Sunday, January 20, 2019

Weekly Recap: 1/13 - 1/19


Hi everyone! This reading week has been a bit of a disappointment. Not to say I haven't read anything good! I just haven't managed to finish anything. :/ I'm supposed to be going to a local book club at the end of next week so I've been listening to Onyx & Ivory, but the audiobook is SO LONG! It's literally over 15 hours. I'm not quite through it yet. I'm also working on reading a friend's NaNo project from last year, which is amazing so far, but does not count toward my Goodreads goal, sadly. In candle news, my shop's makeover is pretty much complete! The listings have all new photos and a few older candles have been reworked. You can check them all out in my Etsy shop here!



Nothing this week!


Monday ARC review of A Curse So Dark and Lonely
The topic was new to me authors in 2018 for Top Ten Tuesday
On Friday I went back down the TBR hole
Saturday book review of Perfect Ruin



We're linking up to Stacking the Shelves & The Sunday Post!
Saturday, January 19, 2019

Book Review: Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano

Title: Perfect Ruin (The Internment Chronicles #1)
Author: Lauren DeStefano
Publication Date: October 1, 2013
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Pages: 356
Add to Goodreads

On the floating city, you can be anything you dream - a novelist or a singer, a florist or a factory worker... Your life is yours to embrace or to squander. There's only one rule: you don't approach THE EDGE. If you do, it's already over.

Morgan Stockhour knows getting too close to the edge can lead to madness. Even though her older brother, Lex, was a Jumper, Morgan vows never to end up like him. There’s too much for her at home: her parents, best friend Pen, and her betrothed, Basil. Her life is ordinary and safe, even if she sometimes does wonder about the ground and why it’s forbidden.

Then a murder, the first in a generation, rocks the city. With whispers swirling and fear on the wind, Morgan can no longer stop herself from investigating, especially once she meets Judas. Betrothed to the victim, Judas is being blamed for the murder, but Morgan is convinced of his innocence. Secrets lay at the heart, but nothing can prepare Morgan for what she will find—or whom she will lose.

Perfect Ruin has been on my shelf for years. I actually started reading it a year or so ago, but found that I wasn't in the mood to read it. Recently I found myself really, really curious to know what was over the edge of the floating city, so I gave it another chance and I'm so glad I did!

Morgan lives on Internment, a city that floats in the sky far above the earth. Around the city is something like a forcefield of wind that keeps things inside. Some people try to jump, including Morgan's brother, and they always come back changed for the worst. Despite knowing she shouldn't, Morgan has found herself wondering more and more what's over the edge and I love her for it.

Morgan is the kind of YA heroine I enjoy reading about! She's smart, strong, and inquisitive, and doesn't tend to blindly rush into situations. I loved her relationships with her betrothed, Basil, her best friend, and her family. I really liked that there were so many more well-developed relationships than just the romantic one. Speaking of romance, there were a few minutes when I thought there would be a love triangle, but thankfully it didn't happen and the romance that is in the book isn't the main focus of the book.

Which brings me to the absolutely amazing plot! I'll admit, there were definitely times that this book dragged. There's a lot of day to day life, walking place to place, and talking. But once things get going, they really move fast! There's also the constant knowledge that there's something over the edge. The idea that there was a tiny island and no one knew what was below it had me stressed out from the very first page and it was awesome. I was never quite sure what was going to happen. I had several theories about what would be over the edge and, though I was left with more questions at the end, I liked the direction it went.

The worldbuilding in Perfect Ruin was fantastic! There was enough detail that I felt like I had a good understanding of Internment and how it functioned. Really, I feel like I could probably draw a map of it if I had to. Internment is such a unique idea and Lauren DeStefano did an incredible job of pulling it off.

Like I said, this book definitely does leave off with a lot of questions to be answered. The cliffhanger would be terrible if the books weren't already published. Luckily, I can jump right into the next one to see how things turn out!

Friday, January 18, 2019

Down the TBR Hole #10

Hi everyone! Here we are again! I don't THINK I added any books to my TBR this week... I wouldn't swear to it though. This week I'm looking at a couple horror books and three retellings, which also happen to be two of my absolute favorite genres!

The Down the TBR Hole meme was started by Lost In a Story and it is the most perfect tool for cleaning off shelves that I've come across. Here's how it works:
  • Go to your goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?



