Vacation TBR Pile: Newfoundland 2019

Let me start this by saying I am being way too ambitious.

After Germany, Italy, and Disneyworld already this summer, I’m off on one last summer trip to Newfoundland (the feature pic is a view from the town I’m staying!) to visit my family. My great grandmother turns 98 this month so the whole crazy family is getting together again for a multi-day birthday party. My mom, sister, grandma, and I visit every other year or so for the shenanigans and it’s generally a few fast-paced days of party prep and actual partying, followed by empty days of rest. Obviously, this means that I have packed a TON of books for the downtime between fried bologna dinners and endless gin rummy tournaments.

I’m only gone for 10 days so the 9 books I brought are most certainly overkill and there is literally no chance I will get through all of them before I get home again and have to start that whole school prep madness I don’t want to think about yet. But I’ve never listened to reason when it comes to books so here’s my too-long list of books I’m excited to read/think about reading over my trip.

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Top 5 (Not)Tuesday: Books Under 300 Pages

Apologies for my accidental almost-two-week-long hiatus–it’s been a scramble of unpacking from one vacation and prepping for another, not to mention half a dozen social affairs crammed into just a few short days. Technically, this past week was Bionic Bookworm’s hiatus (click here for the August topics!) so there was no Top 5 Tuesday but since I missed the last one I figured I’d post it this round. I’d planned to have this ready for the Tuesday past and be all “hey, at least I got the day right this time!” but, ah, no. Alas.

Shut Out by Kody Keplinger

As far as contemporary romances go, Shut Out was a fun change. Inspired by the Classical Greek comedy Lysistrata, as the wives in the original play, the gals of Keplinger’s novel vow to abstain from any kind of sexual activity with their boyfriends until they put a silly feud to rest. This one’s on the list not only because it was funny and different and because the Greek inspo automatically gives it points in my book (which it does) but because the sexual foundation gives way to some frank and important discussions about virginity and consent and knowing what feels right. All the girls come from different levels of experience, different opinions about what they’re doing, and different stances on why they’re doing/not doing it; the realizations they come to by the end of the book were important for me to hear in high school and definitely useful to other girls too. So yeah – top points for impact!

Two Lies and a Spy by Kat Carlton

I am a sucker for a good spy novel. Two Lies and a Spy was one I expected to be little more than contemporary romantic fluff with some action suspense thrown in; fast forward to crazy family drama, Russian conspiracies, a decent love triangle, a relatively complex espionage adventure, and a main character that grows on you backed by supporting ones you love from the start and it turned into a book I rather enjoyed! It’s not my favourite spy novel ever but it was a really great read and definitely one of my favourite short books.

The Almost Truth by Eileen Cook

Another contemporary romance here! Stocking to the ‘espionage’ and secrecy theme of the previous pick, The Almost Truth centres on a family of con artists and a daughter ready to walk away from it all. Though cliché in ways at the outset, it’s the best friend–a boy also taken under the MC’s father’s conman wing–that really made the book for me. Sadie is likeable enough but I found myself attached to Brendan, the flirtatious boy with a broken past and strong loyalties. The con plot is intriguing and surprising, but the family dynamic and the Brendan-Sadie thing make it a top pick for me!

Near Witch by Victoria Schwab

Okay, by now most associate Schwab (Victoria for YA, V.E. for adult) with wildly unique and completely amazing fantasy writing. I may (still…) not have read any of the A Darker Shade of Magic books but years ago I read her debut and was just as blown away by it as the rest of the world has been by her more recent work. I actually had an unfinished review for it saved from when I read it in 2015 that spent a single paragraph saying how surprising it was–it was never finished because I couldn’t figure out how to put my thoughts into words. It’s that good.

Crash by Lisa McMann (Visions #1)

This was one of my first reviews on this site (click here to read) so hurray for throwbacks! I was so caught off guard by how much I enjoyed McMann’s whole Visions trilogy – all of which are under 300 pages and each of which could be picked for this top (the second is my fave). Gonna be honest here: I bought it because the eye on the cover was stunning and the blurb’s feuding Italian restaurant families gave off some Romeo and Juliet vibes, from which I am utterly incapable of turning away. But the crazy murder visions and fast-paced prevention chase kept me chasing Jules until I flipped the last page.

Courtship Tag

Hello hello hello! Back again with another tag while I get a handle on my reviews. I can’t remember where I first saw this since the draft has been sitting unfinished for the past year (yeah, sorry – at least I’m honest about having been trash?), but credit to whoever came up with it.

Please also appreciate that I spent a good 20 minutes trying to choose the best romance image from medieval manuscripts (this one’s from the love poetry of the fourteenth-century German Codex Manesse) because the history buff in me got way too excited about the word ‘courtship’. Aaaaand now we’re going to move on before I start rambling about medieval romance…

Phase 1: Initial Attraction a book that you bought because of the cover

Okay, to be clear here a lot of the books I’ve read for the cover have not delivered on its gorgeous promise. If you read my review of Tangled Webs by Lee Bross way back when (click here), you could see exactly how heartbroken I was about this—the lacy beauty of the cover sucked me into what would up being a subpar ‘spy’ novel too driven by insta-love to really hit home. Still, it’s one of my favourites to own because of how it looks on my bookshelf.

