Book Review

Book Review: A Curious Beginning (Veronica Speedwell #1) by Deanna Raybourn

Rating: ☆☆☆☆  
Audience: Mystery + historical fiction + romance
Length: 339 pages
Author: Deanna Raybourn
Publisher: Berkley Books
Release Date: September 1st, 2015
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

London, 1887.

After burying her spinster aunt, orphaned Veronica Speedwell is free to resume her world travels in pursuit of scientific inquiry—and the occasional romantic dalliance. As familiar with hunting butterflies as with fending off admirers, Veronica intends to embark upon the journey of a lifetime.

But fate has other plans when Veronica thwarts her own attempted abduction with the help of an enigmatic German baron, who offers her sanctuary in the care of his friend Stoker, a reclusive and bad-tempered natural historian. But before the baron can reveal what he knows of the plot against her, he is found murdered—leaving Veronica and Stoker on the run from an elusive assailant as wary partners in search of the villainous truth.

THIS SLOW-BURN PARTNERSHIP IS AMAZING.

I read this based off a recommendation on Bookstagram and I was HOOKED.

I love Veronica. She is sassy and snarky and my kinda woman. I love that she chooses her own path and pursues the things she is passionate about. Veronica took her situation into her own hands (accepted some needed help) and figured out what plan would work best for her.

Stoker though? YES. Oh my goodness. Rugged, wild, gruff, yaaaaaas. But among those qualities is also the fact he never tried to control Veronica. They disagreed and argued, and then he would know she was going to make her own choices, AND HE WAS OKAY WITH THAT. They’re not even in a relationship, yet this slow-burn is going to ruin me. I can’t wait to see how they develop over the series. I hope they’re end game.

The mystery was great too. It actually kept me on my toes. The release of information was a slow trickle that was interesting and really added to each scene. It was crazy how everything actually unfolded. I did not see the entire picture at all. It loosely reminds of a better version of Stalking Jack the RIpper (which was fine, and I haven’t read the other books yet, but that’s kind of a vibe I got). So if you like those books, I would definitely recommend these!

There’s a big historical aspect to this as well since it’s set in London, 1887. That plus a mystery and some romance-esque things made for a solid read. I love a good historical aspect when it fits the plot well.

Overall audience notes:

  • Mystery + historical fiction + romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: some witty/flirty banter; discussion of having relations, but no actual scenes
  • Violence: murder, fire, physical. guns; somewhat bloody/gory

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Book Review

Book Review: Well Met by Jen DeLuca

Rating: ☆☆☆☆  
Audience: Contemporary romance
Length: 336 pages
Author: Jen DeLuca
Publisher: Berkley Books
Release Date: September 3rd, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

All’s faire in love and war for two sworn enemies who indulge in a harmless flirtation in a laugh-out-loud rom-com from debut author, Jen DeLuca.

Emily knew there would be strings attached when she relocated to the small town of Willow Creek, Maryland, for the summer to help her sister recover from an accident, but who could anticipate getting roped into volunteering for the local Renaissance Faire alongside her teenaged niece? Or that the irritating and inscrutable schoolteacher in charge of the volunteers would be so annoying that she finds it impossible to stop thinking about him?

The faire is Simon’s family legacy and from the start he makes clear he doesn’t have time for Emily’s lighthearted approach to life, her oddball Shakespeare conspiracy theories, or her endless suggestions for new acts to shake things up. Yet on the faire grounds he becomes a different person, flirting freely with Emily when she’s in her revealing wench’s costume. But is this attraction real, or just part of the characters they’re portraying?

This summer was only ever supposed to be a pit stop on the way to somewhere else for Emily, but soon she can’t seem to shake the fantasy of establishing something more with Simon, or a permanent home of her own in Willow Creek.

I FEEL LIKE I NEED TO GO TO A REN FEST NOW.

No? Just me? I’ve never been to one, but now I feel like it’s a need (and hopefully by the time this posts I found a way to go to one!).

Now, back to your regularly scheduled review:

This was cute! I wouldn’t say it’s on par with a handful of contemporary romances I’ve read this year though. I enjoyed it, brought me out of a tiny reading slump I was in, just wasn’t WHOA STELLAR.

I thought that the enemies to lovers trope felt forced at times and wasn’t really all that necessary. Emily and Simon could have easily bantered there way to a relationship without throwing in how much Emily did not like him. There was never anything to truly base her disinterest on.

