Goodreads Monday #3

It’s that time of the week again — Goodreads Monday! This was started by Lauren’s Page Turners and it’s telling you what is on my TBR list. Sometimes, I feel like I’ll never get through my TBR list, but this is always good because it establishes why I want to read the books and sparks my interest again.

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavalloro

Jamie Watson has always been intrigued by Charlotte Holmes; after all, their great-great-great-grandfathers are one of the most infamous pairs in history. But the Holmes family has always been odd, and Charlotte is no exception. She’s inherited Sherlock’s volatility and some of his vices–and when Jamie and Charlotte end up at the same Connecticut boarding school, Charlotte makes it clear she’s not looking for friends.

But when a student they both have a history with dies under suspicious circumstances, ripped straight from the most terrifying of the Sherlock Holmes stories, Jamie can no longer afford to keep his distance. Danger is mounting and nowhere is safe–and the only people they can trust are each other.

WHY I WANT TO READ IT: Like most books on my TBR list, this has been recommended to me often. It’s one of those that I actually bought as an ebook and circle back to a lot, but I’ve never got more than a few pages into it without giving up. The ebook layout for this one is frustrating because the font is tiny and it messes up all the other books I’m reading when I adjust the size.

I’m interested in reading A Study in Charlotte mainly because I love a good romance, which I heard this has. It’s also set at a boarding school! Now, I’m a sucker for books set at boarding schools for some reason. To be honest, I’m not a big mystery reader, but I’ve been saying for a while now I want to expand my genres and this feels like it could be a transition book.

Let me know what’s on your TBR list in the comments and if you’ve read A Study in Charlotte, share you thoughts with me.

read it and weep,

From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout Review

From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Published by: Blue Box Press on March 30, 2020

Genres: High Fantasy, Paranormal Romance

Pages: 634

My Rating: ★★★

🚨 MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD 🚨

SYNOPSIS

A Maiden…

Chosen from birth to usher in a new era, Poppy’s life has never been her own. The life of the Maiden is solitary. Never to be touched. Never to be looked upon. Never to be spoken to. Never to experience pleasure. Waiting for the day of her Ascension, she would rather be with the guards, fighting back the evil that took her family, than preparing to be found worthy by the gods. But the choice has never been hers.

A Duty…

The entire kingdom’s future rests on Poppy’s shoulders, something she’s not even quite sure she wants for herself. Because a Maiden has a heart. And a soul. And longing. And when Hawke, a golden-eyed guard honor bound to ensure her Ascension, enters her life, destiny and duty become tangled with desire and need. He incites her anger, makes her question everything she believes in, and tempts her with the forbidden.

A Kingdom…

Forsaken by the gods and feared by mortals, a fallen kingdom is rising once more, determined to take back what they believe is theirs through violence and vengeance. And as the shadow of those cursed draws closer, the line between what is forbidden and what is right becomes blurred. Poppy is not only on the verge of losing her heart and being found unworthy by the gods, but also her life when every blood-soaked thread that holds her world together begins to unravel.

MY THOUGHTS

❝I wasn’t beautiful. I was a tragedy.❞

From Blood and Ashes ended up being my first five star read this year — I’m extremely particular about giving out five stars, but this is an addictive, thrilling read that is definitely one of my favourite books in a long time. I’m still reeling from everything that happened, if I’m honest. It’s fast-paced with enough twists and turns that I’m suffering heart palpitations twelve hours later. Everything feels like it moves the plot forward — there are no ‘filler’ chapters or dull moments — and it has exciting, elaborate world building. Some plot points I did predict because there’s a breadcrumb trail throughout for readers, but everything is executed so flawlessly that you are on the edge of your seat no matter what.

❝Lust was not love, it was not loyalty, and it was not long lasting.❞

This book employs a forbidden love trope and the relationship between the main characters is one of the best written romances I’ve ever read. Their sexual tension and chemistry is out of this world, it is a multi-layered relationship that isn’t as cut and dry or easy as many YA/NA romances. I think this is definitely similar to A Court of Thorns and Roses in the sense it’s on the cusp of YA/NA because it has some smut and steamier scenes. Thankfully, none of that distracts from the plot though. I can’t even begin to put into words how much I adored this book, I was fully enthralled and didn’t want to stop reading, but I didn’t want it to be over either. It has romance, death, action, friendship and so much more. From Blood and Ash is an immersive, engaging story that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about all day.

