Top Ten Tuesday: My Favorite Book Settings

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. Check out her blog for more info!

Happy Tuesday everybody! I can’t believe we’re nearing the end of July. Summer is flying by so fast! This week’s prompt is book settings I’d like to see more of. I definitely have a few favorites, and I’m such a sucker for ALL of them. Seriously, mention any of these settings and I’m pretty much guaranteed to buy your book.

SUMMER CAMP

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Guys, I am such a sucker for books set (at least partially) at summer camps. I just finished Say You Still Love Me last week (keep eyes open for a review later this week!) and it featured flashbacks to summer camp – I was LIVING FOR IT. Riley Sager’s book The Last Time I Lied also featured flashbacks to a summer camp. I NEED MORE SUMMER CAMPS.

 

BOARDING SCHOOLS

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Harry Potter, anybody? But not just that series. ANY boarding school stories. I love them. I feel like so many shenanigans happen when adults are not as present – stories spiral out of control so quickly. I guess I just live for chaos.

 

TROPICAL SETTINGS

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Maybe it’s just because it’s summer, or my brain is in total vacation mode, but I love books set in tropical places. It makes me want to travel and lay by a beach and explore! A perfect example is The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren. I absolutely adored this book, and honestly it made me want to visit Hawaii SO BAD.

 

FAERIE

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Is anybody surprised this made my list? Because I’m not. I LOVED The Cruel Prince and The Wicked King, and my obsession for Faerie after these books is real.

 

MICHIGAN

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I’ve said this time and time again, but I love my home state. It isn’t glamorous, but it’s home and it will always be home to me. I truly believe that it is one of the best places for me to live. I will always and forever buy any book set in the mitten state. Exhibit A: after reading You’d Be Mine by Erin Hahn, she has now sold me on every single book she will ever write. Hello, new auto-buy author.

And that’s it guys! Those are my favorite settings! Now tell me all of yours so I can become obsessed with some new ones!

xoxo

Jen

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July Pick: Book of the Month

I cannot believe we’re already more than halfway through the year. I also can’t believe how much a blessing this reading year has been. Is it just me or have there been SO many good books in 2019???

I ended up going with 2 book of the month books in July. Here they are:

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Lock Every Door by Riley Sager

Goodreads Synopsis:

No visitors. No nights spent away from the apartment. No disturbing the other residents, all of whom are rich or famous or both. These are the only rules for Jules Larsen’s new job as an apartment sitter at the Bartholomew, one of Manhattan’s most high-profile and mysterious buildings. Recently heartbroken and just plain broke, Jules is taken in by the splendor of her surroundings and accepts the terms, ready to leave her past life behind.

As she gets to know the residents and staff of the Bartholomew, Jules finds herself drawn to fellow apartment sitter Ingrid, who comfortingly, disturbingly reminds her of the sister she lost eight years ago. When Ingrid confides that the Bartholomew is not what it seems and the dark history hidden beneath its gleaming facade is starting to frighten her, Jules brushes it off as a harmless ghost story . . . until the next day, when Ingrid disappears.

Searching for the truth about Ingrid’s disappearance, Jules digs deeper into the Bartholomew’s dark past and into the secrets kept within its walls. Her discovery that Ingrid is not the first apartment sitter to go missing at the Bartholomew pits Jules against the clock as she races to unmask a killer, expose the building’s hidden past, and escape the Bartholomew before her temporary status becomes permanent.

Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Goodreads Synopsis:

The Jazz Age is in full swing, but Casiopea Tun is too busy cleaning the floors of her wealthy grandfather’s house to listen to any fast tunes. Nevertheless, she dreams of a life far from her dusty small town in southern Mexico. A life she can call her own.

Yet this new life seems as distant as the stars, until the day she finds a curious wooden box in her grandfather’s room. She opens it—and accidentally frees the spirit of the Mayan god of death, who requests her help in recovering his throne from his treacherous brother. Failure will mean Casiopea’s demise, but success could make her dreams come true.

In the company of the strangely alluring god and armed with her wits, Casiopea begins an adventure that will take her on a cross-country odyssey from the jungles of Yucatán to the bright lights of Mexico City—and deep into the darkness of the Mayan underworld.

