My Top Ten 2018 Publications

Happy New Year!

Wow. Here we are. A new year brings a new list of our favorite books. I surprised myself by finishing 110 books in 2018. Out of 110 books, I gave 29 of them 5 stars. I had A LOT of 3 and 4-star reads.

The books I chose below were all 5-star reads for me. I judge books based on a few things, but the most important thing to me is how much I enjoyed it. I like page-turners and well written characters and plots. But what matters the most to me is the overall entertainment and enjoyment I receive from the book.

I’m going to post two lists. Today I will share my favorite books published in 2018, and then tomorrow I’ll share a (shorter) list of my favorite books I read in 2018 that were NOT published in 2018!

So without further ado… here are my ten favorite books published in 2018:


10. LIFEL1K3 by Jay Kristoff

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LIFEL1KE was just SO FUN. I loved the action, friendships, and good vs. evil themes all throughout this book. I already know DEV1AT3 is going to be a must-read for me in 2019.


9. Bruja Born by Zoraida Córdova

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Bruja Born is the sequel to Labyrinth Lost. This is a Latinx own-voices novel that’s filled with magic, tragedy, and sisterhood. I loved every page of it.


8. Vengeful by V.E. Schwab

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Another book that was just so fun for me to read. I loved the action and mayhem so much. And to be reunited again with my favorite antiheroes, Victor and Eli, filled me with so much joy. Plus this book is worth the read just for Marcella alone.


7. Blanca y Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore

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This book totally swept me away. It’s own-voices and so incredibly atmospheric and haunting.


6. Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor

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I knew Muse of Nightmares was going to be a hit and it did not disappoint. I love the world that Laini Taylor constructed, and I loved the side story about Kora and Nova even more.


5. Circe by Madeline Miller

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I don’t often read books based on mythology but Circe totally blew me away. It’s so beautifully written and feminist. I now want to read all of Madeline Miller’s works.


4. Heartstopper: Volume 1 by Alice Oseman

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This self-published edition of the webcomic filled me with so much happiness. I cannot stop gushing about it. Please, if you are ever in need of a pure, heartwarming story, pick this up.


3. The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang

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I’m in awe that this is a debut novel. R.F. Kuang stunned me with her writing and world building. This tale is dark, brutal, and tragic — and I loved all of it.


2. The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

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This own-voices book is full of so much good. I cannot recommend it enough. Yes, it’s steamy and romancey, but I loved the dynamic between the two main characters, as well as the family relationships. Also the Southeast Asian rep which meant so much to me.


1. The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

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The Cruel Prince was one of the first books I read in 2018 and was the first review ever on my blog. I guess it’s no surprise this book made it on my top ten. It is THE book that inspired me to start blogging. And, wow, that a journey it’s been! I love this book so much (I even reread it on audio) and hope you’ll give it a chance sometime! It’s a faerie world filled with dark, political intrigue, and enemies-to-lovers romance. ❤


That’s it! I also want to thank every single person who has ever reached out to me via my blog, instagram, twitter, goodreads, etc. You all mean so much to me and I am so thankful that just even one person reads my reviews or takes the time to leave a comment. I wish you all nothing but the best for 2019!

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xx,

Amy

January 2019 TBR

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Hi, friends! My January TBR is going to be pretty light because I’ll be in Disney World for a good chunk of time. I’m really excited to be taking a mother/daughter trip with my mom and I’ll definitely be posting updates on my insta stories. So if you don’t follow me on instagram you can find me @acourtofcrownsandquills 🙂

January is also really exciting because it kicks off our very first buddy read in Melanie and I’s new book club: Dragons and Tea Book Club! We hope you’ll join us but if you can’t this month that’s totally okay. We’ll be buddy reading one book a month so you’re still totally welcome to join our Goodreads group for updates!

So without further ado… here is my TBR for January:


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Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte

The Wayward Children series #2-4 by Seanan McGuire

The Wicker King by K. Ancrum (our book club pick!)


