Mini-Review: Kindred Spirits – Rainbow Rowell

Mini-Review: Kindred Spirits – Rainbow RowellTitle: Kindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell
Publishing Info: February 25, 2016 by Macmillan
Source: Gift
Genres: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Contemporary
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: May 20, 2017
Related Posts: Eleanor & Park Playlist, Eleanor & Park, Fangirl, Landline, Attachments

'Everybody likes everything these days. The whole world is a nerd.'
'Are you mad because other people like Star Wars? Are you mad because people like me like Star Wars?'
'Maybe.'

If you broke Elena's heart, Star Wars would spill out. So when she decides to queue outside her local cinema to see the new movie, she's expecting a celebration with crowds of people who love Han, Luke and Leia just as much as she does. What she's not expecting is to be last in a line of only three people; to have to pee into a collectible Star Wars soda cup behind a dumpster or to meet that unlikely someone who just might truly understand the way she feels. Kindred Spirits is an engaging short story by Rainbow Rowell, author of the bestselling Eleanor & Park, Fangirl and Carry On, and is part of a handful of selected short reads specially produced for World Book Day.

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I don’t know why this was marked as “for older readers” when it’s about an 18-year-old girl and doesn’t contain any so called “adult content” but okay! KINDRED SPIRITS is an easy, fun novella for teens or adults alike and it really can fit with anyone who has a love of Star Wars!

KINDRED SPIRITS is a quick short about Elena who camps out in line to see the next Star Wars movie and her interactions with the people in line (all two of them). I thought the book was fun, realistic, and had a decent amount of substance considering its length! It was enjoyable to read, easy to zip through, and you’ll have more fun if you’re a Star Wars fan but you also won’t really miss TOO much if you’re not. I thoroughly enjoy Star Wars but I’m not as big of a fan so some name drops went over my head but I mostly picked up on everything else. It’s made to be an enjoyable read no matter what!

As usual, I loved the feel of a Rainbow Rowell book. It had the same vibe and writing style as her other books do and I just love falling back into another one of her books. This was perfect for a quick read and I’m glad I finally got to it!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Nerdy fun. I love cute, nerdy books and it was so fun to read this novella from Rainbow Rowell about Star Wars and its fans. It just shows how “geek culture” is so accessible to anyone and you don’t have to be a nerd to enjoy it!
Left Me Wanting More: Length! I really enjoyed this story and I could have read a whole novel of it! I am glad it was a novella though because it was the perfect quick and cute read.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

If you’re a Rainbow Rowell fan, it’s a great addition to your collection and just a fun story to read. She always has quality content and lovely writing, even in a quick snippet.

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE KINDRED SPIRITS

(Click the cover to see my review!)

     

Bad Romance – Heather Demetrios

Bad Romance – Heather DemetriosTitle: Bad Romance by Heather Demetrios
Publishing Info: June 13, 2017 by Macmillan
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes, Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Psych/Mental Health
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: May 29, 2017
Related Posts: I'll Meet You There

Grace wants out. Out of her house, where her stepfather wields fear like a weapon and her mother makes her scrub imaginary dirt off the floors. Out of her California town, too small to contain her big city dreams. Out of her life, and into the role of Parisian artist, New York director—anything but scared and alone.

Enter Gavin: charming, talented, adored. Controlling. Dangerous. When Grace and Gavin fall in love, Grace is sure it's too good to be true. She has no idea their relationship will become a prison she's unable to escape.

Deeply affecting and unflinchingly honest, this is a story about spiraling into darkness—and emerging into the light again.

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BAD ROMANCE was such a hard book to read but in such a good way. I haven’t read too many books that deal with the inside of a bad relationship but I think Heather Demetrios really captured all of the emotions, twists, and tangles that are involved in being trapped in a “bad romance”. Her experience with the matter really helped dig in to those dark corners and create such a realistic picture of this situation.

I wouldn’t say that it was enjoyable to read BAD ROMANCE because it’s so hard to read about these tough situations that make you cringe and cry and want to shake a main character… but in a way that made me feel for Grace, but in frustration for how stuck she feels and how other people are taking advantage of that vulnerability. Grace is stuck in her life at home and is just waiting for the day when she can move out and go off to college. Her mother suffers from OCD (which is not stated outright but more and more is revealed along the way) and things have gotten so bad with her mental state that she’s dependent on Grace’s step-father who uses all of that to his advantage. Both her mother and step-father continue to keep Grace under their thumb so when popular guy and long-time-crush Gavin starts to show interest in Grace, even after a suicide attempt, Grace can’t help but fall head over heels for someone who finally shows her some positive attention.

The book starts with Grace sort of telling a story to Gavin himself. The usage of the second-person narrative, essentially telling the story back to Gavin like it’s a narrative straight to him, created such a personal and tense connection and sets the story up for the devastation that is to come. The reader knows from the beginning that this will not end well, and the tension is set up right away so even though you see Grace falling for someone who seems so good to her at first, the reader knows it will not end well, and I just had that sinking feeling in my stomach. Things start off well  but there are also immediate signs of what’s to come, and it’s easy to ignore when you have hope and trust in a relationship. There are plenty of things that don’t have to spiral out of control, but Grace is surrounded by those who need more help than she can give them and too often she’s put in the position of being someone’s savior, and that’s exactly what Gavin pins on her.

