January Wrap-Up!

Happy end of January folks! It’s always the month that will never end, and I swear today is January 57th instead of the 31st. However, I still did not manage to read my entire planned TBR, but I got pretty darn close!

I ended up switching up some of the Netgalley books because I got approved for a few in early February at the last minute, so I had to switch some titles over to February’s TBR (check back tomorrow for that post!). I was a little stressed over this because I had 3 books due February 4th that I hadn’t read yet and only 9 days to read them all. BUT I managed it and my last second approval ended up being one of my favorite reads this month!

So without further ado, see below for my 16 finished books this month! I had a nice even split of physical books and ebooks, which was one thing I wanted to be more conscious of this year!

PHYSICAL BOOKS

  1. City of Fallen Angels (The Mortal Instruments #4), Cassandra Clare – 4.5/5 stars
  2. City of Lost Souls (The Mortal Instruments #5), Cassandra Clare – 3.75/5 stars
  3. City of Heavenly Fire (The Mortal Instruments #6), Cassandra Clare – 4.25/5 stars
  4. Lady Midnight (The Dark Artifices #1), Cassandra Clare – 4.25/5 stars
  5. Lord of Shadows (The Dark Artifices #2), Cassandra Clare – 4/5 stars
  6. Queen of Air and Darkness (The Dark Artifices #3), Cassandra Clare – 4.25/5 stars
  7. My Favorite Half-Night Stand, Christina Lauren – 3.75/5 stars
  8. Love Her or Lose Her (Hot & Hammered #2), Tessa Bailey – 4.5/5 stars

NETGALLEY ARC’S

  1. The Silvered Serpent (The Gilded Wolves #2), Roshani Chokshi – 4.25/5 stars
  2. The Shrike & the Shadows, Chantal Gadoury & A.M. Wright – 3/5 stars
  3. Unravel the Dusk (Blood of Stars #2), Elizabeth Lim – 4.5/5 stars
  4. Heart of Flames (Crown of Feathers #2), Nicki Pau Preto – 3.75/5 stars
  5. Break in Case of Emergency, Brian Francis – 3/5 stars
  6. The Kissing Game, Marie Harte – 3/5 stars
  7. The Gravity of Us, Phil Stamper – 4.5/5 stars
  8. When We Were Magic, Sarah Gailey – 5/5 stars

BOOKS I DID NOT GET TO AS PLANNED

All of these books have been bumped to February’s TBR, with some additions of course!

  1. The Women’s War (Women’s War #1), Jenna Glass – I’m actually about 170 pages into this right now, just couldn’t get super into it so moved onto something else!
  2. Queen of the Unwanted (Women’s War #2), Jenna Glass – couldn’t read it without read the first!
  3. The Wicked Fox (Gumiho #1), Kat Cho
  4. The Beckoning Shadow (The Beckoning Shadow #1), Katharyn Blair
  5. The Electric Heir (Feverwake #2), Victoria Lee
  6. Havenfall (Havenfall #1), Sara Holland

Overall, I don’t think I did too bad! I planned to read 19 books, and managed to read 16. Let me know in the comments how many books you accomplished, and if we read any of the same!

Happy reading, folks! And happy almost February!

eARC Review – Don’t Read the Comments

Title: Don’t Read the Comments

Author: Eric Smith

Publisher: Harlequin TEEN/Inkyard Press

Publication date: January 28th, 2020

320 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Divya Sharma is a queen. Or she is when she’s playing Reclaim the Sun, the year’s hottest online game. Divya—better known as popular streaming gamer D1V—regularly leads her #AngstArmada on quests through the game’s vast and gorgeous virtual universe. But for Divya, this is more than just a game. Out in the real world, she’s trading her rising-star status for sponsorships to help her struggling single mom pay the rent.

Gaming is basically Aaron Jericho’s entire life. Much to his mother’s frustration, Aaron has zero interest in becoming a doctor like her, and spends his free time writing games for a local developer. At least he can escape into Reclaim the Sun—and with a trillion worlds to explore, disappearing should be easy. But to his surprise, he somehow ends up on the same remote planet as celebrity gamer D1V.