That’s it! I’d love to hear what you’re all planning to read so please let me know! I hope your 2019 starts off amazing and I’m wishing you all the 5-star reads!

xx,

Amy

December 2018 Book Haul

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Hello, friends! I can’t believe this is my last haul for 2018! I can honestly say 2018 was a huge whirlwind for me in the bookish world. I feel so fortunate to have made such amazing friendships through the book community, and I am also so grateful for the relationships I’ve built with publishers. I am looking forward to continuing bringing you more reviews (and hauls. Like, who am I kidding?) and perhaps a little Booktube…? 😉

So, here we go. My haul from December 2018!


Book Outlet Black Friday Haul:

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Captive Prince

Prince’s Gambit

Catching Air

Dating You/Hating You

Love and Other Words

Nyxia

The Cafe by the Sea

The Great Gatsby


Purchased Books:

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Queen of Air and Darkness (Signed/personalized)

Queen of Air and Darkness (Waterstones)


From Publishers:

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The Stolen Angel (Grand Central Pub)

Black Leopard, Red Wolf (Riverhead Books)

Out of Time (Berkley Romance)

D-Day Girls (Penguin)

Courting Darkness (HMH)

Dragon Pearl (Rick Riordan Presents)

Four Dead Queens (Penguin Teen)

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Edelweiss Galleys:

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Descendant of the Crane (Albert Whitman Company)


Subscription Boxes:

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Wild Magic (Illumicrate)

Empress of All Seasons (Illumicrate)

An Anonymous Girl (Book of the Month)

Blanca y Roja (Shelflove Crate)

Amber & Dusk (Owlcrate)

Fire and Heist (Fairyloot)

The Storm Crow (Fairyloot)


Gifts:

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Thank you so much for my wonderful friends who sent me these amazing gifts. I am truly overwhelmed with gratitude and I am so blessed to have your friendships. Thank you to Jen @ Pinot and Pages, Melanie @ Meltotheany, Sophie @ Sophie Reads, Kristin @ Super Space Chick, Heather @ Bookables, Trina @ Between Chapters, and Chelsea @ ChelseaDolling Reads for making my Christmas so special! ❤


I hope you all had a wonderful month and a merry Christmas (if you celebrate!) My Christmas book haul will go up in January since I’m celebrating it a bit late with family this year. I also want to wish you all a happy new year’s eve weekend! Please be safe! ❤

xx,

Amy

One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid

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fourstars

Title: One True Loves

Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid

Pages: 352

Genre: Contemporary romance

My Rating: ★★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

In her twenties, Emma Blair marries her high school sweetheart, Jesse. They build a life for themselves, far away from the expectations of their parents and the people of their hometown in Massachusetts. They travel the world together, living life to the fullest and seizing every opportunity for adventure.

On their first wedding anniversary, Jesse is on a helicopter over the Pacific when it goes missing. Just like that, Jesse is gone forever.

Emma quits her job and moves home in an effort to put her life back together. Years later, now in her thirties, Emma runs into an old friend, Sam, and finds herself falling in love again. When Emma and Sam get engaged, it feels like Emma’s second chance at happiness.

That is, until Jesse is found. He’s alive, and he’s been trying all these years to come home to her. With a husband and a fiancé, Emma has to now figure out who she is and what she wants, while trying to protect the ones she loves.

Who is her one true love? What does it mean to love truly?

Emma knows she has to listen to her heart. She’s just not sure what it’s saying.

I think this is one of those books where you’re either going to end up loving or hating the ending. I fell into the “love it” camp, but I totally understand why others may not agree!

I am also always intrigued by “what would you do?” scenarios. And I know Taylor Jenkins Reid is quite the master at weaving those kind of stories. This book felt very pure and realistic, and I very much fell in love with all the characters.

In a nutshell, this book follows Emma. She marries her high school sweetheart, Jesse. They both felt trapped and bored in their home town, so once they got married, they vowed to always travel and be on the move. They lived very spontaneous and adventurous lifestyles. Until one day, Jesse is presumed dead from disappearing after a helicopter crash.

