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!

My Blind Date with a Book

Hello, all you beautiful humans!

Who here has read a Blind Date book?

For anyone who doesn’t know, blind book dates are usually orchestrated by libraries and bookstores around Valentine’s Day, and essentially consist of a mysterious book wrapped up with a clue on the front.

In case you haven’t already noticed, I did not read this in February when I was supposed to. I also did not post this in February when I meant to.

I’m a queen of library renewals and disappointment.

Aaaaanyway, I’d never done one before, so I figured I’d give it a go this year. I am very much a judge-a-book-by-the-blurb-and-cover girl–AKA the absolute OPPOSITE of the whole going-in-blind thing–so this was very much something I am not at all used to.

The book I turned out to have gotten is The Last Time I Saw You by Elizabeth Berg. When when I picked it up, it was covered in brown paper packaging (tied up with strings! These are a few of my favourite things!), labelled “It’s a 5-Star fluff with a little protein to make it stick.”

Clearly, that tells me NOTHING except that it’s probably contemporary. I’m still not entirely sure what possessed me to go “yeah! Let’s definitely pick the most ambiguous clue for the first time you’re doing this!”

I wanted to guess things! I had nothing to guess!

I decided, against my usual grain, that I would not look up the title and read the blurb, that instead I would go in totally blind. So in the book about a 40th high school reunion, I first had to piece out oh they’re all seniors, oh they’re from high school, oh it’s a reunion.

It’s an interesting experience to have gone in without any reservations at all, and I found it largely freeing that I didn’t have any expectations, meaning I couldn’t so easily be disappointed. Also, everything was a surprise. Blurbs will often contain or allude to spoilers, presumably as a way of hooking their readers, but then twist ceases to be a twist! The shock isn’t shocking! This time I had ZERO spoilers, and had to piece everything and everyone out as I went. I didn’t know about, as the description states, “Candy Armstrong, the class beauty,” I just knew everyone was jealous of her or wanted her, meaning okay she’s probably the cheerleader.

A downside I found was that I couldn’t get excited about something that was going to happen. I mean, okay, if two characters are gonna end up together, I kinda want to know about it! To anticipate it! Get pumped about it! But I didn’t, so I couldn’t, which didn’t affect me as much as it could have but bugged me more than I, who hates spoilers, might care to admit.

The book itself at the end was pretty good. It definitely took some getting used to the seniors acting like sex-starved teenagers and superficiality of some of the characters, but as the novel progressed it showed more and more depth, offering not only a picture of nostalgia, but also the reality of coping with life coming to an end. I gave it 4/5.

As an experience, the blind date thing was neat. I’m not entirely sure if I’d do it again, and the book wasn’t exactly my usual style, but I found the whole ordeal (yes, ordeal) more fun that I’d anticipated!

Maybe come next Valentine’s Day, it’ll be a solid alternative to my nonexistent love life–who needs a real date when you’ve got a book? 😉

Summer TBR

Welcome! to my latest list of unrealistic expectations – AKA my summer TBR! It’s been a while since I’ve done a legit one of these (TBH I think the last one was in video form. Awks.) and, frankly, I’ve been a terrible reader these past months. But today is a new day! July is here! The sun is out! The birds are singing! My bibliophilic hopes are soaring! And I am gonna kick some serious TBR ass.

To be fun for once, instead of repeating the same books I STILL have on my shelf that you’ve probably heard about a dozen times and I apparently think about reading more often than actually reading, I’m making this more about what I want to add to my ever-growing shelf of unread-tragedy. Three cheers for shiny new reads! Continue reading

A Definitive Ranking of My Book Boyfriends, Because I’m Alone

Oh, Valentine’s Day! So sweet! So romantic! So beautiful! So–

ALONE.

Kay, to be frank, despite having been single for 20 of the 20 V-Days I’ve experienced, I LOVE today. But still, there’s nothing like an abundance of happy couples to draw a little too much attention to your singleness.

So today, I will not be alone. I will be surrounded. Surrounded by beloved characters who already have beloved girlfriends who will be OVERLOOKED so I can be loved by them.

And what better way to celebrate that than with a large pepperoni pizza, a full bottle of wine, and a top-ten list of my favourite book boyfriends??

Easy answer: there is none. Continue reading

My Totally-Didn’t-Happen “TBR”

HELLO STRANGERS! Yes, strangers, because I’ve been gone so shamefully long I may as well be new here. Sigh. Aaaaanyway, I’ll be doing something new today: a totally-didn’t-happen TBR. Yeah, I made it up, so bear with me!

