Sunday, March 31, 2019

DNF&Y [15]

DNF&Y is used to explain why I gave up on certain books, and what about them just didn't work for me. What I disliked about a book might be something you love, so it helps to share your thoughts even when they're negative! If you would like additional information, please click on the DNF&Y tab at the top. If you want to join, you can link up at the bottom!

Potency (Glow, #1) by Aubrey Hadley
Synopsis (via Goodreads): The Maasai Mara Sleeping Syndrome has returned after a six-month hiatus. This time, it's popped up in New York, and it's wiped out an entire homeless shelter.

The same night of the outbreak, Harper, a seventeen-year-old girl, stumbles across a glowing figure in the desert outskirts of her neighborhood. As her suburb goes on lockdown, Harper finds herself isolated from her friends and family, and soon begins to suspect that the events — though thousands of miles apart — may have something in common.

Harper must find her bravery and embark on a plot-twisting adventure that will have her looking for answers in unexpected places... and worlds.

DNF at 19%

I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.

Warning: potential spoilers for the first few chapters of the book.

I was really jazzed about this one after reading the synopsis, but it ended up not being a good fit for me. Harper was a very bland character that I couldn't relate to, and her family was confusing. Her mother is only strict when it comes to Harper, and her brother comes across as uncaring and aloof. His sudden desire to be protective later on really threw me. Harper says something about forgetting about the past (she says this out of nowhere), but they were both in unfavorable situations. I feel like there would have been more pressing concerns at that moment. Especially if her brother knew something she didn't.

All of the relationships were weird. Harper's mother is scary strict, constantly grounding and yelling at Harper, while praising the behavior of her other children. She lies to Harper, snoops through her personal stuff (even online), and comes across as slightly unhinged. Harper has three close friends that she plays soccer with, but I kept getting them mixed up. I felt like they were trying too hard to sound like teenagers, while also trying to make Harper seem special.  

Then there's Max, a really odd character that I don't know how to place. He appears at a soccer game with Harper's brother (who appeared gross and disheveled, no questions asked), and then just happens to be around when the quarantine happens. He shows up in Harper's room uninvited, which was super creepy, and basically gave her cardboard to eat. I don't know, the whole thing was weird. After leaving her room, he makes her sit away from him, but then he comes closer to ask her questions about her brother and father. It made zero sense! He would be angry and reprimanding one second, sleazy and flirtatious the next.

If you decide to try this one, you're going to have to suspend your disbelief. At one point, Harper rolls a tennis ball across the street and it's immediately seen and targeted. However, she slips out and runs across several backyards completely unnoticed? And then Max happens to find her before someone else does? His explanations are bananas, and then he helps her only to change his mind at the last minute.

I stopped reading this one shortly after Harper was captured. I'm not entirely sure where she was when she woke up, but she's captivated by her surroundings despite being stuck in goop. It was a touch too unbelievable for me. I would have been freaking out, if I'd woken up in a foreign substance that wouldn't let me move. Also, her brother is there yelling that she doesn't know anything, but then shouts for her to tell them what she knows -- sooo confusing!

Potency has a beautiful cover and an interesting premise, but lackluster characters and an unbelievable story. It's also insanely long, and I feel like some of it could have been left out for a quicker pace. There's a lot of telling instead of showing, which I always find disappointing.

*Share your DNF&Y post! Please leave the direct link to your DNF&Y post and not just your blog's URL. Thank you for participating and happy reading!

Friday, March 29, 2019

The Center of the Universe by Ria Voros
[Blog Tour: Review + Giveaway]

Hello! Welcome to the next stop on blog tour for The Center of the Universe hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. I'm really happy to share my thoughts on this book with you!

Author: Ria Voros
Pub. Date: April 2, 2018
Publisher: KCP Loft
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Pages: 512
Find it: Goodreads, Amazon, B&N, TBD

Grace Carter's mother --- the celebrity news anchor GG Carter --- is everything Grace is not. GG is a star, with a flawless wardrobe and a following of thousands, while Grace --- an aspiring astrophysicist --- is into stars of another kind. She and her mother have always been in different orbits.

Then one day GG is just ... gone. Cameras descend on their house, news shows speculate about what might have happened and Grace's family struggles to find a new rhythm as they wait for answers.

While the authorities unravel the mystery behind GG's disappearance, Grace grows closer to her high school's golden boy, Mylo, who has faced a black hole of his own. She also uncovers some secrets from her mother's long-lost past. The more Grace learns, the more she wonders. Did she ever really know her mother? Was GG abducted ... or did she leave? And if she left, why?

