Horrid by Katrina Leno

Book provided by Owlcrate // ARC provided by The NOVL in exchange for an honest review

It’s been a while since I’ve read a genuinely spooky YA book, and Horrid did not disappoint. I always love a book where the focal point is an ominous house. In this case we have North Manor, a family mansion in Maine that has sat empty for two years until a mother and daughter move in. The mother grew up in this manor, but something has made her never want to go back. But due to some unfortunate circumstances, she and her teenage daughter have to live there now.

We follow Jane, the daughter, and how she quickly figures out there’s something very… strange about this home: the tapping, the creaking, the sudden appearance of random objects. But we also learn Jane has problems with anger and how to deal with it. This book deeply delves into the topics of mental health, and how certain conditions can be passed genetically, and how it is handled and portrayed in the book may not be the best way.

So that leads me into this: there’s some unreliable narrator territory going on, which isn’t usually my cup of tea. But in this case Leno so perfectly toed the line between reality and the paranormal. Leno is also the master at crafting such atmospheric books. I truly felt like I was transported to Maine on a chilly, autumnal day. And if I’m being totally honest, the mother-daughter vibes I got reminded me a bit of Rory and Lorelai Gilmore (but of course, this being much darker!)

I really enjoyed the reading experience SO much, and I fully recommend this book especially during the spooky season!

TW: pica (a disorder that makes people want to eat things that aren’t food), death of parent, death of family members, mention of overdosing, bullying, child abuse, animal abuse.

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Well Played (Well Met, #2) by Jen DeLuca

ARC provided by Berkley Romance in exchange for an honest review

Help! I’m a sucker for Renaissance faire romances set in small towns with soft characters and cute friendships :’)

We get to follow Stacey in this sequel/companion novel to Well Met. Well Met was one of my favorite reads of 2019, so I was extra excited for the opportunity to read this one early. I was already in love with the small town setting, and was so pleased to see we get to go back to the Ren faire.

This book had everything I wanted: cozy book shops with a cafe, book clubs, the Ren faire, a cute romance, and themes of friendships and found families. Oh, and if you were a fan of Emily and Simon from the first book, you’ll be happy to know they play major roles in this one, too! But, this story is about Stacey and her accidental friends-to-lovers journey with Daniel. It’s quite the ride, but I should warn you that there is a lot of catfishing going on. So I understand if that may make you feel uncomfortable! (Think: Cyrano de Bergerac…’ish.)

I truly loved this sequel a lot, though! And I cannot wait for Well Matched, where we’ll get to follow Mitch and April! (April quickly became one of my favorite characters since the first book!)

TW: catfishing, talk of a past heart attack, talk of loss of a family member, talks of body image.

Buddy read with Melanie! 💗

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Dating Makes Perfect by Pintip Dunn

Thank you to Entangled for the ARC and to Hear Our Voices Tours for hosting the blog tour!

Dating Makes Perfect is an ownvoices Thai YA rom com and as an ownvoices reader I truly had the best time reading it!

This story follows the Tech sisters whose strict Thai parents didn’t allow them to date in high school. But once the eldest Tech twins go off to college, their parents allow the youngest sister, Winnie, to date. But there’s a catch: mom gets to set up the date and chooses the guy (and she sets up each date based on a rom com movie.)

I don’t want to bring up too much of my personal life but as someone who grew up in Thailand AND in the US, I related so hard to all the Thai cultural references (and what it feels like trying to assimilate in a white town in Ohio.) There’s lots of references to Thai foods and customs, and my favorite scene was the Songkran (Thai New Year) celebration. Songkran is one of my favorite Thai holidays and I miss being with my family for that.

What I really enjoyed was seeing how many other Thai characters were in the forefront of this book. Winnie befriends a Thai boy, and she even gets involved in an enemies to lovers romance with a Thai boy. It was just so nice to see Thai people be the focal point of this story. And the sisterhood is so cute as well!

If you’re looking for a light read that has themes of family, friendship, and romance then give Dating Makes Perfect a try! It really made my heart so happy to see a Thai protagonist get her own cute story.

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#FridayFrightAThon 2019 Announcement!

