Wednesday, October 4, 2017

September Recap

Well... Oops? August and September just kind of molded into one month and I never recapped August. When I realized, it was too late, so I just didn't. I guess part of that is because it coincided with A LOT going on and I didn't have time! I think that's the trend of the last month... And likely the months to come.

What books did I get?

The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo
Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo
One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake
Warcross by Marie Lu
Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco
Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh

All my purchases, all signed! That's the approach I'm taking to buying books right now, because I need not to be spending so much money. Either I've read the book and adored it, or it's by someone I love! 

The Hunting Accident by David L. Carlson, illustrated by Landis Blair
To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo
Winner Take All by Laurie Devore
I Stop Somewhere by T.E. Carter
Don't Forget Me by Victoria Stevens
A Girl Like That by Tanaz Bhathena
Dreamer by L.E. Delano
As She Fades by Abbi Glines

And these are the pretties I've gotten for review in the mail! The Hunting Accident is a graphic novel, which isn't my normal kind of thing, but I gave it a try and really enjoyed it! I'm really excited for the rest of these, too. :)

Honestly, I just had to show off this set. We got this at work and I literally screamed and grabbed it off the dolly after the UPS guy brought it in. I think I freaked him out. I carried it around for a while, hugging it to my chest. It's my precious and I'm never gonna break it up.

What did I post?

Not a darn thing in September, though these are what I posted in August...

July Recap
Blog Tour: Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco {Playlist + Giveaway}

I know.

What did I read?

A Night to Surrender by Tessa Dare
Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart
The Inventor's Secret by Andrea Cremer
The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell
Mine Till Midnight by Lisa Kleypas
Darling Beast by Elizabeth Hoyt
Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
What Happens in London by Julia Quinn
Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman
The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare
Kate & Jesse by Erin Bowman (novella)
Warcross by Marie Lu
Seduce Me at Sunrise by Lisa Kleypas
Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo
An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson
The Hunting Accident by David L. Carlson
A Daring Arrangement by Joanna Shupe

Favorite of the month: I LOVED Warcross and An Enchantment of Ravens, but I have to mention how much I liked Vengeance Road, Crooked Kingdom, and The Last Magician! I read some good stuff in August and September!

(I'm too lazy to link all of those...)

What will I read?

I don't think I'm going to continue with this, because I don't do well with TBRs. I've been thinking I would try and pare down on the books I've had living on my shelves, though. I think there are probably lots I wouldn't keep after I read them, but I'm afraid I'll love them so I don't want to get rid of them without reading them first. I'm gonna try, so we'll see!

What am I doing?

Well, the beginning of September I went to Disney World! I don't know if y'all remember, but last time I caught a virus and more than half of my (rather short) trip was a bust, because I spent it puking. This time I didn't get sick, but a hurricane did cut our trip a little short. We left a day early to avoid it, but that didn't bother me too much. I still got to do everything I wanted to do! We visited Pandora and I was so happy I'd avoided looking at much about it, because it's completely fabulous. Flights of Passage is awe-inspiring. I got to see Happily Ever After, the new fireworks show, for the first time (again, something I avoided looking at much about) and I cried the whole time. Which is completely normal for me. 

Other than that, it's been all about work, school, and my niece--who should be here any day now! At work, we've had an upheaval, with my store manager going on leave to take care of her father and one of our head cashiers being diagnosed with cancer, all too close to the holidays. I've been temporarily promoted to receiving manager, with someone else largely taking care of kids, so it's been interesting! I do like making more money, though! This new semester of school seems to be taking a lot longer to do homework than others. I'm also writing for a local magazine, so life's feeling really full right now.

And with that, like I said, my first niece should be here any day! She's due on the 15th, but the doctor has told my sister-in-law that it'll be earlier, likely by the 12th, but she's big enough to come anytime. Which is crazy, but we're ecstatic! We'll see how that adds into my busyness, huh?

I've been really remiss with this blog, and it breaks my heart when I think about it. I really think I need to make a decision with it, either commit to it fully or shutter it. I know which way I'm leaning, because it hurts my heart to give up the blog, so I need to recommit myself, even though I know it won't be how a lot of people blog, because there's simply not enough time for me, without giving up sleep--which I shouldn't do, or I'll be a grump!

Monday, August 21, 2017

Blog Tour: Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco {Playlist + Giveaway}

Y'all, I am over the moon excited to be kicking off the blog tour for Hunting Prince Dracula, hosted by the Knights of Whitechapel! If I haven't spouted my love of Stalking Jack the Ripper to you in the last year, I probably simply haven't seen you. Lucky little me has already read Hunting Prince Dracula (literally dropped everything to reread SJtR really quickly and leap into HPD!), and it's seriously wonderful. Everything you loved in Kerri's first book is there again, but with higher stakes (stakes, get it?), an even more gothic, dramatic setting, and even more romance. This is one you're going to need to pick up as soon as you can.

Release date: September 19, 2017
Author info: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Tumblr | Pinterest
Publisher: JIMMY Patterson Books
Pages: 448
In this hotly anticipated sequel to the haunting #1 bestseller Stalking Jack the Ripper, bizarre murders are discovered in the castle of Prince Vlad the Impaler, otherwise known as Dracula. Could it be a copycat killer...or has the depraved prince been brought back to life?

Following the grief and horror of her discovery of Jack the Ripper's true identity, Audrey Rose Wadsworth has no choice but to flee London and its memories. Together with the arrogant yet charming Thomas Cresswell, she journeys to the dark heart of Romania, home to one of Europe's best schools of forensic medicine...and to another notorious killer, Vlad the Impaler, whose thirst for blood became legend.