Author Ria Voros (Nobody's Dog, The Opposite of Geek) reaches for the stars here, deftly combining mystery with a passion for science and themes of mother-daughter bonds, celebrity, first love and best friendship.

Facts about astronomy and astrophysics are seamlessly woven into the story and are supplemented by an interview with real-life astrophysicist Elizabeth Tasker, making this the perfect book for readers who love STEM. And even readers who don't have stars in their eyes will love this smart, suspenseful, relatable and literary novel. 


I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.

The Center of the Universe was an amazing all-around read. I thoroughly enjoyed the story and the characters, and always looked forward to picking it up again. Typically, I try to do housework while the kids take their naps, but this week I've been staying in their room long after they've fallen asleep, just so I could keep turning the pages. (You should see my house right now...eesh. Neglected and scary, but totally worth it!)

I still cannot believe this book is over 500 pages! It never felt long, and all of the information was relevant and necessary. The writing flowed beautifully, and I was completely entranced by what was happening. Did her mom leave willingly? Was she abducted? Was that a clue? Honestly, I considered everything a clue, and I was still surprised by what happened. Ria Voros is clever -- loved it!

More than anything, I think The Center of the Universe is about a relationship between a mother and a daughter. Grace starts gathering tiny fragments of information about her mother after her disappearance, and she was surprised by how much she didn't know. I feel like that's true for all of us, because how well do we really know our parents? What were they like before we existed? Her dad, grandmother, and some of her mother's friends, shed a light on GG Carter that Grace was unaware of before. It allows Grace another perspective of her mother, and maybe a better understanding. 

Iris and Mylo are amazing friends (can we get a Mylo book, please), and they're both there for Grace throughout the book. Mylo's constant reminders to breathe were sweet and thoughtful. He shared his own experiences with loss, and was able to relate to Grace in a way no one else could. Iris is simply the best! I also loved her parents and their cooking -- yum! They both go above and beyond to help Grace, despite having their own problems to deal with. 

Families are messy and complicated, and I thought the author did a fantastic job of painting a very realistic picture. Grace fights with her brother, is annoyed by her grandmother, and is sarcastic with her father. She fought with her mother (repeatedly), and yet they were still a family. It was obvious they loved one another, and it was clear that they were all trying to do their best under the circumstances. There were happy moments amidst all the sadness, and we see people trying to cope with their grief while also supporting their loved ones.

I was totally and completely engrossed in The Center of the Universe from the very first page. I loved the opening quote by Neil deGrasse Tyson, and all of the scientific facts shared throughout the book. I've always been enamored by space and the mysteries of the universe, so Grace was a character after my own heart. It was never overwhelming, just a girl sharing her knowledge and her passion.

If I keep listing all of the things I enjoyed about this book, this post will go on forever. It's a truly remarkable read that I look forward to reading again in the future! 

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

My Weekly Pull [63] & Can't Wait Wednesday [33]

My Weekly Pull is something I do every Wednesday to show which comics I had pulled for me that week! If you're into comics, or you're looking to start, please join me! If you decide to do your own post, there's a link-up at the bottom. I would love to stop by and check it out!

Nothing for me this week!

Jacob's comics for the week!
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Urban Legends #11 by Gary Carlson, Frank Fosco, Kevin Eastman
Transformers #2 by Brian Ruckley, Angel Hernandez, Nelson Daniel, Ron Joseph
Amazing Spider-Man #18 by Nick Spencer, Humberto Ramos
Daredevil #3 by Chip Zdarsky, Marco Checchetto, Julian Totino Tedesco
Hulkverines #2 (of 3) by Greg Pak, Guiu Vilanova, Greg Land
Spider-Man Deadpool #48 by Robbie Thompson, Matt Horak, Will Robson

Honestly, I'm happy I don't have any comics this week! I'm nearly caught up from previous pulls, and this just gives me more time to get on top of everything. Yay!

Can't Wait Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings, that highlights upcoming releases that we're anticipating and excited to read. It's a spinoff of the feature Waiting on Wednesday that was hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

Waiting for Tom Hanks by Kerry Winfrey
Expected publication: June 11th 2019
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Can a romcom-obssessed romantic finally experience the meet-cute she always dreamed of or will reality never compare to fiction, in this charming debut adult novel from Kerry Winfrey.

