July 2019 Wrap-Up!!!

Hi bookworms! Even though there is technically still over 12-hours left in July, I wanted to get something memorialized for my July wrap-up since I will have a separate Medieval-A-Thon wrap-up tomorrow.

I am 42-pages away from finishing Lost Boy by Christina Henry which I will complete tonight. So, with that included, I read 14-books in the month of July which also happens to the be the exact same number that I read in June. I am quite happy with that number!

Side Note: Anyone else love Larry David and miss Curb Your Enthusiasm with every fiber of your being? Just me?

Back to the wrap-up ((sorry for the side-bar)):

Since I have reviewed the majority of these books on this blog, which you can find by clicking on ‘July’ over to the right, I am just going to give a numbered list here with my star rating. Overall, I had a great month. I read five 5-star books, four 4.5-star books, two 4-star books and two 3.5-star books. Any month where you have only 3.5-stars and above, as far as ratings go, is pretty solid.

At this point, I am fairly positive that Lost Boy will end up with a 4-star but depending how it finishes, it could actually be a 4.5. I will let you know that in my Medieval-A-Thon wrap-up.

So, without further ado, here are the books I have completed so far in July 2019:

  1. The Girl in Red by Christina Henry (ARC),   3.5-stars
  2. Wild and Crooked by Leah Thomas (ARC),   4.5-stars (cerebral palsy & LGBTQIA+ rep)
  3. Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman,   5-stars
  4. Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid (audiobook),   5-stars
  5. Those People by Louise Candlish (ARC),   4-stars
  6. The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell (Books with Friends Book Club) (audiobook),   3.5-stars
  7. Soul of the Sword (Shadow of the Fox 2) by Julie Kagawa (ARC),   5-stars
  8. Lock Every Door by Riley Sager (ARC),   5-stars
  9. Roar by Cora Carmack (Page Turners Book Club) (audiobook),   4.5-stars
  10. A Stranger on the Beach by Michele Campbell (ARC),   4.5-stars
  11. The Wicked King by Holly Black (audiobook),   5-stars
  12. Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (ARC),   4-stars
  13. Lethal White (Cormoran Strike 4) by Robert Galbraith (aka JK Rowling) (audiobook),   4.5-stars

Some other random stats would be that six of these are YA and seven are Adult; seven of these are ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies) provided to me by the publishers in exchange for honest reviews, and four of these I listened to part or the entire story via audiobook.

As far as my monthly TBR challenge prompts go, I completed three of the four (I did not make TBR Jar selections this month in lieu of participating in two book club selections, hence why there is only four instead of the five originally set forth in January).

The one I did not complete was my ‘Read a New Release for Next Month’. I did not read any August 2019 releases this month. I am so behind on my ARCs but we’ll get to that in a later post.

I did complete the following:

  • Read a New Release from 2019: Lethal White by Robert Galbraith (650-pages BTW)
  • Read a New Release from Current Month: Lock Every Door by Riley Sager
  • Read a Sequel: Soul of the Sword (Shadow of the Fox #2) by Julie Kagawa

Although I do have multiple books that would fit some of these challenges, I only count the one that completed the challenge first. I think for August I will be able to complete all four of my challenges (also not selecting TBR Jar picks again) as I really want to read a couple of September releases I already have my hands on.

How did your July reading go? Did you participate in any readathons or book clubs? What was your favorite book of the month? What did you like the least? Are there any July 2019 releases I need to get my hands on?

I want to know. Leave a comment here and contact me through any of my social media links!

Cheers & Happy Reading~

 

 

Review: Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Gods of Jade and ShadowGods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A sweeping fable told through the lense of 1920s Mayan culture!!!

Channeling her inner-Cinderella, Casiopea Tun, is tidying up around her Grandfather’s quarters, as she does every day, when she unintentionally frees Hun-Kame, the Mayan God of Death, from his imprisonment.

Brought back to life after his brother slayed him and captured him in locked box, Hun-Kame is ready to get his life and his kingdom back. Unfortunately, or fortunately, for Casiopea, he needs her help in order to do so.

Tied together by an unnatural bond of flesh and soul, they set out on a quest to recover the parts of him stolen and hidden away by his brother. So begins the adventure of a lifetime for young Casiopea, who is finally able to escape the degrading clutches of her family.

This is such a beautifully told story. From beginning to end, Moreno-Garcia weaves the most intricate tale of love, power, forgiveness and sacrifice. I love her writing so much. It is simple and lyrical, flowing smoothly from chapter to chapter.

