Book Review

Monthly Reading Wrap-Up: February 2020

Oh hi, did I miss posting this for January?

YEP.

Life was ultra busy.

But February’s reading month was ultra busy too.

I read many books, a lot of graphic novels, and enjoyed a good majority of them!

Favorites this month: An Encho in the Bone, Catana Comics, Dating Makes Perfect, All the Tides of Fate, ACOSF, Nimona, Gilded Serpent

Least favorites this month: The Promise Prince, Stay Sweet, Heart’s Blood and Cake

  • The Promised Prince by Kortney Keisel – (☆☆☆)
  • These Violent Delights (These Violent Delights #1) by Chloe Gong – (☆☆☆☆)
  • An Echo in the Bone (Outlander #7) by Diana Gabaldon – (☆☆☆☆☆)
  • [Graphic Novel] Quiet Girl in a Noisy World by Debbie Tung – (☆☆☆☆)
  • [Graphic Novel] Book Love by Debbie Tung – (☆☆☆☆☆)
  • [Graphic Novel] Happily Ever After by Debbie Tung – (☆☆☆☆)
  • [Graphic Novel] A Thief Among the Trees by Sabaa Tahir – (☆☆☆☆)
  • The Beat Match (Showmen #3) by Kelly Siskind – (☆☆☆☆)
  • Dating Makes Perfect by Pintip Dunn – (☆☆☆☆☆)
  • [Graphic Novel] The Steel Prince (Shades of Magic Graphic Novels #1) by V.E. Schwab – (☆☆☆☆)
  • [ARC] The Stolen Kingdom by Jillian Boehme – (☆☆☆)
  • Stay Sweet by Siobhan Vivian – (☆☆)
  • All The Tides of Fate (All the Stars and Teeth #2) by Adalyn Grace – (☆☆☆☆)
  • [Graphic Novel] Night of Knives (Shades of Magic Graphic Novels #2) by V.E. Schwab – (☆☆☆☆)
  • [Graphic Novel] Little Moments of Love by Catana Chetwynd – (☆☆☆☆)
  • I Wanna Be Where You Are by Kristina Forest – (☆☆☆☆)
  • The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon – (☆☆☆☆)
  • [Graphic Novel] Rebel Army (Shades of Magic Graphic Novels #3) by V.E. Schwab – (☆☆☆)
  • [Novella] The Lives of Saints by Leigh Bardugo – (☆☆☆☆)
  • Simply Starstruck by Aspen Hadley – (☆☆☆)
  • Exile (The Extinction Trials #2) by S.M. Wilson – (☆☆☆☆)
  • Meet Your Baker (A Bakeshop Mystery #1) by Ellie Alexander – (☆☆☆☆)
  • Shipped by Angie Hockman – (☆☆☆ 1/2)
  • Heart’s Blood by Juliet Marillier – (☆☆☆)
  • A Court of Silver Flames (ACOTAR #4) by Sarah J. Maas – (☆☆☆☆☆)
  • A Batter of Life and Death (A Bakeshop Mystery #2) by Ellie Alexander – (☆☆☆☆)
  • [Graphic Novel] Snug by Catana Chetwynd – (☆☆☆☆☆)
  • Cake: A Love Story (Cake #1) by J. Bengtsson – (☆☆☆)
  • Unchosen by Katharyn Blair – (☆☆☆☆)
  • When the Men Were Gone by Marjorie Herrera Lewis – (☆☆☆☆)
  • [Graphic Novel] Nimona by Noelle Stevenson – (☆☆☆☆☆)
  • The Last Eligible Bachelor (Seasons of Change #3) by Ashtyn Newbold – (☆☆☆☆)
  • Failed Future (Air Awakens: Vortex Chronicles #3) by Elise Kova – (☆☆☆☆)
  • [ARC] Gilded Serpent (Dark Shores #3) by Danielle L. Jensen – (☆☆☆☆☆)
  • The Key (London Prep #4) by Jillian Dodd – (☆☆☆)

How did your month of reading go?
Did we read any of the same books?
Lets talk in the comments!