I actually remember adding this one, but I've never gotten to reading it because of the mixed reviews. Fiendish is about a girl who spent ten years trapped in a cellar and it sounds amazing, although I'm a bit wary of magical realism. Still, it seems like a really creepy read and the good reviews have me convinced to keep this on my shelf for now. VERDICT: KEEP


A Neverland retelling! And it's about Captain Hook! It's not a surprise that this is on my list. I adore Hook stories and this one has great reviews. I'll definitely be picking up this Hook romance retelling! VERDICT: KEEP


Yet another retelling. I can definitely tell that this is when my retelling obsession began. Sadly, this doesn't seem like one I'd really enjoy. I'm not a huge fan of urban fantasy and, although this Alice retelling does look interesting, I think I'm going to have to pass. VERDICT: PASS


I've seen this horror book around so many blogs, although not for quite awhile. As with many horror stories, this one has super mixed reviews. So many of them say it's super creepy and, really, who isn't scared of the dark? I'm going to have to keep this one too. VERDICT: KEEP


I remember a little controversy surrounding this book when it came out, which is one reason it has not been read yet. It's also REALLY long. Several reviews mention that it's honestly a bit too long and there's also a love triangle. I don't think this is going to be the one for me. VERDICT: PASS

I didn't do quite as good this time as the last time I did this meme. Still, I managed to get rid of two out of five, so I'd call that a success!

What's your favorite genre of book?
Let me know in the comments! 
Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday #222: New to me in 2018

Today's Topic: 
Top Ten New-to-Me 
Authors I Read In 2018

Hi everyone! This week's topic was pretty simple compared to some others. Although I didn't have a TON of 5 star reads in 2018, I did read a lot of really good books by new to me authors!  

Brigid Kemmerer | A Curse So Dark and Lonely
André Aciman | Call Me By Your Name
Holly Black | The Cruel Prince
V.E. Schwab | A Darker Shade of Magic

Sara Holland | Everless
Tracy Banghart | Grace and Fury
A.C. Gaughen | Reign the Earth
Kristina Pérez | Sweet Black Waves
Tricia Levenseller | Warrior of the Wild

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

Monday, January 14, 2019

ARC Review: A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

Title: A Curse So Dark and Lonely
Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Publication Date: January 29, 2019
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children's
Pages: 496
Add to Goodreads

Fall in love, break the curse.

It once seemed so easy to Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall. Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, he knew he could be saved if a girl fell for him. But that was before he learned that at the end of each autumn, he would turn into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. That was before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.

Nothing has ever been easy for Harper Lacy. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother barely holding their family together while constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, she learned to be tough enough to survive. But when she tries to save someone else on the streets of Washington, DC, she's instead somehow sucked into Rhen's cursed world.

Break the curse, save the kingdom.

A prince? A monster? A curse? Harper doesn't know where she is or what to believe. But as she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what's at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall . . . and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin.

A Curse So Dark and Lonely is a Beauty and the Beast retelling in a bookish world crammed full of Beauty and the Beast retellings. I was a little hesitant, despite my love of both this fairytale as my favorite and retellings as a genre, but I decided to give it a try when I saw a few people talk about its unique take.

Our Belle in this retelling is Harper, a girl from DC whose family doesn't have it easy - from loan sharks, to her mom's terminal cancer, to Harper's cerebral palsy, she has faced a lot and has been made stronger because of it. When she's kidnapped from the streets of DC and whisked away into an enchanted castle in a fantasy world called Emberfall, ruled by a cursed prince, Harper finds herself questioning where her loyalties lie.

I loved Harper! For me as a reader, there is a fine line between a character being strong and being annoying. I'm glad to say that Harper was on the side of the line that I love to root for! She was tough and inspiring and, although I sometimes found myself frustrated with her hesitation, it was understandable and I never found myself disliking her. I liked that this book showed Harper's cerebral palsy as a part of her and not her defining trait.

Rhen is the cursed prince, and the curse is a bit different in this story than in others you've read. This curse turns Rhen into a beast once per season, while he remains his normal princely self the rest of the time. I wasn't quite sure about him at the beginning, but he grew on me throughout the book and I found myself loving him halfway through. It's always interesting to see how authors try to justify their Beast character kidnapping women to make them break the curse. In some, like Hunted by Meagan Spooner, it just comes off as creepy and not at all romantic. In A Curse So Dark and Lonely, though, Rhen and his curse is written in a way that makes his actions, while not completely morally white, at least understandable and his choices are presented as the lesser evil, the best thing he can do for his people. I loved him and I loved the slow burn romance.

