July Challenge: Medieval-A-Thon

July 1st!? What the? I cannot even believe we are finished with half of 2019!! I have completed 93-books so far this year so am confident that I can meet my ‘100-books’ reading goal.

For this month I have selected a brand new readathon to participate in. Medieval-A-Thon is a full month readathon created and hosted by Holly from Holly Hearts Books over on YouTube. If you are a big SFF reader, or even if you are just someone looking to get more into that genre, Holly is a great resource. She posts super funny and fun content and is legit a SFF Queen! The link to her Medieval-A-Thon announcement video is below:

Medieval-A-Thon Announcement

Basically, the goal is to build your nobility ranking by reading a certain number of books and then there are extra prompts to build your medieval wardrobe and weapons cache. The highest ranking is King or Queen with 6 books. This is my goal but I am also hoping to complete all 10 prompts using 10 different books. The 10 prompts, and my tentative book choice, are as follows:

    1. For a ‘crown’ pick a book where the character fights for a throne: Roar by Cora Carmack
    2. For a ‘helmet’ pick a book with a dragon on the cover: Mistress of All Evil by Serena Valentino which is about my personal Queen, Maleficient.
    3. For a ‘breast plate’ read a shiny book: The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell. I am also hoping to participate with the Books with Friends discussion on this on July 27th as this is their group book for the month.
    4. For ‘upper leg armor’ read a thick paperback: Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas.
    5. For ‘boots’ read a book that has yellowed over time: reread of The Dark Half by Stephen King. I have not one yellowed copy but two of this in paperback.
    6. For a ‘cape’ read a book with red on the dust jacket: A Stranger on the Beach by Michelle Campbell has red font on the cover. I know this isn’t SFF but I have an ARC of it so I do need to read it this month!
    7. For a ‘sword’ a book with something pointy on the cover: Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri.
    8. For ‘fighting blades’ read a book with assassins: I am currently reading Soul of the Sword by Julie Kagawa and there are assassins who try to kill the protagonist and her traveling crew. Even though I technically started it in June, I am going to count it anyway because I will be completing it this month.
    9. For a ‘bow and arrow’ read a book with elves in it: The Wicked King by Holly Black. I wasn’t sure if this would count but I watched Holly’s TBR video and it is what she is reading for this prompt so, she’s the boss, it counts!
    10. For a ‘battle axe’ read a book with mercenaries in it: Priest of Lies (War for the Rose Throne #2) by Peter McLean.

As we are all aware, I am a hella mood reader, so there is a very strong chance that none of these books will actually get read. Either way, I am reading something and I am going to make every single book fit one of these prompts.

I think this readathon sounds so fun. I hope it is uber-successful so that Holly will host it again next year. If you are interested in learning more about any of the books I have on my tentative TBR, just click the cover photo above!

What about you? Are you participating in Medieval-A-Thon? If not, are you participating in any reading challenges in July? If so, what? I want to know. Leave me a comment below or contact me through any of my social media links.

Cheers & Happy Reading~

Review: The Girl in Red by Christina Henry

The Girl in RedThe Girl in Red by Christina Henry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Red needs to get to Grandma’s house but this is no fairytale land she is traveling through.

This is a postapocalyptic war zone where a disease, known as ‘the cough’, runs rampant and has decimated the population. The world is a dangerous place with enemies around every corner, or so it seems. Most people have been rounded up into quarantine camps but Red would rather take her chances on the road.

Alternating between now and before, we get a pretty good idea of Red’s home life and family dynamic prior to the sickness. Red, who has a prosthetic limb, after being hit by a car at the age of 8, is used to people underestimating her. She becomes frustrated with this and constantly feels compelled to be tough and prove people wrong.

Highly risk averse, Red feels well prepared for this. Certainly more prepared than your average Joe. She knows the rules. She has been studying them via horror movies and other like media for years. I loved this aspect of Red’s personality. Hello, relatable.

Traveling with her whiny brother, Adam, Red feels like she needs to not only carry her weight but his too. Put simply, Adam was a huge pain in the ass. Red has the patience of a Saint, frankly, putting up with him as she did.

I loved how quickly the action in this kicks off and I thought that the postapocalyptic world was well imagine. The two timelines worked well playing off each other to reveal the entirety of the story. Watching Red’s character gain strength over time was so satisfying.

