a better way to do that than to join the Down the TBR Hole meme started by Lia @Lost In a Story! I am going to do it once a month instead of weekly, and hopefully make my Goodreads a pleasant place to be again.

Here is how it works:

  • Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books
  • Read the synopses of the books

Decide: keep it or should it go?


The Season by Sarah MacLean

3751593Seventeen-year-old Lady Alexandra is strong-willed and sharp-tongued; in a house full of older brothers and their friends, she had to learn to hold her own. Not the best makings for an aristocratic lady in Regency London. Yet her mother still dreams of marrying Alex off to someone safe, respectable, and wealthy. But between ball gown fittings, dances, and dinner parties, Alex, along with her two best friends, Ella and Vivi, manages to get herself into what may be her biggest scrape yet.

When the Earl of Blackmoor is mysteriously killed, Alex decides to help his son, the brooding and devilishly handsome Gavin, uncover the truth. But will Alex’s heart be stolen in the process? In an adventure brimming with espionage, murder, and other clandestine affairs, who could possibly have time to worry about finding a husband? Romance abounds as this year’s season begins!

My Thoughts: I started listening to this audiobook and it just could not hold my attention.  I didn’t like the writing style and I think there are better books of this genre out there to explore.  VERDICT: TOSS


Vixen by Jillian Larkin

Jazz . . . Booze . . . Boys . . . It’s a dangerous combination.7903851
 
Every girl wants what she can’t have. Seventeen-year-old Gloria Carmody wants the flapper lifestyle—and the bobbed hair, cigarettes, and music-filled nights that go with it. Now that she’s engaged to Sebastian Grey, scion of one of Chicago’s most powerful families, Gloria’s party days are over before they’ve even begun . . . or are they?
 
Clara Knowles, Gloria’s goody-two-shoes cousin, has arrived to make sure the high-society wedding comes off without a hitch—but Clara isn’t as lily-white as she appears. Seems she has some dirty little secrets of her own that she’ll do anything to keep hidden. . . .
 
Lorraine Dyer, Gloria’s social-climbing best friend, is tired of living in Gloria’s shadow. When Lorraine’s envy spills over into desperate spite, no one is safe. And someone’s going to be very sorry. . . .
 
From author Jillian Larkin, VIXEN is the first novel in the sexy, dangerous, and ridiculously romantic series set in the Roaring Twenties . . . when anything goes.

My Thoughts:  What is it about the Roaring ’20s that is so appealing?  I can’t get enough of it and this book sounds juicy, drama-filled, and fun.  VERDICT: KEEP


Slightly Single by Wendy Markham

22772A heat wave in Manhattan is enough to drive a girl crazy, and for Tracey Spadolini, a 24-year old New York transplant who’s been “left behind” for the summer, there’s even more to sweat about. Her Slightly Significant Other, Will, will be returning from summer stock in September, to pick up where they left off. (Or will he?)

But, in the days after Will’s departure, Tracey decides it’s time for a reality check. Her un-air-conditioned East Village apartment is a dump, her entry-level ad job sucks, her thighs don’t seem to be getting any thinner, and Will seems to have dropped off the face of the earth. So, Tracey, with the help of her friends and one very attentive guy, decides to spend her summer reinventing herself . . . and taking a chance on liking the new woman she becomes.

A refreshingly honest account of universal female dilemmas, Slightly Single is an engaging story of one young woman’s search for happiness.

My Thoughts:  This sounds cute, but it doesn’t have that special something that is drawing me in.  VERDICT: TOSS


Vegan, Virgin, Valentine by Carolyn Mackler

Mara Valentine is in control. She’s a straight-A senior, a vegan, and her parents’ pride and295117 joy. She’s neck-and-neck with her womanizing ex-boyfriend for number-one class ranking and plans to kick his salutatorian butt on her way out the door to Yale. Mara has her remaining months in Brockport all planned out, but the plan does not include having V, her slutty, pot-smoking, sixteen-year-old niece – yes, niece – come to live with her family. Nor does it involve lusting after her boss or dreaming about grilled cheese sandwiches every night. What does a control freak like Mara do when things start spinning wildly out of control? With insight, authenticity, and a healthy dose of humor, Carolyn Mackler creates an evolving Type A heroine that every reader will recognize – and root for.

