Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Series Review: The Sinner's Duet by Sophie Lark

Title: There Are No Saints 
Author: Sophie Lark
Publication Date: October 20, 2021
Publisher: Self published
Pages: 350
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I loathe Alastor Shaw.

The city of San Francisco thinks we’re rival artists.

In truth, we’re predators battling for hunting ground.

We never chased the same prey. Until the night we both laid eyes on Mara Eldritch.

Shaw wants to use her as a pawn in his twisted game.

I’m fixated on her for a different reason…

She makes me feel things I never thought I could feel. Want things I never wanted.

Only she can make me lose control.

I don’t know if I should protect her at all costs… or destroy her before she ruins me.

Mara knows I’m no saint. But she has no idea she’s dancing with the devil…

Title: There Is No Devil
Author: Sophie Lark
Publication Date: December 1, 2021
Publisher: Self published
Pages: 332
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I Couldn’t Kill Mara…

But that doesn’t mean Shaw won’t.

She’s living in my house, always with me, always under my control.

The more I push her, the more she pushes back.

She’s peeling away my secrets, one by one. And I’m tempting her to do things she never thought she’d do…

Shaw won’t stop hunting her.

When the time comes to act, will Mara be ready?

In late 2021 I went on a bit of a dark romance binge with my best bookish friend telling me what I should read next. After I read and loved Into the Dark, she pointed me in the direction of There Are No Saints and I jumped right in, reading the series in a few days. 

Our main characters are Mara and Cole, both artists who are heavily involved in their local artistic community. Cole also happens to be a serial killer, but one who is heavily in control of his actions and surroundings, except where Alastor Shaw is concerned. Shaw is his fellow artist and serial killer, but where Cole is calm and controlled, Shaw is unpredictable and messy. When Shaw sees Cole looking at Mara, he takes the opportunity to collaborate, but Cole finds his new obsession instead. 

Right off the bat, this is a toxic relationship. Anyone going into this series should expect that considering the hero is a serial killer. I mean... Regardless, the romance is steamy and well-written. Mara and Cole definitely belong together. One of my favorite parts of these unhinged romances is seeing how the secret identities come out and are received and this series didn't disappoint. 

Not only is this a dark romance, but there's a ton of action, mystery, and suspense as well, especially once Mara is wrapped up in the situation. I will say that I enjoyed book one a bit more than the second because of the cat and mouse aspect. Once they are Officially Together, the romance becomes a bit cheesy, but I know a lot of people are here for that. I did appreciate the exploration of trauma that book two offers, though. 

Overall, this a great series for those looking for their next dark romance fix. Book one is more serial killer and book two is more romance, but both are definitely worth reading! 

Monday, January 10, 2022

Book Review: The Vacation by T.M. Logan

Title: The Vacation
Author: T.M. Logan
Publication Date: June 13, 2019
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Pages: 374
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Seven days. Three families. One killer.

It was supposed to be the perfect holiday - a group of families enjoying a week together in the sun. Four women who have been best friends for as long as they can remember making the most of a luxurious villa in the south of France.

But Kate has a secret: her husband is having an affair. And a week away might just be the perfect opportunity to get the proof she needs - to catch him in the act once and for all. Because she suspects the other woman is one of her two best friends.

One of them is working against her, willing to sacrifice years of friendship to destroy her family. But which one? As Kate closes in on the truth in the stifling Mediterranean heat, she realises too late that the stakes are far higher than she ever imagined . . .

Because someone in the villa may be prepared to kill to keep their secret hidden.

The Holiday, also known as The Vacation, by T.M. Logan is a psychological thriller about three families who went on a vacation for seven days with one killer. Every year, Kate and her three best and lifelong friends try to make it a point to meet up yearly to catch up. This year, they decided to include Kate, Jennifer, and Rowan’s husbands and kids. You would think including spouses and kids might make the vacation week better, but it actually made it worse. On the first day, Kate saw messages on her husband’s phone that led her to believe her husband was having an affair with one of her best friends. She spent the week trying to find out which friend he was sleeping with and trying to catch them.

Izzy, my kindred spirit, had no children and no husband. I got the hint that her friends pitied her life in a way, but I think she was a truly happy character. She was also the ONLY character in the book that I actually liked; and surprisingly, it wasn’t because of her childfree/less (I don’t remember a specificity on her stance on having children) but it was because she seemed like the most authentic character. I also loved how well this book was written. One of my favorite things about reading thrillers and mysteries is trying to piece together the puzzle before the author lays everything out. Every time I thought I figured something out, Logan changed the view and I found out I was wrong. It was infuriating but exhilarating at the same time. Also, Logan has you thinking this book is the clich├ęd “husband cheating on wife” domestic thriller, and then she tosses in a grenade that blows the whole storyline up. This is one of those books I want to read again to see how the tiny pieces make up the big puzzle.

What I disliked about this book was Kate, the main character, and the main point of view. There were so many times something could be cleared up had she actually been straightforward and asked questions, but she refused to. I know that this is to build up suspense, but it just frustrated me to no end. Overall, I give this book 4 out of 5 stars. This was a quick read domestic and psychological thriller. It started off as a slow burn but once you hit the climax, the fire spreads quickly. I highly recommend this book!

Sunday, January 9, 2022

Weekly(ish) Recap: 12/19 - 1/8


Hi, everyone! Happy New Year! I hope your 2022 is going well so far. I started off the new year feeling under the weather with what seemed to be Covid symptoms, but two rapid tests came back negative. I'm on the upswing now, but I still have a PCR test scheduled just in case. I'm working really hard to get back into the swing of blogging. I'm not setting any goals for myself because I want to keep it low pressure, but reading a few books I really enjoyed are making it feel a little easier. Speaking of which, I'm finally reading some "real" books, although I can feel the fanfiction calling me. XD I've been reading the Simon Snow series over the past week or so and I'm loving them! 



