Recent Additions to My TBR

the shadows by alex north the vanishing half by brit bennet the book of longings by sue monk kidd books book of the month subscription july
My July Book of the Month picks. Click on link to subscribe for $10! (I get a free book if you do)

I recently received a book cart for my birthday, and I am seriously not sure if it has been hindering or helping my book buying situation. It has definitely helped me tackle my TBR though! There’s something about seeing those books just sitting there on that cart that makes me want to read them…maybe so that I can fill it with more?

tbr book cart
Picture taken by me. Add me on Instagram

I have been loving my Book of the Month subscription, but I do admit it’s not helping the TBR situation. I have been trying to prioritize those, but I almost never get them read on the month that I got them. This subscription has helped to open my mind to so many new genres and authors though, and I really look forward to picking the books I want, and then seeing my little blue box on my door step every month 🙂

Have you added any new books to your TBR recently? Let me know in the comments!

Disclaimer: All opinions on this blog are my own. If you are interested in purchasing any of these books, please consider using my Amazon affiliate link by clicking on the pictures and/or links and I will receive a small fee, but your book will still cost the same.

the shadows book by alex north
Buy on Amazon

The Shadows by Alex North

Goodreads rating: 4.13/5

Synopsis from Goodreads:

The haunting new thriller from Alex North, author of the New York Times bestseller The Whisper Man

You knew a teenager like Charlie Crabtree. A dark imagination, a sinister smile–always on the outside of the group. Some part of you suspected he might be capable of doing something awful. Twenty-five years ago, Crabtree did just that, committing a murder so shocking that it’s attracted that strange kind of infamy that only exists on the darkest corners of the internet–and inspired more than one copycat.

Paul Adams remembers the case all too well: Crabtree–and his victim–were Paul’s friends. Paul has slowly put his life back together. But now his mother, old and senile, has taken a turn for the worse. Though every inch of him resists, it is time to come home.

It’s not long before things start to go wrong. Reading the news, Paul learns another copycat has struck. His mother is distressed, insistent that there’s something in the house. And someone is following him. Which reminds him of the most unsettling thing about that awful day twenty-five years ago.

It wasn’t just the murder.

It was the fact that afterward, Charlie Crabtree was never seen again…

Buy on Amazon

The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd

Goodreads rating: 4.33/5

Synopsis from Goodreads:

“I am Ana. I was the wife of Jesus.”

Raised in a wealthy family in Sepphoris with ties to the ruler of Galilee, Ana is rebellious and ambitious, a relentless seeker with a brilliant, curious mind and a daring spirit. She yearns for a pursuit worthy of her life, but finds no outlet for her considerable talents. Defying the expectations placed on women, she engages in furtive scholarly pursuits and writes secret narratives about neglected and silenced women. When she meets the eighteen-year-old Jesus, each is drawn to and enriched by the other’s spiritual and philosophical ideas. He becomes a floodgate for her intellect, but also the awakener of her heart.

Their marriage unfolds with love and conflict, humor and pathos in Nazareth, where Ana makes a home with Jesus, his brothers, James and Simon, and their mother, Mary. Here, Ana’s pent-up longings intensify amid the turbulent resistance to the Roman occupation of Israel, partially led by her charismatic adopted brother, Judas. She is sustained by her indomitable aunt Yaltha, who is searching for her long-lost daughter, as well as by other women, including her friend Tabitha, who is sold into slavery after she was raped, and Phasaelis, the shrewd wife of Herod Antipas. Ana’s impetuous streak occasionally invites danger. When one such foray forces her to flee Nazareth for her safety shortly before Jesus’s public ministry begins, she makes her way with Yaltha to Alexandria, where she eventually finds refuge and purpose in unexpected surroundings.

Grounded in meticulous historical research and written with a reverential approach to Jesus’s life that focuses on his humanity, The Book of Longings is an inspiring account of one woman’s bold struggle to realize the passion and potential inside her, while living in a time, place, and culture devised to silence her.

Buy on Amazon

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

Goodreads rating: 4.47/5

Synopsis from Goodreads:

From The New York Times -bestselling author of The Mothers , a stunning new novel about twin sisters, inseparable as children, who ultimately choose to live in two very different worlds, one black and one white.

The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Ten years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters’ storylines intersect?

Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passing. Looking well beyond issues of race, The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person’s decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins.

As with her New York Times-bestselling debut The Mothers, Brit Bennett offers an engrossing page-turner about family and relationships that is immersive and provocative, compassionate and wise.

Buy on Amazon

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

Goodreads rating: 4.29/5

Synopsis from Goodreads:

También de este lado hay sueños. On this side, too, there are dreams.

