Owlcrate-a-thon 2020 and The Social Distancing Readathon

I’m back, and ready to participate in some readathons! Owlcrate-a-thon 2020 runs from March 14-27 this year, and The Social Distancing readathon (hosted by 24 in 48) is March 21-22.

I am a lover of book-ish boxes and unfortunately a lot of the books I receive in them go unread for years. I still have a few Owlcrate books that have been floating around since 2017! The prompts for this years Owlcrate-a-thon are:

  • Read the book you’ve had the longest
  • Read the longest book you haven’t read
  • Read at least two books

I have a quite a few books to pick from, but tentatively these are the books I’m hoping to read over the next two weeks!

  • A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee (book I’ve had the longest, and the longest book I haven’t read)
  • Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan
  • All the Stars and Teeth by Adalyn Grace

Next weekend is the Social Distancing Readathon, hosted by the lovely ladies at 24 in 48. One of the suggestions for limiting the spread of the infamous COVID-19 is social distancing, or basically staying away from others and crowded places. What better activity to complete while following these guidelines than reading 24 hours out of 48 over the course of a weekend?!

Over the course of this readathon, I will hopefully be finishing up some the picks above for Owlcrateathon, and possible starting or finishing up the following:

  • The House in the Cerulean Sea by T. J. Klune
  • Anna K by Jenny Lee
  • Crescent City: House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas

Are you planning on participating in any readathons coming up? What are some books you’re hoping to pick up?

TTT: Spring TBR!

Top ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by Jana over at That Artsy Reader. The prompt this week is Spring TBR! There are so many wonderful books that I’m hoping to read this season, but here are the Top 10 I’m excited to get to!

  • The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu – I love Lu’s Warcross series, and am so excited to see how she takes on the historical fantasy genre.
  • The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas – A classic that I’ve been wanting to read for ages, I finally think it’s time to pick up this bad boy!
  • All the Stars and Teeth by Adalyn Grace – This one came in February’s Owlcrate which I had to pick up because of the gorgeous Throne of Glass playing cards, and seems so interesting! It’s also the pick for the #yaallegiancebookclub on Instagram in March.
  • The Glittering Hour by Iona Grey – My Book of the Month pick a few months ago, I’m hoping to get to this one soon because I’m looking forward to reading about the roaring 20’s…in the roaring 20’s.
  • Anna K by Jenny Lee – I’ll admit that I haven’t finished Anna Karenina (I tried to start it when the Keira Knightley movie was released, but never finished), but this retelling sounds like the perfect read for a spring day.
  • Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian – I’ve been buying the series as it comes out over the past three years, and I need to finally read them.
  • Lifelike by Jay Kristoff – another series I’ve been putting off because the third one hasn’t released yet, but with the release date of June I guess Spring is the perfect time to start!
  • The House on the Cerulean Sea by T. J. Klune – A new release by the author of one of my favorite paranormal romances, Wolfsong! I’m so excited to try this one out.
  • Smoke Bitten by Patricia Briggs – excited for the latest Mercy Thompson installment!

Book Review: Bittersweet by Sabrina Bowen

Bittersweet by Sabrina Bowen

Series: True North #1

Published: June 14, 2016

Rating: 3/5

Romanceopoly 2020: Farmers Market

Goodreads

If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the orchard.

The last person Griffin Shipley expects to find stuck in a ditch on his Vermont country road is his ex-hookup. Five years ago they’d shared a couple of steamy nights together. But that was a lifetime ago.

At twenty-seven, Griff is now the accidental patriarch of his family farm. Even his enormous shoulders feel the strain of supporting his mother, three siblings and a dotty grandfather. He doesn’t have time for the sorority girl who’s shown up expecting to buy his harvest at half price.

Vermont was never in Audrey Kidder’s travel plans. Neither was Griff Shipley. But she needs a second chance with the restaurant conglomerate employing her. Okay—a fifth chance. And no self-righteous lumbersexual farmer will stand in her way.

They’re adversaries. They want entirely different things from life. Too bad their sexual chemistry is as hot as Audrey’s top secret enchilada sauce, and then some.

I first came upon Sabrina Bowen last year when I fell in love with the Him series she cowrote with Elle Kennedy. Because Farmer romances aren’t my normal reading fare and I needed to meet the requirement for my romanceopoly pick, I felt that Bittersweet was the perfect introduction into her other works.

While there were aspects about this book that I really liked, the main character wasn’t one of them. Audrey seemed very out there (who goes to a farm dressed in heels and a mini skirt multiple times before trying to get more suited clothing?!?!) I appreciated that she was driven and wanted to achieve her goals of one day being a chef/owner of her own restaurant. However, we never get to see those goals come to fruition in this installment (it is a series, so perhaps there are glimpses later on when exploring the other characters). While Griff seemed very willing to support her and compromise on traveling etc. to see her, she didn’t seem as willing to compromise for him – but maybe I’m reading too far into it, because Griff isn’t a perfect decision maker either.

