➽ I was provided with an early copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. The following opinions are my own.
Wylie Lark, a true crime writer, travels to Burden, Iowa to stay in the home that was the scene of the gruesome crime her newest novel chronicles. While she’s there to finish her book she is also battling her own demons and running away from hardships at home. Everything is turned on its head when she discovers a little boy frozen in her yard during a dangerous winter storm. Once she discovers the child is alive she must find out where he came from- what she learns next will hit closer to home than she ever expected.
This is the second book I’ve read by Heather Gudenkauf. I really enjoyed her last book, This Is How I Lied (find my review for that title here), which is one of the reasons I decided to pick up her newest book as well. The Overnight Guest follows three different timelines: One being from August of 2000 when the original crime occurs, one being present day, and one unknown. These seemingly unrelated timelines slowly begin to merge as the story progresses and even though I did correctly guess most of the twists it was the execution that made this a great book. Gudenkauf expertly reveals important pieces of the puzzle at the perfect moments to keep the reader on the edge of their seat.
Towards the end when most of the story is told in present tense the tension was ramped up to double speed and I couldn’t wait to see where the story was going to go. This is also the first thriller to ever make me cry real tears. I was invested in the story of Josie and Becky and the gruesome crime surrounding them. It was truly heartbreaking. The atmosphere in this story was palpable- I could practically feel the August heat and humidity along with the remoteness of being so isolated far from other people. The same went for the deadly snow and ice storm that took place in the present timeline- the darkness, the cold, the fear- it all culminated to make for a very tense reading experience.
There were a couple of things that held me back from giving this five stars. There was a plot hole that really bothered me. Even though it was a relatively small thing it did change the trajectory of the story and it irked me. I would like to add that I read an advanced reader copy and this plot hole may have been caught and corrected in the finished copy. The second thing was a scene at the end that went a little too far for believability. Nothing that couldn’t happen just an unlikely turn of events. There was also a misjudged character who was treated very poorly but after this person was found to be innocent that turn of events was glossed over and I expected there to be some kind of closure in that regard. All of these things are tiny criticisms and don’t even hold up against the overwhelmingly positive things this book did, though.
The Overnight Guest is definitely one of the finest thrillers I’ve read recently. I haven’t had much success in the genre lately and I’m tending to find that nothing really shocks or surprises me anymore so when one does it really stands out from the crowd. If you’re looking for a good thriller that has the creep-factor going for it and a solid emotional punch then look no further. I totally stand behind this book.
About the Author
Heather Gudenkauf is the critically acclaimed author of several novels, including the New York Times bestseller The Weight of Silence. She lives in Iowa with her husband and children.
I received an early copy of this book from Harlequin in exchange for an honest review.
Nessa and her teenaged sister Ivy arrive in Rose Bend without an ounce of Christmas spirit and plenty of surliness. Nessa was still reeling from both the death of her mother and her deathbed confession eight months earlier when the father she shares with Ivy also passes away, leaving Nessa custody of Ivy and sending them off to spend Christmas in Rose Bend. Neither of the sisters know what they’re supposed to find in Rose Bend or what they’re meant to do there but the small town folks that live there have no such uncertainties- Rose Bend is the epitome of Christmas and the folks that live there are determined to take Nessa and Ivy into their fold and imbue them with the sense of love and family they dearly need if its the last thing they ever do. While Ivy connects with a group of kids her own age Nessa attempts to avoid any human interaction. Unfortunately for her, Wolf Dennison has other plans and the connection between them is electric and immediate. Nessa, used to being abandoned by all the people she’s ever cared about, is intent on keeping things platonic with Wolf while she suffers in silence under a heavy burden she must bear on her own. But some things are too big to be controlled and even Nessa’s stubbornness will crack in the face of Wolf and his loving family.
Christmas in Rose Bend perfectly encapsulates everything Christmas. The small-town feels and festive holiday celebrations happening throughout this entire story were exactly what I was hoping for when I started this book. This is the second installment in a series which I didn’t know when I agreed to participate in the blog tour but decided to stay the course and finish it anyway since I had already agreed to do so. Luckily, I discovered pretty quickly that this story could be read as a standalone. There are hints of the major events that happened in book one and I suspect reading the first book prior to this one would add a level of enjoyment to the reading experience but its not at all necessary.
