Saturday, August 31, 2019

DNF&Y [20]

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!

Discretion (The Dumonts, #1)
by Karina Halle 
Synopsis (via Goodreads): From New York Times bestselling author Karina Halle comes a delicious saga of wealth, luxury, and scandal—and the wicked secrets of success behind an envied family dynasty.

The Riviera means indulgence—if you’ve got money. For Sadie Reynolds, a down-on-her-luck student, the Riviera means dingy hostels and back streets. When a wrong turn puts her in jeopardy, the last thing she expects is to be saved by the most handsome stranger she’s ever locked eyes with. When she later wakes up in a luxury suite with a Mediterranean view, she’s in the tender care of her rescuer: Olivier Dumont, France’s most eligible bachelor, billionaire hotelier, and heir to the Dumont fashion fortune.

Olivier also owns his reputation for scandal. But Sadie is unlike any woman he’s ever met. Her humble persona and wild innocence promise real passion. He’s promising Sadie something too: anything she wants. From Bordeaux to Cannes to Paris, Sadie’s past in America is swept away and replaced with a fantasy too good to be true.

Pulled into Olivier’s orbit of wealth, glamour, and excess, Sadie discovers that the Dumont dynasty comes with a legacy of wicked secrets. And Olivier’s secrets may be the most damning of all…

DNF at 36%

Warning! Potential spoilers for this book! They're minor but necessary to explain myself.

I received an ARC from the publisher via 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 Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.

Sadie is annoying. She apparently cannot function without a man in her life, and her decisions always seem to revolve around whatever person she's with at the time. She goes to Europe with her boyfriend, discovers he's been cheating on her and ends things, and then she attempts to scrape by on her own until her (already scheduled) flight home. She's in an unfamiliar city, an unfamiliar country, but chooses to walk around alone in the dark in the middle of the night. She only has her phone for directions, and continues walking down empty streets with little to no light. Are you screaming at her stupidity? I was.

After her perilous encounter with the bald man, she tries to brush off what happened like it's not a big deal. If someone attacked me in the middle of the night, it wouldn't be something I quickly forgot. I wouldn't care that my savior was handsome, or even notice what his eyes looked like, if I had just been fighting for my life. I would likely thank whoever it was and then wait for the police to arrive. I would not follow another stranger into their car with few reservations. Especially one that claims to be rich and willing to pay for my medical care. 

I get it. It's a romance book, and unlikely scenarios sometimes make amazing stories, but Sadie was incredibly frustrating. She had no sense of self-preservation, and very little self-respect. She doesn't think she's very attractive, slept with her best friend just to get the experience out of the way, and then chose to date someone boring, safe, and predictable. She didn't want spontaneity, and she didn't think very highly of herself. However, she's totally okay with finishing her trip through Europe broke and solo, getting into a strangers car in the middle of the night, and then proceeding to stay with him for the duration of her trip. Additionally, she complained nonstop at the start of the book about not wanting his charity, and repeatedly said she didn't want him to spend so much money on her, but then was fine with him surprising her with expensive champagne, lavish dresses, and luxurious dinners. *pulls hair out*

Sadie was so hot and cold, and it was difficult to keep track of her thoughts and feelings. Did she want to make it on her own, or did she want to let someone help her? Does she want to fight with him about money, or want to enjoy the experience? She was all over the place! I'm also okay with having adventurous sex and exploring your options, but she went from being a person that wanted to "get it over with" to someone that wanted to "have amazing sex nonstop" in a very short amount of time. It was too easy for her to dismiss who she'd been her entire life. She was shy one minute and cheeky the next𑁋it gave me mental whiplash. No one becomes a new person overnight.

"He might be able to fit me in a flattering and beautiful dress, but it might be akin to putting lipstick on a pig. Or at least designer clothing on a girl from a trailer park."

Also, if she couldn't walk on her ankle, she definitely couldn't swim on it. At least, not enough to tread water while making out in the middle of the ocean. It sounds romantic, but the logistics don't work. I had a similar experience in my youth, and sexy times in the ocean are difficult and really not that exciting. I'm not saying it cannot be done, but it didn't seem plausible in this scenario. 

I guess I had more to say about this one than I thought... but when woman in books act like airheads, it really grates on my nerves. I wish Sadie had been a little more confident in herself and what she has to offer the world, but she only talks negatively about herself. He tells her she's beautiful, and she's mentally congratulating herself for not correcting him and just being in the moment. I wanted to yell at her to embrace her beauty and enjoy the experience for what it was. 