My Thoughts: I can see why I added this one back in 2012, but if I’m being honest, I’m never going to search it out with so many other books that I’m dying to read so for that reason… VERDICT: TOSS


The Breath of God by Jeffrey Small9737753

A murder at the Taj Mahal. A kidnapping in a sacred city. A desperate chase through a cliffside monastery. All in the pursuit of a legend that could link the world’s great religious faiths.

In 1887, a Russian journalist made an explosive discovery in a remote Himalayan monastery only to be condemned and silenced for the heresy he proposed. His discovery vanished shortly thereafter.

Now, graduate student Grant Matthews journeys to the Himalayas in search of this ancient mystery. But Matthews couldn’t have anticipated the conspiracy of zealots who would go to any lengths to prevent him from bringing this secret public. Soon he is in a race to expose a truth that will change the world’s understanding of religion. A truth that his university colleagues believe is mere myth. A truth that will change his life forever—if he survives. 

My Thoughts: This is a tough one for me.  It gives me Dan Brown vibes, and I shamelessly love his thrillers, but I just don’t know if I need to read this one… Maybe I’ll keep it in mind if I ever find myself in the mood for this type of story… VERDICT: KEEP


2 out of 5 Keeps is not bad! We’re slowly weeding out the tosses.  What books have you tossed lately? Which ones have you added? Let me know in the comments!

 

Book Reviews

ARC Review: Anna K.: A Love Story by Jenny Lee

42119168._SY475_Every happy teenage girl is the same, while every unhappy teenage girl is miserable in her own special way.

Meet Anna K. At seventeen, she is at the top of Manhattan and Greenwich society (even if she prefers the company of her horses and Newfoundland dogs); she has the perfect (if perfectly boring) boyfriend, Alexander W.; and she has always made her Korean-American father proud (even if he can be a little controlling). Meanwhile, Anna’s brother, Steven, and his girlfriend, Lolly, are trying to weather a sexting scandal; Lolly’s little sister, Kimmie, is struggling to recalibrate to normal life after an injury derails her ice dancing career; and Steven’s best friend, Dustin, is madly (and one-sidedly) in love with Kimmie.

As her friends struggle with the pitfalls of ordinary teenage life, Anna always seems to be able to sail gracefully above it all. That is…until the night she meets Alexia “Count” Vronsky at Grand Central. A notorious playboy who has bounced around boarding schools and who lives for his own pleasure, Alexia is everything Anna is not. But he has never been in love until he meets Anna, and maybe she hasn’t, either. As Alexia and Anna are pulled irresistibly together, she has to decide how much of her life she is willing to let go for the chance to be with him. And when a shocking revelation threatens to shatter their relationship, she is forced to question if she has ever known herself at all.

Dazzlingly opulent and emotionally riveting, Anna K.: A Love Story is a brilliant reimagining of Leo Tolstoy’s timeless love story, Anna Karenina―but above all, it is a novel about the dizzying, glorious, heart-stopping experience of first love and first heartbreak.

*I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review*

Released on March 3rd, 2020


I absolutely loved this book.  I started reading it at the same time that I started reading its source material, Anna Karenina, and I was surprised by how brilliant this adaptation was.  The modernization of the famous Russian novel was very clever and well done.  It closely resembled the original in plot and it all worked seamlessly with its characters to elevate the classic story to a modern contemporary romance.  Manhattan’s high society was a perfect choice to replace the Russian nobility and it worked so well as the setting for a YA novel.  It gave me Gossip Girl vibes, but with a more sophisticated air.  This book really explores and brings to light the double standards of men and women in relationships in an observational way that I appreciated.  All of the characters were strong and complex, and I loved the switching perspectives and intertwining storylines.  The adaptation of the original characters into their YA counterparts was handled perfectly and it was so much fun to see how they were updated for our time. Similarly to the original, Anna and Vronsky’s relationship starts out a little insta-lovey, but their chemistry is so fantastic that you just buy it.  My favorite thing was watching Anna discover herself and what she wanted and deserved out of life.  Her arc was fantastic and her flaws and mistakes only made me love her more.  This book was amazing and I think that both lovers of Anna Karenina and people coming in with no prior knowledge of the story would both get swept away by this delicious, dramatic, sophisticated, and beautiful reimagining.

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