Why I Picked Them:

Lock Every Door was a no-brainer for me; I really enjoyed The Last Time I Lied and was ready to get my hands on another Sager book. I know, I know, I said no more mystery/thrillers from BOTM until I had caught up, but I couldn’t resist. Gods of Jade and Sorrow was kind of a step outside of my normal box. It sounded interesting and different, and honestly that cover is gorgeous. On impulse, I added it to my box. Things You Save in a Fire almost got me, but I have an ARC of it waiting to be read, and want to read that first before buying a finished copy.

What about you guys? What books did you go with for July?

xoxo

Jen

Review: My Lovely Wife

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Title: My Lovely Wife

Author: Samantha Downing

Pages: 374

Rating: 

Goodreads Synopsis:

Our love story is simple. I met a gorgeous woman. We fell in love. We had kids. We moved to the suburbs. We told each other our biggest dreams, and our darkest secrets. And then we got bored.

We look like a normal couple. We’re your neighbors, the parents of your kid’s friend, the acquaintances you keep meaning to get dinner with.

We all have secrets to keeping a marriage alive.

Ours just happens to be getting away with murder.

Review:

“Why do you think it’s so popular? The missing-woman story?”

“Because who can resist a damsel in distress?”

Holy cow, you guys. This book took me for a wild wild ride. This book was recommended to me so many times in the past few months, and let me tell you I was not disappointed in the slightest. This is easily the best thriller I’ve read in 2019 so far, and I’ll be hard pressed to find one that outpaces it the rest of the year.

My Lovely Wife is a story about two people – told from the man’s perspective – who’ve been married for 15 years. They’ve climbed their way up the social ladder, become successful, had children…and have gotten bored. Their solution? Try to get away with murder.

The synopsis makes it sound simple and like a neat little package, but trust me, it isn’t. There is more to everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) in this book than meets the eye. Every marriage has secrets, but Millicent and her husband really take the cake. These two are the serial killer dream team. A real estate agent by day and a murderer by night, Millicent commits the actual deed while her husband helps lure in the woman they’ve chosen together. When they decide to try and pin their murders on a serial killer from the town’s past, things start to spiral out of control.

“The power of knowing so much and choosing what will happen next – this is what I like.”

I do need to be clear about something – both of these main characters are terrible people. Their only redeeming quality may be their love for their children. They are killing and torturing people for sport, and to keep their marriage ‘fresh’. But I feel like it really speaks to the author’s talent that…even though these characters were unlikable on purpose, I still loved this book and was so invested in the story. And honestly, I think part of why I was so invested was that I just couldn’t look away. Their entire relationship was so twisted and messed up, and having an insider view to that via the narrator was so gripping.

“I have never had a conscience when I’m trying to make her happy.”

I really loved this book from start to finish. I loved that it was told from the man’s perspective (I feel like a lot of the thrillers I’ve read lately are told from the woman’s POV, so this was refreshing). I loved the concept – so unique! The pacing was superb. I’m also one who hates to be able to guess the entire ending, but also hates to be blindsided by the twist (I know, I’m annoying) and this book did a pretty fantastic job at fulfilling those wishes. I was able to see a few things coming, but had no idea how the ending would play out.

Some trigger warnings for descriptions of violence and torture – if that isn’t your cup of tea, you may want to pass on this one. They are brief, but they are definitely descriptive.

I hope you love this book as much as I did. If you’re looking for a twisted, gripping, well-paced and unique thriller, this is the book for you. Happy reading!

xoxo

Jen

Top Ten Tuesday: Auto-buy Authors

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. Check out her blog for more info!

Happy Tuesday bookworms! This week’s prompt was auto-buy authors, and I’m super excited for it. I’ve also gained a few recently…what else is new? So here they are, in no particular order: the authors I’d buy anything they write, even if it’s just three lines written on a piece of toilet paper.

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ONE: Holly Black

I’m sure this queen is going to be on EVERYONE’S list but I don’t even care. After The Cruel Prince and The Wicked King, ‘auto-buy’ is a category well deserved for Holly Black.