Needless to say, this one didn't work for me. Although I am curious what "big secret" Olivier has been keeping for ten years. Details were trickling in, but what he did honestly didn't seem like that big of a deal. I'm assuming there's more to the story, but I just couldn't deal with Sadie anymore.

Furyborn (Empirium, #1)
by Claire Legrand
Narrated by Fiona Hardingham
Synopsis (via Goodreads): The stunningly original, must-read fantasy of 2018 follows two fiercely independent young women, centuries apart, who hold the power to save their world...or doom it.

When assassins ambush her best friend, Rielle Dardenne risks everything to save him, exposing herself as one of a pair of prophesied queens: a queen of light, and a queen of blood. To prove she is the Sun Queen, Rielle must endure seven elemental magic trials. If she fails, she will be executed...unless the trials kill her first.

One thousand years later, the legend of Queen Rielle is a fairy tale to Eliana Ferracora. A bounty hunter for the Undying Empire, Eliana believes herself untouchable--until her mother vanishes. To find her, Eliana joins a rebel captain and discovers that the evil at the empire's heart is more terrible than she ever imagined.

As Rielle and Eliana fight in a cosmic war that spans millennia, their stories intersect, and the shocking connections between them ultimately determine the fate of their world--and of each other.

DNF at 31%

I was really looking forward to Furyborn, so I hate that it didn't work out for me. I disliked both of the main characters, and couldn't make myself care about what was happening to them. I also found the history of the saints and angels to be a tad confusing, which made it hard to follow. At one point, Rielle is listing all of the saints and describing them to herself, and they sounded a lot like the Greek gods with a few variations. There were also so many of them to keep up with. Additionally, she was able to control various types of magic, and I never really understood why. It's also really frustrating when you have dual POVs and every chapter ends with a cliffhanger. After a certain point, I just didn't feel invested enough to continue. 

On the Hunt by Gena Showalter, 
Shannon K. Butcher, Jessica Anderson,
Deidre Knight
Narrated by Todd McLaren, Emily
Durante, Hillary Huber, Coleen Marlo
Synopsis (via Goodreads): New York Times bestselling author Gena Showalter, Shannon K. Butcher, Jessica Andersen, and Deidre Knight present a steamy collection of all-new novellas featuring sexy paranormal hunters.

With shadowy creatures, intoxicating magic, vivdly imagined worlds, and sizzling passion, this is an anthology no fan of paranormal romance will want to miss.

In New York Times bestselling author Gena Showalter's
Ever Night, Rose Pascal is swept into a dark, haunting world every year on her birthday - a world ruled by a warrior king who hunts her kind. Neither of them can deny the passion that soon consumes them both....

In Shannon K. Butcher's
The Collector, demon hunter Neal Etan sets out to acquire a powerful artifact, but finds much more in beautiful Viviana Rowan. The antique dealer's touch strengthens his magic - and her life may be in Neal's hands if they don't recover the artifact in time....

In Jessica Andersen's
Crystal Skull, archaeologist Natalie Albright's dig gets shut down amid rumors she has awakened the local demons. But when the terrifying underworld creatures attack, Natalie must team up with her ex to survive. As they fight the ancient menace, they discover a destiny that binds them together - and threatens to tear them apart....

And in Deidre Knight's Red Angel, Jamie Angel, leader of the deadly Nightshades, has tracked every kind of monster and demon that roams the darkness, but none of his experiences can prepare him for falling in love with one of the creatures he's trained to destroy....

DNF at 4%

As you can see, I didn't make much progress with this book. Why? The main character in Ever Night was abducted by horrible monsters and held against her will. She's brought before a terrifying and deadly creature, but all she can think about is how handsome he is. He threatened her and forced her to agree to something against her will, but all she wants to do is comment on how attractive his mouth is (or some other body part). Fuck. That. Shit. If someone abducts me and I see freaking monsters for the first time in my life, someone's pretty face isn't even going to register in my brain. I definitely wouldn't be considering what it would be like to have sex with them, ugh. On the Hunt wasn't for me, but I can only speak for the first book since I didn't get to the others.

*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!

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Temptation (Bad Angels, #2) by Inara Scott
[Blog Tour: Review + Giveaway]

Hello! Welcome to the next stop on the Temptation blog tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. I'm thrilled I get to share my thoughts on this book with you! Thank you for stopping by, and don't forget to enter the giveaway at the bottom!