Lydia Quixano Pérez lives in the Mexican city of Acapulco. She runs a bookstore. She has a son, Luca, the love of her life, and a wonderful husband who is a journalist. And while there are cracks beginning to show in Acapulco because of the drug cartels, her life is, by and large, fairly comfortable.

Even though she knows they’ll never sell, Lydia stocks some of her all-time favorite books in her store. And then one day a man enters the shop to browse and comes up to the register with a few books he would like to buy—two of them her favorites. Javier is erudite. He is charming. And, unbeknownst to Lydia, he is the jefe of the newest drug cartel that has gruesomely taken over the city. When Lydia’s husband’s tell-all profile of Javier is published, none of their lives will ever be the same.

Forced to flee, Lydia and eight-year-old Luca soon find themselves miles and worlds away from their comfortable middle-class existence. Instantly transformed into migrants, Lydia and Luca ride la bestia—trains that make their way north toward the United States, which is the only place Javier’s reach doesn’t extend. As they join the countless people trying to reach el norte, Lydia soon sees that everyone is running from something. But what exactly are they running to?

booktag image

The Hopeful Book Tag

We need a bit of hope in the world, especially during these uncertain times. I’m sure this year is kicking all our butts, and reading has been a nice escape for me. This book tag was a lot of fun to write. Thanks to Soulful Thoughts for tagging everyone. Everyone who reads this can consider themselves tagged. Remember to tag me back and I can’t wait to read all your answers!

harry potter and the sorcerer's stone by j.k. rowling
Picture taken by me. Buy book on Amazon.

1. A book world you would like to escape to: Hogwarts

I will forever be waiting for my Hogwarts letter. Always. This is the series I turn to for comfort, and I love rereading it when I’m in a reading slump. I also like to re-watch the movies when I need a reminder.

beach read by emily henry
Picture taken by me. Buy book on Amazon.

2. A romance that left you all mushy inside: Beach Read by Emily Henry

This was a much heavier romance book than I expected, both from the cover and from the synopsis. It was all very misleading, but in a good way. I thought about this book a lot as I was reading it, and for some time after. You can read my review here.

the existence of amy by lana grace riva
Picture taken by me. Buy book on Amazon.

3. A friendship we should all aspire to have: Nate and Amy in The Existence of Amy by Lana Grace Riva

We would all be lucky to have a friend like Nate. Nate did things for Amy that I wondered if I would ever do for someone I work with. I think I would only go so far to help my husband and kids, and maybe my sister. Honestly, there is maybe only one work friend who I might go that far for. Am I a terrible person? Maybe. Go read my review for this book here.

my siberian husky names leah
Picture taken by me.

4. Intermission! Insert the cutest picture of your pet or the cutest animal you can find.

Meet Leah, my nine year old husky 🙂 She was named during my Twilight phase after the only female wolf in the pack. Don’t judge me!

the boyfriend project by farrah rochon
Picture taken by me. Buy the book on Amazon.

5. A character in a leadership role that inspires you.

Even though this wasn’t an amazing read for me, I still consider Samiah to be a great role model for little girls and grown women alike. Samiah taught the girls she mentored that the color of their skin did not determine the career they should follow, and that they should work hard and do what they were passionate about. I was also inspired by the fact that Samiah went back to school as an adult to obtain another degree in the field she loved, as opposed to the degree she first got in order to please her parents. You can read my review here.

The house in the cerulean sea
Picture taken by me. Buy this book on Amazon.

6. Recommend three books that fill you with hope.

1. The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune -read my review here

This book filled me with hope for humanity. If more people like Linus exist, then perhaps there is still hope for this world.

2. The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes -read my review here

These women were heroines in their own right, and as a bookworm this story about a traveling library made my heart happy.

3. Night of the Dragon (Shadow of the Fox, #2) by Julie Kagawa -read my review here

This story spoke of resurrection, and this is something that I’ve always wanted to believe in so badly. It gave me hope that maybe those who love us never really leave us, and their souls will always find us again.

7. (Optional) Tag People.

If you are reading this consider yourself tagged, and remember to tag me back. I want to see all your answers!

Disclaimer: All opinions on this blog are my own. If you are interested in purchasing any of these books, please consider using my Amazon affiliate link by clicking on the pictures and/or links and I will receive a small fee, but your book will still cost the same.

Of Rioters and Royals

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

Picture taken by me. Buy on Amazon.

