Shadow and Bone – Leigh Bardugo

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Published June 5, 2012

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.

 


So this is a re-read for me, I decided to re-read this series and I’m not regretting it. Although, I prefer the Six of Crows duology over this trilogy, I’m still enjoying immersing myself in this story and world. I absolutely am obsessed with Leigh Bardugo’s writing. It’s something that really just has the power to draw you in and keep you sucked in her words and it’s like her writing just grabs you and doesn’t let go which is something I feel like a lot of YA Writers struggle with. Since reading a lot of YA, other than The Raven Cycle, Cinder Series, and Throne of Glass. I don’t think I’ve been so drawn into a universe. 

Was I blown away by like the plot, characters, development etc? Yes and no. I enjoyed the plot quite a bit. I thought it was interesting to have Alina and Mal just be “normal” until her powers manifested. I thought it brought some spice into their relationship other than the girl pining over the boy. But my goodness, after that it was like OVERKILL. We get it, she’s the sun summoner and she’s powerful and it causes riffs between the two of them because he’s not a grisha.

Personally, the only characters I thought of as worth while in any way were the Darkling and Genya. They were like the only two who really had any substance. I LOVE the Darkling, probably one of the better villains I’ve read through YA. And Genya just had so much personality compared to anyone else. She was strong, sassy and confident, but also shy and soft spoken when it came to David. She just was great.

Shadow and Bone is always a great read, I have to say Bardugo does a great job of making a really good jumping off point for a action filled, and suspenseful trilogy. It had been so long since I read this the first time, that reading through the twists and reveals of certain plot points made me appreciate the thought that went through setting up everything that happens in this and the other two books.

5/5 Stars

The Hating Game – Sally Thorne

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
Published  August 9, 2016

Nemesis (n.) 1) An opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome.
2) A person’s undoing
3) Joshua Templeman

Lucy Hutton has always been certain that the nice girl can get the corner office. She’s charming and accommodating and prides herself on being loved by everyone at Bexley & Gamin. Everyone except for coldly efficient, impeccably attired, physically intimidating Joshua Templeman. And the feeling is mutual.

Trapped in a shared office together 40 (OK, 50 or 60) hours a week, they’ve become entrenched in an addictive, ridiculous never-ending game of one-upmanship. There’s the Staring Game. The Mirror Game. The HR Game. Lucy can’t let Joshua beat her at anything—especially when a huge new promotion goes up for the taking.

If Lucy wins this game, she’ll be Joshua’s boss. If she loses, she’ll resign. So why is she suddenly having steamy dreams about Joshua, and dressing for work like she’s got a hot date? After a perfectly innocent elevator ride ends with an earth-shattering kiss, Lucy starts to wonder whether she’s got Joshua Templeman all wrong.

Maybe Lucy Hutton doesn’t hate Joshua Templeman. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.


I’ve read this book 5 times since last year, and I am a woman obsessed. I literally re-read this all the time because it’s just SO GOOD. If every contemporary romance was written this way, I’d be reading romance exclusively. And I’m like also expecting this to be picked up for the most amazing rom-com movie ever created because I don’t think I could live in this world if Lucy and Josh don’t come to life EVEN MORE somehow.

Lucy and Josh hate each other, they work as exec assistants to their respective co-CEOs of the publishing house they work for and are both fighting for the same promotion. Josh is pretty stern and unyielding while Lucy is a people pleaser…she bends over backwards a bit too much to please people if you ask me (this coming from a fellow people pleaser…). After a kiss in the elevator and a company outing, Lucy and Josh begin to get closer throughout the book.

The one thing that I think I love the most about this book is that Josh has all these layers that kind of get stripped away one by one as you read on which is SO satisfying and makes him such a great character because you continue to learn more and more about him since he’s so shut off while Lucy is so open. It makes for a great dynamic between the two of them that I can’t get enough of.

This book is funny, thoughtful, and pulled on my heartstrings a bit at times (especially when Josh actually showed emotion). I can’t express how much I want all of you to read this book, because it’s one I keep going back to time and time again when I can’t think of anything else to read because it satisfies my that much.

4/5 Strawberries 

Neanderthal Seeks Human – Penny Reid

Neanderthal Seeks Human by Penny Reid
Published  March 13, 2014

There are three things you need to know about Janie Morris: 
1) She is incapable of engaging in a conversation without volunteering TMTI (Too Much Trivial Information), especially when she is unnerved, 
2) No one unnerves her more than Quinn Sullivan, and 
3) She doesn’t know how to knit.

After losing her boyfriend, apartment, and job in the same day, Janie Morris can’t help wondering what new torment fate has in store. 