Emily as a character was pretty great. I loved watching her grow and adapt to her life situation. She was in a crappy break-up that left her stranded and by moving in to help with her sister it allowed Emily to take a step back and figure out what direction her like needed to take next. She was open to a new town, a new job and I need to work on flowing with the change rather than struggling against the current. I loved the example Emily set.

Enter Simon. Put him in a pirate costume, YAAS GIRL. Otherwise, he took a bit to grow on me. Once again, this was that forced aspect I’ve been referring to. His personality seemed to strong and some of his choices weren’t fantastic so I had hard time loving him. The further into the book really had me singing a different tune. I thought he was a bit cheesy at times, but hot dang. Okay. I get it, I like Simon. He and Emily really did have a connection I was shipping all day.

The setting was totally amazing. I haven’t read any books with a Ren Fest as the main plot and YES. Costumes, Medieval Times, The Renaissance? Please and thank you all day. It was fun and inventive and allowed the plot to flow. Not going to lie, was also into it because a character had the same name as me (AND SPELLED THE SAME) which is clearly a sign I was meant to enjoy this book. A quick light-hearted (though there are some tough moments) read, that will give you warm fuzzies and a happy ending.

Also, epilogue? PRECIOUS.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary Romance
  • Language: strong language
  • Romance: kisses make-outs, a chapter love scene (detailed, did not need to be a chapter long at all)
  • Trigger warnings: loss of a loved one

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Book Review

Book Review: Shadows of Self (Mistborn: The Alloy Era #5) by Brandon Sanderson

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆  
Audience: Fantasy
Length: 383 pages
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Publisher: Tor Books
Release Date: October 6th, 2015
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Shadows of Self shows Mistborn’s society evolving as technology and magic mix, the economy grows, democracy contends with corruption, and religion becomes a growing cultural force, with four faiths competing for converts.

This bustling, optimistic, but still shaky society now faces its first instance of terrorism, crimes intended to stir up labor strife and religious conflict. Wax and Wayne, assisted by the lovely, brilliant Marasi, must unravel the conspiracy before civil strife stops Scadrial’s progress in its tracks.

Shadows of Self will give fans of The Alloy of Law everything they’ve been hoping for and, this being a Brandon Sanderson book, more, much more.

TALK ABOUT HOLY PLOT TWIST.

I’m still shook. Story: my husband and I have been listening to this together-ish (both when we can but not actually at the same time). He finished the day before I did when I had ONE hour left. Well, the biggest drop in the entire came during that hour and I literally ran out of my bedroom shouting WHAT?!?!? **and more spoiler-ish content I will not say here**. Sanderson is trying to break my heart, I can feel it.

Any who, this was another great installment of his shorter books. I loved listening to it. Michael Kramer is such a great narrator and does all of the voices SO FLIPPIN’ WELL. He’s read all 6 Sanderson audiobooks I’ve listened to so far and it’s been fantastic.

The dynamics between Wax, Wayne, and Marasi are THE BEST. They are a great team with different strengths that pick each other up when their weaknesses show. I love the banter, the love they have for one another and just everything. This is a team I want to be on.

There’s still a Western vibe to this with the gun-slinging vibes. And I’m still into it. I thought I might waver, but the way Sanderson crafts a story has continually left me breathless. I’m seriously trying to work my way through all of his books. WHY DID I WAIT SO LONG TO DO THIS.

These books are much shorter and easier to follow. The amount of twists and story lines that play in from the original trilogy amazes me though. Even if this is a spin-off that I know some people aren’t a fan of, it doesn’t bother me in the slightest. I love seeing old characters, hearing about the original crew, and learning how their choices have shaped this newer world.

SOMEONE GIVE ME A HAPPY ENDING PLEASE?!

Overall audience notes:

  • Fantasy / Sci-Fi
  • Language: none
  • Romance: none
  • Violence: guns, murder, knives, swords, dueling canes; occasionally a bit bloody

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Top 10 Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: My Rankings on Types of Bookmarks

Happy Top Ten Tuesday!

I know today is about favorite bookmarks, but I’m pretty generic. I’ve had the same book mark for 4 years now and it’s a basic dinosaur one (don’t worry I’ll put a photo below).

So instead I decided to pick out a bunch of different types of bookmarks and rank them based on my arbitrary opinions. This is one of those few times where the line-up matters.

1. Regular Bookmark

I’ve had this same bookmark from Hastings (RIP) and I love it. I’m obsessed with dinosaurs, it’s holographic and makes me smile every time I see it. I still can’t believe I’ve kept up with it this long. I love a simple bookmark.