I first fell for Moreno-Garcia’s writing when I read, The Beautiful Ones in 2017. Even though that book was also beautifully written, this one is on a whole other level. Her writing has matured so much and this story truly transports you not only to the culture she is introducing but to the time period as well. Simply stunning.

I loved learning more about Mayan mythology and culture. I think anyone interested in more modern retellings of myths and legends will enjoy this one. Even if you do not think that is something you would be crazy about, at its heart, this story is a quest and it delivers in that capacity in spades.

Casiopea is such a wonderful character. Although raised in terrible circumstances, mistreated and abused by those around her, she has an incredible sense of will and resolve that she channels throughout her adventure. In her heart she has the strength of a lioness and that serves her well. I adored her, I adored Hun-Kame and the two of them together is pure magic!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Del Rey, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity and had such a great reading experience with this one. Silvia Moreno-Garcia has a fan in me and I will definitely be picking up anything else she writes!

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Status Update: The Reading Rush 2019

I don’t think I actually mentioned it here but this week, I have been trying, unsuccessfully, to take part in the 2019 Reading Rush. Formally know as BookTube-A-Thon, this annual readathon is a great way for the whole book community to just come together and really cram in a ton of reading in one week.

This year, for the first time, the creators, Ariel Bissett and Raeleen Lemay, created an incredible website as the home platform for the readathon. You can follow friends, make updates, track your pages read per day, books you have read and earn badges that correspond to the challenges.

I dutifully set up my profile, selecting a book to correspond with each challenge and then, the reading started. Better I should say lack of reading. I actually think I have read less this week than any other week this year because life gets hard sometimes, guys.

I still have today but frankly, I’m not feeling very motivated. I have completed two books, one I started well in advance of the actual readathon, so I didn’t count it as meeting any of the challenges, and the other, did earn me a ‘read a book with a non-human main character badge’. So, there’s that. Plus, Ariel and Raeleen were thoughtful enough to create a ‘participation badge’ — SCORE!

Also, I did read over a 1,000-pages and there is a badge for that as well even though it wasn’t one of the official challenges. I guess my biggest mistake was selecting a 650-page book for the ‘read a book you meant to read last year’ challenge.¬†Lethal White by Robert Galbraith has me beat. I got so close. I have about 130-pages left of it but alas, I will not be finishing it by midnight. Lesson learned.

Are you taking part in The Reading Rush? If so, how did your week go? I want to know! Leave a comment here or reach me through any of my social media platforms! I hope that your RR experience was better than mine!

May the badges always be in your favor.

Cheers & Happy Reading!

Review: The Wicked King (The Folk of the Air #2) by Holly Black

The Wicked King (The Folk of the Air, #2)The Wicked King by Holly Black
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Caution: This review contains spoilers for The Cruel Prince. Go further at your own risk. I mean it. Seriously.

SPOILERS AHEAD!!!

With her brother Oak safely out of Elfhame, Jude is five months into her puppeteering of Cardan’s reign as High King. The dislike between the two of them is just as high as ever but y’all know there is an unhealthy dose of sexual tension as well. Jude has terrible taste in men.

Speaking of terrible, her sister, Taryn, is poised to marry Locke in just three weeks time and ends up trying to make-up with Jude prior to that event. She claims she wants her there and that she has missed her. Blah, blah, blah. A mild reconciliation ensues.

Side Not: Almost instantaneous gag reflex reading any sections with Taryn in them. Just me?

Anyway, moving on. Cardan continues to be a lot to handle. Considering his daily hedonistic lifestyle, it comes as no surprise when someone tries to assassinate him. Jude then hears on good word that Orlagh, Queen of the Undersea wants Cardan to marry her daughter, Nicasia. If he won’t, she plans to take down all of Faerie.

In a wild turn of events, Jude gets held hostage by Orlagh. That’s a whole thing. Can I just say, the Undersea is pretty much my favorite setting ever. How dark and ominous was that!?! Balekin is involved; the Court of Shadows, they are all here and up to their evilest of no-good deeds.

I am obsessed with these books because there is so much plotting, so much scheming. You never know who is going to try to stab you in the back next. I enjoy how ruthless those circumstances have made Jude.

Ultimately, she is just a regular girl put in an extraordinary world and through pure power of will has transformed herself into an absolute force to be reckoned with.

