Posted in Book Review

Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover

Dates Read: July 19, 2022 – July 21, 2022
Publication Date: August 5, 2014
Source: Owned paperback

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WOW. What a pleasant surprise!

This isn’t my typical genre but I really LOVED this book. This one was being read by someone who has the same sort of book palette that I do, so I jumped when she said it was a really good one. She wasn’t lying.

Let’s get into it!

This book is told from the perspective of Tate in the present day and Miles from six years ago. Tate is busy with her career working long hours and doesn’t have time for love. She meets her brother’s next-door neighbor, Miles, who has no interest in settling down or committing… like… ever. But, as these things go, Tate develops feelings for Miles after they start having “casual encounters”. Miles supposedly doesn’t feel the same… but he definitely does. There are signs.  In the chapters told from Miles’ perspective from six years ago, we learn about his tragic past and the reasons for his wanting to stay far away from love and anything to do with it.

His eyes focus on mine for several seconds. “Don’t ask about my past,” he says firmly. “And never expect a future.”

This book was like watching one of those comforting romance movies that you always end up going back to on those rainy nights when it’s storming and you’re not tired and you’re feeling in your feels and you just want to sit and watch a super cute romance movie that you know the ending to because you’ve seen in 1,001 times but you just want to watch it over and over. It’s that book that you think about long after it’s over. It sticks with you because it’s so RAW and EMOTIONAL and full of REAL LIFE emotions and REAL LIFE tragedies.

I know this doesn’t really mean much coming from me anymore since I’ve become a big ‘ol sap after having a child but… this book made me cry real tears. Sad tears, hopeful tears, happy tears… all the tears.

He faces forward and starts his car. “You were right,” he says. He puts the car in reverse and prepares to pull out of the parking lot. “It’s a good thing we weren’t friends first. Would have made this a lot harder.”

I fell in love with this couple and found myself desperate to read another chapter, one after another so I could come to the end and learn of their fate.

I really do love a good romance book that hangs in my head for days, even weeks, after I’ve finished it. This was it. Highly recommend. Seriously, go get it. I’m not a typical romance novel reader (unless it’s paranormal) and I absolutely loved it. I can’t imagine how much someone who DOES love romance novels would enjoy it. Do yourself a favor and don’t skip this one.

It’s the beautiful moments like these that make up for the ugly love.

Posted in Book Review

Famine by Laura Thalassa

Dates Read: June 17, 2022 – June 20, 2022
Publication Date: October 1, 2020
Source: Owned paperback

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Ahhh. We’re back to the Horsemen of the Apocalypse and I am SO HAPPY TO BE HERE. Especially with Famine. Is he my favorite? Yes. Yes, he is. Pestilence was my favorite up to now. Now Famine takes the cake.

Famine is the most brutal of all his brothers I would say. All of them are “duty-bound” and are willing to commit some atrocities to see their purpose carried out but Famine… Famine really goes above and beyond. He claims a home for his own and has the owners brutally killed and thrown in a giant hole in their own backyard for heaven’s sake. Famine does make mention of being “the least human of all his brothers.” He says he can “feel everything”. THAT is one consistency I really appreciate about this book.

So, our heroine in this story is Ana. Ana is a worker at a brothel called the Painted Angel. Ana was displaced as a child when her entire family was killed. She was taken in by the madam of the Painted Angel and started working to make money to live. Until Famine comes and takes her with him.

You see, the two of them have history. She first met Famine years before while she was on the way home with groceries for her abusive aunt. She saw Famine in the street, nearly dead from being beaten by villagers. She nursed him back to health and sent him on his way. Once he recognizes this girl, who is now in a woman’s body, he keeps her and refuses to let her out of his sight or become hurt.

And so begins the next seriously messed up love story in the series.

“That’s the difference between me and my brothers,” he continues. “We are all meant to ravage the world but we have our distinctions: War is the most human, Pestilence perhaps next. But even Thanatos – Death – is intimately connected to life.
“I am the one least truly alive. I have more in common with wildfires and clouds and mountains than I do anything else. So to be something that lives and breathes is a stifling, unpleasant experience. I am … trapped in this flesh.”

I really did enjoy these two. I don’t know why but I think they’re my favorite with Pestilence and Sara coming in at a very close second.

I glance over at the horseman, frowning. I’d do all of it again for this man, because wicked or not, violent or not Famine might be the only being who has ever truly seen me and cared for me. And . . . I might be the only person who has ever really seen and cared for him.