2. Magnetic Clip Bookmark

These are so fun and so tiny! I love all of the different designs and how they take up little space.


3. Corner Bookmarks

I have never owned one of these, but admire them from a far. I love that you can make them on your own (and in so many styles). It’s perfect for the creative person at home!


4. Wrap-Around Ribbons

I love that this adds pizzazz to the outside of a book while you’re reading it. The pop of color and style can be unique to you and these are something easy to make at home too!


5. Arrow / You Stopped Here Bookmarks

How handy when you’re reading late at night and the next more having trouble remembering what line you stopped on. Never fear, this book mark will tell you exactly.


6. Tassel bookmarks

I love cute tassels that stick out from books. They don’t get in the way but are colorful and fun. Though I have found that mine always eventually fall apart.


7. Paperclips

I know you can fold these up into clip type bookmarks, but I haaate paper clips y’all. I don’t like the feel/sound of sliding them over paper and I can’t handle them for even normal uses. No to paperclips.


8. Bookmarks that having something that sticks out of the top

While tassels stay pretty much out of the way and you can still stack the book and more, bookmarks that have physical big pieces that stick out bother me. I don’t like the way they look either.


9. Random receipts, index cards, sticky notes, etc.

While good in a crunch, there’s so many bookmarks out there that it would be pretty easy to nab one. The randomness of it messes with my type-A personality. All of these options go into the trash for me.


10. Dog-ear

We can’t be friends if this is how you treat books (just kidding haha). I don’t like dog-earring at all. It ruins the book pages and makes them easier to fall apart. Stick anything in there just don’t fold the page!!

What’s your favorite type of bookmark? What about least favorite? Lets talk in the comments!

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Book Review

Book Review: Age of Legend (The Legends of the First Empire #4) by Michael J. Sullivan

Rating: ☆☆☆☆ 
Audience: Epic fantasy
Length: 480 pages
Author: Michael J. Sullivan
Publisher: Grim Oak Press
Release Date: July 9th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Each culture has its own myths and legends, but only one is shared, and it is feared by all.

With Age of Myth, Age of Swords, and Age of War, fantasy master Michael J. Sullivan riveted readers with a tale of unlikely heroes locked in a desperate battle to save mankind. After years of warfare, humanity has gained the upper hand and has pushed the Fhrey to the edge of their homeland, but no farther. Now comes the pivotal moment. Persephone’s plan to use the stalemate to seek peace is destroyed by an unexpected betrayal that threatens to hand victory to the Fhrey and leaves a dear friend in peril. Her only hope lies in the legend of a witch, a forgotten song, and a simple garden door.

TOOK A NEW DIRECTION.

This book is prefaced with Sullivan addressing how he changed up the timeline a bit in this story. A few chapters were immediately after the last book, then the next small section was a year later, then 3/4 of the book was SIX years later. I understand the need for progression, but why? This was the main issue I had with everything. I missed out on relationships, friendships and children (?!) that happened during this time. WHAT. I’m still sad I didn’t get to experience any of that with my favs. Changing up the timeline caused the book to be slower and took longer for the action to come in.

The politics and dynamics of this book have shifted as well. Nyphron is stuck in a never ending battle he refused to yield. While the other side pulls some trickery that has me wanting to beat down their door to take care of them myself.

Focusing on other characters in this book was new too. Most of the secondary (but much closer to first than in most books) really became the top main characters and point-of-views in this installment. I did like getting to know them better and seeing the strengths and flaws they possess. But don’t even get me started on the one scene with two of my favorites from the first three books because I will tear up all over again. IF YOU KNOW, YOU KNOW.

I felt there was a lot more evil drifting around. I have my eyes on so many people questioning motives, decisions, and partnerships. I think this second half of this series has the potential to go the distance, I’m just still iffy on it. Definitely will read the next book though, don’t worry!

Overall audience notes:

  • Fantasy
  • Language: very little light language
  • Romance: a few kisses
  • Violence: skirmishes, battles, arrows, murder, beheading, kidnapping

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Book Review

Book Review: Onyx & Ivory (Rime Chronicles #1) by Mindee Arnett

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Young adult fantasy
Length: 512 pages
Author: Mindee Arnett
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: May 15th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Acclaimed author Mindee Arnett thrusts readers into a beautiful, dangerous, and magical world in this stunningly epic and romantic fantasy for fans of Leigh Bardugo and Sarah Raasch.

They call her Traitor Kate. It’s a title Kate Brighton inherited from her father after he tried to assassinate the high king of Rime.