Content aside, isn’t that just stunning?

Phase 2: First Impressions a book you got because of the summary

Well this is most of the books I own so that’s tough. I’ll go with By Your Side by Kasie West or The Librarian and the Spy by Susan Mann. The descriptions of both drew me in instantly because of a sort of kinship I felt with the characters/dream to be the characters: By Your Side (turned out okay) has a teen trapped in the library with an attractive classmate–basically my Nirvana–and The Librarian and the Spy (turned out surprisingly great!), as it is so aptly named, has a reference librarian caught up in an international 007 affairs. I’ll be honest, it didn’t really matter the ratings or the content for these since I just had to get my hands on them regardless.

Phase 3: Sweet Talk a book with great writing

I read Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi ages ago but I finally opened up the sequel the other day and remembered how much I loved reading Mafi’s writing! The way she manipulates words and grammar conventions has an almost poetic quality and adds so much to Juliette’s character, with the pace and tone perfectly matching the MC’s emotion. Love love love.

Phase 4: First Date a first book of a series which made you want to pursue the rest of the series

One of my darkest bookish secrets is that I am HORRIBLE at finishing series. I blame this majorly on an insanely busy schedule that as a general rule seems to weed out anything I love in life, and partially on a huge TBR of first books I feel guilty not reading and have no space to keep. The result: no matter how much I love and am dying to read a series, chances are I won’t have the time to finish it before I forget about it.

I SUCK.

Still, there are a number of books that even forgetting about them doesn’t make me forget them and the top of that list is probably The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson. Have I read the sequel yet? No. Do I internally sob every time I remember that I haven’t? Yes.

Phase 5: Late Night Phone Call a book that kept you up all night long

I can’t decide whether this is about staying up all night because you can’t put it down or because it has you too freaked out to sleep, so I’m choosing one that was both. I read Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter and was instantly obsessed with the storyline and the romance and the zombies to the point of utterly forgoing sleep–in fact, I think this was one of my first up-till-5am-before-school reads. On top of that, my freshly fifteen-year-old self was so unnerved by the zoms hanging outside Ali’s bedroom windows that about every 20mins I’d pop out of bed, press myself against my door (I had no lock) with my ear to the wood making sure I heard no footsteps, then scurry back into bed as far from my window as possible. Clearly, even moderate horror was never my thing.

Phase 6: Always On My Mind a book you could not stop thinking about

Generally, the books I can’t stop thinking about = relationships I can’t stop swooning over, whether in some saccharine contemporary romance or a fantasy’s forbidden enemies-lovers affair. But instead, for this I’m choosing Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross because the story and the relationship in this are so entwined that thinking about one always means thinking about the other. I’m a sucker for fairytales, particularly of the Grimm variety, and Cross’ unique approach to some of my all-time favourite stories PLUS the couple’s will-it-even-happen slow-burn have had it stuck in my brain on loop since I read it a almost a decade ago.

Phase 7: Getting Physical a book you love the feeling of

Easy: Talon by Julie Kagawa. I may not have enjoyed the book as much as I’d hoped I would–though I may give it another try some time–the embossed dragon scales on the cover gave the whole reading experience extra oomph.

Phase 8: Meet the Parents a book you’d recommend to friends and family

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare. This book, alongside Ally Carter’s Gallagher Girl series, were what really turned me into a reader. I think the complexity of City of Bones in terms of the world created with also the simplicity of its fantasy storyline make it both accessible and intriguing enough to pull in my non-reader family while intricate enough to impress any of my reader friends who’ve yet to try them.

Phase 9: Dream About the Futurea series you know you’ll reread many times in the future

I will confess, I am not so much of a rereader. Though I will reread certain favourite parts of favourite books (not going to lie, it’s usually the moment the love interest and MC finally get together), I don’t like to read something when I know exactly what is going to happen, and with my memory, it could be years since I’ve read something and I’ll still recall the details. This is also why spoilers are the literal bane of my existence. Barring that, I would love to at some point get around to re-reading the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan, since A) I’m a slut for mythology and could use a refresher and B) it’s been a solid decade or more since my last time reading them so I’ve forgotten enough to make it shiny and new again.

Phase 10: Share the Love – tag people!

Since I myself stumbled upon this without being tagged, I tag anyone else who wants to do it! Wishing you a successful and deeply romantic novel-filled courtship, my bibliophilic friends.

Top 5 Tuesday: UVWXYZ

Well, thank you technology and my utter absence of luck for WIPING MY DRAFT and making me write this whole thing over. I only just got back from Disney last night so the re-writing couldn’t happen until the flight had landed. But hey–here it is.

This Top 5 Tuesday is made possible by a lot of cheating. Turns out I’ve read…no books for a bunch of these letters, which had been my fear and made choosing matching books a whole heck of a lot tougher. A note to authors: please start naming books with poor, neglected letters like XYZ to make our little reader challenge lives easier.

Aaaaanyway, let’s get to this alphabet chaos.