Author: M.L. Greye

Published: January 18, 2019

Pages: 421

Goodreads Rating: 4.16/5

For fans of: The Hunger Games, Ash Princess, The Selection, rebellion trope, competition trope

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Emry is a Royal – a princess of Enlennd. As is tradition, she must have a knight at her side as her protector. The only way to appoint one is through The Trials. Her Challengers from the five regions of Enlennd must compete for the infamous title of Princess’s Knight. The problem, though, is that the people of Enlennd are split into two categories: Rioters and Royals. Finding the perfect knight may be the last of her worries. War is coming to Enlennd.

Declan is a Rioter. An upriser. An anarchist. He mistrusts the Jewels – the sovereign family of Enlennd. Yet, he is offering himself up as a Challenger in The Trials. The Mistress, leader of the Rioters, has a mission for him. The first step is for him to become the Princess’s Knight. He is ready for the task, until he actually meets Emry and discovers that betraying her would be much more difficult than he’d thought.

My Review:

Those who were covered in filth tended to be frowned upon by those who could afford to never get dirty”

I really enjoyed the unique magic system in this book, my favorite part being the fact that the person’s eye color determined what powers they had. Emry, the main female character, had gray eyes and the coolest powers in my opinion. I did feel like the story needed a bit more scene setting and descriptions of the characters’ surroundings as we switched from one scene to another.

I loved how fierce and brave Emry was, and how she loved her sister and her kingdom. Declan was smart and cunning, and he complemented Emry’s personality well, they made a great pair. I enjoyed the romance between them, but I was glad it did not completely take over the plot. The plot was very character driven, which I liked. I also enjoyed how the story was told through different characters’ points of views.

The history lesson in the beginning of the book was very useful, and it helped to keep the amount of info dumping minimal throughout the rest of the story. The book was fast paced and action packed after that, and I really enjoyed the tournament, since the competition based trope is one of my favorites. There were some unexpected plots twists, which kept me on my toes. I did feel like the ending was a bit rushed, but other than that this was a great YA/Fantasy story. I highly recommend it, and I can’t wait for the next book in the series!

Disclaimer: A signed copy of this book was provided to me for free by the author in an Instagram Giveaway. I was not paid for this review, and all opinions are my own. If you are interested in purchasing this book, please consider using my Amazon affiliate link (by clicking on the top or bottom pictures) and helping a fellow book blogger out 🙂 I will receive a small fee from Amazon, but your book will still cost the same.

booktag image

Beauty and the Beast Book Tag

I love fairy tales, and I am a big Disney fan. Which is your favorite Disney movie? Let me know in the comments! My favorite Disney movie is Beauty and the Beast, so needless to say I was super excited when I found this book tag in Raji’s blog: Worlds Unlike Our Own Blog. Thanks for tagging me Raji! Anyone who is reading this can consider themselves tagged. Moving on to the questions.

a court of thorns and roses by sarah j maas
Picture taken by me. Follow me on Instagram.

“Tale As Old As Time” -A popular theme, trope, or setting you will never get bored of reading

Fairy tale retellings and enemies to lovers trope. This is why I’m such a big ACOTAR (A Court of Thorns and Roses) fan. ACOTAR is both a Beauty and the Beast retelling and an enemies to lovers trope. I love when two people who used to hate each other are forced to co-exist, and after they give each other a chance they can find common ground and eventually friendship and love. Other books like this one I enjoyed: A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer, The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren, and the Shatter Me Series by Tahereh Mafi, to name a few.

the house in the cerulean sea by tj klune taken by @deesreadingtree
Picture taken by me.

“Belle” -A book you bought for its beautiful cover that was just as beautiful on the inside too

I don’t usually judge a book by its cover (no pun intended). I did recently buy The House in the Cerulean Sea on a whim because it was so beautiful and it has such glowing reviews on Instagram. Best impulsive buy ever! You can go read my review and see everything I loved about it.

House of salt and sorrows by erin a. craig picture taken by @deesreadingtree
Picture taken by me.

“Gaston” -A book everyone loves that you don’t

Everyone seems to have loved House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig, and I just thought it was an okay read. I have learned my lesson since then that I just don’t enjoy ghost stories. It took me forever to get through that book since I found it super boring. There was a lot of poetic prose and descriptive setting, but not a lot of action going on. You can read my review here.

Cress (the lunar chronicles, #1) by marissa meyer picture taken by @deesreadingtree
Picture taken by me.

“Lefou” -A loyal sidekick you can’t help but love more than their counterpart

Definitely Iko from The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. I liked Cinder, but Iko was the best. She had the best personality and was such a good friend to Cinder, never mind that she was a robot. I think this is why Marissa Meyer also wrote a whole comic series with Iko as the protagonist called Wires and Nerve.

harry potter series by j.k. rowling instagram picture taken by @deesreadingtree
Picture taken by me.

