February Wrap-Up

As many books as I added to my shelves this month, I also did a ton of reading. Probably not as much on the books I SHOULD have been reading, but I did some mood reading, plus I participated in Contemporary-A-Thon, which really helped. Here are all the books I read in February:

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  1. Lover Unbound by J.R. Ward (reread): ★★★★
  2. A Girl Like Her by Talia Hibbert (Dragons & Tea Book Club): ★★★★
  3. The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco: ★★★★
  4. Lover Enshrined by J.R. Ward (reread): ★★★.5
  5. The Bride Test by Helen Hoang (ARC): ★★★★.5
  6. Aquicorn Cove by Katie O’Neill:
  7. The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory (BOTM): ★★★★
  8. Radio Silence by Alice Oseman (backlist read): ★★★★
  9. The Heart Forger by Rin Chupeco: ★★★★
  10. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling (reread, audio): ★★★★
  11. Lover Avenged by J.R. Ward (reread): ★★★
  12. The Weight of the Stars by K. Ancrum (ARC): ★★★★★

Obviously, I’m a little behind on reviews – whoops. And someone tell me to quit doing rereads when I have a list of ARCs to read a mile long?? What is my life.

What was your best read of the month?

xoxo

Jen

February Haul

Remember how I said I did pretty well in January keeping the book buying to a minimum? … February more than made up for that. I went a little wild this month. In part, we went on vacation to northern Michigan and I can’t resist supporting local bookstores – and I found THREE! Plus, I placed a nice book outlet haul, and if you don’t hit the $35 for free shipping, do you even place an order? Here’s all the books I acquired in February:

BOOK BOXES

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Last month I skipped my Book of the Month, but this month, I couldn’t resist. I bought three. Yep, three. I also bought a box from Beacon Book Box this month, since it’s their one year anniversary month! If you don’t know much about about this book box, I really urge you to check it out! I also still have my Fairyloot subscription, but the box for February hasn’t arrived yet.

  1. The Cerulean by Amy Ewing (Beacon Book Box)
  2. On the Come Up by Angie Thomas (Book of the Month)
  3. The Age of Light by Whitney Scharer (Book of the Month)
  4. The Winter Sister by Megan Collins (Book of the Month)

PUBLISHERS

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I was lucky enough to receive a few books from publishers this month, and I always am so so grateful for these opportunities!

  1. A Place for Wolves by Kosoko Jackson – Sourcebooks Fire
  2. The Goodbye Summer by Sarah Van Name – Sourcebooks Fire
  3. The Weight of the Stars by K. Ancrum – Imprint by Macmillan

BOOK OUTLET HAUL

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Like I said, I placed a pretty decent book outlet order this month. I really only needed one of them..but.. that free shipping…

  1. Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
  2. The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West
  3. A Study In Charolette by Brittany Cavallaro
  4. The Last of August by Brittany Cavallaro
  5. Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge by Paul Krueger
  6. Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia
  7. The Smell of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock
  8. Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert
  9. Those Girls by Chevy Stevens

MISCELLANEOUS

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In addition to ALL OF THOSE, I did actually buy a few more. Like I mentioned, a large chunk of these were from my weekend trip.

  1. King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo
  2. Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
  3. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
  4. The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi
  5. Black Leopard Red Wolf by Marlon James

Holy cow. Even without my Fairyloot contribution, that is 21 books. That might be a new record. Someone needs to put me in time out…

How many books did you add to your shelves this month?

xoxo

Jen

Top Ten Tuesday: Places In Books I’d Like To Visit

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!

This was kind of a hard topic for me, and half of these places aren’t real – but I DON’T CARE. My blog, my rules, and if I want to visit fictional places that’s just fine. I actually didn’t even make it to ten this time around, but here goes nothing:

Weep

I loved Strange the Dreamer, and Weep sounded so magical and incredible. This could be because of the lyrical, gorgeous writing, but it honestly sounded like a place out of a fairytale to me.

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Hogwarts

Did this one really NOT make anybody’s list? Every kid alive wants to get their letter to Hogwarts, and I’m no exception. In fact, I’m an adult, and if I got that letter in the mail I would drop everything right now and go, no questions asked.

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London

A lot of books are actually set in London, and it always sounds like such a neat place to visit. It has definitely made my list, primarily because of The Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare.