Emma moves back to her home town and eventually pieces her life back together. She finds happiness in running her parents’ book shop and then becomes engaged to Sam. After all those years, she finally was able to move on with her life. Then Jesse returns.

This book completely resonated with me because it really does split a life into “before” and “after”. Do you have one of those moments that split your life into two? For me it was falling ill with an incurable illness. One moment I was health and happy, and then “after” I was sickly, bedridden, and unable to achieve the goals I previously wanted. This book really hit me because I really did change as a person between my late 20’s and early 30’s. And after a lot of time grieving that part of me that I “lost”, I am now in a much better head space and happier.

I loved how this book followed not just Emma’s relationship with Jesse but also her relationship with Sam. Each man in her life was not painted in a negative light, so it was difficult to decide who to ‘ship’ her with. But ultimately I’m happy with the decision she made in the end. It all felt very realistic (despite some of the decisions Emma made.) I will warn you that Emma does sleep with both Jesse and Sam, and that cheating is still cheating. So please keep that in mind if that’s something that will bother you.

Overall I truly loved this book and recommend it. I really loved how TJR was able to seamlessly weave together Emma’s “before” and “afters”, and how it is okay and normal to change the paths in our lives.


fourstars

Buddy read with Melanie and Sue!

xx,

Amy

 

Winter in Paradise (Paradise, #1) by Elin Hilderbrand

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Title: Winter in Paradise

Series: Paradise, #1

Author: Elin Hilderbrand

Pages: 320

Genre: Contemporary, mystery

My rating: ★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

A husband’s secret life, a wife’s new beginning: escape to the Caribbean with New York Times bestselling author Elin Hilderbrand. Irene Steele shares her idyllic life in a beautiful Iowa City Victorian house with a husband who loves her to sky-writing, sentimental extremes. But as she rings in the new year one cold and snowy night, everything she thought she knew falls to pieces with a shocking phone call: her beloved husband, away on business, has been killed in a plane crash. Before Irene can even process the news, she must first confront the perplexing details of her husband’s death on the distant Caribbean island of St. John. After Irene and her sons arrive at this faraway paradise, they make yet another shocking discovery: her husband had been living a secret life. As Irene untangles a web of intrigue and deceit, and as she and her sons find themselves drawn into the vibrant island culture, they have to face the truth about their family, and about their own futures. Rich with the lush beauty of the tropics and the drama, romance, and intrigue only Elin Hilderbrand can deliver, Winter in Paradise is a truly transporting novel, and the exciting start to a new series.

This was my first time diving into an Elin Hilderbrand novel and I am… intrigued. This book was a 4-star read for me until the end but I have high hopes for the rest of the trilogy and I’m looking forward to them!

Winter in Paradise is about family secrets and lies. Irene receives devastating news that her husband died in a helicopter crash in St. John (US Virgin Islands). So she, along with her two adult children, Baker and Cash, go to the island to figure out what happened. They soon discover that Irene’s husband had a mistress and a totally secret, lavish double life.

This really was such a fun, page-turner of a mystery. And I adore books that tie in secret families. I also enjoyed the character development, especially the back stories about Baker and Cash. They all have complex and complicated family dynamics. And not only are they trying to solve their father’s mysterious secret life (and death), they’re also figuring out things about themselves.

So without giving away spoilers (ugh reviewing mysteries is complicated for me!), I will say the mystery surrounding the dead husband/father kind of takes a back seat. I think since this is the first book in a trilogy, it’s setting us up more for what’s to come. So we really get more insight into the lives of the locals on the island and the relationships they form with Irene and her sons. I was hoping to get a lot more dark secrets and intrigue.

Overall I would categorize this more as a lighthearted mystery. There are serious topics such as cheating and marriage separation, but it doesn’t delve into any dark or disturbing/graphic scenes. But one character does something at the end that just really pissed me off, and how things wrapped up was a ridiculous (and predictable) cliffhanger.


