Monthly Wrap-Up

Monthly Reading Wrap-Up: December 2020

We’ve made it to the end of the year! I wrapped up the year with 250 books and am excited to see what a new year holds. I know I won’t hit that high of books again, but it was fun to expand genres and authors I’ve read.

Happy New Year y’all.

Favorite Reads: Forever Wild, A Sky Beyond the Storm, Skyhunter, and A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow
Least Favorite: Winterkeep, The Christmas Swap

  • Forever Wild (The Simple Wild #2.5) by K.A. Tucker
  • A Match Made at Christmas by Courtney Walsh
  • Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow (Nevermoor #1) by Jessica Townsend
  • A Sky Beyond the Storm (An Ember in the Ashes #4) by Sabaa Tahir
  • The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel
  • A Christmas Spark by Cindy Steel
  • Keeper of the Lost Cities (Keeper of the Lost Cities #1) by Shannon Messenger
  • Layla by Colleen Hoover
  • [ARC] A Captain for Caroline Gray by Julie Wright
  • On the Second Day of Christmas by Deborah M. Hathaway
  • Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow (Nevermoor #2) by Jessica Townsend
  • Firefight (The Reckoners #2) by Brandon Sanderson
  • [ARC] The Lion of the Sea (The Maiden Ship #2) by Micheline Ryckman
  • Skyhunter (Skyhunter #1) by Marie Lu
  • The Christmas Train by David Baldacci
  • [ARC] Winterkeep (Graceling Realm #4) by Krisin Cashore
  • Exile (Keeper of the Lost Cities #2) by Shannon Messenger
  • A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow by Laura Taylor Namey
  • A Princess for Christmas by Jenny Holiday
  • The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune
  • [Gifted] Ex on the Beach (The Extra Series #11) by Megan Walker and Janci Patterson
  • Tiger Queen by Annie Sullivan

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

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: Kingdom of the Wicked (Kingdom of the Wicked #1) by Kerri Maniscalco

Rating: ☆☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Young adult paranormal fantasy romance
Length: 448 pages
Author: Kerri Maniscalco
Publisher: Jimmy Patterson
Release Date: October 27th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Kerri Maniscalco introduces her next series, a dark tale of a beautiful young witch, a troubled demon, and their epic romance, set against a 19th century Italian backdrop.

Emilia and her twin sister Victoria are streghe – witches who live secretly among humans, avoiding notice and persecution. One night, Victoria misses dinner service at the family’s renowned Sicilian restaurant. Emilia soon finds the body of her beloved twin…desecrated beyond belief. Devastated, Emilia sets out to discover who did this, and to seek vengeance at any cost—even if it means using dark magic that’s been long forbidden.

Then Emilia meets Wrath, the outlier among the seven demon brethren, always choosing duty over pleasure. He’s been tasked by his master with investigating a series of women’s murders on the island. When Emilia and Wrath’s fates collide, it’s clear this disturbing mystery will take a bewitching turn.

Thank you to Jimmy Patterson and Netgalley for the gifted eARC. All opinions are my own!

YOU DON’T KNOW IT YET, BUT YOU NEED THIS BOOK.

I don’t even know how to start this review, I LOVED this book y’all! I enjoyed Maniscalco’s first series, Stalking Jack the Ripper, but mainly for Thomas Cresswell. Seriously, don’t ask me what I think about Audrey Rose. That being said, it made me initially nervous to read this because I worried for the main character again.

And I can say, for at least this first book, I am wrong. I adored Emilia as the main protagonist. She was bold and fierce. Made her own decisions based on what she knew and was told, and yeah, maybe ran off into danger a time or two, but what heroine doesn’t? Emilia was the missing puzzle piece I needed to love this.

Enter in, our Prince of Hell, WRATH. Ohhhh can Maniscalco right a love interest amazingly well. I feel a solidified new book boyfriend coming in over the course of this series. I loved the banter and enemies to lovers dynamic. Being forced to work together to solve witch murders led to some close knit and quiet scenes that I JUST CAN’T HANDLE. Part of his character is left very open-ended and I will sit here anxiously waiting to know if some of my thoughts/assumptions are true.

May be wondering why the half-star take down? For one of the characters involved I could spot from a mile away that they were one of the villains. I didn’t like how quick that was to pick out from the get-go. What I did love was meeting all of Wrath’s brothers. Who knew I was so interested in the Princes from hell? All so cunning and manipulative. Filled with arrogance and doing as they please. Couldn’t help myself, I loved them (and hated them, ya know) too.

