Monday, September 30, 2019

ARC Review: The Beautiful by Renée Ahdieh

Title: The Beautiful
Author: Renée Ahdieh 
Publication Date: October 8, 2019
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Pages: 448
Add to Goodreads

In 1872, New Orleans is a city ruled by the dead. But to seventeen-year-old Celine Rousseau, New Orleans provides her a refuge after she's forced to flee her life as a dressmaker in Paris. Taken in by the sisters of the Ursuline convent along with six other girls, Celine quickly becomes enamored with the vibrant city from the music to the food to the soirées and—especially—to the danger. She soon becomes embroiled in the city's glitzy underworld, known as La Cour des Lions, after catching the eye of the group's leader, the enigmatic Sébastien Saint Germain. When the body of one of the girls from the convent is found in the lair of La Cour des Lions, Celine battles her attraction to him and suspicions about Sébastien's guilt along with the shame of her own horrible secret.

When more bodies are discovered, each crime more gruesome than the last, Celine and New Orleans become gripped by the terror of a serial killer on the loose—one Celine is sure has set her in his sights . . . and who may even be the young man who has stolen her heart. As the murders continue to go unsolved, Celine takes matters into her own hands and soon uncovers something even more shocking: an age-old feud from the darkest creatures of the underworld reveals a truth about Celine she always suspected simmered just beneath the surface.

At once a sultry romance and a thrilling murder mystery, master storyteller Renée Ahdieh embarks on her most potent fantasy series yet: The Beautiful.

Let me start by saying that I am SO here for vampires making a comeback in YA! I missed the first vampire craze, not knowing YA was a thing and all. The Beautiful was on the top of my ALA list and I was so excited to have the chance to read a copy! (Meeting Renee Adhieh was also incredible.)

Celine has newly arrived in New Orleans, fleeing Paris after committing a necessary crime. She is fortunate enough to be taken in by a convent, but must follow their rules which she quickly finds stifling. It isn't long before Celine finds herself tied up with La Cour des Lions and intrigued by its leader, Sébastien Saint Germain. She also keeps ending up much too close to women being murdered.

Celine was a fine heroine, strong and with a dark secret that made her much more interesting as it was slowly revealed. Sébastien was my favorite character, of course. He was mysterious and a bit frightening and I really enjoyed every minute he was on the page. Unfortunately though, this book had both instalove and a love triangle, neither of which I particularly liked. The romance was still fine, I just wanted more from it.

The more I think about this book, the more I'm not sure how I feel about it. For a book I expected to be about vampires there wasn't very much vampire action. This was much more a murder mystery than it was a vampire novel, I'm sorry to say. That isn't to say that it wasn't a good story, because it was. It just wasn't anything like what I was expecting to read. The vampires were more hinted at here and there than being a main focus, which was a shame.

My favorite thing about The Beautiful was by far the atmosphere. It felt like being back in an Anne Rice novel. You know, just with less vampires. I appreciated the way New Orleans was written and the dark, creepy nature of the streets at night with a killer on the loose.

I went into The Beautiful expecting a dark, romantic vampire novel and was surprisingly disappointed. I don't know if my expectations were more due to marketing or hype, but they were not met. I still enjoyed this book and will probably pick up the second one to see what happens next, but I don't think this is going to be the story that brings vampires back into the mainstream.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Weekly Recap: 9/22 - 9/28


Hi everyone! This week has been pretty relaxed and I'm so happy about it after such a super busy week of dog sitting. I was even able to get a bit of running in and some candles made! I didn't get a ton of reading done because I've been in an audiobook slump. The podcasts are still calling to me! Speaking of podcasts, I got tickets to see Last Podcast on the Left live and I can't wait! I really never go to live shows. Honestly, I'm such a huge introvert that I rarely go out and socialize. I did this weekend though! Yesterday was the monthly meeting of the book club I go to (as often as I can). It's a YA book club for adults, although the book of the month was The Night Circus and I've never been able to make my way all the way through it. Every time we meet I realize how deep into the book community I truly am and I just want to say I love you all so much!





The topic was my Fall TBR for Top Ten Tuesday
Wednesday ARC review of Ninth House
Thursday audiobook review of Lost Girl
On Saturday I shared my Fraterfest TBR



I'm linking up to Stacking the Shelves & The Sunday Post!
Saturday, September 28, 2019

Fraterfest 2019 TBR

Happy spooky season! I have been waiting for this event all year and it's ALMOST HERE! Fraterfest is hosted by Caffeinated Reviewer and it's a creepy read-a-thon that speaks to the horror lover in me!

This year I've been attempting to participate in more read-a-thons and actually try my hardest to make a dent in my TBR lists (although I rarely stick to them). For this event I'd love to read three horror books. Instead of making a three book TBR I'm going to pick several (including one reread) so that I have a bit more wiggle room when it comes time to read.