This being said, I did want a bit more. I know that not every book can be 500-pages but this was just so interesting and the ending, to me, felt rushed.

Overall, I think this is a very solid story. I enjoyed Henry’s imagination quite a bit. This is my first book from her but it definitely won’t be the last one I pick up.

A hearty thank you to the publisher, Berkley Publishing Group, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I would definitely recommend this to readers who enjoy darker content and women who kick butt!

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FAVORITES: Dracula Appreciation Post!!!

DraculaDracula by Bram Stoker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


A true masterpiece.

Believe it or not, I am still considering how to best write a ‘review’ for this, one of my favorite novels of all time.

I annotated this most recent time reading, in the hopes that it would help when it came to composing my final thoughts.

What I am really struggling with is the idea of little ole’ me ‘reviewing’ a masterpiece.

I guess my goal is more to compel people to read this amazing piece of world literature as opposed to providing a critique of Stoker’s work. Let me think on this a while longer. In the meantime, have a gander at this The Lost Boys gif — a movie greatly inspired by Dracula:

Review or not, I am so happy to have reread this for the 3rd time. Dracula is a book I will continue to reread periodically for the rest of my life.

If you haven’t read this yet, please give it a go, it may surprise you. You may think you know this story…

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Review: I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh

I Let You GoI Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

And just like that, Mackintosh is redeemed in my eyes!

Artist, Jenna Gray, arrives in a small town on the Welsh Coast and hastily rents a remote cottage there. Like many unreliable narrators before her, she is clearly running from something, but what?

Chances are it is connected with the hit-and-run death of a child that the book opens with but as a reader, you aren’t sure of the connection.

We then follow Jenna as she settles into her new life and begins to find happiness in her newly discovered independence. We also follow intrepid police detectives continuing to work the hit-and-run case.

Slowly, the two storylines begin to merge and what is revealed projects the narrative into the stratosphere. A new perspective is introduced and things rapidly start to come together.

I had a lot of fun with this one although some of the subject matter was hard to read. Trigger Warnings for: (view spoiler)

Overall, I loved the atmosphere, the mystery was strong, as well as the police procedural aspects of the story. Jenna really grew on me over the course of the book and all in all, I did appreciate her character growth.

I would recommend this to the few thriller readers out there who have yet to pick this one up. I feel like I was the last one but there you go.

A quick read with a satisfying ending — what more could you ask for this summer? Pick it up!

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Review: Call It What You Want by Brigid Kemmerer

Call It What You WantCall It What You Want by Brigid Kemmerer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

Rob, a once super popular lacrosse player, has fallen from grace but not on account of his own actions. His father, the local financial planner, was caught red-handed swindling from clients and everyone suspects that Rob knew. He did work as an intern at his father’s office but swears he had no clue what was happening.

As everything begins to be taken from his family, his father attempts suicide, leaving him in a state where he requires 24-hour care. Now a social pariah, Rob finds himself at rock bottom.

Maegan, a classic overachiever, has been living in her older sister’s shadow for years. Feeling pressured to succeed, Maegan cheats while sitting for her SAT causing consequences for everyone in the room.

Branded a cheater, Maegan sees her social standing slump as well. She now keeps her head down and just tries to make it though each day without too much embarrassment.

When they are matched together for a calculus project, neither Rob nor Maegan are happy about it. Begrudgingly, they begin to meet up to start their project and pretty quickly learn that you cannot always believe what you hear about people.

They begin to confide in one another and discover they have more in common than they ever could have guessed.

Nobody writes teenage angst quite like Brigid Kemmerer. She puts her characters through hell but the growth they are able to achieve is truly a beautiful thing.

Rob and Maegan’s relationship has its complications but it is also sweet, kind and pure. The writing is smooth and highly readable. The friendships were so well done. Rob and Owen. So many feelings.

There are a lot of hard-hitting topics included in this too. So much. The thing that I found most moving was the idea of learning to forgive yourself; of not letting one mistake define who you are. I think a lot of us should be reminded of that. Be kind to yourself. We are all human, we all make mistakes and it is okay to let go of that and move forward.