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TWO: Erin Hahn

I know I’ve talked about this quite a bit, but I read You’d Be Mine by Erin Hahn and absolutely fell in love with it. This book was an adorable Johnny-and-June love story about two country singers on the road. PLUS the MC is from Michigan, and we get to travel back there for a while. I’m a sucker for anything in the mitten state, so Erin Hahn has me hooked for life.

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THREE: Leigh Bardugo

Again, another one I’m sure made EVERYONE’S list. But after Six of Crows, how could she not?

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FOUR: Taylor Jenkins Reid

TJR made my auto-buy list by a land slide after reading The Seven Husbands of Evelyn HugoI haven’t read anything else by her yet, but I do already have several books on my shelf, and I can’t wait to get to them.

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FIVE: Laini Taylor

Three words: Strange the Dreamer. The end.

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SIX: K. Ancrum

If you haven’t read The Wicker King or The Weight of The Stars yet, do it immediately, and then put K. Ancrum on your auto-buy list for life. Honestly, if this author wrote her name on the back of a napkin, I’d buy it. And she’d probably find some way to make me to cry my heart out over it, too.

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SEVEN: Shea Ernshaw

I read The Wicked Deep last October and honestly it was everything I ever wanted. It was beautifully written and unique and I can’t wait to see where Ernshaw goes from here.

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EIGHT: Tessa Gratton

Are you guys sick of me talking about Strange Grace yet? TOO BAD. My top publication of 2019, so obviously now anything Tessa Gratton puts on paper, I’m going to buy.

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NINE: Helen Hoang

Romance QUEEN. Plus so much rep. I loved her first two books, and I know she’s doing more based on other characters. BE STILL MY HEART.

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TEN: Anna-Marie McLemore

After Blanca y Roja, I honestly would buy this lady’s kindergarten fridge artwork. I’m not joking. It was that good.

Honorable Mentions:

I made an honorable mentions list because 1. I couldn’t decide and 2. I know a lot of these are FOR SURE going to be on people’s list so I just figured they were assumed…

  • Sarah J Maas
  • JK Rowling
  • Cassandra Claire
  • Tessa Bailey
  • Casey McQuiston

What about you guys? What authors make you spend all the money, no matter the cost?

xoxo

Jen

ARC Review: Here There Are Monsters

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Title: Here There Are Monsters

Author: Amelinda Bérubé

Release Date: August 6, 2019

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Pages: 352

Rating: ★★★.5

Goodreads Synopsis:

Sixteen-year-old Skye is done playing the knight in shining armor for her insufferable younger sister, Deirdre. Moving across the country seems like the perfect chance to start over.

In their isolated new neighborhood, Skye manages to fit in, but Deirdre withdraws from everyone, becoming fixated on the swampy woods behind their house and building monstrous sculptures out of sticks and bones.

Then Deirdre disappears.

And when something awful comes scratching at Skye’s window in the middle of the night, claiming she’s the only one who can save Deirdre, Skye knows she will stop at nothing to bring her sister home.

Review:

ARC provided by the publisher, Sourcebooks Fire, in exchange for an honest review.

“These woods devour everything.”

This book was a big step outside my comfort zone, and I was so surprised by how much I couldn’t put it down. If I had to pick one word to describe Here There Are Monsters, it would be CREEPY. I honestly wish I had picked up this book around Halloween, because it would have been perfect for that time of year. As it is, it still managed to scare me even with all of the lights on in the middle of the day time (did I mention I refused to read it at night?) I ended up giving it 3.5 stars.

This book follows a pair of sisters, Skye and Deirdre shortly after their move to a new neighborhood across the country. They both deal with the move differently: Skye wants to start over, step away from her sister’s bizarre imaginary games, and try to fit in for the first time in her life. Deirdre becomes more withdrawn and bizarre, and becomes obsessed by the eerie woods behind their new house. Her games and sculptures become more and more disturbing and involved, created out of sticks and bones.

When Deirdre disappears, Skye is worried it’s all her fault. She shouldn’t have pulled away so much, she should have been there to take care of her sister. But then a creature made of bones comes knocking on her window in the middle of the night and offers her a deal: if she can complete it’s tasks, the woods will give Deirdre back. And Skye knows that no matter how much they have drifted apart, she will do anything in her power to save her sister – including compromising herself and everything else she cares about.