But her life's dream is soon tainted by blood-soaked discoveries in the halls of the school's forbidding castle, and Audrey Rose is compelled to investigate the strangely familiar murders. What she finds brings all her terrifying fears to life once again.

“There are plenty of suspects and red herrings as well as tense escalations….A scenic, twisty mystery.”
Kirkus Reviews

 “Readers of the previous mystery will be thrilled to have more of this likable duo. [A] delightful romp into an 1888 Gothic mystery with a hint of romance.”
School Library Connection

Pre-Order the Book:

Personally, I'm ordering from one of Kerri's tour stops to get my book signed and personalized. Her stops are listed here!

AND, if you pre-order and submit your proof of order, you can receive an exclusive story from Thomas' POV! Check out details here--it's international!

About the author:

Kerri Maniscalco grew up in a semi-haunted house outside NYC where her fascination with gothic settings began. In her spare time she reads everything she can get her hands on, cooks all kinds of food with her family and friends, and drinks entirely too much tea while discussing life’s finer points with her cats.

Her first novel in this series, Stalking Jack the Ripper, debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. It incorporates her love of forensic science and unsolved history.

And now for my playlist! Last year, for the Stalking Jack the Ripper tour, I put together a playlist for that book (linked, if you're interested!), so I was really excited to work on another playlist for its sequel! Often, I only pick music that I would listen to while reading, all orchestral, because I love to play music that enhances the mood and tone of a book, but oftentimes people singing distracts me. This time, I went a little further and picked music that I think, in some moments of the book, reflects how the characters are thinking. I still, however, wanted to maintain the mood. So everything here is a little subdued and dark, which should make it a perfect accompaniment to reading Hunting Prince Dracula!

And it's not a complete tour stop without a giveaway, huh? Here we are! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

So there it is! I hope y'all are already getting excited for the book (I know I am!) and will follow the tour. We've got some really great posts coming up in the next month! Here's the link, if you're so inclined--I'll be following along myself! And keep an eye out here for my review of HPD in the next month as well! (Spoiler: It'll be gushing.)

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

July Recap

Can y'all believe July is over?? I feel like I just did the June recap (maybe that's because I didn't post too much in between, though...)

What books did I get?

Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart
Hunted by Meagan Spooner
Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh
Gunslinger Girl by Lyndsay Ely

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake
Dream a Little Dream by Kerstin Gier
Dream On by Kerstin Gier
Roseblood by A.G. Howard
Reign of Shadows by Sophie Jordan
Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia
Once and For All by Sarah Dessen

Again, I'm proud of myself because I only bought two books! I got Three Dark Crowns and Once and For All at work because they were on sale already and I had coupons I could stack, so it was too good a deal to pass up! Nearly everything else, except for The Epic Crush of Genie Lo and Genuine Fraud, are all from trades. And I'm pleased as punch with my trades!

What did I post?

June Recap
Best of 2017... So Far
Review: Mad Miss Mimic by Sarah Henstra
Review: The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

So... Not great. But last month's posts were all for blog tours, which obviously I'd made a commitment to and had to do, but all of these were instigated by me! So that's better, and I'm gonna take it. :)

What did I read?

Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh
Want by Cindy Pon
Once and For All by Sarah Dessen
Wesley James Ruined My Life by Jennifer Honeybourn
Rebels Rising by Shanna Swendson
Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake
Lady Bridget's Diary by Maya Rodale
Lord of Darkness by Elizabeth Hoyt
The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid
Duke of Midnight by Elizabeth Hoyt

Favorite of the month: I looooooooved Flame in the Mist, but I also have to give a shout out to Lord of Darkness for being the first book in the Maiden Lane series that I loved. I've enjoyed the series well enough up to that point--but I loved Lord of Darkness! (I loved Flame more though.)

Currently reading: A Night to Surrender by Tessa Dare

What will I read?

Can we talk about how I'm the WORST at sticking to a TBR? I read like two books from last month's. I'm such a mood reader, though, so if I force myself to read something I'm not in the mood for I don't enjoy it as much! I can tell, too, because of how I react. I didn't put any historical romance on this pile, but I've got lots of egalleys, so if that mood strikes (as it has been!), I can pull from those. Hopefully with a wide enough selection to pull from, I can manage to make a little progress!

What am I doing?

Well, this month has been largely uneventful! I've just been working. I guess work is a little better than it was. The no tasks thing has loosened a lot, so I can actually get stuff done--though I've barely kept my head above water, I'm just treading, at this point. Maybe eventually I'll get ahead.

I'm a month away from my next Disney trip! I am pumped--because I'm determined not to get sick this time, and have lots of time there! I'm in full Disney obsession mode, reading all about the news in the parks and watching the movies. YAY.

I've got...even more bookish candles on their way. Oops. I'm working on a post about them for once I get everything in and get to burn them all! I'm not allowed to order any more for a while, I'd say. I've got two orders in the mail right now--and that's it for now! (I'm trying, I swear.)

I also just turned in my first story writing for a local magazine! My best friend's family actually publishes several about the casinos and goings on around us, and she'd been begging them to let me write for them, so she called in a favor, and I wrote a story! More to add to my about-to-be bulging schedule, once school starts. 

Well, that's it, at least that I can think of! What has been going on with y'all? Anything exciting coming up? :)

Friday, July 28, 2017

Review: The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

Release date: April 11, 2017
Author info: Website | Twitter
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Pages: 336
Format: Egalley
Source: Publisher provided for review through Edelweiss
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love—she’s lived through it twenty-six times. She crushes hard and crushes often, but always in secret. Because no matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. Will is funny and flirtatious and just might be perfect crush material. Maybe more than crush material. And if Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back. 