(An absurd amount of fanfiction)


Book Review of The Girl Who Lived
The topic was anticipated 2022 reads for Top Ten Tuesday
Book Review of Carry On



I'm linking up to Stacking the Shelves & The Sunday Post!
Friday, January 7, 2022

Book Review: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Title: Carry On (Simon Snow #1)
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Publication Date: October 6, 2015
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Pages: 528
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Simon Snow is the worst Chosen One who's ever been chosen.

That's what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he's probably right.

Half the time, Simon can't even make his wand work, and the other half, he starts something on fire. His mentor's avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there's a magic-eating monster running around, wearing Simon's face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here--it's their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon's infuriating nemesis didn't even bother to show up.

Carry On is a ghost story, a love story and a mystery. It has just as much kissing and talking as you'd expect from a Rainbow Rowell story - but far, far more monsters.

When I reviewed Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, I said that my least favorite bits of the book were the parts about Simon Snow and that I'd probably never read another of her books. I guess all I needed was three years of separation, because I am absolutely in love with Simon and Baz! I picked up this series during the B&N 50% off sale after Christmas and I'm so glad I did!

After several months of reading only fanfiction, I guess it's only fitting that I jumped back into "real" books with a book about characters that existed in fictional fanfiction. Simon Snow is the worst Chosen One who can barely use his magic without blowing everyone up. He and his archenemy (roommate) Baz have a complicated relationship that leaves Simon non-functional when Baz fails to show up at the beginning of term. He's sure that Baz is a vampire, even though vampire magicians don't exist. And I absolutely adored their relationship in every single form. I loved all of the secondary characters as well, perhaps with the exception of Agatha, who I could have done without.

I was a bit worried that this book would be as plotless as Fangirl, but I was so wrong! Simon's purpose is to defeat the Humdrum, a magical baddie who is sucking up all the magic. This book had mystery and adventure and I was enthralled. It wasn't fast paced, but I found myself glued to every page. When characters teamed up to plot and defeat the Big Bad, I couldn't wait to see how they'd succeed. 

I know people didn't love the second book as much as this one, but I will be starting it immediately because I can't get enough of these characters! I can't wait to see how they continue to grow and what they get into next. If you've been avoiding this book and you're here for lighthearted fantasy that pokes a bit of fun at normal fantasy tropes, you definitely need to give Carry On a try! 

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Top Ten Tuesday #308: Anticipated for 2022

Today's Topic: 
Most Anticipated Books
Releasing In the First Half of 2022

Happy Tuesday! This week I get to hype the books I'm most excited about for the first half of 2022. From this list, the one that I would read TODAY if I had the chance is Wind Daughter. I'm so sad it isn't on Netgalley (yet?), but I have my copy preordered! 

Gallant by V.E. Schwab
Dead Silence by S.A. Barnes
A Taste of Gold and Iron by Alexandra Rowland
Electric Idol by Katee Robert
Wind Daughter by Joanna Ruth Meyer
Juniper & Thorn by Ava Reid
Hide by Kiersten White
So This Is Ever After by F.T. Lukens
In a Garden Burning Gold by Rory Power
For the Throne by Hannah Whitten

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

Thursday, December 30, 2021

2022 Challenges and Resolutions

We did it, friends! We made it through 2021. Once again, the year really didn't go how I thought it would. I really, truly thought we'd be through COVID by now. Meanwhile, we're steadily logging more cases. At least many of us are vaccinated now, so we probably won't end up in the hospital if we catch it. One thing that did come of this year was that I had plenty of time to read and demolished my Goodreads goal! Yay for that, at least! I also managed to beat my Audiobook Challenge and came really close to meeting all of this year's PopSugar prompts. I did accomplish two of my three off-blog goals for 2021: avoided getting COVID and read more diversely. Hopefully I can keep it going for another year! 



Another year of the audiobook reading challenge? Absolutely, yes! I can't imagine a year without this challenge. Last year I beat my goal, but for 2022 I'm sticking with the My Precious (30+) level. 


Here we go again! I came really close to meeting every prompt in 2021 so maybe I can do even better in 2022! It's fun to try either way. 


I absolutely killed my goal of 90 books in 2021, partially with the help of a newfound appreciation for fanfiction, so in 2022 I'm going to up the goal to 100 and hope I can keep it going. I can't imagine I'll be writing of fanfic anytime soon and I've been loving romance this year too, so they should help to balance out the bit of adult fantasy and sci-fi I pick up!

  • Don't get COVID - Let's see if I can make it a third year without getting sick!
  • Run the Princess 10K in February - Disney races are back on and I can only hope that they're safe since they're outdoors and I'm vaccinated. Fingers are crossed that this one actually happens, but even if it's switched to virtual I'm planning to run it at home. 
  • Read more diversely - I read more diversely in 2021 than I have in any year previous and I definitely want to keep that ball rolling. I've found so many amazing authors I wouldn't have otherwise by going out of my way to read more diverse stories!
  • Do my best - My mantra in 2021 was "best I can do" when it came to pretty much everything. After an awful 2020, I made it a goal to be kinder to myself and that's another thing I want to keep going into 2022. In the new year I'm going to keep reminding myself that we're living in unprecedented times and all I can do is my best to make it through the each day. I'm enjoying new hobbies, enjoying my dogs, and generally just doing the best I can. 

Are you setting any goals for 2022? 
What reading challenges have you signed up for? 
Let me know in the comments!