Tuesday, November 5, 2019

October Reads // #arctober

It's book day!



October is known as #arctober to many readers online. I have a huge backlog of ARCs so I joined in to try to finish some of them up in a binge session. Here's how it went.

#ARCtober Goals:

Read 10 books!

Result: 6/10! - Not too bad for a busy and super anxious month! I'll take it!

25 Days 'Til Christmas by Poppy Alexander*** ARC, ebook

#1 for #arctober

4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy contemporary Christmas fiction. This one while still light, is a bit more serious than most.

Daniel's sister Zoe died in January, this is his first Christmas without her. He remembers the "Christmas Tree Girl" working at the lot, who was always so kind to him and Zoe when they bought their tree. He remembers her sad eyes, and now recognizes that she must have lost someone too. He wants to have the courage to tell her his story, but is painfully awkward in practice. Kate is a widow and mom to Jack, her six year old son. Her job at the Christmas tree lot is in peril, her son is being diagnosed with special needs, her "mother in law" is in a nursing home and her funding is about to be cut, and she barely has money to keep porridge on the table, let alone a tree and gifts for Jack. Kate and Daniel will meet again and again in different circumstances, getting to know one another better. Can they move past their grief and hurdles to be happy again?

This is the Christmas novel for you if you are looking for a story with a bit more intensity. I really loved both Kate and Daniel, and thought that they were strong characters dealing with a lot of issues. Kate was a very passionate mother, put in a tough situation, just trying to make ends meet on her own. Daniel was dealing with the loss of his sister, and going through the motions of his day to day life. I admired their strength, and how they eventually came together to have a memorable Christmas. I enjoyed the charitable elements of the story related to raising money for the Apple Cafe run by young adults with special needs. I thought that the Bake Off element was a fun addition. While it did feel like the problems were piling on Kate one after the other, I like how things tied up. It felt sort of serendipitous but also very satisfying. I would recommend this novel if you are looking for a Christmassy read with a little bit more meat.

A Lie for a Lie by Helena Hunting*ARC, ebook

#2 for #arctober

4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy contemporary romance, especially of the second-chance variety.

RJ is an NHL captain from Chicago, who spends part of his summer in Alaska with his brother to relax. It's the only time  when he can be a normal guy. When he meets anxious, and refreshing Lainey on the flight there, he doesn't tell her who he really is. They're both headed to Kodiak Island, and she's not quite prepared or outfitted for the trip. When he drops her off at her ramshackle cabin, he doesn't feel right about not checking in with her as the trip goes on. They're both alone, and quickly take to spending all of their time together. After a month, RJ has to leave due to a family emergency, and he never gets to tell Lainey who he really is, that he loves her, or how to get into touch with him. Months later, they meet by chance in Chicago, and RJ quickly finds out that he wasn't the only one keeping secrets.

I thought based on the title and cover that this would be sort of a romantic suspense story, LOL... so I was a little off base, but ended up enjoying this one quite a bit! I ADORED both RJ and Lainey, and their time in Alaska. It was very swoony and sweet, and their chemistry and different personalities were so fun. I honestly was dreading that part of the book coming to an end. However, I quickly found myself invested in the present day plot as well. I loved the way they uncovered secrets about their lives and lies, and how they tried so hard to make it work again. There is very little of the dreaded "JUST TALK TO EACH OTHER ALREADY!" sort of feeling, which I very much appreciated! I thought that their relationship both past and present was so sweet, and I liked the little bits of hockey life mixed in too. This book reminded me a little bit of Wait for It by Mariana Zapata and The Simple Wild by K.A. Tucker, both books that I really enjoyed! I see that there is already a synopsis for book 2 in this series... and I am here. for. it. Definitely going to continue on.

The Absinthe Earl by Sharon Lynn Fisher*** ARC, ebook

#3 for #arctober

DNF @ 60% - I can't particularly recommend this one.

Ada, an orphan and student is on a holiday in Ireland studying the relationship between absinthe and fairy sightings. She meets an Irish earl at an absinthe house, and he is quickly compelled to both protect her, and take her to his family's estate where they have unearthed ancient ruins. Along the way they are swept up in a struggle between earth and the faery realm, and their inexplicable attraction to one another.

There were many really fun elements to this story. I liked the historical romance aspect, and some of the fantasy was really interesting. There were some parts that I was struggling to figure out what on earth was going on. Part way through, I just wasn't compelled anymore. I didn't feel like I had enough background information on the characters, and I wasn't very invested in their plight against the threat coming to earth. I thought the idea of an alternate history based around Irish mythology was interesting, but it didn't work out for me this time around. You can't win them all.

A Convenient Fiction by Mimi Matthews*ARC, ebook

#4 for #arctober

3.5 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy historical proper romance.

When Laura Hays's father died, he left them without much money. Laura has had to take up the finances, and the plans to re-open their floral farms and fragrance distilleries.When she meets with her solicitor, she finds out that he plans to deny her brother's inheritance as he comes of age as he is an invalid. Her only choice is to find another solicitor and fight for the inheritance, or to marry. However, she's never imagined herself married at all. Alex Archer has been running from his troubled past as an orphan, and swindling people out of money through gambling debts. He ends up in Surrey, collecting on one such debt, as he meets lady Henrietta ?? and intends to marry her. However, after a chance meeting in a pond with Laura, he cannot keep his mind on the task at hand.

It was so fun to tuck into another Mimi Matthews book! I really loved Laura as a character, and her drive to thrive and work hard to reach her dreams. I thought that the meeting of the two characters was very cute, and that they had very good tension. I think that Alex was a bit shut off due to his past, so it took me a while to feel that he really liked Laura... or that he was really invested in their relationship or his feelings toward her in the beginning. I think that made it a bit less swoony for me, but as the book went on it definitely made sense how he felt, and why. I think my favorite part continues to be the brotherhood of the four orphans as they reconnect, that made me quite teary. I'm so excited to see how Neville's book goes.

A Favor for a Favor by Helena Hunting- Publishes January 2020 ARC, ebook

#5 for #arctober

4.5 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy hate-to-love contemporary romances.

When Stevie moves to Seattle to find her boyfriend sleeping with someone else, in their new apartment, on her birthday, she's hit rock bottom. When her NHL captain brother offers her his pent house apartment, she jumps at the chance to be away from her cheating ex. When she meets the jerk across the hall, she thinks things can't get worse. Bishop was cheated out of captain for their new team by RJ Bowman, and now there's a hot mess woman living in his apartment.When he finds out that this woman is not his mistress, but his sister everything changes. When Bishop is in a bad accident on the ice, his chances of meshing with his new team are low. Luckily, Stevie is a physical therapist, and she's willing to help him work on his injury to get back on the ice sooner. Can they keep it platonic despite their teasing and close proximity?