Once again, I wasn’t sure how the author was going to give us something fresh being that this is the third book in a series about these horsemen who all have this duty-bound, driven-to-destroy attitude. However, she delivered. Once again. Once again there was a different couple with different mindsets and experiences who ended up with a not-so-happy happy ending.

Famine crouches next to Rocha and laughs. “You’re not going to die Heitor. You haven’t begged enough yet. But you will. And even then I’ll make you linger. Because, believe it or not, you are not the worst thing to walk this earth.” The Reaper leans in close. “I am.”

Technically the first two books end on a “cliffhanger” as well but this one REALLY did. The first two books ended with a happy ending where the couple could live out their lives together with no issues. This book’s ending pretty much depends on the way the next book, Death, plays out. I was excited to read Death already because, I mean, c’mon… that cover. Now I’m even more so excited because I get to see how Famine’s story plays out AND I get to meet a new hunk of a horseman.

Let’s see if Death can top him. (I doubt it.)

“Because around you,” he says, “I feel the oddest urge to use my power to create rather than destroy.”

Just going to jump right into the next one so stay tuned!

Posted in Book Review

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

Dates Read: March 27, 2022 – March 29, 2022
Date Published: May 5, 2016
Source: Owned paperback

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Feyre is a huntress.

She thinks nothing of slaughtering a wolf to capture its prey. But, like all mortals, she fears what lingers mercilessly beyond the forest. And she will learn that taking the life of a magical creature comes at a high price…

Imprisoned in an enchanted court in her enemy’s kingdom, Feyre is free to roam but forbidden to escape. Her captor’s body bears the scars of fighting, and his face is always masked – but his piercing stare draws her ever closer. As Feyre’s feeling for Tamlin begin to burn through every warning she’s been told about his kind, an ancient, wicked shadow grows.

Feyre must find a way to break a spell, or lose her heart forever.

Oh hello there. Welcome to my new obsession!

I went into this book not knowing if I was going to hate it or love it. Let me just say, I DON’T KNOW WHERE I’VE BEEN. This book came out in 2015 and the fact that I’m just now reading it is an absolute disgrace. I nearly killed myself staying up nights just to finish this book. I couldn’t put it down! The world-building and the characters and the m a g i c. My goodness, I can’t believe I slept on this series for so long. I’ve got book two on my nightstand awaiting its inevitable doom. Or… I guess… my inevitable doom. Because I’m about to stop sleeping for a few days, I’m sure.

Feyre
What an amazing heroine we have. She steps up to the plate to help keep her family fed when they fall into poverty. Poor girl didn’t deserve the life her mother bestowed upon her but I understand that her mother knew, of all her daughters, Feyre was the only one who would be able to keep her family alive. She’s strong, sharp-tongued, resilient… she’s just such a likable character.

Tamlin
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a crush on this fictional hunk of a man. He’s so quiet and unsure. He’s such a loose cannon. He’s the perfect fit for Feyre, honestly. I enjoyed reading scenes when the two of them finally became acquainted with each other. Tamlin just wants his lands to find peace. He wants to keep the people of his lands safe and fed and cared for.

I love you,” he whispered, and kissed my brow. “Thorns and all.”

Lucien
Who did I enjoy reading more than Feyre and Tamlin? Feyre and LUCIEN. I loved their back and forth banter. I just loved Lucien and his fierce loyalty to Tamlin and his cause. The way you could tell something had broken him earlier on in his life but you weren’t sure exactly what plagued his thoughts. Ok, maybe I had more of a crush on Lucien. I enjoyed every single page with Lucien’s name on it. I can’t wait to see more of him in book two. And three… and… four?? *nervous laughter*

I cannot leave here without mentioning Rhysand. He doesn’t really show up or remain constant in the book until nearly the end but… look… I have a thing for the bad boys and I can tell he’s going to be one. I can’t wait to see where his story goes in the coming books. I need more Rhys!

This world is so much bigger than I could have imagined. The last time I met a book with a world and a plot so grand was when I first read Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone series which bled into her Six of Crows series… which bled into her King of Scars series. Those were some of my favorite books and it seems that this series I’ve finally unearthed from Sarah J. Maas is going to do the same that Leigh Bardugo’s books did for me. Every second I’m not reading more of Feyre and Tamlin and Lucien, I’m itchy with anticipation to get back into their story and find out what happens next.