To her utter mortification, Quinn Sullivan—aka Sir McHotpants—witnesses it all then keeps turning up like a pair of shoes you lust after but can’t afford. The last thing she expects is for Quinn to make her an offer she can’t refuse.


What a great re-read! I don’t think I fully reviewed this book the first time I read it, but this book kick-started me into being OBSESSED with Penny Reid romances (especially the Winston Brothers series). I absolutely love the way she writes romance. It’s so unique and unlike anything else in the genre. I feel like most of the time you find super steamy romances, and although yes, this had some great romantic tension. This book was more about the intellectual and emotional love, which I greatly appreciate.

Janie is such a great main character, she’s super smart and different. I don’t think I’ve read many books with such a quirky main character. She was so robust, and her wealth of knowledge, it made stuff really interesting. And it was easy to sympathize with her when she got laid off and her whole jerk of an ex. I actually found myself connecting a lot with her. I had a few exes cheat on me and have been laid off about three times in the span on my design career. So it was really easy to connect with Janie on a more personal level, which is why I feel like I really enjoyed this book.

But Quinn, although sweet, I felt like he lacked a little something, I wasn’t sure what, and I’m still not sure unfortunately. Maybe it was because it was so easy for me to figure out who he was in this whole plot? I can’t really put my finger on it. But I loved watching their romance grow. It was really cute and sweet. And I have to say if you’re looking for a romance that has a great growth in love, pick this up. Quinn genuinely loves Janie for who she is and that’s something super special and really constant throughout the book, and it warmed my heart from the first moment.

This book is a great read, it’s funny, light-hearted, has some good twists and turns, and is all around a great feel-good romance.

4/5 Stars

Outlander – Diana Gabaldon

Outlander (Outlander #1) by Diana Gabaldon
Published  August 10th 1998

Claire Randall is leading a double life. She has a husband in one century, and a lover in another…In 1945, Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon–when she innocently touches a boulder in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach–an “outlander”–in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of our Lord…1743. Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire’s destiny in soon inextricably intertwined with Clan MacKenzie and the forbidden Castle Leoch. She is catapulted without warning into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life …and shatter her heart. For here, James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a passion so fierce and a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire…and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.


Almost 900 pages, and almost a month of reading/listening and I’ve finally completed this new favorite. This book GAVE ME LIFE. It completely tore me apart and then just picked up all the pieces and put me back together. I can’t believe I not only finished Outlander but that it took me this long to even dive in. I’m so proud of myself for getting through this monstrosity after a massive hiatus of reading.

I absolutely have to give credit to the way Gabaldon writes. It’s so descriptive and entrancing, I felt like I was there with everyone as everything was happening. Which kept me going, and all honesty made it hard for me to put this book down so I could feed my son or pay attention to what my husband was saying. I don’t think I’ve had a book do that to me in quite some time. I do think I had an advantage to others though because I watched the show first. And so a lot of the Scottish words were familiar, and to be quite honest, the show follows the book so closely, I was very impressed. I remembered so much happening in the show, just as it did in the book which made me very happy.

There’s just so many layers to this book, from the slow burn romance that very much picks up to a steamy romance, the battles, horse rides, witches, fairies, political intrigue. It’s all there and it makes almost 900 pages seem to fly by. With so many characters you don’t get quite bored because although Jamie and Claire are most definitely the center of all of this, you do get invested into other characters (personally, I do enjoy Murtagh quite a bit). But I have to say, I am SO SO SO impressed with Gabaldon being able to bring such a filthy and awful villain to life in Randall. “Black Jack” Randall, is the most vile human being I’ve ever read about and literally turned my stomach every time I had to read about him. And that means she did such a great job writing him.

I just can’t stop thinking about how much I now love this book. Claire being such a great main character, and Jamie *swoon* (oh my dear Jamie) as well. I can’t believe that she wrote Outlander with the intention of it being a practice book for whatever book series she was actually planning on publishing. So, although I made Outlander my main mission in life to finish it and fall in love with it like I have, I don’t think I’ll be reading book two right away. I think I need to let Outlander just settle in my bones while I read other books and come back for Dragonfly In Amber.

5/5 Stars

Storm Front – Jim Butcher

Storm Front by Jim Butcher
Published April 2000

Lost Items Found. Paranormal Investigations. Consulting. Advice. Reasonable Rates. No Love Potions, Endless Purses, or Other Entertainment.

Harry Dresden is the best at what he does. Well, technically, he’s the only at what he does. So when the Chicago P.D. has a case that transcends mortal creativity or capability, they come to him for answers. For the “everyday” world is actually full of strange and magical things—and most don’t play well with humans. That’s where Harry comes in. Takes a wizard to catch a—well, whatever. There’s just one problem. Business, to put it mildly, stinks.

