Busy Busy Busy

I’ve been finding new ways to try to let my creativity out. Bookstagram isn’t necessarily all that it’s cracked up to be. I’ve been finding a lot more joy working my hands in then dirt, gardening, making my space as peaceful as possible. It’s really nice that Chuck supports my hobbies as much as he does. I changed them just about every week. So far, I’m really enjoying having a green thumb!

Next week I am going to try and sit down and block out times to work. I REALLY need to re structure my schedule because there are some really poor boundaries between myself, my kids, and my responsibilities. Summer vacation is fun but definitely frustrating!


~ Rachael

To Be Taught If Fortunate by Becky Chambers

To Be Taught If Forunate by Becky Chambers
Published: 08.08.2019
Genre: Adult SciFi
Details: 153 pages – Paperbook, Kindle, Audiobook
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Series: Stand Alone

Disclaimer: This book was read voluntarily by me via HooplaDigital. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

SYNOPSIS

Ariadne is one such explorer. As an astronaut on an extrasolar research vessel, she and her fellow crewmates sleep between worlds and wake up each time with different features. Her experience is one of fluid body and stable mind and of a unique perspective on the passage of time. Back on Earth, society changes dramatically from decade to decade, as it always does.

Ariadne may awaken to find that support for space exploration back home has waned, or that her country of birth no longer exists, or that a cult has arisen around their cosmic findings, only to dissolve once more by the next waking. But the moods of Earth have little bearing on their mission: to explore, to study, and to send their learnings home.

Carrying all the trademarks of her other beloved works, including brilliant writing, fantastic world-building and exceptional, diverse characters, Becky’s first audiobook outside of the Wayfarers series is sure to capture the imagination of listeners all over the world.

REVIEW

One of the things I find interesting about Becky Chambers is that I always go into the book thinking, what does this title mean to the story? I first experienced this when I read The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet. Come to find out, the story is about a group of people who punch holes through space to make trips short! So in order to first make the punch, they have to take the long way! To Be Taught If Fortunate does not disappoint in the way that you find the title in the story. This book is about a quest for knowledge and being lucky enough to be the one to gather it.

In this thought provoking novel, we find our main explorer Ariadne in the middle of her work. Imagine if a documentary crew decided to just visit a group of scientists and record their every day duties. The goal of these people are to just explore the vastness of the universe and collect data – there isn’t a crazy adventure, there isn’t a budding war. It’s 4 racially and sexually diverse scientists who have given up their lives on the quest for knowledge only and we get a front row seat to that collection of data.

“I’m an observer, not a conqueror. I have no interest in changing other worlds to suit me. I choose the lighter touch: changing myself to suit them.”

I love this outlook on storytelling. Ariadne has no interest in finding new worlds to colonize, it’s just wanting to leave the lightest footprint possible everywhere they go as to not disturb the natural order of things. It gives me a lot of existential things to think about for our own planet – the constant harm we do, the never ending pollution and destruction.

“Because sometimes we go, and we try, and we suffer, and despite it all, we learn nothing. Sometimes we are left with more questions than when we started. Sometimes we do harm, despite our best efforts. We are human. We are fragile.”

Not every planet they went to yielded incredible results. I loved the level of anxiety and tension that brought when they went places that weren’t necessarily something they were used to or were ready to encounter. I loved the world building, it was just enough to not cover up the character driven plot.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

BECKY CHAMBERS (AUTHOR)

Becky Chambers is a science fiction author based in Northern California. She is best known for her Hugo Award-winning Wayfarers series. Her books have also been nominated for the Arthur C. Clarke Award, the Locus Award, and the Women’s Prize for Fiction, among others. Her latest works are The Galaxy, and The Ground Within (the fourth and final Wayfarers novel), and A Psalm for the Wild-Built (the first of her Monk and Robot novellas).

Becky has a background in performing arts, and grew up in a family heavily involved in space science. She spends her free time playing video games, tabletop RPGs, and looking through her telescope. Having hopped around the world a bit, she’s now back in her home state, where she lives with her wife. She hopes to see Earth from orbit one day.


Rachael @rqdreads on Instagram!

The Match by Sarah Adams

The Match by Sarah Adams
Published: 5.30.20 via KindleUnlimited
Genre: Adult RomCom
Details: 284 pages – Paperbook, Kindle, Audiobook
Rating: 4 Stars
Series: It Happened in Charleston #1

Disclaimer: This book was read voluntarily by me via KindleUnlimited. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

SYNOPSIS

Having worked for Southern Service Paws for a few years now, I like to think I’m prepared for just about any client meeting under the sun. I am dead wrong.