U:

Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan and Undead by Kirsty McKay

Surprisingly, I found multiple good U books for this top pick! In a classic Indecisive Brittney move–and in major part due to the utter failure of my last three letters and sheer excitement at finding ones to match the category rules–I opted not to choose and instead to pick both.

The first one is Unspoken, the first of the Lynburn Legacy trilogy and set in the magic-laden English Cotswolds (an adorable setting, secluded and small enough to make the eerie magic bite believable). With an investigative heroine, delightfully awkward romance, silly jokes and dashes of dark magic, blood ties, murders, corruption, and secrets, the book is a gothic fantasy treasure.

My other pick, Undead, is a playful laugh-out-loud take on a zombie outbreak featuring some freaky veggie juice and a ragtag group of teens stuck on the worst possible school trip. What I liked most about this is that the elements are really well-balanced–the humour and the action, alongside the light romance and friendship themes, complement each other seamlessly. While I was holding my gut laughing, my heart was also pounding in suspense

V:

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

None of my V options were necessarily favourite books but nearly all of them were decent. Vampire Academy gets my pick because I really enjoyed the friendship between Lissa and Rose and it was a very good introduction to Mead’s vampire world and the following books. I haven’t yet finished the series but I have thoroughly enjoyed all the magic dark vamp-y goodness that I’ve read so far!

W:

(The) Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh

Flashback to when I reviewed this in a spoiler-y book talk on BookTube (click here to watch) and kept raving about how hot yet deeply confusing Khalid is! I loved this book since I opened it–the setting is beautiful, the writing is beautiful, the story is beautiful, the magic is beautiful. I still haven’t read the second book because I am lame, but I smile every time I see this one on my shelf just waiting for a reread.

X:

(E)Xquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios

Ooookay, here the cheating begins. Turns out, I have read a total of ZERO books that start with X, none that have a word beginning with X, and precious few that have an X in them at all. I’m trying to keep somewhat with the categories still so I’m picking the book with an X earliest in the title! Exquisite Captive follows a jinni (genie of sorts) in her attempts to gain freedom and return to her magical homeland. As if it weren’t enough that it’s inspired by Arabian Nights and filled with Arabic legend and magic–two things I find absolutely fascinating–everything in the book is rich, sensual and utterly captivating.

Y:

(M)Y Lady’s Choosing by Kitty Curran and Larissa Zageris

Oh look! I also haven’t read any Y books! My Lady’s Choosing is my pick for this a) because it has the earliest Y and the most Ys in the title and b) because it was absolutely hilarious! This is one ridiculous romp of a CYOA romance. You get to ‘play’ as a lusty 19th-century heroine on her hunt for love through a ton of Victorian love story tropes made all the more hilarious the descriptions of her experiences. There are like 8 different possible love interest with multiple different endings and multiple different ways to get there and I am unashamed to confess I read every. single. one!

Z:

(Cra)Zy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

To end this month off, I’m cheating again because there are no Z books I’ve read either! Sidenote: I’m actually super disappointed at this and will now be on the hunt for books starting with XYZ so I can finish off this alphabet thang. Anyway! Crazy Rich Asians at least has a Z (that’s zed to me, btw) in and the fact that it was also a great book made this choice rather easy! The story and setting were just so much fun that it’s impossible not to have this one pop up somewhere in this tops list.

Top 5 Tuesday: PQRST

“Wow, I did not expect these letters to be so difficult!” has pretty much become my motto for every Top 5 Tuesday (click here for Bionic Bookworm’s original launch post) and I don’t know why I’m still surprised by it. Actually, I’m kind of terrified for next week’s U-Z… But anyway, here’s my complication-laden list of fun and favourite books for the next 5 letters!

P:

Perfect You by Elizabeth Scott

My P pick (and also one of the only 3 P books I own) is this cute high school semi-hate-to-love secret relationship romance. The MC, Kate, is at times the most frustrating character alive and the novel itself is full of cliches, and yet it is still relatable, real, and enjoyable all at once. Despite the naivety at times, Perfect You is honest, which, beyond all the swoony stuff I love, is probably what made me like it so much. I can almost guarantee you’ll want to reach into the pages, grab Kate by the shoulders, and scream ARGGHH while shaking some sense into her, but the end will leave you satisfied and proud and smiling.

Q:

(The) Queen of Zombie Hearts by Gena Showalter

Aside from one school book that I very much did not enjoy, this is both the best and the only Q book I’ve read, making it an easy choice for this top letter. Barring my utter lack of decision in this matter, though, The Queen of Zombie Hearts (a decently satisfying end to the highly enjoyable Alice in Zombieland trilogy) is a great read! I’m a sucker for zombies but not so much in the post-apocalyptic quarantine illness way, so Showalter’s conception of zombies as spiritual manifestations of evil that feed off of the good was the best thing I could have hoped for! Plus, she is the champion of sexy paranormal romances and though less racy than her adult books, the whole team of tattooed zombie-killing warrior bad boys was more than enough for my sixteen year old heart to take.