❝Fear and bravery are often one and the same. It either makes you a warrior or a coward.❞

CHARACTERS

❝You’re an absolutely stunning, murderous little creature.❞

Our heroine in From Blood and Ash is Penellaphe — I rolled my eyes at this because I’m firmly Team Obscure-Fantasy-Names-Or-Obscure-Spellings-Are-Dumb — but her nickname is Poppy. She is smart, compassionate and has a violent streak. It is so clear to see why Hawke fell in love with her because she has such a strong head on her shoulders and is never passive in spite of being thrusted into a coveted role where she’s meant to be placid. It’s amazing to see a character that is so unapologetic about being a fighter and her desire to hurt the same people who hurt her whilst blushing when reading inappropriate books and have no clue how to kiss someone. I really admire how complex Poppy is — she’s sensitive and tough, scared and brave, empathetic and bloodthirsty. Females aren’t one thing and Poppy is a great example of a well-developed, likeable female character.

❝Only the bad can be influenced, Princess.❞

Our other main character is Hawke — Poppy’s guard after her previous one is murdered. He is sarcastic, charismatic and self-assured. I honestly got butterflies every time he appeared. Hawke is such a breath of fresh air compared to other male characters in YA/NA — he has an actual personality as opposed to brooding over his past traumas all of the time. I appreciated how he could be protective without being obnoxious and alpha-like too. There’s clearly more to him than meets the eye, but he doesn’t torture himself. Instead of trying to stay away from Poppy or self-inflicting pain, he knows his worth and allows both of them to be happy. God, I fell in love with him, never mind Poppy. He isn’t perfect, he doesn’t pretend to be, but it takes Poppy a little while to come to terms with that, I think. Without too much being spoiled, there’s a big reveal about what he’s hiding towards the end and I managed to guess the truth, but it unfolds in such a way that you don’t hate him and his motives make perfect sense.

MY FAVOURITE MOMENT

❝“Among my people, it’s not polite to stare at a naked woman in a bathtub.”

“Your people sound incredibly boring.”❞

There are so many moments I loved in this book — there are some more lighthearted ones mixed in the with the darker elements, which make the book all the more enjoyable. Poppy and Hawke have such fantastic banter, as do Poppy and Kieran towards the end.

❝I straddled him—

Hawke grinned up at me, the dimple in his right cheek appearing. “I’m liking where this is headed.”

I punched him in the face . . . ❞

However, I think the moment I’d choose above all as my favourite is when Poppy breaks down to Vikter after being caught with Hawke. For most of her life, Poppy is told she needs to be pure and os greatly restricted in what she can do, so for her to finally snap seems inevitable, but it’s done in such a painful, poignant way that all I wanted to do was wrap Poppy in hug. The scene is intense, moving and shows the cracks in the revered position of the Maiden.

❝So I’m sorry that choosing something that I want for myself is such a disappointment to you, the kingdom, everyone else, and the gods. Where is the honor in being the Maiden? What exactly should I be proud of?❞

MY LEAST FAVOURITE MOMENT

There was only one moment in this entire book that left me irritated and that was when Phillips — her guard — figures out that they’ve walked into a trap and Poppy wants to find Hawke. I was screaming at her through pages because she’s so clever and astute up until that moment, then she loses all common sense when it comes to Hawke. To an extent, I understood it — he was the first person she’d ever been with intimately — but I expected more from her.

FINAL VERDICT

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes high fantasy — fans of A Court of Thorns and Roses or A Curse So Dark and Lonely would like this. This book is one hell of a ride with a heart-stopping romance, danger and betrayal, angst and grief, action and adventure and more! I’m already anxious to read the sequel — especially because it ends on a cliffhanger — and I genuinely think From Blood and Ash is an absolute must read that will be a fantasy book staple in no time.

read it and weep,

Monthly Wrap Up March 2020

Since it’s the end of March, I’m going to be talking you through all the books I’ve read this month and share some brief thoughts on them along with my ratings!

1. Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare ★★★ — I’d highly recommend, but it didn’t live up to The Infernal Devices and most of the characters didn’t appeal to me.

2. The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski ★★★ — I liked this, but the writing style felt simple at times and things moved too fast when I prefer thorough character development.

3. The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski ★★★ — This was such a strong sequel that raised the stakes and showed Kestrel as a badass heroine. Arin’s parts in Dacra were rather slow though.

4. The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski ★★★ — It had an incredible first half, but fell short towards the end because the battle elements dragged and didn’t keep me interested.

5. House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas ★★★ — This book felt like an information dump to establish the new world and series and nothing caught my interest until the last 20%.

• Read my full review for House of Earth and Blood here.

6. The Perfect First by Maya Hughes ★★ — The concept was actually cute, but the writing was average at best and the romance was a fast burn, which I didn’t like.

7. The Wrong Prom Date by Alexandra Moody ★★★ — This was beyond adorable, the characters were all really likeable and it was a super light, fluffy read.

8. Rules for Being a Girl by Candace Bushnell and Katie Cotugno ★★★ — It had strong feminist themes and I think most, if not all, girls would be able to resonate with this book.

• Check out my ARC review of Rules for Being a Girl here.