So when the police bring him in to consult on a grisly double murder committed with black magic, Harry’s seeing dollar signs. But where there’s black magic, there’s a black mage behind it. And now that mage knows Harry’s name. And that’s when things start to get interesting.

Magic – it can get a guy killed.


So this is the second time I’ve read this book. And this series actually has some great memories that comes with it. My husband (boyfriend at the time) suggested I read this book because he was OBSESSED with it and was the only series he’s actually gone all from start to finish with, and he couldn’t recommended it enough to me.

I decided to pick it up but I didn’t get through it all so one of the goals I decided for 2019 was to try and get through all the current Dresden Files books. In hopes that Peace Talks (book 16) comes out soon.

Reading Storm Front for the second time, I fell in love all over again. Harry is probably one of my absolute favorite book characters of all time. He’s snarky/witty which I LOVE , and just is a great wizard “detective”. I don’t get bored reading these books at all and I just keep churning through them non-stop and it’s so satisfying. There’s so many twists and turns. And now, like my husband, I now recommend this series to everyone who is remotely interested in mystery and fantasy.

All the other characters are just as great as Harry as well though which I think is something really special about this series. I’ve never read a series where I get so invested in ALL characters. Harry, Murphy, Toot Toot, Bob, even Johnny Marcone, YOU GET INVESTED PEOPLE, AND IT’S SO DAMN GOOD.

I know this isn’t the best of the best reviews but it’s seriously just something you can’t put down and just continuously desire more. PLEASE READ THIS SERIES.

Dr. Strange Beard – Penny Reid

Dr. Strange Beard by Penny Reid
Published July 30, 2018

Hunches, horse races, and heartbreak

Ten years after Simone Payton broke his heart, all Roscoe Winston wants is a doughnut. He’d also like to forget her entirely, but that’s never going to happen. Roscoe remembers everything—every look, every word, every single unrequited second—and the last thing he needs is another memory of Simone.

Unfortunately, after one chance encounter, Simone keeps popping up everywhere he happens to be . . .

Ten years after Roscoe Winston dropped out of her life, all Simone Payton wants is to exploit him. She’d also like some answers from her former best friend about why he ghosted her, but if she never gets those answers, that’s a-okay. Simone let go of the past a long time ago. Seriously, she has. She totally, totally has. She is definitely not still thinking about Roscoe. Nope. She’s more than happy to forget he exists.

But first, she needs just one teeny-tiny favor . . .


So last year I stumbled across these books. The Winston Brothers series by Penny Reid. And oh. my. goodness. was I hooked. I couldn’t stop reading these and I read 4 books one right after the other until I got hit with the “you have to wait for the next book to come out” train. It was so upsetting, and I didn’t keep track of the release of this book, until the beginning of this year, I was in the mood for a quick little romance, so I checked in on the status of the book, and my lord, it was published! So naturally I decided to devour this book.

I did, it took me about a day and a half to get through this and it didn’t disappoint. You don’t get much of Roscoe in the previous books, to be honest, I feel like he and Billy are the two brothers who you don’t really get much info on as a whole through the series, so I was really happy to get to know more about this character.

I usually feel like the books in this series kind of fall flat in terms of plot, and I felt as though this book was the only book that really had an engaging plot/sub-plot throughout the book. And it might just be that side of me that’s obsessed with crime/drama so it totally hit the spot in terms of plot outside of the love interest plot.

If you enjoy reading romance/contemporary romance, and you’re looking for a new series, please pick this series up. It’s really entertaining, I’ve never felt unsatisfied from any of these books and they’re just really fun to read.

Truth or Beard – Penny Reid

Truth or Beard by Penny Reid
Published : July 21, 2015

Beards, brothers, and bikers! Oh my! 

Identical twins Beau and Duane Winston might share the same devastatingly handsome face, but where Beau is outgoing and sociable, Duane is broody and reserved. This is why Jessica James, recent college graduate and perpetual level-headed good girl, has been in naïve and unhealthy infatuation with Beau Winston for most of her life. 

His friendly smiles make her tongue-tied and weak-kneed, and she’s never been able to move beyond her childhood crush. Whereas Duane and Jessica have always been adversaries. She can’t stand him, and she’s pretty sure he can’t stand the sight of her…

But after a case of mistaken identity, Jessica finds herself in a massive confusion kerfuffle. Jessica James has spent her whole life paralyzed by the fantasy of Beau and her assumptions of Duane’s disdain; therefore she’s unprepared for the reality that is Duane’s insatiable interest, as well as his hot hands and hot mouth and hotter looks. Not helping Jessica’s muddled mind and good girl sensibilities, Duane seems to have gotten himself in trouble with the local biker gang, the Iron Order.