The day I meet with single dad, Jacob Broaden, about potentially matching his daughter with one of our service dogs, I learn a few valuable lessons.

1) Always set my alarm clock.
2) Single dads are way hotter than I previously thought.
3) It is possible to go from fantasizing about kissing someone to wishing they would be run over by a truck in a matter of two minutes.

Unfortunately, I don’t hold that opinion of him for very long. Not when he shows me a different side of himself—one that’s sweet as maple syrup and hot as apple pie fresh out of the oven.

Too bad this guy is so far out of my league that I shouldn’t even be allowed to enter the game. Jake doesn’t seem to get that memo though. And after a few days of working closely with him and his daughter, he starts looking at me with fire in his eyes, making me dream of something I probably shouldn’t…

A family.

REVIEW

I started this book as my nightly read when I’m falling asleep. I sometimes struggle with enemies to lovers tropes because sometimes the characters can seriously be nasty to each other and it frustrates me. This book had so much balance. The tension is mainly from misunderstandings but are quickly resolved – one the the things I love about sweet romances!

Evie is strong, independent, and determined…. until you get her around her parents. She comes from a well to do family and she’s trying to break away. She loves working with service dogs and matching them to families and yet they refuse to support her. I don’t honestly know if the author needed to make Evie so tortured by them emotionally. She does things so out of character that it just didn’t make sense (spoilers below). Jake was pretty on brand as the misunderstood bad boy but it made it better because we got his POV as well. We could see that his motives were strictly to protect his daughter ad even when he was being an absolute dipshit, it made you go “aww Jake no!!” I rooted for Him and Evie through the whole thing!

Overall, this sweet, quick enemies to lovers romance is sure to sweep you away! This book is not smutty but it does have some steamy moments and lots of flirting!

There is one main critique that I need to add. There is like ZERO diversity. I went into this hoping that a 2020 book would have some diverse characters and alas, everyone is basically straight, white, and rich. Boo.


SPOILERS:

Okay, Evie’s parents can go jump off a bridge. The way that she catered to them after knowing they were toxic garbage made me so mad. It went against everything that Evie was working hard to overcome. At one point, her mom invites herself to a benefit for the service dogs, after trying to force her to marry this douche Tyler.. she says:

“Now that I think about it, it was selfish for me not to invite them in the first place.” She got so worried that she wouldn’t impress them that she said, “Might as well play the game and blend into their lifestyle.” NO! You don’t need their blood money! You want to get away from them! Why dress up to be like people you don’t want to be? She even told Jake to not talk at dinner – she says it was because she didn’t want him to have ammo used against him but that’s still bullshit!

Jake: “Did you say keep my mouth shut? Surely I didn’t hear that right.”
Evie: “Yep, seal it up.”

WHAT? I would be fucking furious y’all. FUCKING FURIOUS. Then Jake for whatever reason got all butthurt like he’s not good enough for Evie which to me was just a plot device because he’s a pretty confident guy but what the fuck. He was all breaking up with her because his man-ego got hurt. LOL Pass


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

SARAH ADAMS (AUTHOR)

Born and raised in Nashville TN, Sarah Adams loves her family, warm days, and making people smile. 

Sarah has dreamed of being a writer since she was a girl, but finally wrote her first novel when her daughters were napping and she no longer had any excuses to put it off.    

Sarah is a coffee addict, a British history nerd, a mom of two daughters, married to her best friend, and an indecisive introvert. Her hope is to always write stories that make you laugh, maybe even cry; but always leave you happier than when you started reading.


Rachael @rqdreads on Instagram!

All My Rage by Sabaa Tahir

All My Rage by Sabaa Tahir
Published: 3.1.22 by PenguinTeen/RazorBill
Genre: YA Contemporary
Details: 384 pages, Hardcover, Paperback, E-Book, Audio
Rating: 5 Stars
Series: Standalone

Disclaimer: PenguinTeen sent me this graphic novel in exchange for an honest review. I accepted and reviewed this book voluntarily. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Content warnings at the end of the review.

SYNOPSIS

Lahore, Pakistan. Then.
Misbah is a dreamer and storyteller, newly married to Toufiq in an arranged match. After their young life is shaken by tragedy, they come to the United States and open the Cloud’s Rest Inn Motel, hoping for a new start.

