April TBR

April TBR

Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
I was not expecting to receive an eARC of this book, and I’m still a little shocked that I did. 😱 Aurora Rising is one of my most anticipated reads of the year, and I’ve been eagerly awaiting it ever since I finished Obsidio — the third and final book in Kaufman and Kristoff’s Illuminae Files series. (FYI: If you pre-order Aurora Rising and fill out this form, you’ll receive an exclusive Illuminae Files novella!)

The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman
Even though spring is finally here, I’m always in the mood for a dark and monstrous story. Herman’s debut novel promises an eerie, close-knit town, teenagers with otherworldly powers, and a beast lurking in the woods, trapped in what is known as “the Gray.” And if that doesn’t lure you in, maybe the spook-tastic cover will.

Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren + The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
Whenever I’m feeling especially anxious, I try to revisit favorite books — especially feel-good romances. Last year, I fell head over heels in love with both Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating and The Kiss Quotient. And now that I’m in desperate need of a pick-me-up, I think it’s time for some rereads. ❤️

Aru Shah and the End of Time + Aru Shah and the Song of Death by Roshani Chokshi
Aru Shah and the End of Time completely exceeded my expectations, so I’m excited to see what Aru and Mini are up to in the sequel, Aru Shah and the Song of Death. There’s magical thievery, zombies, new friends, unexpected enemies, and… maybe even a middle school dance! I’m sure Aru is thrilled. 😂

March Wrap-Up

March Wrap-Up

Here are the books I read this month:

Were there any books on my March TBR that I did not read?
I didn’t end up reading The Cruel Prince, The Wicked King, The Gilded Wolves, The Priory of the Orange Tree, or The Bathhouse at Midnight. So… YEP. 😂 It’s been a weird month.

Did I read any books that weren’t on my March TBR?
Yes! Strange Practice, Dreadful Company, and An Enchantment of Ravens.

What was my favorite read of this month?
Wicked Saints, without a doubt. It comes out on Tuesday, so for the love of all that’s dark and holy, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy! ❤️

What was my least favorite read of this month?
I’m completely avoiding the question, but honestly, I loved everything I read this month. I don’t think I have a least favorite this time around. 🤔

March Mini-Reviews

How is it already the end of March? 😮 This month has gone by so quickly. Between job interviews and some frustrating Life Stuff, I’ve been keeping busy. But here are some mini-reviews of the books I’ve read this month — and lucky for me, all of them were four- or five-star reads!

WSWicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan
Release Date: April 2nd, 2019

Have you ever read a book that you loved so, so much that you’re just… at a loss for words? I finished reading Wicked Saints at the beginning of March, and it’s taken me nearly the entire month to figure out what to say about it. In short: It’s phenomenal. ❤️ While I’ve seen plenty of comparisons made between it and Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone Trilogy — and I can understand why — this book seemed more reminiscent of Catherynne M. Valente’s Deathless. And much like Deathless, I could probably gush about it until the literal end of time. It feels like Duncan peered down into my soul and wrote the book that I’ve always wanted to read. If you like books with blood magic, love-to-hate romance, monstrous boys, bisexual princes who love (many, many) good drinks, morally gray EVERYTHING, and cliffhanger endings that leave you lying on the floor, wondering what you’re going to do with your life until the next book comes out… READ THIS BOOK.

RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

SPStrange Practice by Vivian Shaw

After finishing Wicked Saints, I had a terrible book hangover. So, what did I do? Read a book that Emily A. Duncan herself recommended. And it did not disappoint. Greta Helsing is a doctor who treats the “differently alive” — vampires, were-creatures, mummies, ghouls… Even though she’s a human, it’s the family business, and she’s damn good at what she does. Throw in a delightfully-domestic vampire who makes tiramisu and latte art, uses Bumble and bumble hair products, and writes passive-aggressive letters to newspaper editors; an ex-demon with a chronic cough, a penchant for wearing pinstripe suits, and a certain friend he simply refers to as “Sam” (😈); a vampyre (there is a difference!) with gothic good looks and a not-so-small crush that turns him into an adorably-embarrassed mess; and a museum curator with a peculiar family history. Oh, and some homicidal monks with glowing eyes and very stabby weapons. 🗡 I couldn’t put it down! If you like urban fantasy, definitely give it a go.

RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

DCDreadful Company by Vivian Shaw

The follow-up to Strange PracticeDreadful Company begins in Paris, with Greta and Ruthven attending an opera at the legendary Palais Garnier. The rest, as they say, is spoiler-y. But there’s a bloodthirsty vampire coven, some bizarre-yet-adorable wellmonsters, one precious cinnamon roll of a werewolf, psychopomps, summoning spells, The Phantom of the Opera (YEP), and some famous, sassy ghosts. And did I mention the world’s on the verge of ending? 😬 Although I really enjoyed this book, and I think Shaw did an excellent job of building on the events of Strange Practice and introducing new, compelling characters, there were a few parts that seemed a little slow. But I can’t wait for the next book in this series, Grave Importance, which comes out later this year. A luxury spa for mummies! Dr. Faust! More Greta and Varney! ❤️

RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

AEORAn Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

I decided to reread this gem of a book for a few reasons. The first is that I’m going to be meeting Margaret Rogerson next month (YAY YAY YAY), and the second is that it’s one of my favorite comfort reads. For me, some books are more immersive than others, and this one truly transports me from this world to another. Rogerson’s writing is lush and lyrical, the world of Whimsy is so detailed it feels real, and although the book is on the shorter side, so much happens over the course of Isobel and Rook’s journey. And Rook… Where do I even begin? 🧡 Although he’s one of the fair folk, he’s so much more than he appears — proud, occasionally self-absorbed, adorable, sweet, at turns bewildered and bewildering… Sure, there’s some hints of instalove here and there, but unlike other books that utilize that trope, for whatever reason, I didn’t mind it at all. He and Isobel are just too stinkin’ cute. And I adore Gadfly. He’s a secondary character, but from the moment you meet him, he practically preens right off the page. 😄 If you’re looking for a magical, beautifully-written book that will leave you feeling warm and fuzzy inside, look no further.

RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

March TBR

March TBR

Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan
I finished reading this book today, and I think my tweet says it all:

Be on the lookout for a review next week! 😁🖤

The Cruel Prince + The Wicked King by Holly Black
I meant to read these books back in January, but I was too busy with my Grishaverse read-a-thon. Click here to read about them in my January TBR!

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi
I’ve heard amazing things about this book, and the setting alone — Paris during La Belle Époque — is making me swoon. There are secret societies, treasure hunters, and tons of historical fantasy goodness. The concept of a group of misfits joining forces to achieve a common goal reminds me (in a good way) of Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows. And the cover is deliciously decadent. 😊

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon
IT’S FINALLY HERE! I almost can’t believe that this book is finally in my hands — or at least on my Kindle, which is in my hands. 😜 I’m a huge fan of Shannon’s The Bone Season, and I’m excited to read her standalone epic fantasy, which is full of magic, mayhem, and dragons. Basically, it’s 800+ pages of my very favorite things.

The Bathhouse at Midnight: An Historical Survey of Magic and Divination in Russia by W.F. Ryan
As someone who has become fascinated with Russian folklore and history, I decided to indulge my academic curiosity and request this book through interlibrary loan. I think it’s a perfect follow-up to both my Grishaverse read-a-thon and Wicked Saints.

NOTE: You may have noticed that there’s no Jane Austen book on this list. After much consideration, I’ve decided to take a break from the #ArdentlyAustenBookClub readalong and focus on getting through some of my highly-anticipated reads.

What books are you planning to read this month? Leave a comment and let me know! 😀

February Wrap-Up

February Wrap-Up

Here are the books I read this month:

*While I didn’t write a review of this book, I did enjoy it! Definitely more so than I did when I first read it in high school. 😊

Were there any books on my February TBR that I did not read?
I’m nearly 75% of the way through Wicked Saints, but I didn’t manage to finish it before the end of the month.