Title: TEMPTATION (Bad Angels #2)
Author: Inara Scott
Pub. Date: August 26, 2018 
Publisher: Entangled Publishing, LLC (Amara)
Formats: Paperback, eBook
Pages: 358
Find it: Goodreads, Amazon, B&N, iBooks, Kobo

As close friends and coworkers, attorney Zoe Riva and tech genius Connor Ashton know they can never get involved.



Until a scooter accident lands Zoe in Connor's arms—and his overnight custody—and she starts to see a man she's never seen before. With her career and her heart on the line, Zoe can't afford to take any chances. But when combustible chemistry takes over, even the smartest people in the room can make the biggest of mistakes… 
"He wanted to kiss her. No, he needed to kiss her. But he was absolutely, positively not going to kiss her."
I received an ARC from the publisher via 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.

Temptation was perfection! I seriously have no quibbles with this one. There's no miscommunication, no lying, and nothing annoying about their relationship. Zoe and Conner are two adults with clear expectations, and it was so refreshing to read about characters that didn't frustrate me. Their lives weren't perfect, and the two of them had their issues to work through, but their problems were relatable and understandable. 

First of all, I want to say how happy it makes me that Zoe is a confident and driven character. She knows what she wants professionally and personally, and she's not afraid to voice her opinion. I really liked how much Conner respected Zoe, and that the two of them were able to do more than have good sex. He appreciates her for her mind as well as her body, and it really showed when the two of them were together. 

I haven't read the first book in this series, although each book can stand on its own, and there were a few spoilers in this one about Tess and Mason. I'm sure I would have appreciated their cameos more had I read their story first! Tess sounds like someone I would really like. Regardless, I still plan on reading the first book, and I'm definitely buying this series for my shelves. 

I adored the GPGs and their badass Bridge playing! They're incredibly smart women that have had to fight for their place in the world, and I love how they teased each other and Conner. They welcomed Zoe into their group with affection and understanding, and I really hope they make an appearance again in the future. 

Conner was adorable and I loved his quirky behaviors. He doesn't like crowds or parties, and his childhood has left him a little broken. Zoe can see this, and she also recognizes that her past has damaged parts of herself as well, particularly how the two of them value themselves and their roles in a relationship. They don't believe they deserve love and happiness after past mistakes and choices, and it was nice seeing them work out the reasons behind their behaviors. 

Temptation is a remarkably well-written story that's fun and left me grinning like a fool! It's sweet and sexy, authentic and relatable, and I cannot wait for more from this author (particularly the other two books in this series). If you need a new romance in your life, I highly recommend this one!

Side note: I'm not a fan of whisky, but now I feel like I should give it another chance after Zoe's experience.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

My Weekly Pull [85] & Can't Wait Wednesday [55]

My Weekly Pull is something I do every Wednesday (when the stars align in my favor) 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!

Spider-Man Life Story #6 The '10s by Chip Zdarsky, Mark Bagley
Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #11 by Tom Taylor, Juan Cabal, Andrew C. Robinson
Marvel Comics #1000 by Various, Skottie Young 

Absolute Carnage Miles Morales #1 by Saladin Ahmed, Federico Vincentini, Clayton Crain
Star Wars Galaxy's Edge #5 by Ethan Sacks, Will Sliney, Tommy Lee Edwards
Transformers #11 by Brian Ruckley, Andrew Griffith, Bethany McGuire-Smith, George Caltsoudas

Jacob's comics for the week!
Absolute Carnage #2 by Donny Cates, Ryan Stegman, Marco Checchetto
Absolute Carnage Lethal Protectors #1 by Frank Tieri, Flaviano Armentaro, Greg Smallwood
 Amazing Spider-Man #28 by Nick Spencer, Kev Walker, Ryan Ottley
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Shredder in Hell #4 by Mateus Santolouco
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Urban Legends #16 by Gary Carlson, Frank Fosco, Erik Larsen
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #97 by Tom Waltz, Kevin Eastman, Michael Dialynas 
Venom #17 by Donny Cates, Iban Coello, Kyle Hotz

Massive pull this week! It's a good thing I spent last weekend catching up on comics. I believe this is the final Spider-Man Life Story, and I have a feeling Chip is going to make me cry. The Marvel Comics #1000 issue is to celebrate Marvel's 80th anniversary! It's going to include stories from various artists and illustrators. (Obviously, I chose the Skottie Young cover!) All of the others I'm thoroughly enjoying, and I'm even looking forward to Absolute Carnage Miles Morales simply because Saladin Ahmed is the writer. I generally dislike Carnage as a character.