At home, Divya and Aaron grapple with their problems alone, but in the game, they have each other to face infinite new worlds…and the growing legion of trolls populating them. Soon the virtual harassment seeps into reality when a group called the Vox Populi begin launching real-world doxxing campaigns, threatening Aaron’s dreams and Divya’s actual life. The online trolls think they can drive her out of the game, but everything and everyone Divya cares about is on the line…

And she isn’t going down without a fight. 

Review

**Thank you to Inkyard Press, Eric Smith, and Netgalley for a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

Divya is a high school student who spends her time on Glitch, a gaming website where she is an influencer. She has thousands of followers and plays the game, Reclaim the Sun, a space exploration gaming program. This is her income as she attempts to support her mom financially through grad school after her father leaves them to start a new life. Divya is known online as D1V, and is always super careful about how much personal information she gives out. Unfortunately, she is attacked in the game by some racist, sexist dudes who send her a photo of her house to scare her. Don’t Read the Comments follows Divya as she deals with online trolls who take the trolling off the internet and into her life, while she is also trying to learn how to trust people. It’s a hard task for her, let me tell you.

Divya meets Aaron, the other POV in this book, within the game and over the book she learns to trust him even which the attacks happening to her and her family. Aaron is a gamer whose dream is to write the scripts for games, not be a doctor like his mom wants. He works for his friend who owns a gaming company, even though the money for his work hasn’t come around yet. His story follows him helping Divya and dealing with his career and life within the gaming community.

I enjoyed this book, even though gaming is not my style. It was a great story about online trolling, the rampant racism and sexism in the gaming community, and find friendship among the fray. There is assault, harassment, and hurtful comments thrown at Divya because “she deserves it” for being well known on the internet and being a brown girl in gaming. It’s super annoying, but unfortunately accurate to how people are treated in male dominated areas.

I enjoyed the dual POV’s a lot, it was nice to see the story from both Divya and Aaron’s perspectives. Their stories intertwine but are still very separate. The love story is nice and simply, not much because they are high schoolers. The focus is more on the friendship and trust between two people who met online rather than the romantic nature that could happen between them.

For fans of video games and contemporary novels, Don’t Read the Comments will be the nerdy book you’ve been waiting for.

happy reading, bookish friends! 🙂

eARC Review – How to Build a Heart

Title: How to Build a Heart

Author: Maria Padian

Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers

Publication date: January 28th, 2020

352 pages

4.25/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

One young woman’s journey to find her place in the world as the carefully separated strands of her life — family, money, school, and love — begin to overlap and tangle.  

All sixteen-year-old Izzy Crawford wants is to feel like she really belongs somewhere. Her father, a marine, died in Iraq six years ago, and Izzy’s moved to a new town nearly every year since, far from the help of her extended family in North Carolina and Puerto Rico. When Izzy’s hardworking mom moves their small family to Virginia, all her dreams start clicking into place. She likes her new school—even if Izzy is careful to keep her scholarship-student status hidden from her well-to-do classmates and her new athletic and popular boyfriend. And best of all: Izzy’s family has been selected by Habitat for Humanity to build and move into a brand-new house. Izzy is this close to the community and permanence she’s been searching for, until all the secret pieces of her life begin to collide.

How to Build a Heart is the story of Izzy’s journey to find her place in the world and her discovery that the choices we make and the people we love ultimately define us and bring us home.

Review

**Thank you to Algonquin Young Readers, Netgalley, and Maria Padian for a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

How to Build a Heart follows 16 year old Izzy Crawford as she handles high school, prejudice, and being part of a low income family. Her Mami is super strict and won’t let her hang out with her best friend, she pretends to everyone she doesn’t live in a trailer park, and she secretly wishes her life was different – and she’s also ALOT jaded. In comes Aubrey, a new freshman at her school that she takes under her wing (also her older brother is the hottest boy alive, Sam). Izzy starts down the path of a double life, hiding who she is from her new rich friends. When her family is nominated to receive a Habitat for Humanity home, her double life comes back to haunt her and she has to escape to some long lost family.