R:

Royally Jacked by Nikki Burnham

Cheesy cover, cheesy rom-com novel. Royally Jacked was one of my absolute favourite books back in high school and I will give it 5-star ratings until I die for all the swooning and smiling it brought to me. This book, a prince-‘peasant’ story set in the imagined kingdom of Schwerinborg in Germany a) reignited my love for Heath Ledger b) confirmed my complete weakness for princes with accents and c) instigated many failed attempts to learn German (I’m still trying but mostly all I’ve got is bröt). The best way to read Royally Jacked is in the trilogy omnibus, Royally Crushed, since I’ll admit the story is better as a cohesive whole, but sweet and fun and cute and giggly and swoony all the same. Seriously. I don’t know how it’s taken me 5 years of this blog to talk about it…

S:

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

I can almost guarantee that if the blurb had not all on its own made me want to read this, I would have read it just because of the quirky cute title. For all my interest though and the implicit promise of a good, lighthearted, smile-on-your-face romance, I still had not expected the book to be as enjoyable as it was! An airport meet-cute is obviously the dream for a travel-lover like me, but more than that it was the genuine feel of the characters and the tinge of seriousness within the story that complemented rather than detracted from the sweet lovey goodness I adore.

T:

Taste Test by Kelly Fiore

Well, it looks like rom-coms are largely the flavour of the day since we’ve got yet another swoonful of young love in Taste Test by Kelly Fiore. The hate to love story with the charming, cocky competitor alone was enough to make me love this book, but since I seem to have a weird soft spot for cooking show novels (very niche, very odd, and very surprising since I a) hate to cook and b) dislike actual cooking shows), the kitchen sabotage mystery and cutthroat chef-ery makes it all the better.

Top 5 Tuesday: KLMNO

Aaaaaand we’re back again with another Top 5 Tuesday (click here for Bionic Bookworm’s theme breakdown)! I think N was DEFINITELY the most difficult letter so far, quite to my surprise, since I’d only read about two books starting with N and neither of them were favourites, but otherwise I’m happy with my choices. Mostly I’m just happy to be droning on about other favourites I don’t get to talk about enough!

So, without further ado…

K:

(The) King Slayer by Virginia Boecker

I love love LOVED The Witch Hunter duology (The King Slayer is #2). It has magic, alchemy, dark creatures, conspiracy, corruption, murder, witches, hunters, romance. The Tudor-inspired YA historical fantasy with a dose of maturity is the biggest 5-star surprise I’ve had in a while. I’m not entirely certain which of the two I enjoyed better since I loved so many bits of both, so the duology as a whole is a must read.

L:

Linger by Maggie Stiefvater

This one is the second to Stiefvater werewolf series, The Wolves of Mercy Falls. I absolutely love Stiefvater’s writing and storytelling and these wolf-y novels are the first ones of hers I read. Now, I’m not usually into the werewolf fantasy stuff but I am into the romantic fantasy stuff and Sam and Grace’s sweet story was just enough to hook me. Linger is my pick here because it brings in a new character, Cole, who is my FAVOURITE in the series and starts a couple that is one of my all-time faves.

M:

Maid of Secrets by Jennifer McGowan

Maid of Secrets surprised me by how much I enjoyed it. Following former pickpocket-tuned-spy for the Tudor English queen Elizabeth I, the story is exactly my thing, and exactly similar to other historical fiction books I’ve read (it’s always Tudor spies!). I was surprised by how much I loved Meg as a heroine, I loved the fact that the spy girls weren’t just blindly loyal to the queen but push and question where necessary, and I love that the story and the romance were inseparable from the other and perfectly balanced. Plus, a rougish Spanish courtier love interest? The book is a buffet of all the things I enjoy.

N:

Of Neptune by Anna Banks

Okay, technically this is an O, but I’m not insanely into most N books I’ve finished reading (if anyone has any N recs, I am OPEN) so I’m calling the “Neptune” bit close enough. Anyway, I’ve always had a fondness for ocean-y watery tales and mermaid stories, so Anna Banks’ Syrena trilogy was a ton of fun to read! Of Neptune is the second and the first, Of Posiedon, was definitely my favourite but the series is most certainly a to-read as a whole!

O:

Once Every Never by Lesley Livingston

Give me Celtic time travel romances or give me nothing! Real Celtic history I find is so underdone–if we get Irish or Scottish history, we get druidic priestesses in fantasy or a Jamie Fraser from the 1700s. I find that the later stuff, the crazy cool human sacrifices and animal gods and body paint are hard to find, so this time travelling gem that sends our dear MC back to Boudicca and a hot warrior definitely gets the top O title. The series is quirky and not always serious but it’s fun and the characters are endearing and keeps you laughing throughout the misadventures through time.

Top 5 Tuesday: FGHIJ

Well, it’s a Top 5 Tuesday on a Wednesday because I forgot to launch it yesterday (stupid, I know). But anyway! These are my top books for the next 5 letters, as outlined in Bionic BookWorm’s post (click here to check that out and join in!) The letters are definitely getting more difficult and the titles a little more obscure but I’m mostly happy with the books here.

Onwards, my bookish beloveds!