I really loved A Lie for A Lie and was so excited when I got a copy of this one! This book started off super super super funny. I immediately loved both Stevie and Bishop. He's SO annoying. Such a jerk, and she doesn't take any of it, so their hate-to-love chemistry is amazing. The sick and needing nursed back to health trope is one that I really enjoy, so this was a fun but very painful twist on that. I loved all of the PT stuff after his injury. It was equal party steamy and hysterically funny. I loved that this was such a slowburn love story and seeing how the characters grew and opened up to each other over time. I continue to love the team and family dynamics in this series, and am excited to see where it goes! I hope that the next book in the series is about King. He's adorable.

Twice In A Blue Moon by Christina Lauren*ARC, ebook

#6 for #arctober

3.5 - 4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy contemporary romance that falls more on the emotional end of the spectrum.

When 18 year old Tate and 21 year old Sam meet by chance on vacation in London they fall fast and hard. With their grandparents they spend nearly two weeks together and become inseparable. Tate tells Sam her deepest darkest secret, that she's the child of famous actor Ian Butler. When Sam disappears and the press swarm their hotel, her secret is out and she knows she's been betrayed by the only boy she's ever let in. Years later, as a famous actress, Tate is going to star in a film with her father. Despite what they want the media to think, they're not close, and before the press found her, he wasn't in her life. Filming is going to be tense, and that is before she realizes that Sam wrote the screen play for the movie she's starring in. How can she put on the performance of her life, while he's watching her every move?

I meant to read Love and Other Words before I got to this one, but I ran out of time. I didn't quite know what to expect from a more emotional Christina Lauren book. One thing I love about their writing is the comedy. I found myself enamored with young Tate and Sam, and their whirlwind romance in London. I didn't want the betrayal to happen, even though I knew that it would. I also liked Tate and Sam in the present. I thought that their conflict and romance was very slow burn, which I liked, but there wasn't as much tension as I expected. I'm not overly into plots about famous people, so while I liked the parts where they were filming the movie, all of the PR and high profile stuff wasn't my favorite. I thought that Sam was really swoony, and that his movie sounded incredible. I liked the ending, but felt like it could have possibly used an epilogue. Overall I enjoyed this one, but I was hoping for a bit more tension, romance, and drama. All that being said, it took me about a day to read, so it is definitely captivating, just not my favorite CL book to date.

When Dreams Begin by Lisa Kleypas own, physical book

5 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy historical romance, especially something on the more emotional end of the spectrum.

When a chance encounter with a roguish stranger at her first ball since her husband's death catches Lady Holland Taylor off guard, she re-examines her future. When Zachary Bronson gets a taste of the most irresistible woman he's ever kissed by surprise, he must know who she is. When he finds out that Lady Holly is a widow and one of the most proper women in the 'ton he hires her to teach him and his family proper etiquette. He made his fortune, and though successful in business, he is not quite accepted in the elite circles and he needs a high standing wife to help solidify his place within the 'ton. As Lady Holly helps him prepare to woo a bride, she finds herself fighting attraction that has been growing ever since the ball. Not only is she attracted to Zachary Bronson, but to the life she lives with more freedom for her and her young daughter. When the truth comes out about a promise she made to her dying husband, she must make a choice between duty and her happiness.

This book hit me right in all of the feelings. To start, this woman is a widow and lost her husband to Typhoid. She had a hard time figuring out who she was without him. I loved that she decided to go with her gut and try to change her life even to the dismay of her family. I thought that Zachary was a straight up scoundrel, but then I saw how he was with his family and her daughter Rose and I really fell for him. There was so much tension in this book, which makes the whole story so much fun to read. It also had so many of my favorite tropes: forced proximity, taking care of the other person while they are sick, funny children, etc. I adored how much they fought over propriety, especially when he bought her a wardrobe of clothing without her permission. Oh gosh, I laughed so hard. The end of this book is quite emotional, which I didn't expect, but I found myself really loving it. I love how much they changed throughout the book. There was one line in the book that caught me off guard. I've been thinking about it for days and I'm pretty sure it was either 1) completely random and meaningless or 2) that there was going to be another plot line woven in that was removed... but there was a homophobic comment that was disappointing made by Zachary. The more I think about it the more I'm pretty sure it was either meant to show his silly pride, or to go with a story where he was abused by a man, but it ended up just kind of being there... and there wasn't any follow up. It almost felt too causal to even have any meaning. Of course I'd prefer not to have these lines, but I am going to go with it was a throwaway line in an otherwise great book.

Baking Me Crazy by Karla Sorensen library, physical book

3 Stars - I might recommend if you enjoy contemporary romance.

The men in Levi Buchanan's family are cursed to fall in love quickly, hard, and with one woman for the rest of their lives. Levi thinks this is a bunch of nonsense until he meets Joss, a player on the wheelchair basketball team he helps to coach. He immediately asks her out, and she turns him down. 5 years later they're best friends, and he hasn't brought up dating since. When Joss starts having feelings for her new PT, the first time she's ever had feelings for anyone, Levi decides to throw his hat in the ring or risk losing Joss to another man. Can she get past her insecurities related to her disability and her inexperience with romance to get to know Levi in a new way?

For starters, I haven't read the Winston Brothers series by Penny Reid. This book is set within that world, though written by a different author. I loved the town and the bakery, and I adored all of the side characters. I loved seeing a romance with diversity in ability, this is the first of it's kind for me. I enjoyed getting a glimpse into Joss's life with her wheelchair, but I did find her hard to relate to. It's hard to say how much of that is me not quite getting into her shoes vs. just not quite clicking with her personality. Levi was a sweetie, and I liked seeing him pine for her and later try to woo her. It was very cute, and I loved his family too. I thought that the chemistry between the characters was really good, and that they were really funny and cute together. I struggled with the conflicts because I just couldn't quite get into Joss's mindset. She kept getting so upset and pushing him away, and that was just hard for me to identify with. Overall this was a cute book and I would consider reading more in the series. I really loved Joy, so I hope a future book might be about her. :)

Monthly totals:

Read - 8
Owned - 1
Ebook - 7
Physical book - 7
ARC - 7
Library/Borrowed - 1
Bought - 36 (34 physical books, 2 ebooks) - 2 books were freeee! :)
To Let Go - 0


Yearly Totals:


Read - 82
Owned - 22
Ebook - 49
Physical book - 40
ARC - 38
Library/Borrowed - 20
Bought - 174 (136 physical books, 44 ebooks) - 28 books were freeee! :)
To Let Go - 55


Linking up with Jana and Steph for Show Us Your Books today. :) 


What have you been reading? What do you hope to read this month?! 

Let's be friends on Goodreads!

XO,

Alexandra

* Asterisks denote titles that I was given advance access to by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. These reviews are my own opinion, and based on the edition of the book I was given at the time. Thank you Netgalley

**Double asterisks denote books won via a goodreads giveaway! 

***Triple asterisks denote titles that I was given advance access to by Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. These reviews are my own opinion, and based on the edition of the book I was given at the time. Thank you Edelweiss!

****Quadruple asterisks denote titles that I was given advance access to by the author of the book in exchange for an honest review. These reviews are my own opinion and based on the edition of the book I was given at the time!

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Keep It Together // October 2019

here, and I am excited to share what I have been up to! :)

I am excited to post today with Lauren at Shooting Stars Mag for our Keep It Together linkup!