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Faerie

If you’ve read The Cruel Prince, you want to go to Faerie (but only with backup). The end. Side note: I don’t want to LIVE in Fearie. I only want to visit.

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Chincoteague

Has anybody ever read Misty of Chincoteague? I was absolutely obsessed with this book when I was a kid, and would have done anything to go meet Misty and see the wild horses. That magic has kind of carried over to today, and I’d still love to go and see it.

 

I think I’m sticking with 5 on this one, guys! And I don’t even care that half of them aren’t real places. Where would you go, if you could go anywhere from a book?

xoxo

Jen

 

Review: The Bone Witch

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Title: The Bone Witch

Author: Rin Chupeco

Pages: 432

Rating: ★★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

In the captivating start to a new, darkly lyrical fantasy series for readers of Leigh Bardugo and Sabaa Tahir, Tea can raise the dead, but resurrection comes at a price…

Let me be clear: I never intended to raise my brother from his grave, though he may claim otherwise. If there’s anything I’ve learned from him in the years since, it’s that the dead hide truths as well as the living.

When Tea accidentally resurrects her brother from the dead, she learns she is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy means that she’s a bone witch, a title that makes her feared and ostracized by her community. But Tea finds solace and guidance with an older, wiser bone witch, who takes Tea and her brother to another land for training.

In her new home, Tea puts all her energy into becoming an asha-one who can wield elemental magic. But dark forces are approaching quickly, and in the face of danger, Tea will have to overcome her obstacles…and make a powerful choice.

Review:

“I am no longer an asha, Bard; they are beloved by the people, and I am not. My exile here, at the end of the world, is proof of that. They have another name for those like me. Call me a bone witch; it suits me better.”

I have had this book sitting on my shelf for so long, and I was so excited to finally get to read it. It is probably one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever seen, and I was so happy to learn that the writing beneath the cover is just as gorgeous and unique.

Tea is both our main character and our narrator, and we are told the story in two perspectives: Tea at 17, relating to a bard everything that has happened, and Tea at 12-15, as she lives out the events she’s describing. Tea is a Bone Witch: an asha that can raise the dead. Asha are basically Geisha, and most can perform other types of magic: fire, wind, earth, and water. Dark asha are feared and ostracized, despite having the important duty of protecting the kingdom from Daeva, monsters created with death magic.

As our story begins, Tea doesn’t yet know what type of magic she’ll have (if any), but learns she’s a bone witch on the day of her brother’s funeral. She accidentally raises him from the dead, and after that, everything changes. Her heartglass turns silver, and a nearby bone witch, Mykaela, comes to take Tea under her wing. I absolutely adored Tea’s and Fox’s relationship. I’m always a sucker for sibling stories, and these two have such a special bond, and are so determined to look out for each other. Their relationship is so genuine: they have squabbles and sometimes wish for more privacy, but underneath it all, there is so much love for one another.

I actually liked Tea at 17 much much better than Tea at 12-15, and those excerpts of her talking to the Bard were my favorite parts of the book. Tea at 12-15 is honestly a little arrogant and self-involved, and sometimes I just wanted to give her a good shake. But I did enjoy watching her go through her schooling to become an Asha, and watching her form friendships and grow into her power. Tea at 17 is much more grounded, but sadder. She knows she has made difficult choices that have hurt others, and carries that responsibility with her. She has grown into her power, but with that recognizes that she has to accept the full weight of what that means.

We can endure any amount of sadness for the people we love.

I already mentioned this, but the writing in this book is simply extraordinary. It is so beautiful and descriptive, and very unlike anything I’ve read before. I was also really impressed with how our different ages of Tea felt like different versions of the same person. You could really feel the experiences she’s had weighing on her, and see how she had grown and changed over the years.

There were so many fantastic characters in this book. I already mentioned Tea and Fox, but Mykaela was one of the show-stealers for me. Mykaela takes Tea to begin her training as a dark asha, and she is such a strong and vibrant female character. Tea couldn’t have asked for a better role model to look up to. We also get to meet Likh, who is a boy with a silver heartglass. Normally, men do not become asha – men with silver heartglasses become Deathseekers, or fighters. However, Likh’s true passion is the arts, and I loved seeing Tea and her friends fight for him and his right to choose his own path.

“Then perhaps we should carve a world one day where the strength lies in who you are rather than in what they expect you to be.”