There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker Reid. He’s an awkward Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him. Right?
I fell in love with Becky Albertalli and her books immediately when I read Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda earlier this year. The book is just infused with charm and joy, and it was such a treat to read--so needless to say, I was pumped to know she had a second book coming out so soon after my first experience. And The Upside of Unrequited is sure to please any Becky fan--or any fan (casual or serious) of contemporary young adult fiction.

Who can't relate to a bunch of crushes you don't tell anyone about? (I, at least, can!) And Molly is such a fun, easily relatable girl in all ways. She feels awkward about her chubbiness at times, but she also loves herself! She voices all the kinds of fears I think teenage girls feel, and she's just the kind of character I'd have loved to read about at that age.

And I loved, loved, LOVED her romance with Reid! They're so comfortable with each other, friends first, and once Molly makes up her mind in that direction, so fun. That's one of my few complaints, actually. Molly is so indecisive, and I kind of hated that another love interest was even around. Like, we didn't need another guy to substantiate the romance? I would've just liked to have alllll the Molly and Reid, honestly.

While I didn't run around like a crazy person after reading this from the adorable (like I did with Simon, but that's a rarity!), The Upside of Unrequited is still wholly adorable and absolutely worth all your time! For many teenagers, I think there's a lot they could take away that would make them feel understood--and that's actually more important than being adorable in the long run. Gimme alllll the Becky Albertalli, please!

About the author:

Becky Albertalli is the author of the acclaimed novels Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, The Upside of Unrequited, and Leah on the Offbeat. A former clinical psychologist who specialized in working with children and teens, Becky lives with her family in Atlanta. You can visit her online at

Monday, July 17, 2017

Review: Mad Miss Mimic by Sarah Henstra

Release date: January 3, 2017
Author info: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Publisher: Razorbill Canada
Pages: 272
Format: Egalley
Source: Publisher provided for review through Netgalley
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
There are things I cannot say in any voice.

London, 1872. Seventeen-year-old heiress Leonora Somerville is preparing to be presented to upper-class society—again. She’s strikingly beautiful and going to be very rich, but Leo has a problem money can’t solve. A curious speech disorder causes her to stutter but allows her to imitate other people’s voices flawlessly. Servants and ladies alike call her “Mad Miss Mimic” behind her back…and watch as Leo unintentionally scares off one potential husband after another.

London is also a city gripped by opium fever. Leo’s brother-in-law, Dr. Dewhurst, and his new business partner, Francis Thornfax, are front-runners in the race to patent an injectable formula of the drug. Friendly, forthright, and devastatingly handsome, Thornfax seems immune to the gossip about Leo’s “madness.” But their courtship is endangered from the start. The mysterious Black Glove opium gang is setting off explosions across the city. The street urchins Dr. Dewhurst treats are dying of overdoses. And then there is Tom Rampling, the working-class boy Leo can’t seem to get off her mind.

As the violence closes in around her, Leo must find the links among the Black Glove’s attacks, Tom’s criminal past, the doctor’s dangerous cure, and Thornfax’s political ambitions. But first she must find her voice.
Weeeeeell. I was so excited to see that Mad Miss Mimic was going to be released in the US, after falling in love with the cover and the premise prior to its release in Canada.  I quickly requested it on Netgalley and read it. And it's taken me this long to write a review. So.

I suppose there's nothing overtly wrong with Mad Miss Mimic. When I finished (after rather laboriously making my way through), I was left mostly with boredom and sadness that I'd been so bored. Leo is a character who mostly just lets things happen around her, and gets lucky in the things that happen. Her speech impediment is a huge part of who she is, and that's done well, but a disability does not a book make.

 Not only all of that, but it's pretty obvious who our bad guy is going to be and the climax is not all that climactic. It's like there's a lot of interesting things, yet nothing has the punch it needs. Everything just left me feeling meh, and pretty sad I'd spent the hours to read the book, short as it is.

And, finally, I hate a lot of the ending. Any kind of power Leo has gained for herself is lost in the wallowing she does just before the ending, and it becomes so...simple. Somehow everything is made right (including Leo's speech impediment) and it's just not compelling.

Honestly, my advice is to skip this one. It's got so much that pushes my "love" buttons, but it just doesn't pay off. There are plenty more YA historical fiction novels you could read otherwise, and most would be a better use of your time. I'm sad to say it, but it's true.

About the author:

Sarah Henstra is the author of Mad Miss Mimic (Razorbill, 2015), an historical novel for young adults. She is a professor of English literature at Ryerson University, where she teaches courses in Gothic Horror, Fairy Tales & Fantasies, Psychoanalysis & Literature, and Creative Writing. She grew up on the wild, wet coast of British Columbia, but now she lives in Toronto, Ontario with her two sons.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Best of 2017... So Far

Six months of the year are over, so it's time for me to count down my top books of 2017 so far! This is one of my favorite posts to do every year, because it's a lot of fun to look over what I've read this year so far and see what I've loved. So far, I've read over 60 books this year, so I've got a few to pick from--and, especially in the last month or so, I've been reading some good books. This is gonna be hard!

So, in no particular order, my favorite books of the year so far:

So these are my favorites! I've given each five stars. I really wanted to keep it to ten, but I couldn't actually bear to cut one of these, so I went with eleven. Don't even let me think of the end of the year, when I really try to keep it to ten. 