If you're new here, this is our linkup for all things planners, memory keeping, and journalling. Please feel free to join us on the third Thursday of the month with any posts that fall into those categories! :)




Planning:

I have still been enjoying my ECLP! I finally found some wet erase markers to use in my new EC dashboard, and on the covers of my planner! :) 




I also purchased some other sale items like stamps, and a stencil because it was a 75% off sale a few months ago. :) I have been using the stencil to track the books that I've read. It's kind of fun to see how many books I finish in a week or day, etc. I'm kind of a dork like that! hehe





I'm also using a health tracker that I bought a loonnng time ago from EC, but hadn't used before. I'm tracking my meals because I've been seeing a GI dr. for issues. I'm hoping this helps in case I need to food log! :) 



Documenting:

Table with Storage!


image via IKEA website.
I'm going to be honest, I've spent a lot of time at doctor's appointments and doing a lot of reading... so I haven't done a bunch of documenting lately. We did solve one problem, which was where to store my items while I'm working! I used to take over our massive dining table, and have to put things away when people came over. We recently got this table (not affiliate link) via IKEA, and it has been great for storing small stashes of my basic tools and scrapbook collections! I'm excited to use it more soon, but for now it is a big improvement!

What's Next?!




I am still working on what I want to do for 2019 documenting... ooof. I need to get going because I am readddyy for October-December Daily! :) / I'm very "behind" Lol. That is the way of documenting.You just have to do it when you feel like it and you have time. I have put together all the stuff I need to start for October and November, so I just need to DO IT! :) 

Have you started thinking about your planner for next year?

Have you been working on any documenting? 

Would you or anyone you know be interested in buying a little blank album to add details to?

Please feel free to linkup with us below! We'd love to see what you are up to!

XO,

Alexandra




You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

September Reads // Library Finds & Mood Reading

It. Is. Book Day!!!! I read a ton of random things this month, a LOT of library reads, which means I'm behind on my ARCs and my TBR. LOL, oh well! Let's get to it!




Meet Cute by Helena Hunting

4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy humorous contemporary romance.

When Kailyn meets her TV crush, Daxton Hughes, and finds out that he goes to her law school, she instantly makes a fool of herself. She also gains a very gorgeous rival for the remainder of her law school program. When he throws her under the bus at the end of school, she never wants to see him again. Years later they meet again, setting up a trust for his younger sister, Emme. When his parents unexpectedly die he becomes his Emme's guardian and inherits his parent's estate. He's trying to navigate his own emotions, let alone issues that preteen girls deal with. And his aunt is suing for custody. The two will be legally brought together for the good of Emme and change opinions of each other as they go along.

This was my first book by Helena Hunting. I thought it was really cute, and actually had a decent amount of depth to it too. It definitely had the super funny parts, but also bits that made me teary. I thought that the awkward meeting was funny and cute, and set them up for an awkward reunion later on. I honestly loved the parts with Emme the most. I'm apparently a sucker for the "single dad" trope, even though he's not Emme's dad, this really pulled at my heartstrings. I thought that Dax trying to navigate preteen parenthood was super funny, and of course the period section was particularly hysterical! I enjoyed the chemistry between Dax and Kailyn, but I loved the emotional depth even more. Overall I would recommend this one if you enjoy contemporary romantic comedies.

Wicked Fox by Kat Cho

3.5 Stars - I might recommend if you enjoy urban fantasy, and teen drama. I am not personally familiar with Kdrama, but I would imagine it has a lot of inspiration from that genre!

Gu Miyoung is a gumho (a nine-tailed fox) who survives on the gi (energy/life force) of men. Her mother is a ruthless killer, but Miyoung hunts only criminals. When she moves back to Seoul she is attacked by a dokkaebi (goblin) in the woods, and meets a boy, Jihoon, who was also being attacked her fox bead (soul) falls out. She quickly becomes very sick, but makes friends with the boy, who won't stay away from her despite her warnings. When Miyoung's shaman friend tries to perform a ritual to replace the bead things take a turn for the worse. Who can Miyoung trust? Can both her and Jihoon survive against so many forces of evil?

This was really good for a debut novel! I loved the unique urban fantasy setting, and the inclusion of Korean folklore. I thought that it was all very different to read, and fascinating. I liked Gu Miyoung and Jihoon and was interested in the fantasy element of the story. I enjoyed all of the glimpses into Korean culture, especially in terms of Jihoon's relationship with his halmeoni (grandmother). There is so much respect and love in their relationship. Overall I would have loved a bit more atmosphere in the setting. I would have loved to hear more about the description of the city and the forests too. I love that kind of thing in a fantasy novel! I felt that the conflict and dramatic elements of this story were very strong, as I said above I would imagine a lot of this is influenced by kdrama, but I don't have personal experience watching it. It did feel just a bit too dramatic for me at times, and I felt like the main conflict drug out a bit too long as well. I felt overall that that part could have been shortened and the book itself could have been a bit shorter. All that being said I thought that the action was compelling, and the ending was as well. I wish I would have known more about the other characters. Perhaps other books in this series will be about them? Overall I definitely recommend this if you are looking for a change in your urban fantasy. I will be excited to see what else Kat Cho ends up writing! Also, as a heads up, in the end of the book there is a glossary, I wish I would have known that before I started reading this! It would have been helpful since I am not familiar with Korean terms, means of addressing one another, etc.

Well Met by Jen DeLuca

3.5 Stars - I might recommend if you enjoy contemporary romance.

When Emily moves to a small town to take care of her injured sister and teenage niece, she has to sign up for the Renaissance Faire as a chaperone. Along the way she will meet quirky characters both in and out of costume including a kilted gym teacher, Mitch, and an uptight rule following English teacher, Simon. Emily finds that Simon becomes a whole different person at the Faire, a roguish pirate captain. Along the way she'll question what is real, and what is part of the Faire, and if this is the place she is meant to call home.

Overall I enjoyed this book, but my hopes were just a bit too high I think. A romance novel set at the renaissance festival??? SIGN ME UP! This book did have those two things, but it ended up being a bit more of a story about a girl and her family finding their home in a small town. To start there was just a bit more set up than I'd have liked. They don't actually get to the Faire until about page 95. Once they were there I loved the world, all of the characters, and the interactions. I thought that Emily's wench persona Emma's interactions with Simon's pirate persona a pirate captain were fantastic. I loved the chemistry and the banter. I wanted more of that! I did appreciate that Emily made the move to figure out how much of their relationship was left at the faire vs. real, but the continued worry about that was a lot for me. I didn't understand all of their miscommunication. I like where things ended up and that this will become a series. I like the town and the everyday characters too, so I am excited to see where this will go. Overall I just wanted more tension and swoony moments, and more of the actual faire.

Poison Princess by Kresley Cole

4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy YA fantasy.