“Mrs. Potts, Chip, Lumiere, and Cogsworth” -A book that helped you through a difficult time or taught you something valuable

I came to the U.S when I was eleven years old. It would take a lot more words than I have time or energy for right now in order to fully explain what it felt like to leave everything and mostly everyone I knew behind, and embark on a journey to a completely new place where no one spoke my language. My happiest memory from that time was getting my very own library card. The first book I read was Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, in Spanish. By the third book, I was reading in English. Harry Potter helped me escape out of my roach infested apartment, which my family shared with other distant relatives of ours, to Hogwarts and a world of magic and adventure. Oh, how I wanted that Hogwarts letter to arrive! I still read the Harry Potter series when I need a pick-me-up or when I’ve landed into a reading slump.

Scythe (arc of a scythe, #1) by neal shusterman picture taken by @deesreadingtree
Picture taken by me.

“Something there” -A book or series you weren’t into at first but picked up towards the end

I recently started the Scythe (Arc of a Scythe, #1) series by Neal Shusterman, and I loved it. I had picked it up a couple of times, but I guess I wasn’t in the right mood. I can’t wait to continue on with the series and see where the author goes with it. You can read my review here.

Disclaimer: All opinions on this blog are my own. If you are interested in purchasing any of these books, please consider using my Amazon affiliate link by clicking on the pictures and/or links and I will receive a small fee, but your book will still cost the same.

booktag image

Mid-Year Freak Out Book Tag 2020

I’m a bit in shock after having turned thirty years old a few days ago. Has it really been eighteen years ago since I first opened Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and fell in love with reading? I spent my birthday mostly in quarantine. My closest family members showed up and hastily sang “Happy Birthday” to me. We were outside, six feet apart, and my grandparents wore masks. They then lit a candle I couldn’t really blow, for fear of the particles in my breath traveling to them (I ended up covering it with my hand and blowing it). This has been a crazy year for sure.

I am grateful I got to spend it with those I love, and that they are all relatively happy and healthy (my oldest child has a stomach bug but he will be fine). I received a ton of book gifts. My favorites were a brand new book shelf, a book cart, and the Harry Potter illustrated editions from my hubby. I spent the day eating my favorite food, watching movies, organizing my book shelves, and cuddling with my kids. Overall, it was a perfect 30th birthday.

I cannot believe it’s the middle of the year already. Thanks to Worlds Unlike Our Own for tagging me. This was such a fun book tag to do. Everyone who reads this can consider themselves tagged. Please remember to tag me back, I can’t wait to read your answers! Moving on to the books 🙂

Disclaimer: All opinions on this blog are my own. If you are interested in purchasing any of these books, please consider using my Amazon affiliate link by clicking on the pictures and/or links and I will receive a small fee, but your book will still cost the same.

What is the best book that you have read so far in 2020?

the house in the cerulean sea by tj klune
Buy on Amazon

This book really surprised me, I saw someone’s raving review on Bookstagram and I just had to go and read it. I went and tried a sample and I ended up buying the whole thing. I haven’t read many books that have reminded me of all the feelings I had when I read Harry Potter, but this was definitely one of them. This story was so full of magic, adorable characters, and surprising turns of events. The main character, Linus, had one of the most impressive character arcs I have ever read. Also, I went into this book without reading the synopsis and was very surprised. Here is my review and you will find a full synopsis there as well in case you don’t like surprises 🙂

What has been your favorite sequel of the first half of the year?

aurora burning by amie kaufman and jay kristoff
Buy it on Amazon

Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff obviously hate their readers and love to stomp on their feelings and crush their hopes and dreams. BUT!! This book WAS amazing. The sequel to Aurora Rising was full of action, romance, and plot twists. True to their evil nature the authors left us all hanging off a cliff at the end, so they better hurry and write the next one or we might go and find them! (yes that was a threat) You can read my review here.

Is there a new release that you haven’t read yet but are really excited to read?

Truelife by Jay Kristoff
Buy it on Amazon

The sequel to Lifelike and Deviate will be released on June 30th, and I’m super excited. (click on the links to read my reviews) Like I said above, Mr. Kristoff is an evil bastard (don’t worry he knows this) and the ending to Deviate was a very bad cliff hanger. I won a pre-order of Truelife on a Bookstagram giveaway and I can’t wait to get it in the mail!

What is your most anticipated release for the second half of the year?

blood and honey by shelby mahurin serpent and dove book two
Buy it on Amazon

I fell in love with Serpent and Dove and I’ve been waiting for the sequel since I read it last year. (you can read my review by clicking on the link) This one will be released on September 1st. I can’t wait to learn more about my favorite side characters Coco and Ansel, and see where this sequel takes Reid and Lou after all the revelations that came to light at the end of the last book.