Of course, I have to mention Grey, the Captain of the Royal Guard, and an absolutely fantastic character. He is loyal to a fault and is a wonderfully complex character who I couldn't get enough of. I loved his dynamic with Harper and the little glimpses we got to see of him outside of his strict military persona. I also enjoyed the other female characters, Freya and Zo, and their very different friendships with Harper.

As I've said, this is a very unique take on Beauty and the Beast. It was interesting to see Harper struggle with knowing her family needed her back home, while the people of Emberfall needed her there. I thought that Emberfall was well written and I enjoyed that we got a glimpse into the wider world outside of the castle grounds. While it wasn't always fast-paced, I was never bored and enjoyed the times the characters spent getting to know each other. There were a couple things I did have mixed feelings about, however.

The villain Lilith (honestly, Lilith?) was a bit too cartoon-level evil for my taste. While she was amazingly brutal and I did appreciate how vicious she was, I never felt like there was a good explanation for why she cursed Rhen in the first place. I would have liked to have had a better understanding of who she was and why she hated Rhen so much. My other issue is with the ending. I loved the romance and how it progressed to that point, but the ending really didn't sit well with me. Grey also had an epilogue that I could have done without, which left the series open ended. This book has all the makings of a fantastic standalone, but I have the feeling it's going to get dragged out into a series.

I loved the characters in this book and I loved their journey together! My heart was broken so many times for them both and I love when a story can make me feel emotions like this one did. A Curse So Dark and Lonely did so many things right that I hate to even discuss what it did wrong, but alas. This isn't a perfect book, with its over the top villain and not-quite-satisfying ending, but I still loved it and would definitely recommend it to other fantasy lovers!

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Weekly Recap: 1/6 - 1/12


Hi everyone! It has been a crazy week, but a productive one! I got a little reading done and started watching You on Netflix. I forgot how much I love Penn Badgley! I never did read the book and I'm honestly glad because I have no idea what's happening. I got a new puppy client this week also. His name is Zion and he is completely obsessed with his new kitten friend! It's the cutest. And in my own puppy news, my little guy has been good for about the last month! We've had an issue here and there, but nothing major. No trips to the vet or the ER! Hurray! My candle business is also getting a tiny makeover at the moment, which is super exciting! As always, you can check it out through the links scattered around.






Monday ARC review & giveaway of Stain
The topic was anticipated releases for Top Ten Tuesday
On Wednesday I went back down the TBR hole
Friday book review of The Anomaly



We're linking up to Stacking the Shelves & The Sunday Post!
Friday, January 11, 2019

Mini Book Review: The Anomaly by Michael Rutger

Title: The Anomaly (The Anomaly Files #1)
Author: Michael Rutger
Publication Date: June 19, 2018
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Pages: 352
Add to Goodreads

Not all secrets are meant to be found.

If Indiana Jones lived in the X-Files era, he might bear at least a passing resemblance to Nolan Moore -- a rogue archaeologist hosting a documentary series derisively dismissed by the "real" experts, but beloved of conspiracy theorists.

Nolan sets out to retrace the steps of an explorer from 1909 who claimed to have discovered a mysterious cavern high up in the ancient rock of the Grand Canyon. And, for once, he may have actually found what he seeks. Then the trip takes a nasty turn, and the cave begins turning against them in mysterious ways.

Nolan's story becomes one of survival against seemingly impossible odds. The only way out is to answer a series of intriguing questions: What is this strange cave? How has it remained hidden for so long? And what secret does it conceal that made its last visitors attempt to seal it forever?

I can't remember exactly where I heard about this book, but it was described to me as being very similar to The Descent, one of my favorite horror movies. While you would absolutely never get me into a cave outside of a guided tour, I absolutely LOVE this kind of claustrophobic horror, especially when it's based in conspiracy theories. As soon as I got the chance to read this book I jumped in!