I won’t go into the whole book, but long story short, I think Heather Demetrios did a really great job of laying this whole relationship out. I felt like Gavin really did like Grace but then it just turned into dependency and the need to control her instead of caring about her and having a nice balance. Gavin was in need of professional attention and support that Grace couldn’t give and all of his problems were being pinned on her, so instead of finding a freedom with Gavin, she became even more stuck. My stomach twisted and my heart sank as things grew even worse, taking an abusive turn, but I also saw Grace’s side of things! It wasn’t that she wasn’t strong or wouldn’t take action and leave Gavin… she really did care for him and she also wanted to help him. She thought he loved her, and maybe he did, but it reached an obsessive and controlling point to where it wasn’t real love anymore and it turned into an unhealthy need. Grace’s character had so much good in her heart but that doesn’t help someone who needs therapy or medication and it was so hard to watch her struggle between wanting to help Gavin, trying to love him and be the support that he needed, and just needing to get out.

I have a lot I could say about this book but I won’t go on forever with this review. What I will say is that I think it’s a very well-done story about abusive relationships, especially those that don’t seem outright abusive. There were emotional aspects here that bullied Grace into staying in the relationship (that did turn a little bit physical) and Heather Demetrios did a great job of writing each character so even if you knew they were in the wrong, you could understand their perspective and see the whole picture all at once. This was so well-written and very hard to read all at the same time, but the hard to read is definitely because of the difficult content. I haven’t had experience with this myself but I found it very realistic and would definitely recommend BAD ROMANCE!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Realistic, non-contemporary fiction. So many realistic fiction I read nowadays is romantic so it’s always interesting to read more novels that are realistic but not a “contemporary romance”.
Left Me Wanting More: Help for Grace. This is usually where I put what I was missing from a book but I really felt that this was well-written and I wouldn’t have asked for anything different! I just wish Grace had someone to turn to who could offer her help and support, mostly from her parents. Your parents are supposed to be there for you especially in times like this and they only made things so much worse.

Addiction Rating
Read it

This is a powerful read and absolutely worth picking up. I think it tells a really important story and shows that not all abusive relationships are purely physical. This bad romance was emotionally demanding and controlling and Grace was just as stuck.

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BOOKS LIKE BAD ROMANCE

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    ELEANOR & PARK

Discussion: Falling Out of Love with an Author/Series

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FALLING OUT OF LOVE WITH AN AUTHOR/SERIES

I’ve fallen out of love with quite a few series over the past few years and it’s always hard to make the decision to part with books you once loved. It’s always hits hard when I think about how much I loved a particular book or series and then realizing that the love just isn’t there anymore. Sometimes it’s a direction that the series took, sometimes it’s an incident that made me see the author/series in a different light, and other times it’s just not quite the topic or series for me anymore.

Sometimes, this is why I love stand-alone novels. The publishing industry seems both fast and slow. Putting out one book of a series per year may seem like forever to wait for it but I know there’s soooo much more that goes on in order to get that book to publication, like you know… writing it. While it feels like we wait forever for a series to finish, I’m sure for an author it can feel like a mad dash to stick to the one-book-per-year pressure! And at the same time, I‘ve fallen out of love with series over the span of two or three years simply because I’m a different person than when I started reading it. I started the SWEET EVIL series when I was a baby blogger four or five years ago and I JUST LOVED IT. Then by the time that series wrapped up last year, I lost all interest in even finishing the series. Part of it was that I didn’t love the second book as much as the first but by the time the third book came out, I wasn’t the same person or the same reader that I was when I had read the first book. It was so sad to see how much I had loved and fangirled over the first book and then my love for the series just changing over time because of how my life had changed me.

Other times, it’s heart-breaking to see a series change with each book. There are plenty of books that I’ve read where I really enjoyed the first book in a series and then the second book just took a turn that baffled me! I think that is harder to take than just falling out of love with a series because of life-changes. It’s a disappointment that settles in when you were expecting the series to go one way and it totally goes somewhere that you’re not expecting. I positively adoooored REBEL OF THE SANDS but reading the second book just felt so…. different, and I just wasn’t on board with everything that happened in TRAITOR TO THE THRONE. Usually the changes aren’t too drastic but there have been a few series where it just didn’t even feel like the same characters or plot and I just had a hard time wanting to read the second book, much less continue on with the rest of the series, even if it was only one more book.