“You can’t just walk away when someone needs a hero.”

My absolute favorite thing about this book was how atmospheric it was. The writing and phrasing was so transportive. I literally had goosebumps for about half of the book because it was so eerie. I was afraid to read it at night, and checked for monsters under my bed and outside my window before I went to sleep. If you are looking for the perfect Halloween read, look no further. I have half a mind to go pick up Berube’s first book and save it for October. Not only did the writing take me straight to the center of these creepy woods, but it kept me flipping page after page. I couldn’t put this book down, even though horror is definitely not a genre I’m completely comfortable with. And that, to me, is what makes for a good book: something that takes you out of your comfort zone but makes you beg for more at the same time.

My biggest issue was the main characters. Neither of them were likable, and at times they were both downright annoying. They were both pretty horrible people. Deirdre is a little monster, both to her sisters and her parents. And Skye is almost worse. Her initial thoughts after Deirdre goes missing is that she’s doing it for attention, and she literally goes to a party the night her sister disappears. It makes it a little hard to root for either of them, and even though the plot was driving enough that I HAD to know what happened at the end, I honestly couldn’t tell you what I was hoping would happen because I didn’t care about either of these girls enough to get invested.

“Love. Like that’s what this is about. Like there’s any such thing. Like there’s anything to any of us beyond our private stews of guilt and fear and obligation.”

Overall, I really enjoyed this read. It really took me out of my comfort zone, and was really atmospheric and eerie. It kept me flipping the pages as fast as I could (but with every single light on). If you’re looking for the perfect creepy Halloween read, I hope you like this one as much as I did.

Here There Are Monsters is releasing on August 6, 2019.

*All quotations taken from an ARC and are subject to change prior to publication.

Down the TBR #34

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Down the TBR Hole was created by Lost in a Story. Its purpose is to help narrow down your TBR list on Goodreads by selecting 5 titles each week and deciding if you want to keep it on your TBR or get rid of it! I was inspired by Melanie @ Meltotheany and Amy @ A Court of Crowns and Quills to start this series. If you haven’t checked out any of these lovely blogs, do it NOW!

How it works:

  • Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

Here’s what’s on the chopping block this week:

ONE: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

This is actually on my backlist reads of 2019 list, so I will DEFINITELY be getting to it this year.

VERDICT: KEEP

TWO: Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

I’m going to leave this for now, but if I hate Illuminae I’ll probably get rid of it…

VERDICT: KEEP

THREE: The Young Elites by Marie Lu

Confession time: I’ve never read anything by this author. I know. Shame on me. I’ll probably keep this on the list for now, but I’m not sure when I’ll get to it.

VERDICT: KEEP

FOUR: Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall

I already own this book – it’s sitting on my shelf. I’ll get to it eventually, I swear…

VERDICT: KEEP

FIVE: Flame In the Mist by Renee Ahdieh

Mulan meets Throne of Glass? You had me at the tag line, but skimming some of the reviews, it was pretty polarizing. Since I don’t know when I’ll get to it, I’m going to ditch this one… for now.

VERDICT: DELETE

 

LOL Delete 1 keep 4… that’s how this is supposed to work, right?

Have you read any of these?? Let me know!

xoxo

Jen

Mid Year Freak Out Tag – 2019 Edition

Ok guys, I know I’m a little late on this. I was supposed to do it in June, but honestly the month just got away from me. I read a TON and blogged…nothing. BUT I’m making a supreme effort to get back into it this month, so here it is: my mid year freak out.

I have a feeling I’m going to be saying this a lot during this tag, but The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. This book gave me ALL THE FEELS and was truly a masterpiece. I’ll be lucky to read anything like it again.

THE BEST BOOK YOU’VE READ SO FAR IN 2019:

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I have a feeling I’m going to be saying this a lot during this tag, but The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. This book gave me ALL THE FEELS and was truly a masterpiece. I’ll be lucky to read anything like it again.