Spooky and dark foggy forest at dusk

Hi, friends! I’m so excited to announce that we are bringing back FridayFrightAThon this year! Come join me, Melanie, Jen, and Chelsea as we buddy read four books during the month of October.

So, what is FridayFrightAThon? Every Friday in October we will pick up one thriller to read together. We’ll use the hashtag #FridayFrightAThon on Instagram and Twitter to chat about our thoughts and progress. Feel free to join us in reading one book or all four!

The Schedule:

Friday October 4th: American Predator: The Hunt for the Most Meticulous Serial Killer of the 21st Century by Maureen Callahan (Note: this is our only non-fiction pick.)

Friday October 11th: The Whisper Man by Alex North

Friday October 18th: The Escape Room by Megan Goldin

Friday October 25th: The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay

Your Hosts:

Amy (that’s me!) @ A Court of Crowns and Quills

Melanie @ Meltotheany

Jen @ Pinot & Pages

Chelsea Palmer

We are so excited and hope you’ll join us this year for round 2!



The Right Swipe (Modern Love, #1) by Alisha Rai


Book provided by Avon in exchange for an honest review.

This was my first book by Alisha Rai and wooooo boy, can she write romance! Don’t let this cute illustrated cover fool you. This book is packed full of racy and steamy scenes.

This book stars Rhiannon, a black woman who came from a poor family and has had to always work twice as hard to prove herself working in a male-dominated field (tech industry.) She is very career driven and smart. She also started her own dating app. While at a conference Rhi sees an old hookup. A hookup who ghosted her in the past. His name is Samson Lima and he’s a retired NFL football player who is currently the spokesperson for a rival dating app.

I think you can see where this is going. And while I knew the enemies-to-lovers thing was coming, I wasn’t expecting Rhi and Samson to reconnect so soon. This was actually a breath of fresh air for me, because sometimes that trope can drag out too long. It was fun reading about their dynamics in the workplace while being in the middle of their angst and sexual tension.

This book also touches on the topic of CTE, Chronic Traumatic Encelphalopathy, which is a degenerative brain disease found in athletes or others who have repetitive head trauma. We learn as part of Samson’s backstory that his uncle (also a former football player) passed away from CTE and he is very involved in CTE research. I’d never read a book that highlighted this condition and appreciated the author bringing awareness to it.

The lack of communication between Rhi and Samson was what ultimately didn’t bring this up to a full five stars to me. But I loved the story so much, and how strong and unapologetic Rhi is. Overall this was such a great book!

Trigger/content warnings: abusive relationship (gaslighting), sexual harassment.


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Ninth House (Ninth House Series, #1) by Leigh Bardugo


ARC obtained from BookExpo in exchange for an honest review.

I really think this is going to be one of those books you’ll either love or hate. Fans of Bardugo will pick up on how perfectly she personifies each character, but please be warned, this is not young adult. This book is very much about healing from past traumas while trying to also survive in a society that’s filled with so much death and darkness.

I will say that I was a bit confused in the beginning because this book jumps a lot between two timelines (the past winter, and the present which is spring.) We follow Alex, a girl who attends Yale University and ends up being recruited into a secret society. Alex has a supernatural ability which makes her a unique society member of Lethe House. Yale also has eight other secret societies where each one deals with their own paranormal/supernatural “specialties.” We get glimpses into each society and learning about them was interesting, yet a bit tedious, at times for me.

The murder of a local woman sets the story in motion as Alex suspects one of the societies is involved. But she’s also dealing with the disappearance of her friend and society “mentor”, Darlington. The story weaves both mysteries together, and at times it would be a bit too slow for my liking. However, I was so immersed in the dark mysteries surrounding the cases and the occult that I still enjoyed reading this very much!

Honestly, I would rate the overall story itself four stars. But once we began peeling back the layers of Alex and Darlington’s characters… I just fell in love with the book. The characters are so well written and, in true Bardugo fashion, their backstories really punched me in the gut. Also? There are ghosts. So that’s major bonus points for me!

I found myself very slowly chipping away at this book just so I could absorb all the information about the societies. But also please use caution as the themes are very dark and heavy. Bardugo said she wrote about her own experiences (and that this book is her way of healing) and she is valid and unapologetic. She does not hold back.