Did I read any books that weren’t on my February TBR?
Yes! The Demon in the Wood wasn’t on my TBR. But it was technically a short story, so that barely counts, right? 😜

What was my favorite read of this month?
This is tough, because everything I read this month ended up being a four- or five-star read for me. My favorite book that I finished is probably Six of Crows, but I’ve gotta tell you… Wicked Saints is phenomenal. I’ve been purposefully taking my time reading it because I never want it to end. ❤️

What was my least favorite read of this month?
Eh… Probably The Demon in the Wood. Even though it was a quick read and provided some interesting background information about the Darkling, I don’t think I learned anything I didn’t already know, or at least suspect.

Review: King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

KOSI finished reading King of Scars two weeks ago, and it’s taken me this long to actually sit down and write a (hopefully) coherent review. It’s not because I disliked the book — I really enjoyed it! But I knew it would be hard to write about, because nearly everything I want to discuss or mention is spoiler-y. 🤐

So… SPOILER WARNING: I’m going to do my best to avoid the gigantic, WTF-worthy spoilers, but there will likely be some minor spoilers in this review — including spoilers for Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom. If you haven’t read King of Scars yet and want to remain as unspoiled as possible (good luck with that if you’re on Twitter, lol), look away now!

Okay. Remember how I said this would be coherent? HAHAHA. Not likely. 😂 But let’s jump right in — with bullet points, because this book has left me incapable of writing complete, sensible paragraphs.

  • Was this book perfect? No. Was I disappointed — even just a tiny bit? In some ways, yes. (We’ll get into that more later.) But boy oh boy, was it one hell of a ride. 
  • THAT FIRST CHAPTER. It’s so atmospheric and creepy… and also very sad, because MY SWEET BABY NIKOLAI. *sobs*
  • I went from disliking Zoya in the Shadow and Bone Trilogy to practically worshiping her in King of Scars. If that’s not a miracle, I’m not sure what is. In the years that have passed since that climactic battle with the Darkling, she has grown so much. And I was glad that we learned more about her past in this book.
  • I love books with cults and dark magic and strange prophecies, so when the Cult of the Starless Saint showed up, I was 100% on board.
  • I thought that Nina’s grief was very well-written, and as painful as it was to relive Matthias’s death, it was important for the reader to see how it continues to affect her.
  • *shouts from the rooftops* DAVID AND GENYA ARE MARRIED! TAMAR AND NADIA ARE MARRIED! LOVE IS REAL! ❤️
  • It took me a while to warm up to Hanne — a new character that Nina meets while undercover in Fjerda — but I like her attitude, and I enjoyed her banter with Nina.
  • You know what was even better than that banter, though? The banter between Nikolai and Zoya. A+ BANTER, MY FRIENDS. I did find myself wishing for a little more blatant sexual tension between the two of them, because… Well, that’s my jam. But what we got was pretty damn good.
  • The ending of this book nearly killed me. I remember running into my husband’s office, scream-hissing at him, “Oh my GOD. Oh MY GODDDDD.” 😱 I will say, I do understand why some readers are upset. I think it’s an… interesting choice, narratively speaking. But I’m very, very curious to see what happens in the next book.
  • What kept this from being a five-star read for me was the feeling that some parts of the book were more cohesive than others. While the use of alternating third-person limited POVs worked extremely well in both Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom, I almost felt like we were too distant from Nikolai in this book. As I’ve said, I liked learning more about Zoya’s background and current motivations. But the Nina chapters were the hardest for me to get through. I’m sure her story will eventually intersect more clearly with Nikolai and Zoya’s narratives in the second book. But there were times when I wondered what this book would have been like without Nina in it.
  • The weird, sand castle-y realm of the saints had me so confused. So… they were never truly martyred? And why was [REDACTED] so obsessed with [REDACTED]? 🤔 I wasn’t sure how quickly time passed there, or how Nikolai was really supposed to prepare for [REDACTED]. (Sorry, sorry… If you’ve read the book, you know.) I’m just still not sure how I feel about that section of the book.

