Friday, September 29, 2017

What I've Been Reading Lately {9.29.17}

Friday, September 29, 2017 with 2 comments

This month was a little...different. Both with life and with my reading. But you only care about the reading aspect. =) I started off the month on a bit of a vampire kick, but I got bored with that pretty quick. And then I got on a Sherry Thomas kick, which would actually be an ongoing thing if I had more of her stuff to read/listen to. As is, that reign of awesome led to a craving for more historical romance, and since I've listened to all of the Sarah MacLean and Lisa Kleypas on offer at my library, I had to go in search of authors unknown. (Read below in the adult category to see how that went.)

I only read a few new YA novels, but what I did read was phenomenal. So good...I-can't-wait-to-read-them-again good. :D Highly recommend.

And without further ado, here's what I've been reading lately...

(More on why I've gone to this format here in lieu of traditional reviews for each.)

Y O U N G   A D U L T

HeartstoneAir and Ash (TIDES, #1)Zero Repeat Forever (The Nahx Invasions #1)

Heartstone - Pride and Prejudice and dragons. Have you ever heard a more wonderful idea? I chanted pleasebegoodpleasebegoodpleasebegood the whole time I was downloading the audio, for which I was awesomely rewarded. It's kind of amazing how true to the source material this story is but how winsomely unique it is at the same time. I almost can't even with how much I loved this novel. The dragons! The other mythical creatures! The sisters! The romance(s)! So much yes! Oh, and the narration is kinda perfection, if audiobooks are your thing. ;0) 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Air and Ash - This tale on the high seas was remarkably similar to Daughter of the Pirate King, which I loved. Except in tone. Where DotPK felt almost playful at times, this book had a much darker feel to it, ominous and deadly and full of portentous events. But I liked that about this story. I've really been jonesing for more nautical stories, especially after DotPK, and I've really enjoyed the majority of the ones I've read, this one included. But this novel ended on the same note that all the others have: abruptly, leaving me full of expectations and wishing I already had the next book in my hands. Not a bad way to go out, but I want MORE, dammit! Also, the narrator was A++. I always knew which character was speaking because she used such unique voices and accents for each. I can't wait till the next audiobook is available. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Zero Repeat Forever - I hate when I'm reading a book, thinking it's a stand-alone, only to discover that is definitively not. What I don't hate, though, is this book. It was a lot of things I wasn't expecting: the beginning of a series and a contemporary sci-fi novel set in real world Canada. For some reason, I was envisioning a futuristic world being invaded by alien forces, not present-day. But it so works. If I'm being honest, maybe even better than The 5th Wave, especially after that mind-fuck of a final book. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Truthfully, I should probably write a full review for this one because I have a lot to say, but I'll try to condense it for now. Basically, I felt like the reactions, the instinctual humanness of the story was where it shined best. The mistrust. The constant fight or flight. The not immediately falling in love with your alien captor, regardless of whether he looks human or not. And getting to experience half the book from the alien's perspective only made the story seem more human and emotional, not less. I kind of loved this book. Don't me's kind of slow at times and understanding dawns slowly. There's a lot of travel and seeking of safe havens and answers aren't always forthcoming, especially since the alien can't speak. But it was good. It was engaging. And it was also a rather brutally honest look at humanity itself. 🌟🌟🌟🌟

R E - R E A D S

A Study in Scarlet Women (Lady Sherlock, #1)The Luckiest Lady in LondonPrincess of ThornsAn Enchantment of Ravens

A Study in Scarlet Women - I wanted to read the sequel since it was just released, but I also just really wanted to read this book again. And it was every bit as good as the first time. Maybe even more so, as I found more threads for future books. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

The Luckiest Lady in London - After reading A Conspiracy in Belgravia, I still wasn't ready to say goodbye to Sherry Thomas' luscious writing, so I decided to re-listen to this one. And it is still one of my favorite historical romance novels to-date. That push and pull, the's just so smartly written. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Princess of Thorns - I haven't always had the best luck with Sleeping Beauty retellings, so it's a good thing this story follows her daughter instead. ;) Seriously, though, I loved this audiobook when I first borrowed it from the library in 2015, but when I stumbled upon it again the other day, I could not for the life of me remember it. Which sounds like it must have been pretty forgettable, right, but I had given it five stars previously, so it had to have been at least a decent listen. Upon relistening, it was almost like experiencing a new story, considering how much I'd forgotten, but it was SO good. I honestly can't tell you why I don't remember it, except that I read/listen to anywhere between 250 and 280 books a year these days and I forget a lot.  *shrugs* 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