What is your biggest disappointment so far?

imagine me by tahereh mafi shatter me book six
Buy on Amazon

I was so excited about this one, but to be honest this series has been going downhill since the fourth book and the big “plot twist.” This was not the ending to a six book series that I had expected. There was some closure at the end, but the whole book was basically about Kenji and Warner, and the action was crammed into the last few chapters. The ending felt rushed, and I was underwhelmed. Click here to read my review.

What is your biggest surprise so far?

Buy on Amazon

I did not expect to love this book as much as I did, and I hope the rest of the series lives up to my expectations. I plan to read Thunderhead (Arc of a Scythe, #2) in July which is when I’m hoping to catch up with all my sequels, and then I need to move on to The Toll (Arc of a Scythe, #3). This story had such a unique premise, very imaginative world building, and great character arcs. You can read my review here.

Who is your fictional crush from this year?

a court of mist and fury by sarah j maas book one of a court of thorns and roses seres
Buy it on Amazon

No one will ever replace Rhysand from the ACOTAR series. I reread this series this year when this whole quarantine business first started. I usually turn to this one and Harry Potter when I land into a reading slump (I reread Harry Potter while in quarantine too :)) The characters from Chain of Gold (especially James and Mathew) came close for me, but nope.

Who is your new favorite character?

Buy it on Amazon

Finian from Aurora Rising and Aurora Burning definitely stole my heart as a great character. He is the comedic relief, and such a good friend to Squad 312. This doesn’t surprise me, because I always fall for the class clown (my husband was, and still is, the biggest clown I know). In my experience, they have the biggest hearts under all the witty remarks and sarcasm ❤

A book that made you happy?

josh and hazel's guide to not dating by christina lauren
Buy it on Amazon

I was laughing the whole time I was reading this, well maybe not in that awkward part where I was screaming at the characters to JUST COMMUNICATE! But yeah, most of the time I was cracking up with Hazel’s antics. Hazel was such an endearing character, and I was rooting for her happy ending throughout the story. You can read my review here.

Your favorite book to movie/tv show that you’ve seen so far?

wonder book by rj palacio
Buy it on Amazon

I really enjoyed the movie adaption of Wonder by R.J. Palacio. Of course, nothing is ever as immersive and detailed as the book, but the producers did a good job with this one. They included the most important parts from the book, and the actors and actresses did an amazing job. Well, with Julia Roberts as the mom, Owen Wilson as the dad, and Jacob Tremblay as August, it was expected for it to be a great performance by all of them. They definitely delivered. You can buy the movie here using my affiliate link if you like.

What is the most beautiful book that you have bought?

Harry Potter and the Sorcere's Stone illustrated edition
Pictures from my Bookstagram. Buy the book on Amazon.

I recently bought Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, the Illustrated Edition, and it’s the most beautiful book I’ve ever seen. The art within is amazing as well. My husband then bought me the rest of the illustrated books for my birthday. I’ve been enjoying reading them to my kids before bed time, and they’re very into it. Needless to say I’m a proud momma.

What is your favorite post that you have written so far this year?

My favorite Series post

This post was super time consuming and I poured my heart and soul into it. Please go read it if you haven’t. I couldn’t just include my top five series, I had to do ALL ten of them. While in the middle of writing it I deeply regretted doing the whole thing, but I pushed myself to finish it. I am very proud of it.

What are six books that you want to read by the end of the year?

collage of books ninth house we hunt the flame one of us is next a good marriage beach read thunderhead
Pictures from Goodreads

Some of these I’ve been putting off for some time. Some I’ve just recently received from my Book of the Month subscription. (click on the link if you want to pay only $10 for your first month and I get a free book credit) Finally, some are sequels that I really need to get to. (click on the link to read my post on that topic)

Book of the Month Books:

1. Beach Read by Emily Henry –buy on Amazon

2. A Good Marriage by Kimberly McCreight –buy on Amazon

Sequels I need to read:

3. Thunderhead (Arc of a Scythe, #2) –buy on Amazon

4. Once of Us is Next (One of Us is Lying, #2) –buy on Amazon

Books that have been sitting on my shelf:

5. Ninth House (Alex Stern, #1) by Leigh Bardugo –buy on Amazon

6. We Hunt the Flame (Sands of Arwiya, #1) by Hafsah Faizal –buy on Amazon

Disclaimer: All opinions on this blog are my own. If you are interested in purchasing any of these books, please consider using my Amazon affiliate link by clicking on the pictures and/or links and I will receive a small fee, but your book will still cost the same.