I didn't include ACOWAR, even though I loved it, largely because it was the end of the series and I didn't love it as much as ACOMAF. It's a similar story with Devil in Spring, simply because it couldn't live up to Devil in Winter!

Three sequels, two contemporaries, and even something non-fiction! I'm actually surprised at my own variety, because I am such a fantasy reader. 

So, what are your favorite reads of the year so far? Let me know, or if you've written a post, link me to it! :)

Sunday, July 2, 2017

June Recap

Hiiii! I'm heeeeeere! I really thought I'd get better with the posting in June, but I failed. I've got a bunch of reviews nearly done, so hopefully I can get some out this month. I swear.

What books did I get?

A Million Junes by Emily Henry
Time and Time Again: A Collection by Tamara Ireland Stone
Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller
What to Say Next by Julie Buxbaum
The Best Kind of Magic by Crystal Cestari
Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray
The Knowing by Sharon Cameron

Give me a high five--I only bought two books! (That's because I bought a lot of candles...) This is the kind of month-long haul I like, because I definitely read more books than I got! Improvement! I got Mask of Shadows, What to Say Next, and The Best Kind of Magic for review (also an improvement!), and Lair of Dreams and The Knowing from trades! I'm especially excited to have The Knowing, because that keeps my Sharon Cameron ARC collection up to date, and I'm super curious to see how she's continuing the story.

Egalleys for review:

Just Another Viscount in Love by Vivienne Lorret
Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody

A Daring Arrangement by Joanna Shupe
Pacifica by Kristen Simmons

What did I post?

What did I read?

The Girl With the Make-Believe Husband by Julia Quinn
Duke of Shadows by Elizabeth Hoyt
Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray
The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen
Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone
What To Say Next by Julie Buxbaum
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Mass (audiobook reread)
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
The Day of the Duchess by Sarah MacLean

Currently reading: I actually just finished a book, so I'm rather undecided. I'm thinking of Want by Cindy Pon. Any other suggestions?
Favorite of the month: SIX OF CROWS. Oh my lord, this book.

What will I read?

I did such a bad job keeping to my TBR for last month (I read a grand total of two books from the fifteen I put on there), so I went with low expectations for myself. I know I'll get to Crooked Kingdom because I adored SoC so much, so there's that! At least a higher percentage than last month.

What am I doing?

Well, y'all know I was taking a summer class for grad school, and it seriously kicked my butt. It was a lot of reading entire books and then writing little essays on them. Then, in the course of about a week, I had three huge projects due. Each took me at least eight hours to complete, with a least one of them taking more like twelve. Needless to say, finishing was a relief.

Also, if you're familiar with the blog, it's looking a little different, no? I logged on the other day to get some posts written, only to find that all the images hosted with the person I bought my template from were over their usage, so none were showing up any more. So, I went ahead and got a new one! It looks pretty similar to what I had before, just a bit different. I'm still working out some kinks with it, but I think I'll ultimately be happy with it!

And I talked a lot about work last month. The cafe shifts are gone, because they hired several more people who are all trained up, so that's nice. However now, the company is mandating that we have "no task" hours every day, so times where we can't do anything but help customers. Problem is, we're short on hours, so we're behind on pretty much everything. It's one of those things where you just have to shrug your shoulders and get whatever you can done--which I am not good at. I'm handling it so far, but we'll see.

I'm still obsessed with bookish candles, though! I haven't gotten anymore, but I have a couple of orders on the way... I love them and I want them for everything!

Anyway, farewell! Cheers to a wonderful July!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Blog Tour: The Day of the Duchess (Scandal & Scoundrel #3) by Sarah MacLean {Review + Excerpt}

Release date: June 27, 2017
Author info: Website | Facebook | Twitter
Publisher: Avon Books
Pages: 400
Format: Egalley
Source: Publisher provided for review through Edelweiss
Buy the book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Google |iTunes | Kobo
The one woman he will never forget…

Malcolm Bevingstoke, Duke of Haven, has lived the last three years in self-imposed solitude, paying the price for a mistake he can never reverse and a love he lost forever. The dukedom does not wait, however, and Haven requires an heir, which means he must find himself a wife by summer’s end. There is only one problem—he already has one.

The one man she will never forgive…

After years in exile, Seraphina, Duchess of Haven, returns to London with a single goal—to reclaim the life she left and find happiness, unencumbered by the man who broke her heart. Haven offers her a deal; Sera can have her freedom, just as soon as she finds her replacement…which requires her to spend the summer in close quarters with the husband she does not want, but somehow cannot resist.

A love that neither can deny…

The duke has a single summer to woo his wife and convince her that, despite their broken past, he can give her forever, making every day...
From the beginning, I was so excited to read The Day of the Duchess. Almost all romance novels focus on the start and flourishing of a relationship, so after being introduced to Haven and Sera in such an interesting manner in The Rogue Not Taken (if you don't recall or haven't read it, Sera's sister, Sophie, shoves Haven into a fountain after finding him cheating on his pregnant wife), I knew the road to their happiness might not be a terribly happy one, but it would be worth the experience--and it was!

Certainly, making Haven into a sympathetic character was hard. All we've seen of him is his cheating and his pushing Seraphina away, but as we see moments from his point of view, while his actions are still not the best decisions, we can see more of his motivation. And what's more, his journey to understanding of Sera's feelings is wonderful. It's endearing to see him trying so hard to win her back, to see him truly fight for her, but it's even better to see him realize why he hasn't convinced her to be with him and make a change for her.