Juniper, California. Now.
Salahudin and Noor are more than best friends; they are family. Growing up as outcasts in the small desert town of Juniper, California, they understand each other the way no one else does. Until The Fight, which destroys their bond with the swift fury of a star exploding.

Now, Sal scrambles to run the family motel as his mother Misbah’s health fails and his grieving father loses himself to alcoholism. Noor, meanwhile, walks a harrowing tightrope: working at her wrathful uncle’s liquor store while hiding the fact that she’s applying to college so she can escape him—and Juniper—forever.

When Sal’s attempts to save the motel spiral out of control, he and Noor must ask themselves what friendship is worth—and what it takes to defeat the monsters in their pasts and the ones in their midst.

REVIEW

Where do I even begin? All My Rage made me angry but so incredibly hopeful. It was 300+ pages of pain that I didn’t know I needed. I found myself frequently crying because her writing is so powerful. This is a book that captures grief and loss, betrayal and forgiveness, rage and peace. AMR captured the essence of what the “American Dream” looked like to those who had to fight against all odds to create it. While I am not Pakistani and I am not Muslim, I connected with the racism, xenophobia, and expectations that come with children who have immigrant parents.

Watching Salahudin struggle to keep the only stability in his life from slipping through his fingers was enough to make me crack in half. Noor struggling to prove to herself that she’s worthy of a good life despite the odds filled me so deeply with pain that I just wanted to hold her through the pages. Resonating with Misbah while she made mistakes and trying so hard to fix them made me look at how I view motherhood.

This book explores how vulnerable we are, even to those who are closest to us… and how even the smallest betrayal can change the course of your life forever. Salahudin, Noor, and Misbah open their souls to us through this novel and really shows us how far we are willing to go for those that we love. It shows us how even people with the best intentions make mistakes – but it’s through that love that keeps our bonds strong.

Content Warnings:
Mentioned: Child sexual assault
Described: Drug overdose, drug dealing, death of parent, financial instability, law enforcement
Graphic: Child abuse, alcoholism, bullying, racism, Islamophobia


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

SABAA TAHIR (AUTHOR)

#1 New York Times bestselling author of the An Ember in the Ashes series, which has been translated into over thirty-five languages. She grew up in California’s Mojave Desert at her family’s eighteen-room motel. There, she spent her time devouring fantasy novels, raiding her brother’s comic book stash, and playing guitar badly. She began writing An Ember in the Ashes while working nights as a newspaper editor. She likes thunderous indie rock, garish socks, and all things nerd.

A professional author since 2015 and a journalist before that, Sabaa’s books have sold more than a million copies worldwide, are New York Times and international bestsellers, and have been honored by TIME Magazine on a list of the 100 best fantasy books of all time. Her work has appeared on numerous best books of the year lists including: Amazon, Buzzfeed, The New York Public Library, Indigo, Barnes & Noble, Hypable, Paste, Bustle, LA Weekly, The Wall Street Journal, TIME and Entertainment Weekly.


Rachael @rqdreads on Instagram!

Amethyst: Princess of Gemworld by Shannon and Dean Hale

Amethyst: Princess of Gemworld by Shannon and Deal Hale, Illustrated by Asiah Fulmore
Published: 11.9.21 by DC Comics
Genre: Middle Grade Graphic Novel
Details: 156 pages, Paperback, E-Book
Rating: 5 Stars
Series: Book 1

Disclaimer: DC Comics sent me this graphic novel in exchange for an honest review. I accepted and reviewed this book voluntarily. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Content warnings at the end of the review.

SYNOPSIS
Amaya, princess of House Amethyst in Gemworld, is something of a troublemaker. She and her brother have great fun together until a magical prank goes much too far and her parents ground her…to Earth! They hope a whole week in the mundane world will teach her that magic is a privilege…and maybe washing dishes by hand will help her realize the palace servants should be respected.

Three years later, Amy has settled into middle school and ordinary life. She doesn’t remember any other home. So when a prince of the realm brings her home and restores her magical destiny, how will she cope?