We also meet Prince Kance and his body guard, Kalen. Kance is Tea’s first crush, but I’ll be honest: I didn’t see it. He never really appealed to me, and the romance fell a little flat. It didn’t feel very fleshed out, and I never bought the two of them together – which made a little more sense as I continued reading.

My biggest complaint with this book was the pacing. The first half flew by and I couldn’t get enough, but the second half really dragged for me. In part I think it was because I wasn’t a huge fan of Tea at this point, at least 12-15 year old Tea. I would have been happy to have had the whole story told as 17 year old Tea. However, I’m definitely still intrigued by this story and will continue reading to see where it goes. If you love unique, lyrical writing and stories full of magic and necromancy, this is the book for you!

Buddy read with Amy @ A Court of Crowns and Quills 🙂

xoxo

Jen

ARC Review: The Bride Test

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TitleThe Bride Test

Author: Helen Hoang

Release Date: May 7th, 2019

Publisher: Berkley

Pages: 320

Rating: ★★★★.5

Goodreads Synopsis:

Khai Diep has no feelings. Well, he feels irritation when people move his things or contentment when ledgers balance down to the penny, but not big, important emotions—like grief. And love. He thinks he’s defective. His family knows better—that his autism means he just processes emotions differently. When he steadfastly avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride.

As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When the opportunity arises to come to America and meet a potential husband, she can’t turn it down, thinking this could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn’t go as planned. Esme’s lessons in love seem to be working…but only on herself. She’s hopelessly smitten with a man who’s convinced he can never return her affection.

With Esme’s time in the United States dwindling, Khai is forced to understand he’s been wrong all along. And there’s more than one way to love.

Review:

ARC provided by the publisher, Berkley, via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

“Nothing gets to you. It’s like your heart is made of stone.”

That is how Khai thinks of himself. He thinks that due to his autism, he’s defective. He can’t feel love or grief, for anyone: not his brother, or his cousin Andy, who was his only friend. And he certainly doesn’t feel them for the girl his mother brought back from Ho Chi Minh City as a potential bride.

Khai’s mother knows he’s wrong about himself: he can feel emotions, he just processes them differently. So when he refuses to date anyone, she is determined to find someone for him herself. Enter Esme: a mixed-race single mom living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, where she struggles to support her family by cleaning hotels. She sees this opportunity as a chance to change things for herself and her daughter, and she can’t turn it down.

I absolutely adored The Kiss Quotient, and the follow-up did not disappoint one bit – I ended up giving it 4.5 stars. This ownvoices book has everything that I loved about the first book: autistic and asian rep, well-developed characters, heartwarming moments, and steamy scenes. I honestly could not have asked for more in a sophomore novel.

This story is told mainly from Khai’s perspective, and my heart was really feeling for him the entire time. Every time something didn’t go well for him, or he struggled with verbalizing what he needed, I ached for him. I just really was rooting for him and wanting to see him happy! He’s quirky and obsessive, and I love his relationship with his brother. Again, this character is such an eye-opener and glimpse into an autistic person’s experiences. I especially loved how, when compared with Stella from The Kiss Quotient, both are autistic, but each have experiences and difficulties that are entirely their own. Not everyone is the same, and that really comes through in each of these books.

He certainly wasn’t pretending to be someone else, but if he looked at things objectively, that was what the people around him usually wanted – for him to act differently, more appropriate, more intuitive, more considerate, less eccentric, less…himself. Did she really not mind him as he was?

Esme is sweet, hardworking, and so so brave. Watching her experience as an immigrant to the US was also so eye-opening: what a terrifying experience this must have been for her! She took an opportunity to try and give herself and her daughter a better life, and traveled across the world to a place where she didn’t speak the language well and knew essentially no one. This character is loosely based off of Helen Hoang’s own mother, and I love how this whole book became something of a beautiful tribute to her! It made the reading experience that much more special. I also loved the interactions between Esme and her daughter. These were so sweet and genuine, and you could really feel the love for Hoang’s own mother shining through.

She was a real person, flawed. Oddly, that made her more beautiful. She was also smart in her own strange way, with a sense of fairness that resonated with his own. She wasn’t at all what he’d thought in the beginning.