Trigger/content warnings: rape of a minor, drug use, cutting, bullying, gore/medical procedures, sexual assault of a minor, sexual acts under the influence of magic/drugs, parental neglect/abandonment, talks of cancer.


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Well Met by Jen DeLuca


ARC provided by Berkley Romance in exchange for an honest review.

I’m so blown by away this debut, and it is one of my favorite contemporary romances of 2019. You see, every fall I attend the Renaissance fair in Ohio. It is always my favorite annual event. I love everything from the atmosphere to the actors decked out in costumes, to the food and shows.

So it’s no surprise this book was written for me and that niche I love. This book stars Emily, a young woman who recently broke up with her boyfriend and moved to a small town to live with her older sister. Emily’s sister was in an accident and needs extra help around the house. But Emily also helps take care of her niece, and an activity they end up becoming involved in together is the summer Renaissance fair.

Emily then meets the fair director, Simon, who is also the high school English teacher. The two immediately start off on the wrong foot and do not seem to get along in real life. But when Emily becomes Emma the tavern wench and Simon becomes the cocky pirate, Ian Blackthorn, at the fair, their chemistry is contagious.

Of course you can guess this evolves into a love/hate relationship, and y’all, I was living for it. But it’s so much more than a romcom; there are elements of grief and healing, discovering yourself, and so many themes of friendship and community. I was loving the small town vibes since I am also from a small town. I loved how even during non-fair scenes, Emily was working in a book store. Like, wow, Ren fairs AND bookshops in one book? THANK YOU, JEN DELUCA!

This is one of the cutest and most heartfelt books I’ve ever read. Emily and Simon are both so multi-layered, and I adored watching them interact both in and out of fair character. You will also never unsee Simon as Colin O’Donoghue as Captain Hook. 😉

Trigger/content warnings: grief, loss of a loved one.



Hardback edition featured by Book of the Month. Get your first book for free via my affiliate link here!

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The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda


One of my goals in 2019 is to read more thrillers, and so far I… haven’t been fully reaching that goal. But it’s okay! I’m excited to keep slowly chipping away at my thriller collection. Of course, it would probably help if I stopped adding more to said collection. Ha.

So here’s a prime example of “cool cover with pretty font” that caught my attention. Yep, I decided to stock up on Megan Miranda’s books. I just finished The Perfect Stranger. It’s the first book I decided to read from this author. I understand her debut, All the Missing Girls (which I have NOT yet read), has raving reviews. So I was a bit worried how The Perfect Stranger was going to be. But I’m always up for reading a book with polarizing reviews!


This book follows Leah, a woman who was shunned out of her town due to mysterious circumstances that relates to her job as a reporter. She moves into a rural area in western Pennsylvania with an old college friend, Emmy. Leah wants a fresh start, and begins working as a high school teacher. But then someone turns up dead, and then Emmy disappears. Leah’s journalist-instincts kick in, which soon gets her involved in the investigation.

And it was… just okay? First let me explain what I appreciated about this book. There are SEVERAL mysteries going on at once. I won’t explain them all to avoid spoilers, but Leah gets pulled in a million directions when one mystery leads to another. And not only are there mysteries happening in the present timeline, but there are dark secrets that are revealed from Leah’s past, too. I enjoyed how multi-layered this story was and how Leah didn’t stop until she got answers.

The biggest thing that bothered me, though, was the sheer volume of victim blaming. I’m so tired of reading books that always paint women to be hysterical/unreliable/emotional/crazy. I get it – this is something that we still have to face in the real world. Women are still painted in this light. And it sucks. And it feels bad. The white male privilege in this book is SO prevalent that I was just getting more annoyed. It just reinforces the notion that you can be a white male in a position of power, and be able to get away with anything. (Don’t worry, not a spoiler. It’s just a constant theme.)

It also took me a long time to get into this author’s writing style. At times the writing felt a bit disjointed. This makes me a bit nervous to read her other works, but I’m still planning to give them a shot.

Overall, it’s an okay book. It’s a quiet book in terms of “thrill-factor.” So if that’s not your thing, then you may want to skip this one. I guess, for me personally, it wasn’t a very memorable read.


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My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing


Every once in a while you come across a thriller that just sticks with you… and wow, this was the one!