I read this book as part of TistheSeasonAthon, which was a holiday themed readathon I co-hosted with my lovely friends!


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xx,

Amy

Disappointing Reads of 2018

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Let’s spill some tea!

But, okay, really. I do want to talk about some of my most disappointing reads of 2018. I want to preface this by saying I am not trying to offend anyone and if you ended up loving these books on my list then I think that’s great! Unfortunately these just weren’t for me or I really expected more.

The following were books I rated between 1-3 stars. In my opinion 3-star books are good. In fact, it means I still enjoyed them and recommend them. However, the books on this list mean I had some issues with certain aspects of the book, or it just didn’t live up to my expectations (especially when it’s the last book in a 7-part series!)

All of my reviews are linked below, too!

Alright. Here we go.


The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert ★★

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This book was marketed as a dark fairytale for fans of A Court of Thorns and Roses and… it was basically the total opposite. I was also not a fan of the main character or how the plot was handled at all.


Not Even Bones by Rebecca Schaeffer ★★

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I had the highest hopes for this book since I kept hearing it was perfect for Dexter fans. But really it reminded me of Hostel where there’s just a bunch of unnecessary gore for pure shock value. I felt like none of it contributed to the story and the plot went nowhere.


Grim Lovelies by Megan Shepherd ★

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From the get-go this book, in my opinion, had weak world building and a weak magic system. Not only were both not well fleshed out, but the characters were also boring. And don’t even get me started on the “bury your gays” trope. I just cannot deal with that.


Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young ★★★

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Okay, I DID LIKE THIS BOOK but I was not a fan of how slow everything progressed. And the romance was so hyped up but it was very minimal. Nothing great stood out to me. It was just… average. I expected more, I’m sorry!


City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare ★★

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Yikes. Okay. Hear me out. I’m a fan of the Shadowhunters books, but I really didn’t love the first book (City of Bones) when I read it last year. But I’m glad I continued on with the series because it’s been such a fun journey. However, I really didn’t think anything could be as bad as book 1… but I guess it was possible… because book 4 was awful. You can read my ranty review (I’m so sorry) but let’s just say I was pretty much angry with everyone.


The Dark Beneath the Ice by Amelinda Bérubé ★★

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You know it’s bad if you can’t even remember why you didn’t like this book. But the horror elements did not grip me. It was all just… so boring. Also there was an unreliable narrator which completely kills a story for me.


A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer ★★★

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Again, this is one of those books that I enjoyed reading but in the end I just didn’t feel fulfilled. The opening scene was quite a mess, and then the once the kidnapped girl ended up with the beast I kind of stopped caring. I will say I did love the cerebral palsy rep and the secondary characters were great. But I didn’t love the “beast” and it was just a mediocre story. (Please don’t hate me.)


Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas ★★★

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Sigh. Y’all. I did like this story and the ending was fine. And I will always love my favorite characters. But there were so many things that just rubbed me the wrong way. I really did love the battle scenes. Truly, I did. I just think this book could’ve been SO much shorter in order to get the same emotional affect from us. And some of my favorite characters got the shaft, so there’s that. Bummer.


That’s it! I hope I didn’t offend anyone. These are just my feelings about these books. I know some of my opinions are controversial and that maybe we, as reviewers, shouldn’t let our high expectations get in the way of rating a book. But I have to rate a book honestly despite what everyone else thinks. I hope that makes sense! 🙂 I’d love to hear what books you didn’t end up loving, too!

xx,

Amy

Kingdom of Ash (Throne of Glass, #7) by Sarah J. Maas

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Title: Kingdom of Ash

Series: Throne of Glass, #7

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Pages: 992

Genre: YA Fantasy

My Rating: ★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

Years in the making, Sarah J. Maas’s #1 New York Times bestselling Throne of Glass series draws to an epic, unforgettable conclusion. Aelin Galathynius’s journey from slave to king’s assassin to the queen of a once-great kingdom reaches its heart-rending finale as war erupts across her world. . .