An Enchantment of Ravens - Even though I just read this in August, I couldn't pass up the chance to experience it again on audio when given the opportunity to review it. Sure, the story isn't wholly unique -- faerie princes kidnapping human girls who have slighted them in some way is nothing new -- but it's the cleverness of these characters and the gorgeous writing that really stand out for me. That made me want to read the story again after less than two months since my first reading. Pair that with a brilliant narrator like Julia Whelan and you've got an audiobook that I will listen to again and again. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟


Hard Bitten (Chicagoland Vampires, #4)Drink Deep (Chicagoland Vampires, #5)Biting Cold (Chicagoland Vampires, #6)

Chicagoland Vampires (books #4-6) - I stopped listening after the third book because my library didn't have anything past that, but then I discovered that Hoopla does! I think Hard Bitten (book #4 in the series of 13 books -- thus far, anyway -- is my favorite, even with that awful ending. Maybe because I had been away from the story for so long and it was nice to come back to it? I don't know. But I think I like where book six leaves off, so I may not continue any further. After six books in a series, it tends to jump the shark somewhere thereafter and I want to remember these books fondly. 🌟🌟🌟

Undead and Unpopular (Undead, #5)Undead and Uneasy (Undead, #6)

Undead series (books #5-6) - A friend let me borrow all her copies of the books in this series. After only reading the first book. Needless to say, I feel an obligation to finish. They're fun enough but they're just not my usual cuppa. But after finding out that the next book starts a new story arc, I think I'm done. Maybe. Unless I get a craving for more vampires before I return all the books... 🌟🌟🌟

A Conspiracy in Belgravia (Lady Sherlock, #2)A Perilous Undertaking (Veronica Speedwell, #2)The Spinster's Guide to Scandalous Behavior (Seduction Diaries, #2)The Match of the Century (Marrying the Duke, #1)

A Conspiracy in Belgravia - I obviously loved the previous book -- I re-read it prior to starting this sequel. But I did not expect to love this second book even more. I mean, the second book is rarely as good as the first, but in this case, it is just. So. Unbelievably. Good! I love all of the relationships in this series -- the intrinsic ones and those with side characters that develop along the way -- and the banter and camaraderie just elevate them for me. Then you've got the mystery that ties them all together, but even the side gigs that Charlotte takes on are equally as intriguing. But I think the thing that sealed this installment as my favorite of all of Sherry Thomas' novels thus far was that ending. I was utterly speechless...and then I was screeching. And I already want to read it again. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

A Perilous Undertaking - I quite enjoyed the first book in this series and had planned to read this book as soon as it was released. But my library never purchased it for their collection so I had to wait until I'd accumulated some extra credits on Audible. That said, I should have probably just waited for my library to acquire a copy. It was all well and good, but I think I was just expecting...more. The mystery was titillating to some extent but not enough. And then there's the little romance that could. I believe this is a five-book series, so I can see why the author is biding her time in that respect, but I'm gonna need a little bit more than this. 🌟🌟🌟

The Spinster's Guide to Scandalous Behavior - I took a chance on a new-to-me author when my library had nothing new from my faves on offer, and it paid off. I loved the bequest of a cottage to Lucy by her dearly departed aunt and where it led the spinster-to-be, but I also loved the parallels between the two women's lives, as drawn through Lucy's reading of Lady E's diaries. And, of course, I always enjoy stories about spinsters and wallflowers finding love in unexpected places. Cute story. Would definitely read more from this author. 🌟🌟🌟🌟

The Match of the Century - Another chance on a new author that paid off...mostly. I know it's kind of awful, but I do enjoy a story that pits brothers against each other for the hand of the fair maiden. ;0) I had a really awesome theory about the kidnapping plot that didn't pan out, but I think the story would have been that much better had it done so. I think this was more like 3 1/2 stars because the way that plot played out was kind of boring and way less dramatic than I'd hoped, but I'm rounding up because I did enjoy the writing and the characters. 🌟🌟🌟🌟

The Perks of Loving a Scoundrel (Seduction Diaries, #3)Falling Into Bed with a Duke (The Hellions of Havisham, #1)Catch a Falling Heiress (An American Heiress in London, #3)Diary of an Accidental Wallflower (Seduction Diaries, #1)