REVIEW

Let me begin this review by discussing the themes of this story – which includes self discovery, the dedication of friendship, standing up for what is right, and learning that privilege is power. I enjoyed this middle grade graphic novel as it was the perfect gateway into superheroes for young and/or reluctant readers! This story packed a punch right from the get go as we see Amaya growing up extremely pampered and spoiled – causing trouble wherever she goes. She gets one heck of a reality check when she is sent to earth as a punishment – sans her magic. When something goes wrong, Amaya gets stuck on Earth with her mage Aunt and they forget about magic. Amaya acclimates to her new environment relatively quickly, making friends and warding off enemies in middle school. I loved the age appropriate and modernized language (including doing the floss!), eliminating toxic masculinity through their friend Topaz, found families, and showing strong, powerful girls kicking butt!

The illustrations are fun and colorful! Sure to attract the eye of many types of readers. I found that teaching my kids to read and being excited about reading came in the form of graphic novels! They peak their interest and gives them context to the limited words and world building that comes with the territory of these types of stories. I loved the bright bold colors, I loved the diversity of the characters and I think the illustrator nailed it!

I gave this story 5 stars because 1) it’s meant for middle grade readers and 2) I don’t rate as an adult for books not targeted for me. I rate according to whether or not myself back in that age would have loved it. I truly believe that I would have enjoyed this story. My 9 year old read it in one sitting!

content warnings: bullying, threats of mild violence, divorce, amnesia


ABOUT THE AUTHORS/ILLUSTRATORS

SHANNON HALE (AUTHOR)

New York Times best selling author Shannon Hale started writing books at age ten and never stopped, eventually earning an MFA in Creative Writing. After nineteen years of writing and many rejections, she published The Goose Girl, the first in her award-winning Books of Bayern series. She has since published 30+ books for young readers including the Newbery Honor winner Princess Academy and its two sequels; multiple award winner Book of a Thousand Days; and graphic novel memoirs Real Friends, Best Friends, and Friends Forever (with LeUyen Pham). With frequent collaborator LeUyen Pham, she created the adorable picture book Itty-Bitty Kitty-Corn. Her novels for the adult crowd include Austenland (now a major motion picture starring Keri Russell). Shannon and her husband Dean Hale have collaborated on several projects, such as Eisner-nominee Rapunzel’s Revenge (with Nathan Hale); early chapter book series The Princess in Black (with LeUyen Pham); two novels about the unbeatable Marvel superhero, Squirrel Girl; and the DC graphic novel Diana: Princess of the Amazons (with Victoria Ying). They live with their four children and two cat overlords near Salt Lake City, Utah.

DEAN HALE (AUTHOR)

Dean Hale is the coauthor of the award-winning graphic novels Rapunzel’s Revenge and Calamity Jack and Scapegoat, his picture book debut. He lives in Utah with his wife and co-author, Shannon, and their children. 

ASIAH FULMORE (ILLUSTRATOR)

AAsiah Fulmore is a freelance illustrator who currently lives in Columbia, South Carolina, with her two dogs, Ali and Ash. She spends her free time reading and loves to travel. If she got the chance to visit Gemworld, she’d hang with House Ruby, because they have the best food, obviously!


Rachael @rqdreads on Instagram!

House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland

House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland
Published: 4.6.21 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Genre: YA Paranormal Horror
Details: 304 Pages, Print, E-Book, Audio
Rating: 5 Stars
Series: Standalone

REVIEW

Disclaimer: I borrowed my audiobook copy from the local library. I read and reviewed this book voluntarily. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Content warnings at the end of the review.

“I’d realized there were scarier things in the world than the monsters that lived in my nightmares.”

I wanted nothing more than to find a book that I could immerse myself into. I asked everyone for recommendations on a book that would sweep me away. I was driving home and thought, maybe I should try the audiobook. So many people have told me that the audiobook is incredible and they were not wrong. Haunting, creepy, unputdownable. The prose is captivating and intoxicating, so much so that my husband listened with me and the binged it the next day. This is a story about love, loss, heartbreak, and the bonds that people share… what someone is willing to do for the ones they love. I will think for a very long time.

Something is wrong with the Hollow sisters. Iris, Vivi, and Grey disappeared without a trace, returning a month later with no memory, hair and eyes different colors, and a half moon scar at the base of their throats. Seventeen year old Iris spends her time attending her lavish private school, trying to stay away from the public eye, while her sisters rebelled. She becomes frightened as she’s being followed by a horned man (historically having stalkers due to their unsolved disappearance as children). When Grey goes missing under mysterious circumstances, Iris and Vivi begin following the increasingly bizarre trail of breadcrumbs left for them, unraveling the past that they desperately want to forget.