Per usual, Holly Black’s writing is so engaging. I was flipping these pages so fast trying to get to the end. What an ending it was! Talk about a cliffhanger. I am SO GLAD that the release for The Queen of Nothing has gotten pushed up to Fall 2019, otherwise…torture!?

I love this series with my whole heart. Jude is my Queen. I cannot wait to see how this is wrapped up, although truthfully, I would be happy if it never ended. Slytherin book recommendation all day long. Read it, love it, fangirl about it. That is all.

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Review: The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell

The Last Magician (The Last Magician, #1)The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars**

Did I enjoy this book?
Great question.

I finished this over 10-days ago and although I remember reading it, I cannot actually recall too many specifics in regards to the plot.

From my limited recollections, there’s this girl, Esta, she lives in modern times but has the ability to time travel. She works for a mysterious Professor sort of figure who gives her an assignment to travel back to 1902-Manhattan and steal an ancient book that holds some magical secrets.

She is told that she also needs to stop the magician, who is apparently after this book as well. The magician is an actual performing magician named Harte Darrigan. They are both trying to steal the book from the mysterious and sinister ‘Order’.

This Order has worked to try to squash magic and those with it…or something. They created something called ‘the Brink’ which is a force around the island of Manhattan that traps those with magic inside…or something.

There is a lot of action, some fight scenes, some romance, a gang of magical peoples and some other things I can’t quite remember. I did listen to the audiobook for this and I am questioning whether or not that was the correct medium for me to take in this story.

It does jump around quite a bit in time, setting and perspectives, particularly in the beginning and I’ll admit, I was pretty much lost for the first 300-pages.

Overall, this didn’t leave much of an impression on me either way. There were some things about the story I like, Esta and Harte specifically, and I thought the concept behind it was super intriguing but I think it did too much to quickly. I could totally see this being broken up into two separate books.

While I am happy I read it, I am not even sure I am going to continue on with the series. I might because I already own the second book but I would seriously need a refresher course on what this is even about.

There was quite a good plot twist at the end but that left me pondering how logistically that was even possible. Then you are calculating time jumps, trying to figure how something could have actually worked. It was a lot. I give it three and a half shrugs up.

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Review: A Stranger On The Beach by Michele Campbell

A Stranger on the BeachA Stranger on the Beach by Michele Campbell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

Caroline and Jason Stark have been married for 20-years. Like most couples, their relationship has had its ups-and-downs. Lately, more down than up.

With their only child, Hannah, recently off to college, and Jason traveling a lot more for work, Caroline focuses most of her energy on building her dream house in the Hamptons.

After the lavish beach house is completed, Caroline decides to throw a house warming party, inviting all of their rich and influential friends. Unfortunately, Jason tells Caroline he is stuck at a ‘work thing’ and will be unable to attend.

She’s saddened by this news, as she was really hoping to reconnect with him and show off the beautiful home, no small accomplishment. Then in a jaw-dropping turn of events, Jason does arrive at the house…(view spoiler)!!!

As you can imagine, the proverbial shit hits the fan.

Days after wallowing in it, Caroline gets herself up, out of the house and straight to a popular local watering hole. Once there, she recognizes the guy behind the bar. He was actually the bartender provided by the catering company on the night of her ill-fated house warming.

Instead of cowering in embarrassment, she decides to embrace it and proceeds to flirt with him all night whilst getting elbows deep in some vodka sodas.

Enter Aidan Callahan. Young and handsome with a troubled past. What could go wrong?

For his part, Aidan seems to like Caroline a little too much. Before she knows it, he is everywhere. She can’t get rid of him but is this your typical stalker behavior or is it more?

Alternating between Caroline and Aidan’s perspectives, this book is so full of twists and turns, you won’t know who to believe. The truth is hidden in here somewhere but you’d be hard-pressed to discover it! This story is so gripping, so chilling; a true tale of suspense.

I loved the format of this. I think Campbell’s choices in the development of this story were close to perfection. For the first 3/4 of the book, you are getting that twisted back-and-forth perspective and then suddenly…the main event.

The the final 1/4 follows new perspectives of the investigators called in to discover the truth. I thought this was unique and really well played.

In the end, I was satisfied with the conclusion. The one small criticism I had was that once you got to the investigation portion of the story, with the evidence put forth early on, it’s pretty clear what actually happened. I am not sure too many people will be fooled at that point but regardless, really well written, great characters, fast-paced, gripping; I really, really liked it!