The Perks of Loving a Scoundrel - Since my first Jennifer McQuiston read was a success, I thought I'd give her another try. And I enjoyed this novel, which follows the exploits of the ne'er-do-well brother of the heroine in the previous book I read, but maybe not quite as much? It was fun and unique and I liked the characters, but it was missing that certain je ne sais quoi that charmed me in the previous story. Still, I appreciate this author's writing style and content, so I'll definitely be checking out the first book in this series, as well as anything else my library has of her work. 🌟🌟🌟

Falling into Bed with a Duke - Look at me, my third new historical romance author of the month week! And another success! I'm so glad my gambles thus far have paid off. And that I'm adding even more authors to my go-to list. :) This one was but not tawdry. And I appreciated that once all was revealed, it didn't take another ten chapters or more for the characters to make their way back to each other, which happens all too often for my taste in historical romance novels. I feel like I've read a similar premise at some point, but while it wasn't wholly unique, it did make me want to keep listening. Which is quite an achievement considering I wasn't sure I was going to be able to tolerate the narrator in the beginning...but she grew on me. ;0) I do wish the narrator for Ash in the epilogue had been used for his POV during the rest of the book, though. 🌟🌟🌟

Catch a Falling Heiress -Eh. You win some, you lose some. This wasn't a terrible story or anything. I just think I prefer my lords to fall for English women, not American heiresses. Especially when the aforementioned heiress is so naive and untried -- and so, so stubborn! -- even compared to her English counterparts. Hell, even the wallflowers and spinsters sitting on the shelf in most historical romance novels seem less prudish. The hero wasn't anything special, either. And to make matters worse, I didn't particularly enjoy the narrator, which never bodes well for an audiobook. Probably not an author I'll try again. 🌟🌟

Diary of an Accidental Wallflower - So, I'm pretty sure of the new historical romance authors I've tried in the last couple of weeks, Jennifer McQuiston is my favorite. And I finally listened to the first book in the Seduction Diaries series and I think it's my favorite so far. Everything that was only hinted at in the other two books finally makes sense. (Of course, if I were a normal person, I would have read them in order in the first place, but that's neither here nor there.) I loved Clare and the facade she put on for society while being a wallflower at heart. I loved the little twists and surprises. I especially loved Lady Austerely and Clare's family. But my heart was really all aflutter for Dr. Daniel Merial. There is just something about the common man who seeks to wins a society lady's hand that I adore. It was just such a sincere, lovely story and it kind of makes me want to go back and re-listen to the two subsequent books, even though I just did that last week. :) 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Alice (The Chronicles of Alice, #1)Caught by the Scot (Made to Marry, #1)The Jane Austen Project

Alice - Well, that just might have been the darkest, most violent, and oddest Alice in Wonderland retelling I've ever read. And lover of the strange and unusual that I am, I quite enjoyed it. It was wonderfully reminiscent of the original story in the most twisted way. I've had it on my TBR for awhile, but when Audible had it on sale over the weekend, I had to grab it. And I really enjoyed Jenny Sterlin's felt very fitting for this weird story. I really want to download the sequel, but I also think my dreams need a break from the strangeness, so maybe next week. ;0) 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Caught by the Scot - Wow, I did not expect to find a new favorite historical romance author when I received this audiobook for review, but that's exactly what happened. Now I want to read ALL of Karen Hawkins' novels. Or listen to them, if you can promise me they're all narrated by Gary Furlong, whose narration I fell hard for when I listened to Timekeeper earlier this year and even more so with this story. I loved the premise and the hero's cheekiness and the heroine's attempts not to fall for it, and even the secondary cast of characters was fun. But I might have only enjoyed this story half as much had I not listened to it, that's how great I found the audio. Still, I'm eager to read the author's other books, even if I don't get to experience Furlong's Scottish brogue again. :P 🌟🌟🌟🌟

The Jane Austen Project - So, that ended differently than expected. Granted, I don't know what exactly I was expecting, but it wasn't that. I enjoyed the book overall, though I definitely could have used more exposition there at the end. Anyway, I adore all things Jane Austen so getting to see what she was like in real life -- if only hypothetically because of time travel -- was beyond awesome. I loved seeing how hard it would be to go from a future far more advanced than ours (but also maybe not as great) and trying to survive in 19th century England. And I really loved what developed between the intrepid time travelers. I could use an entire book based on their very surreal experiences upon their return and finding what their choices in the past had wrought. But...I also kinda just like imagining it. :) 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Have you read any of these? What did you think? Find any new titles to check out? ;0)