Aelin has risked everything to save her people―but at a tremendous cost. Locked within an iron coffin by the Queen of the Fae, Aelin must draw upon her fiery will as she endures months of torture. Aware that yielding to Maeve will doom those she loves keeps her from breaking, though her resolve begins to unravel with each passing day…

With Aelin captured, Aedion and Lysandra remain the last line of defense to protect Terrasen from utter destruction. Yet they soon realize that the many allies they’ve gathered to battle Erawan’s hordes might not be enough to save them. Scattered across the continent and racing against time, Chaol, Manon, and Dorian are forced to forge their own paths to meet their fates. Hanging in the balance is any hope of salvation―and a better world.

And across the sea, his companions unwavering beside him, Rowan hunts to find his captured wife and queen―before she is lost to him forever.

As the threads of fate weave together at last, all must fight, if they are to have a chance at a future. Some bonds will grow even deeper, while others will be severed forever in the explosive final chapter of the Throne of Glass series.

This review will contain spoilers from all the books in the Throne of Glass series including book 7, Kingdom of Ash. I also want to preface this by saying this won’t be much of a “real” review, but rather more of my personal feelings (ranting and raving, I guess?) on the characters and how this series wrapped up.

However, despite my soon-to-be rant, I want to also say that I really did enjoy this book and I am overall satisfied with how things ended. I think SJM’s writing has improved so much in each book, and she really does know how to write a kick ass battle/action scene. And while I did think this book could’ve been shortened by at least 200 pages, I was loving the action and felt like I was transported in the middle of it.

Okay, so here is a messy hodgepodge of my thoughts! SPOILERS BELOW!


⇒ Right away I felt like the book progressed SO SLOWLY. Aedion and Lysandra’s POVs was boring me to tears, and Aelin’s captive scenes really dragged and dragged. This book really needed to be shorter because it gave me the worst slump of my life.

⇒ Speaking of Aelin, her “prison break” scene was my absolute favorite part. It was so wonderfully executed and I felt every single piece of raw emotion. Brilliant, I tell you! And when she reunited with Rowan for the first time and gasped, “Fenrys” (implying he needs to go back and get him)? I died. Such a great scene.

⇒ So, let’s talk about how The Thirteen got SCREWED. Is it just me or does SJM think they’re the most “disposable” characters in the series? Because they seriously got the shaft. Asterin was one of my favorites but she and the Thirteen were basically used as a plot device. I actually cried and I am NEVER a crier.

⇒ What was up with Dorian shapeshifting? *insert major eye roll* I really, REALLY do not like it when an already-powerful character all of a sudden discovers another powerful ability. Oh, how convenient! Now he can shapeshift so he can spy on Erawan. And when he shifted into a woman? Dorian, THEY’RE LEGS. They’re not any different than the legs you have as a dude. It was like reading a really cringy scene written by a male author who doesn’t understand the female body: “And then she walked down the stairs boobily in just her panties.” Legit expected that. *bangs head against desk*

⇒ So, uhh, was Chaol even in this book?

⇒ I really love Yrene and I’m glad she ended up having a huge role in the end. At first I was convinced she and Chaol were going to die after they were bonded in Tower of Dawn. But then I realized SJM was pregnant while writing this book and there was no way she’d kill off a pregnant Yrene.

⇒ Unpopular opinion time: I don’t like Lysandra’s shapeshifting powers. I love Lysandra as a characters but, again, I feel like shapeshifting is too CONVENIENT of a power to have in the fantasy world, and it gives me no suspense when she’s in a battle scene.

⇒ Nesryn and Sartaq were just… there? More plot devices, I suppose.

⇒ Lol @ Maeve. That is all.

⇒ My thoughts on Rowan still stand: Dude is a dud.