F:

Firelight by Sophie Jordan

I may not have read the Inheritance Cycle that everyone in my grade six class was raving about but I too had a dragon phase, one that began with Jordan’s Firelight trilogy. In the first, shape-shifting draki Jacinda is taken away to a human school where she must hide her powers and unwittingly falls deep into insta-love with a dragon hunter. It’s a classic fantastical case of forbidden love, but the world and story behind the draki is well-woven and intriguing. While I will admit that it follows a plethora of the classic YA tropes, the concept itself feels unique and it’s quick, easy, and interesting enough that I still enjoy it.

G:

Goddess by Josephine Angelini

Goddess is the finale of the Starcrossed trilgy, which is an absolute FAVOURITE. I love the Greek mythology behind it, the twist on the Trojan War, the reincarnation of Iliad characters, the hate-love AND forbidden love story, the major players and the endearing side characters–all of it! I will admit that the first book, Starcrossed, is definitely, favourite of the three but the series was too good not to include it and I already have my S book in mind. In terms of Goddess itself, while there were a few different things I would have hoped for (I say this through tears at the memory), I was overall mostly satisfied with how the ending turned out. So seriously, if you like romance and classical mythology, PLEASE get these books!

H:

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Heartless was one of those surprising cases where the book actually met the hype surrounding it. A twisted take on the Alice in Wonderland story and world, Heartless tells the story of how the sweet pastry-loving Cath turned into the cold and callous Queen of Hearts. This was an easy choice for my top H book, and not because I lacked books starting with H (though I’ll admit, I kind of do…). Meyer did an incredible job with recreating a Wonderland as fanciful and whimsical and curious as Carrol’s original, and the story of Cath and Jest, though tragic, retains enough romance and meaning to rise above a simple tale of tragedy. Click here for my full review!

I:

Immortal Beloved by Cate Tiernan

Tiernan’s Immortal Beloved trilogy doesn’t get talked about enough; in fact, I hardly hear it talked about at all, which is a shame because I loved the books so much! Nastasya’s been practicing some dark immortal magic for too long and checks herself into a sort of immortal rehab farm to learn to walk the light side where she has a run-in with an on-the-mend villain from her past. Tiernan’s conception of immortality is rooted largely in Wicca-style witchcraft, being based more in crystals and cleansing than the sorcery powers that a lot of books have, making it interesting in how it’s different. Plus, all the characters are seriously well-developed and, frankly, kind of awesome, especially über sarcastic Nastasya and her surprisingly sweet love interest Reyn.

J:

Jinx by Meg Cabot

Okay, I’ll be honest, this is the only decent book I have on my shelf that starts with a J. Jinx is another witchy novel with Wicca-esque elements, but this one is grounded more in a traditional view of witchcraft, with potions and hexes and moon phases galore. It’s a rather simple, easy read with enough substance to keep it interesting and a good mix of the fantastical in real life to make the witchy magic feel believable and appropriate in the contemporary world. I love Meg Cabot for when I want a light read with a little dose of something extra, so Jinx is perfect for J.

Spring Recap (April-June)

Since summer’s here, kids are finally out of school, and July has officially arrived, I figured it was time for a Spring reading wrap-up. Considering how little reading I got done in the earlier months of the year, I’d say my Spring was pretty successful but I’m still hoping that my Summer will be better!

Many of these you’ll find I already talked about in my Mid-Year Freak-Out (click here to read that) which is because, as I’ve mentioned, I was a Bad Reader in the earlier part of 2019 and only really started fun reading again when I finished University. Alas! Here we go:

READ

April:

The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur

This is the sequel poetry book to Kaur’s wildly popular Milk and Honey. I’ve discovered that this text-line style of poetry isn’t exactly my favourite in general, but the more life-focused meanings of the poems in this one made The Sun and Her Flowers my definite favourite of the two.

Fierce Fairytales: Poems and Stories to Stir Your Soul by Nikita Gill

I keep buying Nikita Gill’s poetry books because of their concepts, like space-based and fairytale-based and upcoming mythology-based. The twist on using fairytale characters and villains to reconfigure traditional conception into a message about life and self and struggle was very well done, though I found I connected less with some of the meanings since they were so based in characters whom I often did not connect with. All in all it was a nice read, definitely the poetry section.

Dark Wild Night by Christina Lauren

This was the third in Christina Lauren’s Wild Seasons romance series and unfortunately one of my least favourites. Following the resident geek best friends of the group on their tripping into love, Lola and Oliver’s story lacked some of the depth of the others and at times felt like it didn’t much match who the characters were.

Wicked Sexy Liar by Christina Lauren

My favourite sequel of 2019 so far, according to my Mid-Year Freak-Out! Luke and London are both so set on avoiding love that it makes their relationship that much more endearing, and their struggles that much more real. Definitely the best of the series, though #1 came as a close second.

On Dublin Street by Samantha Young

This romance turned out to be way deeper than I was anticipating, with the MC Jocelyn working through her parents’ death, PTSD, and a whole lot of guilt trying to make the person she was reconcile with the person she turned herself into to move on. The romance was at times a little too alpha-male for my liking but their relationship is at the same time based in genuine support. Overall would recommend, especially if you’re also into a dose of sexy Scotland in the Outlander off-season!