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Book Review

Book Review: Home Before Dark by Riley Sager

Rating: ☆☆☆☆  
Audience: Thriller
Length: 384 pages
Author: Riley Sager
Publisher: Dutton Books
Release Date: June 30th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

What was it like? Living in that house.

Maggie Holt is used to such questions. Twenty-five years ago, she and her parents, Ewan and Jess, moved into Baneberry Hall, a rambling Victorian estate in the Vermont woods. They spent three weeks there before fleeing in the dead of night, an ordeal Ewan later recounted in a nonfiction book called House of Horrors. His tale of ghostly happenings and encounters with malevolent spirits became a worldwide phenomenon, rivaling The Amityville Horror in popularity—and skepticism.

Today, Maggie is a restorer of old homes and too young to remember any of the events mentioned in her father’s book. But she also doesn’t believe a word of it. Ghosts, after all, don’t exist. When Maggie inherits Baneberry Hall after her father’s death, she returns to renovate the place to prepare it for sale. But her homecoming is anything but warm. People from the past, chronicled in House of Horrors, lurk in the shadows. And locals aren’t thrilled that their small town has been made infamous thanks to Maggie’s father. Even more unnerving is Baneberry Hall itself—a place filled with relics from another era that hint at a history of dark deeds. As Maggie experiences strange occurrences straight out of her father’s book, she starts to believe that what he wrote was more fact than fiction.

In the latest thriller from New York Times bestseller Riley Sager, a woman returns to the house made famous by her father’s bestselling horror memoir. Is the place really haunted by evil forces, as her father claimed? Or are there more earthbound—and dangerous—secrets hidden within its walls?

INDEED, IT WAS SPOOKY.

I have officially decided this is my second favorite of Sager’s (The Last Time I Lied being the first). It freaked me out, had some interesting story lines, and was overall a good spooky thriller.

The ghosts and haunted manor setting had me reading in the day time. I do NOT do haunted houses. Regardless of ridiculousness, I still found myself totally on edge. This is a slow-burn kind of haunting. It felt like a movie, slowly amping up to the climax of all the weird things going off at once.

I liked the alternating chapters between the Dad and daughter, Maggie. Though I think I leaned more towards her Dad’s more horrific tale. Which lead me to being let down by the ending. I almost wanted more ghost-y-ness (is that a word?) then having every single answer laid out. I have a confused mix of how I feel about the end. I liked how things were overall solved, but still, just something, *something* was missing for me.

What also had me out of the book from the beginning was the ease at which this entire book wouldn’t have existed if she sold the house. And I always love a character who sprints towards the danger rather than away.

Overall audience notes:

  • Thriller
  • Language: occasional
  • Romance: none
  • Violence: murder, physical altercations
  • Trigger warnings: multiple discussions a murder-suicide and of multiple children being murdered

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: A Captain for Caroline Gray by Julie Wright

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: Regency Romance
Length: 336 pages
Author: Julie Wright
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Release Date: March 2nd, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Caroline Gray’s third season in London society ends as badly as her first two—no marriage proposal, no suitor, not even a glimmer of an interested prospect. She suspects it’s because she is far too quick to speak her mind to men who are put off by her forthright opinions, her eager intellect backed by a formal education, and her unconventional ideas about the future. She is far more daring than demure to suit the taste of her class. Besides, Caroline thinks there will always be next season to find a husband.

However, her family’s dwindling income leaves Caroline with only one choice to secure her future: a one-way ticket to sail with the Fishing Fleet to India, where the son of a family friend waits. If the match doesn’t work, Caroline cannot return home.

Captain Thomas Scott loves the thrill of the open sea, and as commander of one of the ships of the “Fishing Fleet,” he ferries scores of young English girls to the shores of India to find husbands. The voyages pay well, but he struggles to understand why families would allow young women to be matched with total strangers so far away.