And Seraphina! Even through all of her heartbreak, she is made of steel, fighting through the pain to make a life for herself. In situations when other people would give up, let themselves go with the flow and let life take them down, she pushes back. But, what's even better is how much of the Soiled S's we're treated to! The sisters are truly one of the best parts of this series, and their loyalty to and love for one another is a joy over and over again.

I think what's most striking about this book, though, is how it covers how different people deal with grief. Even though the event is far enough past, the grief plays a huge part in forming who Sera and Haven have become and how their relationship reforms. Their emotional arc is more than a little heartbreaking, but it's also completely wonderful.

I've really enjoyed the Scandal & Scoundrel series so far, but The Day of the Duchess is by far my favorite of the series! It's a story with real emotional heft, yet there are also plenty of funny (courtesy of the wonderful Talbot sisters, mostly) and sweet moments.

About the author:

New York Times, Washington Post & USA Today bestseller Sarah MacLean is the author of historical romance novels that have been translated into more than twenty languages, and winner of back-to-back RITA Awards for best historical romance from the Romance Writers of America.

Sarah is a leading advocate for the romance genre, speaking widely on its place at the nexus of gender and cultural studies. She is the author of a monthly column celebrating the best of the genre for the Washington Post. Her work in support of romance and the women who read it earned her a place on's Sheroes list of 2014 and led Entertainment Weekly to call her "gracefully furious." A graduate of Smith College & Harvard University, Sarah now lives in New York City with her husband and daughter.
Find Sarah online: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Chapter 1
August 19, 1836
House of Lords, Parliament

She’d left him two years, seven months ago, exactly.

Malcolm Marcus Bevingstoke, Duke of Haven looked to the tiny wooden calendar wheels inlaid into the blotter on his desk in his private office above the House of Lords.

August the nineteenth, 1836. The last day of the parliamentary session, filled with pomp and idle. And lingering memory. He spun the wheel with the six embossed upon it. Five. Four. He took a deep breath.

Get out. He heard his own words, cold and angry with betrayal, echoing with quiet menace. Don’t ever return.

He touched the wheel again. August became July. May. March.

January the nineteenth, 1834. The day she left.

His fingers moved without thought, finding comfort in the familiar click of the wheels.

April the seventeenth, 1833.

The way I feel about you . . . Her words now—soft and full of temptation. I’ve never felt anything like this.

He hadn’t, either. As though light and breath and hope had flooded the room, filling all the dark spaces. Filling his lungs and heart. And all because of her.

Until he’d discovered the truth. The truth, which had mattered so much until it hadn’t mattered at all.

Where had she gone?

The clock in the corner of the room ticked and tocked, counting the seconds until Haven was due in his seat in the hallowed main chamber of the House of Lords, where men of higher purpose and passion had sat before him for generations. His fingers played the little calendar like a virtuoso, as though they’d done this dance a hundred times before. A thousand.

And they had.

March the first, 1833. The day they met.

So, they let simply anyone become a duke, do they? No deference. Teasing and charm and pure, unadulterated beauty.

If you think dukes are bad, imagine what they accept from duchesses?

That smile. As though she’d never met another man. As though she’d never wanted to. He’d been hers the moment he’d seen that smile. Before that. Imagine, indeed.

And then it had fallen apart. He’d lost everything, and then lost her. Or perhaps it had been the reverse. Or perhaps it was all the same.

Would there ever be a time when he stopped thinking of her? Ever a date that did not remind him of her? Of the time that had stretched like an eternity since she’d left?

Where had she gone?

The clock struck eleven, heavy chimes sounding in the room, echoed by a dozen others sounding down the long, oaken corridor beyond, summoning men of longstanding name to the duty that had been theirs before they drew breath.

Haven spun the calendar wheels with force, leaving them as they lay. November the thirty-seventh, 3842. A fine date—one on which he had absolutely no chance of thinking of her.

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Sunday, June 25, 2017

Blog Tour: What To Say Next by Julie Buxbaum {Review|

Release date: July 11, 2017
Author info: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Pages: 272
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher provided for review
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
Sometimes a new perspective is all that is needed to make sense of the world.

KIT: I don’t know why I decide not to sit with Annie and Violet at lunch. It feels like no one here gets what I’m going through. How could they? I don’t even understand.

DAVID: In the 622 days I’ve attended Mapleview High, Kit Lowell is the first person to sit at my lunch table. I mean, I’ve never once sat with someone until now. “So your dad is dead,” I say to Kit, because this is a fact I’ve recently learned about her. 

When an unlikely friendship is sparked between relatively popular Kit Lowell and socially isolated David Drucker, everyone is surprised, most of all Kit and David. Kit appreciates David’s blunt honesty—in fact, she finds it bizarrely refreshing. David welcomes Kit’s attention and her inquisitive nature. When she asks for his help figuring out the how and why of her dad’s tragic car accident, David is all in. But neither of them can predict what they’ll find. Can their friendship survive the truth?
I adored Julie Buxbaum's YA debut, Tell Me Three Things, so when I was offered the opportunity to be on another blog tour for her second YA novel, What to Say Next, of course I jumped! And while this book is rather a different read, it's just as delightful as her first.

Kit is reeling from the sudden death of her beloved father in a car accident. She doesn't feel like herself. She doesn't feel like pretending to be the person she was before the accident. On the thirtieth day after, she can't take anymore, so she sits with David Drucker, thinking he will let her be in peace. David is perhaps the class oddball; he navigates the halls with headphones, and he doesn't speak to much of anyone, keeping his thoughts and observations in a notebook. As the two form a friendship, their worlds are rocked--in more way than one.