As Esme works on trying to seduce Khai, it’s clear from the beginning that she’s the one doing the falling. And it’s so fun watching these two open up to each other and feel out each other’s boundaries. It’s a learning experience for both of them, and just like in The Kiss Quotient, the sex scenes are steamy and romantic, but also have that layer of sweetness and respect.

This is such a romantic, fun read, with steamy sex scenes, great family dynamics, and so many important messages hidden just below the surface. If you’re looking for heartwarming, steamy story that will stay with you for years to come, pick up this book. You will not regret it. And do yourself a favor: read the author’s note.

xoxo

Jen

Review: The Proposal

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Title: The Proposal

Author: Jasmine Guillory

Pages: 327

Rating: ★★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

When someone asks you to spend your life with him, it shouldn’t come as a surprise–or happen in front of 45,000 people.

When freelance writer Nikole Paterson goes to a Dodgers game with her actor boyfriend, his man bun, and his bros, the last thing she expects is a scoreboard proposal. Saying no isn’t the hard part–they’ve only been dating for five months, and he can’t even spell her name correctly. The hard part is having to face a stadium full of disappointed fans…

At the game with his sister, Carlos Ibarra comes to Nik’s rescue and rushes her away from a camera crew. He’s even there for her when the video goes viral and Nik’s social media blows up–in a bad way. Nik knows that in the wilds of LA, a handsome doctor like Carlos can’t be looking for anything serious, so she embarks on an epic rebound with him, filled with food, fun, and fantastic sex. But when their glorified hookups start breaking the rules, one of them has to be smart enough to put on the brakes…

Review:

Deciding to spend your life together shouldn’t be a surprise.

Nikole is living every girl’s worst nightmare: her casual hipster boyfriend has just asked her to marry him – in front of millions of people. He used the scoreboard at a Dodgers game (with her name spelled wrong!), and when she turns him down, it goes viral. Just as Nik’s starting to worry about how she’s going to escape all of the disappointed fans, Carlos and his sister come to her rescue.

I read The Wedding Date last year and absolutely loved it. Guillory’s writing is so fun and flirty, and her characters are honestly people I would love to hang out with. When I saw another book by Jasmine, I knew I had to grab it. And I was not disappointed! The best part? One of the main characters, Carlos, is a cross-over from The Wedding Date – he was Drew’s best friend! And yes, Alexa and Drew have a cameo.

If I had to pick one thing I loved the most about Guillory’s adorable stories, it would be her meet-cutes. I mean, come on. In The Wedding Date, Alexa and Drew meet on an elevator, and I didn’t think it could get any better than that. But a daring rescue after an embarrassing proposal? How much more perfect can it get? And these characters were no less lovable than the two in her first book. Nik is a black freelance journalist, and Carlos is a latino pediatrician. It’s obvious from the first chapter that these two are great together, and it is so fun watching the both of them figure it out together.

I also absolutely loved Nik’s friends, Dana and Courtney, and watching them interact I felt so much love for my own girlfriends. Also, if I’m being honest I am crossing my fingers for a novel on Dana’s f/f romance in this book! All of her characters have so much rep and I LIVE for it.

This book wasn’t all just cute dates and steamy scenes, though. There are a lot of good messages about being yourself and realizing your own worth. It also touches on relationships involving emotional abuse, and how it can happen slowly and without realizing it. It addresses female empowerment, and how important it is to get out of those situations, as well as taking back your life after feeling threatened. These themes were woven so subtly into the book that I didn’t realize how powerful they were until I had turned the last page. This book is truly a work of art.

“I’ve spent so long being afraid of love, because the last time I was in love, the man I loved only loved one part of me, but not all of me, and I thought love meant having to sacrifice a part of yourself. But then I was with you, and you loved every part of me, even the parts I don’t like.”

I did end up giving this book 4 stars – not because I didn’t love it! But there were two reasons: 1. Guillory uses a kind of fade-to-black technique to write her sex scenes, which I know a lot of people love! But it is not my favorite. and 2. Did anybody else think Carlos was a liiiiiittle bit of a jerk towards the end? It felt out of character to me, especially considering how these two met in the first place.

Other than that, I absolutely adored this book and cannot wait for her next one. If you love adorable, steamy romances with fun, relatable characters, I urge you to pick up this book! You will not regret it.

xoxo

Jen

Down the TBR Hole #24

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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: Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

I absolutely adored Big Little Lies by Moriarty, but I haven’t picked up anything by her since then (why???) That being said, I’ve looked at a book by her and almost bought it every time I’ve been in the bookstore the past few months. I’ve no doubt that I’ll get to the rest of her collection eventually.