I had a hard time getting into this book in the very beginning, but once it hooked me I was HOOKED. I stayed up late to finish it and I have #NoRagrets. It’s not exactly a rags to riches story, but it has some similar features. I think the prejudice situations were handled well and I loved all the characters (except Roz, and I don’t apologize). I feel bad for Roz of course, but her personality was really grating, and it felt like all Izzy did for awhile was seek her approval because she was “cool”. I loved Sam and Aubrey’s character and I was really happy the “rich” family wasn’t prejudiced against the trailer park girl.

I loved the addition of the Habitat for Humanity plot line. I haven’t read a book where Habitat was mentioned, but it was so beautiful that this family was able to be built a Habitat house and I darn near cried when a lot of the town started pitching in – including long lost family.

I adored the little romance between Izzy and Sam – they had such a glorious connection and chemistry on paper. I think they brought out the best in each other and Same helped Izzy heal a bit. It was a really heartwarming and real feeling story, it just grabs hold and won’t let go.

Please go check this one out!

Book Review – The Unhoneymooners

Title: The Unhoneymooners

Author: Christina Lauren

Publisher: Gallery Books

Publication date: May 14th, 2019

400 pages

5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in…well, everything. Her identical twin sister Ami, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. Her meet-cute with her fiancé is something out of a romantic comedy (gag) and she’s managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a series of Internet contests (double gag). Worst of all, she’s forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy, Ethan, who just happens to be the best man.

Olive braces herself to get through 24 hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning from eating bad shellfish, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. And now there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs.

Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him is suddenly at risk to become a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds, and her luck seems worse than ever. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of… lucky.

Review

I can appreciate my body in a bikini and still want to set fire to the patriarchy.

christina lauren, the unhoneymooners

Friends, I officially love Christina Lauren and their books. This is my first read from the writing duo, but I am an auto buyer for life now. I really can’t wait to read more from them. I picked this up on a whim in Rehoboth Beach while browsing an independent book store – mostly because it was used and on sale. I am SO GLAD I DID!

The Unhoneymooners tracks Olive, a quirky and loud woman who has no shame or filter. This makes Ethan, our other MC, uncomfortable because he isn’t sure how to handle her. Olive’s twin sister is getting married to Ethan’s younger brother, so they are forced to spend time together. When everyone but them gets sick at the wedding, they are forced into taking the honeymoon together so it doesn’t go to waste. They try so hard to stay away from each other, but sometimes differences have a way of attracting…

Y’allll Olive is my love. If Ethan didn’t end up with her, I totally would have. Christina Lauren manages to really craft well-rounded characters in stand-alone novels, which is impressive to me and lends to a better read. I really understood Olive’s point of view and where she was coming from – but same with Ethan. Their romance was easy to read and easy to love.

This is a total beach read. If you have this on your TBR, either read it immediately (because hello, it’s amazing) or save if for the beach vacation you’re dreaming about now in the dead of winter. I personally read this on my couch, but would have loved to be toes in the water, ass in the sand with it and a fruity drink – doesn’t help that most of it is set in Hawaii!!

Please read this is you love contemporary romance! Happy reading, bookish friends! 🙂

eARC Review – Everafter Song

Title: Everafter Song (The Evermore Chronicles #3)

Author: Emily R. King

Publisher: Skyscape

Publication date: December 10th, 2019

282 pages

4.25/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

There’s a price on Everley Donovan’s head. Fleeing from the queen’s false accusation of murder and sorcery, the girl with the clock heart knows there’s only one way to prove her innocence. Everley must catch Killian Markham, the fugitive prince guilty of the crimes for which she’s been condemned. To do that, Everley must follow him into the towering realm of the Silver-Clouded Plain. It’s where flesh-eating Behemoths thrive, long-lost gods hide, and an artifact of destructive force awaits the death grip of the immortal prince.