Ignore the cheesy description of Nolan Moore from the synopsis. Nolan is a documentary filmmaker who specializes in the mysterious and the unknown. He's what you would expect from this sort of character - a bit pretentious, but also passionate and brave. I didn't have strong feelings about him one way or the other. Along with his crew, Nolan sets out to find a cavern in the Grand Canyon that was mentioned with very strange descriptions by one explorer in the past, but seems to have been covered up by academia. Nolan has managed to plot what he believes to be the exact location and, wouldn't you know it, he's right!

The other characters were all fine, but forgettable. Luckily, great side characters weren't the reason I read this. When I read a book like this, what I'm really looking for is a great story, mystery, and action. The Anomaly definitely delivered! I can't say too much without spoilers, but what is in the cave was beyond anything I could have predicted. The atmosphere was unsettling from the beginning and I loved how the unease slowly built until things got really wild towards the end.

The Anomaly is a fast paced, twist filled thrill ride that will keep you on the edge of your seat and looking over your shoulder. I'm not easily spooked and this is really more thriller than horror, but it definitely freaked me out a little. This isn't a perfect book, but it's great for what it is and I can't wait to see what the next installment has to offer!

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Down the TBR Hole #9

Hi everyone! Once again, I've accidentally added a ton of new books to my TBR. Can you blame me though? There are a TON of great books coming out in 2019! This week I dug through and pulled the next five books on my TBR, several of which I don't even remember adding. Whoops!

The Down the TBR Hole meme was started by Lost In a Story and it is the most perfect tool for cleaning off shelves that I've come across. Here's how it works:
  • Go to your goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?



What even is this book? I don't remember this or how it got here. After reading the synopsis and some reviews though, it actually sounds pretty good! I'm always looking for a great creepy read and this one has abandoned houses, creepy life sized doll houses, and a spooky paranormal element. Count me in! VERDICT: KEEP


Hmm. I added this book before its release when there was quite a bit of hype surrounding it. The cover caught my attention, of course. But more and more trusted friends and reviewers said it was mediocre and I never got around to reading it. I doubt I'll be giving this a try. VERDICT: PASS


Another spooky read! I must have been in a spooky mood when I was adding these. Sadly, I've heard a lot about this book being a bit slow, a bit boring, not quite scary enough. VERDICT: PASS

Here's another book I don't remember adding to my TBR. Although I have been desperately searching for more post-apocalyptic books to read lately, I'm not sure this is the one for me. Several reviews mention that this book explores important ideas about faith and love, etc. I really prefer my post-apocalyptic books to be all action. I may come back to this eventually, but I'm passing for now. VERDICT: PASS


Hey, look! I jumped on the hype train! I had no idea what The Darkest Minds was about when I added it to my list. I only knew that everyone and their dog wanted to read it. Honestly though, it really doesn't seem like my thing. I'm not that into the superpowered teen trope. VERDICT: PASS

I feel like I deserve a pat on the back this week! I can't believe I got rid of FOUR out of five! That's a new record!

Do you ever add books because of hype?
Let me know in the comments! 
Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday #221: Most anticipated January-June releases

Today's Topic: 
Most Anticipated Releases
for the First Half of 2019

Hi everyone! This year there are approximately a million amazing books I can't wait to get! A few I've already been lucky enough to read. These are the ten that I am most looking forward to between now and June! 

The Cold is in Her Bones by Peternelle van Arsdale
Dark of the West by Joanna Hathaway
The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman
Echo North by Joanna Ruth Meyer
The Everlasting Rose by Dhonielle Clayton

Finale by Stephanie Garber
King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo
Last of Her Name by Jessica Khoury
The Waking Forest by Alyssa Wees
We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal

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

Monday, January 7, 2019

ARC Review & Giveaway: Stain by A.G. Howard

Title: Stain
Author: A.G. Howard
Publication Date: January 15, 2019
Publisher: Amulet Books
Pages: 512
Add to Goodreads

//I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review//
A high-fantasy gothic fairytale inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s The Princess and the Pea.

Once upon a nightmare, her fairy tale begins...

After Lyra—a princess incapable of speech or sound—is cast out of her kingdom of daylight by her wicked aunt, a witch saves her life, steals her memories, and raises her in an enchanted forest ... disguised as a boy known only as Stain. Meanwhile, in Lyra's rival kingdom, the prince of thorns and night is dying, and the only way for him to break his curse is to wed the princess of daylight, for she is his true equal. As Lyra rediscovers her identity, an impostor princess prepares to steal her betrothed prince and her crown. To win back her kingdom, save the prince, and make peace with the land of the night, Lyra must be loud enough to be heard without a voice, and strong enough to pass a series of tests—ultimately proving she’s everything a traditional princess is not. 