There was also a strong narrative between Maegan and her sister. As with many sisters, they certainly were not lacking in the drama department. I did like how much their relationship evolved over the course of the story and how they learned to see one another as they are, not how they imagine each other to be.

Overall, I felt this book has a lot to offer and is quite moving. I would definitely recommend it to readers looking for a hard-hitting contemporary. Kemmerer is an autobuy author for me and yet again, she did not disappoint! Well done.

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KING REREAD: Desperation Review

DesperationDesperation by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

A bizarrely assembled cast of characters, all with distinct strengths and weaknesses, come together to fight an evil, older and more powerful than they could have ever imagined.

That would be my single-sentence synopsis if someone were to ask me what Desperation is about. If you have ever read a Stephen King novel however, you know there is a lot more to it than that.

I read Desperation for the first time around 2001. I was just done with undergraduate school and was so excited to have time to read for fun. I read quite a few King books that year. At the time, I remember liking it but I wasn’t blown away and ultimately decided on a 3-star rating.

Now, close to 20-years later, this is pretty damn close to a perfect read for me.

What can explain the difference?

I’m not really sure. I was so invested in this. The characters were a huge part of the enjoyment factor for me. In my very humble opinion, no one does characters quite like King. He is a master of developing every aspect of character’s personality and the reasons behind it. You never wonder what’s the motivation, you know.

This also has one of my all-time favorite tropes. The mix-matched group of characters, placed into extraordinary circumstances, who band together, no matter their ultimate disagreements about the world, and fight against evil.

Good v. Evil.
I love it.
I’m here for it pretty much every time.

This novel is extremely violent, bloody and graphic. Some of the scenes made my toes curls and my stomach lurch. If that is not your thing, you may want to hard pass on this one. The use of creepy crawlers to instill fear was expertly crafted; again, those with strong fears of snakes, spiders, scorpions, or other beasties of that sort, may want to steer clear.

My one extremely slight critique would be that the final showdown felt a little rushed, hence the 4.5-star rating, as opposed to full 5. This book has a nice, long build-up, and I could definitely have read some more substance at the end. It was great but still I wanted more!

Overall, I am beyond happy that I took the plunge and reread this 706-page beast of modern, horror fiction. I am currently rereading The Regulators and totally digging the many connections I missed the first time around. I would definitely recommend reading these two back-to-back for maximum enjoyment!

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Review: While You Sleep by Stephanie Merritt

While You SleepWhile You Sleep by Stephanie Merritt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

Zoe Adams needs to get away. Recently separated from her husband, she rents a newly renovated home on a remote Scottish island. It doesn’t take long after arriving at McBride house for her to discover that some places hold long memories.

Soon Zoe begins researching the history of the house and what she uncovers is far from comforting. Ailsa McBride, the original owner, was reportedly a witch who murdered her own child. In fact, just the previous year, another boy had disappeared from the grounds.

Constantly on edge, Zoe sleeps fitfully and begins having visions and visitations from the past. She can scarcely make it through a few hours at the property without something going awry.

Befriending a few men in the village, she begins to discover long-held island secrets and in turn, finds herself the hot topic for the island rumor mill.

The number of different leads and exposed secrets in this left me spinning. The lore of the island and overall atmosphere was excellently portrayed. I enjoyed the melding of past and present and the characters were well fleshed out.

At times, bordering on erotic, this was an unexpected twist of a classic ghost story with the incorporation of an incubus; something I had never read about previously and certainly was not expecting.

Although this was a slow burn, there was definitely enough intrigue to keep me turning the pages. The last 10% dropped my rating down a half star. I wasn’t sold on the way the story ended. It seemed to wrap-up a little too neatly after the strong build-up.

Overall, I was impressed by Merritt’s writing. If you are a reader that enjoys a bit of sexy times with your horror or mystery stories, you will definitely want to check this one out. Also, haunted house fans, this is worth a read. There were moments that I was absolutely freaked out while reading this.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Pegasus Books, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I always appreciate the opportunity!

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Buzzwordathon Round 4, Wrap-Up

Another readathon come and gone. I wasn’t quite as successful as I had wanted to be, mainly because I failed at keeping myself on track, but I did complete two books!

The buzzword for this round was, ‘you’. One of the books that I completed, Listen To Your Heart by Kasie West, was on my original TBR. The other that I completed, I Let You Go by Clare MacKintosh, was not. 