In time the characters grew on me even if I was a little put off by the unfriendly demeanors of the sisters in the beginning. This part of the story arc was necessary for character growth and I completely understand that. On the flip side I really enjoyed Wolf and his big affectionate family- I also loved that this story was set at the Inn they owned and lived in; it added a layer of warmth and coziness that the book dearly needed in the beginning. I do have to admit that I wish Wolfgang wasn’t portrayed quite so perfectly. I enjoy flaws in my characters; it makes them more genuine and believable. Other than that I thought the dynamic between the family, friends and townspeople was well done and I appreciated the fact that a biracial relationship was front and center in this novel- something I wish we could see a lot more of in all genres. Additionally, I’d like to point out that the author did a fantastic job capturing that atmosphere so unique to small towns including all the drama that often comes with it. That simply cannot be helped in a place where everyone knows their neighbor and Nessa gets a taste of that when faced with Wolf’s ex-fiancé. Fortunately, the love and kindness often seen in places like this trumps the negative, making it the perfect setting for a holiday romance.
One of the best parts of this story was seeing Nessa and Ivy learn to be more patient and honest with each other and watching their relationship thrive because of it. It was heartwarming to see them both break down their carefully built walls in order to let the magic of the holiday season surround them after so long drowning in grief. This novel also had one of the most satisfying endings I’ve read in a while. I loved everything about it and had a big ole smile on my face the whole time. I can’t really pinpoint exactly what it was about the conclusion of this book that made me so happy but I think a lot of the reason is owed to the fact that so much of this story was weighed down by illness, loss, grief and abandonment that it was a relief when the weight was finally lifted. The other part is most likely because I was a living vicariously through the characters- I can think of nothing better than a small town covered in snow for the Christmas season and being surrounded by friends, family and people who genuinely care about you. Both Nessa and Ivy started this journey feeling like they had no one in the world and came out the other side part of a lovely family. What’s not to like about that?
USA Today bestselling author Naima Simone’s love of romance was first stirred by Johanna Lindsey and Nora Roberts years ago. Well not that many. She is only eighteen…ish. Published since 2009, she spends her days writing sizzling romances with heart, a touch of humor and snark. She is wife to Superman- or his non-Kryptonian equivalent- and mother to the most awesome kids ever. They live in perfect, sometimes domestically-challenged bliss in the southern U.S.
Christy sends her daughter, Holly, ahead on their Christmas trip to Lapland with her best friend, Alix, so she can stay behind for a few days and support her husband, Seb, through an unexpected hardship. Little does Alix know, Seb’s best friend, Zac, is also accompanying her and she isn’t pleased about it, especially after their last heated encounter. To top it all off, the reason for Christy’s trip to Lapland was to reconnect with her estranged Aunt Robyn and learn the reason for the separation once and for all. Truths will be exposed and hopefully the magical setting of the Northern Lights, majestic pines and glistening snow will be enough to see them all through.
I really, really enjoyed this novel. The first thing that comes to mind when thinking of the reasons I liked this book is the setting. I can’t think of a more magical, Christmas atmosphere than Lapland. Add in Aunt Robyn’s winter getaway with a beautiful lodge and romantic cabins and the setting is elevated even more. There is snow-shoeing, sled dogs, visiting Santa, seeing the Northern Lights… It was just wonderful. By the time I was done Lapland was added to my own personal bucket list.
The characters are dynamic and interesting. I loved watching Alix and Zack break down the walls between them and finally face the things that are getting in the way of any budding relationship they may have had over the years. Alix is very witty and I found myself laughing out loud at her antics. Christy and Seb have been married for five years but are just now accepting the truth that they don’t know each other as well as they thought and they use their much needed alone time acquainting themselves with each other. Robyn has been waiting and hoping for the moment she might be able to reconnect with her niece that she hasn’t seen since she was three years old. She’s desperate to make amends and her husband Eric is there to support her in all things. Each character brought something new to the story and I was never bored while reading.
The Christmas Escape opened on Christy facing some things she was having trouble dealing with, leading me to believe the book would be a bit darker than I had expected but this simply wasn’t the case. This ended up being such a lovely, heartwarming story that I never wanted to put it down. If this book doesn’t put you in the Christmas spirit than nothing will. Central to the plot of the book is Christy and Alix’s lifelong friendship and their very special bond with one another. But even that will be put to the test in this story of family, friendships and discovery.
USA Today Bestselling author Sarah Morgan writes contemporary romance and women’s fiction. Her trademark humor and warmth have gained her fans across the globe and three RITA Awards from the Romance Writers of America. Sarah lives in London, England, where the rain frequently keeps her trapped in her office.
Welcome to Corium University where criminal masterminds send their progeny to learn the trade and keep the family legacy going. Corium is the last place Aspen wants to be after her arms dealer father turns evidence over to the feds implicating the largest criminal families in the game. Unfortunately those criminals were a step ahead of him and now he’s sitting in prison instead and he’s taken his family down with him.