Haunted by visions of burning Everwoods and bloody battlefields, Everley’s fears are rising. Because the elusive relic threatens more than the very power that drives her clock heart. In Killian’s hands, it can lead to the dismantling of the seven worlds. With everything—and everyone—Everley loves at stake, she must depend on Killian’s one weakness to outwit him: in his mad ambitions, Killian has underestimated her once again. For Everley is the Time Bearer. This is her destiny. The time of reckoning is at hand.

Review

**Thank you to Skyscape, Netgalley, and Emily R. King for this ebook copy in exchange for an honest review**

In the last book in The Evermore Chronicles, Everley is so close to stopping Killian Markham, but he keeps slipping through her fingers. Time and time again she walks right into his traps, and he walks away with the lead. Everley must travel more than ever and get used to powers she didn’t realize she had, and quickly so she can use them to gain advantage on Markham. Several endings have been foretold, and Everafter Song brings even new magical creatures – elves, giants, trolls, sea hags, etc into the fold. Everley is doing all she can to maintain the structure of the worlds and not allow Markham to rip them all apart. But will she have the strength to make the hard decision when it comes?

Alas, this trilogy is over. I am 100% DEAD over the ending. NO spoilers here, but man am I sad about it. Everafter Song is the end book you want to bring a magical and wild adventure to an end. And, my most hated characters got what was coming to them in the end – which is great. I flowed through this book all in one day because I just needed to know how the story ended and whether Everley was able to prevail and save the worlds.

The world-building in this series is insane. So insane, it was almost hard to keep straight at times. I did read these on my iPad, so assuming there is a map in the print books that would help keep track of the worlds. The concept of Father Time has been interesting throughout this story, even if I didn’t always agree with their actions.

OH and we have a few quietly LGBTQIA characters. Multiple lesbian/gay/bisexual (not entirely clear but there were same sex relationships/interests) along with a transgender elf. I AM HERE FOR IT. Osric must be protected at all costs.

I just have to go back to the ending though. The end is really the kicker for me that pulled the rating down. I wish there had been a way to have a Happily Ever After ending, but I totally get why there wasn’t. I just feel like King built such a bad-a character in Everley and the ending took all of that away from her.

Overall, I think if you like epic world-building, YA Fantasy, and some irredeemable characters please go check out The Evermore Chronicles!

eARC Review – A Violet Fire

Title: A Violet Fire (Vampires in Avignon #1)

Author: Kelsey Quick

Publisher: Self-published

Publication date: December 9th, 2019

334 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

In the Vampire Stratocracy of Cain, human blood is scarce. For centuries, councils have sought to assuage the blood shortage by enslaving and breeding humans, turning them into profitable supply units for the rich and the abled. 

Today, eighteen-year-old Wavorly Sterling is officially a supply unit, bound to serve her blood willingly to her master for the rest of her life. One of only few humans that was not bred in Cain, Wavorly knows freedom better than anyone, and she is determined to escape the clutches of her oppressors, even if by the hands of death. 

But surprises lay beyond every certainty, and within every doubt. Where Wavorly’s hatred for both vampires and her enslavement once flowed free as blood, it merely trickles as she grows to admire her reserved, yet receptive master and savior, Anton Zein. 

Although warmed by comforts never felt before, danger still lurks in the castle, and a prophecy calls from beyond the walls of a lavender gate—concealing the horrific secrets lodged between handsome smirks and cinereous eyes. It will take everything within Wavorly to face her fears and her doubts; to harness the truth of her past despite what that means for her future. The only question is, will she? 

Set in a richly detailed world of fantasy, A Violet Fire is a gripping journey filled with passion, betrayal, lies, and the encouragement we all need to take a stand for our freedom—no matter the cost.

Review

**Thank you to Kelsey Quick and Netgalley for an ebook copy of this book in exchange for an honest review**

Welcome to the world of Cain, where vampires are in charge and humans are blood slaves called “supply units” that are bred from birth to be pliable, submissive, and utterly in love with the vampires. I mean serious brainwashing here. There is a limited supply of supply units so only the greatest of vampires are able to own them. Wavorly used to be a free-roamer, a human from a separate colony, unmarred by vampires. When her whole town is slaughtered by vampires, she is saved and brought to the Nightingale but a seemingly “nice” vampire. The Nightingale is a school meant to teach supply units how to be better at their job of feeding vampires and being utterly enslaved.