I seriously could not put this book down. Once I started, I realized how dark and atmospheric this book was going to be. The narrator, Eleanor Bennett, was phenomenal. I honestly don’t know if I will ever reread the physical copy of this because it is THAT good. I immediately felt connected to the Hollow sisters. Their shared pain, their dedication to one another, their love… Iris states many times that she would be nothing without them and you can tell that they all have a strange, yet beautiful obsession with one another. I really appreciated the conversational style Sutherland used. It’s rare that I read a book and think, “this is exactly what it would sound like if this were real…” It felt like real young adults having real young adult conversations and it helped me feel connected to the story. The narrator did an incredible job at controlling the tone of the story.

Side characters were well fleshed out and felt as if they all had their own places within this story. Cate, their mother, was overbearing, protective, and sometimes cruel in conversation with the sisters. Vivi and Grey both struggled with Iris’ blind loyalty to Cate. At one point, Vivi stated, “that’s a pretty heaven burden to bear, being everything for someone,” when Iris says she wants Cate to move with her when she goes to University. The horned masked stalker/villain had such an interesting back story that honestly I did not see that coming. And Tyler – what an addition to this twisting tale. So often we find significant others, co-workers, classmate etc being used as a throwaway plot device and I did not feel this way at all.

House of Hollow is by far the most atmospheric book I’ve ever read; Sutherland deserves five stars for world building alone. Once I started listening to the details of the story, I was hooked, whisked away to this creepy town. The author loved to use descriptive words, especially about the smell of things and places to really set the tone. Scent is such a huge factor in whether or not something is “grotesque” and she really understood that concept and used it to her advantage to make you believe you too could smell the rotting decay. It definitely is not for weak stomachs.

As far as horrors go, this wasn’t a book that made me feel like I couldn’t sleep but it was chilling enough to make me look over my shoulder when I was alone in the kitchen. This standalone YA paranormal horror really does mess with you mentally as you never are quite sure if the narrator is is reliable or not. If you are a fan of Stranger Things, a deep and rich prose, and world building that will make you question your own reality, then this book is for you.

Content Warnings: suicide and suicidal ideations, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, child death, parental death, self harm, stalking, violence, attempted rape, murder, gore


SPOILERS

Let’s talk about Cate for a second. At first, I thought – how could she be so cold to her children. How could a mother deny comfort and love. It broke me to pieces when she told Iris not to call her “mama” and to refer to her only as her first name… but you soon begin to understand why. I really appreciated the fact that she understood that her daughters were gone but she would rather have something rather than nothing, and she did remain dedicated to them (except for Grey 🌚)

The scene with Tyler reuniting with my sister was possibly the saddest scene in the entire story. I have to give mad props to Sutherland for making me feel this gut wrenching feeling about a side character and leaving it as one of the most memorable scenes. I also loved that Tyler was a Korean supermodel. I’m not biased or anything (okay I am because I am Korean), but the representation felt nice and not forced.

Speaking of representation, QUEER CHARACTERS! It was such an amazing surprise for me to find out that Iris was Bi and Vivi was a lesbian. I also loved that that was normalized and not used as a plot device or some part of a painful story regarding their sexuality.

The ambiguous ending leaves me BEGGING for more. It reminds me of the end of Stranger Things at each seasons end. You can close that book forever always wondering where your beloved characters go, or you can pick up with the little snippets left behind and write more stories. I want Tyler to come back!!!


Rachael

Small Favors By Erin A. Craig

Small Favors by Erin A. Craig
Published: 7.27.21 by Delacorte Press
Genre: YA Historical Fantasy, Horror, Paranormal Fantasy, Rumpelstiltskin Retelling
Details: 480 Pages, Print, E-Book, Audio
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Series: Standalone

REVIEW

Disclaimer: First and foremost, I would like to thank Penguin Random House Audio for providing me a complimentary audiobook of Small Favors in exchange for an honest review! Content warnings at the end of the review.

Ellerie Downing, a beekeepers daughter, lives in the quiet, isolated town of Amity Falls, where the townsfolk work hard at making sure everyone succeeds after early settlers fought off devilish creatures that lived in the woods. This dark, atmospheric, young adult horror opens up to a bloody end to a failed supply run, making everyone question the motives of the neighbors they’ve vowed to protect. Soon after, bad omens plague them; animals are maimed and deformed, crops are destroyed, and a catastrophic event sows mistrust within this community. Fearing starvation through the winter, lack of medical supplies, low ammunition, and a stranger appearing from the woods draws concerned feelings from the town. Being stuck within the borders of this creepy forest, with visitors being rare, makes the arrival of a strange boy all the more concerning. This book provides a very claustrophobic atmosphere which adds to the intensity of the plot. It also added psychological thrill which kept me listening until late into the night!