VERDICT: KEEP

TWO: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Another book that I’ve almost bought multiple times. I’ve heard such great things about this, and I have no excuse for not having read it yet.

VERDICT: KEEP

THREE: The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee

I already have this on my nook, and it honestly sounds like Gossip Girl except in the future. Sign me up.

VERDICT: KEEP

FOUR: If There’s No Tomorrow by Jennifer Armentrout

Yikes, this one sounds a little angsty for me, and the reviews were only so-so. I actually don’t really remember adding this one, so I will probably pass on it for now.

VERDICT: DELETE

FIVE: Every Last Lie by Mary Kubica

I’ve said it before, and I’ve said it again: I will always pick up a book by Mary Kubica, EVEN THOUGH I was slightly disappointed with her most recent one. I can’t wait to give Every Last Lie a go.

VERDICT: KEEP

Oh would you look at that, I only got rid of one AGAIN. Help guys. This is getting a little out of control. Are any of these not worth the read? Let me know!

xoxo

Jen

February Pick: Book of the Month

Hello bookworms! It’s hard to believe that  February is almost over. What with Contemporary-A-Thon, I haven’t managed to get this post up yet, so here we go!

I went a little wild with Book of the Month in February – I guess I was making up for skipping January? Regardless, I ordered three books, and it has been a long while since I’ve done that. Here are the three I went with:

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On The Come Up by Angie Thomas

Goodreads Synopsis:

Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least make it out of her neighborhood one day. As the daughter of an underground rap legend who died before he hit big, Bri’s got big shoes to fill. But now that her mom has unexpectedly lost her job, food banks and shutoff notices are as much a part of Bri’s life as beats and rhymes. With bills piling up and homelessness staring her family down, Bri no longer just wants to make it—she has to make it.

On the Come Up is Angie Thomas’s homage to hip-hop, the art that sparked her passion for storytelling and continues to inspire her to this day. It is the story of fighting for your dreams, even as the odds are stacked against you; of the struggle to become who you are and not who everyone expects you to be; and of the desperate realities of poor and working-class black families.

Why I Picked It:

I picked On The Come Up immediately and without question. I had meant to get to The Hate U Give during Contemporary-A-Thon, but unfortunately it was the one book I didn’t get to! I’m still hoping to get to it soon, and with all of the hype surrounding it, I new I needed to pick up Thomas’ new work as well.

The Age of Light by Whitney Scharer

Goodreads Synopsis:

She went to Paris to start over, to make art instead of being made into it.

A captivating debut novel by Whitney Scharer, The Age of Light tells the story of Vogue model turned renowned photographer Lee Miller, and her search to forge a new identity as an artist after a life spent as a muse.

“I’d rather take a photograph than be one,” she declares after she arrives in Paris in 1929, where she soon catches the eye of the famous Surrealist Man Ray. Though he wants to use her only as a model, Lee convinces him to take her on as his assistant and teach her everything he knows. But Man Ray turns out to be an egotistical, charismatic force, and as they work together in the darkroom, their personal and professional lives become intimately entwined, changing the course of Lee’s life forever.

Lee’s journey takes us from the cabarets of bohemian Paris to the battlefields of war-torn Europe during WWII, from discovering radical new photography techniques to documenting the liberation of the concentration camps as one of the first female war correspondents. Through it all, Lee must grapple with the question of whether it’s possible to reconcile romantic desire with artistic ambition-and what she will have to sacrifice to do so.

Told in interweaving timelines, this sensuous, richly detailed novel brings Lee Miller-a brilliant and pioneering artist-out of the shadows of a man’s legacy and into the light.

Why I Picked It:

As for The Age Of Light, I had initially passed it by without much thought. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not huge on historical fiction. But THEN I saw that it had been recommended by none other than Taylor Jenkins Reid. I read The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo in January, and I honestly don’t know if I’ll ever read anything quite like it again – but I’m willing to try. Once I saw Reid’s recommendation, I went back and read the synopsis of The Age of Light and it kind of gave me Evelyn Hugo vibes. Kinda like it could break my whole heart, smash it underneath it’s boot, and then chuck some scotch tape at my head so I could try and piece it back together (but fail spectacularly).

