Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Audiobook Review: Onyx and Ivory by Mindee Arnett

Title: Onyx and Ivory (Rime Chronicles #1)
Author: Mindee Arnett
Publication Date: May 15, 2018
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Pages: 500
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They call her Traitor Kate. It’s a title Kate Brighton inherited from her father after he tried to assassinate the high king years ago. Now Kate lives as an outcast, clinging to the fringes of society as a member of the Relay, the imperial courier service. Only those most skilled in riding and bow hunting ride for the Relay; and only the fastest survive, for when dark falls, the nightdrakes—deadly flightless dragons—come out to hunt. Fortunately, Kate has a secret edge: she is a wilder, born with magic that allows her to influence the minds of animals. But it’s this magic that she needs to keep hidden, as being a wilder is forbidden, punishable by death or exile. And it’s this magic that leads her to a caravan massacred by nightdrakes in broad daylight—the only survivor her childhood friend, her first love, the boy she swore to forget, the boy who broke her heart.

The high king’s second son, Corwin Tormane, never asked to lead. Even as he waits for the uror—the once-in-a-generation ritual to decide which of the king’s children will succeed him—he knows it’s always been his brother who will assume the throne. And that’s fine by him. He’d rather spend his days away from the palace, away from the sight of his father, broken with sickness from the attempt on his life. But the peacekeeping tour Corwin is on has given him too much time to reflect upon the night he saved his father’s life—the night he condemned the would-be killer to death and lost the girl he loved. Which is why he takes it on himself to investigate rumors of unrest in one of the remote city-states, only for his caravan to be attacked—and for him to be saved by Kate.

With their paths once more entangled, Kate and Corwin have to put the past behind them. The threat of drakes who attack in the daylight is only the beginning of a darker menace stirring in the kingdom—one whose origins have dire implications for Kate’s father’s attack upon the king and will thrust them into the middle of a brewing civil war in the kingdom of Rime.

Onyx and Ivory has been on my shelf since before it was published. I kept intending to read it, but it's just SO long that I never committed. Recently I joined a local YA book club and our first read was this book, which finally gave me a good reason to pick it up. I'm glad I started early because it took me a solid 3 weeks to get through this 15 hour audiobook.

Kate, also known as Traitor Kate, is the main character of this story. After her father was executed for being a traitor, she left her town and began a new life with new friends and a new job. She also has wilder magic that could get her killed if found out. When Kate's childhood friend Prince Corwin reappears in her life, things begin to spiral and she finds herself in one  dangerous situation after another.

I mostly enjoyed Kate and Corwin and their romance. Kate was the kind of strong heroine I like reading about and it was easy to sympathize with her tragic backstory. Corwin was probably my favorite character in this story. I enjoyed seeing him grow as a character, especially towards the end of the book. The romance between the two was okay, but needed something more. It seemed almost like an afterthought, and wasn't really given enough of the story to develop into something amazing. Perhaps these two will be more fleshed out in the next book. Overall, no strong feelings about either of these characters.

My biggest gripe about Onyx and Ivory is the length. Somehow it managed to be massive at 500 pages, while also taking forever to get anything done, AND cramming in a ridiculous amount of plot points. There were so many silly side plots that really don't need to exist at all. It's both way too much and not enough. I was legitimately bored through most of the first half, though it thankfully picks up later on. Thankfully it did have a pretty good plot twist towards the end.

Another issue is the lack of world building. This book focuses on one kingdom and mostly one town in that kingdom and there's really no mention of the outside world or how they function. The main threat from the beginning are the nightdrakes, which develop a bit throughout the book. I wish more had been written about how they're handled in other kingdoms. Are they a threat everywhere? Is wilder magic a threat everywhere? How do other kingdoms manage these threats? There was a lot that was unclear. Again, maybe things will be further explained in the coming books, but I feel like 500 pages should be enough to make the world pretty clear.