That being said, the character development and overall plot had some holes which made me lose some interest in the story. The behavior of Ellerie’s 8 year old sister was unconvincing, the narrator made her sound like she was 4 which frustrated me a bit as I always have trouble with authors/narrators not understand the tone of children they add to their stories. This being a Rumpelstiltskin retelling held true, with mystical creatures offering small favors in exchange for a little mayhem within the town, though we don’t learn much about the monsters until the very end, and even then it was slightly anticlimactic.

Overall, I enjoyed this story. My teenage self would give this a 3.5 star and would recommend this to anyone who enjoyed House of Salt and Sorrows, The Hollow Places, Rules for Vanishing, and other YA horror!

Content Warnings: pet/animal euthanasia, farm animal death, familial death, self harm/blood magic, fear of starvation, fire/severe burns


SPOILERS

Sam, Ellerie’s brother, was a throwaway character. He was extremely under developed and used as a plot device, even at the end. There was zero closure for his motives, leaving you with many questions about why he made the choices that he did. It frustrated me that there wasn’t much clarity for Ellerie and she was just okay with her brother being a jerk even until his death. Essentially going 🤷🏻‍♀️ immediately after his death scene (this was the same reaction Rebecca, his pregnant ex girlfriend had after learning that he’s dead). This frustrated me because it was completely for shock and it felt like having no emotional resolution for him (whether that be good or bad) was cheap. He was a character that the author could abuse and then forget about and critically, it just doesn’t sit well for character development.

The plot revolves around the townsfolk and how everyone works so hard to make sure they all succeed through the harsh winter, so when the town goes up in flames, Ellerie turns her back to the mayhem and then rides off to find her parents which were also used as a plot device and forgotten about as well.

The main villain was easily defeated, in a very unrealistic way (yes I know this is fantasy but there are certain things that you just shake your head at) and didn’t provide many answers to Ellerie’s desperate questions. Ellerie also makes choices that are completely useless and just made the book seem to drag. The paranormal elements of the book seemed disjointed within the story and was more-so confusing than it was revealing. The “small favors” parts of the book were not explored, just explained quickly – we don’t really get to see/read about WHAT the small favors actually were or why, just that it was happening. There were little instances like this that turned me off a bit when it started off with great potential.


Rachael

The Full Moon

People always say that strange things happen during a full moon. I firmly believe that the lunar cycle changes us, either temporarily, or perhaps more permanently. Children can begin acting wildly, interesting occurrences going bump in the night, maybe a mood shift for yourself; a new idea or hobby will develop, mental clarity for a tough situation, or it’s just your time to release some pent up physical/mental energy. Our most recent full moon brought on a desperate need for change.

This change came in the form of rebranding my blog to fit where my life is going, motivation to deep clean areas of my house that gave me stress, being more aware of how my words and feelings can affect others, especially my husband and kids.

So here we are, besties. I’ve got something brand new and I think being able to have a space I love to share all of my interests, not just my bookish ones, will give me more sense of peace and creativity than when this was just for books.

Come along with me and explore the darkest parts of the forest.

Nothing is too peculiar here.


~ Rachael

In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren

Read on 11.10.20 – 4 Stars

In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren
Genre:
 Adult Fiction
Publisher: GalleryBooks
Publication Date: 
10.6.20
Rating: 4 Stars

Synopsis:

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…but not for Maelyn Jones. She’s living with her parents, hates her going-nowhere job, and has just made a romantic error of epic proportions.

But perhaps worst of all, this is the last Christmas Mae will be at her favorite place in the world—the snowy Utah cabin where she and her family have spent every holiday since she was born, along with two other beloved families. Mentally melting down as she drives away from the cabin for the final time, Mae throws out what she thinks is a simple plea to the universe: Please. Show me what will make me happy.

The next thing she knows, tires screech and metal collides, everything goes black. But when Mae gasps awake…she’s on an airplane bound for Utah, where she begins the same holiday all over again. With one hilarious disaster after another sending her back to the plane, Mae must figure out how to break free of the strange time loop—and finally get her true love under the mistletoe.