Griffin is definitely a hotty though, and one that is willing to do anything to put his family first, even put his own happiness on the line. He was the one that I felt the most for emotionally throughout the whole book, and was one hot farmer hero.

When reading the synopsis of the book, it can be assumed that a large part of the tension going into this relationship is a “love lost” kind of story, with the characters previously knowing each other from college. I felt that this was kind of underdeveloped as its only mentioned a handful of times, plus how can there be loads of tension when you only know a person in the biblical sense?

While most of the conflict was resolved by the end of the book, I still felt there was something lacking from giving me a satisfying ending. I’m not sure if I would like to continue the series, but I suppose that time will tell if I pick up the next one, following a side character in this novel.

Brigid Kemmerer and Breeana Shields Signing at the Christiana Mall

Another weekend and another book signing at my local Barnes and Noble!

Brigid Kemmerer is currently touring for the release of A Heart so Fierce and Broken, the sequel to A Curse So Dark and Lonely, and was joined by Breeana Shields (author of The Bone Charmer).

It was a pretty packed event – all the chairs that were set up were full and there were a few people standing as well.

The Q&A section was lovely, with so many people asking great questions! Most of the room had not yet read A Heart So Fierce and Broken, so any questions answered on that front were very spoiler-free (and didn’t make much sense to me because I haven’t read it yet either). Among the highlights of the talk:

  • Book Three in the Cursebreakers series has a title! But it can’t be shared yet (that is up to the publisher and will hopefully be coming soon).
  • When writing, Brigid has to have music with lyrics, instrumentals just don’t cut it. Breeana is the opposite – she can’t listen to words with lyrics when writing.
  • If they could write for any franchise, Brigid would love to write a Deadpool YA origin story, while Breeana would probably do something out for Harry Potter.
  • A Curse So Dark and Lonely stemmed from a “what if?” idea (which was one of Brigid’s tips for creating story ideas): What if Beauty and the Beast and Groundhog Day were mixed?

And for the writers and authors who are looking to hone their craft and become published, these tidbits were shared:

  • Brigid’s suggestion to young authors interested in writing in multiple genres is to establish yourself in one genre first so that your readers trust you before branching out.
  • Brigid is currently on her third literary agent. If an agent isn’t supporting you in ways you want/need, or is not compatible in another way its okay to switch (and is actually more common than readers may know).

It was another wonderful event, and I’m looking forward to seeing what authors my local BN hosts in the future! Maureen Johnson is going this week (if anyone in the area is interested about this you can learn about the event HERE), but as I haven’t read anything of hers and its during an odd time for me, I probably won’t be going.

Halfway to the Grave by Jeanine Frost

Halfway to the Grave by Jeanine Frost

Series: Night Huntress #1

Published: October 30, 2007

Rating: 3/5

Romanceopoly: Burger Joint

Goodreads

Half-vampire Catherine Crawfield is going after the undead with a vengeance, hoping that one of these deadbeats is her father – the one responsible for ruining her mother’s life. Then she’s captured by Bones, a vampire bounty hunter, and is forced into an unlikely partnership.

In exchange for help finding her father, Cat agrees to train with the sexy night stalker until her battle reflexes are as sharp as his fangs. She’s amazed she doesn’t end up as his dinner – are there actually good vampires? Pretty soon Bones will have her convinced that being half-dead doesn’t have to be all bad. But before she can enjoy her status as kick-ass demon hunter, Cat and Bones are pursued by a group of killers. Now Cat will have to choose a side … and Bones is turning out to be as tempting as any man with a heartbeat

In my search for a new PNR series to gobble down, I came across the work of Jeanine Frost (who came highly recommended by Ilona Andrews) and decided to give her first series a try.

This book was first published in the mid 2000’s, and it did show its age a little. Published in the midst of the Twilight vampire phase, the heroine seems to be a “Mary Sue” – a hard-headed and sometimes foolish girl who ultimately ends up winning out in the end. Admittedly, Cat is relatively young in this book and has a lot to explore in the world outside the sphere of her overbearing and vengeance-driven mother.

Bones (the vampire hero) was the best part of this book. Who doesn’t love a sexy, snarky, vampire boyfriend? For someone who was a few hundred years old, he was very much with the times with platinum died hair and lingo to keep up with all the college-aged kids. While I can understand his initial attraction to the heroine (she is, after all, a bad ass vampire hunter), the continuation of their relationship got a little stale throughout the book because she continues to act in childish ways. I find it hard to believe a vampire of multiple centuries would find such silly actions attractive – but I guess I’m not really in Bones’ head so I can’t say what his motivations are.

While the main focus (for me at least) is the romance, there is plenty of action and a decent plot to carry on the clear air between the steamy scenes. Having a vampire that is also a vampire bounty hunter is a somewhat unique trope to me which makes up for the vampire/vampire hunter relationship which has become a bit more common.

The book ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, so I did immediately have to pick up the next one in the series and that review will be coming soon! Overall this was an interesting start to a series, one that I am interested in continuing. However, I think that I will have to take this one book at a time because the heroine is one that could get on my nerves quite easily.