Evie has just returned from a summer away at a mental health facility, where she unlearned the dangerous things that her "crazy" grandmother taught her. She returns to school to find that a new bridge built in their area means that some of the Cajun population will be joining her class, including the mysterious Jack Deveaux. When the voices in her head cease to go away, and the apocalypse comes, she and her mother must survive on their own. Evie soon learns that her blood can grow plants, which helps them to make ends meet. When Jack shows up at her plantation, he warns them of an army on the move planning to overtake the plantation and put Evie and her mother into slavery, where most women have ended up post-apocalypse. Evie leaves with Jack to try to escape the army and try to get to her grandmother. She might be the only one who can tell Evie what is happening, why she is hearing voices, and what she needs to do to survive.

I didn't know anything about this going in, which is how I prefer to start books. I thought that the way the author blended so many things together (teen angst, fantasy elements, post apocalyptic elements, etc.) was really seamless. It would have been easy to be super overwhelmed by the amount of things going on, but it all worked for me. Despite Cole's reputation for writing super steamy books, this one felt like YA to me (which it is). I wondered if it would be more like NA, but it was fairly tame overall. We'll see how the next books go, after all our heroine is just 16. I liked the idea behind the tarot cards and the teens being the major arcana characters. I liked the glimpse into Acadian/Cajun culture, and thought that Jack had his swoony moments... but he is also very possessive, kind of mean, and gave me whip lash a lot. I get that this is literally the end of the world and people are bound to be intense and hard on each other for mistakes... but I had a hard time love, loving him... and their relationship, which makes me wonder if they're endgame. We'll see!

The Best Thing by Mariana Zapata

4.5 Stars - I highly recommend if you enjoy contemporary romance, and the slowest of slow burns.

When Lenny met Jonah in Europe, they had a great, but short relationship. After he is injured in a rugby match, she never hears from him again. Much later, he shows up at her gym, and he has a lot of explaining to do. (I don't want to give spoilers, so you get a short synopsis!)

OH. MY. HEART. This book was so sweet. I absolutely adored the plot elements which I will keep a secret since they are not in the description. I adored Jonah. He's such a softie and I can't help but imagine him as a cross between Vance Joy, Taika Waititi, and a rugby player. He was so nice, and so gosh darn cute. The accent was a bonus, but his personality was the best. He was such a stark contrast to Lenny who is super angry and brash a lot of the time. I liked their relationship and how comfortable they were together. I ADORED Lenny's whole family. He grandpa and her uncle were adorable in the way that they were like her parents, and their entire family dynamic just gave me all of the feels. I will say, this is the slowest of slow burns. Like 90% folks. The epilogue had me crying. So just be ready to feel all the feels. I definitely recommend this one if you enjoy slow burn contemporary romance, with a lot of great family elements.

Endless Knight by Kresley Cole

4 Stars - I recommend if you have read Poison Princess.

The second book in the Arcana Chronicles.

I really enjoyed the second installment of the Arcana Chronicles series! I was a bit on the fence about accidentally starting such a long series, but this book confirmed that I will keep going for the foreseeable future. I liked that we got to see a bit more of the world post-flash. Those cannibals, yikesers. I also like that we meet more characters, and get to know a bit more about "the game". HIGHLIGHT FOR SPOILERS: I definitely kept my feeling that Jack is kind of possessive and a hot mess. He's always drunk, and doesn't treat Evie well at all. I looooved everything up until the very very end! It felt like Evie very randomly thought of Jack before getting together with Aric... and then he was acting unreasonable. Agh. Is this going to be one of those series where the male romantic leads just do garbage things all of the time... and we just have to go for the least awful of the two? I hope not. Also, I felt like Evie's battle lust was confusing. Most of the time she seemed in control of it... and other times she was back to the back stabbing Empress. I'm not sure what to make of those shifts. Overall I enjoyed this and it definitely ended on a mega cliffhanger, so I am excited that my library has the next books in this series.

Naughty or Nice by Lauren K. McKellar*

2.5 Stars - I might recommend if you love Christmas fiction.

Claire and Hamish are top runners for a promotion at work, which will be announced after the office Christmas party. The problem is, Hamish has been attracted to Claire since he moved to her branch. Can they work together without getting together?

I was definitely drawn to this one by the cover. I love cute Christmas fiction, and with this being a novella I wasn't too worried about not liking it. This started out very cute and festive. I enjoyed the holiday elements and the office competition for promotion, however I felt like there were several too many dramatic issues also included in the novella. It is very short, so both characters having money/family issues, medical issues, jerks at the office, etc. etc. it just felt like a bit too much for such a short length. Overall it was cute, but it had a bit too much going on for me.

Kill the Queen by Jennifer Estep

3.5 Stars - I might recommend if you enjoy adult fantasy.

When Evie's entire family, and royal line is killed in a massacre, but she survives, she must find a way to defeat her evil cousin. She hides her identity joining a gladiator troupe, in hopes of being trained by it's leader Serilda Swanson and someday overthrowing her cousin. She quickly learns that the gladiator world is just as brutal as her life at court was. When her cousin makes it clear that she has it out for the gladiator troupe, they flee the city to warn other nations of coming war, but are attacked on the road. Can Evie trust Serilda with her secret? Can she possibly compete against her warrior and magier cousin for the throne?

You know when there is a book that you just expect to LOVE? It is your favorite genres, and has themes that you love? This was one of those books for me.....but I didn't end up loving it as much as I thought I would. The beginning of this book was a bit slow for me. On the first page it tells you that the royal massacre will occur, but it takes many chapters to get there. Once it did, the action picked up and I was more invested in the plot. GoT fans, it will remind you an awful lot of The Red Wedding. I was interested in Evie as a character, and her revenge plot. I thought that the magic systems (while a little complex, and under explained) was interesting, and made for a very diverse world. I liked the group from the Black Swan as well. I loved Sullivan, and I am excited to see how that relationship will play out, at apparently the slowest burn speed, lol. I thought that the contrast between super brutal and kind of silly didn't quite work for me, and that is one thing that just continually threw me off. There was a lot of onomatopoeia, "plop plop plop" and that just is one of my biggest pet peeves when it is not written as, "the shirt plopped to the floor" but rather, "the shirts fell to the floor. Plop plop plop." It just is a personal pet peeve. I can't explain it. There were also times when members of the gladiator troupe were really silly, and then someone is being poisoned or killed. That type of humor mixed with the super brutal was a bit jarring for me. I know it is possible to have both, but it threw me off here. All that said, I'm excited to see where things go, so I have picked up the second book. Depending on how long the series ends up being, and how the second book goes, I might stick with it.

Seduction on a Snowy Night by Madeline Hunter, Sabrina Jeffries, and Mary Jo Putney*

4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy romance and Christmas fiction. These are not Hallmark romances, expect some decent steam.

An anthology of Christmas romance novellas by popular romance authors.

A Christmas Abduction by Madeline Hunter - 4 Stars - I enjoyed this unusual historical romance. I liked that Caroline abducts the rakish Baron Thornhill, and keeps him captive at her modest country home. It was fairly easy to guess why he was abducted, but it was awfully fun getting there. I enjoyed the country setting quite a lot, and of course the forced proximity. I thought that the chemistry between Adam and Caroline was great. The only thing I didn't love was that it was a bit hard to tell when it switched perspectives from time to time... and then all of a sudden people were referred to by different names and I'd realize, ah ha, the perspective has switched.