The trips have always been routine and uneventful—until this trip’s first night’s dinner with one Miss Caroline Gray. She engages in a lively political conversation, presenting opposing viewpoints to the conventionally opinionated gentlemen at her table. Captain Scott is secretly amused and delighted at her boldness, not to mention quite drawn to her beauty.

The rest of the passengers are shocked by her behavior and Caroline finds herself an outcast, suffering harsh judgments from the other passengers. However, she finds an unlikely ally in Captain Scott which quickly draws them closer.

Both know an arranged marriage awaits Caroline at the end of their voyage, yet the attraction between them is undeniable. Caroline will have to decide if she will honor her mother’s wishes and marry a man in India whom she has never met—thus securing a future for her and her mother—or be brave enough to throw convention to the wind and commit to love a sea captain. He may be enchanted by her bold and unconventional ways, but will his love and admiration last?

Thank you to Shadow Mountain Publishing for an ARC. All opinions are my own!

ROUGH SEAS.

This book was a bit of a hit and miss for me.

I did enjoy the regency romance aspect. And I did like Caroline as one of the main characters. She had a bold nature and allowed her education to shine. Caroline was more progressive and free-thinking which was a nice change of pace. I didn’t always love Captain Scott. He had some repetitive dialogue and was rather stubborn for way too much of this. They had some sweet moments and cute banter at least. Really enjoyed the good kissing scenes too.

The setting is what kind of dragged for me. With things set mostly out at seas it made any added drama really feel dramatic. I caught myself wanting to roll my eyes sometimes because it was a clear way to try to progress the story without really doing so. A shorter book with less fluff would have made the pacing better.

The overall journey was successful. I liked the ending and wish there would have been an epilogue! I wanted a touch more of Caroline and Thomas.

Overall audience notes:

  • Regency Romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses
  • Violence: physical altercations, stormy seas, child abuse (one of the boys on the ship is beaten off screen by someone)

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: The Stolen Kingdom by Jillian Boehme

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: YA Fantasy Romance
Length: 320 pages
Author: Jillian Boehme
Publisher: Tor Teen
Release Date: March 2nd, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

For a hundred years, the once-prosperous kingdom of Perin Faye has suffered under the rule of the greedy and power-hungry Thungrave kings. Maralyth Graylaern, a vintner’s daughter, has no idea her hidden magical power is proof of a secret bloodline and claim to the throne. Alac Thungrave, the king’s second son, has always been uncomfortable with his position as the spare heir—and the dark, stolen magic that comes with ruling.

When Maralyth becomes embroiled in a plot to murder the royal family and seize the throne, a cat-and-mouse chase ensues in an adventure of dark magic, court intrigue, and forbidden love.

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for an eARC in exchange for a review.
All opinions are my own!

NEEDED MORE.

This book caused me to learn something about my bookish self.

I am picky when it comes to standalone fantasies.

Why? Because I think it’s hard to give everything a fantasy book needs laid out to make it feel whole by the time it ends. A fantasy needs strong world-building, an explanation of magic systems and more. I thought this was missing a lot of that plus a lack of character depth (with main and side characters).

The Stolen Kingdom started off pretty strong. The premise wasn’t wholly unique, but it seemed to have a flair I could get behind. I liked Maralyth as a main character. She was strong-willed and may have had to go with things she didn’t approve of, yet made the right decisions when it came down to it. I saw her in her role by the end.

Alac was a love interest I enjoyed. He wanted to change his kingdom for the better and was open to listening and working with his perceived enemies to do so. I wish there would have been more to Alac and Maralyth’s romance sub-plot. It was charming watching them together and I wanted to see the banter and tender pages.

It was an enjoyable story for a standalone. Even when I think it was missing deeper aspects, it delivered likable characters and a nifty, yet simple, magic system to follow. It would be an enjoyable read for younger YA audiences too.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Language: little to none
  • Romance: kisses
  • Violence: physical, poison, loss of loved ones, murder

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