Until next time! Happy reading!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

What I've Been Reading Lately {8.31.17}

Thursday, August 31, 2017 with 4 comments

Man, I am so ready for fall, you guys. Fires in the backyard. Reading in the hammock. Sounds like bliss. I mean, I've been reading, but not the way I usually do. This time last year, I'd already HIT my reading goal for the year, and while I'm still ahead this year according to Goodreads, I'm barely going to reach my goal as it stands. Which isn't a terrible thing considering I've been taking time for family and friends and just my general mental well-being. But I don't like to fail. :(

So, I've mostly been re-reading -- or re-listening, as it were - instead of spending time with new books that I may or may not love. And I simply could not find any new adult novels to love this month, which makes me endlessly sad. So, re-reads and young adult novels it is.

And without further ado, here's what I've been reading lately...

(More on why I've gone to this format here in lieu of traditional reviews for each.)

Y O U N G   A D U L T

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and VirtueDaughter of the Burning CityLucky in Love

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue - Well, that was a romping good time, if I've ever read one. Monty was, in a word, adorable. But also? He was witty and clever and funny, to boot. The heroes in the historical romance novels I usually read are always so somber and solemn, unless they're rakes, as our dear boy Monty here is. As you can probably guess, rakes are my favorite. Rogues, too. Even better if they're roguish rakes...or rakish rogues. ;) But I digress. This really was such a pleasure to read -- or listen to in my case. And I'm so glad I put off reading it in favor of the audiobook because, egads, was the narrator brilliant!?! The accents. The banter. How each character was just so very much their own person. I've never heard this narrator before, but you'd better believe I'll be seeking out other audio featuring him as narrator. (I might have a teensy tiny crush on him as Monty.) Needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It's very My Lady Jane...but even better. =D 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Daughter of the Burning City - What a fantastic debut! The imagery was phenomenal; I felt as if I were walking the paths of the Gomorrah Festival, taking in the sights and sounds myself. I almost want to be one of Sorina's illusions so I can experience the magic of the festival and the Menagerie. The characters were so well crafted and so intriguing. And then there's the mystery aspect, which made me feel like I was running in circles half the time. It was confusing and convoluted and half the time I didn't know where Sorina stood with anyone, yet I wouldn't have had it any other way. I was just SO captivated by this story. I think it's a stand-alone (bless!), but I saw a sophomore novel listed on GR and it, too, sounds amazing and compelling and I already can't wait to get my hands on it. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Lucky in Love - Ugh, it pains me to say this, but I think I read a different book than everyone else. Honestly, it was a short book but it felt so loooong. Even on audio, thanks to a terrible narrator. If I had rated this based on the first three-quarters, it would have been a lot lower, but the ending redeemed the book somewhat. I usually adore Kasie West novels! And I was positive I'd love this one a million times more than Windfall, which was also a lottery story. In the end, neither really clicked with me. It's just...the romance fell flat, the MC was supposed to be sooo level-headed and then she makes all these air-headed decisions, and it sort of felt like reading Windfall all over again, except from the winner's perspective. Not my favorite Kasie West novel at all. But that's not to say I won't pick up another one of her novels. Because I will. Because I'm kind of trash for Kasie West novels, even if I didn't end up loving this one. 🌟🌟🌟

Secondborn (Secondborn #1)Summer UnscriptedInescapable (The Premonition, #1)

Secondborn - There is just something about a book by Amy A. Bartol. They're just so fun and entertaining and always leave me wanting more. I loved her KRICKET series and I'm still hoping there's another book forthcoming, but I may have enjoyed this book even more. It was so engaging! I loved the world -- despite being a dystopian, which I kinda swore off for the longest -- and the characters were so intriguing. I can't wait to read more, but in the meantime, I'm definitely going to check out her PREMONITION series. 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Summer Unscripted - I haven't read all that many "summer-y" books this summer, but I loved Shuffle, Repeat, so I was pretty sure Summer Unscripted was going to be a great read, summer or not. And it totally was. Finally, here's a character who feels exactly how I did in high school: directionless, dispassionate, and unsure of how to change it. Rainie makes a lot of mistakes -- especially where romance and friendship are involved -- but throughout it all, she takes risks and follows her heart and has this fun, quirky journey of self-discovery.  🌟🌟🌟🌟