May:

Don’t Tell Me Not to Ask Why: Poetry Prose by Samantha King Holmes

Lots of poetry this Spring! Despite the hype surrounding R.H. Sin and Samantha King Holmes, I found Don’t Tell Me Not to Ask Why personally unrelatable and though the writing is skillful and the messages profound, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I’d hoped.

Lingerie Wars by Janet Elizabeth Henderson

This one was a hidden gem! I happened upon it via Goodreads a few years ago and downloaded the ebook just now for vacation. Take the secret love affair between two rival small town lingerie shops plus a cache of hilariously quirky supporting characters and you get this charming laugh of a read!

Listen to Me by Kristen Proby

The best part about this book is the best friends and the aphrodisiac-based restaurant they opened together and though romance is mostly lovely, the characters themselves are even better. While I wouldn’t say it’s my favourite romance, Listen to Me was a pleasant surprise and I’ll definitely be following the rest of the series for the other girls’ stories.

My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century by Rachel Harris

SUCH a cute read! I’m finding trouble relating to the fifteen-sixteen-year-old characters of YA and will admit, much of it is a tad juvenile for some of my taste now, but it’s sweet, which I haven’t gotten in a while putting that sweet story in Renaissance Florence made it all the more fun to read.

UnEnchanted by Chanda Hahn

This is a reread of a series so I could finish a series I’d forgotten about. As remembered, it’s a cute take on the Grimm fairytales where Mina has to defeat the villain of each tale as it plays out using her friends as the characters. It’s not particularly complex and you can tell it’s an early work, but the story is fun and neat nonetheless.

Fairest by Chanda Hahn

The sequel to UnEnchanted, this one definitely seems to put the series on an upwards bend. Though the second suffers some of the same juvenile-ness as the first, the simplicity of the book is better developed. It seems the author and the character both become more confident here.

June:

Summer on the Italian Lakes by Lucy Coleman

This was…not my style, to say the least. The characters bugged me, I didn’t find the romance all that romantic, and the writing had a lot more ‘tell’ than I typically enjoy.

Fable by Chanda Hahn

This is the third in Hahn’s UnEnchanted series. The story is still cute and the writing is steadily better, the book itself felt kind of out of place since it centres on a fantasy element that was less apparently significant in the others. All in all decent, though, and hopefully the rest of the series ties it all in together better.

TOTAL READ: 13

PURCHASED

…and a bunch of free ebooks.

TOTAL PURCHASED: 17 (excluding those I read)

SPRING FAVOURITES

Wicked Sexy Liar takes first place because of how much I loved London and Luke and their story! Gill’s Fierce Fairytales was my favourite of the poetry books I read this summer so it definitely deserved a space on this ranking, and Lingerie Wars laughed its way into my heart and this list.


That’s all for now, folks! Hopefully my summer reading gets off to a better start than my year has and I can come back with an even grander wrap-up at the end of August. Stay cool out there, bookworms!

xoxo, Brittney

Top 5 Tuesday: ABCDE

Hello again, my book-obsessed beloveds! Today I thought I’d jump in on Bionic Book Worm’s Top 5 Tuesdays, especially since the theme for July is so fun: best books by letter. The alphabet-matching is significantly more difficult than I had expected it would be, with some letters being impossible to choose a single top book and others being impossible to find a book I enjoyed enough to count it as a top. All indecision aside, here’s my list of top reads from letters A-E.

So y’all know: Top 5 Tuesday is a weekly meme where Shanah @ Bionic Book Worm explores different topics. If you are interested in participating she would love to have you! Just ping back your post to a specific post of hers so she can add you to the participants list!

A:

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

If you’ve read my earlier posts, this one definitely doesn’t come as a surprise! Maas’ ACOTAR series quickly became a favourite of mine, with this sequel spearheading it. A Court of Mist and Fury just did such a great job at developing Feyre’s character from the ‘weak’ human trapped in the Fae lands to the independent warrior she becomes. The novel tackles the effects and manifestations of depression and PTSD, takes a good look at a toxic relationship, and demonstrates the value of a relationship–platonic and romantic–based on equality and mutual acknowledgement of worth. Not to mention the complex fantasy plot and steamy romance to wrap everything together! Click here for my full review.

B:

(The) Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler

I was torn between this book and C.C. Hunter’s Born at Midnight for the longest time, but eventually I settled on The Book of Broken Hearts because it has stuck with me the most. A fluffy, cute contemporary romance at first glance, Ockler’s novel also deals with the complexities of family, the difficulty with conflicting loyalties, and finding confidence in one’s own decisions. Emilio is a sweetheart trying to bounce back from a difficult past while Jude is too wrapped up in her sisters’ pasts to let herself see the good in him. The book is sweet and wholesome and genuine and romantic in the best kinds of ways.