There’s a lot of action, heat, and mystery involved here. I was absolutely entrenched in this Italian backdrop atmosphere. It fit this story well and only increased my adoration. Give me book two ASAP.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult paranormal fantasy romance
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: kisses / make-outs; a scene where characters are undressed, but that’s as far as it goes
  • Violence: murder, torture, animal attacks, physical altercations
  • Content warnings: loss of a loved one

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: The Damned (The Beautiful #2) by Renée Ahdieh

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: YA Paranormal + Romance
Length: 456 pages
Author: Renée Ahdieh
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Release Date: July 7th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

New York Times bestselling author Renée Ahdieh returns with the second installment of her new sumptuous, sultry and romantic series, The Beautiful.

Following the events of The Beautiful, Sébastien Saint Germain is now cursed and forever changed. The treaty between the Fallen and the Brotherhood has been broken, and war between the immortals seems imminent. The price of loving Celine was costly. But Celine has also paid a high price for loving Bastien.

Still recovering from injuries sustained during a night she can’t quite remember, her dreams are troubled. And she doesn’t know she has inadvertently set into motion a chain of events that could lead to her demise and unveil a truth about herself she’s not quite ready to learn.

Forces hiding in the shadows have been patiently waiting for this moment for centuries. And just as Bastien and Celine begin to uncover the danger around them, they learn their love could tear them apart.

Thank you to Penguin Teen for the eARC. All opinions are my own!

MAYBE I AM INTO VAMPIRES.

I have been long holding the belief that I was over vampires. This duology has given me hope that maybe I can try some of the new vampire books coming out! I love the way this was written. Vampires weren’t IN MY FACE, but I also love the way the interacted with their world and the group of friends turned family themselves.

The Damned also went in a different direction than expected. I guess I was thinking I was getting more romance (typical, I know), but instead, there was a lot more whimsy and fantasy aspects to it that brought the paranormal/urban fantasy combination together. Still wished there was more romance, and more Celine, because she didn’t even show up til over 30% of the way through!

Watching the push and pull between Bastien and Celine was the kind of will they/won’t they, that I loooooove. Every time they were in the same room together I was glued to the page wanting to know what would happen next. I wanted more of them together, yet the writing was beautiful anytime I did get them. Ah, yes. Love a good romance component in a book!

One of my issues was how open ended the last few chapters were. I didn’t feel much closure with this installment because it was abundantly clear, a new series is coming, with a spin-off following another character. While totally here for it, I wish somethings had been more solidified. I’m curious where the enemies are going to rise from, how the other realms will play into it, and if I’ll get to see some of my favorite character again.

Ahdieh creates some of my favorite duologies and I love her writing. Can’t wait to see what’s next!

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult paranormal + romance
  • Language: occasional strong
  • Romance: kisses / heated make-outs; one love scene with minimal detail
  • Violence: murder, physical, magical; not incredibly gory

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Book Review

Book Review: The Beautiful (The Beautiful #1) by Renée Ahdieh

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult historical fiction + romance + paranormal
Length: 448 pages
Author: Renée Ahdieh
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Release Date: October 8th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

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.

VAMPIRES?

I hesitantly picked this book up because I love Ahdieh’s books, but I heard the hypeness over the apparent vampires in this book [note: not a fan of vampire books, never really have been]. My cautionary read turned out a lot better than I thought. And I know I liked this much better than others BECAUSE there were barely any vampires in the entire book.

Ahdieh’s writing is always wonderful. I was easily invested in the story and enjoyed reading it. I love the setting, especially having traveled there, it really added to the atmosphere and vibe of old world New Orleans. The mystery and mythical combination is a tune I can love.

The romance was good, when the love triangle wasn’t in play. UGH. It didn’t need that at all to add to it (though now apparently it’ll play a big part in book two). Jury is still out and how the rest of this will unfold, but I was definitely shipping Celene and Bastien. I love the sultry banter and romantic moments they had. The ending left me all up in arms and I need a resolution.

I liked Celene for the most part. Her lack of communication skills were obvious and annoying. Celene could have had a better friendship with Pippa if she would trust her for one minute. The amount of inner dialogue she had about not telling anyone anything was running me ragged. An inability to communicate anything can really sour a character. Otherwise, I enjoyed her braveness and her courage against her situation.

Oh yes, those vampires? Well throughout the book I really couldn’t figure out who the mystery chapters were (in the vampires POV). I honestly didn’t know until they showed up on the page. That was satisfying to be on edge the entire time with who was attacking Celene and her cohorts. I definitely think they underworld of New Orleans will play a much bigger role in the second book since all of the reveals didn’t come out until the second half.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult paranormal, historical fiction romance
  • Language: a little strong
  • Romance: some kisses, an almost love scene with a little detail
  • Violence: gory murder description
  • Trigger Warning: attempted rape (never in full detail, discussed as part of Celene’s past with a few paragraphs dedicated to how he attacked her)

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