Are you participating in Fraterfest?
What's your most terrifying horror rec?
Let me know in the comments!

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Audiobook Review: Lost Girl by Chanda Hahn

Title: Lost Girl
Author: Chanda Hahn
Publication Date: December 13, 2016
Publisher: Chanda Hahn
Pages: 328
Add to Goodreads

Wendy doesn't remember anything about Neverland—or the experiments done on her there as a child. Seven years later, all she wants is a normal life, but shape-shifting shadows plague her dreams and turn her life into a waking nightmare. When the shadows attack at a football game and a boy disappears right in front of her, she realizes these wraith-like shadows are real. They’re not just haunting—they’re hunting.

A mysterious boy named Peter, his foul-mouthed sidekick, and a band of misfit boys intervene before Wendy faces a similar fate. But can they trust Wendy enough to take her to Neverwood Academy and reveal all of their hidden secrets when she's hiding a secret of her own, or will the dreaded Red Skulls find her and drag her back to Neverland?

Lost Girl has been on my to-read list for years! I am a huge fan of Peter Pan retellings. Some of my favorite books are Pan retellings, in fact. I was so open to reading a new take on the story that I jumped at the chance when the audiobook popped up on my library app!

Wendy has been to Neverland and back and has been adopted by a loving family. She's plagued with nightmares and haunted by shadows and runs away when her parents try to send her to an inpatient clinic. Again. She ends up with the Lost Boys, trying to figure out if she belongs with them at all.

There are a lot of things I didn't love about Lost Girl, the first of which is that it really is not a Peter Pan retelling at all. This is a science fiction novel about a lab that experiments on children and what happens after they escape with characters named Peter, Wendy, Tink, etc. There are lots of nods to Peter Pan. For example, Peter plays Monopoly with the thimble piece, the kids have a "kiss" brand on their necks, and some of them have an ability called "Panning." But this isn't a retelling of Peter Pan in any way, shape, or form. It is a fun story, but I feel that calling it a Pan retelling is misleading.

My second issue is that, when a book is set in the real world as this one is, it needs to follow real world rules. Early on Wendy runs away from home rather than be sent to a clinic. She proceeds to live in a park and then get a job. She even uses the phone at her workplace to call home and her mom picks up. I don't know what universe they live in that a seventeen year old couldn't be found in this scenario.

This story was fine even if it wasn't perfect. If I'd gone into it planning to read an X-Men style sci-fi, I probably would have really enjoyed it! I'd definitely still recommend this if that's what you're looking for. But I went into this expecting a Peter Pan retelling and came out pretty disappointed.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

ARC Review: Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

Title: Ninth House (Ninth House #1)
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Publication Date: October 1, 2019
Publisher: Flatiron
Pages: 480
Add to Goodreads

Galaxy “Alex” Stern is the most unlikely member of Yale’s freshman class. Raised in the Los Angeles hinterlands by a hippie mom, Alex dropped out of school early and into a world of shady drug dealer boyfriends, dead-end jobs, and much, much worse. By age twenty, in fact, she is the sole survivor of a horrific, unsolved multiple homicide. Some might say she’s thrown her life away. But at her hospital bed, Alex is offered a second chance: to attend one of the world’s most elite universities on a full ride. What’s the catch, and why her?

Still searching for answers to this herself, Alex arrives in New Haven tasked by her mysterious benefactors with monitoring the activities of Yale’s secret societies. These eight windowless “tombs” are well-known to be haunts of the future rich and powerful, from high-ranking politicos to Wall Street and Hollywood’s biggest players. But their occult activities are revealed to be more sinister and more extraordinary than any paranoid imagination might conceive.

Ninth House seemed to come out of absolutely nowhere and then it was impossible to escape. I knew I had to have it before I even knew what it was about. Honestly, I was a bit worried after not loving Six of Crows or King of Scars, but I was more than willing to give Leigh Bardugo another chance and I am so, SO glad I did! Ninth House is wholly unlike anything else Leigh Bardugo has written and (spoiler) I loved it!

First things first, this is NOT a YA book by any stretch of the imagination. Ninth House deals with some extremely dark, graphic topics and readers should certainly be aware of that. Other reviewers have listed trigger warnings so I won't do that here to avoid spoilers, but definitely go check them out if you feel like you may need them.

This dark, adult novel follows Alex Stern, a girl who would never have gotten into Yale without a very unique gift - she can see ghosts. The ninth secret society house of Yale, Lethe House, offers her a full ride in exchange for her services and she takes them up on their offer, throwing her into a dark world she never guessed existed. I wasn't too sure about Alex at first, but she quickly grew on me and I loved her by the end. I also adored the other characters of Lethe House, especially Dawes.