Overall, this was an enjoyable read that I honestly could not put down. And you better believe that I’m already eager for the sequel! But as much as I wanted to give this Nikolai book my heart and soul — along with my angst and tears — both still belong to Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom.

RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

February Mini-Reviews

I’ve fallen a little behind on my reviews, but here’s some good news: I’ve finally finished my Grishaverse read-a-thon! 😀 Below, you’ll find my mini-reviews of The Language of Thorns and The Demon in the Wood. And tomorrow, I’ll post my review of King of Scars. (FYI: I’m still not over it. 😵)

TLOTThe Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo

I’m so glad I finally read this! If you’re a fan of the Shadow and Bone Trilogy or the Six of Crows Duology — or even just fairy tales and folklore — I would definitely recommend these stories. Some may seem familiar, but don’t worry; there’s always a delightful twist.

“Ayama and the Thorn Wood” was probably my favorite tale in this collection. (Is it because she marries the monster? WHO KNOWS? 😂) The final tale, “When Water Sang Fire,” is also excellent — and it features a familiar character from the Grishaverse… I won’t spoil it, but this story of friendship and betrayal left me thinking about it long after I finished reading it.

And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the gorgeous illustrations. Each story’s images are different, and the way they grow and change as the pages turn is truly special. ❤️ I think the artwork looks best when viewed in the physical copy of the book, but if you’re looking for a great deal, the Kindle ebook is currently on sale for $2.99!

RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

TDITWThe Demon in the Wood by Leigh Bardugo

I was initially under the impression that this was a novella, but it’s actually a short prequel story about the Darkling. I figured it would be a quick read — and easy to squeeze in before starting King of Scars. And let’s be honest. I’m always eager for some quality Darkling backstory. 😏

This story takes place well before the Shadow and Bone Trilogy, when the Darkling is a child. Because of its length and the events that take place, it’s hard to talk about it without spoiling anything. But this story reveals some of what he went through, being both a living amplifier and a boy burdened with strange and powerful abilities.

Overall, this story was intriguing, and I think it shed some light on the Darkling’s motivations in the Shadow and Bone Trilogy. I did wish it were longer, but I would also be thrilled to read an entire book about the Darkling, so… 😅

RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Six of Crows Duology

I was very excited to read the Six of Crows Duology, because I know it’s beloved by many Grishaverse fans, and the premise sounded intriguing — and so different from the Shadow and Bone Trilogy. My only regret is that I didn’t read these books sooner, but I also can’t imagine reading the first book and then having to wait a year for the second one. Talk about torture! 😱 These reviews are as non-spoilery as possible, so without further ado…

SOCSix of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

After hearing so many great things about this book, I was curious to see if it would live up to the hype. Spoiler: IT DID. The writing is sharp and superb, the pacing is flawless, and the character development is truly next level. In a story with six main protagonists, there’s a risk of focusing too much on some and not enough on others. But Bardugo strikes the perfect balance between all of the Dregs, providing each of them with a distinct personality and backstory. Honestly, I love them all, and I would join them for waffles in a heartbeat. ❤️ I finally understand tweets like “I WOULD DIE FOR KAZ BREKKER,” because he is an incredible character, and I want nothing but the best for my ruthless, stabby boy. 🔪🔪🔪 But the thing that most impressed me was the story itself. It’s about a high-stakes heist that takes place in a fantasy world; I’ve never read anything quite like it. And just when you think you’ve figured out Kaz’s plan, he throws a curveball straight at your face. Even if you weren’t a big fan of the Shadow and Bone Trilogy, I would definitely recommend giving this book a shot. There’s a clear improvement in Bardugo’s writing, the narrative style is completely different (and works much better than first-person narration), and — drumroll please — there’s no love triangle! 😁

RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

CKCrooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

I’m going to try to keep this review as spoiler-free as possible, but I’ll tell you this: Prepare to have your heart ripped out — repeatedly. I was warned before I read it, but still… DEAR LORD, THAT WAS DEVASTATING. 😭 Much like Six of Crows, this book revolves around a dangerous heist — among other things — and has impeccable pacing. The Dregs are faced with enemies on all sides, and the tension is consistently palpable. I can’t remember the last time I stayed up until 2 AM reading a book, but I just couldn’t put this one down until I finished it. If you’ve read the Shadow and Bone Trilogy, you’ll see some familiar faces in this book. (Also: If you plan on reading King of Scars, this duology is pretty much required reading. It provides valuable insight into certain characters’ motivations, as well as context for many of the key plot points in King of Scars.) We learn more about the Dregs’ lives prior to the Ice Court heist, we see relationships grow and change, and we’re forced to watch as each of them is pushed to their absolute limit. This is a fantastic conclusion to the duology, and the ending left me teary-eyed but (mostly) happy. ❤️ I’m probably going to spend the rest of this month — if not my entire life — yelling at people to read this book.

RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

February TBR

february tbr

Six of Crows + Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
I’ve already started reading Six of Crows, and I can hardly put it down. IT’S SO GOOD. Definitely one of those books that I wish I had read sooner. (Let’s just ignore the fact that it’s been sitting on my bookshelf for over two years… 😅) And I can honestly say that I love every single one of the Dregs. But I’ve heard that Crooked Kingdom will devastate me, so I’m enjoying my happiness while it lasts.

The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo
This book has everything I love — a gorgeous cover (and illustrations that change as you read each story), Leigh Bardugo’s magical writing, and fairy tales and folklore from the Grishaverse. This collection includes “The Too-Clever Fox,” which will be perfect to read before finally diving into King of Scars. (Nikolaaaaai. ❤️)

King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo
This is one of my most anticipated reads of the year, and it has taken all of my willpower to set it aside until I’ve finished my Grishaverse read-a-thon. 🙃 I’ve avoided synopses, comments, reactions, spoilers… Everything. But I’m ecstatic that our favorite mischievous king is getting his own duology! And I’m excited to see where this story will take him.

Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan
Another of my most anticipated reads of the year, this book sounds beautiful and dark — like, really dark. (MY FAVORITE KIND. 😈) And I was lucky enough to win an ARC in a giveaway! Roshani Chokshi said on Goodreads, “This book is for everyone who shipped Alina and The Darkling,” so… *cough* I have a feeling I’m going to really like it… 🖤 As an added bonus, the author — whose tweets bring me much joy — is also from Northeast Ohio!

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
I haven’t read this book since high school, so I’m curious to see what I’ll think of it 10+ years later. I’m positive I’ll still be Team Elizabeth Bennet, but will I swoon over Mr. Darcy? 🤔 (Fun Fact: In high school, I was less interested in Mr. Darcy than I was in Jane Eyre‘s brooding Mr. Rochester. This probably tells you a lot about me as a person.) This is the February pick for the #ArdentlyAustenBookClub readalong on Instagram. You can find more info here!

What will you be reading this month? Anything romantic? 😉 Let me know below!

January Wrap-Up

january wrap-up

Here are the books I read this month:

Were there any books on my January TBR that I did not read?
I didn’t end up reading The Cruel Prince or The Wicked King this month (*sob*), but I will definitely read them soon! 😁

Did I read any books that weren’t on my January TBR?
Yes! The Need wasn’t on my TBR. I was really intrigued by the premise, and it was a nice break between Sense and Sensibility and my reread of the Shadow and Bone Trilogy.

What was my favorite read of this month?
I have to go with Siege and Storm. It was a pleasure to reread it and remember why I enjoyed it so much when I first picked it up years ago.

What was my least favorite read of this month?
I was surprisingly disappointed — and a little frustrated — by Match Me If You Can. 🙁