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.

How Rory Thorne Destroyed the 
Multiverse (The Thorne Chronicles, #1)
by K. Eason
Expected publication: October 8th 2019
Synopsis (via Goodreads): First in a duology that reimagines fairy tale tropes within a space opera—The Princess Bride meets Princess Leia.

Rory Thorne is a princess with thirteen fairy blessings, the most important of which is to see through flattery and platitudes. As the eldest daughter, she always imagined she’d inherit her father’s throne and govern the interplanetary Thorne Consortium.

Then her father is assassinated, her mother gives birth to a son, and Rory is betrothed to the prince of a distant world.

When Rory arrives in her new home, she uncovers a treacherous plot to unseat her newly betrothed and usurp his throne. An unscrupulous minister has conspired to name himself Regent to the minor (and somewhat foolish) prince. With only her wits and a small team of allies, Rory must outmaneuver the Regent and rescue the prince.

How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse is a feminist reimagining of familiar fairytale tropes and a story of resistance and self-determination—how small acts of rebellion can lead a princess to not just save herself, but change the course of history.

I have a good feeling about this one! The synopsis is spectacular and has me itching to read about Rory and her betrothed. Plus the comparison to The Princess Bride... it's one of my favorites!

*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!

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Nothing to Fear (Final Hour, #2) by Juno Rushdan

Synopsis (via Goodreads): The clock is ticking

Fearsome Gray Box operative Gideon Stone is devoted to his work and his team. He's never given reason to doubt his loyalty...until he's tasked with investigating Willow Harper, a beguiling cryptologist suspected of selling deadly bio-agents on the black market.

He knows she's innocent. He knows she's being framed. And he knows that without him, Willow will be dead before sunrise.

Thrust into the crossfire of an insidious international conspiracy, Gideon will do anything to keep Willow safe...even if that means waging war against his own. With time running out, an unlikely bond pushes limits―and forges loyalties. Every move they make counts. And the real traitor is always watching...

"She had a lovely way of robbing him of his defenses."
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.

I am loving this series! I had high expectations after the first book, Every Last Breath, and Nothing to Fear didn't disappoint. I was glued to the pages as soon as I started! Gideon and Willow were amazing characters, and I really liked their interactions and seeing their relationship develop. This book starts off with a bang, and just keeps on going!

Gideon has quietly watched Willow from the sidelines, observing her mannerisms and preferences without actually approaching her, because he doesn't think he's worthy of someone so innocent and kind. He believes his soul is tainted due to the nature of his job, and that Willow deserves to live a life with someone better. My one quibble would be how often Gideon says something about not being good enough. I'm okay with some self-deprecation, an even enjoy it when it's sarcastic, but he really struggled with who he was. He was confident in his abilities -- and rightly so -- but I wish he had hated himself less, or at least thought he was deserving of love.

Willow may not have snuck glances at Gideon when they were in the same room, but she cyber-stalked the hell out of him. She read every file she could find, and even hacked her way into redacted versions of reports. She wanted to know everything about him, even if she didn't fully understand why. In any other circumstance, their stalking would have been super weird, but it really worked for these two. Neither saw it as a breach of trust (or thought it was super creepy), but accepted that both were observant control freaks that liked information.

Rushdan knows how to write adventure and suspense, and I was kept on my toes for the entirety of the book. I desperately wanted to know who Cobalt was, especially after how the author left things at the end of Every Last Breath. I had so many questions! Cobalt is skilled at masking their identity, so I questioned everyone's actions and words. Everyone was a suspect in my mind until I could confirm -- without a doubt -- that they weren't responsible. The author leaves a small trail of who it's not, but that only narrowed my list down to a handful of others. It was stressful! I couldn't figure it out. I kept thinking, "No, that's too obvious. Wait! Maybe it's supposed to feel obvious so I'll dismiss them?" I loved it!

The romance was remarkably well-written as well. I really enjoyed reading from Willow's perspective, since she has a unique way of viewing the world. I believe she has Asperger's... I think I'm remembering correctly, and she's very blunt and honest. She says what she wants when she wants it, and she offers personal details about her life without prompting. I think she was really good for Gideon, because he needed someone he could be completely honest with. Willow knows everything about him, the good and the bad, and she still thought he was worth loving. It also meant he didn't have to keep secrets from her, which had caused a strain on his previous marriage. He thought he was a monster, but Willow saw a hero willing to sacrifice parts of himself for the greater good. They were passionate lovers, but they also connected on a soul-deep level that was just as intimate.