Quinton Rossi, son of the most powerful criminal in the mob, heads to Corium for an escape from everything thats happened in his life over the last year- namely the feds showing up at his home and the untimely death of his sister Adela. The last thing he wants to deal with is sharing space with Aspen, the rat who’s father attempted to ruin the lives of his family and so many others. One thing is for sure though- if he has to live in the same building with her he’s going to make sure she pays for the crimes of her parents. One rule of Corium is that they are not to kill one another but when Quinton is done with Aspen she’ll be wishing for death.
Corium is a dark mafia romance thats not for the feint of heart. There are a lot of scenes where there is no consent given for sexual acts and that non-consent isn’t challenged in the book. Personally this doesn’t bother me. When I go into a dark romance book like this I am accepting that these types of themes are most likely present. So if you’re a reader that would be triggered by this or a reader that feels the need to police all the nuances of the books they read than I recommend skipping this one.
I feel this book had equal amounts of things I liked and things that I didn’t. I LOVED the set-up for the story. A secret school for criminals hidden in the wilds of Alaska? Yes, please. That setting drew me immediately to this title and it definitely delivered. As far as I can tell the Alaskan wilderness will play an even bigger role in book two. Aspen showing up at this school after what her father did would take a lot of bravery. I think Aspen was portrayed well as far as being a woman who was clearly lonely and desperate for a friend but still tough enough to push back against her attackers. I liked her a lot. I also feel the authors were successful in making me like Quinton despite all that he does to Aspen for his own gain. I was definitely invested in the story and actually felt real sadness when I reached the end… especially once I read that cliffhanger. I’ll warn all potential readers right now: the cliffhanger is KILLER- and book two doesn’t come out until January. Honestly? Knowing what I know now I probably would have held off on reading this one until closer to the next installments release because that ending physically hurt my heart.
I do have a few criticisms but nothing that would stop me from reading the next book- as a matter of fact I plan to start one of the other series by this author duo in the mean time. The writing style felt a bit amateurish to me. Knowing these authors have written multiple books I will admit to being confused by this. The writing wasn’t bad by any means but it lacked flavor. One element of the writing that DID bother me was the authors use of the phrase “It feels like something bad is going to happen.” Instead of building up tension or foreboding organically the authors used this phrase. So instead of feeling that tension I was simply told that I should be feeling it. I did read an advanced copy of this book so it’s possible some changes were made in the final drafts. There is a lot of repetitive phrases and it always feels as though the author is trying to convince me of how tough Quinton is. So there were definitely a few things that could have used some polishing but all in all I quite liked this story.
This series has great potential and King of Corium was a solid opener into the world. I’m beyond excited to get my hands on book two as soon as I can and to read some of their other titles until then. Please be aware of some trigger warnings: death of a sibling, abandonment, physical and emotional abuse, rape, starvation, and grief.
About the Authors
J.L. Beck and C. Hallman are an international bestselling author duo who writes dark and contemporary romance.
J.L Beck is a USA Today bestselling author, she has written over fifty different romance novels. She started her writing journey back in 2014 and hasn’t slowed down a second since then. She’s captivated by real romance and loves reading about “ALPHA” males, as well as sassy heroines that know or may not know what they want. She is best known for delivering a happily ever after but has ended things on a cliffhanger a time or two.
C. Hallman is a USA Today bestselling author who wrote her debut novel in 2018. Born and raised in Germany, Cassandra moved to the United States when she was eighteen. She’s now a mom to three boys and happily married. With a love for reading, that love slowly transpired into writing. She put fingers to the keyboard and started writing about the dark side of romance.
In January 2019, the two authors teamed up and wrote their first novel together, Convict Me. The book turned into a popular six-part dark romance series. Quickly, the pair realized how great they worked together snd decided to write as a duo indefinitely. Since then, they have published four successful series including the international bestseller The North Woods University series and the Amazon top 75 Bestseller SavageBeginnings.
Meet Me in London is the first installment in the Meet Me series. This book follows Victoria, an independent clothing designer, teacher, and bartender, and Oliver, a billionaire department store owner. The two of them bump into each other on the street- literally- leading to Oliver giving Victoria a sneak peak of the new department store and haberdashery prior to opening. One thing leads to another and before you know it the two of them have a deal that includes Oliver doing a runway show for Victoria’s students and Victoria playing the part of Oliver’s fiancé to appease his parents. But what happens when playacting becomes reality and one of you is keeping secrets?
My favorite element of this story was definitely the atmosphere- London during the holiday season, including a big beautiful department store with all the trappings- I wanted to crawl into this story and stay forever for the holiday vibes alone. There is something about the holiday season that makes everything feel a bit more magical than any other time of the year and this story was no exception.