C:

Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy by Ally Carter

Apparently many of my top books start with Cs! After debating with Colleen Gleason’s patchwork of The Clockwork Scarab (review here), Cassandra Clare’s City of Glass–an all-time favourite–Kevin Kwan’s perfectly ridiculous Crazy Rich Asians, and the pleasant surprise of Lisa McMann’s Crash (review here), I settled on the second of Ally Carter’s Gallagher Girl series. These teen spy action-romance books are in major part the novels that turned me into a reader. Callie in this one is a sophomore in her all-girls spy school thrown for a loop when a bunch of teenage spy guys enrol in her academy. This second book is not only my favourite of the series (and therefore one of my absolute favourites ever) but also the one that introduces Zach Goode, a major early fictional crush (I love sarcastic “bad-boy” sweethearts) and begins the conflict that carries the rest of the series.

D:

Devoured by Amanda Marrone

So on the opposite end of the too-good C books, turns out D books don’t tend to be my favourites. More specifically, the D books I’ve read often happen to suffer second-book-syndrome and lose the excitement of the rest of the series, such as with Dreamless by Josephine Angelini (Starcrossed trilogy) and Darkness Falls by Cate Tiernan (Immortal Beloved trilogy)–both series are absolute favourites but neither D book is. Devoured stood out to me for this because the concept is rather unique. Though the GR blurb waxes on about a love triangle, the real excitement here is a fairytale-based murder mystery with some ghosts thrown in–and yes, of course, that dash of romance. I originally borrowed it from my public library but liked it so much I went out and bought a copy myself! Definitely recommend if you’re feeling for something mysterious and different but easy to read.

E:

Epic Fail by Claire LaZebnik

This fluffy romantic retelling of Pride and Prejudice is an all-time feel-good fave. LaZebnik specializes in modern Jane Austen and Epic Fail most certainly did not disappoint! Elise is a perfectly sarcastic and protective Elizabeth, sure of herself and her contentment without Derek, who is withdrawn and irritating enough for you to resent like Darcy but not so much to be irredeemable or unforgivable. The Bingley and Jane are positively heartwarming-ly adorable and the Wickham is charming enough to delude until you learn why he’s trash. It’s also still a great read if you haven’t read Pride and Prejudice–I read this before I read Austen’s original and loved it just the same! One caution is that this is not for those iffy on the romance genre since this one here is pure love story, but if you also have a sweet tooth specially for saccharine romances then definitely give it a shot!

Mid-Year Freak Out

Hello again, my lovely bookworms! Super SUUUUPER long time no post. Very sorry about that – life got crazy and then work got really tough (three jobs at once is NOT good for you) then my last year of university got absolutely ridiculous and a lot of things fell by the wayside. I’m still working through this whole Time Management thing when it comes to hobbies…

Anyway, even though this is late, I figured the best way to jump back in would be little look at what I’ve been reading (and not reading) this year so far. Nothing could be more apt of a description than “Freak Out” because I am most definitely not where I want to be this year. Most of what I’ve been reading are thick history books for my research and some English classics for my other classes, so in the realm of fiction I am most certainly behind. Still, I’ve read some good novels the past few months, so let’s unpack those.

Best Book You’ve Read So Far

To be honest, I haven’t yet been totally wowed with a book this year, so this one is a bit of a cheat. For best book I’m choosing Spellslinger by Sebastien de Castell, which is a book I’ve only recently started but am already hooked on. It’s fun, it’s fast-paced, and the writing is hilarious but in a surprisingly beautiful and entirely fitting way. I may only be a little bit into it–and I know these things can change with the flip of a page–but just the first few chapters have already instantly hooked me on Kellen’s character and his plight. Soooo, though it may not be the best book I’ve read per se, it’s the book that has gotten me most excited this year while reading.

Favourite Sequel This Year

This one goes to Wicked Sexy Liar by Christina Lauren, which was a contender for Best Book until I cracked open Spellslinger. The final book in Christina Lauren’s Wild Seasons series, Wicked Sexy Liar follows the arguably most intriguing couple, Luke and London, who are unique in that both of them are kind of ‘whatever’ on the whole concept of love and dating at the outset. I felt that these two had the easiest chemistry and most natural progression of the series’ four couples. Rather than dealing with one major WOAH moment issue in their relationship, as I feel most of these contemporary romances do, Luke and London struggle their way through and actually talk about their moments of struggle, which made it more real than the hot Vegas drunken wedding one-night-stands of the other books. Oh plus it’s swoon-worthy and definitely hot so, ya know, there’s also THAT.

New Release You Haven’t Read but Really Want to

Wow, this is tough. Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren and I Owe You One by Sophie Kinsella (started but unfinished!) are strong contenders, but I’ll have to go with Nocturna by Maya Motayne. I’ve recently been moving a bit from YA into Adult Fantasy and general NA, which is part of the reason I think I haven’t picked this up yet but I’ve been dying to read it since the second I saw it on the Indigo New & Hot table. Not only does the premise of mobsters, magic, face-shifting, and thievery seem immensely cool, the setting of a Latinx-inspired fantasy world is new and exciting, something definitely not done enough. Also, I’m heading into my Masters degree this fall to study culture and literature in medieval Spain, so anything I encounter with that kind of inspiration is an auto-buy.