Annie is twenty-seven years old, single, and obsessed with romantic comedies (she and her mother watched them religiously, before her mom died). Her dating life is limited by the expectations she’s formed from these movies. She is not as open to new experiences as she might be, because she’s waiting for her Tom Hanks–i.e., a guy she’ll find in the perfect, meet-cute romantic comedy way. When Annie does finally meet her perfect match, it’s not quite in the way she expected, and she’s forced to reckon with the walls she’s built around herself over the years.

Waiting for Tom Hanks sounds like my kind of book! I cannot wait to read about Annie and her perfect match. :)

*Share your My Weekly Pull post! Please leave the direct link to your My Weekly Pull post and not just your blog's URL. Thank you for participating and happy reading! If you want to link up, please leave your URL in the comments below. The site I've been using recently did an update, and they no longer offer the old format. I'm in the process of looking for an alternative method, and would love to hear your suggestions!

Monday, March 25, 2019

The Feel Good Factor by Lauren Blakely
[Blog Tour: Review + Excerpt + Giveaway]

Hello! Welcome to the next stop for The Feel Good Factor blog tour hosted by InkSlinger PR. I'm really happy to share my thoughts on this book with you! 

Series: Lucky in Love, #2
Author: Lauren Blakely
Release Date: March 23, 2019

That inked bad boy who’s been flirting hard with me since he rode into town? Turns out he’s my new housemate, which is one hell of a problem since our chemistry is so hot it should be illegal.

I have a fantastic family, great best friends, a job I love…and now I’m up for a promotion to police sergeant. I need total focus—not a flirty, dirty, irresistible, tattooed hottie riding into my town on his motorcycle. Can I arrest him for being too good-looking? When he kisses me senseless in the back of a waffle truck, it’s criminal, the things he makes me think about hot syrup and melted butter. One order of hot, fluffy hookup to go, please.

But the next time I see him, it’s not for our date with benefits. He’s the guy who just rented the room above my garage.

I need the rent to pay my bills, not a man like Derek, who I soon discover to be strong, caring, generous, good with kids, and kind to puppies… If I’m not careful, he’ll be moving into my heart as well as my house.


A no-strings-attached fling with the fiery redhead who revs my engine? Why, yes, that does sound like a delicious perk of my new job in this new town,thank you very much. I’m coming off a bad relationship, and I have zero interest in anything serious. I’ve got all the serious I need helping my sister take care of her three little kids while her husband is deployed.

Except, surprise! Perri isn’t just my future fling. Turns out she’s my sexy, sassy landlord. A lease definitely counts as “strings attached,” and as much as I’d like to get tangled in her sheets, I can’t let myself get tangled up in a relationship.

But as soon as we put the cuffs on our escapades, I learn over late-night conversations in the kitchen, that my landlord is so much more than the sexiest woman I’ve ever met– she has a quick mind and the biggest heart.

Once I’m in, I’m all in. And to convince her that we should see where this goes, I plan on turning up the heat—and not just in the kitchen.

"My lady parts are dancing the hula and they want a luau with him."
I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.

The Feel Good Factor was my first Lauren Blakely book, and I was not disappointed! This is the best romance book I've read in a long time, and I cannot wait to read more books by this author.

Before reading this, I didn't think I had a type, equal opportunity and all that, but Derek was everything. He loves his family, he's great with kids, and his job is saving lives every day. Seriously, the whole package. His dirty thoughts (not to mention his actions) kept my cheeks flushed and my interest piqued. I cannot remember the last time I was so turned on by a book!

I really enjoyed their game of resistance! They're obviously attracted to one another, and it was fun watching the two of them go from teasing to tasting. I'm not going to lie, it was hot. I'm smiling just thinking about it! Their chalkboard messages, dirty talk, and kissing practice were realistic and oh-so sexy. Derek is delicious. Perri is confident and relatable.

And it wasn't just the sexual tension that I enjoyed, but the overall story as well. The secondary characters were interesting, and I enjoyed their roles within the story. I also liked that Perri and her friends contributed to charities every year instead of giving each other gifts for their birthdays. Perri has an awesome relationship with her brother and parents, and Derek dotes on his nieces and nephew. He moved to help his sister while her husband was overseas, and I melted when he peppered kisses all over the baby's face.

The Feel Good Factor is an amazing book that checked all the boxes! The characters are likable and believable, there's no unnecessary drama, and the story is lovely and fun! Blakely builds up the tension between Derek and Perri, but she also doesn't withhold their affections. They react like adults, and it was so nice to read a book that avoided all the angst that usually accompanies a new relationship. I cannot recommend this one enough!