I know rating and reviewing thrillers can be such a mixed bag because everyone has their own levels of comfort when it comes to the violence depicted, or perhaps you’re just really good at guessing the twists (which is a good or bad thing depending on your preference.)

My Lovely Wife exceeded my expectations when it came down to two things: The serial killer plot line, and the pacing. Really, I’m just a sucker for serial killer stories, I guess!

We follow a married couple who, in truth, are both quite terrible people. The story is told from the husband’s perspective, which I particularly enjoyed because I feel like most of the thrillers I pick up tend to be from the woman’s POV. I enjoyed being his mind and seeing his truly fucked up relationship with his wife, Millicent.

Millicent is a real estate agent but she has a darker secret: She murders people. Her husband helps lure the victims, and then Millicent is the executioner. But in order to cover up their trail of murders, they both decide to resurrect a famous serial killer named Owen. By copying Owen’s MO and using his name to taunt the police, they are able to get away with their own crimes.

But in true thriller fashion, things don’t go quiet according to plan. Y’all, I immensely enjoyed the ride and just how well written everything was! All the clues and bread crumbs fell into place, and I was left feeling so satisfied with the ending.

However, I do want to mention that if you’re not a fan of thrillers that depict torture/violence then this may not be your cup of tea. It’s clear the author pulled lots of inspiration from true crime cases (particularly that of serial killers from our past) that you are going to notice some similarities.

Another thing I want to mention is that while this book is marketed as “Dexter meets Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” I wouldn’t say that is quite… true. It errs more on the Dexter side of things, but the Mr. and Mrs. Smith analogy is a bit of a joke. Our married duo in this book are not trained assassins. They’re not hired to go around killing other people. They’re just two people who have a very fucked up relationship and quite frankly, they’re both shitty people.

Nonetheless, I loved this thriller so much, and I hope you’ll pick it up, too! I truly couldn’t put it down.


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Lock Every Door by Riley Sager


ARC obtained from BookExpo

I always love a good thriller or horror novel that stars one of my favorite characters: The house itself. The house is its own ominous being, exuding so much negative energy with its sordid past that it consumes the main characters. It’s why I’m always keen for stories in the likes of American Horror Story (Murder House), The Haunting of Hill House, and, albeit non-fiction, the murder castle of H.H. Holmes.

While Lock Every Door is not paranormal, and I wouldn’t call it horror either, the same concept is there: The house these people live in has a bloody past, and now history may be repeating itself.

But instead of a house, we are introduced to The Bartholomew: a 44-room luxury apartment building in New York City. Getting to live in The Bartholomew is nearly impossible. It’s highly exclusive; only reserved for the rich and famous who value their privacy.

Jules Larsen is out of a job and recently broke up with her cheating boyfriend. She answers an ad in the newspaper to apartment-sit for three months. The job is pretty simple: be a temporary tenant at The Bartholomew. The previous owner passed away, and while the next of kin are fighting over who inherits the apartment, they want someone to take care of it for them. Jules knows this is too good to be true, but she can’t pass up the opportunity to live in a luxury NYC apartment AND get paid to do it.

We are introduced to The Bartholomew’s tenants; who range from actresses, authors, politicians, and physicians. Jules has to follow some strict rules such as not bothering the other tenants, no visitors, and she must sleep in the apartment every single night. But Jules knows something is amiss when one of the other apartment sitters disappears.

I truly had so much fun reading this book. I devoured it in 24 hours. I found Jules to be somewhat annoying and, of course, made some questionable decisions throughout the book. But it was such a damn page-turner, and I love how history and legends were a driving force in this book. I find Riley Sager’s style of writing so easy to follow, and everything flows beautifully on the page. The thriller element was superb in this one. While I thought I had things figured out, I was led in an entirely different direction.

I also want to mention that I particularly enjoyed learning about Jules’s past, too. Without giving anything away, there’s a bit of a mystery involving her family. It’s sad and gut-wrenching. So be prepared for that!

I’m sure you seasoned thriller-readers may be able to guess some of the twists. I did, but it was such a fun ride and I loved thinking back to all the bread crumbs I totally missed. Now things make even more sense! I know I’m being vague but I want to stop here so I don’t spoil anything. Please pick up this book if you want a thriller that stars a mysterious apartment with a spooky past!


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