Most Anticipated Book for the Rest of the Year

My most anticipated read for the remainder of the year has to be Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo. Now, unlike most of the screaming GoodReads commenters excited to have another Bardugo book, I STILL have not read any of the Grisha books and have minimal expectations regarding the author aside from the fact that she’s apparently amazing. But you know what I KNOW seems amazing? THE PREMISE. Though mystery and murder aren’t typically my thing, occultism and secret societies most definitely are. Especially with ghosts. I’ll probably have to pass on sleeping, but seriously, give me the ghosts.

Biggest Disappointment

This one made me so upset! I downloaded Summer on the Italian Lakes by Lucy Coleman because an erotica author finding love with a historian on a writing retreat A) sounded adorably fun and B) combines literally all my major passions–history, romance, writing–into a single couple. HOWEVER. The relationship was neither what I was expecting nor particularly romantic. The progression didn’t feel entirely natural and went far too quickly, and the relationship consisted primarily of the hopeless romantic MC giving up on the romance she’s always wanted in favour of her beau’s mindset of practicality. I kept waiting for her to clue in and realize that GOOD RELATIONSHIPS DON’T FORCE THIS MUCH SACRIFICE but alas. Not really my style. Full review to come.

Biggest Surprise

I grabbed Listen to Me by Kristin Proby on sale from Kobo for my vacation, not really expecting anything beyond the standard lusty romance. The novel turned out to be a hidden gem! There was significantly more substance and less random sex than I was expecting, the MCs are real and flawed and had well-developed stories beyond just their relationship, and the plethora of supporting characters are involved enough for you to grow attached to their stories without it eclipsing the main plot. I’ll definitely be reading the rest of the series!

Favourite Debut or New-to-You Author

Since Spellslinger is my first of Sebastian de Castell’s novels and it already has me hooked, I think I’ll have to give this one to him. Plus, after a brief glance over his author website, I not only want to read his books, I want to BE him. Castell, if you ever read this, bards are indeed the best!

New Fictional Crush

Luke Sutter from Wicked Sexy Liar by Christina Lauren. Like I said, Luke and London have quite the different relationship from the others of the series. While I wouldn’t necessarily say my fondness for Luke hits quite Rhysand crush proportions, his charm and humour, relentless pursuit—in an endearing, not overly hunter way—and genuine attempts to work through his issues still had me swooning and rooting for him the whole way. Sex aside, Luke’s one hell of a catch.

New Favourite Character

The concept of Lingerie Wars by Janet Elizabeth Henderson on its own is a little unconventional: two lingerie shop owners–one, a local ex-lingerie supermodel, the other, a newcomer ex-military man–enter a fierce rivalry for the monopoly on knicker sales in a small Scottish town. It’s probably one of the quirkier takes on the competition hate-to-love trope that I’ve read, and with that came some of the quirkiest characters that I’ve read in a while. My favourite this year would have to be Betty, the 90-something resident troublemaker with a mean streak. Though a supporting character, she dives headlong into the lingerie shenanigans, resulting in some of the most ridiculous mishaps possible. The book itself is hilarious, but Betty’s craziness really bring all of it together.

Book that Made You Cry

On Dublin Street by Samantha Young. Not many books this year yet have made me particularly emotional, but reading about orphaned Joss dealing with the loss of her parents made my heart ache for the character. Though the tragedy struck far before the events of the book, Joss moves miles forward on the healing front over the course of the book, but seeing how deeply their absence still affects her and how much grief she still hadn’t dealt with is pretty saddening.

Book that Made You Happy

Definitely My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century by Rachel Harris! This book was such a light and cute read that I couldn’t help but leave it grinning. There were points when it felt rather young, and definitely parts when the history major in me wanted to scream WELL OBVIOUSLY at the MC, but the love story is so genuinely wholesome that despite some minor quips, I finished it on a high.

Favourite Book-to-Movie Adaptation You’ve Seen This Year

Haven’t seen any this year yet! However, I am excited to start the TV show for A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness when I finally finish the book. I’ve been waiting to see this supernatural side of Oxford for probably my whole life.

Favourite Blog Post You’ve Published This Year

Well… this one? And here I say “Sorry!!” again that this is my only post so far.

Most Beautiful Book You’ve Bought or Received This Year

Prettiest book would be City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert. It’s not particularly stunning (though the physical copy is nicer than the photo suggests) but there’s something about the cover that feels silky and seductive and makes me want to climb inside and float around in the feathers.

Some Books You Need to Read by the End of the Year

Oh geez. Well, first I definitely want to finish Spellslinger and probably get started on de Castell’s swashbuckling Greatcoats series, starting with Traitor’s Blade. A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness is a must so I can watch the show. I also figure it’s high time that I read the Grisha books so Smoke and Bone–and hopefully the rest of that trilogy plus the Six of Crows books–is next on the list. I’m also currently reading I Owe You One by Sophie Kinsella and Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz, and a friend lent me YOU by Caroline Kepnes and Verity by Colleen Hoover, so I want to get through those too. I could keep this list going endlessly but I’ll stop there for now!

Best of luck to all of you also meeting your reading goals for the next few months, and may those odds be ever in our favour!