Sunday, January 30, 2022

Weekly(ish) Recap: 1/9 - 1/29


Hi, everyone! I hope you've all had a decent January! I've spent the month reading quite a bit, and not just fanfition! Yay, me! XD This month I've also made a new bookish friend IN PERSON! Can you imagine? We met up for lunch and it went really well. We got to talk about BOOKS, which is not something that usually happens outside of the internet for me. I then rewarded myself with Cold Stone (they have dairy free now!) for managing a positive social interaction. Hahaha! Anyone else with social anxiety? 

Little puppy is doing really well! He's still an absolute menace, but he's healthy in every way. He still has shark teeth since three of his baby canines have yet to fall out, but we're hopeful they'll go on their own without surgical intervention. Anyone interested in puppy pictures? 



(And quite a bit of fanfiction)


Book Review of The Vacation
Series review of The Sinners Duet
The topic was new to me authors in 2021 for Top Ten Tuesday


I'm linking up to Stacking the Shelves & The Sunday Post!
Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Top Ten Tuesday #309: New to me authors in 2021

Today's Topic: 
New-to-Me Authors
I Discovered in 2021

Happy Tuesday! Today I'm sharing new-to-me authors I found (and loved) in 2021. There are no 2021 debuts on this week's list! These are all authors who've published in 2020 or earlier who I'd never read before. So many I'm glad to finally know!

Laura Thalassa | Pestilence
Alice Feeney | Rock Paper Scissors
Penelope Douglas | Credence
Samantha Shannon | The Bone Season
Talia Hibbert | Work For It
Tasha Suri | The Jasmine Throne
A.M. Strickland | In the Ravenous Dark
T.J. Klune | The House in the Cerulean Sea
Caroline Kepnes | You
Harley LaRoux | Her Soul to Take

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

Monday, January 24, 2022

ARC Review: Required Reading for the Disenfranchised Freshmen by Kristen R. Lee

Title: Required Reading for the Disenfranchised Freshmen
Author: Kristen R. Lee
Publication Date: February 1, 2022
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
Pages: 336
Add to Goodreads

//I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review//

A striking debut novel about racism on elite college campuses. Fans of Dear White People will embrace this activist-centered contemporary novel about a college freshman grappling with the challenges of attending an elite university with a disturbing racist history--that may not be as distant as it seems.

Savannah Howard sacrificed her high school social life to make sure she got into a top college. Her sites were set on an HBCU, but when she is accepted to the ivy-covered walls of Wooddale University on a full ride, how can she say no?

Wooddale is far from the perfectly manicured community it sells on its brochures, though. Savannah has barely unpacked before she comes face-to-face with microagressions stemming from racism and elitism. Then, Clive Wilmington's statue is vandalized with blackface. The prime suspect? Lucas Cunningham, Wooddale's most popular student and son to a local prominent family. Soon, Savannah is unearthing the hidden secrets of Wooddale's racist history. But what's the price for standing up for what is right? And will telling the truth about Wooddale's past cost Savannah her own future?

A stunning, challenging, and timely debut about racism and privilege on college campuses.

I recently read Required Reading for the Disenfranchised Freshman by Kristin Lee. This book was PHENOMENAL. I can’t believe it’s Lee’s debut novel! I’m not even sure I can put all of my thoughts and feelings into words, but I’ll try.

Savannah Howard sacrificed the fun high school experience her peers took advantage of to study. Her mom pushed her to make sure she’d get out of their neighborhood, go to an Ivy League Institution, and make a better life for both herself and her mom. Savannah wanted to go to a HBCU in lieu of Wooddale University, where she received a full scholastic scholarship, but it was her mom’s dream for her to go to Wooddale and she didn’t want to disappoint her. On campus, Savannah was one of the only black people around. There were less than 100 black students. When she witnessed racism in the form of a disgusting caricature spray painted on the statue of Clive Washington, she quickly finds herself where she never thought she’d be: an activist fighting for what’s right.

People think that just because black people use AAVE, or Ebonics as ignorant, backwards, and racist people prefer, we’re unintelligent. Savannah is a straight A student who got a scholarship to a prestigious college. Told in first person, we experience Savannah’s code switch. In her head, she speaks the way she speaks around her black friends and family but when speaking to the white and entitled students she goes to school with and that she encounters in real life, she speaks in the only grammar they can comprehend - “proper” American English.

This book was so real that I honestly forgot I was even reading a book. It felt like I personally was experiencing the micro aggressions, the racism, and the hatred that Savannah and her friends received from a popular fraternity, and soon the whole school.

This was an emotional book and that’s putting it lightly. It is very exhausting to be black and to constantly deal with the ingrained racism that people display towards us. The worst ones are those who don’t even know they’re being racist and hateful. It’s so ingrained in them that it’s normal.

Lee also makes a statement about white performative activists that I think was extremely important. They’re okay cheering us on from the sidelines hiding behind they’re friends, and they’re okay supporting us in private, but that’s it. Going the distance.

“White folks don't ever get that we are the ones at risk. We got the most to lose.”

I’ve already pre-ordered this book and I’m so excited for a physical copy. This book was absolutely everything I didn’t know I needed and it’s a REALLY important book for teenagers, especially black teenagers, to read. I have a feeling that this book will be considered a classic in the future.

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
Add to Goodreads

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
Add to Goodreads

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
Add to Goodreads

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
Add to Goodreads

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.