Monthly Wrap-Up: September 2019

Hello fellow book lovers! September was a hard reading/blogging month for me. I have been feeling very overwhelmed with the amount of work I have to do for my classes and so unfortunately I just didn’t feel up to reading or writing blog posts 😦 And then I felt guilty and anxious because I felt like I should be. Hopefully October will be a better month and I will get out of this reading rut!


INTO_THE_CROOKED_PLACE6INTO THE CROOKED PLACE: I definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves Six of Crows or Ace of Shades! This book has a lot of similar elements that made it enjoyable, and yet it also had a plot that was entirely unique. The story is told through the POV of four characters and while I loved all of the characters, I think it could have lost a POV or two without losing the essence of the story.  ARC provided by the publisher.  ★★★½

44291755GRAVEMAIDENS: This was really not what I had been expecting. It was necessarily bad, it just didn’t impress me all to much, especially since I think I had really high expectations going into this from all the praise I had seen/heard over it. I tried really hard to like the protagonist, but she treated some of the other characters in the book really poorly and it made it hard to enjoy reading things from her perspective.  ARC received through #booksfortrade on Twitter.  ★★★

40972652THE WALLFLOWER WAGER: You know I’m in a reading rut when I rate a Tessa Dare book anything less than four stars. I was really looking forward to Penelope’s story, but there was just ~something~ missing from this one that usually makes me fall head over heels over Dare’s books. I think there was just not as much of a build-up of tension that I usually look forward to in these books.  ★★★½


36199084._SY475_THE KISS QUOTIENT:
I really wish I had read this so much sooner. This is a book that I had been constantly hearing about, yet it kept getting putting off reading. Let me just say that this book was worth every bit of hype it has gotten. I loved that this is an #ownvoices novel featuring a high-functioning autistic woman and diverse characters. Stella was a fantastic protagonist and I resonated so much with her! It was very easy to root for her and her happy ending.  [review]  ★★★★★

37539001CAPTURING THE DEVIL: Audrey Rose and Thomas have such a special place in my heart and this was a fantastic end to a wonderful series! First of all, this book had so much damn angst and romantic tension throughout the pages it’s like Kerri Maniscalco wrote it specifically for me. I absolutely adore this series and I can’t wait for whatever the author has next up her sleeve!  ★★★★


36321739THE NEVER-TILTING WORLD:
Don’t feel fooled by this rating. I almost DNF’d this literally like five times. It took me almost T E N days to finish this. I was planning to only rate this 2 stars, but I have to give the book credit: things really picked up during the last quarter of the story. I wish the whole book could have been as exciting as that last bit. I went from not wanting to finish this book to looking forward to what will happen in the sequel.  ARC received through #booksfortrade on Twitter.  ★★★

43189874._SY475_WELL MET: This book so so much fun to read. I absolutely cruised through it. This is a contemporary romance that was perfect way to end the summer. From the hate-to-love romance to the RenFaire shenanigans, there was really nothing to dislike about this story. I wasn’t aware that this was the author’s debut novel because it’s so well written and constructed.  ★★★★


42613944._SY475_THE MEMORY THIEF:
This is another book that was taking me forever to get through, except I was so bored that I had to stop. When I dread the thought of reading a book, that’s usually a pretty good sign that I should just quit while I’m ahead. The story itself is okay, although there are so many memory flashbacks that it was becoming extremely annoying and I started to skip over them to get on with the story.  ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley.  DNF @ 51%

44131124._SY475_THE PRENUP: This was a cute story! This was a new to me author and I had only happened upon this title from another blogger’s post about new contemporary romances this summer, but I’m glad I did because I enjoyed this! Fake marriage is one of my favorite tropes and I loved how it was handled in this book. My only complaint? Not enough (or any) steamy scenes  🔥 #sorrynotsorry. There was soo much build up in the tension between them and no resolution for us a reader!  ★★★½

OTHER

Contemporary Romances That Had Me Swooning This Summer | The ABC Book Challenge – O

REVIEW: The Candle and the Flame – Nafiza Azad

39821312Title: The Candle and the Flame
Author: Nafiza Azad
Rating: ★★★★

I try not to be too predictable, but if a book’s synopsis features the word djinn there is a 100% chance I will be reading it. I went into The Candle and the Flame without knowing too much about the plot, but I thoroughly enjoyed this immersive, beautiful story.

The Candle and the Flame is a slow-paced novel. Books without a whole lot of action are really hit or miss with me, and while I struggled at first with the pacing, the story really hits its stride by the middle. The third person omniscient narration was an adjustment as well, and although I would have preferred first person, I think the third person was excellently done and fit the tone of the book perfectly.

The writing was absolutely gorgeous. I loved how diversely rich in culture and history the book was; the author’s descriptions paint a vivid picture for the reader. There were a lot of words and terms that were unfamiliar to me, but a wonderful glossary is included in the back of the book (which I didn’t realized until I had finished). However, if you’re naturally inquisitive like me, it was simple enough to Google the words to learn more about them.

Nafiza Azad has mentioned that this is a book about women being women, and I couldn’t agree more. There were numerous female characters, each with distinct personalities and likes/dislikes, which made them unique in their own fantastic way. I really loved all the different characters, relationships, romances, and the political intrigue featured in the story. I honestly wish the book had been a bit longer because I would love to have seen what happens next!

The Candle and the Flame was an excellent, beautifully written debut. I had been waiting for its release for months and it was definitely worth the wait! I look forward to reading more from Nafiza Azad in the future.