It's hard to know what to say and what to leave out in this review because this book is so cram packed with magic and mystery and conspiracy, but I think it's best to reveal very little about the plot. Suffice it to say this story will keep you guessing. It's written in alternating chapters between past and present and I loved the way this style of writing kept me in the dark for so long.

If you've read Leigh Bardugo before, then you know this is a book that brings you right into its pages. Although the setting of Ninth House is Yale, it feels like so much more than that. It's spooky and dangerous and I felt like I was there on the street with Alex looking into the cemetery. The world building is exactly what you'd expect from Leigh.

Ninth House is an incredibly atmospheric, magical, and gritty novel full of twists and turns. I absolutely loved this story and cannot wait to get my hands on the sequel!

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday #257: Fall TBR

Today's Topic: 
Books On My Fall 2019 TBR

Happy Tuesday! Yay, this is my favorite kind of topic! I love putting together a seasonal TBR even though I know for a fact I won't stick to it. This one was actually a bit harder to put together though. Since I was lucky enough to go to ALA over the summer I've already read several of the books that definitely would have made this list otherwise! Here are ten I can't wait to get to! 

Blood Heir by Amelie Wen Zhao
Deadly Little Scandals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
The Deathless Girls by Kiran Millwood Hargrave
The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys
Gravemaidens by Kelly Coon

The Never Tilting World by Rin Chupeco
The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black
Sisters of Shadow and Light by Sara B. Larson
Songs from the Deep by Kelly Powell

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

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Weekly Recap: 9/15 - 9/21


Hi everyone! This has been a somewhat busy week mostly because I've been dog sitting. I have three more dogs to look out for in addition to my three, although I only have to check on them at their house. It has been a lot but they're such sweet pups! In my dog's neverending health saga, we got an air purifier. The little guy has always had a cough that seems to get worse depending on the season and lately it has been terrible! I ordered the purifier and we'll see what happens. Cross your fingers for us! I didn't do much reading this week because my audiobook game was lacking - I had a bit of a podcast binge week instead. Any podcasts that you recommend?





On Monday I discussed Carnival Row
The topic was eating & drinking while reading for Top Ten Tuesday
Wednesday audiobook review of Dreams Come to Life
On Friday I went back Down the TBR Hole
Saturday review of One of Us Is Lying



I'm linking up to Stacking the Shelves & The Sunday Post!
Saturday, September 21, 2019

Book Review: One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

Title: One of Us Is Lying (One of Us Is Lying #1) 
Author: Karen M. McManus
Publication Date: May 30, 2017
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Pages: 361
Add to Goodreads

The Breakfast Club meets Pretty Little Liars, One of Us Is Lying is the story of what happens when five strangers walk into detention and only four walk out alive. Everyone is a suspect, and everyone has something to hide.

Pay close attention and you might solve this.

On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.

Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.

Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.

Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.

Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.

And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High's notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention, Simon's dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn't an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he'd planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who's still on the loose?

Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

I've recently been in the mood to read YA mysteries. I have no idea where this desire came from. I'm usually a YA fantasy or adult horor kind of girl. But when I decided to search out a good mystery to start with, One of Us Is Lying was on every single "best of" list I looked at and I knew I needed to read it!

Five high school students go into detention together, but one never makes it out alive. While in detention, something outside the window distracts Bronwyn, Addy, Nate, Cooper, and the teacher long enough for something terrible to happen to Simon and everyone is a suspect.

I immediately worried that I'd have trouble telling the characters apart, but the author actually did a pretty good job of making them all distinct. Admittedly, it took me until halfway through the book to be sure of who was who, but it's possible I wasn't paying close enough attention.

The characters, while distinct, were my least favorite part of this book. I didn't care much for Addy or Cooper. There was a bit of a romance between Bronwyn and Nate which I did grow to like, but honestly the story would have been fine without it. Nate was by far my favorite character even without the romance. Bronwyn was fine, but I probably would have been much more bored if she hadn't had the relationship with Nate.

Of course the mystery is the most important thing in a mystery novel and I definitely didn't guess the ending! I'm sure the clues were there for a better sleuth to pick up on, but I was surprised by who actually killed Simon. Every character was a suspect and I was suspicious of (almost) all of them at least once.

Overall, while One of Us Is Lying did have an interesting mystery that kept me guessing, I didn't love it as much as I'd hoped. I think this has a lot to do with the fact that it's contemporary YA in a high school setting and that's just not my genre. If you don't mind contemporary YA romance and are in search of a good mystery, this is definitely the book for you!

Friday, September 20, 2019

Down the TBR Hole #17

Hi everyone! It's time for another edition of Down the TBR Hole! My list is sadly getting longer and longer so I desperately need to keep this feature going and probably more often. Today I have books I totally forgot about and books I can't figure out how they even got there. Let's see how I do!