I really enjoyed the characters- I found Oliver to be humble and sweet even giving his very wealthy upbringing and life. Victoria is smart and independent with a great group of girlfriends that she can both lean on and celebrate with whenever she needs to. Due to a horrific tragedy that they all endured together as teenagers they have a very special bond; no one else can understand what they went through like they can. I could personally relate to the main character in this way, having suffered a similar hardship when I was a teenager. And while I have a more personal understanding due to this I still had a hard time believing this thing had such an impact on their lives, so many years later, that it would dictate where the characters would live, the things they would do, and create an unbreakable bond between them- even with them all living in various places across the globe.
The romance between Victoria and Oliver was cute. I didn’t really feel the chemistry that I’ve felt in the past when reading great romance books but I liked their relationship and the discussions that it brought to the table. Both characters were facing hardships in their lives, one the serious illness of a parent and the other a burdening secret. As far as the secret went, I didn’t get it. I wasn’t really convinced that this particular secret could be the catalyst keeping two people completely in love apart. I don’t really care for the miscommunication trope but I do appreciate the importance of the topic and the understanding and acceptance that Oliver showed in the end.
If you’re looking for a romance to read during the holiday season I’d definitely recommend this one. It’s a quick read with that cozy atmosphere most of us look for this time of year and it has a feel-good ending we can all get behind. I personally wouldn’t recommend the audiobook. The author narrates it herself and while she has a lovely voice she doesn’t have the talent of a voice actress- to differentiate emotion and change the voice between characters. I found it hard to determine which character was speaking and when dialogue became monologue.
Trigger Warnings: Chronic Illness, Car Accident, Death/Injury of a friend, and Infertility.
About the Author
Georgia Toffolo is a broadcaster and TV personality. She has been a film favorite with the public right from the start of her TV debut, Made in Chelsea, all the way to winning over the hearts of I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here in 2018.
Georgia turned her eye to fashion and has curated two sell-out collections with fashion retailer Shein. An ambassador for many British brands, both large and small, Georgia has also collaborated with Dyson, Baileys, Emma Bridgewater, Great British Racing, Foreo and Malibu amongst many more.
Most recently, Georgia has dived into the world of fiction by publishing her debut novel Meet Me in London with publishing house Mills and Boon. This is the first of an original series of four books following a group of lifelong friends and bringing personal anecdotes to life with humor and charm.
My thanks go to Tiny Fox Press for sending me an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
It’s peacetime in the city of Huile where Marcel Talwar is working as a private investigator after he sacrificed his leg and his lover in the battle that won them their freedom. Life lacks excitement but it’s relatively peaceful until information comes to light that suggests someone close to him is using him as a pawn in a game that could endanger everything himself and his squad sacrificed so much for.
It’s hard to even decide where to begin with this book that is so epic in scope. When you begin reading this story you are immediately immersed into a fully formed world that has it’s own religions, calendar, species, slang, and even its own scientific rules and beliefs. It’s also incredibly hard to picture this world in your head as a lot of the settings and surroundings are things unfamiliar to us- which really speaks to the imagination and cleverness of the author. The entire time I was reading this story I was thinking how amazing it would be to see an artists rendition of everything described. Because this is such a unique world that you are basically just dropped into with very little introduction it can feel a bit overwhelming trying to familiarize with all the elements of the setting. I admittedly struggled a bit attempting to understand and envision Huile and it’s surroundings.
The tone of The Sightless City is quite dark- living in this world is no picnic. It’s heavy on the political side and war has decimated everything- the result is a community of people and beings struggling to rebuild and acclimate to a life of peace after a long period of hardship. The governing body is made up of men that played various parts in the war, including Lazarus Roache, the oil tycoon who runs the sangleum refineries that produce the product that everything in their world runs on. Unfortunately this chemical causes many severe side effects including mutations and is quite dangerous. Marcel receives information that leads him to believe everything is not what it seems in that department and from there the reader is led into a deep, dark abyss.
There is lot going on in this book and religion plays a large part of it. There are warring beliefs that are prominent in the storyline but neither of them are explained in great detail. I only ever had a very loose grasp on the specifics but I think it is, in part, meant to be that way. Based on how the book ended I believe we will gain a greater understanding of the religion and the god one side worships in the next book; the revelation of said details playing a substantial part in the plot.