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YOUR FAVOURITE SEQUEL THIS YEAR:

Is this even a question? I feel like this probably made everyone’s list, but The Wicked King was hands down the best sequel I’ve read this year. Although I haven’t actually read that many, surprisingly. That cliff hanger though…

A NEW RELEASE THAT YOU HAVEN’T READ YET BUT REALLY WANT TO:

I’m going to go with With the Fire On High for this one. A lot of people read it for Summerathon and absolutely adored it. I actually already own it but haven’t gotten to it yet… story of my life.

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MOST ANTICIPATED RELEASE FOR THE SECOND HALF OF THE YEAR:

If anybody expected me to say anything other than The Queen of Nothing, you don’t know me very well. Although Girls of Storm and Shadow is probably right on par with that. Girls of Paper and Fire made my top 2019 publications, along with The Cruel Prince.

YOUR BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT:

I don’t like to speak poorly about ARCs – it always just makes me feel terrible. But I had to DNF Never-Contented Things earlier this year. I was expecting something more along the lines of The Cruel Prince the way it was marketed, but that is NOT what I got. Close second? Normal People by Sally Rooney.

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BIGGEST SURPRISE OF THE YEAR:

I’m going to go with The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren on this one, mainly because the only other book I had read was My Favorite Half-Night Stand and I wasn’t a huge fan. But I absolutely ADORED The Unhoneymooners, and highly recommend it for any beachy or poolside day!

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FAVOURITE NEW TO YOU OR DEBUT AUTHOR:

This one is actually easy – Erin Hahn. I read You’d Be Mine earlier this year and fell in LOVE with it. I cannot wait to see what else she writes. Make sure you pick this book up – it’s a perfect summer read if you love those country music vibes.

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YOUR NEW FICTIONAL CRUSH:

EASY – Travis Ford from Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey. Who is my newest auto-buy author, btw. If you love steamy (and I mean STEAMY) romances, PICK THIS BOOK UP.

 NEW FAVOURITE CHARACTER:

I’m going to go with Alex from Red White and Royal Blue – I mean, how could I not? Can I also mention that if you haven’t read this book… do it.

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A BOOK THAT MADE YOU CRY:

Ok I’m going with two different books on this one, both of which I’ve already mentioned once: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and Red White and Royal Blue. If you have not read either of these books, I bet you, please please please go pick them up. You won’t regret it.

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A BOOK THAT MADE YOU HAPPY:

All of them? Haha ok that’s not true. And I guess I can’t pick Red White and Royal Blue again. I’m going to go with The Weight of the Stars, mainly because it was so EPIC and I will forever and always buy anything K. Ancrum puts out. This book made me feel ALL THE FEELS, y’all.

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 YOUR FAVOURITE BOOK TO MOVIE ADAPTATION THAT YOU’VE SEEN THIS YEAR:

Ok I haven’t seen the movie yet but I’m going to go with The Hate U Give. And I promise, I will watch the movie SOON. I loved this book, and cannot believe I wanted so long to read it.

FAVORITE BLOG POST YOU’VE PUBLISHED THIS YEAR:

I’m not sure I have a favorite, but I’ll go with my Summerathon post because it was SO MUCH FUN. I loved cohosting this with some gorgeous ladies, and I loved how many people wanted to join in.

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THE MOST BEAUTIFUL BOOK THAT YOU’VE BOUGHT/RECEIVED THIS YEAR:

Oh wow this is a tough one. I actually don’t know if I have an answer? I think I’m going to go with With The Fire on High because not only is the cover gorgeous but the naked hardback is a stunner as well! I haven’t read this one yet, but I’ve heard great things.

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WHAT ARE SOME OF THE BOOKS THAT YOU NEED TO READ BY THE END OF THE YEAR?

I’m about halfway through my Backlist Reads of 2019 list, so I’ve listed the ones below that I still have left to check off my list!

  • The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan
  • Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore
  • A Long Way To A Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
  • City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty
  • Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake
  • The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
  • Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
  • Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

Yikes I need to get going on those… whoops

Ok. I’m sure literally EVERYONE has done this midyear freakout tag already, but if you haven’t, consider yourself tagged! Happy mid year, and hopefully the second half goes just as well!

Lilly @ Lair of Dreams | Amy @ A Court of Crowns and Quills |  Kaleena @ Reader Voracious | Tammy @ Books, Bones, & Buffy | Kayla @ Books and Blends |Mel @ Meltotheany