REVIEW: The Girl King – Mimi Yu (ARC)

38232365Title: The Girl King (The Girl King #1)
Author: Mimi Yu
Rating: ★★★½

ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

The Girl King is an East Asian inspired story full of fantasy elements, a magic system, and sisterly betrayal. The synopsis is really intriguing and I was invested in the plot, however this was a difficult review to write, because while there was a lot I liked about the book, there were also a few things I didn’t enjoy. 

One of the things I liked was that I was never bored while reading. The pacing was well-done, and I never had a problem with the story capturing my attention. There were even a times when I had a hard time stopping and wanted to continue to read chapter after chapter. The story was told through three different character POVs: Lu, Min, and Nokhai. Each chapter was told in third person, which made it harder to connect with the characters. I liked reading Lu and Nokhai’s chapters; I really loved Lu’s narrative arc and Nok was such an interesting character that I hope to learn much more about in the next books!

Another aspect I really loved about The Girl King was the dichotomy of personality between Lu and Min, and how each sister changed and adapted to their situation as the book progressed. I wasn’t a fan of Min’s chapters, although I did appreciate her transition from a guileless and quiet young girl into arguably the antagonist. Her naivety and youth were frustrating to read, especially when it came to some of the choices she made, but I can’t argue that she makes an intriguing character for upcoming sequels. 

I wanted to love The Girl King much more than what I did, but unfortunately there were a few aspects of the story that made it harder to connect with and enjoy. Despite the things I didn’t like, there were quite a few that I did really like and so I’m looking forward to reading the next in the series!

REVIEW: The Winter of the Witch – Katherine Arden (ARC)

36621586Title: The Winter of the Witch (Winternight Trilogy #3)
Author: Katherine Arden
Rating: ★★★★★

ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

“Come with me, Snegurochka. I know a house in a winter forest.”

When I read The Girl in the Tower last year, it quickly became one of my favorite books ever, which was a total surprised since The Bear and the Nightingale was enjoyable, but not mind-blowing. The Winter of the Witch was not only a satisfying conclusion to the series, but an absolutely stunning and magical story all on its own. 

“But who could do it other than she? You can be a bridge between men and chyerti, Morozko had said. She thought she understood that, now.”

As with the second, The Winter of the Witch picks up right where the last book left off, making it easy to transition back into the story. Vasya continues to be one of the best written female protagonists I’ve ever read – and one of my very favorite heroines in literature. Her character growth throughout the series is amazing, and her bravery, strength, and compassion are admirable traits that only speak to some her well-roundedness. In addition to Vasya, there were so many other characters whom I loved reading about: Sasha, Olga, Marya (although there wasn’t as much of her in this one), Dmitrii, Ded Grib, and Pozhar to name a few. And of course, there’s Morozko, our morose winter-king. My adoration for that brooding frost-demon only grew in this novel, and I couldn’t get enough of his scenes, especially the angst with Vasya. Chapter 17 very nearly put me in an early grave, you guys. 

She whispered, “You are not alone anymore.”
“I know,” he whispered. “Neither are you.”

I’ve said this before, but the atmospheric setting in these books is one of the best I’ve ever written. Katherine Arden is such a talented author: her lush writing, vivid descriptions,  and carefully crated historical and fairytale elements create such a magical story. And the wintry setting made this a perfect read for winter time. 

He was only half there; the wind seemed to blow through him.
“As I could, I loved you too,” she whispered.
Their eyes met. Then he was gone, gone on the rising wind, blown through the wild air. 

There is so much to love about The Winter of the Witch, and I will never stop recommending this series to people. From the writing to the characters to the storytelling, The Winternight trilogy is an enchanting, whimsical story perfect for those who love a blend of fantasy and folklore. 

REVIEW: The Caged Queen – Kristen Ciccarelli

35843937Title: The Caged Queen (Iskari #2)
Author: Kristen Ciccarelli
Rating: ★★★

After I finished this, all I felt was overwhelmingly conflicted. When I first heard that The Caged Queen was going to be a companion novel told from Roa’s POV, I was initially disappointed that I wouldn’t be following more of Asha and her story. Although I wasn’t a huge fan of Roa in The Last Namsara, I found her backstory and relationship with Dax to be intriguing, and so I attempted to go into this book with an open mind. Unfortunately, it still didn’t stand up to my enjoyment of The Last Namsara.

I really love the world that Kristen Ciccarelli has created here, and she’s a talented author whose compelling writing can easily draw you into the story. And even though I appreciated being back in this world and with these characters, I spent a majority of this book extremely frustrated. Probably 99% of the issues and conflicts that happen could have been solved if Dax and Roa had simply talked. The lack of communication between them caused so many unnecessary understandings and after a while I began to get both annoyed at Roa and at the plot. There were so many of my favorite tropes employed here: enemies-to-lovers / childhood friends-to-lovers / arranged marriage but the fact that I found no enjoyment in them because of all the poorly done angst really speaks to my disappointment. 

For the most part I enjoyed all the characters, even Roa began to grow on me at some point. Dax quickly became my favorite character in this series: he’s a sweet cinnamon roll who must be protected at all costs and I, for one, would love nothing more than to reach into this book and pull him out of the pages and into my life. The other really disappointment aspect about The Caged Queen in comparison to the first book was there were NOT ENOUGH DRAGONS. Those wonderful creatures hardly make an appearance, so I really hope there are more in the next book. 

I found The Caged Queen to be an enjoyable enough companion novel, but there was a lot of plot lines that frustrated me to the point that it really affected my liking of the book overall. Too much miscommunications between the characters leading to unnecessary conflicts and not enough dragons!