⇒ I wildly giggled when I read the Rhys and Feyre cameo. But Aelin flying through different worlds immediately made me think of the wild, psychedelic scene from Doctor Strange. And then imagining Rhys give her a little “boost” made me chuckle. But, my Rhys-loving heart was living for that scene. SJM would probably get so much hate but I’d fully support a TOG/ACOTAR crossover.

⇒ I would read an entire book on Lorcan and Elide’s romance. Forever and always.

⇒ The ending wrapped up a bit too… perfectly. I mean, I’m glad no one else died (but I’ll always be bitter about the Thirteen) but it was just a neat ending. Perhaps a little too tidy, especially when just ten days after the war everyone is dancing. But I guess SJM would want to leave it open to any possible future spin offs?


So overall I really did enjoy this finale despite my rants above. And I do think that if you’ve been a fan of this series from the get-go then you’ll like how it all wrapped up. I personally was disappointed with how many scenes dragged and dragged, and how horribly the Thirteen got thrown under the bus. But I hope my random thoughts weren’t offensive to anyone, and I truly hope you enjoyed this book! If you didn’t, I’d love to hear why!

threestars

xx,

Amy

One Day in December by Josie Silver

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fourstars

Title: One Day in December

Author: Josie Silver

Pages: 416

Genre: Contemporary Romance

My rating: ★★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

Two people. Ten chances. One unforgettable love story.

Laurie is pretty sure love at first sight doesn’t exist anywhere but the movies. But then, through a misted-up bus window one snowy December day, she sees a man who she knows instantly is the one. Their eyes meet, there’s a moment of pure magic…and then her bus drives away.

Certain they’re fated to find each other again, Laurie spends a year scanning every bus stop and cafe in London for him. But she doesn’t find him, not when it matters anyway. Instead they “reunite” at a Christmas party, when her best friend Sarah giddily introduces her new boyfriend to Laurie. It’s Jack, the man from the bus. It would be.

What follows for Laurie, Sarah and Jack is ten years of friendship, heartbreak, missed opportunities, roads not taken, and destinies reconsidered. One Day in December is a joyous, heartwarming and immensely moving love story to escape into and a reminder that fate takes inexplicable turns along the route to happiness.

For some reason I was expecting this to be one of those Serendipity-like stories where a guy and girl miss their first chance at love so they spend the next several years searching for each other. But really this book is so much more than that; it goes beyond “love at first sight” and focuses on life and friendships that spans over the course of ten years. I truly had such a great time reading this book and it was even better that I got to read this while co-hosting TistheSeasonAThon!

This isn’t your typical romance or holiday story. In fact, I found the “Christmassy” vibes to be very minimal. I truly think you could read this during any time of year.

This book follows two POVs: Laurie and Jack. Laurie is a journalist who happens to be on a crowded double-decker bus when she locks eye with a man at a bus stop. They feel an instant attraction but the bus is too crowded for her to get off and for him to get on. Laurie spends the next year trying to find “the bus boy”. She even has her roommate, Sarah, helping to track him down. Then one day Sarah introduces Laurie to her new boyfriend, and… you guessed it. Sarah’s boyfriend, Jack, is “the bus boy.”

Now, if this were normal life, Laurie would tell Sarah that Jack is the bus boy and they’d probably have a good laugh about it. But in true rom-com fashion Laurie keeps it a secret. And so does Jack.. because he recognizes Laurie as “the bus girl.”

All of this is unveiled early on in the book, so I was pleasantly surprised how much depth we got from all the characters as the story progressed. Over the course of several years we follow Laurie’s life as she navigates love, family, and personal growth. She even spends some time in Thailand — so that gets major points from me. It was really refreshing to read a romance that wasn’t solely focused on one main relationship. You follow all the ugliness of friendships and marriages, and how as we get older, we change into different people (or not at all).

I will admit that I wasn’t a huge fan of Jack from the get-go. He’s moody, indecisive, and quite bratty. But I liked that he (and others) are flawed. And it felt like each character’s personalities and actions were portrayed in a realistic way.