Crown of Feathers

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

crown of feathers by nicki pau preto
Picture from Goodreads

Author: Nicki Pau Preto

Series: Crown of Feathers, #1

Published: February 12, 2019

Pages: 496

ISBN: 1534424628

Synopsis from Goodreads:

I had a sister, once…

In a world ruled by fierce warrior queens, a grand empire was built upon the backs of Phoenix Riders—legendary heroes who soared through the sky on wings of fire—until a war between two sisters ripped it all apart.

I promised her the throne would not come between us.

Sixteen years later, Veronyka is a war orphan who dreams of becoming a Phoenix Rider from the stories of old. After a shocking betrayal from her controlling sister, Veronyka strikes out alone to find the Riders—even if that means disguising herself as a boy to join their ranks.

But it is a fact of life that one must kill or be killed. Rule or be ruled.

Just as Veronyka finally feels like she belongs, her sister turns up and reveals a tangled web of lies between them that will change everything. And meanwhile, the new empire has learned of the Riders’ return and intends to destroy them once and for all.

Sometimes the title of queen is given. Sometimes it must be taken.

For fans of: Eragon, The Poppy War, and Mulan

My Review:

Is love ever really a choice?”

I enjoyed this story and found the plot and magic system to be very unique. The concept of animages (people who can control and communicate with animals) was interesting. Also, the idea of phoenix riders who bond with their mounts, similar to dragon riders bonding with dragons, was very appealing.

There was a lot of info dumping in the beginning, but the action picks up after that. I enjoyed the little history snippets and quotes from the old queens inserted in between chapters. I liked the flash backs which provided us with more insight into each character’s personality, and I enjoyed all the different character point of views.

This story had a few shocking moments, and the characters never behaved as expected, which was very refreshing. I liked Veronyka, the main character, and I enjoyed her character growth. She taught us about living in the moment, making your own happiness, and not letting it depend solely on any one person or thing. I highly recommend this book to all YA/Fantasy fans, and I can’t wait to read the next one in the series.

I was not paid for this review, and all opinions are my own. If you are interested in purchasing this book, please consider using my Amazon affiliate link (by clicking on the top or bottom pictures) and helping a fellow book blogger out 🙂

The House in the Cerulean Sea

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

the house in the cerulean sea by tj klune
Picture from Goodreads

Author: T.J. Klune

Published: March 17, 2020

Pages: 393

Synopsis from Goodreads:

A magical island. A dangerous task. A burning secret.

Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. At forty, he lives in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages.

When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he’s given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. Linus must set aside his fears and determine whether or not they’re likely to bring about the end of days.

But the children aren’t the only secret the island keeps. Their caretaker is the charming and enigmatic Arthur Parnassus, who will do anything to keep his wards safe. As Arthur and Linus grow closer, long-held secrets are exposed, and Linus must make a choice: destroy a home or watch the world burn.

An enchanting story, masterfully told, The House in the Cerulean Sea is about the profound experience of discovering an unlikely family in an unexpected place—and realizing that family is yours.

My review:

It’s the little things. Little treasures we find without knowing their origin. And they come when we least expect them.”

This book made my heart happy. It was so full of magic, love, and adorable characters that will stay with me for a long time after. For years I had been searching for a story that would give me all the same feelings that I had while reading Harry Potter, and I have finally found it. This story was all about family, and the fact that family can sometimes mean the people we surround ourselves with and love unconditionally, and not exactly the ones we are born into. It was also about overcoming our preconceived notions and prejudices, and learning to love others for who they truly are.

A person is more than where they come from.” “Than the sum of their parts.”

The character development was simply amazing. Each person stood apart from the others, with their own quirks and eccentricities. I had a really hard time picking a favorite character. From the adults I would have to say it was Linus, because how could I not? The story is told from his point of view, and we see him slowly come out of this fog he has been living in all his life and step into the light. From the kids I would have to go with Theodore, because I have a really soft spot for Wyverns. I should also mention that I found Linus’s next door neighbor simply hilarious, and I also loved his cat Calliope who always went after the neighbor’s yard squirrels.

“Sometimes,” Mr. Parnassus said, “our prejudices color our thoughts when we least expect them to. If we can recognize that, and learn from it, we can become better people.”

The plot was entrancing, and it kept me reading way into the early hours of the morning. There was a mysterious air to it that kept me wanting to learn more about this magical world and its inhabitants, about DICOMY and its function, and about the way the humans and the magical creatures could coexist. They barely did. If you have ever wondered what would have happened in Harry Potter if the magical world was no longer hidden from the muggles (or non-magical people), then this book is your answer. I recommend this book to all Fantasy fans, and all those wishing to read a wonderful heartwarming story.