I cannot wait to see where this story goes next! There's a lot of fighting, some descriptive violence, and even some torture in this one. It's not overly explained, but the picture and intentions are clear. It's part of working at the Grey Box and saving the country from the shadows, but it can also be a little graphic. Weak stomachs beware!

I was happy to see Cole and Maddox get cameos in this one! It makes me want to re-read their story!


Monday, August 26, 2019

Wicked Saints (Something Dark and Holy, #1)
by Emily A. Duncan

Synopsis (via Goodreads): A girl who can speak to gods must save her people without destroying herself.

A prince in danger must decide who to trust.

A boy with a monstrous secret waits in the wings.

Together, they must assassinate the king and stop the war.

In a centuries-long war where beauty and brutality meet, their three paths entwine in a shadowy world of spilled blood and mysterious saints, where a forbidden romance threatens to tip the scales between dark and light.
Wicked Saints is the thrilling start to Emily A. Duncan’s devastatingly Gothic Something Dark and Holy trilogy.

Narrated by Natasha Soudek & Tristan Morris

"He was a liar and she wanted his truths."
I received an ARC from the publisher via 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.

I started with the audiobook but eventually switched to a physical copy. The narration felt slow, but a change in reading material didn't help. I never really looked forward to continuing Wicked Saints (which is super disappointing since I preemptively bought the special edition), and it was likely due to my inability to lose myself within the story. A lot of my fellow bloggers were raving about this dark and twisted tale about gods and monsters, but I never felt invested in the characters or what they were trying to achieve. 

I wish the romance had been left out, because it wasn't believable and detracted from the story. I didn't understand their attraction to each other, and oftentimes it felt one-sided. Nadya couldn't decide whether or not to trust Malachiasz, and her inner turmoil was an unnecessary focal point of the book. Was he really a monster, or was he just troubled and looking to fix the mistakes of his past? I have no idea why she decided to go along with his plan in the first place, since she knew nothing about him or his agenda. He also lied to her (often), was vague about details (almost always), and seemed content to let her think the worst of him. Nadya had plenty of other things to worry about, and whether or not she loved a monster shouldn't have been one of them.

There's an occurrence right at the beginning that doesn't make sense, and that I vehemently disagree with. Someone was fighting, bodies piling up at their feet, and they're interrupted by this other person so they could leave the battle and escort Nadya to safety. However, the person that was already with her doesn't get a chance to fight before they're struck down (horribly), and I want to know why they didn't just help Nadya escape themselves. Why was she passed on to someone else already in the midst of battle? Better question... why didn't both people help her escape? Someone staying behind didn't buy them time, or change anything about their situation, so it would have made more sense for them to escape together. It felt it's sole purpose was to be shocking, because it added nothing to the story. 

Additionally, Nadya ran headfirst into the battle because she wanted to help, but then simply watches as people start dying around her. Her great attack was freezing the stairs even though she knew it wouldn't really be effective in the end? Then she doesn't know what do with the power that's given to her, but doesn't really ask either. It just becomes an extension of herself and does its own thing. If she's been training for years, can commune with the gods themselves, and knows what their individual powers are... why wasn't she more of a fighting force during the battle? I feel like she could have done more to protect those around her, but she shows up and then leaves shortly after arriving (followed by a lot of unnecessary death and destruction). Her actions were hard to follow, because we don't really know anything about her character yet. She seemed impulsive initially, but then resigned to her fate after facing her enemies for a few minutes. 

I'm angry Nadya didn't do more at the start of the book, and that her bravado failed when she needed it the most. She has all of the gods and their powers at her disposal, but the most she could conjure was ice and a mysterious white light (that did manage to kill on impact). Speaking of killing, she froze when someone died by her hand, but it's something she should have anticipated. Her reactions may have briefly felt realistic, but people were giving their lives to keep her safe. She should have been more preoccupied with keeping them alive as well.

Everything that happened afterwards felt like carefully planned coincidences. I thought the premise was interesting, and even understood Nadya's struggle with blind faith. However, most of the story felt repetitive and dull. The bloody, darker aspects didn't feel like part of the story, but rather an attempt to repeatedly shock readers with its brutality. I'm not against stories like this, but the violence in this book didn't have a purpose, it just existed. I might be explaining this poorly, but hopefully you get the gist.