There's so much to love in this book! I have to start with the friendship between Kit and David. There were times I wanted to holler at Kit because she didn't understand David--but I can't say I would have either, I just had the luxury of being in his head. But as they become friends, Kit begins to understand David and how he works, and David starts to understand the nuances of Kit. There's a lot in the synopsis about the two "solving the mystery" of Kit's dad's accident, but it really doesn't play much into the story, except in one or two moments. To me, most of the story is Kit coming to terms with her dad's death and David coming out of his shell.

However, the true highlight of What to Say Next is David. I'm about the farthest person from an expert on Autism, but being in his head seems quite authentic from my limited knowledge. (I'd love to know from someone with experience!) He's not diagnosed, but he's definitely on the spectrum somewhere. He's sweet, brutally honest, and completely genuine. Being in his head is truly fascinating, and something that made the book memorable and even more of a joy to read.

Well, did I like What to Say Next? I feel as if it might be obvious that I loved it! Not only is it a touching story to read, but Buxbaum weaves in a lot of nuance and emotion that can often be lost in your typical YA contemporary romance. Read both of her books now!

About the author:

Julie Buxbaum is the New York Times best selling author of Tell Me Three Things, her young adult debut, and the critically acclaimed novels The Opposite of Love and After You. Her work has been translated into twenty-five languages. Julie’s writing has appeared in various publications, including The New York Times. She is a former lawyer and graduate of Harvard Law School and lives in Los Angeles with her husband, two young children, and an immortal goldfish. Visit Julie online at and follow @juliebux on Twitter.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Blog Tour: The Girl With the Make-Believe Husband (Rokesbys #2) by Julia Quinn {Review + Giveaway}

Release date: May 30, 2017
Author info: Website | Facebook | Goodreads
Publisher: Avon
Pages: 384
Format: Egalley
Source: Publisher provided for review through Edelweiss
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository | Google | iTunes | Kobo
While you were sleeping... 

With her brother Thomas injured on the battlefront in the Colonies, orphaned Cecilia Harcourt has two unbearable choices: move in with a maiden aunt or marry a scheming cousin. Instead, she chooses option three and travels across the Atlantic, determined to nurse her brother back to health. But after a week of searching, she finds not her brother but his best friend, the handsome officer Edward Rokesby. He's unconscious and in desperate need of her care, and Cecilia vows that she will save this soldier's life, even if staying by his side means telling one little lie...

I told everyone I was your wife 

When Edward comes to, he's more than a little confused. The blow to his head knocked out six months of his memory, but surely he would recall getting married. He knows who Cecilia Harcourt is—even if he does not recall her face—and with everyone calling her his wife, he decides it must be true, even though he'd always assumed he'd marry his neighbor back in England.

If only it were true... 

Cecilia risks her entire future by giving herself—completely—to the man she loves. But when the truth comes out, Edward may have a few surprises of his own for the new Mrs. Rokesby.
I've been dying for The Girl With the Make-Believe Husband for ages. Two reasons: First, Julia Quinn has never let me down. She's never not delivered an adorable book. Second, who could resist the While You Were Sleeping angle in historical romance? And of course, Julia Quinn didn't fail me--nor did the premise!

As much as I love my historical romances set in England, it was a lot of fun to read a story set in the US, especially during the American Revolution. It's interesting to see this time from the British perspective since, being an American, we're always given stories from our side. However, the revolution itself doesn't play into the story much, aside from location. It's almost more that a war of some kind is going on, but it's not all that specific to this war. Still fun, just not integral.

What I think is so fun about Edward and Cecelia's relationship is that they actually know each other a bit before the events of the book--though they've never met in person. In letters exchanged with her brother, Cecelia and Edward have written short notes back and forth, getting information secondhand though Thomas. The content of these notes is revealed over the course of the book, and it's fun to see the original base of their relationship while they're falling in love.

The only less than fun part is Cecelia's guilt over lying to Edward. Her actions are...understandable, at the very least, but it doesn't make the situation any less awkward. Over and over again, I just wanted her to tell him! On the flip side, I thought the ending was absolutely perfect. I don't want to say what happens, but I finished the book grinning like a total fool.

If you're a fan of Julia Quinn already, it should be a no brainer to pick up The Girl With the Make-Believe Husband! If not, (first, WHY?) how could you say not to a sweet romance that takes off from a beloved romantic comedy? It's the best of both worlds!

About the author:

Julia Quinn is the New York Times bestselling author of twenty-five novels for Avon Books, and one of only sixteen authors ever to be inducted in the Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her family.

My Example
Manhattan Island
July 1779

His head hurt.

Correction, his head really hurt.

It was hard to tell, though, just what sort of pain it was. He might have been shot through the head with a musket ball. That seemed plausible, given his current location in New York (or was it Connecticut?) and his current occupation as a captain in His Majesty’s army.

There was a war going on, in case one hadn’t noticed.

But this particular pounding—the one that felt more like someone was bashing his skull with a cannon (not a cannonball, mind you, but an actual cannon) seemed to indicate that he had been attacked with a blunter instrument than a bullet.

An anvil, perhaps. Dropped from a second-story window.

But if one cared to look on the bright side, a pain such as this did seem to indicate that he wasn’t dead, which was also a plausible fate, given all the same facts that had led him to believe he might have been shot.

That war he’d mentioned... people did die.

With alarming regularity.

So he wasn’t dead. That was good. But he also wasn’t sure where he was, precisely. The obvious next step would be to open his eyes, but his eyelids were translucent enough for him to realize that it was the middle of the day, and while he did like to look on the metaphorical bright side, he was fairly certain that the literal one would prove blinding.

So he kept his eyes closed.

But he listened.