A Perfect Match by Sabrina Jeffries  - 4 Stars - I liked the impossible dilemma of Colonel Heywood needing to marry for money, and Cassandra needing to marry for love. They both have exactly what the other needs, and what they both want... but they have to be brave to get there. I liked the romance between these two sparring characters. I thought that at first Heywood was not very appealing skulking on the terrace, smoking... but his character and wit later had him growing on me. His thoughts and outbursts are priceless and so swoony. I enjoyed the family dynamics between Heywood and his mother and siblings, as well as Cass's interactions with her cousin. Though I could tell that many of these characters likely had their own books, it wasn't too distracting. The amount of lyrics just thrown in from Christmas songs and carols really made me chuckle.

One Wicked Winters' Night by Mary Jo Putney - 3 Stars - This second chance romance started out with quite a lot of what felt like inside knowledge about the characters, likely things happening in other books. As the story went there was quite a lot more of this which I found distracting. If you'd read the other books, I am sure it would be delightful, but on it's own I felt like they could have scooped a lot of that out and given a bit of summary instead. However, I really enjoyed the intensity of the romance between Diana and Anthony. The reasons that she left him in the past, and how they can make it work in the future. I do wish this was just a bit steamier than it was. There were a lot of cats in this novella, which was simultaneously silly and cute. Not my favorite of the bunch.

A Highlander Walks into A Bar by Laura Trentham

4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy light hearted contemporary romance.

Izzy is well known in Highland, GA for living at Stonehaven manor and putting on the Highland Festival each year. Highland was founded by the Scottish, and therefore pays tribute to that from tartan swagged lamp posts, to kilt stores, to the annual festival. When Izzy's mom comes back from her trip to Scotland with a Scotsman in tow, she doesn't know what to think. It's clear that her mom is enamored with the Scotsman, Gareth, but Izzy is suspicious of his motivations. Alasdair, Gareth's nephew is sent to retrieve him and send him back to Cairndow (their estate), and is equally suspicious of Izzy's mom. When it becomes clear that Gareth hasn't told Izzy and her mother about his true identity, Gareth gets to know them both, and their town quite well. What will happen when they return to Scotland? How can the two couples own estates on two continents?

My thought process related to this book was: "oooh Scotland!" "oh ok, Scottish guy in Georgia...?? I dunno about this." "No this is totally fine!" I enjoyed this book a lot more than I expected to! I'm not going to lie, the idea of a Scottish guy coming to Georgia is not nearly as appealing to me as the other way around, but it really worked out for me. I really liked Rose and Gareth, and Izzy and Alasdair. I enjoyed the quirkiness of the town, and their Scottish obsession and heritage. I loved Izzy, she was so awkward and fierce. I loved her little blurts of inappropriate things she said, and Alasdair's reactions to that. I enjoyed how everything was described, all the senses are engaged, and I loved how magical it all sounded. The woods, the wildflower field, etc. I liked that the conflicts seemed believeable, and it wasn't quite as fluffy as a Hallmark movie. It was, however, mostly hopeful and positive. It was a perfect mix for me of fluff and quirky, with steamy and a little bit serious. I loved the epilogue, and how it introduces the next book! I'm excited to read more of Trentham's books in the future!

Monthly totals:

Read - 10
Owned - 4
Ebook - 3
Physical book - 7
ARC - 3
Library/Borrowed - 4
Bought - 25 (9 physical books, 16 ebooks) - 12 books were freeee! :)
To Let Go - 6


Yearly Totals:


Read - 74
Owned - 21
Ebook - 42
Physical book - 33
ARC - 31
Library/Borrowed - 19
Bought - 138 (102 physical books, 42 ebooks) - 26 books were freeee! :)
To Let Go - 55


Linking up with Jana and Steph for Show Us Your Books today. :) 


What have you been reading? What do you hope to read this month?! 

Anyone else hate onomatopoeia in their fiction??

Let's be friends on Goodreads!

XO,

Alexandra

* Asterisks denote titles that I was given advance access to by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. These reviews are my own opinion, and based on the edition of the book I was given at the time. Thank you Netgalley

**Double asterisks denote books won via a goodreads giveaway! 

***Triple asterisks denote titles that I was given advance access to by Penguin First to Read in exchange for an honest review. These reviews are my own opinion, and based on the edition of the book I was given at the time. Thank you Penguin First to Read!

****Quadruple asterisks denote titles that I was given advance access to by the author of the book in exchange for an honest review. These reviews are my own opinion and based on the edition of the book I was given at the time!

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Keep It Together // September 2019

Whoops! Sorry guys, I had a little bit of a glitch over here this morning!

Hello friends! It's Keep It Together day!! It has been a fun documenting month around here, and I am excited to share what I have been up to! :)

I am excited to post today with Lauren at Shooting Stars Mag for our Keep It Together linkup!

If you're new here, this is our linkup for all things planners, memory keeping, and journalling. Please feel free to join us on the third Thursday of the month with any posts that fall into those categories! :)



Planning:

I have still been enjoying my ECLP! I mentioned last time that I have been loving my new pens. I still am! Today I wanted to show how I have been using my blank pages in the back to track my ARC reading! :) 




I have been adding ARCs by publish date, and grouping them by color. As other reviewers know, you might get an ARC that has already been published, or finally get approved at the last second... so it isn't a fully organized list, but it's close. I then put an "N" for Netgalley, "A" for Author, or "F" for Penguin First to Read. Then I check them off once they are finished. I do put the dates in my weekly spreads too, but this is a quick way to see which ARCs will be publishing soon. I love adding book washi tape or sticker and business cards related to library or book events to make the page a little bit more interesting.

Documenting:

Boston Album:


I'm working on my Boston & NE Road Trip album. It is a TN size, and I am having fun documenting this trip finally. I feel like I'm "catching up" a bit, but really I'm just having fun and getting to what I get to. Which has been key in my experience documenting! hahaha I recently finished up my Salem, MA sections, and started on the portion of our trip where we went to Maine! 





I am loving adding in paper ephemera from our trip (maps, brochures, stickers, etc.) to remember the trip by and to have less trash to throw away. I think it is coming together really well... though I ran out of room and don't have another notebook that is exactly the same size.. whoops! I guess I need to make one now.




Lastly, I got a letter punch board and am having fun punching out words in my albums. I used it to punch out PORTLAND on one of my Maine pages! :) 


Another Giveaway Album:

I am working on a giveaway album for my second YouTube winner, Hallie. We went to high school together and I am super excited to make her a little album! :)

What's Next?!

I am still working on what I want to do for 2019 documenting... ooof. I need to get going because I am readddyy for October-December Daily! :) / I'm very "behind" Lol. That is the way of documenting.You just have to do it when you feel like it and you have time.