I realize that the elements of this story that I’ve shared are quite vague but these details are in and of themselves important to the plot and saying too much about any portion of this book veers too close to spoiler territory. I read this without reading the synopsis because the advanced copy does not offer one and in doing so everything that happened was a surprise to me; I think it was a good choice to learn everything organically. This book is also hard to categorize- it has elements of dark fantasy, sci-fi, dieselpunk, steampunk, post-apocalyptic dystopian, with a dash of noir style mystery. The Sightless City is genuinely a book in a category all its own.
This story starts out somewhat slow and can seem quite dense at times but it’s also extremely well-written; Lemelson knows how to expertly build up to huge reveals while keeping the reader anxiously at the edge of their seat. If you like very intricate fantasy worlds with heavy political and religious leanings this book was written just for you. There is not one iota of romance or fluff of any kind anywhere to be found here- this is a very dark and gritty world that is totally worth the read. I’m very eager to see where book two will take us!
Please enjoy an interview with the author, Noah Lemelson, here.
About the Author
Noah Lemelson is a short story writer and novelist who lives in LA with his wife and cat. Lover of Science Fiction, Fantasy, New Weird, and Punk. He received his BA in Biology from the University of Chicago in 2014 and received his MFA in Creative Writing from the California Institute of the Arts in 2020. He has several short stories published in both print and online magazines, such as Allegory, Space Squid and the Outsider’s Within Horror Anthology.
Noah Lemelson’s Science Fiction/Fantasy novel, The Sightless City, was released on 7/20/21 with Tiny Fox Press. I had the pleasure of reading an early copy of this fantastic novel and, additionally, I am pleased to share with you all an interview with the author.
How can fiction alter one’s own self narrative?
I think fiction allows us to look at the world through someone else’s eyes, and that’s a skill that can be turned inward. Different perspectives let us realize that the way we think about anything, including ourselves, is just one possibility, not the be-all-end-all truth. We all live in our own stories, partially written by us, partially written by others, while we can’t always control the way we fit into other peoples’ narratives, I think we do have some control on how we tell our own story. Fiction lets us practice that skill.
How did you decide to set your story in a steampunk fantasy world against the tumultuous backdrop of a partial apocalypse?
For whatever reason, I find industrial decay to be utterly fascinating, and even beautiful in its own way. I think that’s one reason why places like Chernobyl are so fascinating, places marked by civilization but no longer controlled by it. Traditional fantasy loves its ruined temples and forgotten cities, I think it’s interesting to take those same tropes and bump them up a couple centuries.
Could you explain your “realistic” approach to writing magical characters?
Though the term magic is never used in the book (besides once in a derisive aside), several characters have abilities or powers that are… basically magic with a fancy name. It’s a fun fantasy to imagine problems that magic could solve, but I think it’s often more interesting to look at what magic can’t solve. Self-doubt, moral quandaries, societal inequalities, relationship difficulties, magic has its limit. Its like anything else, skills or powers in one part of life don’t necessarily translate to others, and I think many of the most interesting stories about magic characters, be they literal wizards, super-heroes, or realty-defying inventors, is to look at where their magic is no longer enough.
What exactly is the Calamity, and how did that event influence the ongoing wars and discrimination throughout the book?
The details of the Calamity aren’t discussed much in the book, but in short it was a massive disaster caused by the misuse of ætheric weaponry that turned a big chunk of the continent into desolate Wastes. It’s one of those events that is so big that it paradoxically just kind of blends into the background. For most people it’s just a fact of history, an explanation for a reality that is their mundanity. Yet, like most facts of history, it can be trotted out to win political debate, or to excuse terrible acts. The Calamity is always someone else’s fault, an everlasting causa belli, a parable to support whatever argument is currently being made.
What inspired you to create this world?
Honestly I always loved the expanded universes for other novels, games, movies, and a not small part of my motivation came from a desire to have a world of my own, where my imagination wasn’t bound by what other people already wrote. As for why it became what it became, that’s a harder question to answer. I’ll say this, it started with the Wastes, and worked its way out.
Find my review of The Sightless City by Noah Lemelsonhere.
About the Author
Noah Lemelson is a short story writer and novelist who lives in LA with his wife and cat. Lover of Science Fiction, Fantasy, New Weird, and Punk. He received his BA in Biology from the University of Chicago in 2014 and received his MFA in Creative Writing from the California Institute of the Arts in 2020. He has had several of his short stories published in both print and online magazines, such as Allegory, Space Squid and the Outsider’s Within Horror Anthology.
Hello! I CANNOT believe it’s already time for this tag; half the year is over and with it half the amount of time you have to reach your reading goals for 2021. I’m doing pretty well this year. I’ve been bouncing between 2-7 books behind schedule. So nothing that isn’t easily remedied by the end of the year.