He wasn’t alone. He couldn’t make out any actual conversation, but a low buzz of words and activity filtered through the air. People were moving about, setting objects on tables, maybe pulling a chair across the floor.

Someone was moaning in pain

Most of the voices were male, but there was at least one lady nearby. She was close enough that he could hear her breathing. She made little noises as she went about her business, which he soon realized included tucking blankets around him and touching his forehead with the back of her hand.

He liked these little noises, the tiny little mmms and sighs she probably had no idea she was making. And she smelled nice, a bit like lemons, a bit like soap.

And a bit like hard work.

He knew that smell. He’d worn it himself, albeit usually only briefly until it turned into a full-fledged stink.

On her, though, it was more than pleasant. Perhaps a little earthy. And he wondered who she was, to be tending to him so diligently.

“How is he today?”

Edward held himself still. This male voice was new, and he wasn’t sure he wanted anyone to know he was awake yet.

Although he wasn’t sure why he felt this hesitancy.

“The same,” came the woman’s reply.

“I am concerned. If he doesn’t wake up soon...”

“I know,” the woman said. There was a touch of irritation in her voice, which Edward found curious.

“Have you been able to get him to take broth?”

“Just a few spoonfuls. I was afraid he would choke if I attempted any more than that.”

The man made a vague noise of approval. “Remind me how long he has been like this?”

“A week, sir. Four days before I arrived, and three since.”

A week. Edward thought about this. A week meant it must be... March? April?

No, maybe it was only February. And this was probably New York, not Connecticut.

But that still didn’t explain why his head hurt so bloody much. Clearly he’d been in some sort of an accident. Or had he been attacked?

“There has been no change at all?” the man asked, even though the lady had just said as much.

But she must have had far more patience than Edward, because she replied in a quiet, clear voice, “No, sir. None.”

The man made a noise that wasn’t quite a grunt. Edward found it impossible to interpret.

“Er...” The woman cleared her throat. “Have you any news of my brother?”
Her brother? Who was her brother?

“I am afraid not, Mrs. Rokesby.”

Mrs. Rokesby?

“It has been nearly two months,” she said quietly.

Mrs. Rokesby? Edward really wanted them to get back to that point. There was only one Rokesby in North America as far as he knew, and that was him. So if she was Mrs. Rokesby...

“I think,” the male voice said, “that your energies would be better spent tending to your husband.”


“I assure you,” she said, and there was that touch of irritation again, “that I have been caring for him most faithfully.”

Husband? They were calling him her husband? Was he married? He couldn’t be married. How could he be married and not remember it?

Who was this woman?

Edward’s heart began to pound. What the devil was happening to him?

“Did he just make a noise?” the man asked.

“I... I don’t think so.”

She moved then, quickly. Hands touched him, his cheek, then his chest, and even through her obvious concern, there was something soothing in her motions, something undeniably right.

“Edward?” she asked, taking his hand. She stroked it several times, her fingers brushing lightly over his skin. “Can you hear me?”

He ought to respond. She was worried. What kind of gentleman did not act to relieve a lady’s distress?

“I fear he may be lost to us,” the man said, with far less gentleness than Edward thought appropriate.

“He still breathes,” the woman said in a steely voice.

The man said nothing, but his expression must have been one of pity, because she said it again, more loudly this time.

He still breathes.

“Mrs. Rokesby...”

Edward felt her hand tighten around his. Then she placed her other on top, her fingers resting lightly on his knuckles. It was the smallest sort of embrace, but Edward felt it down to his soul.

“He still breathes, Colonel,” she said with quiet resolve. “And while he does, I will be here. I may not be able to help Thomas, but—”

Thomas. Thomas Harcourt. That was the connection. This must be his sister. Cecilia. He knew her well.

Or not. He’d never actually met the lady, he felt like he knew her. She wrote to her brother with a diligence that was unmatched in the regiment. Thomas received twice as much mail as Edward, and Edward had four siblings to Thomas’s one.

Cecilia Harcourt. What on earth was she doing in North America? She was supposed to be in Derbyshire, in that little town Thomas had been so eager to leave. The one with the hot springs. Matlock. No, Matlock Bath.

Edward had never been, but he thought it sounded charming. Not the way Thomas described it, of course; he liked the bustle of city life and couldn’t wait to take a commission and depart his village. But Cecilia was different. In her letters, the small Derbyshire town came alive, and Edward almost felt that he would recognize her neighbors if he ever went to visit.

She was witty. Lord, she was witty. Thomas used to laugh so much at her missives that Edward finally made him read them out loud.

Then one day, when Thomas was penning his response, Edward interrupted so many times that Thomas finally shoved out his chair and held forth his quill.

“You write to her,” he’d said.

So he did.

Not on his own, of course. Edward could never have written to her directly. It would have been the worst sort of impropriety, and he would not have insulted her in such a manner. But he took to scribbling a few lines at the end of Thomas’s letters, and whenever she replied, she had a few lines for him.

Thomas carried a miniature of her, and even though he said it was several years old, Edward had found himself staring at it, studying the small portrait of the young woman, wondering if her hair really was that remarkable golden color, or if she really did smile that way, lips closed and mysterious.

Somehow he thought not. She did not strike him as a woman with secrets. Her smile would be sunny and free. Edward had even thought he’d like to meet her once this godforsaken war was over. He’d never said anything to Thomas, though.

That would have been strange.

Now Cecilia was here. In the colonies. Which made absolutely no sense, but then again, what did? Edward’s head was injured, and Thomas seemed to be missing, and...

Edward thought hard.

...and he seemed to have married Cecilia Harcourt.