Inescapable - Welp, that's what I get for going back to read an author's first book, I guess. It wasn't the worst thing I've ever read, but as other reviewers have pointed out, it IS very Twilight-esque. And that's not a selling point for me. Yet, I've really enjoyed the author's newer works, especially Secondborn, which just released. So, I thought, reasonably enough, that I'd probably enjoy her backlist. I even wasted my last Hoopla credit on the second book because the start of Inescapable was relatively auspicious. But it's not to be. I can't force myself to listen to more of this love triangle, the constant declarations of love. I'm sure if I'd read this back when I read Twilight, I probably would have liked it. Maybe even really liked it. But I didn't, and so I don't. 🌟

An Enchantment of RavensReign the Earth (The Elementae, #1)Wonder Woman: Warbringer (DC Icons, #1)

An Enchantment of Ravens - Read this one way earlier in the month and fully intended on writing up a real review -- and I may still -- but for now, I'll leave you with one of my status updates on GR because it should tell you everything you need to know about why I loved this book so hard: "Cocky fae prince who turns into a raven. Sassy portrait artist who KNOWS better than to fall for him. I am SO here for this." 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Reign the Earth - I knew I was going to love this one, but wow. It started off a little like The Girl of Fire and Thorns and just got better from there. I also hope to review this one in full later, possibly closer to release, but know that it should definitely be on your radar. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Wonder Woman: Warbringer - So, I haven't seen the movie, but I figured it wouldn't matter since this is more of an origin story type-thing, and I have some knowledge of Wonder Woman since I watched the old show with Lynda Carter back in the day. (Re-runs with my Dad...sheesh, I'm not THAT old. :D) And honestly, you don't need to know a thing about WW or even really like her to enjoy this story because it's all female empowerment and awesome friendships and give the bad guy the what-for. And it was also just really fun. 🌟🌟🌟🌟

R E - R E A D S

Daughter of the Pirate King (Daughter of the Pirate King, #1)The Hating GameThe Scorpio RacesGrave Mercy (His Fair Assassin, #1)

Daughter of the Pirate King - Just as good the second time around! Or, dare I say, even better on audio? =) It's going to be so hard to wait for the next book. Waaaaahhhh. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

The Hating Game - Re-reading this book can always get me out of the foulest mood. As soon as I've read it, I immediately want to start reading it again. It's just so flippin' cute! 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

The Scorpio Races - When in doubt, re-read an old favorite. For the fifteenth time. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Grave Mercy - When you're in the mood for violence and vengeance, you can't beat a book about assassin nuns. =) 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Hallowed (Unearthly, #2)Unearthly (Unearthly, #1)Boundless (Unearthly, #3)

Unearthly series - I didn't love this quite as much as I did when I read it years ago, but it's still a great series as a whole. I think I've had my fill of angel-themed stories for a bit, though. =) 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Alex, ApproximatelyDisruption (Disruption, #1)Corruption (Disruption, #2)

Alex, Approximately - I needed a good, summery read, so when my library uploaded this audio, I snatched it up, despite having read the ARC mere months ago. It was totally worth it, especially since the narrator was good. Made summer ending and school starting seem a little less awful. You can check out my original review here. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Disruption duology - Still pretty effing amazing, even knowing all the twists and turns. There is just something about those Aussies, I swear. Highly recommend. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

The Demon King (Seven Realms, #1)The Exiled Queen (Seven Realms, #2)The Gray Wolf Throne (Seven Realms, #3)The Crimson Crown (Seven Realms, #4)

Seven Realms series - Whenever I'm in a funk or can't figure out what to read/listen to next or all of the above, I turn to this series. It never fails to delight and enthrall. And despite putting off the second book in the spin-off series because of reasons, I think I'm not finally ready to do this thing. Please don't break my heart AGAIN, Cinda Williams Chima.


The Pact

The Pact - This was my first Karina Halle novel, and, well, I'm not really all that impressed. I've always loved the friends-to-more trope, but I've seen it done better. And with more feeling. The story had its moments, but I just never cared enough about these characters to become fully invested. I will say that the second half was much better than the first, but it was still never a great story. I've heard her other books/series are fantastic, though, so maybe I'll give them a try one day. 🌟🌟🌟

Have you read any of these? What did you think? Find any new titles to check out? ;0)

Until next time! Happy reading!

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