We get trapped in our own little bubbles, and even though the world is a wide and mysterious place, our bubbles keep us safe from that. To our detriment.” She sighed. “But it’s so easy because there’s something soothing about routine. Day in and day out, it’s always the same. When we’re shaken from that, when that bubble bursts, it can be hard to understand all that we’ve missed. We might even fear it. Some of us even fight to try and get it back.”

Disclaimer: I was not paid for this review. However, if you click on my link and end up buying the book Amazon will pay me a small fee. Thank you for supporting a small blog like mine 🙂

Darkdawn

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

dark dawn by jay kristoff
Darkdawn by Jay Kristoff

Author: Jay Kristoff

Published: September 3, 2019

Publisher: Thomas Dune Books

Series: The Nevernight Chronicles, #3

**If you are considering buying this book, please click on my link to support a fellow blogger**

Synopsis from Goodreads:

A ruthless young assassin’s journey for revenge comes to a stunning end in the conclusion of this acclaimed epic fantasy trilogy.

The Republic of Itreya is in chaos. Mia Corvere has assassinated Cardinal Duomo and rumors of Consul Scaeva’s death ripple through the street of Godsgrave like wildfire. But buried beneath those same streets, deep in the ancient city’s bones, lies a secret that will change the Republic forever.

Mia and her brother Jonnen must journey through the depths of the ancient metropolis. Their quest will take them through the Godsgrave underdark, across the Sea of Swords, back to the library of the Quiet Mountain and the poisoned blades of Mia’s old mentors, and at last the fabled Crown of the Moon. There, Mia will at last discover the origins of the darkin, and learn the destiny that lies in store for her and her world. But with the three suns now in descent, and Truedark on the horizon, will she survive?

Fear was Can’t. Fear was Won’t. But fear wasn’t ever a choice. To never fear was to never hope. Never love. Never live…Part of having is the fear of losing. Part of creating is the fear of it breaking. Part of beginning is the fear of your ending. Fear is never a choice… But letting it rule you is.”

Darkdawn

My Mini Book Review:

I’m doing a mini book review on this because there is no way I can put ALL my thoughts about this series into coherent sentences. How do I review a series like this one? These books made me cry tears of happiness, of sadness, frustration, and despair. In short, they made me feel everything a good series should.

I did pick Darkdawn up a couple of times to read it in September, but I ended up putting it down twice. First, I did not expect the religious aspect of the books to take center stage in the story, and that is always a turn-off for me. Second, I read so many dark books in September that I felt like I needed some happiness in my life. I finally got my hands on the audio version (the narrator Holter Graham does an amazing job), and this helped me get through it. Once I got through most of the setting up part, I could not stop listening.

I loved all the characters in these books. I fell in love with all their stories and I was proud of their growth throughout. I came to respect Mia and her strength and perseverance, and how she was set on revenge, but not willing to cross certain moral lines. I liked the side stories, the humor, the colorful cursing, and yes even the footnotes. I’m sad that this series has come to an end, and I cannot wait to see what Kristoff comes up with next. If you are a fan of dark Fantasy, read these!

The Monsters of Music

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

The Monsters of Music by Rebecca F. Kenney
The Monsters of Music

Author: Rebecca F. Kenney

Publishes: October 30, 2019

Publisher: Kindle Direct Publishing

ISBN: 1693557754

**If you want to buy this book, please consider clicking on the link above and supporting a fellow blogger at no additional cost to you**

Synopsis from Goodreads:

A darkly romantic gender-swapped modern retelling of The Phantom of the Opera, with a scarred Muse girl, a rock-star boy, and a singing competition. For fans of The Wicked Deep (Ernshaw), Wintersong (S. Jae-Jones), American Idol, or The Voice.

Mel must share her creative magic or be driven mad by it. But finding her first protégé isn’t as easy for her as it is for most Lianhan Sídhe (muses of Celtic myth). Though the women of her race are naturally beautiful, she carries horrifying scars across one side of her face, inflicted by her mother’s obsessive boyfriend. And Mel isn’t only interested in pouring her creative energy into a man; she wants to use her musical genius herself, too. But the laws of the Lianhan Sídhe, and her own savage appearance, stand in the way of her ever singing onstage.

To relieve the painful pressure of her magic, Mel latches onto Kiyoji, a boy with a beautiful voice, and coaches him through a televised singing competition. But neither of them are prepared for the power of their connection, or for the new kind of magic that happens when the two of them sing together.

Fans of Holly Black’s contemporary fantasy books (Tithe, Valiant) or Brigid Kemmerer’s A Curse So Dark and Lonely will enjoy this dark, offbeat retelling with a hint of cyberpunk and a dose of Celtic mythology. The novel celebrates a broad range of music from various decades.