CLASSES / Album Sales: I also heard from the library that I can hold scrapbook classes and open scrapbook times at the library! So I am hoping to get something going for that here pretty soon! :) I am also thinking about making mini albums from certain collections (Halloween, travel, various generic Maggie Holmes collections) and selling them for people to put their photos/journalling into. Thoughts?!

Have you been working on any documenting?

Would you or anyone you know be interested in buying a little blank album to add details to?

Please feel free to linkup with us below! We'd love to see what you are up to!

XO,

Alexandra

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

August 2019 Reads // Finally Some 5 Star Reads!

Happy Book Day, friends!! I have surpassed my reading goal for the year and am feeling good! :)




The Flat Share by Beth O'Leary library, ebook

3.5 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy sweet contemporary romance with quirky characters.

Tiffy's boyfriend has cheated on her and now she needs to find a place to live. London is expensive, and she considers her best option a Flatshare. She would share a 1-bedroom apartment and bed with her roommate, and they would never cross paths due to different working schedules. Leon just needs to make some money from the flatshare so that he can pay his brother's lawyer, and get him out of jail. Through a series of many post-it notes, scraps of paper, and notes throughout the apartment the two get to know each other, but still haven't met in person. What will happen when they finally meet face-to-face.

I thought this was really sweet. I loved the quirky and endearing characters! Leon and Tiffy were both so unique and adorable. The notes were so sweet and all of Leon’s patients were too. I liked seeing how their relationship unfolded in notes, and then in person. It felt so gradual and natural. The book overall felt just a little bit long. I struggled with the manipulative boyfriend because of some personal stuff... so it was a little triggery for me. Overall I enjoyed it. The quirkiness reminded me a little of Josh and Hazel. I definitely recommend if you are looking for a mostly sweet quirky romance.


Forbidden by Beverly Jenkins library, physical book


3 Stars - I might recommend if you enjoy historical romance.


After Eddy's parents die she and her sister are left to fend for themselves. Eddy decided to cook and wash and save up money to move to California and open her own restaurant. When her money and train ticket are stolen her plans take a turn for the worst, and she must rely on the kindness of strangers to make her way West. When she is robbed yet again and left for dead in the desert she is rescued by Rhine Fontine, and nursed back to health. Rhine is the son of a slaver and slave woman, but appears white to the untrained eye. He has made a new life for himself in Utah as a white man, and tries to advocate for the colored community. When he meets stubborn and driven Eddy she will make him question his decision to cross the line.


I’m a sucker for old west plots and/or this time period, so I wanted to give this book a try. I appreciated the diversity in this particular story and the history that was so thoroughly included by the author. I thought this story was quite sweet and reminded me a bit of When Calls the Heart or something in that vein, though it does get a little bit R-rated. I thought that Eddy was a fantastic character. She was very independent and hard working, I loved her journey as a cook and building her life in Utah. Rhine was an interesting character too. I thought that their chemistry was great in the beginning and from time to time, and I love that she turns him down over and over (especially when he is engaged to another!). She's really fiery and doesn't let him call the shots. Overall I felt like some of the plot threads were built up and then dropped a little bit, and I did wish that they had more of a connection. It is also always a bit jarring when there are some steamy scenes... but then the bigger ones fade to black. I don't care if a romance is "proper" or not, but it is confusing to have so much back and forth. Overall I enjoyed this, but didn't like it quite as much as I had hoped.

Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore*** ARC, ebook


4.5 Stars - I highly recommend if you enjoy historical romance with modern characters.


Annette has been given a scholarship by the Suffragists of London to study at Oxford's women's college. In order to accept the scholarship she must help the group petition wealthy men to support the married women's property act of 1870.When Annette unknowingly approaches The Duke of Montgomery, her group is shocked by her audacity, and then uses it to their advantage by having her get close to him to endear him toward their cause. Sebastian Montgomery immediately dislikes the beautiful Annette and assumes she is his brother's mistress. Conflict ensues, and they must play nice in order to appease polite society. However, Annette is not a lady, she's a girl from the country, and all bets are off.


I LOVED THIS BOOK SO MUCH. This had the fun feel of other modern historicals (think Tessa Dare, etc.) but it was not quite so funny or whimsical. I liked that while the characters were modern, the world was still very old fashioned, and therefore there was a lot of brooding and intensity. I thought that Annette and Sebastian had fantastic chemistry.It was quite swoony. I liked that they were both dealing with their own issues and their life circumstances which meant that they didn't relent from their ideals/morals/dreams as the story went on. I found all of the side characters very endearing. I am hoping that this becomes a series of books, because I would love to know more about her various suffragette friends, and Sebastian's brother. I also adored that the female friendships were so tight, not judgmental, and so focused on supporting one another. I am so tired of reading books where women don't like each other and see each other as competition. :) 


The Wallflower Wager by Tessa Dare own, physical book


4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy historical romance with modern characters. This is the third book in the series. I highly recommend that you start with book one because they are all SO GOOD.


Lady Penelope Campion (Penny) has spent her life taking care of wounded and unwanted animals. She has a two legged dog, an abandoned otter pup, a hedge hog, a parrot that says obscene things, and a smattering of other animals. When Gabriel Duke, also known as The Duke or Ruin buys the house next to hers to refurbish and sell to the aristocrats, he'll need to get rid of her animals, and Penny's eccentricity. Penny is being forced out of London by her family unless she can put herself back into society, with a new wardrobe, and get rid of her animals. When Gabriel demands that she get rid of her animals, she promises too, ONLY if he can find them good and loving homes.


This book was so cute! I am always amazed at Tessa Dare’s ability to take timely issues (and less "issues" like you know, like pockets in dresses...today and put them into her historical plots. Her characters and their lives feel so modern despite the fact that the books are set in the past. I ADORED any time any number of the group was together. Adorable banter. It reminded me a bit of the group from the ACoTaR series. They just argue and give each other hell and it is incredibly endearing. I particularly loved the way Ash and Chase got on with Gabriel. Too funny. I thought that the romance was really nice. The banter and chemistry between them was great and I loved their contrasting personalities so much. A woman who loves everything and is sweet as can be, and a man who is grump grump grumpy and has never loved anyone or anything. I also loved how much emphasis there was on consent in this book. Yes. Yes. Amen, Tessa Dare. And that Penny made her own decisions and really knew her mind. We need more heroines like this!


The Love Solution by Ashley CroftARC, ebook


DNF - Mayyyybe 2 Stars - I wouldn't recommend this one. I rarely DNF netgalley books... but I was really bored with this one. :( 


Sarah and Molly are close after the deaths of their parents. Sarah put her plans to go to art school on hold to help Molly finish high school. Molly is now a scientist working on a top-secret project with her attractive new boss. Sarah has just found out that she's pregnant when her long-term partner leaves her. She must pick herself up and figure out how to make a life in a new place, with a baby, and no support of the baby's father. She wonders if Molly's top secret project "the love bug", a hormonal attraction drug, might be the answer to making the baby's dad come back to her.

