Friday, May 6, 2022

My Dearest Darkest - Kayla Cunningham

Title: My Dearest Darkest 
Author: Kayla Cottingham
Format: Paperback 
Rating: 5 Stars 


WILDER GIRLS meets THE CRAFT in this Sapphic horror debut that asks: What price would you be willing to pay to achieve your deepest desires?

Finch Chamberlin is the newest transfer student to the ultra-competitive Ulalume Academy... but she's also not what she seems. Months before school started, Finch and her parents got into an accident that should have left her dead at the bottom of a river. But something monstrous, and ancient, and terrifying, wouldn't let her drown. Finch doesn't know why she woke up after her heart stopped, but since dying she's felt a constant pull from the school and the surrounding town of Rainwater, like something on the island is calling to her.

Selena St. Clair sees right through Finch, and she knows something is seriously wrong with her. But despite Selena's suspicion, she feels drawn to Finch and has a sinking feeling that from now on the two will be inexplicably linked to one another.

One night Finch, Selena, and her friends accidentally summon a carnivorous creature of immense power in the depths of the school. It promises to grant every desire the girls have kept locked away in their insecure hearts―beauty, power, adoration―in exchange for a price: human body parts. But as the cost of their wanting becomes more deadly, Finch and Selena must learn to work together to stop the horror they unleashed, before it consumes the entire island.


I have been searching all year for a book that hits the nail on the five star head.  The Mary Shelley Club was one, and this was the other!  This book was creepy and weird and gave me all the 5 star shivers. 

Was the book without faults? No.  After all, Finch could have been just a smidge *deeper* and more developed. But overall, the feels this book gave me were enough to overlook the fact that the MC needed more development. 

The rest of the characters were wonderful. There was the angst that is typical in YA novels, but come on - being a teenager is hard. Being a teenager at a school with a weird creature living under the tunnels is even harder. I mean, Damn. 

There were some really gross moments in this book, and a lot of body horror. (Seriously, if you can't handle body horror, don't read this book.) But for me, that added to the tension and mystery in the book.  I loved the mystery behind Nerosi.  There was this spirit behind her and a change to her as each sacrifice happened that really opened her character.  Each appearance if the stag and the past people who were lost to Nerosi's weird life were also great looks into her character and what she was really like. 

I loved the aspect of this horrific creature and all these events happening at an old boarding school (old as in the building has been has been around for a while.)  Having all the hidden tunnels under the school added a mysterious element because you never new what was going to happen to the students or what they were going to really fund when they went to the tunnels. 

The thing that did seem strange to me was that students at a boarding school would be able to live basically off campus like Selena, Kyra, and their other friend did.  Teenagers are certainly much more independent than younger kids, but these kids are still in school, and I'm assuming that when teens go to a boarding school, the parents are trusting the staff to take care of the kids and keep an eye on them.  These kids living off campus in that light house definitely opened the door to the kids being able to cause a lot of fuss (hello Nerosi!) 

Overall, though, I really love this book.  It has the perfect amount of weird and creepy with some great self exploration and self discovery thrown in.  


Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Bout of Books 34!


Hey reader friends.  Welcome!  It's the end of April - and in my world that means it's time for the May round of Bout of Books.  If you've ever visited my blog before, you know that I've been doing Bout of Books for at least 4 years.  I love Bout of Books so much.  It's, by far, my favorite readathon.  If you're not at all familiar with Bout of Books, here's a good description from one of the organizers:

The Bout of Books readathon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly Rubidoux Apple. It’s a weeklong readathon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 9th and runs through Sunday, May 15th in YOUR time zone. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are reading sprints, Twitter chats, and exclusive Instagram challenges, but they’re all completely optional. For all Bout of Books 34 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

I have an outrageous amount of books on my couch right now from the library, and I won't be able to make it through all of them during Bout of Books, because some of them are absolute chonkers.  But my goal is to read as much of them as I can during that week!  

If you want to do Bout of Books as well, you should definitely go to their blog right now and sign up!  I would love to spend the week reading with any one of you.

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Heartstopper - the series


I just finished watching Heartstopper on Netflix, and it was just as sweet and adorable as the graphic novels.  If you're a teen who loves romance and all sorts of sweet cute stuff, or if you're an adult who loves rooting for kids being kids and being themselves, this is the series for you.  It is fluffy and awesome and I loved it! 

The series does a lot of things well, including the casting.  I absolutely loved each person cast in the series and I thought they fit into the characters they were playing so well.  I especially loved that they cast a trans actress to play Elle.  Hollywood has this bad bad habit of casting cis people to play trans roles, and that's just not cool - so it was really refreshing to see that they had cast Yasmin Finney in that role. 