I really wanted to love Onyx and Ivory and really expected to! Unfortunately, it just wasn't for me. I was bored and confused. I wanted more world building and character development and less random side plots. The other two girls who read it for the book club really enjoyed it! Sadly, I doubt I'll be picking up the next book in the series.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday #224: Recent TBR additions

Today's Topic: 
The Ten Most Recent
Additions to My To-Read List

Hi everyone! This week is such an easy topic and I'm here for it! My most recent ten additions are a combination of new releases and backlist books that I can't wait to read. A few of these I was actually lucky enough to get early copies of, but haven't gotten around to reading them yet. Soon!

Anyone Else? by Angela Scott
Ararat by Christopher Golden
The Beast's Heart by Leife Shallcross
Dark of the West by Joanna Hathaway

Empire of the Vampire by Jay Kristoff
House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig
Last of Her Name by Jessica Khoury
The Possession by Michael Rutger
Winter Loon by Susan Bernhard

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

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Weekly Recap: 1/20 - 1/26


Hi everyone! This week has been wild! The candle shop has been super busy, which is great! I've been working towards something big that I can't wait to share and it's killing me not to be able to talk about it! Next week, for sure. Unfortunately, all of that excitement meant I kind of accidentally forgot to post my review of East, so I guess that's coming next week! If you haven't entered yet, go check out my Stain giveaway because there are only a couple days left! In home life, I'm happy to report that my puppy is still doing well. It only seems right to give an update after SO MANY weeks of telling you all about how he never seemed to get a break from the vet. Here's hoping it holds out!





The topic was books I forgot to read for Top Ten Tuesday
Wednesday audiobook review of The Nightmare Room
On Thursday I talked about my TBR failures
I shared unpopular opinions for Saturday Screen Time



We're linking up to Stacking the Shelves & The Sunday Post!
Saturday, January 26, 2019

Saturday Screen Time #28: Unpopular Opinions

Happy Saturday, everyone! It's time for another edition of Saturday Screen Time! It has been a little while since I've done one of these and this week I'm actually including a TV series. I'm already ready for the boos since I definitely have some unpopular opinions to share about some loved movies this week. 


Revenge - I really need to stop watching movies I see on "best of" lists. I first saw this recommended somewhere... maybe on Reddit? But then I got an email from Shudder and this was their number one movie of the year! It had to be good, right? Then I looked up the ratings and was shocked at how many people loved it. Then my husband and I turned it on and I was begging to turn it off less than 30 minutes in. I should've walked out of the room, honestly. It was that bad. The characters were painfully dumb and the continuity errors were SO bad. Unpopular opinion number one. (1/5 stars)

Aquaman - Everyone I know who has seen this movie has LOVED it! The only "new" DC movie I've remotely enjoyed was Wonder Woman and I've seen this compared to that a few times, so I agreed to go watch it when my husband was dying to go. Can I just say meh? It was fine, I guess, as far as DC movies go, but what even was this? It was all over the place. The editing was weird, there was just TOO MUCH. The CGI was just really bad at times. 30-years-younger Nicole Kidman flipping around fighting a group of men definitely stood out as obviously fake. This franchise just isn't for me. Unpopular opinion number two... (2/5 stars)

Eighth Grade - Hey, another one everyone seems to love! I could feel the tone this movie was going for, and I definitely can appreciate it, but it just isn't for me. Middle school was painful enough without living it again through another awkward teenager. I tried really, really hard to enjoy this movie, but I ended up giving up a little over halfway through. Unpopular Opinion number three! (DNF)

You - Finally, something I enjoyed! I have looked at the book a million times and never read it, but when I saw Penn Badgley was the lead in this show I had to watch it! Penn does a ridiculously good job of portraying Joe in You. This show was creepy and uncomfortable, but somehow made me root for the bad guy?? I am now obsessed and am finally reading the book. (5/5 stars)

Are you a fan of DC movies?
What are your unpopular movie opinions?
Let me know in the comments!

Thursday, January 24, 2019

How often do I actually read the books on my TBR lists: 7 months later

Last June I discussed the sad state of my TBR list and how I very rarely get to the books I want to read. This is why I never made TBR lists for reading challenges. I know I'll never be able to complete them! But every season and sometimes more often, Top Ten Tuesday asks me to share my most anticipated upcoming reads. I felt that seven months later was enough time to check back in and see how well I've done since then. Spoiler: it's mildly embarrassing.