And the worst, I think, it’s falling out of love with an author completely. By now, you may know that I am not as into Sarah J. Maas’ books as I used to be. I hopped on late to the THRONE OF GLASS fandom but I fell in loooove with CROWN OF MIDNIGHT, HEIR OF FIRE, and QUEEN OF SHADOWS was actually my top top read of that year. I also really enjoyed A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES and was impressed with how it still felt like Sarah J. Maas but was different from the Throne of Glass series. Then I started having… issues. I just couldn’t get into EMPIRE OF STORMS and I never got in the swing of the book. I was surprised and disappointed to see the same elements pop up in EMPIRE OF STORMS that I had just read in A COURT OF MIST AND FURY. I had a hard time with some of the writing styles and dialogue in ACOMAF, didn’t get the pacing in EoS, and barely even had the desire to read A COURT OF WINGS AND RUIN, which ended up really disappointing me even going into it knowing that I wasn’t going to love it. I was just so shocked and a little heart-broken (or something less dramatic) that I just wasn’t loving her books as much. I simply adored QUEEN OF SHADOWS and I don’t know if it was me or the books but somewhere along the way, I lost that passion and the little things ended up being a main focus of irritation instead of seeing those big things that I loved as a whole. The series just felt… different by the end and so many things had happened that I almost didn’t feel like I was reading the same books anymore. Again, just my personal opinion but it’s the most notable change for me and the one that sticks out when talking about this topic. I’ll still be finishing the Throne of Glass series since I’m almost done and so far in but I’m not excited about it anymore, and that makes me sad.

BUT this happens! It’s a natural progression of a reader’s life, I think, and really it’s all the books’ fault!! I’ve changed so much because I read so much, so in a way, the fact that I’m a reader in itself has been the cause for a lot of my feelings to change. The more I read, the more I learn what I like. The more I see more technical things like world-building and character development. The more I discover magical new concepts and get tired of repeated ones. I guess reading it both a blessing and a curse when it comes to finishing old series and starting new ones! There’s always something new out there so it can be comforting to come back to a series that you’ve been keeping up with for years or it can be tiring that it’s not quite what you felt it used to be.

 

Are there any series or authors that you’ve fallen out of love with over the years? What caused your opinions to change? How do you deal with it — do you push on and finish a series or just let it be?

Flame in the Mist (Flame in the Mist #1) – Renee Ahdieh

Flame in the Mist (Flame in the Mist #1) – Renee AhdiehTitle: Flame in the Mist (Flame in the Mist #1) by Renee Ahdieh
Publishing Info: May 16, 2017 by Penguin
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes, Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: May 27, 2017
Related Posts: The Wrath and the Dawn (The Wrath and the Dawn #1)

The only daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has always known she’d been raised for one purpose and one purpose only: to marry. Never mind her cunning, which rivals that of her twin brother, Kenshin, or her skills as an accomplished alchemist. Since Mariko was not born a boy, her fate was sealed the moment she drew her first breath.

So, at just seventeen years old, Mariko is sent to the imperial palace to meet her betrothed, a man she did not choose, for the very first time. But the journey is cut short when Mariko’s convoy is viciously attacked by the Black Clan, a dangerous group of bandits who’ve been hired to kill Mariko before she reaches the palace.

The lone survivor, Mariko narrowly escapes to the woods, where she plots her revenge. Dressed as a peasant boy, she sets out to infiltrate the Black Clan and hunt down those responsible for the target on her back. Once she’s within their ranks, though, Mariko finds for the first time she’s appreciated for her intellect and abilities. She even finds herself falling in love—a love that will force her to question everything she’s ever known about her family, her purpose, and her deepest desires.

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Welp. The hype got this one for me. I actually went in with an open mind because I had no idea what to expect and despite not totally loving THE WRATH AND THE DAWN, I wanted to go into a new series with no reservations. I still ended up hitting some of the same issues that I encountered with WRATH though without even realizing it until I was done with the book.

FLAME IN THE MIST turned out to be a much slower-paced fantasy than I thought. I don’t mind slower pace BUT I didn’t feel like there was enough character development to create that sense of a character-driven novel when plot isn’t action-packed. The story was moving forward and things were happening but it wasn’t a whole lot to actually continuously keep the plot engaging. I don’t need all action, all the time, to enjoy a book but when action slows down, that’s where characters shine and it didn’t feel like there was a lot of dialogue to really get to know the characters or interact with them.

Most of the book took place in the first chapter and the last 25%. I feel like I barely got to know the main characters at all and most of the things I knew about them, I was told instead of actually seeing. The relationships were confusing until the romance was clearly outlined because there was a little tension with a few people until the romance finally started developing into what it was. The plot could have used some cleaning up and there wasn’t a really clear focus for a while. Aside from Mariko surviving the attack in the first few chapters (not a spoiler – it’s literally in the synopsis and happens in the first chapter), I wasn’t sure what her motivation was or what the point of the book was. Revenge? That’s it? Which is fine, but the reader can tell that more political motivations will also be involved, being the daughter of an important family, and I just wanted to explore more of that right off the bat. Instead of something being introduced and working it into the story throughout the book, it seemed like a concept was introduced and had to be expanded upon right away instead of letting the story naturally unfold over time.