Thank you so much to the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. Michele Campbell is definitely one of my go-to authors. I love her storytelling. If you haven’t read any of her books yet, this is definitely a great one to start with and perfect for summer fun!!

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Review: Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1) by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman

Illuminae (The Illuminae Files, #1)Illuminae by Amie Kaufman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I.
{ERROR}

AM.
IN.
{ERROR}

LOVE.

I would give a million stars to this if I could. Seriously, all the stars!!

I sort of feel like I was the last person in the universe to experience Illuminae. I call it an experience because, oh my stars, was it ever.

I wasn’t sure going in whether or not I would be able to handle the format. Scanning through the book before starting it seemed so chaotic. How would I ever keep track of it all?

In the end, it really worked for me! Something as simple as having a black page with white font makes the reading experience so unique. I was urged by quite a few folks to check out the audiobook but I didn’t want to miss out on any of the visuals.

Moving forward, I may switch back and forth between audio and hard copy for Gemina; see how I like it.

I won’t go into the plot here, as I feel at this point, we all pretty much get what this is about. One thing I will say though, is how impressed I was with the characters; including Aidan. They were so well done.

I felt extremely attached to Kady and Ezra but also, even the side characters, were well-fleshed out. At its heart, this story is an action-packed tale of love and loss. It tugged at my heartstrings, for real.

Even though it is a pretty chunky book, it went by so quickly. I didn’t want it to end. I’m not sure when I will be able to continue on with the series but am I definitely looking forward to it!!!!

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Review: Roar by Cora Carmack

Roar (Stormheart, #1)Roar by Cora Carmack
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

This book to me:

Wow, okay. No one warned me how highly addictive this story was!

I picked Roar up as the July book for The Page Turners Book Club over on Facebook hosted by Chelsea Palmer. When the book was announced, I thought, hey, why not? That’s been sitting on my shelf for over two years…

I expected it to be just okay, maybe 3-stars. I’m not sure why I thought that. Maybe because I just have not heard a lot of people ever really talking about it.

I was not expecting the super creative, compellingly readable YA Fantasy that I got. The magic system is incredible and the characters were well written and so much fun!

This story follows, Aurora, who is a Princess of Pavan and from a Stormling family. These Stormlings have powers that can help protect from and conquer storms. Unfortunately for Aurora, her powers never manifested, a fact she needs to keep secret from the rest of world.

In order to keep the secret and save the crown, her mother arranges for her to marry a Stormling Prince from another kingdom. Upon meeting her betrothed, Aurora is underwhelmed at best.

She doesn’t trust him and wants to figure out how to dissolve the marriage arrangement. When she learns from a loyal servant, that her Prince will be visiting a black market one night, Aurora decides to follow him. Once there she loses sight of him and ends up meeting a group of Storm Hunters.

Intrigued by their abilities, she decides to run away with them in the hopes of learning how to conjure her own magic. With the right magic, she can fight to get her kingdom back under her control without some unwanted marriage.

The group of Storm Hunters is comprised of a number of great characters who I loved reading about. When a ragtag group of individuals comes together and travels, trains and fights together, I just can’t get enough of it. It’s actually one of my favorite tropes and this set-up did not disappoint.

There was so much to love about this book and if the gifs are not enough of an indication for you, I did get strong Dany transforming into Khaleesi vibes from Rora. There is so much left with this story to discover. We have so many unanswered leads. That Epilogue!!!

I cannot imagine having read this two years ago and then having to wait forever and a day for the release of the next book. Rage, if you aren’t aware, is releasing at the end of August 2019. I am definitely preordering it because I need answers!

I am so happy that I finally picked this up. I was very impressed with the magic system, the world building, the characters, all of it. The one thing that I wasn’t super crazy about was the beginning of the romance. It was a bit too instalovey but it did end up growing on me.

If you have had this sitting on your shelves for two years as well, I highly recommend picking it up before the second book is released. This is so binge worthy. Now all I want for my life is to become a storm hunter. Is that too much to ask?

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Review: You Must Not Miss by Katrina Leno

You Must Not MissYou Must Not Miss by Katrina Leno
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

I think about this book ALL THE TIME but still am at a loss for how to adaquately review it.

I implore y’all to please read this book. If you are not sold on it simply by the fact that this is written by Katrina Leno, how about that it one of the most solidly unique and hella dark YA stories that I have ever read. This is literally a revenge thriller at its most bizarre.