He opened his eyes and tried to focus on the green-eyed woman peering down at him. “Cecilia?”

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Thursday, June 1, 2017

May Recap

Again, I'm not doing as well blogging as I'd like. HOWEVER, I'm improving! I'm just going to take things a step at a time. Just keep getting better. I'm finding balance in work/school/blogging--just in time to be done with school for a bit! I'll finish this summer class on the 20th, and finally have some time off, which I am very much looking forward to. I've done SO MUCH reading for this class, which is fun, but it keeps me from my review books and fun books, which is less fun.

What books did I get?

This is a lot of books, but I only bought one of them! (I'm actually missing a couple, but they were for class: Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen, Undertow by Michael Buckley, and A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park. I bought them, but they don't count!)

Alexander Hamilton, Revolutionary by Martha Brockenbrough
Finding You by Lydia Albano
The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater
You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins
The Lost Kingdom of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine
Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy
The Millionaire Rogue by Jessica Peterson
The Duke Can Go to the Devil by Erin Knightley
Darling Beast by Elizabeth Hoyt
Forbidden by Beverly Jenkins
How the Duke Was Won by Lenora Bell
My American Duchess by Eloisa James
Lady Bridget's Diary by Maya Rodale

And only one of those was bought! I got my ACOWAR from Books of Wonder so it could be signed and personalized like all my other SJM books! All the Macmillan books, Ramona Blue, and Hunting Prince Dracula were for review. I about died when I opened the package with HPD because, seriously, it's the only ARC I've wanted for months! And I've already read (and ADORED) it. :) 

Then, the wonderful Alyssa surprised me with a giant package of historical romance! We'd talked about her sending me some books a while back, but I thought we'd talk about it again before it happened, and then one day this package was at my house! It was such a sweet surprise, and I'm so pumped about everything she sent me. I LOVE the UK editions, especially!

What did I post?

I'm getting a little bit better, I swear! I'm letting myself ramp up with no pressure, and it's working. June should look even better, especially once my class ends!

April Recap
Review: The Forgetting by Sharon Cameron
Review: Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves
Blog Tour: Refuge for Masterminds by Kathleen Baldwin {Fun Fact + Excerpt + Giveaway}

I will point out that everything but the recap was in the second half of the month, so see? Getting better... Slowly.

What did I read?

Currently reading: The Girl With the Make-Believe Husband (Rokesbys #2) by Julia Quinn
Favorite of the month: Hunting Prince Dracula! I read a couple of really good books this month (ACOWAR, Always and Forever Lara Jean, Midwinterblood, I'm looking at y'all!) but HPD really lived up to the excitement I'd built for it in my mind--even after rereading SJTR first!--and only made me even more desperate for the third book. (ACOWAR was the biggest contender, but, as much as I enjoyed it, I still love ACOMAF more.)

What will I read?

You can tell it's summer because I picked almost all contemporaries and historical romance! I love reading fun and light stuff in the summer--plus a bunch of these are review copies coming out in July or August. And after loving Alex, Approximately, I know I HAVE to get to The Anatomical Shape of a Heart ASAP. Plus, I'm going to relieve Alyssa and try and catch up on the Maiden Lane books! That's every one that I haven't read that I own in the pile.

I believe I've only got one more book to read for this class, so once that's out of the way, my reading should start to pick up--and once class is over on the 20th, I should be able to start flying through some books! I can't wait for no homework!

What am I doing?

Well, on the no spending money thing, I'm doing pretty well! We're doing employee appreciation at work this week, where we get extra discounts, but I've not bought anything, and there's actually nothing I'm really pining for! Usually I buy a lot of books I've loved and want finished copies of during employee appreciation, but it's something I'm just going to table this time around. I need to be able to afford school and Disney more than I need more books, Maybe if I can get rid of the piles on my floor? (HA!)

Otherwise, life is school and work. I've been working a lot of weird shifts because our cafe is shorthanded (and I started in cafe when I first started working at B&N), so I've been over there a lot. Like three days a week a lot. I was mad about it at first, but I've kind of made my peace for this time around. This is mostly because people have been helping me and the kid's department out in the meantime, so I'm not swamped in work on the day or two I actually get in the department. I'm also getting tips, which I'm earmarking for bookish candles because that's my new obsession! Basically, in the cafe, you're paid your hourly wage, but while you can't keep out a tip jar or anything, you can take tips that are offered. On good days, you can make $10 in tips--which is just free money on top of your actual wages! So, mine is going in the bank so I can buy candles, which is also helping me be less salty about the cafe shifts.

I have realized that I managed to miss my blogoversary! I've been blogging for 6 years, y'all. I didn't think about it till maybe 10 pm on the night of the 29th, which is the day. Oops! I'll mull it over and see if I want to do anything for it, but it did happen! I literally had to double check to make sure it was 6 years, because it felt like too long! I can barely believe it--but the post dates don't lie!

And that's it! I feel like I had a lot to say this time around... Maybe it's just the paragraph about work. We've had some turmoil and movement in the store, so it's been kind of weird time. If you had heard me at the beginning of the month, I'd have had a lot more to say, but I've chilled with it a lot--and the shifts are getting better at this point. The most recent schedule doesn't have me in cafe at all, so the end may just be in sight. Fingers crossed!

Also, if you have bookish candle shops you love (and/or scents!), let me know! I've bought from Novelly Yours and Wick & Fable and generally been pleased, but I'd love to hear some recommendations for other shops! (Especially if you're not a rep for them? Instagram has lots of raves and pictures, but I can't fully trust a rep... You know?)