This isn’t a “fluffy’ romance, nor is it a sugar-coated “chick-lit” book, either. It’s fun and easy to fly through but it also deals with heart break, loss, and angst. It’s definitely a slow burn but I found it so worth it in the end!

Trigger/content warning: loss of a sibling (not on the page), loss of a parent, cheating (kissing).

fourstars

xx,

Amy

Top Ten Tuesday: My Winter TBR

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018.

This week’s topic is to share with you my winter TBR. I have a mix of backlist titles as well as some new releases. This will also probably make up most of my January 2019 TBR, but it’s still early, so things may change! I’m hoping to read a few of these in December!


The Matchmaker’s List by Sonya Lalli

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The Girl King by Mimi Yu

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The Simple Wild by K.A. Tucker

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Once and Future by Amy Rose Capetta & Cori McCarthy

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I Was Born For This by Alice Oseman

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Skyward by Brandon Sanderson

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Radio Silence by Alice Oseman

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Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare

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Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare

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Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare

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It’s no surprise that there are MORE Cassie Clare books on my TBR. I’m making it a priority to finish The Dark Artifices trilogy this winter! They are just… soooo long. Hahaha. So I feel intimidated! But I really am slowly making my way through the entire Shadowhunters collection and it’s been a fun journey.

I hope you’re all having a lovely week so far. Happy reading!

xx,

Amy

A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

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ARC provided by Bloomsbury in exchange for an honest review

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Title: A Curse So Dark and Lonely

Series: A Curse So Dark and Lonely, #1

Author: Brigid Kemmerer

Pages: 496

Genre: YA Fantasy

Publication Date: January 29, 2019

My Rating: ★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

In a lush, contemporary fantasy retelling of Beauty and the Beast, Brigid Kemmerer gives readers another compulsively readable romance perfect for fans of Marissa Meyer.

Fall in love, break the curse.

It once seemed so easy to Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall. Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, he knew he could be saved if a girl fell for him. But that was before he learned that at the end of each autumn, he would turn into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. That was before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.

Nothing has ever been easy for Harper Lacy. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother barely holding their family together while constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, she learned to be tough enough to survive. But when she tries to save someone else on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s instead somehow sucked into Rhen’s cursed world.

Break the curse, save the kingdom.

A prince? A monster? A curse? Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. But as she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what’s at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall . . . and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin.


I’ve been dreading writing this review because I know so many early readers have praised this book. While I did enjoy reading it with my dear friends, I just wasn’t blown away and, sadly, don’t have much interest in the sequel.

This is a Beauty and the Beast retelling, but darker. Each season a girl is kidnapped to be forced to fall in love with the beast. If it fails, the beast has to relive each season over and over again until he can break the curse. Also, each season he turns into a different kind of monster that kills everyone in his path. However, the season Harper is kidnapped into his world will be the last season. Either she is to break the curse or he will die.

While I love the premise of this book, I was just not in love with the world building and I found Lilith a completely cringy, cheesy villain. I also thought the beginning of the book was such a huge mess and provided very little back story about Harper’s family. I really couldn’t even fall in love with the romance because the entire plot revolves around a kidnapping. And the “big twist” I could see coming from a mile away.

But what I did love was how this book brought awareness to cerebral palsy. Harper is on the higher-functioning spectrum of CP and it was nice to see such a strong heroine represented in this book. I found her to be extremely likeable and badass. The humor sprinkled throughout this story also had me smiling a lot, too.

I felt like the story started to really pick up by the last 1/4 of the book. What brought a unique twist to the story was how it weaves modern day Washington, DC alongside the magical realm. Seeing modern day characters transported into magical worlds is always my cup of tea.

So I did enjoy this book, and I found myself always wanting to keep reading once I picked it up. But I just didn’t fall in love with it like I thought I was going to. I didn’t love the writing and I wish the world building was more intricate. But I do think so many readers will love this book and I think you should give it a chance!

threestars

Buddy read with Melanie, Julie, Chelsea, Jules, Jen, and Chelsea!

xx,

Amy