There’s really no way to easily describe what this book is. I would say the following:

It’s horror like Stephen King’s Carrie is horror.

It’s fantasy like Seanan McGuire’s Down Among the Sticks and Bones is fantasy.

It’s moving like Nina LaCour’s We Are Okay is moving.

It’s like so many other things while simultaneously being like nothing at all.

Katrina Leno’s writing is so great. This story drew me in immediately. Magpie is a high school girl who feels silenced, like her power has been stripped from her by others. This is about her taking that power back.

I was surprised how dark this got but in such a creative and beautifully written way. I love dark stories so this meshed with my tastes perfectly.

I would highly recommend this to people who like dark plots but also to anyone who enjoys a solid contemporary story with a deep magical realism component. I need everyone to give this a shot!!!

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Mid-Month Medieval-A-Thon Status Update

Hi book friends! Just like that mid-month is upon us. What better time to update you all on how I am doing with the Medieval-A-Thon? If you don’t know, Medieval-A-Thon is a month-long readathon hosted by Holly over at Holly Hearts Books on YouTube. I will link her announcement video below, click it for all the details, challenges, etc:

Medieval-A-Thon Announcement

Holly reads a ton of Fantasy and is a great channel to go to for recommendations and other news within that genre. She is my go-to when I am looking for new Adult Fantasy recommendations and just when I want a good laugh because she is so freaking funny. I love her videos. Be sure to check out her channel!

Of the 10 specific challenges listed for the readathon, I have thus far completed two:

  1. Read a shiny book to earn the breastplate of your suite of armor: For this I completed,¬†The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell. I haven’t done a review or decided on a star rating for this book yet. It was a lot. There were a lot of character perspectives to follow and time jumps and things got hecka confusing there for a while. I did enjoy it. I thought the characters were great but I am just a bit at a loss as too how much I enjoyed it. Does this ever happen to anyone else? Regardless, the ouroboros-type graphic on this is super shiny in the light of the hardcover version that I read.
  2. Read a book with assassins in it to earn your fighting daggers:¬†I am not 100% sure this is what this weapon is called but it is what it looks like to me from Holly’s graphic. For this I completed¬†Soul of the Sword by Julie Kagawa, which is the second book in the¬†Shadow of the Fox trilogy. I loved this book, gave it five stars and am on pins-and-needles in anticipation waiting for the final installment. When does book 3 release?¬†2020!!!!!! No idea how I will wait that long. I did receive an ARC of¬†Soul of the Sword so hoping that I can pull that off for¬†Night of the Dragon. Anyway, back to what we are actually suppose to be talking about, this book has assassins after Yumeko and friends as they try to make their way to the Silent Winds Temple.

Although these are the only things I have completed thus far, I am currently working on five other books that will complete challenges. Quickly, they are:¬†Roar by Cora Carmack, this is to get my crown by reading a book where a character fights for the throne; Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia for the helmet to my suit of armor for reading a book with a dragon on the cover (there is a small image of a totem dragon head on this cover); rereading¬†The Dark Half¬†by Stephen King for the boots of my suit of armor by reading a book that has yellowed over time (this isn’t technically ‘fantasy’ but it is supernatural horror soooooooo, I’m counting it);¬†Lost Boy: The True Story of Captain Hook¬†by Christina Henry for my cape by reading a book that has red on the dust jacket; and finally,¬†The Wicked King by Holly Black to earn my bow & arrow by reading a book with elves in it (don’t fight me on this, this is what Holly is choosing for this very prompt, she is boss, she is Queen, it’s happening).

In addition to these, I am also hoping to get to Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson this month to get my sword by reading a book with something pointy on the cover, as well as Priest of Lies (War for the Rose Throne #2) by Peter McLean to get my battle axes by reading a book with mercenaries in it.

Yeah, so that’s it. No problem at all, right? We won’t even mention the fact that this is my busiest month of the year at work right now. No, we won’t mention that. I’m so in the weeds right now I have to send my parents emails every once in while just so they know I’m still alive. Just me?

I hope you are all having a wonderfully productive reading month. Even though I have only completed two books so far for this readathon, I actually have already completed 8 books this month and I am confident I can pull through with these titles.

Are you participating in Medieval-A-Thon? How is it going for you so far? Have you read any of the books I am reading? I want to know. Leave me a comment here or contact me through any of my social media links.

Cheers & Happy Reading!