Cast out of the nobility, Kate now works for the royal courier service. Only the most skilled ride for the Relay and only the fastest survive, for when night falls, the drakes—deadly flightless dragons—come out to hunt. Fortunately, Kate has a secret edge: She is a wilder, born with forbidden magic that allows her to influence the minds of animals.

And it’s this magic that leads her to a caravan massacred by drakes in broad daylight—the only survivor Corwin Tormaine, the son of the king. Her first love, the boy she swore to forget after he condemned her father to death.

With their paths once more entangled, Kate and Corwin must put the past behind them to face this new threat and an even darker menace stirring in the kingdom.

FELT VERY TYPICAL YA FANTASY.

I haven’t had a chance to get to this review for a few days, and now I’m sitting here trying to think about everything that happened and I can barely remember. Uh oh.

This was a very typical young adult fantasy novel. Mostly unremarkable, but you still enjoy it. You just don’t LOVE it. That about sums up all of my feelings for this.

Things started off a bit slow and confusing. We dove head first into the story and I had a hard time adjusting to the magic system, world, politics, and relationships of everyone. What I was feeling was the second chance love story between Kate and Corwin. Was a bit rocky, and full of Corwin trying to show Kate how much she means to him. Though he made a mistake I wasn’t totally comfortable with *shrugs;* wasn’t a full deal breaker at least. They had some good banter, and a few touching moments with a solid ending. I’ll take it!

It took me awhile to figure out what the plot was. I didn’t know who was bad, what we were trying to stop, and where the main focus lied. I’m thankful that this all worked itself out. As I finished it, I definitely understood what was going on and think that this will make the second book infinitely better. There were some odd political discussions that seemed out of place. And also, the weird battle/trial thing between his brother for the Kingship? What is that?! This was random too and I know it still has to end in the second book, but I need more info. Because WHY.

I did finish this 500+ page saga, which means I didn’t hate it. It was just stagnant. I’ll keep an eye out for the second book and we’ll see if I get around to reading it.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Language: none
  • Romance: some kisses, and almost love scene (a little descriptive)
  • Violence: battle, animal attacks, swords, guns, magic; not intensely gory/bloody

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Book Review

Book Review: American Royals (American Royals #1) by Katharine McGee

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult contemporary
Length: 448 pages
Author: Katharine McGee
Publisher: Random House Books
Release Date: September 3rd, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

What if America had a royal family?

When America won the Revolutionary War, its people offered General George Washington a crown. Two and a half centuries later, the House of Washington still sits on the throne.

As Princess Beatrice gets closer to becoming America’s first queen regnant, the duty she has embraced her entire life suddenly feels stifling. Nobody cares about the spare except when she’s breaking the rules, so Princess Samantha doesn’t care much about anything, either . . . except the one boy who is distinctly off-limits to her. And then there’s Samantha’s twin, Prince Jefferson. If he’d been born a generation earlier, he would have stood first in line for the throne, but the new laws of succession make him third. Most of America adores their devastatingly handsome prince . . . but two very different girls are vying to capture his heart.

KARMA COMES AROUND RIGHT?

Because seriously, this one character. I can’t handle it if they don’t get what’s coming to them. She caused a crazy amount of drama all on her own. Was I impressed? Maybe a little, but also YOU’RE NOT A NICE PERSON.

Any who, back to my review here. This book made my heart huuuuurt. It was a darker book than I was expecting. Not that anything intense happened, but a lot of hearts are broken, smashed and tossed around. I felt like I was watching one of those historical TV dramas where you just can’t look away. I’m used to seeing this kind of drama unfold from McGee because of her previous series (The Ten Thousandth Floor). I think if you know that going in you’ll enjoy it more because you’ll know a bit of what you’re going to see.

I wish the character profiles were a bit deeper. Everyone dove into relationships that I wasn’t hating, but also wasn’t sure how much I was loving them. Later into the book I did feel for them more. I was frustrated with the lack of plot, but I know this is more character/life driven than anything REALLY happening.

The ending was expected, and still made me sit their after contemplating WHAT HAPPENS NEXT. I think the next book will hold a lot more substance because we get to see a few characters stand out a bit more. There’s a huge entangling web of point-of-views, story lines, romances, and more that I’m sure will only cause more drama.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult contemporary
  • Language: none
  • Romance: lots of kissing, some sleeping overnight together (but no sex), one sex scene that is very fade to black and not detailed whatsoever (you know what they did of course though)
  • Trigger warnings: cyber-bullying

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