The whole book felt a little too… open. Like I always say, I don’t need things clearly spelled out for me but I would like a better feel of what the book is, where it’s going, and who these characters are. I just didn’t feel like enough was developed. I got bored waiting for something to catch me and this just didn’t do it for me. Who else is not surprised I’m a black sheep on this book? Sigh.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Non-European fantasy. So many high fantasy novels are based on European concepts or settings and I really enjoyed the Japanese influence in this book! I can’t really judge how well it was done since I don’t know much about the culture in specific there but it was refreshing to take a fantasy somewhere else.
Left Me Wanting More: Development. I love character-driven novels and I don’t always need jam-packed plots to keep me interested but I felt like neither the plot nor the characters were really developed enough to hook me into this world.

Addiction Rating
Get a second opinion

I know I personally won’t be continuing this series. Maybe I just don’t click with Renee Ahdieh’s writing? I had a hard time with THE WRATH AND THE DAWN taking a while to get somewhere and then BAM it finally did, a little similar to FLAME IN THE MIST, so maybe it’s just a me thing! I know many people who have loved both series so far but I just don’t appear to be one of them.

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BOOKS LIKE FLAME IN THE MIST

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    THE STORY SPINNER

Royal Reads | Kings

I feel like I’ve been reading a lot “Royal Reads” lately, mostly because I seem to really enjoy a lot of high fantasy! A lot of my recent reads have featured some royal titles of King, Queen, etc so I thought it would be fun to put together a mini-series of some of my favorite “Royal Reads”!

Today, we’re talking Kings. Real kings, fictional kings, kings of imaginary worlds… doesn’t matter — I love ’em all!


THE RAVEN KING by Maggie Stiefvater

Naturally one of my first thoughts is THE RAVEN KING. The Raven Cycle is one of my all-time favorite series and just this title along evoked a lot of feelings! It’s definitely unique, totally magical, and a wonderful series full of amazingly in-depth characters.
Review | Goodreads


THE WICKER KING by K. Ancrum

THE WICKER KING  was a very interesting read! The book was very well put-together in structure and in plot and the pacing was incredible! I definitely didn’t want to put it down at any point and I think this will be a big buzz-book in the fall!
ReviewGoodreads


THE KING OF ATTOLIA by Megan Whelan Turner

I still haven’t written my reviews yet for the Queen’s Thief books but I binge read them on audio and had such a great time listening to them! THE KING OF ATTOLIA is smack in the middle of the series so I can’t say much about it specifically but it’s a really interesting series in its structure and where it takes the reader!
Review | Goodreads


THE WAY OF KINGS by Brandon Sanderson

I’m determined to read all of Brandon Sanderson’s works and I finally stared on The Stormlight Archive. If I thought a 600 page book was a little intimidating, it had nothing on these 1000+ page books. THE WAY OF KINGS was different than what I had expected but I’m so curious about the next book! I’m hoping it has a bit more development and I can’t imagine it won’t with where this left off!
Review | Goodreads


A CLASH OF KINGS by George R.R. Martin

And what kingly feature would be complete without one of the most epic throne battles, A Song of Ice and Fire? It’s already been so long since I’ve read the books (well, I guess not as long as some people but a few years for me already, somehow!) and I need to catch up on the TV show. I’d love to re-read these someday but maybe the show will have to suffice for reliving these books again!
Review | Goodreads


What are some of your favorite kingly reads? What else needs to be on my TBR for these royal reads in the way of kings that I haven’t read yet?

Review in a Tweet | Dangerous Minds (Knight & Moon #2) by Janet Evanovich

REVIEW IN A TWEET is a feature that I need from time to time when I don’t have a ton to say in a review. Sometimes even mini-reviews are too long to write when you finished a book months ago and didn’t write a single note down on Goodreads. But the good news is that I started tweeting and saving very, very mini book reviews thanks to a concept that Lindsey at Bring My Books introduced me to! I’ve saved all of my super duper quick reviews to my timeline and under a hashtag (my 2017 books are under #bookadd17) for my own person way to review all of my books read this year at a glance.

Today’s Review in a Tweet is DANGEROUS MINDS by Janet Evanovich. I started and finished this audiobook in a single day while I was making candles and I always love how quick and easy Janet Evanovich’s audiobooks are! I tend to listen to everything of hers on audio now because they’re so fast, easy to listen to while doing other things, and I like the narrator, Lorelai King who seems to be narrating all of her stuff!

I liked this review in a tweet because I noticed for the first time as I was posting about this book on Twitter that Phoef Sutton, who had co-written the first book, was noticeably absent from DANGEROUS MINDS. I wonder what happened there — if it was only meant to be one book that was co-written or if they decided to just let Janet Evanovich take over or if something crazy happened or what! Both books had that Janet Evanovich/Stephanie Plum feel for me still but this series so far is a little less silly than Stephanie, although there are still some very wacky moments. I wish they felt a little more different but hey, that’s getting into a full review which defeats the purpose of this post!