As of right now I’ve read 73 books but when I sat down and made some graphs to share and decided on my answers I had only read 65 so all my stats and book choices will be based on those 65 books. Let’s start off with some general book stats!
Graphs are fun, are they not?? Its always so interesting seeing these results. Also, shocking. Like the fact that I read more contemporary/romance than I did fantasy or sci-fi?? Who even am I? Although, there is actually an explanation for this. Audiobooks. I love them. But over the last couple of years I have discovered that I have a hard time enjoying fantasy in that format so I stopped trying. I’ve turned to bingeing long romance series instead- mostly during my commutes and housework. Well, they add up! Not only that but if you combine fantasy and sci-fi together which I often do it brings that section up to 26 books. Back to an even (almost) playing field! I had a feeling I would be leaning more into the adult classification this year. I still love both YA and middle grade and don’t plan on giving up on either of those but I’ve definitely found that YA hasn’t been grabbing my interest as of late. Although I do still have a bunch of YA books on my TBR that I can’t wait to read. As for the publication graph- I have been trying to read more indie whether that be an indie author or indie publisher. Partially because I’ve collected so many and I really need to prioritize them and also because I love finding those hidden gems. I could still do better in this department but I can say for absolute fact that this ratio is an improvement on last year. Lastly, I have to say I’ve been a little more stingy with five star ratings this year. I’m not a critical reader by any means but I have been making an effort to save those top tier ratings for the best of the best.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way let’s move on to the tag questions:
Best book so far this year.
The Silver Cage is so good I’ve already read it twice this year. Both times in one night. It’s not a happy book. Actually, it’s downright heartbreaking, but any book that can emotionally touch you like this book did me deserves the top spot. So far no other book has touched it.
Worst book so far this year.
I wasn’t originally going to choose this book for my answer to this one. But then I realized the book I was going to choose will actually answer the “most disappointing” question coming up so this was it’s runner up. I’m sure this is an unpopular opinion but I didn’t like Severance. It was meandering and pointless. I know this story was a metaphor for some profound message blah, blah, blah. I don’t care.
Best sequel you’ve read so far.
This is such a tough one- I’ve read some excellent sequels so far! I’m going with Heartstopper Vol. 4 but there are a few honorable mentions: The Silver Cord by Anonymous, Meat Cute by Gail Carriger, & Beautiful by Christina Lauren. Also, Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare is both a sequel and a series starter which is why I didn’t choose it but it absolutely fits for this question as well.
New release you haven’t read yet but want to.
I’m going with a lesser known title for this one- there are many more popular titles that would also work for this question (The Invisible Life of Addie Larue by V.E. Schwab for instance) but I feel like those books get talked about enough in the book community. I love anything to do with the Titanic, Acrobats (or circus themes in general) the time period and asian culture. So Luck of the Titanic should be a win for me.
Most anticipated release for the second half of the year.
Easiest question ever: Empire of the Vampire by Jay Kristoff. Hands down my most anticipated release of the whole damn decade (ok, not really)- I’m literally counting down the days! An honorable mention would be My Favorite Thing is Monsters Vol. 2 by Emil Ferris (I’m hoping beyond hope for this to release this year).
The award for biggest disappointment goes to This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone. This book was hyped to the freakin’ rafters. I’ll never understand why. Pretty prose isn’t enough to make this a great book. The story should also make sense and be set in a world that you can actually envision in your head. That would be a big nope for this one. Runner up for most disappointing would go to On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong. While I didn’t hate this one I was expecting to LOVE it and I didn’t. It was good- but that’s it.
Another easy answer- Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. I realize this book got a lot of hype in its day but that doesn’t matter. I’m not a huge lover of contemporary so I thought I’d enjoy this well enough, check it off my list, and move on. Yeah…no. I loved this book. Levi carved out a little inconspicuous hole in my heart and will stay there forever. Who knew? Certainly not me.
Favorite new author (debut or new-to-you).
I’ve only read one book by Layne Fargo so far but she left an impact. I loved They Never Learn and immediately purchased her debut, Temper. a couple other new favorites are Andy Weir (The Martian) and Heather O’Neill (The Lonely Hearts Hotel).
Newest favorite character.
I’m going with Mark Watney- he’s an excellent character and I still remember him in detail like I just read The Martian yesterday- but if I could cheat and choose a book from after the 65 book cut off I would absolutely, without a doubt, choose A.Z. Kimrean (specifically Adrian- the A half of A.Z.) from This Body’s Not Big Enough for Both of Us by Edgar Cantero (another new favorite author that I discovered in 2019 with Meddling Kids).
Book that made you cry.