Sunday, March 24, 2019

The Sunday Post [14]

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly at the Caffeinated Reviewer! It's an opportunity to share news, post a recap for the previous week, showcase books, and highlight what's planned for the week ahead.


This week has been one thing after another, and I need a day off! The girls both had appointments on Wednesday, we went to the zoo on Thursday, and Friday I had an appointment that was two hours away (having a tattoo removed). That was on top of everything else we had going on (soccer practice, piano, jiu-jitsu). I'm exhausted! The two hour drive (four hours total) wasn't too bad. I finished the audio for Dance of Thieves by Mary E. Pearson and loved it! The ending has me jonesing for the next book! If the NetGalley gods are listening, I need Vow of Thieves in my life as soon as possible. 

The zoo was probably my favorite thing we did this week. The girls are old enough now to really enjoy it, and my son is always happy to see the animals! One daughter was obsessed with feeding the birds. She would have stayed in there all day! She and her brother were holding them on their hands and feeding them, while the other daughter was eager to leave the room. She had no desire to see the birds, and their constant flying made her uncomfortable. She stuck close to me while the other two enjoyed themselves. Petting the goats was more her style! Our local zoo takes in a lot of injured wildlife, and animals that likely wouldn't make it on their own anymore. 

Previous week on the blog:

Sunday: Nothing!
Monday: Small Town Hearts by Lillie Vale [Blog Tour: Review + Giveaway]
Tuesday: In Another Life by C.C. Hunter [Blog Tour: Review]
Thursday: Nothing!
Friday: Nothing!

What I'm currently reading:

 All These Things I've Done (Birthright, #1) by Gabrielle Zevin
Wicked Saints (Something Dark and Holy, #1) by Emily A. Duncan
The Feel Good Factor by Lauren Blakely

I used to have a copy of All These Things I've Done, but I think I gave it away at some point. The audio popped up as a suggestion from my library, so I thought I would give it a try. I'm still on a reading high after Dance of Thieves, so I'm not sure if my lack of interest is timing, mood, or story. I'm only a few chapters into it, so I'm not giving up yet.

Wicked Saints isn't what I was expecting, but in the best way! The Feel Good Factor is my first Lauren Blakely book, but I'm enjoying it so far!

What I plan on reading next:

To Best the Boys by Mary Weber
I Dream of Spiders by Elle Keating

I'm super bummed I didn't read To Best the Boys before its release date, but life! It's one I was really looking forward to, so I plan on reading it as soon as possible.

What I'm watching:

I finally started The Umbrella Academy. I'm only a few episodes into it, but I'm enjoying it so far. Klaus is a riot! He recently mentioned waxing his ass with chocolate pudding (something like that). It was so random, and I couldn't help but laugh when he said it. I'm surprised the other two people in the van with him could keep a straight face. I don't think Klaus makes the best decisions, but he's hilarious!

I've also started watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer after reading Slayer by Kiersten White. It's interesting, and reminds me of television shows I watched growing up. I'm not sure how I missed this one... Also, Giles seems way too familiar with the teenagers on this show. He'll put his head really close to theirs, or talk to them with only inches separating their faces. 

Challenge updates:

Audiobook Challenge: 16 / 30+
Beat the Backlist Challenge: 18 / 100
Discussion Challenge: 2 / 11-20
Goodreads Challenge: 79 / 500

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Mini Reviews [26]

Magic Breaks (Kate Daniels, #7)
by Ilona Andrews
Narrated by Renee Raudman
Synopsis (via Goodreads): No matter how much the paranormal politics of Atlanta change, one thing always remains the same: if there’s trouble, Kate Daniels will be in the middle of it…

As the mate of the Beast Lord, Curran, former mercenary Kate Daniels has more responsibilities than it seems possible to juggle. Not only is she still struggling to keep her investigative business afloat, she must now deal with the affairs of the pack, including preparing her people for attack from Roland, a cruel ancient being with god-like powers. Since Kate’s connection to Roland has come out into the open, no one is safe—especially those closest to Kate.

As Roland’s long shadow looms ever nearer, Kate is called to attend the Conclave, a gathering of the leaders from the various supernatural factions in Atlanta. When one of the Masters of the Dead is found murdered there, apparently at the hands of a shapeshifter, Kate is given only twenty-four hours to hunt down the killer. And this time, if she fails, she’ll find herself embroiled in a war which could destroy everything she holds dear...