 

The Crown’s Fate (The Crown’s Game #2) – Evelyn Skye

The Crown’s Fate (The Crown’s Game #2) – Evelyn SkyeTitle: The Crown's Fate (The Crown's Game #2) by Evelyn Skye
Publishing Info: May 16, 2017 by HarperCollins
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes, Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: May 23, 2017
Related Posts: The Crown's Game (The Crown's Game #1)

Russia is on the brink of great change. Pasha’s coronation approaches, and Vika is now the Imperial Enchanter, but the role she once coveted may be more difficult—and dangerous—than she ever expected.

Pasha is grappling with his own problems—his legitimacy is in doubt, the girl he loves loathes him, and he believes his best friend is dead. When a challenger to the throne emerges—and with the magic in Russia growing rapidly—Pasha must do whatever it takes to keep his position and protect his kingdom.

For Nikolai, the ending of the Crown’s Game stung deeply. Although he just managed to escape death, Nikolai remains alone, a shadow hidden in a not-quite-real world of his own creation. But when he’s given a second chance at life—tied to a dark price—Nikolai must decide just how far he’s willing to go to return to the world.

With revolution on the rise, dangerous new magic rearing up, and a tsardom up for the taking, Vika, Nikolai, and Pasha must fight—or face the destruction of not only their world but also themselves.

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** Warning: This review DOES contain spoilers for the book! I will be talking about specifics! ** 

THE CROWN’S GAME was one of my favorite reads of 2016 and I absolutely loved how much it reminded me of THE NIGHT CIRCUS in so many ways (which I actually just finished re-reading and it cemented this feeling even more)! Naturally, I was very excited to read THE CROWN’S FATE and it was one of my most anticipated reads of 2017! It’s always so hard when I have an most-anticipate read coming up because I tend to hype the book up for myself so it was an interesting experience reading THE CROWN’S FATE!

There’s no way I can talk about this book without specific spoilers, so first I’ll talk about some non-spoilery things! I loved that this world felt the same! There are some times with sequels that it feels like a totally different book but I was able to fall back into this world right where I left off.
The world where we left it after THE CROWN’S GAME was much more political and while I don’t mind that, I did miss some of that fun and a “challenge” aspect of THE CROWN’S GAME itself (the game, not the book) because it was a fun structure and involved some creativity on the characters’ parts to explore their abilities.
And I still love Pasha. He was very different in this book because of all the political ramifications and situations that he had to deal with so he just wasn’t as much fun but I still loved his spirit.

Okay, so here are the spoilers. While the world felt the same, why why whyyyyy did we have to have Nikolai turn bad?! Nikolai was too pure and sweet and precious and he was my favorite part of the whole darn book, so I was SO SAD to see that his character was essentially removed from the story line since his whole personality changed. I know it was because of REASONS, yes, but still. My favorite part of this story was changed and to boot, that affected the romance too which I wanted to see developed even MORE but that got put on hold because “bad” Nikolai, of course, wasn’t pursuing romance. SIGH. The book was still enjoyable but this changed so many things and took away those little nuances that really had me enjoying the series so much!

I also just wanted more magic…? The magic involved in this book was kind of dark, which is cool, I can appreciate dark magic… But I missed that sparring between Vika and Nikolai so much. I guess I’m just tired of everything ending in war or battles (which is silly considering that this series is also kiiiiind of historical fiction, with magic) so I didn’t really want to see things come to that. I just really loved the structure of the Game itself, which encouraged the enchanters to grow and explore their powers and THE CROWN’S FATE was more of a desperate battle for power or to stop that power, so it lost that magic and that spark that I loved so much. I didn’t feel as enchanted, no pun intended.

I DID appreciate that things didn’t turn out too sunshine-y though. I actually liked what happened to Vika in the end, actually. There has to be something in the events of war because no one comes out wholly unscathed and it’s a great shock to readers when something happens to a main character, even if it’s not a death. I applaud Evelyn Skye for taking it there like so many other authors have avoided. I know it’s hard to have something difficult happen to your characters without a way to “save” them but these things need to be done to keep things realistic or at least not a cheesy happy ending.

When it comes down to it, this was not the ending I was expecting or hoping for the series but I also appreciated how it wrapped up. I think I just wanted more romance and more Nikolai. Always more Nikolai.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Historical fiction meets magic. I never used to enjoy history or historical fiction so I’ve really been appreciating books that combine it with magical elements! It’s kind of a way for me to catch up on some historical events or at least feelings, even if they are fictionalized and combined with other things.
Left Me Wanting More: Romance. I don’t always need romance in a book but I was so delighted by the relationship between Vika and Nikolai in the first book and things were heading in a great direction… until the end. But then they didn’t really continue in this book!! I almost feel like THE CROWN’S GAME should have been a stand alone in many ways, but maybe that’s just because I didn’t totally love the finale here.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

If you loved THE CROWN’S GAME, it’s definitely still worth the read! It was different than what I was expecting and I would have loved just a bit more but I also did appreciate so many things still!