It's no secret around my blog that A.G. Howard is one of my absolute favorite authors. I fell in love with the Splintered series in 2014 and have loved everything she has written since. I also adore fairytale retellings! When I heard about Stain, I knew there was a good chance it would be one of my top reads of 2019, and I'm pretty sure I was right.

This haunting story is about Lyra, princess of the kingdom of daylight, and Vesper, prince of the kingdom of night. Each is a misfit in their own land, but are promised to each other in order to bring peace between the kingdoms. Lyra cannot speak, but has the voice of a songbird, and cannot go in the sun without being burned, while Vesper has daylight in his blood. After Lyra's father dies, her aunt schemes to take back the throne and casts Lyra into the Ashen Ravine, the place between the day and night kingdoms, where she's raised with no memory of her true identity.

I loved Lyra so incredibly much! Contrary to what you might think, Lyra is not a character who would feel a pea beneath a pile of mattresses. She is strong and scarred and powerful. This book begins with Lyra's childhood and I loved every minute spent with her, watching her grow into a strong woman willing to do anything to protect those she loved. Then there's Vesper, the handsome, mysterious, swoon-worthy prince of night and Lyra's betrothed. Their romance is extremely slow burn, but oh so worth it in the end! It easily could have fallen into instalove territory, but A.G. Howard did an incredible job of making it work without that terrible trope.

Of course there was a whole host of other fantastic characters. Two of these are Crony and Luce, a witch and wingless, shape-shifting sylph who raised Lyra for most of her childhood in the Ashen Ravine. I enjoyed them both, especially Luce, who had such an interesting backstory and a sly, snarky personality. But my favorite was Scorch, a fiery Pegasus and Lyra's unlikely friend in the Ashen Ravine! Their friendship was possibly one of my all-time favorites. The villainous evil queen and her daughters were delightfully evil - the exact kind that you cannot wait to see meet their demise!

While I absolutely fell in love with the characters, my favorite part of Stain was the world building. This book is long and I can definitely understand why after encountering such an intricate, well-written world. The mythology was thoroughly fleshed out and made everything feel that much more real. I felt like I could picture it all in my head! There were so many different creatures and magical details that all came together in a way that really worked. The kingdom of night was definitely my favorite. I would love to see some fanart of that stunning land of night and ice and thorns.

A.G. Howard really did an incredible job at creating a beautiful, gothic retelling that's an entirely new take on a classic. The writing was lush and felt like a fairytale. There were twists that I never saw coming and, although the beginning is a bit slow while detailing Lyra's childhood, I never became bored. And, like any good fantasy book, this one has a wonderful, detailed map that I'd love to have as a poster!

Stain was everything I was hoping it would be and more! The world and characters were incredible, and very quickly fell in love with the beautiful writing. Although this book does have a nicely wrapped up ending, I would definitely love to see more stories written in this fantasy world! If you're a fan of retellings or YA fantasy in general, you don't want to miss this book!

Must be 18 or have a parent's permission to enter. US only. Ends 1/31/19.
Winners will be contacted via the email within 1 day after the giveaway ends.
If winner does not respond within 3 days, a new winner will be chosen.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Find more January release giveaways HERE!

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Weekly Recap: 12/30 - 1/5


Hi everyone! Can you believe it's 2019? This week has been hectic, but good. I've been scrambling around preparing my company for some changes that are coming soon. I've also been spending way too much money on special editions of King of Scars. Whoops! I'm also super excited that I had a lot of time to get some reading done! All of my challenges are off to a great start - the retellings challenge especially. Things are so much better when there are people to discuss them with, and I'm happy to report that the Goodreads group is really great this go 'round! But let me tell you about the absolute HIGHLIGHT of my week! I finally added the Goldsboro edition of Caraval to my collection through an amazing trade! Now I'm only missing a couple and once I get them my collection will be complete!





The topic was favorite books of 2018 for Top Ten Tuesday
Wednesday ARC review of The Wicked King
Thursday blog tour ARC review of White Stag
On Friday I asked how out of control your backlist is



We're linking up to Stacking the Shelves & The Sunday Post!