The Silver Cord is the Prequel to The Silver Cage. This book didn’t break my heart like the first book but it did make me cry. Not like The Silver Cage, though, in which I cried all the way to work the morning after reading it.
Book that made you happy.
Meat Cute will make any fan of the Parasolverse smile. Gail Carriger has a knack for writing silly stories that you find yourself invested in 100%. This short and sweet story finally explains the infamous Hedgehog Incident.
What books do you need to read by the end of the year?
This is a very long list- even if I exclude all the ARCs I need to read, sequels, and rereads. But if I had to pick just a few I’d go with Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson, Dark Waters by Katherine Arden, and The Last by Hanna Jameson. Again, there are several super hyped and recently released novels that I could have added but I chose to forgo those since they are always talked about. While these are still popular they aren’t being talked about every time I turn around and they are either highly anticipated (Dark Waters) or have been on my TBR forever (all the rest, haha).
And thats a wrap- if you’ve read anything great (or terrible) be sure to let me know in the comments! Talk to you soon 🖤
I’m a bit late doing this tag since my birthday was June 11th but that whole week was quite busy (I’ll be sharing a bit about that in my next blog post!) and I didn’t get a chance to sit down and do this. I first saw this tag on Kristin Kraves Books blog and I recommend you go check out her awesome content! Anyway- here goes nothing!
Birthday Cake: A book with a plot that seems cliché but you adored it anyway.
This was definitely the hardest question to come up with an answer for since I have a hard time thinking of a book I loved as cliché… but I think its universally acknowledged that most (not all) contemporary romances follow a certain formula and while the formula is the same the details surrounding it are not. That being said- I adored the Beautiful series by Christina Lauren. Beautiful Bastard was great but I’m letting it represent the entirety of the series for my answer. Cheating? Maybe a bit- but its my birthday after all. I’d also like to add that if you’re looking for a binge-worthy romance series to listen to on audio this is an excellent selection. There are several books and novellas to get through plus a companion series with some overlapping characters (Wild Seasons).
Party Guests: You’re most anticipated book release this year.
While the first question was the hardest to answer, this was the easiest. Empire of the Vampire by Jay Kristoff is my most anticipated release of the last two years. It was originally slated for a Fall 2020 release but got pushed back a year. We are finally three months away from this book hitting shelves and I am ecstatic. Pictured above are all the copies I have preordered so far. I know this seems excessive and crazy but I feel zero shame. I arrived late to the party with Nevernight and I wasn’t about to make that mistake again! From top to bottom and left to right these are the editions in the photo: Obsidian Mooncrate exclusive edition, Waterstones exclusive edition, Goldsboro exclusive edition, General U.S. edition, General U.K. edition, and the Barnes & Noble exclusive edition. I will link any editions listed that aren’t currently sold out. As an aside- this isn’t me flexing or anything like that. It’s just me celebrating a book I am so damn thrilled about.. and it wasn’t all roses and rainbows. The Waterstones edition sold out 3 times before I was able to snag one- the site kept crashing (a repeating theme here), and I wasn’t even able to get a Goldsboro edition the traditional way. I set my alarm, got up two hours early just to be awake and prepared, I memorized my credit card info and copied the number from another source just to make things quicker, I had three devices open and ready (my MacBook, my phone, and my mother’s iPad). Of course, as predicted by myself and many others, the Goldsboro site crashed. In fact it crashed ten minutes before the preorder even dropped. I then spent several hours refreshing and refreshing the page just to have it crash again and again until finally Goldsboro posted to social media that they were sold out. So that was a big bummer, especially after being as prepared as I was. BUT I was extremely lucky that my mother, knowing how important this edition was to me, went on Ebay and paid an extravagant price for one being sold by a GSFF member that had early access to the book. She did this because it was my birthday and also because I beat cancer last year. I appreciate her so much for many reasons, but especially for securing this book for me when I thought all was lost. I would also like to add an honorable mention: My Favorite Thing is Monsters Vol. 2 by Emil Ferris. I’ve been waiting on this graphic novel for the last year and it looks like it may finally release this fall!
Birthday Presents: A book that surprised you with how much you loved it.
The Thorn Birds is a book my mother insisted I read. It was originally published in 1979 and it’s a brick of a book. It was a slow moving but profound story and I am so glad that I finally made time to read it. An easy five stars. Another book I’d like to mention for this one is Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. I purchased a copy of Fangirl when I was still trying to decide what I really liked in contemporary books and it ended up sitting on my shelves for an age. Finally, I decided I’d either read it or un-haul it and decided to at least give this hyped book a shot. I could not believe how much I enjoyed it. It’s so far removed from what I’d usually pick up but I’m very happy that I did.