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BOOKS LIKE THE CROWN’S GAME

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    GRAVE MERCY

The Link List: Bookish Candle Companies

I love lists and having tons of information all in one place. The idea started with a list of Harry Potter quizzes and escalated from there! Check out today’s Link List with all your go-tos for Bookish Candle Companies!

Okay, so the obsession with bookish candles doesn’t get any better once you start making your own. I’ll tell you that right now. In fact, it’s only gotten worse since I started my own candle company and I ended up buying a few too many candles recently… but I love seeing the different interpretations of my favorite characters and books and my collector’s heart doesn’t let me do anything in small doses. Here’s the most comprehensive list of bookish candle companies I could find, especially since so many companies have now started their own websites and moved away from Etsy! (And if I’m missing one, please DO let me know because it certainly isn’t intentional!)

(About halfway through curating this list, not even getting to the point of links, I asked myself why I had started it… I hadn’t realized there were THIS many companies!!)

** Note: I am not affiliated with any of these companies or websites in any way, except, of course, for my own, Novelly Yours Candles. ** 

UNITED STATES

INTERNATIONAL


WHEW, that’s a whole lot of candle shops! Don’t ever tell me you can’t find bookish candles again haha!! So there you have it! Which ones are you favorites? If there are any I missed, let me know and I’ll add them!

Mini-Review: Pretty Baby – Mary Kubica

Mini-Review: Pretty Baby – Mary KubicaTitle: Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica
Publishing Info: July 28, 2015 by Harlequin
Source: Audible
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: May 5, 2017
Related Posts: The Good Girl

She sees the teenage girl on the train platform, standing in the pouring rain, clutching an infant in her arms. She boards a train and is whisked away. But she can't get the girl out of her head...

Heidi Wood has always been a charitable woman: she works for a nonprofit, takes in stray cats. Still, her husband and daughter are horrified when Heidi returns home one day with a young woman named Willow and her four-month-old baby in tow. Disheveled and apparently homeless, this girl could be a criminal—or worse. But despite her family's objections, Heidi invites Willow and the baby to take refuge in their home.

Heidi spends the next few days helping Willow get back on her feet, but as clues into Willow's past begin to surface, Heidi is forced to decide how far she's willing to go to help a stranger. What starts as an act of kindness quickly spirals into a story far more twisted than anyone could have anticipated.

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PRETTY BABY definitely wasn’t as strong as THE GOOD GIRL for me. The story line wasn’t as intriguing and I’m glad that it had a different feel but I also wasn’t as fond of the plot involved in this book. Call me silly, but any time a baby is a main part of a plot, I just find it unappealing. I don’t have anything against the baby, but babies are so vulnerable that it really holds a character back and I find it frustrating. While it’s a part of real life, it’s just not something that I usually choose to read about.

PRETTY BABY seemed to be a little less intriguing as well, not only compared to THE GOOD GIRL, but just in general compared to other mysteries or thrillers. I really felt like there was a lot of time spent in places where the plot could have moved forward and more info through the backstories could have been provided to keep the reader intrigued. It seemed like there were a few missed opportunities to really keep things moving and some big things were delayed a bit too long.

Things did end up unraveling for a fast and furious finale so that did bump up my rating just a bit. I did enjoy the ending and it was expected, yet not. I could see something coming but to actually watch the events unravel was kind of mind-boggling.

I actually liked the twist of characters throughout the book and I enjoyed how I started out with one impression of each one of the narrating voices and changed my opinions slowly the more pieces of the puzzle I gained. Some of the more unlikable (or simply less warm) characters became more likable towards the end once I gained a little more perspective on what exactly they were dealing with.

I’m definitely still interested in more from Mary Kubica (and I love that her books are set in Chicago! Hello, St. Charles/Kane County mention!) but this one wasn’t as strong as her first for me.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Adult thrillers. I’ve always been a big mystery/thriller fan and I’m enjoying getting into Mary Kubica’s books! It’s really fun to take a break from YA and get into an adult mindset.
Left Me Wanting More: Plot Development. I wanted things to keep moving forward just a little bit. I didn’t mind a bit twist/reveal/thing at the end but I was hoping for just a little bit more forward motion throughout.

Addiction Rating
Try it!

I did enjoy this one but it wasn’t as strong as other thrillers for me. I think it’s a good read though and I enjoy Mary Kubica’s writing!

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE PRETTY BABY

(Click the cover to see my review!)

     

On the Same Page: Secret Sister Project | Round 7 Sign-Ups!

secret sister project

I cannot believe that it is already time for round SEVEN of #OTSPSECRETSISTER!!

Let’s first get some housekeeping things out of the way…

The two most important things to do when signing up to be a part of this project are:

  1. Head over to the google form which coincides with your monetary tier and fill it out in full. NOTE: IF YOU FORGET TO DO THIS THEN YOU WILL NOT BE PAIRED. THIS IS LITERALLY WHAT WE ARE USING TO PAIR YOU UP, IF YOU AREN’T ON THE FORM, WE CAN NOT PAIR YOU.
  2. BEFORE scrolling down to the questions, and BEFORE signing up to be a part of this project please THOROUGHLY read our FAQ and Rules post. Memorize the rules and refer back to it throughout the project. We have had to put more strict standards in place due to prior issues and therefore there is little leeway for tolerance of people not abiding the “rules.”