True to the graphic novels, Ben and several of Nick's friends were real jerks.  Ben especially was just horrible!  He was so nasty to Charlie and it was absolutely fantastic when Charlie was finally able to build up the confidence to really tell Ben to basically fuck off and leave him alone.  Go Charlie!  

I loved that the art teacher was so cool and understanding with Charlie.  He'd been there when Charlie was bullied, when Charlie went through it with Ben, and just created this safe space within his classroom that made Charlie feel good.  It's great when the important adults in a young persons life show those kids that they are safe with that adult and that they can be whoever they are without question. 

The books and the Netflix series both show that acceptance is a good thing, It is amazing to see a series that wholeheartedly embraces all the characters and shows them living unapologetically.  I know someone is going to get their panties in a twist and get mad at seeing a show and a graphic novel series that shows queer love and joy, but my suggestion for them is: get over it.  Everyone deserves to be happy, to feel joy, to experience all the good things in life, and that includes LGBT people.  Alice Oseman did such a wonderful job creating this whole world and showing the love these people felt for their friends, and the joy and happiness they want with the people they liked. 

It was fantastic to see Charlie grow and to see Nick grow - to watch them both learn so much about themselves and who they are.  They were both just phenomenal and wonderful, and the actors cast to play them in the Netflix series were so so good.  

The whole season is beautiful and wonderful, and if you haven't watched it, you need to now.  Also, if you haven't read the books yet - DO IT NOW! 

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Book Blog Ideas

Every book blogger knows that a book blog cannot survive solely on reviews.  Reviews are great, and we love writing them, but other posts besides reviews can really help a book blog thrive.  If you're looking for some other ideas for your blog, here are some ideas that could add some fun to your blogs. 

  • Do a fake dating profile on one of your favorite characters 
  • A Book Vs. Movie post based on whichever book you like and its movie counterpart. 
  • Seasonal or Holiday themed posts (Best Books to Read for Valentine's Day, Best Summer Reads, etc)
  • Book Haul Posts! (Show us all those awesome books!!!)
  • Book Recs based on your favorite character(s) - which books would your favorite character love to read! 
  • Kiss, Marry, Kill - it's cheesy but fun.  Have your followers give you three names, and pick which of those three you'd kiss, marry, or kill
  • RIP it or SHIP it - pick two characters, any two characters, and tell your readers if you'd RIP them or SHIP them
  • If you like this, try that....
  • Monthly TBR lists 
  • Monthly wrap ups 
  • Your favorite characters of all time (or favorite characters from a certain series or genre)
  • Your auto buy authors 
  • Do a contest or giveaway 
  • If you're involved with blog tours - do more blog tour posts 
  • Author interviews!  If you can manage it, having an author interview on your blog would be a great way to engage readers 
Do you have any other ideas you'd add to a list like this?  Hope you enjoy, and feel free to share any ideas you have as well!  

Sunday, April 17, 2022

My Top Ten Favorite Fantasy Characters of All Time


Hey reader friends!  Welcome, welcome.  Now, I know what you're thinking: How can you POSSIBLY pick just TEN FAVORITE Fantasy characters??!??!  Well, believe me - it's not easy. But I've narrowed down my list, and here are my personal ten favorite fantasy characters of ALL TIME! 


Evie O'Neill - The Diviners Series: Evie was an absolute pain in the ass, but she grew so much during the series and really learned how to use her powers to help people.


Memphis Campbell - The Diviners Series: Memphis went through so much and was such a kind hearted person.  He did what he needed to do not only to help others but to help himself and his brother from outside forces. 


Adelina Amouteru - The Young Elites: Adelina was absolutely fierce and completely bad ass.  I don't even know what else to say other than - I stan Adelina.


Frodo Baggins - LOTR: Look, sure Frodo was tasked with getting the ring to Mordor, and he kicks ass, but he's also kind of like....too meek and didn't carry the fellowship at all! But I still love that furry footed little dude. 


Jon Snow - A Song of Ice and Fire: Do I need to elaborate?! He was raised as his father's bastard never really fitting in with his own family, but he loved them and so many others so so fiercely.


Rue - The Hunger Games: That child went through so much, and died so that the w h i t e kids could win. I said what I said. Her death was horrific and completely unnecessary. She was brave and wonderful and didn't deserve what happened to her. None of them did, but Rue didn't the most. Forgive me for the horrifically written sentence reader friends - that's how much I hate that Rue died.  


Gandalf - LOTR: I'm not even going to elaborate on this one.  It's fucking Gandalf. 


Legolas and Gimli - LOTR: I KNOW I PICKED TWO. Hear me out - these two started out HATING each other because, well, dwarf and elf.  They ended up building this wonderful, amazing relationship, and doing so much to help the fellowship and Frodo throughout the entirety of LOTR! 