This was just a kind of off for me. It had cute/funny moments, but felt a bit like a British Hallmark movie but steamier. Honestly, it took forever to get towards an interesting part of the plot. I DNFd at 55% because Sarah still hadn't asked Molly for the top secret drug. ... and it was just boring. I didn't want to spend another 3 hours finishing it. It's a bummer, it sounded cute and I love the cover, but the characters weren't very compelling to me and it was much too slow.

Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey library, physical book


4.5 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy contemporary romance. This one is really steamy. Proceed with caution.


Georgie is the baby of the family, she's decided against joining the family business, and decided to be a birthday clown for children. She loves her job, but it doesn't help people take her more seriously or treat her as an adult. When her childhood crush, her brother's best friend Travis comes back to town after ending his baseball career with an injury, she's determined not to be seen as a little kid anymore. Travis is washed up, and out of motivation. Georgie is the only one who tells it like it is, and kicks him out of his sorry mood. The two form an unlikely agreement to form a fake relationship to make her seem more like an adult, and him seem more like a *responsible* adult in order to gain a commentating job. Will their fake relationship work?


When they call Tessa Bailey the queen of dirty talk they were not lying. Holy Toledo. Proceed with caution if you are not looking for something super steamy. At first I was a bit hesitant because Northeastern city small town bars, beer, and their less-than-charming-expressions is not usually my thing. HOWEVER, this one worked for me. I ended up loving both Georgie and Travis, and was attached to both of them because there was SO MUCH depth with the characters. I thought that the romance was excellent and the steam level was off the charts. Also, don't read this while wearing a sweater. I repeat... so. much. dirty. talk. I also LOVE LOVE LOVED that the women in this book were so supportive of each other. There's kind of a catty moment between two characters, and it is acknowledged and resolved. That RARELY happens. Also, there is this great group that the girls in the book form which is amazing, and I love their friendships so much. Also, I can't wait to see what happens in the next book.


The Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young own, physical book


4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy YA fantasy. This doesn't have magic in it, for those that might need to know that. ;) 


The Aska and the Riki serve different gods and have therefore been at war since ancient times. Many young people become warriors. Eelyn lost her brother and fighting partner several years ago, but when she sees him on the battlefield, and he saves her life, she knows it is not a figment of her imagination. She tracks him down and realizes that he is fighting for the Riki against her and the other Aska. As she confronts him she is taken prisoner by the Riki people, and made to live as their slave. As she gets to know them and her brother's life better, she comes to find that they aren't so different from the Aska after all, and they might have a common threat.


I enjoyed being swept up into this world. I thought that it was a little bit Viking-esque, and very beautifully simple. I enjoyed the lore involved in their gods and peoples, and their societies too. I found myself just enjoying the passages where they were doing very normal tasks. While the book was intriguing and enjoyable, I felt that the action occurred and was resolved fairly quickly, and I was left kind of wishing that I  had known a bit more about where certain plot threads went. I have the next book in this series/world, though I don't know if it will touch on those things. Overall this was really enjoyable, but I could have done with more action and depth.


Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston library, physical book


3-3.5 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy cute romances and a lot of politics.


Alex Claremont-Diaz is the son of the first female president of the United States. He's the golden boy of the white house and future political hopeful. He cannot stand Prince Henry of Wales, the very uptight prince, who he has been compared to basically his entire life. When a possible political scandal occurs, making the two look like they are fighting, they must form a fake long-term close friendship in order to save face. Along the way Alex realizes that maybe he doesn't hate Henry, maybe he actually quite likes him... and maybe he's not straight after all. Can the two work out a relationship despite their high profile political lives?


Sigh. I so wanted to LOVE this. I did enjoy it for so many reasons, but for others I just found it a bit boring. So... let's get into it. I adored Alex and Henry and their relationship. Going from enemies, to frenemies, to lovers was very cute. I loved their banter, sarcasm, and chemistry. I would say the steam level is fairly mid-range. Fairly explicit, but not overly descriptive, and definitely with shorter steamy scenes. I enjoyed Alex's relationship with his sister, his parents, and Nora, and all of the delightful extra side characters too. While I certainly agree with and feel inspired by the politics expressed in this book, and do not mind political opinions or jabs being put into fiction... (if ONLY the 2016 election had gone in such a way...) I don't particularly enjoy political *plots* in books. I just found it a bit dry. I didn't care too much about the intrigue related to campaigning and scandals and all that. I would say, that stuff is most of the book, and it just isn't my cup of tea. I will also say, probably because of the political plot... the book felt extra long. I didn't find myself wanting to keep reading it constantly, because I just wasn't very invested in the campaigning and election stuff. Hope that makes sense? I loved so many things about this book, but overall it just wasn't my kind of thing.


Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell, Illustrated by Faith Erin Hicks  own, physical book

4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy Rainbow Rowell, fall, and cute graphic novels.

Deja and Josiah work at the same pumpkin patch every fall. They've been friends for years, but only in the fall when they work together. This graphic novel follows their last night together before they graduate and head off to colleges next year. 

Ah friends, I love Rainbow Rowell. I haven't even read that many of her novels yet... but I just love her style. So I knew I would want to pick this one up, and that I would love it because it would be cute, and fun, and fall-ish. It delivered. 1) now I want to go to a pumpkin patch, real bad... 2) this is suuuper adorable. I loved the illustrations. I loved Deja and Josiah. I loved the shenanigans, and all the falls snacks. The attention to detail in the art is great, and I loved the funny little repeating quirks, like the goat that escapes. I wanted just a little bit more character development. I think maybe it felt just a *little* bit lacking because of the format, and because it is so short. But that's ok, its just that it's so good and I wanted MORE. ha If they decide to make more graphic novels, I will gobble them up. Fall pun not intended, but do with it what you will.

How to Love a Duke in Ten Days by Kerrigan Byrne* ARC, ebook


3.5- 4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy historical romance with modern characters.

TW - Rape.


Alexandra Lane is a brilliant blue stocking who along with her friends Cecilia and Francesca, had decided never to marry. Her past holds trauma and a secret that haunts her days. She's not told them that she's now being blackmailed to cover up her secret, and her family is running out of money. When she meets Piers Atherton, The Duke of Redmayne, also known as "The Terror of Torcliff" she finds she's not entirely afraid of him. He baffles her, and she proposes marriage. He gets his heir, she gets his money and protection from her blackmailer. As they travel to a dig site in France, it's clear that she's in more danger than she expected, and she might have to tell Piers about her past.