Disclaimer: I received a free e-ARC of this book from the author in exchange for my honest opinion.

My Review:

I was a bit hesitant to read this book, because in the past I hadn’t enjoyed other books where the author attempted to mix music into the story (Example: “Wintersong” by S. Jae-Jones, which this book kept getting compared to). I should also say that I’ve never read or seen Phantom of the Opera. But I should not have worried, because the musical aspect in this book blended seamlessly into the story. Maybe it was the more modern setting, the simple precise wording, or the well-known songs that are mentioned, but I really enjoyed the blend of magic and music and I found the story very unique and alluring.

I liked reading the book through all the different points of views. It’s mainly told through Mel’s POV, but it switches to Kiyo, and many of the others as well. Each character had their own unique voice and perspective, and I could always tell when a new point of view was introduced. I liked that Mel was a flawed main character, and that we get to see her change and evolve throughout. Her dark side was a good contrast to Kiyo’s naivete and innocence. Also, the love aspect between Mel and Kiyo did not feel rushed. There was no “insta-love,” and they took their time getting to know each other. My favorite character was Prince, the cat.

I found the miscommunication between the characters in the middle of the story a bit annoying. It was at a point in the story where I felt there was already enough conflict going on, and I kept thinking “Just talk to each other!” Also, there were some unanswered questions and small plot holes when it came to the magic system. I don’t do spoilers, but there is something that happens as a result of Mel using her magic, and I was waiting for a good explanation but never got one.

The world building was well done. I could definitely picture this old school and its many rooms and passages in my mind’s eye as I was reading. The characters were well described, and I felt like I had a good grasp on what they all looked like. Overall, this was a great fast paced read, and I would recommend it to all Fantasy/ YA fans looking for a great story full of enthralling magic, music, and a new modern take on Phantom of the Opera.

Red, White and Royal Blue

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

Author: Casey McQuiston 

Published: May 14, 2019

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

ISBN: 1250316774/9781250316776

Synopsis from Goodreads:

What happens when America’s First Son falls in love with the Prince of Wales?

When his mother became President, Alex Claremont-Diaz was promptly cast as the American equivalent of a young royal. Handsome, charismatic, genius—his image is pure millennial-marketing gold for the White House. There’s only one problem: Alex has a beef with the actual prince, Henry, across the pond. And when the tabloids get hold of a photo involving an Alex-Henry altercation, U.S./British relations take a turn for the worse.

Heads of family, state, and other handlers devise a plan for damage control: staging a truce between the two rivals. What at first begins as a fake, Instragramablefriendship grows deeper, and more dangerous, than either Alex or Henry could have imagined. Soon Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret romance with a surprisingly unstuffy Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations and begs the question: Can love save the world after all? Where do we find the courage, and the power, to be the people we are meant to be? And how can we learn to let our true colors shine through?

Casey McQuiston’s Red, White & Royal Blue proves: true love isn’t always diplomatic.

Maybe there’s more than one dream for you, or more than one way to get there.

June

My Review:

This book was absolutely hilarious. The puns, the analogies and the wit had me laughing out loud the whole time. I kept see this book everywhere on social media alongside raving reviews. I’m happy I finally decided to read it. I also liked the historical background of the story, as well as all the letters from previous gay men and women in history that were provided. I enjoyed the idea that this type of political change could ever be possible in the United States as well as England. Mostly, I would love to live to see the day when there is a sitting female President of the United States.

I kind of fell in love with Prince Henry. I believe this was inevitable because his character is so likeable, and Alex’s descriptions of Henry were so full of affection…eventually. At first, they’re mortal enemies, and this enemies to lovers trope is also one of my favorites. I liked Alex as well, although his personality was a bit too much at times, which I think he was also aware of which helped a bit. I could also have done with a bit less angst, pining, and introspective musings from both of them. I did love all of Alex’s Harry Potter references, he took “The Prisoner of Azkaban” with him on one of the flights and I was in love with him too then 🙂

Not only did I love Henry and Alex’s relationship, I also really enjoyed how they interacted with June, Nora, Pez, and Bea. My favorite minor character was June, I liked how down to earth and supportive she was. Another minor negative for me was I thought the ending was a bit dragged out and I could’ve done without a lot of that. This book had me wishing we actually lived in a world where political changes like this could be possible, it had me thinking maybe they are within our reach. Love is love. 

A bit of a warning, the sex scenes were not SUPER explicit but there were some details mentioned as well as a lot of language used. It’s not as much detail as I’ve encountered in other books, but it’s there, so be warned. I apologize for how many times I wrote the word “love” in this review I just really really enjoyed this book. If you’re looking for a feel-good Contemporary Romance, I highly recommend this one.