The Winter Sister by Megan Collins

Goodreads Synopsis:

In this spellbinding and suspenseful debut, a young woman haunted by the past returns home to care for her ailing mother and begins to dig deeper into her sister’s unsolved murder.

Sixteen years ago, Sylvie’s sister Persephone never came home. Out too late with the boyfriend she was forbidden to see, Persephone was missing for three days before her body was found—and years later, her murder remains unsolved.

In the present day, Sylvie returns home to care for her estranged mother, Annie, as she undergoes treatment for cancer. Prone to unexplained “Dark Days” even before Persephone’s death, Annie’s once-close bond with Sylvie dissolved in the weeks after their loss, making for an uncomfortable reunion all these years later. Worse, Persephone’s former boyfriend, Ben, is now a nurse at the cancer center where Annie is being treated. Sylvie’s always believed Ben was responsible for the murder—but she carries her own guilt about that night, guilt that traps her in the past while the world goes on around her.

As she navigates the complicated relationship with her mother, Sylvie begins to uncover the secrets that fill their house—and what really happened the night Persephone died. As it turns out, the truth really will set you free, once you can bear to look at it.

The Winter Sister is a mesmerizing portrayal of the complex bond between sisters, between mothers and daughters alike, and forces us to ask ourselves—how well do we really know the people we love most?

Why I Picked It:

I know I said I wasn’t going to pick up any more mystery/thriller books from BOTM until I had tackled all the ones I had sitting on my shelf, but honestly The Winter Sister sounds so good and gives me all the sibling vibes I love. I couldn’t resist.

And there you have it. That’s how I ended up being super extra and buying three books this month. What’d you guys pick for your February BOTM? Have you read them yet? Let me know what you thought!

If you haven’t tried BOTM yet but have been thinking about it, here’s a link that I believe gets you a free book with your first try!

xoxo

Jen

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Loved with <4,000 Goodreads Ratings

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 friends! This week’s topic was supposed to be “Books I loved with <2,000 Goodreads ratings”. I changed it to <4,000 reviews just so I could get 10 books on the list. I’ll be honest: I’m not sure if I’m cheating by including ARCs or not…but I’m just going to go with it. So here they are, in no particular order. All of these books are ones I rated 4 stars or higher, absolutely loved, and do not think are getting enough hype! Enjoy!

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ONE: Mammoth by Jill Baguchinsky

I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of this last year, and I absolutely loved it. A solid plus-size female MC who’s also in STEM? Sign me up. Did I mention she’s absolutely lovable too?

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TWO: The Bride Test by Helen Hoang

Ok I’m not sure this one actually counts since it’s not out until this summer. But I’m including it because hey, my page, my rules. I just read this for Contemporary-A-Thon and absolutely adored it. It’s got steamy sexy scenes, all the feels, and great rep.

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THREE: Strange Grace by Tessa Gratton

It honestly hurts my soul so much that this has <4,000 ratings. PEOPLE. GO READ THIS BOOK. IMMEDIATELY. RIGHT. NOW. This was my #1 publication of 2018. I honestly can’t say enough good things about this book. No, really: I actually don’t have words.

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FOUR: Blanca y Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore

Ditto everything I said above. This was my #2 2018 publication. Go read it. The end.

FIVE: Bruja Born by Zoraida Córdova

If you love sibling stories mixed with a little bit of magic, this series is for you. I loved Labyrinth Lost (book 1) but Bruja Born surpassed all of my expectations. I can’t wait for the third installment.

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SIX: Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean

This book was really my first venture into Asian-inspired fantasy, and once I made the leap, I never looked back. Empress of All Seasons was so incredible, and I can’t wait for the next installment.

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SEVEN: A Girl Like Her by Talia Hibbert

I read this book for the February pick for Dragons and Tea Bookclub, and I’m so glad I did. This was the first book I read by Hibbert, but it certainly won’t be the last. If you love steamy romance that go a little bit deeper but can still leave you with a few laughs, this book is the one for you.

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EIGHT: The Wicker King by K. Ancrum

The Dragons and Tea Book Club strikes again. This was their very first pick for the month of January, and man, did they hit it out of the park. This book was heartbreaking in the very best way, and I know it is truly one that will stay with me forever. Take a chance on this book – you will not be disappointed.