I was reading two other books for the readathon and I did make some solid progress in them. The first was, While You Sleep by Stephanie Merritt. My copy of this is an e-ARC that I was sent by the publisher. I made it to 53% on the final night of the readathon.

The second, Call It What You Want by Brigid Kemmerer, is also an ARC that I received from the publisher. This hard-hitting YA Contemporary is actually set to release on June 25th! I made it to page 254 out of 384; so not bad at all.

One of my major distractions was that I randomly decided to reread Desperation by Stephen King over the weekend and read close to 300-pages in that. Ahhh, focusing on a TBR is difficult. Something I frequently fail at.

So, that’s it, folks! Quick post today. If you would like more detailed information on any of the books that I read during Buzzwordathon, simply click on any of the covers shown here!

Did you participate in Buzzwordathon? How did you do? Have you read any of these books? I want to know! Leave a comment here or contact me through any of my social media links.

Cheers & Happy Reading~

 

Review: Final Draft by Riley Redgate

Final DraftFinal Draft by Riley Redgate
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Aspiring scifi writer, Laila Piedro, is in her senior year of high school. Her main focus is her creative writing class, taught by her favorite teacher, Mr. Madison. He loves her work and is quite encouraging regarding her future prospects for success.

He is a scifi geek himself and they really bond over the same books and shows. Unfortunately, Mr. Madison is hospitalized after a horrible accident and cannot finish out the school year. With just 3-months remaining until graduation, how bad can the substitute be?

Turns out, pretty bad. Nadiya Nazarenko, a Pulitzer Prize winning author, gets selected to take over Mr. Madison’s creative writing class. She has never been a teacher and her methods are…

…not the best. The first time she grades the students stories everyone fails. Laila is shocked. She had never received a grade such as this and was mystified by how this could happen. Mr. Madison always loved her stories.

After a few chats where Nazarenko basically tells her she needs to live life in order to correctly write life, Laila takes this direction to heart and begins to actively try to shake herself out of her comfort zone. She becomes fixated on gaining Nazarenko’s approval and this leads to distance from her friend group and a string of risky decisions.

I picked this book up as part of the Dragons & Tea Book Club. It was their June pick and since it had been sitting on my TBR since it was released, I was excited to join in. I like so much of the content in here, such as:

~great family dynamic = wanted more
~exploring sexuality = wanted more
~squad goals/strong friendship group = wanted more
~examination of identity/culture = wanted more
~relationship with Hannah = wanted more
~Laila’s writing progress = wanted more

Do you see a theme?

While this was a good story, I wanted so much more of all the things! Redgate has a smooth, intelligent way of writing but this honestly could have been 100-pages longer. Anytime I was getting attached to a topic, it would end and we wouldn’t really revisit it.

Even with Nazarenko, in the end, she just kind of faded to black. It made the whole interaction seem inconsequential. Maybe that was the point. It’s high school creative writing; the real lessons were learned outside the classroom.

Overall, I am happy I read this and I would read more by Redgate. The writing is worth a second chance even though this one didn’t blow me away.

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Mid Year Book Freak Out Tag 2019

Hey bookworms! Mid-year is upon us and with it comes the posting of the annual Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tags over BookTube and Book Blogs. This is a time for us to reflect on what we have read so far this year and what we hope to read before the year ends. Without further ado, let’s get right into the questions:

  1. Best Book You’ve Read So Far in 2019 — I have read 86 books so far this year. It is really hard to choose just one as the ‘best’. I have given out a lot of 5-star ratings. For the purposes of this list however, I will choose just one and say that Julie Kagawa’s, 2018 release, Shadow of the Fox, swept me off my feet. I love this story so much. Japanese-inspired YA fantasy that incorporates dragon lore and a quest. Y’all know I am down for a quest. I am currently reading the sequel, Soul of the Sword, which releases on Tuesday, June 18th.
  2. Best Sequel You’ve Read So Far in 2019 — I have actually read quite a few sequels this year as one of my monthly TBR challenges is to ‘read a sequel’. My favorite has been King of Fools by Amanda Foody. This second book in the Shadow Game trilogy takes the story to a whole new level. Foody’s writing has matured in leaps and bounds. The characters, the world, it was so good! I cannot wait for the final book of the series releasing in 2020.
  3. New Release You Haven’t Read Yet But Want To — This answer could honestly be 50-books long. I should just pick one…but I can’t. Here’s a few:               To learn more about any of these titles, just click the cover photo above!
  4. Most Anticipated Release for the Second Half of the Year — Hands down, The Institute, by my idol, Stephen King. This all-new, 576-novel, by arguably the most important writer of our times, features a sinister institute housing children with paranormal gifts. A good versus evil tale where the good guy doesn’t always win. Set to release on September 10th, I have already preordered my copy and will be reading it immediately upon arrival. I feel like I have been waiting my whole life for this book.
  5. Biggest Disappointment — I won’t dwell on this but for me, my most disappointing read so far this year has been Internment by Samira Ahmed. I say disappointing because I was anticipating it so highly. It’s not a terrible book. I didn’t hate it. I just wanted it to be so much more. This is a YA-dystopian novel dealing heavily with Islamophobia. In this story, Muslims are rounded up and detained indefinitely in internment camps. While the premise and the topics discussed were so good, the writing, for me, was not. My final rating was just 2.5-stars.
  6. Biggest Surprise — For me, this easily goes to Blood and Sand by C.V. Wyk. This gender-flipped retelling of the legend of Spartacus blew me out of the water. I had heard one person discuss this previously on BookTube, where she discussed how sadly under-hyped it was. When I saw it on Book Outlet for super cheap, I couldn’t resist picking it up and, oh man, am I glad I did! This action-packed story was so well written. I absolutely adored this! Read it.
  7. Favorite New Author (Debut or New to You) — Alex Michaelides blew me away with his debut novel, The Silent Patient, a gripping Adult Psychological Thriller. This book was so fun to read. He definitely rocketed up my auto-buy author list. If you read one Adult Thriller this year, it should be this one! My final rating for this one was 5-jaw dropping stars. I still break out in a smile when I reflect on the big reveal. So good.
  8. Newest Fictional Crush — The newest would probably be Carlos Ibarra from Jasmine Guillory’s, The Proposal. I first met Carlos in, The Wedding Date, and although I didn’t know him well, I was excited when I heard he was getting a companion novel to tell his story. I have an ARC of the next companion book in the series, The Wedding Party, which I hope to read very soon! Carlos is set to be Drew’s best man, so that should be a really fun time.
  9. Newest Favorite Character — Alex Claremont-Diaz, of course, from Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston. This book basically broke the book world when it was released in May and I was all aboard that hype train. I had an ARC of this and finished it just before release. I raved about it and will continue to for sometime to come! Alex is just the best. I love him with my whole heart!
  10. Book That Made You Cry — I cried, actual tears falling down my face, while reading different parts of Too Much Is Not Enough, a memoir by Broadway Golden Boy, Andrew Rannells. His writing was so raw and heartfelt. When he lost his Father…ugh, man, it got me. A lot of his reflections were so relatable, I just found myself breaking down. Really well done with equal parts humor and weight. I loved this book!
  11. Book That Made You Happy — One of the most humorous books I have read this year is Sal and Gabi Break the Universe  by Carlos Hernandez. This great Middle Grade science fiction novel is part of the Rick Riordan Presents imprint. I have been blessed to received the last few books by this imprint in ARC form and they have all been so good. I was super impressed with Hernandez’s use of humor to tell this story. He is a funny man and a great writer! I cannot wait for the sequel. But seriously, just looking at this gorgeous cover makes me happy!
  12. Most Beautiful Book You’ve Bought This Year — This is a tough one. I have loved a lot of beautiful books this year but I think a standout for me has been The Candle and the Flame  by Nafiza Azad. Honestly, I could just stare at this cover for hours and in person, it just has the most glorious muted metallic shimmer. I cannot even express its beauty!
  13. What Books Do You Need To Read By the End of the YearToo many to count!!!!!!!!!

That completes my Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag! Play along. Answer in the comments below or on your own blog or channel. Make sure to tag me so I can see your answers. Do we have any of the same answers? Do you agree or disagree with any of mine?

As always, thank you for visiting my blog. I appreciate you all.

Cheers & Happy Reading~