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 honestly could not even begin to explain what this book is doing on my TBR list. It's a zombie book and I do not enjoy zombie books. I don't think I've enjoyed one since I began this blog, in fact. Add to that that this book is adult fiction and, yeah, no idea what this is doing here. VERDICT: PASS


At least this one makes more sense! I went through a dystopian phase just like everyone else in the YA community and I'm actually coming back around to it. Reading the reviews though, it seems like this one might have a little more religion in it for my taste. Oh well. VERDICT: PASS


Anyone shocked to see a retelling on my list? No? Me either. I've actually never read anything by Alex Flinn, even Beastly. I'm not too sure that this is the one I should start with either based on its pretty low reviews. I actually don't think I've ever read a GOOD Rapunzel retelling. Any suggestions? VERDICT: PASS


YA horror!! I somehow have completely forgotten about this book since the time I added to to my TBR list. Do you see that cover? I am getting all the creepy vibes! Several reviews talk about how scary it is so I may just have to pick this up for Halloween. VERDICT: KEEP


Oh look at that, another dystopian book. This one involves aliens instead of the biblical end times and actually sounds like it could be interesting. Too bad it looks like the series was never finished. VERDICT: PASS

What genres have you never enjoyed?
Have there been any genres you've grown out of?
Let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Audiobook Review: Dreams Come to Life by Adrienne Kress

Title: Dreams Come to Life (Bendy & the Ink Machine #1)
Author: Adrienne Kress
Publication Date: September 3, 2019
Publisher: Scholastic
Pages: 304
Add to Goodreads

Seventeen-year-old Buddy has spent most of his life trying to escape the Lower East Side slums of New York City. Working as a delivery boy to support his family, Buddy wants to become an artist, a dream he's sure will never be realized. But that all changes when a delivery job puts him face-to-face with Mister Joey Drew, the eccentric owner of an animation studio.

Mister Drew takes Buddy under his wing as an apprentice, thrusting him into a world unlike anything Buddy has ever seen before. There's the colorful cast of the studio, from the cranky, yet driven composer Sammy Lawrence to Dot, the writing intern and Buddy's counterpart. Working for Mister Drew, Buddy starts to think that maybe it's really as simple as Mister Drew says: Dreams do come true. But not everything at the studio is as picture-perfect as it seems . . .

Something is going bump in the night at Joey Drew Studios, something that leaves behind trails of thick, dark ink. While the studio frantically works toward their latest deadline, Buddy and Dot team up to find out just what is tormenting the studio after-hours, even if it means tracking the trail to Mister Drew himself.

Don't miss this official, original, pulse-pounding story from award-winning author Adrienne Kress, developed with theMeatly, Mike Mood, and Bookpast!

I first saw Bendy and the Ink machine at Target. It was a Bendy doll and I had no idea what it was, but I had a hunch that he was from a video game. I googled it and ended up watching a full playthrough on YouTube, which is my preferred method of (not) gaming. I love seeing the story and gameplay, but I suck at playing the games myself. Bendy quickly became one of my favorites of all time so I couldn't wait to read this book!

Dreams Come to Life is a prequel to the game and revolves around Buddy. Buddy hates his job as a delivery boy but desperately needs the money, so when he's given the opportunity to work for Joey Drew Studios for double the salary he jumps at the chance. It doesn't take long before things start to seem a little off and continue to spiral from there.

I really enjoyed Buddy's character and experiencing the studio through his eyes before its demise. I also loved his relationship with Dot and found her to be a fun original character. Joey Drew was also a lot like how I imagined him from the video game, although a bit less sinister than I expected. Honestly, everyone in the studio made me feel just the right amount of uneasy, sometimes for no reason I could put my finger on.

Obviously, the best part of this book was seeing the studio from a different angle before it was covered in ink. I loved following Buddy around as he found each location from the game and figured out what was really happening. Dreams Come to Life definitely maintains the same creepy atmosphere you'd expect from Bendy and the Ink Machine.

Although this is a media tie in I do think it could be enjoyed by someone who's never played (or watched) the game. This is a super creepy mystery set in an animation studio that's reminiscent of Walt Disney Studios and anyone who is into horror or mystery would be able to enjoy it for those elements. It could also be a really fun introduction to the world for someone who might decide to delve deeper later. I'm not sure if more books are planned in this series but I really hope there are!

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday #256: Eating & drinking while reading

Today's Topic: 
Favorite Things to 
Eat/Drink While Reading

Happy Tuesday! So this is a weird one for me because I straight up do not eat while reading. Like, ever. I'm not sure why this is exactly. I never really thought about it until this week's topic popped up and I started trying to think of what to include. Literally the only thing I EVER consume while reading (aside from water) is one particular flavor of tea by one particular brand. I present to you: 

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