Jam-packed with yuletide cheer, an unforgettable cast of characters, and Christina Lauren’s trademark “downright hilarious” (Helen Hoang, author of The Bride Test) hijinks, this swoon-worthy romantic read will make you believe in the power of wishes and the magic of the holidays.



Disclaimer: This book was purchased by me and reviewed by choice. This in no way sways my opinions, all thoughts expressed are my own.


REVIEW

This book was binge-worthy! My cousin checked out a copy at the library and I had recently purchased it with a giftcard I received and let me tell you, it got me ready for Christmas! We read it in two days! I was trying so hard to save this for December but after reading The Unhoneymooners and Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating, I couldn’t resist once it was in my hands.

This hilarious romantic comedy is wholesome from start to finish. That’s one thing I have loved with the few Christina Lauren books I have read, there’s always a climax but it’s never one that makes you feel so totally twisted in the gut. I struggle sometimes reading books where it feels like it’s ripping my heart out and I stress so hard with anxiety. I know I can feel safe reading their books and just wish it would never end!

Maelyn is such a relatable character, with real life millennial problems that most of us are going through right now. Her one escape is to this snowy cabin that her and her family go to, as well as two other families for the holiday! Upon making a GRAVE mistake, Maelyn is forced to relive her Christmas vacation over and over and over again until she hopefully gets it right!

Rating: The cozy, Christmas feel is to die for. I love how interesting and different the characters were, I loved the normalization of LGBT families, and I really loved the sex-positive, safe sex approach to the romance. I love how funny and loving this group is with each other. This is definitely a book I will be rereading every single year for the holidays. My only real critique was the fact that sometimes I felt like the characters were not written for their ages. Miles, Maelyn’s younger brother – I thought he was 7, not 17 multiple times. Maelyn could easily have been 21 or younger (minus the drinking). I also wish we got more information on the *magic* that creates her time loop!

Thank you so much for reading my review! This book is available now for purchase! You can click this link to find it at a local bookstore near you!

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A Golden Fury by Samantha Cohoe – Blog Tour

Welcome to my blog tour stop for A Golden Fury by Samantha Cohoe! This book was gifted to me by St. Martin’s Press and Wednesday Books! Today I’ll be sharing with you the synopsis, early praise, and an excerpt! This book releases on 10.13.20 and is available for pre-order now! Click HERE to get your copy ordered today!


SYNOPSIS

Thea Hope longs to be an alchemist out of the shadow of her famous mother. The two of them are close to creating the legendary Philosopher’s Stone—whose properties include immortality and can turn any metal into gold—but just when the promise of the Stone’s riches is in their grasp, Thea’s mother destroys the Stone in a sudden fit of violent madness.

While combing through her mother’s notes, Thea learns that there’s a curse on the Stone that causes anyone who tries to make it to lose their sanity. With the threat of the French Revolution looming, Thea is sent to Oxford for her safety, to live with the father who doesn’t know she exists.

But in Oxford, there are alchemists after the Stone who don’t believe Thea’s warning about the curse—instead, they’ll stop at nothing to steal Thea’s knowledge of how to create the Stone. But Thea can only run for so long, and soon she will have to choose: create the Stone and sacrifice her sanity, or let the people she loves die.


Early praise for A Golden Fury

“Cohoe transmutes the legend of the Philosopher’s Stone into a dark, intoxicating tale of ambition, obsession, and sacrifice. Prepare for a magic that will consume you.” – Rosamund Hodge, New York Times bestselling author of Cruel Beauty and Bright Smoke, Cold Fire

“Steeped in mystery and magic, Samantha Cohoe’s A Golden Fury immerses readers in beautifully rendered world where magic and science mix, and where the intoxication of power can be deadly. Whip-smart Thea is a heroine readers will root for.” – Lisa Maxwell, New York Times bestselling author of The Last Magician

Below you will find an excerpt provided by the publisher for me to share! This teaser enticed me to go ahead and pre-order my copy! Click the link or the download button for the PDF!


About the Author

Samantha Cohoe writes historically-inspired young adult fantasy. She was raised in San Luis Obispo, California, where she enjoyed an idyllic childhood of beach trips, omnivorous reading, and writing stories brimming with adverbs. She currently lives in Denver with her family and divides her time among teaching Latin, mothering, writing, reading, and deleting adverbs. A Golden Fury is her debut novel.

Thank you so much for joining me today for my blog tour! I hope you enjoy A Golden Fury!!

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