Just to cover all of our bases let me reiterate a few things, but please keep in mind that this is just a basic glossing over of these rules, we go more in detail and clarify everything in the main post that we are asking you to reference.

First, please remember that this is a commitment. By signing up to be a secret sister you are promising to send at least one small card AND gift to your secret sister a month depending on the “monetary group” for which you sign up. Only those in the pen pal tier are not expected to send gifts, that is strictly letters/cards. IN ADDITION to packages, you are also asked to send letters and or/postcards to foster positive communication. Many people asked for their to be an emphasis on the pen pal aspects of this project and we have been working hard to remind everyone that it’s not about the gifts, and this seems like the perfect way to do so. It is very important that you don’t sign up for this unless you are willing to follow through. Please think of how sad (and unfair) it would be for someone to be working hard to make their secret sister feel special and not receive anything themselves!

Last thing, sign-ups run from July 7 to midnight on July 21!

NOTE FOR INTERNATIONAL PARTICIPANTS: Due to time zone differences and issues in the past with late questionnaires, etc. we are only able to give you until July 16 to sign up for round 7 of The Secret Sister Project. More details on how to sign up as an international participant below.

The Rules:

  • You must “know” one of the hosts in order to join!
  • You must be 18 or older to participate in The Secret Sister Project
  • You must actively use the hashtag #OTSPSecretSister during your time participating in The Secret Sister Project.
  • If we have to reach out to you more than once to ask if you why your sister hasn’t yet received anything then you will be asked to cease in participating.
  • If we contact you and ask if you sent something to your sister and you say yes but are unable to provide tracking for the package then you will be asked to cease in participating.
  • If you have not received anything by the end of the month then you must contact us.
  • If for any reason you find that you have to drop out of this project, please email us immediately.
  • You will be asked to provide the name and contact info (email addresses, please) of a “buddy” who will be willing to answer questions put forth by your sister. We are asking that you keep this to someone who is in the community and therefore will be easy to contact. Husbands/moms/sisters are not easy or comfortable to contact. *Don’t stress out about this. This person will be available to ask you questions from your sister, or let you know to check your mail. It is not necessary for this person to know you inside and out, just that they have the ability to be contacted, and to contact you when your sister has a question. Additionally, do not bog this person down with incessant questions, use your best judgement when possible and get creative!
  • Below, you will be asked to provide a Goodreads or Amazon wish list with 20 or more books including newer and older titles that is specific to The Secret Sister Project. *Do not share this list with anyone else!
  • You must answer ALL of the questions put forth in the sign-up email as well as be detailed and thorough. We will absolutely be sending emails back to you that we deem “incomplete.”
  • Keep in mind that there is strong emphasis on the pen pal aspect. Meaning that if you have signed up for one of the higher price ranges, you should still send a letters to your sister.
  • Do not tweet or use the hashtag to ask for specific and/or luxurious items.
  • Do not tweet negativity while using the hashtag
  • Do not send swag
  • Pay attention to your sister’s likes/dislikes and wishlists
  • ARCs and shipping do not count toward your monetary limit
  • Do not send packages directly from Amazon without speaking to your point person first

I cannot say this enough times, read and re-read our FAQ and Rules post (the post is old so the dates will be different) and remember that we are here for you. Do not hesitate to reach out to use if needed, we want to help you and can’t unless we know what is happening!

Okay, now we can move on to the fun stuff!

So how do I sign up?

It’s easy! Just answer every question in the questionnaire below and email it over to onthesamepagesecretsister@gmail.com by midnight on July 21! ALSO In addition to the questionnaire, you will also be asked to answer a few questions for a Google form. PLEASE NOTE: If you do not fill out BOTH of these things in full, then you will NOT be paired. This is what we will be using to pair, so DO NOT FORGET. Please remember to thoroughly answer each and every question, and keep in mind that there is no such thing as saying “too much!” If you need some help filling this out, head back over to a previous round’s FAQ and Rules post and check out the example we provided!

For those of you wishing to join the Pen Pal Tier ONLY: please still fill out the questionnaire in full with the exception of your wish lists. The questions will be a good way for us to pair you up with someone, and for your pen pal to get to know you.

International participants: Please use this Google form to sign up instead of one coinciding with the tiers. There will be a place for you to fill out your preference of which tier you would like to belong but we can not guarantee this. Due to international participation being low, we may have to put you all into the same tier, which will most likely be chosen by the majority vote, in order to ensure that you all get a match! Please remember that you have until midnight on July 16 to sign up as an international participant.

Here we go!