Certainly, Beau’s magic spell is broken. Yet when Jessica finds herself drawn to the man who was always her adversary, now more dangerous than ever, how much of her level-head heart is she willing to risk?


For some reason I’ve really been wanting to read romance/chick-lit type of books. Which is SO weird for me. I’m not sure why, but I was DYING to read a book like this so it really hit the spot and kept me really satisfied as I read it.

So, I’m not saying I didn’t like this book but it was a bit predictable and/or just cheesy at times. And the writing wasn’t anything amazing, but I have to say there was something about the story and something about Jess and Duane that kept me going. I wish that there were more books about Duane and Jess but it seems like the rest of the books just follow through with the rest of the Winston brothers. I think maybe I’ll just keep reading them but MORE DUANE AND JESS PLEASE.

3/5 Stars

Into The Water – Paula Hawkins

Into The Water by Paula Hawkins
Published : May 2nd, 2017

In the last days before her death, Nel called her sister. Jules didn’t pick up the phone, ignoring her plea for help. Now Nel is dead. They say she jumped. And Jules has been dragged back to the one place she hoped she had escaped for good, to care for the teenage girl her sister left behind. But Jules is afraid. So afraid. Of her long-buried memories, of the old Mill House, of knowing that Nel would never have jumped. And most of all she’s afraid of the water, and the place they call the Drowning Pool . . .


I wanted to like this book, I really did. I tried to so hard to just redeem itself but…no dice. I couldn’t get into this book no matter how hard I tried. There were too many characters introduced and not in a way that helped the book move along, I felt lost most of the time and I just couldn’t keep it together. I really wished I could though because it seemed like a cool premise to a decent mystery book. With it being a book I didn’t much enjoy, and couldn’t follow really well, I’m not sure there’s much else to say so unfortunately, this review is pretty short lived.

2/5 Stars

And Then There Were None – Agatha Christie

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
Published : November 6th, 1939

First, there were ten—a curious assortment of strangers summoned as weekend guests to a private island off the coast of Devon. Their host, an eccentric millionaire unknown to all of them, is nowhere to be found. All that the guests have in common is a wicked past they’re unwilling to reveal—and a secret that will seal their fate. For each has been marked for murder. One by one they fall prey. Before the weekend is out, there will be none. And only the dead are above suspicion. 


Another book read due to my Habitica guild (Habitica is a great habit tracker and “to-do list app, I HIGHLY recommend it) and this book was the Book of The Month for July. I was a bit apprehensive picking this book up, but I did it and I’m not regretting it. I really enjoyed this “Who dun it?” style mystery.

I only had some issues getting into the plot, the beginning of the book started with throwing a little more than 10 characters at you (the main ones and people who have been involved in their back story) and it confused me a bit but once the main plot started to get in full swing it was actually really enjoyable.

It kept me guessing as to who the murder was and when I thought I knew who it was, I’m telling you, I was sure of who it was. I WAS WRONG. I never read an Agatha Christie book before, but I think I’ll start sprinkling her more and more into my reading list because I really liked the pace, plot and overall experience of this book.

4/5 Stars

The Princess Diarist – Carrie Fisher

The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher
Published : October 18, 2016

The Princess Diarist is Carrie Fisher’s intimate, hilarious and revealing recollection of what happened behind the scenes on one of the most famous film sets of all time, the first Star Wars movie. 

When Carrie Fisher recently discovered the journals she kept during the filming of the first Star Wars movie, she was astonished to see what they had preserved—plaintive love poems, unbridled musings with youthful naiveté, and a vulnerability that she barely recognized. Today, her fame as an author, actress, and pop-culture icon is indisputable, but in 1977, Carrie Fisher was just a (sort-of) regular teenager. 


I’m not much of a non-fiction reader, but I have a habit tracker that has you join guilds and I joined a reader’s guild and one of the challenges was to read a non-fiction book. So I thought, why not? This seems like a great book, and one of my friends had just wrapped up reading it and said it was super entertaining.  So I downloaded the auidobook for this (Non-Fic books read by the writers seem to keep me entertained more than most other formats).

And my god, this book did not disappoint. Carrie did a wonderful job with narration, her great personality and emotion, bringing you into the emotions of all those years past. This book tended to focus more on her relationship/affair with Harrison Ford. Which I didn’t hate, but I wish I got a bit more insight into what it was like on the set/being a star for a movie franchise that no one thought would make it.

It was a relatively quick read as well, which was great. If you’re a fan of Star Wars and want some witty, and some good Star Wars fun, getting to know the true PLO, pick this one up.

5/5 Stars