After awhile, I simply kept reading because it was almost over. I didn't care how it ended, who lived or died, or if anyone succeeded with their personal agendas. They were enemies for the majority of the book, committing atrocities against each other, but then there were careful smiles and tentative friendships at the end. I'm sorry, but if you murder everyone in the community I once called home, there's no chance in hell I'm going to forgive or forget. Nothing made sense -- not the story or the characters.

Things that didn't make sense (potential spoilers):

1) Nadya uses the god's magic to mask Malachiasz, and Malachiasz uses his blood magic to mask Nadya. Why didn't Nadya use her magic to conceal both of their identities? I think there was an explanation for why Malachiasz couldn't use his on himself, but I can't remember.

2) Nadya alternated between competent and clueless at the start of the book. She failed to assist in the initial battle, but she could temporarily remove the sun from the sky shortly afterwards? She was weak one moment, and crazy powerful the next.

3) When Nadya is kidnapped and left bleeding to death, I don't think it ever explains what happened or why she was down there. Was there a reason?

Sunday, August 25, 2019

The Sunday Post [26]

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.


My monster finished his first full week of school! It hasn't been the smoothest transition, but we're adjusting! A side effect I wasn't expecting? The kids still wake up early on the weekends...ugh. You'd think they'd sleep in, right? Wrong. They're little brains are now wired for early mornings, which means I have to wake up with them. 

I'm a little frustrated with my son's schedule at school. I taught second grade a few years ago, albeit at another school, but the structure was different. The teacher sent home their weekly schedule, and I'm shocked by the amount of material they're required to cover in a single day. Additionally, he's only allotted 15 minutes for recess. Fifteen. My son is five and has endless amounts of energy, fifteen minutes of play isn't enough to settle his mind or his body. He's going to be antsy and unfocused every day. After talking with his teacher, I learned they actually get less time. The fifteen minutes start before they ever make it outside, and they include however long it takes to get to and from class.

And if that wasn't bad enough... gym. I foolishly assumed that gym would be another time during the day when my son could run and move around. Wrong. Do you know what they did last week? They played with blocks. They sat in small groups and played with blocks. I'm sure this is good for team building and whatever else, but these kids need to be in motion! They're forced to be still and quiet for the majority of the day, so it seems cruel not to take advantage of the times when they can be a little loud and bounce around. On Friday, my son said they brought a projector into the gym so they could watch a movie about exercising. Seriously?? How does that make any sense??

The worst thing happened when I went to pick him up one day. The line to pick students up is insane. Sometimes I wait for 45 minutes before the car ever moves forward. I know that people are trying to adjust and learn the system, but that also means our children are sitting inside and just waiting. After the first day, I gave my son a book to read so he would have something to occupy himself. They took it away from and gave him a mark. I was livid! Apparently, children cannot have any items outside of their backpacks while they're waiting to be picked up. They're supposed to just sit quietly while holding a bubble in their mouths, and they cannot move. How ridiculous is that? He got in the car crying that afternoon, and when the teacher wouldn't tell me why, I called the principal. She said children weren't allowed to read because there's a chance someone could "throw" their book across the room, or "hit" another child with it. Once I told her that I had instructed him to read as his parent, he wasn't in trouble. They should convey things like this to the parents so we don't inadvertently break their stupid rules.

Also, School Germs are the worst. Monster was sick last weekend and gave it to the rest of us, and he woke up with a fever this morning.

Previous week on the blog:

Sunday: Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik ⋆⋆⋆
Monday: Nothing!
Tuesday: Nothing!
Thursday: Bringing Down the Duke (A League of Extraordinary Women, #1) by Evie Dunmore ⋆⋆⋆⋆⋆
Friday: Nothing!
Saturday: Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1) by Sarah J. Maas ⋆⋆⋆

What I'm currently reading:
Nothing to Fear (Final Hour, #2) by Juno Rushdan
Children of Blood and Bone (Legacy of Orisha, #1) by Tomi Adeyemi
Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley

I really enjoyed Every Last Breath by Juno Rushdan (the first book in the Final Hour series), and I've been looking forward to this next installment! A lot of questions were left unanswered, which I dislike, but I know it was to set up the second book. I really liked how the author combined adventure and romance! Children of Blood and Bone is one I've been reading for awhile now. I'm listening to the audio, and my loan from the library keeps expiring before I can finish it. Maybe I'll have more time this week! It's been insanely good so far. I'm starting Circus Mirandus tonight with the monsters. 

