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: 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!

A Court of Wings and Ruin

23766634.jpgA Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

Here it is, guys.

The finale.

The END.

And wow, what an ending it is! This is the first time we’ve gotten to see how Maas would conclude a series and as much as I love her, even I was nervous. It is so easy to ruin a spectacular series with a disappointing ending (I’m looking at you, Veronica Roth *cough* Allegiant *cough*) and I couldn’t bear to face that with my beloved ACOTAR series. But once again, Maas did not disappoint and while I wouldn’t say it tops ACOMAF (my baby, my sweet precious angel baby) it’s undoubtedly deserving of the series. Continue reading

A Court of Mist and Fury

17927395.jpgA Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

I know this review is coming late (I finished the series weeks ago) but I’ve had such a hard time getting my thoughts together. Partially because I was just so wrapped up in loving it that I couldn’t for put it into words. Also partially because I was too busy basking in the beauty that is High Lord Rhysand to move on. Okay, mostly because of Rhysand.

THIS BOOK IS FAN-F***ING-TASTIC!

I’d thought ACOTAR was good. I’d thought the Throne of Glass books were great. But ACOMAF? ACOMAF takes ‘good’ and ‘great’ to a level of transcendent awesomeness I hadn’t thought possible. Well done, Maas–you are my queen and I bow before your greatness (and Rhysand’s. Though him bowing over me would probably be a lot more fun 😉 ). Continue reading