Hmm. Well, I read seven out of twenty. And if we're being honest, I DNFd two of them. Yikes.

For my Summer and Fall TBR lists in 2018 I did at least try to stick to fantasy reads since the reason I failed miserably in the years before was because I kept putting contemporary books on my lists. A few of these I really loved! The Glass Butterfly and Grace and Fury were some of my favorite reads of the year!

This very yikesy list of non-accomplishments is why you'll probably be seeing Down the TBR Hole around my blog more and more often! I'm not sure why I so often fail to read the books I'm anticipating, but it's definitely a trend. It could have something to do with the fact that I rarely look back at these lists once they're made. Whoops! Here's hoping I can get to a decent number of backlist books in 2019!

Am I the only person who makes lists and never looks at them again?
Are you any better at checking books off your TBR than I am?
Let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Audiobook Review: The Nightmare Room by Chris Sorensen

Title: The Nightmare Room (The Messy Man #1) 
Author: Chris Sorensen
Publication Date: January 25, 2018
Publisher: Harmful Monkey Press
Pages: 276
Add to Goodreads

A boy in a basement, a man in a booth and a darkness that threatens to swallow them both...

New York audiobook narrator Peter Larson and his wife Hannah head to his hometown of Maple City to help Peter's ailing father and to put a recent tragedy behind them. Though the small, Midwestern town seems the idyllic place to start afresh, Peter and Hannah will soon learn that evil currents flow beneath its surface.

They move into an old farmhouse on the outskirts of town—a house purchased by Peter's father at auction and kept secret until now—and start to settle into their new life.

But as Peter sets up his recording studio in a small basement room, disturbing things begin to occur—mysterious voices haunt audio tracks, malevolent shadows creep about the house. And when an insidious presence emerges from the woodwork, Peter must face old demons in order to save his family and himself. 

The Nightmare Room has been on my TBR since I saw it as a group read in a horror book club. The cover is delightfully creepy and the synopsis had me hooked! I decided to pick the audiobook when I found it on Hoopla through my local library.

This story is about a man named Peter who moves to his hometown with his wife, Hannah, after a family tragedy. Peter's father's health has gone downhill and they find themselves moving closer to him for a fresh start. Although his family home is not an option, Peter's father does own a farmhouse that Peter and Hannah are able to make their own. Of course, because this is a haunted house book, things immediately begin to go awry.

The Nightmare Room was a bit more layered than a lot of horror novels. There was a lot of background. A lot. Not only Peter's but also a mysterious boy and his father who make appearances from the beginning. I quite enjoyed the different aspects of this book coming together at the end for an answer I never would have expected. The horror was both unsettling and scary at times, although it never quite got to the point of making me feel like I should check over my shoulder. There's definitely a feeling of unease from page one.

My main reason for not loving this book really had more to do with the writing and less to do with the story. While the story was enjoyable and the characters were fine, the writing felt akin to The Amityville Horror or Rosemary's Baby. Although there were modern electronics and references, this book felt like it was written in the 70s or 80s. I can't quite explain it except to say that some of the dialogue and ideas felt outdated.

Overall, The Nightmare Room was a decent horror read. Peter was a fine main character, I enjoyed the complex backstory, and the horror was creepy enough. I just couldn't completely invest because of the writing. I'll definitely be watching for what Chris Sorensen publishes next though!

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday #223: Books I forgot to read

Today's Topic: 
Books I Meant to Read 
In 2018 but Didn’t Get To

Hi everyone! This week I'm sharing ten of the books I fully intended to read in 2018, but just never found the time for. This is literally the story of my life. There were SO many good books in 2018 (and even a few before) that I really wanted to get to. Here's hoping I can read at least a few of them this year!

Chainbreaker by Tara Sim
The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty
Endless Water, Starless Sky by Rosamund Hodge
Grim Lovelies by Megan Shepherd
Heart of Iron by Ashley Poston

Inferno by Julie Kagawa
Lifel1k3 by Jay Kristoff
The Light Between Worlds by Laura E. Weymouth
Otherworld by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller
The Queen's Rising by Rebecca Ross

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

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!