These are those books that I can get absolutely lost in. I lose all sense of time and forget who I even am and what realm I’m sitting in. I love when a book can transport me into its world and make me feel like I’m a part of it and this series has done just that so far.

There are fae creatures galore. All of them are different than the last and more frightening than the last. Courts of High Fae loom on the borders, some more evil and atrocious than the others. A higher power oversees them all, dishing out an unsettling sense of dread that bad things lie ahead. This book had all the things I love in a fantasy book. Including romance. Sorry. I like those. Sue me.

I will say, the “new adult” label is the most accurate. This book had a couple explicit scenes. In case anyone was wondering.

GO. READ. THIS. BOOK.

And then grow obsessed like I have and immediately order the rest of the series so you never have to wait to read another page of the series ever again.

Be glad of your human heart, Feyre. Pity those who don’t feel anything at all.”

✌💛

Posted in Book Review

War by Laura Thalassa

Read Dates: February 6, 2022 – February 23, 2022
Publication Date: July 11, 2019
Source: Owned paperback

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They came to earth – Pestilence, War, Famine, Death – four horsemen riding their screaming steeds, racing to the corners of the world. Four horsemen with the power to destroy all of humanity. They came to earth, and they came to end us all.

The day Jerusalem falls, Miriam Elmahdy knows her life is over. Houses are burning, the streets run red with blood, and a traitorous army is massacring every last resident. There is no surviving this, especially not once Miriam catches the eye of War himself. But when the massive and terrifying horseman corners Miriam, he calls her his wife, and instead of killing her, he takes her back to his camp.

Now Miriam faces a terrifying future, one where she watches her world burn town by town, and the one man responsible for it all is her seemingly indestructible “husband”. But there’s another side to him, one that’s gentle and loving and dead set on winning her over, and she might not be strong enough to resist.

However, if there’s one thing Miriam has learned, it’s that love and war cannot coexist. And so she must make the ultimate choice: surrender to War and watch humankind fall, or sacrifice everything and stop him.

We’re back, baby!

Another GEM of a story by Laura Thalassa.

(1) Bend the rules – but don’t break them.
(2) Stick to the truth.
(3) Avoid notice.
(4)Listen to your instincts.
(5) Be brave.
Five simple rules that, while not always being easy to follow, have kept me alive for the last seven years.”

I’m honestly so glad my best friend picked up Pestilence and tempted me to join her in reading these books. I am two books deep and I am NOT disappointed. Pestilence and War have BOTH scored a 5-star rating from me. I’m excited to read Famine and especially… DEATH. *shudders* I’m willing to bet he’s going to be my favorite.

I will say, I teetered between a 4.5 rating and a 5 because I didn’t like these characters as much as I liked Pestilence and Sara. I ultimately decided that I definitely liked all the characters in War and there was no reason to deduct just because I connected with one couple more than the other. I tell ya what I did connect with… that cover art. *drools*

So you would think this book would be no different from Pestilence but… this book had its own feel and its own plot and resolution. I admit I was trying to figure out how Thalassa could concoct four totally different stories that held up by themselves and weren’t full of recycled content from the previous book(s). So far, that has not happened. I was pleasantly surprised when I realized I had no idea where she was going to take these two characters and the many supporting characters in the story.

You are the one He sent me.
“You are my wife.”

Miriam is a strong-willed young girl from Jerusalem who has lost her family and is all on her own. Until War crosses her path. War claims that Miriam is his fated and calls her his wife, holding her within his camp and having his subjects tend to her and guard her.

My favorite thing about Miriam was how real she was. She tried to get away from War at every turn… as most would do when a man is reanimating the dead and allowing them to kill thousands and thousands of innocents.

War gave me some serious Khal Drogo vibes and I was absolutely here for it. Did I mention the cover art? I mean, c’mon.

War is duty-bound. He is driven, much like his brother Pestilence, to carry out the task he was created for. But Miriam challenges him. She throws him curveball after curveball causing him to rethink his entire existence. What follows is heartbreaking and beautiful and soul-crushing and maddening and frustrating and so so touching. This book takes you through it all.

You are painfully human. Your bones want to break, your skin wants to bleed, your heart wants to stop. And for the first time ever, I am desperate for none of those things to happen.”

I’m not gonna lie, I cried. Which, I guess, these days isn’t saying much. Since having a kid I’m a big ol’ emotional wreck.