Have I mentioned how much I love this series? I love it even more when I take a break between books, because then the repeated information (reminders and relevant facts for new readers) doesn't feel as unnecessary. I understand why they do recaps and re-explain how the world works, but it makes binge-reading the series more difficult. I wish the repeated information was condensed at the beginning of the book (for new readers and people that need to refresh their memories), so it doesn't impact the reading experience of people who are already intimately familiar with the world and characters. 

Warning: possible spoilers if you haven't read the other books in the series.

As for this book specifically, I was thrilled when Kate finally confronted her father. Confronted might not be the right word, but he's no longer an enigma. We get to see him, some of his powers, and we also learn a little more about his history. He definitely knows more about Kate than she thought he did, and I'm curious if everything we've learned about him previously is the truth. There's a lot of mystery surrounding Kate's escape as a baby, and this is the first time she's really getting to ask questions. Roland is also super powerful. I thought Kate and Curran could take on anything, but Roland might be more than the two of them can handle. I think it'll take a collective effort from the world (or at least everyone in Atlanta) to stop him, if he decides to do something dangerous.

I really liked the ending for this book! It gave us some closure, but we also know it's not the end. There is still more to Kate and Curran's story, and I cannot wait to see what happens next!

Diamond Fire (Hidden Legacy, #3.5)
by Ilona Andrews
Narrated by Renee Raudman
and Emily Rankin
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Nevada Frida Baylor and Connor Ander Rogan cordially invite you to join their wedding celebration. Summoning, weather manipulation, and other magical activities strictly forbidden.

Catalina Baylor is looking forward to wearing her maid of honor dress and watching her older sister walk down the aisle. Then the wedding planner gets escorted off the premises, the bride’s priceless tiara disappears, and Rogan's extensive family overruns his mother’s home. Someone is cheating, someone is lying, and someone is plotting murder.

To make this wedding happen, Catalina will have to do the thing she fears most: use her magic. But she’s a Baylor and there’s nothing she wouldn't do for her sister's happiness. Nevada will have her fairy tale wedding, even if Catalina has to tear the mansion apart brick by brick to get it done.


It was so easy to fall back into this series! The characters were familiar, and I really enjoyed Catalina's perspective. Renee Raudman (narrator) starts the book off with Nevada, but we quickly switch to Emily Rankin (also a narrator) and Catalina. I thought the transition was done really well, and I think Emily Rankin is going to be an amazing narrator for the next three books in this series. I'm also anxious to see what adventures Catalina will go on! Her sister, Nevada, finally found love and happiness with Conner, and their journey has been one of my favorite stories! Ilona Andrews is a dynamite duo, and I hope they write books forever.

Diamond Fire was a quick read, but it told a big story. Catalina has always felt uncomfortable using her powers, because it makes it hard for her to trust the intentions of others. It means her love life is nonexistent, even though we see a potential for something (cannot wait to see how that develops). Catalina starts using her powers more frequently in this book, because she wants to keep people safe, and we see how beneficial her abilities are to investigations (which is the family business, so that's nice). I'm happy her confidence grew as the story progressed, and now she has someone willing to show her the ropes. I'm sure we'll see her develop more control over the course of the next few books, and I really loved her personality in this one.

Find the synopsis for Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane (Underland Chronicles, #2) here.
Find the synopsis for Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods (Underland Chronicles, #3) here.
Find the synopsis for Gregor and the Marks of Secret (Underland Chronicles, #4) here.

I've really enjoyed reading this series to my kiddos! We're on the last book now (Gregor and the Code of Claw) and had stop due to uncontrollable crying (mine). I don't think I'll be able to keep reading this one to them before bed, because my tears make them think something is wrong with me. It's hard to explain that nothing is physically wrong, just Suzanne Collins shredding my heart. She has a knack for making you love characters, and then destroying you with them later on.

This series does have some darker aspects, so I've had to be selective about what I read out loud. They're still a little young to hear about mass murder and excessive violence. It's meant for middle grade readers, and I think it's perfect for that age, but there is a lot of death and sadness (feelings a five-year-old might not be ready to address). 

I love everything about this series. The characters, the world, the individual prophesies -- all amazing, detailed, and expertly executed. I try to figure the prophesies out as I read, but nothing is clear until the very end (not for me or the characters). The giant bats, rats, and cockroaches are all very unique and interesting. Boots, Gregor, Luxa, Henry, Ares, Temp, Ripred, Twitchtip -- I really do love them all! Everyone brings something to the story, and this series wouldn't be the same without every single one of them. Collins has created a story that I will remember for the rest of my life, and one that I look forward to revisiting in the future.