What I plan on reading next:
The Lady Rogue by Jenn Bennett
The Girl the Sea Gave Back (Sky in the Deep, #2) by Adrienne Young
Six Goodbyes We Never Said by Candace Ganger

Jenn Bennett is my jam, and I am really looking forward to The Lady Rogue. It sounds amazing, and I cannot wait to go on this adventure. Six Goodbyes We Never Said is going to make me cry, isn't it? Have you seen the cover for The Girl the Sea Gave Back? It's shimmery and stunning! I absolutely love it. Hopefully the story is just as captivating.

What I'm watching:

I rarely have time to watch television these days, but I will occasionally sit through an episode of Fairy Tail (it's the final season and I only have a few episodes left, so I'm trying to drag it out), Brooklyn Nine-Nine, or Veronica Mars. I recently saw all of the Marvel shows being added to the new Disney+, and now I'm trying to convince myself that I don't need it. There are too many streaming services!

Challenge updates:

Discussion Challenge: 5 / 11-20

I've met my goal for the Audiobook Challenge! I'm not too worried about the Beat the Backlist Challenge or the Discussion Challenge, but I'm starting to think 500 was a lofty goal for my Goodreads Challenge. Only time will tell! How are you doing with your challenges this year?

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1) by Sarah J. Maas

Synopsis (via Goodreads): After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.

Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king's council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she'll serve the kingdom for four years and then be granted her freedom. Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilarating. But she's bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her ... but it's the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead ... quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.


Okay, so I didn't love Throne of Glass, but I've also read it before! It took me a few chapters to realize this, but then everything started clicking into place. I think I read this one when it was originally published (so nearly a decade ago), and forgot to update it on Goodreads. I know I previously owned a copy of this book, but due to a lack of space, I only keep the stories that I plan on reading again and again and again! Clearly, my past self didn't plan on re-reading this one, but I was on such a Maas high after finishing A Court of Thorns and Roses (for the second time), and was looking for something that would elicit similar feelings.

I debated between three and four stars, but ultimately I was dissatisfied with the characters and the story. The romance was weird and unnecessary, although I really enjoyed their friendships. I wish they had worked together collectively, instead of pairing off throughout the story. It was always Celaena and one of the other characters (usually Dorian, Chaol, Nehemia, or Nox). Why didn't we see Chaol and Dorian making plans or discussing issues? Dorian is the Crown Prince and Chaol is Captain of the Guard, so the two of them had plenty of reasons to conspire and share suspicious.

Instead, we see the two friends fighting for Celaena's attention. They're not mean about it, but the jealousy is there whenever one stumbles across the other alone with the assassin. I feel like it put a strain on their relationship, which is ridiculous. People are being murdered, and Celaena is a convicted criminal that they know nothing about. Priorities! Chaol was understandably suspicious, but he was clearly intrigued by their new Champion. I liked both Dorian and Chaol individually, and thought they both had a lot to offer the story, but felt like they weren't fleshed out as characters.

Additionally, I didn't really get assassin-vibes from Celaena. Super spy, maybe, because she was calculating and observant. However, she seemed to lack the desire to actually kill someone for money. Maybe if Maas had shared more of her history and backstory, it would have made more sense. From what I can tell, Celaena only killed people that deserved it, and she tried to save everyone else. I just had a hard time thinking of her as someone who accepted money for murder.

I wanted to know more about all of the characters in this book, but feel like the author alluded to their histories just enough to keep us invested. Obviously, Celaena isn't who we think she is, and she's constantly locking a door in her mind to keep herself from thinking about whatever it is. I have my suspicions, but it would have been nice to have some things confirmed before the end of the book. Chaol has an equally complicated past, although we only learn about where he's from, and that he has a younger brother. How did he become the Captain of the Guard at such a young age? Also, how did he mange to do this without having to get his hands dirty? They're in the middle of a war -- have been for years -- but the King's Captain of the Guard has never fought and killed another person? It doesn't make sense. Dorian is portrayed as a promiscuous prince, but one with compassion and understanding. He doesn't want what his father wants, but he's not quite brave enough to challenge him openly. Why are his eyes so different? Why isn't he as corrupted as his father?