Wavorly is the only one who doesn’t agree with how life is going for humans. She is the opposite of pliable, submissive, and in love with vampires. But, her owner, Lord Anton Zein continues to keep her alive even with all her attempts to escape. When she is brought to live in Zein’s castle, she starts to have empathy for vampires and her feelings begin to change. However, things are not always as they seem…

I’m generally always a fan of vampires books, and I definitely enjoyed A Violet Fire. Wavorly is feisty and doesn’t have a filter for what she says at all. She makes mistakes, but she owns them and that’s about all you can do. She is trying to make the best of a situation that she has no control over but desperately wants to change.

The plot was solid, however I felt the love story was too quick and happened abruptly. Very much the enemies to lovers trope for those who enjoy that, I know I do. There was a good cliffhanger on at the end that leaves you questioning what is real and what isn’t – and I’m sure Wavorly is too.

If you love enemies to lovers and vampire stories, A Violet Fire will be for you.

Happy reading, bookish friends! 🙂

eARC Review – The Memory Thief

Title: The Memory Thief

Author: Lauren Mansy

Publisher: Blink YA

Publication date: October 1st, 2019

4.5/5 stars

368 pages

Goodreads Synopsis

In the city of Craewick, memories reign. The power-obsessed ruler of the city, Madame, has cultivated a society in which memories are currency, citizens are divided by ability, and Gifted individuals can take memories from others through touch as they please.

Seventeen-year-old Etta Lark is desperate to live outside of the corrupt culture, but grapples with the guilt of an accident that has left her mother bedridden in the city’s asylum. When Madame threatens to put her mother up for auction, a Craewick practice in which a “criminal’s” memories are sold to the highest bidder before being killed, Etta will do whatever it takes to save her. Even if it means rejoining the Shadows, the rebel group she swore off in the wake of the accident years earlier.

To prove her allegiance to the Shadows and rescue her mother, Etta must steal a memorized map of the Maze, a formidable prison created by the bloodthirsty ruler of a neighboring Realm. So she sets out on a journey in which she faces startling attacks, unexpected romance, and, above all, her own past in order to set things right in her world.

Review

**Thank you to Blink, Lauren Mansy, and Netgalley for providing me a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

Etta lives in Craewick, one of four territories where memories are the currency used, and the method of keeping people in line. Some individuals are Gifted, meaning they have the ability to take and share memories with others just by touching them. Ungifted folks are not able to do this. Within the Gifted population, there are variations and differing strengths of the gift, which is used as a status symbol. Sifters are the most powerful of the Gifted, they are able to take memories without needing to touch the person. Powerful Sifters rule each territory, but none are worse than the ruler of Craewick. Madame using her gift for torture, so a secret group called the Shadows work to oppose her. Etta was a Shadow, before she sold out the leader in order to save her mother from certain death. When Madame decides to break their bargain and begin the process of killing Etta’s mother, Etta must decide how far she is willing to go to save her mother, and the people of Craewick.

I loved this new take on powers. I think these days it’s hard to write about a “superpower” that hasn’t been used already, but memories is a new one for me and I LOVE The Memory Thief for that. Lauren Mansy did an excellent job building a world that is fueled by people’s memories, the good and the bad. The main character has a difficult go of life and is thrown into many tough spots. She has struggled so much. I loved the plot twists and I did not see them coming, which is always super fun.

The love story was not a true enemies to lovers, and frankly the love interest did not end up being the person I expected it to be. The writing style was great because it felt like you were getting enough information from the story, that you didn’t even realize certain aspects and facts were being withheld to be revealed later in the book.

I only wish that the story could have been longer, or at least a duology. I feel like this would have been well suited to being a two book series. Also, the ending sequences were a touch confusing and unclear with what was happening, so I feel like the writing could have been better at the end. Overall, I truly enjoyed this new story and would suggest it for fans of the Everless duology.

Happy reading, bookish friends! 🙂