Another thing I feel I should mention, which I think I mentioned in my review of Pestilence, the author doesn’t romanticize these horsemen of the apocalypse. You are taken through gut-wrenching scenes where the reality of what they are on Earth to do… is done. I, for one, love that about these books. At first, it hurt me. It hurt me deeply. The old couple in Pestilence’s book… omg. But I was more prepared in War’s book and it hit just as hard regardless.

I do highly recommend these books! I can’t wait to start Famine. However, I have found myself newly obsessed with Sarah J. Maas and I must continue on to A Court of Mist and Fury before I totally lose my mind wondering what is going on with Tamlin and Feyre. And… Lucien. *Does a little eyebrow wag*

Anyway, until next time! (Which will be soon because I’m catching up on reviews as we speak!)

Posted in Book Review

Not A Happy Family by Shari Lapena

Read Dates: July 27, 2021 – July 28, 2021
Publication Date: July 27, 2021
Source: Owned Hardback

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From Goodreads:

In this family, everyone is keeping secrets–especially the dead. Brecken Hill in upstate New York is an expensive place to live. You have to be rich to have a house there. And they don’t come much richer than Fred and Sheila Mercer. But even all their money can’t protect them when a killer comes to call. The Mercers are brutally murdered the night after an Easter Dinner with their three adult kids. Who, of course, are devastated.

Or are they? They each stand to inherit millions. They were never a happy family, thanks to their capricious father and neglectful mother, but perhaps one of them is more disturbed than anyone knew. Did one of them snap after that dreadful evening? Or was it someone else that night who crept in with the worst of intentions? It must be. After all, if one of your siblings was a psychopath, you’d know.

Wouldn’t you?

When I see a Shari Lapena book available for preorder, I preorder it. I rarely even look to see what the book is about. This woman consistently brings the most amazing page-turners I have ever read. I finished this book in just three sittings… and I have a 14-month-old running around wrecking things all day. So they weren’t long sessions. But that’s how easy it is to read her books.

I may have said this before in a previous Lapena mystery novel review, but when you begin one of her books, you may think to yourself that there are too many characters and you’re not going to be able to keep up with who is who. There were only a couple, out of her now 6 books, that did that to me – where I felt I had to make a character sheet so I could quickly remember who I was dealing with and how they fit into the story. This book wasn’t one of them.

Lapena writes in such a way that you never lose sight of the big picture because of confusing variables along the way. She keeps things flowing smoothly and efficiently. I never got bored at any point of this book. Which became a real problem because I had to find a stopping point! But there aren’t any! This book was so amazing. It’ll keep you flipping those pages with the determination to finish the entire book in one sitting.

One of my favorite things about this book was that almost none of the characters were likable. One of them was slightly likable but none of them were likable enough for me to root for them or hope they weren’t the killer.

So, Fred and Sheila Merton are dead. The prime suspects? Their three children: Catherine, Dan, and Jenna. But WHO ACTUALLY DUN’IT!? Were two of them (or all of them) in on it together? Was it just one of them acting alone? Was it someone other than one of the three kids?!

I thought I had things all figured out. And I usually do. Butttt I didn’t. At no point in this book did I have anything figured out. Whether it be a side effect from my mom brain or the fact that I was in a trance reading this because of how captivating it was or maybe just because it was THAT well written? I cannot say because I truly have no idea. But this was such an amazing book that I didn’t really care, I was just happy to be along for the ride. This book just catapulted to the top as my favorite Shari Lapena novel to date. She really outdid herself on this one.

As for errors, I only found two. One was the use of “of” instead of “if”. The other was the use of the name Dan instead of Ted. I didn’t mark down page numbers or count against this book in terms of the rating because I simply didn’t have the capacity to do anything other than to hurry along the pages to find out who on Earth killed Fred and Sheila.

I can’t leave here without saying something about the ending. Obviously I’m not going to give anything away but let me just say… THAT ENDING. Omg. I was gaping at my book and then I was smirking and then I may have even giggled a little. I wish I could say more. I’m recommending this book to everyone I know so I can hear them all say, “Ok, but that ending, right!?” Even if I don’t know you, feel free to shoot me a message and give me a, “Girl, that ending though, right!?!”

If you’re a fan of whodun’it books with SO MANY TWISTS where there are no likable characters and they all could be the killer because they’re all terrible people… well then this is your book. What a delightful (but a little too quick, my bad) read.

I know it’s only been two days but I’m ready for the next one Shari! 😀

✌💛