I really enjoyed the magical elements of this story, even if I didn't always understand what they were or how they were happening. I'm sure some of this is expanded on in the next book, but I wish we'd been given more information in this one. Back to the romance... I wish it had never been an issue. What Celaena says at the end... about wanting to be free... that should have been her belief from the beginning. She always knew that the outcome would be her freedom or her death, so it shouldn't have been a surprise when it happened. It would have prevented any unnecessary feelings from developing.

I'm sure I'll eventually read the next book in this series, but I wasn't completely blown away by Throne of Glass. I also have a feeling that the romance I do want to see develop isn't going to happen. Based on other reviews, Celaena seems to be with a different person every book.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Bringing Down the Duke
(A League of Extraordinary Women, #1)
by Evie Dunmore

Synopsis (via Goodreads): A stunning debut for author Evie Dunmore and her Oxford Rebels, in which a fiercely independent vicar's daughter takes on a duke in a fiery love story that threatens to upend the British social order.

England, 1879. Annabelle Archer, the brilliant but destitute daughter of a country vicar, has earned herself a place among the first cohort of female students at the renowned University of Oxford. In return for her scholarship, she must support the rising women's suffrage movement. Her charge: recruit men of influence to champion their cause. Her target: Sebastian Devereux, the cold and calculating Duke of Montgomery who steers Britain's politics at the Queen's command. Her challenge: not to give in to the powerful attraction she can't deny for the man who opposes everything she stands for.

Sebastian is appalled to find a suffragist squad has infiltrated his ducal home, but the real threat is his impossible feelings for green-eyed beauty Annabelle. He is looking for a wife of equal standing to secure the legacy he has worked so hard to rebuild, not an outspoken commoner who could never be his duchess. But he wouldn't be the greatest strategist of the Kingdom if he couldn't claim this alluring bluestocking without the promise of a ring...or could he?

Locked in a battle with rising passion and a will matching her own, Annabelle will learn just what it takes to topple a duke....

"He spun her round and she was pinned flush against the door, trapped between oak wood and one incensed aristocrat. Out of the two, the oak would yield more easily."
I received a review copy from Penguin's First To Read program 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.

I don't typically read historical romance, but I am so very glad I took a chance on Evie Dunmore's Bringing Down the Duke. I loved every second of this book, and never wanted to stop turning the pages! I enjoyed the setting (even if I wanted to smack some misogynistic men around), and liked that the author was true to the time period while also touching on the women's suffrage movement. It's always eye-opening to see woman from an earlier time period fighting to obtain the same rights as men, and it astounds me that similar battles are still being fought today. I think that's why I usually avoid historical romance, because the time period itself makes me angry. Women were essentially property, and were only as important as the men they married. Grr!

Annabelle was an amazing character. She's intelligent, driven, and desires more from her life than what's expected of her. She doesn't want to raise her cousin's children, or take care of his house, and she certainly doesn't want to be married off for convenience, which is why Annabelle decides to trick her cousin into allowing her to pursue a higher education. He doesn't know who or what is offering Annabelle a scholarship, only that he believes her going there will somehow benefit him in the future. It's insane how Annabelle had to manipulate the situation just to attend a college and further her desire for more knowledge. Additionally, she had to work twice as hard to keep her spot at the school. She needed to study for her own classes, while also tutoring others so she send money home to her cousin (for her supposed replacement at the house, ugh). 

Sebastian was an irritating character. I couldn't decide if I wanted Annabelle to strangle him or rip all of his clothes off. One minute he's condescending to her, or mentally referring to her as a wench, and the next he's appreciating her intellect and determination. He likes Annabelle, but society dictates he marries someone more important (insert eyeroll here). I really enjoyed how complex Sebastian's character was, and I liked his relationship with his brother. He's torn between trying to set a good example, like a parent, and being present as a sibling. It causes a lot of conflict, but I thought their relationship was realistic and relatable.  

All of the women attending the college, and those involved in the woman's suffrage movement, were wonderful. The author incudes women from different stations in life, and also how their induvial choices have shaped where they are today. They were good friends to Annabelle, despite her unfortunate circumstances (insert another eyeroll here). They treat her as an equal because they like who she is as a person. It's also the right thing to do as a general life rule.

I thoroughly enjoyed Bringing Down the Duke, and the slow-burn romance was well worth the wait. Especially the scene at the end... the one where she describes him coming out of the water... phew. Evie Dunmore knows how to make you tingle down to the tips of your toes! It was hot. I recommend this book whether you're a fan of historical romance or not, because this story was fantastic from the very first page.