Arya Stark - The Song of Ice and Fire series: This kid starts out as a kid who just kind of bothers her sister, almost ruins Sansa's chance at marrying Joffrey (apparently) and then grows into a complete and total bad ass.  


Samwise Gamgee - LOTR: I literally cannot think of a SINGLE character I love more than Sam! He carries the Fellowship, he keeps Frodo safe despite what seem like insurmountable odds, and he is THE MOST gentle soul.  I will never not love Sam until the end of time! 


Okay reader friends: What do you think?  Do you have any fantasy characters from my list that you love?  Do you have ones I may not have mentioned that you really love? Let me know in the comments.

Friday, April 15, 2022

The Friend Zone - Abby Jimenez

Title: The Friend Zone 
Author: Abby Jimenez 
Format: E-book
Rating: 2 stars 

Reader friends, I wanted to like this book. I really did. I wanted to fawn over it as much as I fawned over Life's too Short (yes, I read her third book first).  This book, however, fell short in so many ways.  

Kristen, the lady MC, is great at some things, but so, so stubborn at other things, and most of the things where she dug her heels in made me so frustrated.  She was told over and over and over by Josh that he loved her no matter what and it wasn't until something VERY BAD happened that she believed it. Josh, to be fair, spent a lot of time talking about how he ONLY wanted children that he helped create, and did not want to adopt.  I could understand some of where Kristen was coming from in this regard.  However, after Josh realized this was what was so upsetting to her, he changed a lot having time to think about it, and he came to the conclusion he'd have kids or not have kids or adopt or whatever if it meant he could be with Kristen.

When the novel started with Kristen slamming those breaks on and causing Josh to bump the back of her truck, I thought their interaction was going to pave the way for a book that was truly a rom-com filled with humor and wit with the romance.  Most of the book ended up being fairly devastating. I certainly think that romance books can have sad and tragic events in them, but when the book is mostly described as a romantic comedy type book, it should veer more towards that than full on car wreck.

I DID love that the MC Kristen made and sold her own dog stairs, clothes, and toys - showing how much she loved that added a depth to her character that would have been lacking otherwise.  It also gave opportunity for Josh and Kristen to develop a relationship and get to know each other since he was helping her build the stairs that she sold. 

The friendships in the book were technically great - that was one plus for this book.  The characters all had great relationships with their friends and these relationships were well built and developed.  If every part of the story had been that well developed and well written this would have been much more of a bang up book in my opinion. 

The back and forth between the two main characters was frustrating to me - each of them was like "I love you," and then just didn't communicate about any of the details that they needed each other to know.  This led to a lot of confusion and drama that was very unnecessary to the story as a whole.  A lot of the issues could have been solved a lot earlier if they'd just talked to each other about what was really going on! 

Overall, this book was a bit of a dud for me.  If you've read this book, what did you think?  Let me know in the comments - I'm looking forward to hearing what you thought!


Tuesday, April 12, 2022

The Guest List - Lucy Foley

Title: The Guest List 
Author: Lucy Foley 
Format: E-Book 
Rating: 2 stars 


Well, dear reader friends - here it is: the first book I've read this year that 100% did not live up to the hype for me.  

The book started with Hannah and her husband Charlie on a boat to the island where Jules's wedding is being held.  From there, much of the first 1/2 of the book is all talking about clothing that everyone is going to wear, or the men acting like teenagers, or Hannah's insecurities.  I almost DNF'd the book more than once, but felt obligated to finish it because it was for book club. 

Sure, there were a few moments throughout the beginning of the book that helped build character - like Hannah and Olivia talking to each other about some BIG THINGS that happened in both of their pasts. Those moments also definitely added some element of surprise to the novel.  But for the most part, I was bored reading about them just talking about clothes, or having sex with each other. (Seriously, the bride and groom COULD NOT keep their hands off each other.)  I don't want to sounds like a prude - I read books with sex in them, that's not my complaint.  In this case, it didn't add anything to the actual story though. 

I also hated every character in the book.  Seriously, I personally could not find even one character that I liked throughout the entire book - they were all terrible people.  Remember that movie Terrible Bosses? Or was it Horrible Bosses?  Anyway, every character in this book was like one of those horrible bosses that you just loathe with every fiber of your being. 

In spite of everything I hated about this book, I think the setting did work well for the story.  It added an element of build up and tension that other parts of the story did not have.  That being said, taking a bottle of vodka out through a rocky passageway and getting drunk is probably not the wisest decision. 

This was supposed to be a psychological thriller, but it didn't scare me or get me riled up at all. It just made me mad and bored that the book wasn't more well written. 

If you've read this book, let me know what you thought in the comments below.  If you have any suggestions for psychological thrillers that pack more of a punch, Let Me Know!