The Happy Birthday Song: A book that certainly deserves all the hype it got.
When this question came up a few books immediately came to mind- Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, Heartstopper by Alice Oseman, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid- but I feel like I’ve talked about all those titles at least a few times on social media. The Martian is a book that I read in the last month and haven’t had much of an opportunity to talk much about. I loved this book so much. I expected to like it since it was so popular in the book world but I had no idea that I would devour it. I immediately watched the movie after finishing it and while I did enjoy it, it couldn’t hold a candle to the book. I did love seeing all the elements of the story brought to life since a lot of the things described were hard to imagine, but the movie just couldn’t beat being directly in the mind of Mark Watney. I have since purchased both Artemis and Project Hail Mary and hope to get to them soon.
Happy Music: A book with some very beautiful and truly memorable quotes.
There are so many books that could fit for this one but Lady Midnight is one I read very recently and found myself reading and rereading passages just because they were so beautiful. Here is one of the quotes that stuck with me long after the story ended:
These pictures are my heart. And if my heart was a canvas, every square inch of it would be painted over with you.”
Getting Older: A book that you read a long time ago but you think you would appreciate more if you read it as a more mature reader.
There’s no thinking about it- I KNOW I’d appreciate this more now than I did when I was 11. I read this when I was WAY too young and all that has stuck with me is the bleak atmosphere and the sheer terror I felt while reading. I bought a copy of this a couple of years ago and plan to reread it soon- possibly this fall.
Sweet Birthday Memories: A book that kept you incredibly happy during a sad or demanding time in your life.
I mentioned briefly above that I had and beat cancer in 2020 (at the right bold age of 35). Predictably it was one of the darkest times of my life and there was very little joy happening. That being said, there is very little in this world that could extinguish the happy glow emanating from this graphic novel and its other three installments. If you can read this without smiling then you must be dead. Another book I read with a smile on my face nearly the entire time was A Sky Painted Gold by Laura Wood. This Great Gatsby inspired novel was simply stunning and I loved everything about it!
Well, that concludes the Birthday Book Tag- I had a lot of fun answering the questions and sharing some tidbits of my life with you all. Looking back I think it’s awesome how many different genres were featured here. There is some adult romance, sci-fi, horror, YA contemporary, a graphic novel, both adult and YA fantasy, and even some historical fiction. I’m so glad that I read so broadly because each genre and age category has something wonderful to offer and I want to experience it all! If you’re reading this consider yourself tagged! And if you do it please let me know- I’d love to see your answers as well! Stay tuned for a Birthday Book Haul post coming soon. I don’t normally share book hauls but I had a great time book shopping/ordering and I’m excited to share all the titles with you! See you soon.
I’m excited to announce a new project in which I spotlight different authors, read their entire backlist of books, and then report back here. I’ll do a mini review of each book and share my feelings on that authors work as a whole. I think it’ll be both fun and an excellent resource for someone looking to see if an author is for them or not and to also be able to find that information all in one place. Each author I’ve considered for this series ended up on my list for different reasons. Some I’ve loved and want to see if the elements that made me love them is reflected in all their books- if so my favorite authors list will grow and that’s always amazing. Some I’ve read a single book and didn’t care for it yet I seem to be of the unpopular opinion and I want to read their other books to see if my mind can be changed. Others I for some reason have been collecting or drawn to their books even though I’ve never actually read one and now own nearly their whole bibliography and want to enter them into this little experiment to see if my instincts were right. And I’m hoping that you, my readers, will come along on this journey with me! A few authors I plan to spotlight include:
Mary H.K. Choi
This is definitely not a complete list or the order I will be doing this series in- the author I start with may not even be on this list but I’m definitely going to include them at some point throughout the time I’m writing this series. I hope this is something that sounds like a fun idea to you- I am simply looking forward to sharing more opinion-type posts here on my blog. I love doing book reviews and blog tours- I started this blog with that in mind- but I would like to branch out and test the waters, so to speak. I’ve been bouncing some other series ideas around in my brain for a while, too, and I’d like to share some of those here and get some feedback if possible. Here is a small list of other concepts I’ve been considering:
I Read 3 | (enter what thing I’ve read 3 of here)
Reading ‘Best Of’ lists from various places and seeing if they’re actually the ‘best’
Reading books blurbed by my favorite authors
These are just a few of the ideas I’ve had that I thought could be fun, most of them inspired by other people in the book community who I would definitely credit if and when these series ever came to fruition. Please let me know if you think anything I’ve spoken about here today is something you’d read and whether you think others would too! Thanks so much for stopping by today and I’ll be back soon (allegedly) with more content- yay!