Name:

Mailing Address:

Is the above address a residence/PO Box/Condo/place of employment: (*As in, will your mail get to you when the tracking says delivered, or will you need to wait to get to the mailbox/mailroom?)

Email Address:

Blog:

Twitter Name:

Did you participate in one of the prior rounds of the Secret Sister Project? If yes, which round?

If yes, please provide us with the names of your former sisters (those you gave to, and received from – it is okay if you don’t yet know who is sending to you this round):

How much are you willing to contribute to the project monthly? Choose one (NOTE: this is just a range, you can of course go over the limit but please keep the pen pal aspect in mind, and please remember that is about cheer and not just gifts.) REMINDER: International participants are to fill out THIS google form only, do not fill out one provided below.

  • Pen pals: That’s right, this is strictly letters and cards. No trinkets, no extras, nothing besides letters. If you want to send ANYTHING more than a letter or a card every month then we ask that you sign up for one of the higher monetary tiers. *IF YOU ARE CHOOSING THE PEN PAL TIER THEN CLICK HERE TO FILL OUT YOUR GOOGLE FORM
  • $5-$10: (Send a heartfelt letter to catch your sister up on how things are going that month and then send an e-book, baked goods, homemade bookmark or other DIY project, or how about a movie night box with a DVD (thanks to the $5 bin at Walmart) and some candy for a movie night!) *IF YOU ARE CHOOSING THE $5-$10 TIER THEN CLICK HERE TO FILL OUT YOUR GOOGLE FORM.
  • $15-$20 (Any of the possibilities listed above and perhaps a newer hardcover from your sister’s wish-list, some fun socks, fandom tshirt, themed box, get creative!!) *IF YOU ARE CHOOSING THE $15-$20 TIER THEN CLICK HERE TO FILL OUT YOUR GOOGLE FORM
  • $25+ (The sky’s the limit here, we just ask that you remember to reign it in a bit and remember the goal of this project is for cheer, and joy and forging positive relationships, not excessive gifts. Send those heartfelt letters!!) *IF YOU ARE CHOOSING THE $25+ TIER THEN CLICK HERE TO FILL OUT YOUR GOOGLE FORM

Your OTSPSecretSister “buddy’s” email: (*We are asking that you keep this to someone who is in the community and therefore will be easy to contact. Husbands/moms/sisters are not easy or comfortable to contact. This person will be available to ask you questions put forth by your sister, or let you know to check your mail. It is not necessary for this person to know you inside and out, just that they have the ability to be contacted, and to contact you when your sister has a question. Do NOT bog this person down with incessant questions, use your best judgement when possible and get creative!)

Goodreads Profile (*so that they can access your wishlists! Make sure to turn off the privacy setting & try and keep it updated!):

Goodreads/Amazon bookish wishlist: (*must have at least 20 titles of older and newer titles, please try not to purchase any books off of this wishlist and if you do please let your sister know via your buddy or one of us. Do not give anyone else access to this list. Not parents, husbands, friends, co-workers, secret santas…etc. If you do not want to share a wishlist by making it public, you may list the books here instead.)

“Other” wishlist: (*Keep these within reason for prices, etc! Please do not include pricey things, this is more for places like Etsy or for cheap DVDs on Amazon, and so on!)

Important Dates to Remember (*This can be anything and everything! Your birthday, the day you are expecting your baby, the day you are leaving for your next vacation, your anniversary with your partner, a big test you have coming up, the first day at your new job, the anniversary of the day you quit smoking, even a sad anniversary on which you would need some cheer!):

Your favorite items under $5: (things like stationary, nail polish, fav candy etc.)

Food Allergies:

Fandoms:

Your Likes (*Give us an array of things here! Types of snacks, TV shows, movies, bands/types of music, art):

Your Dislikes (*Example: chocolate covered cherries, anything cinnamon flavored, the color brown):

Do you have a favorite store?:

Are you okay receiving a gift card? If so, to where?

Would you be comfortable receiving baked goods of some kind?

What Do You Splurge On?:

Favorite Flowers:

Favorite Color?:

Favorite (or least favorite) smells: (*for things such as candles, soaps, bath bombs/bubbles, perfumes)

Do You Collect Anything?:

Do You Drink Coffee, Tea, Hot Chocolate?:

Do You Have an E-reader?:

Would you be okay being gifted an ebook? If so, please provide the email associated with your e-reader:

List some of your favorite genres or authors:

Are there any authors or genres that you won’t read?

T-shirt size:

Hogwarts House:

Favorite Disney movie and/or princess:

Any magazine that you wish you had a subscription to?

Anything else we should know about you? (*Be thorough here! There is no such thing as “saying too much,” the more your “secret sister” knows, the easier it is to spoil you!)

Third and final reminder that you MUST also fill out a google spreadsheet which coincides with your monetary tier. Links can be found above.

As always, please remember that you can always reach out to us with any inquiries or issues, that is what we are here for! Use the #OTSPSecretSister hashtag to talk with us and your fellow sisters! Thank you for helping us continue to spread positive vibes and cheer throughout our community!