This was my first novel by Kerrigan Byrne and I overall enjoyed it but had mixed feelings about part of the main conflict. I was VERY VERY on board with this book at the beginning. It took me a little while to get into the first chapter, set in the past containing the backstory of Alexandra and her friends as they formed The Red Rogue Society, and as she is raped and murders her rapist. It is essential to the plot of the story and the series as it bonds the women together and creates conflict in the present point of the story as well. Once I got into it I really loved Alexandra, Cecilia, and Francesca. I also enjoyed Piers and his general snark. I always appreciate a sort of snarly, wounded hero. I thought that his relationship with Alexandra was great... until the little spoilery conflict at about 40%. Then I was all snark and eye rolls. HIGHLIGHT FOR SPOILER The fact that he made such a big deal about her "not being a virgin" and acting like a petulant child really pissed me off. Especially because I don't think he cared whether or not she was actually a virgin, and so it felt like his character had a very weird shift, becoming incredibly moody about that fact and whether or not she was pregnant with another man's child. It didn't feel natural to me for his character. Also, it gave ME whiplash, so imagine how traumatic it must have been for the character Alexandra...Also, in modern day "intact" is not much of a thing as we know that something so simple as riding a bike can detach a hymen. I digress. Anyhow, once they were done being petulant, I thought that his behavior was rather endearingly protective and sweet once he knows what she has been through. Of course I don't usually like conflict due to miscommunication or lack of it altogether... but in this case it does make a bit of sense because of her trauma. But once all of that was resolved I enjoyed the story so much more. It was endearing, incredibly steamy, and the mystery was even good for me... and I'm generally bored with mysteries. I also loved the travel and adventure elements in this story. So, I think I will read more of her books and probably enjoy them quite a lot. I realize that the miscommunication was needed to keep the conflict a secret for longer, but it just didn't work for me.

The Little Women Cookbook: Tempting Recipes from The March Sisters and Their Friends and Family by Wini Moranville* ARC, ebook


5 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy Little Women and cooking. This would make an excellent gift.


A cookbook with recipes and tibits from the time period of Little Women. Moranville has spent time researching the foods mentioned in the book, and cookbooks written during the time period to share similar recipes to the ones Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy would have made and enjoyed. Some are updated versions for modern cooks, while others are fairly true to their 1800s recipes.


The cover drew me to this cookbook. The illustrations are absolutely darling, and made me want to dive back into the world of the March women. I love that the author of this book did a lot of research related to not only which dishes were mentioned in the book Little Women, but also into recipes from cookbooks written in that time period. While some of the recipes are updated for modern cooks and palates, some are also fairly true to their 1800s versions. I loved learning more about the world during the time of the book through tidbits of history and every day life that were shared in these pages. The excerpts from Little Women containing the particular dishes were also so sweet and brought a lot of nostalgia to the cookbook. I think that flipping through this lovely book will definitely inspire readers to have a boating party picnic or apple orchard picnic of their own. From recipes for apple turnovers, to chicken salads, roasted meats, and vegetable pot pies this book has many tempting recipes. I will definitely be picking up a copy of this for my own shelves after it publishes on 10/1.


Frogkisser! by Garth Nix library, physical book

4.5 Stars - I highly recommend if you enjoy middle grade fantasy. This book is accessible to a wide audience!

When princess Anya is tasked with turning a frog back into a prince, she must set off on a quest to gather the ingredients to make more transmorgification lip balm, and to overthrow her evil step father Duke Rikard. Along the way Anya travels with a royal dog, a human-turned-newt, an otter-turned-weasel, and other colorful characters to save the fate of their world as they know it.

When I first started reading this I was not in the right mood to get fully into it. This book has a lovely slow pace, and is best enjoyed when you have time to be leisurely. When I picked it up again I really enjoyed it. Anya is a strong character who is both child-like and wise all at once, which is very endearing. I like that she has very realistic reactions to things, and is often so inexperienced, yet she succeeds in her tasks. All of the characters were interesting, the quest was complicated and simple all at once. I loved that the tasks often seemed impossible, but Anya came up with very simple solutions that made sense. I don't particularly like talking animals in my fantasy novels, but in this case I eventually got on board with the various talking animal characters. I liked how clever the world that Nix created was. How he took common elements from so many parts of fantasy, old fairy tales, etc. and turned them on their heads. Everything was so clever from the names of the otters, to the Heralds, to the flying carpets, and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. I love how all of these elements came together to create a compelling D&D-like quest with endearing characters. Though this is listed as YA it reminds me more of middle-grade as it is very wholesome and sweet. I think it would be lovely as a read-aloud family book for (I'd guess) children ages 7-12. If you enjoy magical stories, this one is very well done.

The Harp of Kings by Juliet Marillier* ARC, ebook

5 Stars - I highly recommend if you enjoy high fantasy, multi-POV, political intrigue, and covert missions. 

Swan Island Warrior initiates Liobhan. Brocc, and Dau are at the top of their group. When they are sent off early for an undercover mission, they must a help a kingdom retrieve a sacred harp for the coronation of their new king. They must take on new identities and act accordingly to gain information about the missing harp from druids, washerwomen, royal children, and mysterious folk who live in the forest. Along the way they will realize that much more hangs in the balance than just an awkward coronation, the fate of the free world may be at stake.

When you start this book, there is a very detailed cast of all characters, including the pronunciation. This is difficult when you're reading an ebook and generally a bit intimidating... however it is useful. At first I was a bit taken aback by the simple writing style from the 3 POVs. It was very diary-like, and the most succinct character's chapters were written in that way. However, as the book went on it did start to feel more detailed and descriptive, as I would expect for a high fantasy novel. Maybe it all meshed together and I got used to it over time. I was immediately invested in each of the three main characters and their combined mission. I thought they were quite different from one another, but had such strengths. Can we take a second to appreciate that Juliet Marillier wrote a book about BARDS? I have never seen another book about bards. I find that so interesting for so many reasons. Music woven into a plot is always cool, but particularly in a fantasy novel that contains lore and myth and storytelling. I also think that bard magic is not something I ever think about. Fascinating. I was very happy to be reading something SO different. Despite the uniqueness of this book, I did enjoy some of the more classic fantasy elements related to things like fair folk and more common myths and stories. Overall I just felt for all of the characters and loved them so much. I love how all of the pieces in their mission wove together, and how it all became clear during the finale. I highly recommend this if you enjoy fantasy. I will be reading my way through Marillier's other works soon!

Monthly totals:

Read - 12
Owned - 2
Ebook - 6
Physical book - 6
ARC - 5
Library/Borrowed - 5
Bought - 24 (9 physical books, 15 ebooks) - 4 books were freeee! :)
To Let Go - 12


Yearly Totals:


Read - 64
Owned - 17
Ebook - 39
Physical book - 26
ARC - 28
Library/Borrowed - 15
Bought - 113 (93 physical books, 26 ebooks) - 14 books were freeee! :)
To Let Go - 49


Linking up with Jana and Steph for Show Us Your Books today. :) 


What have you been reading? What do you hope to read this month?! 

Let's be friends on Goodreads!

XO,

Alexandra

* Asterisks denote titles that I was given advance access to by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. These reviews are my own opinion, and based on the edition of the book I was given at the time. Thank you Netgalley

**Double asterisks denote books won via a goodreads giveaway! 

***Triple asterisks denote titles that I was given advance access to by Penguin First to Read in exchange for an honest review. These reviews are my own opinion, and based on the edition of the book I was given at the time. Thank you Penguin First to Read!

****Quadruple asterisks denote titles that I was given advance access to by the author of the book in exchange for an honest review. These reviews are my own opinion and based on the edition of the book I was given at the time!