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NINE: Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa

Another Asian-inspired fantasy that I absolutely loved, maybe even more than Empress of All Seasons. I especially loved all of the side quests that the author took us on!

TEN: Fence, Vol 1 by C.S. Pact

This was my first shot at a graphic novel, and I absolutely adored it. I read it for Contemporary-A-Thon last year, and I’m already dying to get my hands on Volume 2. The art was gorgeous, the characters were lovable, and the storyline was fabulous.

Please tell me you’ve read some of these! They were all fantastic, and I cannot recommend them enough. If you’ve read them, let me know what you think!

xoxo

Jen

Review: A Girl Like Her

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Title: A Girl Like Her

Author: Talia Hibbert

Pages: 315

Rating: ★★★★

Buddy read with the Dragons and Tea Book Club, hosted by Amy @ A Court of Crowns and Quills and Melanie @ Meltotheany!

Goodreads Synopsis:

She’s hard to hold on to, but he’s good with his hands.

In Ruth Kabbah’s world, comic books are king, silence is golden, and human contact is a pesky distraction. She doesn’t like people, which works out just fine, because the people in this small town don’t like her. The exception to that rule? Evan Miller, her way-too-charming next-door neighbour…

Ex-military man Evan is all tattooed muscle on the outside—and a big, cuddly teddy bear beneath. He’s used to coaxing prickly people from their shells, but he’s never met a woman quite like Ruth. Blunt, sarcastic, and secretly sad, she’s his exact opposite. She’s also his deepest desire.

Soon, Evan’s steady patience and smouldering smiles are melting Ruth’s reserve. But when small-town gossip from her past begins to poison her future, she’s forced to make a choice. Should she trust Evan completely? Or is her heart safest alone?

Please be aware: this book contains mentions of intimate partner violence that could trigger certain audiences.

Review:

There are some things you don’t get over. You just accept them, and keep breathing. That’s enough.

I picked up this book for the Dragons and Tea Book Club February pick, and honestly I am so glad I did. This was an adorable, steamy romance with so many wonderful messages imbedded in it, and I flew through it so fast. This was my first of Talia Hibbert’s books, but I promise it will not be my last.

This book is told from two perspectives: Ruth’s and Evan’s. I loved these two more than words and want to put them in my pocket forever and ever. Ruth is autistic, black, and plus sized. She’s also someone I would immediately pick to be my best friend. She’s sarcastic, to the point, and does not trust others easily. She is also fiercely protective of her sister, which I love. Evan is white and ex-military. He’s also the kindest and most caring soul in town. When he moves in next door to Ruth, it’s only a matter of time before they start bumping into each other. The interactions between these two almost always made me laugh, because they were so real and raw.

This book wasn’t all just romance and giggles, though. Hibbert hits on some pretty heavy topics, first and foremost being victims of past relationship abuse. It becomes obvious throughout the story that Ruth has a bit of a troubled past, and the guilt she feels because of this very cleary impacts her views and feelings about her town and about herself. I’ve never read a book that so eloquently and accurately describes the guilt that abuse victims so often feel, and I was so grateful to the author for putting that front and center. The author was also very clear: even though you are feeling this guilt, it is NOT YOUR FAULT. You did NOTHING wrong. And you deserve every happiness. This is so so important, and I was so happy to see this as a main theme in this book. It also touched on consent, and how no always means no, even if you’ve said yes in the past. This is something that I feel like society has forgotten, and needs to be reminded of so badly.

People said it all the time; if you’re in bed with a man, you’ve already said yes.

Honestly, this book just was so full of good messages. Body positivity, taking back your pride and yourself after being a victim of abuse, friendship, love, being yourself. I can go on and on. Ruth was so unapologetic about who she was and I loved that every single second. Her relationship with her sister melted my heart from beginning to end. But my absolute favorite part was watching her relationship with herself. It was so heartwarming and relatable, and mixed in with just the right amount of swoon-worthy sex scenes as she learned to open up again.

I am not ashamed, and I never will be.

If you love steamy romances that are a little deeper than your average smut, this book is for you. The characters were lovable, the messages were important, and read was fast and entertaining. I can’t say enough good things about the rep and the messages in this book, and I can’t wait to read more by this wonderful author.

xoxo

Jen