Backstory: I intended back in THE BEGINNING OF SEPTEMBER to do a Fall TBR. I was all excited, had all the books picked out, and…just never got the chance to write it. So then I thought ‘oh, I’ll just do that now!’ but, uh, no, because a) it’s DECEMBER and b) just as I’ve had no time to blog I’ve also had no time to read. Seriously. I’ve been on page 137 of Queen of Shadows since my vacation in AUGUST.

*Cries*

So instead, here is where I compile all those books that my optimistic reader self thought I’d read (until my academics-are-important self took a blow torch to that dream and watched it burn, baby, burn) with the thoughts that I like to imagine I would have reviewed for them and a hefty dose of self-deprecation. It’s a guessing game of hypotheses and sarcasm that I hope you will enjoy.

(PS. goodreads links are in the titles if you want to check anything out!) Continue reading

The Clockwork Scarab

17084242The Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason

What happens when a genius, a vampire hunter, and a time traveler walk into a museum?

I don’t even know where to begin with The Clockwork Scarab. This book is probably the craziest mismatched hodgepodge of different elements I have ever read…and yet I enjoyed it immensely!

The novel introduces Alvermina Holmes and Evaline Stoker, niece of Sherlock and sister of Bram, a detective and vampire hunter tag-team duo called to investigate missing persons and a murder. It really is such a shame that they hate each other and refuse to work as a unit–or maybe not, since their antics are hilarious! Enter a time-traveling teen and the cult of an Egyptian goddess in a steampunk Victorian London, et voilà! A masterpiece of strangeness. Continue reading

The Darkest Minds

10576365The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

This book came highly recommended to me by a close friend back in high school when I was too preoccupied with all the fluffy romances and high fantasies on my shelf to hunker down and read a dystopia, which is not my usual MO. It’s taken me until now, two year after I graduated, to actually get around to it which is terrible because she was right and this is GOOD.

Shame. Shame. Shame. Shame. Shame.

(PS if you’re reading this, Carla…I’m sorry! You told me so!)

The Darkest Minds is set in a dystopian world where, thanks to a mysterious disease that decimated the USA’s population of youth, all children who survived have developed strange powers. Some are dangerous–like those with a command over fire, electricity, and minds–some are tame–like the telekinetics and logical geniuses–but all are sent to ‘rehabilitation camps’ where they’re locked up because everyone else is afraid. Ruby, our MC, is sent to Thurmond–the worst and most brutal camp there is–and after years of abuse and forced labour escapes to a rag tag group of escapees from another camp. They team up to search for a rumoured safe haven, East River–led by a teen with powers as dangerous as Ruby’s–all the while evading the bounty hunters and terrorists and camp officers set to capture them. But when you’re locked away for years you’ll find the world is not the same as when you left it and a ‘safe haven’ might not mean safety at all… Continue reading

Summer Recap

recaphead

Hello hello, bookworms! Can you believe summer is finally coming to a close? I can’t quite decide whether to be angry about having to go back to university, or glad because it’ll finally give me something to do again. What can I say? I’m a nerd, and life is weird without homework.

Aaaaaaaanyway, I just realized that I’VE NEVER DONE A MONTHLY WRAP-UP! Whaaaaaaaaaaat. Yeah apparently I’ve been doing them in video form, but not writing them up over on here, which is just all kinds of I’m-sorry and so-wrong. So to rectify the situation I’m doing a recap of July and August in one. The original plan was to do June in here too but that was getting to 20-something books and things were getting long. Like, even longer than usual long.

I might actually continue doing these seasonal wrap-ups instead of monthly ones because I like seeing everything all together, and school does have its dark sides–like ALMOST ENTIRELY PREVENTING ME FROM READING FOR FUN AND THEREFORE RUINING MY LIFE–but, uh, I should probably get one done first. So here we go! Continue reading

The Kiss of Deception

16429619The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson

You know that feeling you get when a book takes you completely by surprise? The Kiss of Deception takes that feeling and multiplies it to a million, then throws in a little extra for good measure.

THIS BOOK BLEW ME AWAY!

I don’t even know how to put into words how much I loved this! I love Lia, I love the assassin/prince stuff, I love the world, I love the plot, I love EVERYTHING. And yet all over goodreads people are dishing out one-stars like candy?????????

Does.

Not.

Compute. Continue reading

Deception’s Princess

17866944Deception’s Princess by Esther Friesner

Pack your suitcases, friends, because today we’re jetting off in a time machine back to Iron Age Ireland! Deception’s Princess is inspired by old Celtic stories of the legendary Maeve of Connacht who from my research after reading seems a lot more evil than our Maeve. The book follows the feisty favourite young daughter of the High King of Connacht as she navigates the treacherous field of over-eager suitors to carve a path for herself in her hostile expectation-laden world.

Sound familiar yet? Because I’m channeling a certain other fiery red-head here, though her name isn’t Maeve. It’s Merida. Continue reading