TTT: Bookish Discoveries I Made In 2019

Top ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by Jana over at That Artsy Reader. The prompt this week is perfect for the last day of the year: Bookish Discoveries I Made In 2019. I’ll admit, I struggled making this list a bit so today I only have four discoveries! Let me know what some of your bookish discoveries in 2019 were!

1. The Kate Daniels Series by Ilona Andrews (see my mini series review HERE) – Ilona Andrews is an author whose name I’ve heard bandied about it the past, but this past year I finally picked up the Kate Daniels series after seeing the final book released. I’m so glad I did! I ended up reading all 10 books in less than four months and even met the Ilona Andrews writing duo to get some books signed!

2. Book Beau Traveler – I’ve known about Book Beau for a while, but I didn’t realize until 2019 that they had products other than book sleeves (which I never bought, because why buy it when you can make it yourself?!). I splurged and purchased a Traveler – which is basically a large pouch with two zipper pockets – and it has changed my every day carry life. I am able to fit my kindle and planner or small paperback in the larger pocket, and all my assorted charging cables and such in the smaller one. It makes it TONS easier to just grab and go! I also did buy standard Book Beaus this year because they have added zippers to all their sizes – and I hate sewing zippers.

3. Audiobooks – Okay, so I didn’t really discover audiobooks this past year, but I now listen to audiobooks A TON more than I have in the past. I listened to maybe four audiobooks total before 2019, but since joining my online library (Libby) I’ve been picking up audiobooks and LOVING them. I now listen to an audiobook during my commute, during slow times at work, or even just while doing chores around the house. It’s become a way to keep my reading up while also staying busy.

4. Yearly Reading Challenges (Beat the Backlist) – I’ve done short readathons hosted on Instagram before, but never engaged in full-on community reading yearly reading challenge until last year. I really enjoyed the Beat the Backlist challenge, and will be participating in it as well as Romanceopoly this year to continue doing yearly reading challenges!

Book Review: Trickery by Jaymin Eve and Jane Washington

Trickery by Jaymin Eve and Jane Washington

Series: Curse of the Gods #1

Published: Febraury 28, 2017

Rating: 3/5

Willa Knight: Dweller. Slave. Non-magical being.

In Minatsol, being a dweller means that you are literally no better than dirt. In fact, dirt might actually be more useful than Willa. Her life will be one of servitude to the sols, the magic-blessed beings who could one day be chosen to become gods.

At least her outer village is far removed from the cities of the sols, and she won’t ever be forced to present herself to them… Until one small mistake changes everything, and Willa is awarded a position to serve at Blesswood, the top sol academy in the world—a position that she definitely did not earn.

Under the sudden, watchful eye of the gods, she will be tasked to serve the Abcurse brothers, five sols built of arrogance, perfection and power. They are almost gods themselves, and under their service she is either going to end up sentenced to death, or else they are going to ruin her so badly that she will wish for it.

Either way, she is in trouble.

My first thought upon finishing this book was: what the hell did I just read? It’s been a while since I had this feeling – probably not since I read a more copious amount of 0.99 kindle romances in high school, which makes sense considering this book was free with kindle unlimited. (Not that I am disparaging the quality of kindle unlimited books because some of them are NYT worthy in my opinion.)

I read this book because it popped up on my goodreads suggested and I was intrigued by the idea of a reverse harem. I feel like this is a bit mismarketed for that reason because while there is hints of the romance that may come in later books, it reads mainly like a young adult novel with a really ditzy heroine who is experiencing sexual urges.

The world of sols and gods and dwellers is something straight out of any fantasy novel I’d love to read, but the heroine kind of took away some of my interest in the world and in my novel.

Willa is a bit of a Mary Sue, constantly getting into strange predicaments and being obscenely “clumsy” (you know, the trip-over-a-flat surface type). Somehow, despite putting herself in constant danger she is able to draw the attention of the hottest brothers around who decide she is under their protection. This seems like the perfect romantic setup, but…nothing really happens in this book. Willa constantly finds herself in “naked situations” where she somehow ends up undressed and oh god she wants to kiss them, but nothing ever comes of it. In fact, in reading the reviews and synopses for the other books in the series, it seems nothing really begins to happen romantically until book 3.

While I did rate this book 3 stars – mainly for the Abcurse brothers who made this story actually interesting – I do need to note that I had to DNF the second book in this series because it is just. so. freaking. stupid. Willa makes some really, really idiotic decisions and has such a whiney voice I just could not force myself to continue. It was a shame because the world that the authors built was really interesting and had a lot of promise.

Normally this is where I’d add an addendum of “if I was younger I’d like this,” but I honestly don’t think I would have then either. The tone of the book is just such a strange mix of explicit sexuality and young foolishness. If you’re looking for a quick and addicting ya-feeling-(is it even a) romance read that is free with kindle unlimited, you may enjoy this, but I can’t say I recommend anyone spends money on this series.