9. Tweet Cute by Emma Lord ★★★ ½ — This was such a fun read, it took me a little while to get into it, but the main characters are loveable and it feels like an accurate portrayal of teenagers.

10. Truly Madly Famously by Rebecca Serle ★★★ — This is a sequel and I genuinely cant remember the characters being so vapid and shallow in the first book, but it was an interesting take on fame all the same.

11. Make It Count by Megan Erickson ★★ — Kat was such a sweet main character, but the romance was fast burn and superficial, so it wasn’t for me.

12. Geekerella by Ashley Poston ★★★ — This was adorably nerdy, but I had no strong feelings towards any of the characters and didn’t care about the outcome.

13. The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson #1) by Rick Riordan ★★★ — I was pleasantly surprised by how enjoyable these books were even though I’m a little older than the target audience.

14. The Sea of Monsters (Percy Jackson #2) by Rick Riordan ★★It’s very clear there’s a formulaic structure to these books, so I got a little frustrated by how similar it was to the first.

15. Chosen Ones by Veronica Roth ★★★ ½ — The beginning half was painfully slow, but the second half was incredible and I adored the main character.

• Check out my ARC review for Chosen Ones here.

16. Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid ★★★ — I thought this was great, fast-paced book with feminist themes, but it was written in a transcript/interview style that wasn’t for me.

•Check out my full review of Daisy Jones & the Six here.

17. Imagine Me by Tahereh Mafi ★★ — This was a boring, rushed and disappointing end to the series with some weird, unneeded plots, such as Juliette being attracted to her fiancé’s dad.

TOP 3 BOOKS OF MARCH: Chain of Gold, Daisy Jones & the Six and The Wrong Prom Date.

With everything going on in the world, I’ve read a lot more books than I usually would in a month, which translates to ‘I’ve been reading for pleasure instead of doing my assigned college work.’ Let me know in the comments if you reached your reading goals this month and have you read any really good or really bad books in March?

read it and weep,

Goodreads Monday #2

It’s that time of the week again — Goodreads Monday! This was started by Lauren’s Page Turners and it’s telling you what is on my TBR list. If it’s on my TBR list, let’s be honest, it might take a while before I get around to it, but at least it might give you some suggestions along the way.

Renegades by Marissa Meyer

Secret Identities. Extraordinary Powers. She wants vengeance. He wants justice.

The Renegades are a syndicate of prodigies — humans with extraordinary abilities — who emerged from the ruins of a crumbled society and established peace and order where chaos reigned. As champions of justice, they remain a symbol of hope and courage to everyone… except the villains they once overthrew.

Nova has a reason to hate the Renegades, and she is on a mission for vengeance. As she gets closer to her target, she meets Adrian, a Renegade boy who believes in justice — and in Nova. But Nova’s allegiance is to a villain who has the power to end them both.

WHY I WANT TO READ IT: This book has been recommended to me SO much, but I’ve been avoiding actually reading it because Meyer’s Cinder didn’t live up to the hype for me. I’m scared I’ll be disappointed if I finally start Renegades, which is a dumb reason to put it off, but I hate not finishing books. It hurts my soul . . .

Oh, come on, you guys! I don’t actually have a soul. But, it does hurt me not finishing books.

Outside of it being recommended to me, I want to read Renegades because it sounds like it could be enemies to lovers, which is one of my favourite tropes. I’m a little apprehensive of the superhero element since that isn’t something I tend to like, but I do love powerful characters. Nova also sounds like she could be morally grey and if there’s one thing I like more than a powerful female character, it’s a morally grey one.

Let me know what’s on your TBR list in the comments and if you’ve read Renegades, share you thoughts with me.

read it and weep,

Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid Review

Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Published by: Cornerstone on March 7, 2019

Genres: Historical Fiction

Pages: 368

My Rating: ★★★

🚨 MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD 🚨

SYNOPSIS

Everyone knows Daisy Jones & The Six: The band’s album Aurora came to define the rock ‘n’ roll era of the late seventies, and an entire generation of girls wanted to grow up to be Daisy. But no one knows the reason behind the group’s split on the night of their final concert at Chicago Stadium on July 12, 1979 . . . until now.

Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it’s the rock ‘n’ roll she loves most. By the time she’s twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things.

Also getting noticed is The Six, a band led by the brooding Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road.

Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes that the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend.

MY THOUGHTS

❝I am not a muse. I am the somebody. End of fucking story.❞

This book left me feeling empowered and exhilarated, which was an incredible feat considering I haven’t found a book I’ve had such strong feelings for all year. Despite loving The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, I put off Daisy Jones & the Six for the longest time because the format was off-putting. However, someone bought me the paperback from my wish list, so I didn’t want to avoid it any longer. It took me a while to look past the transcript format, but, when I did, I devoured the book. I still think the transcript format is lazy writing and it would have been even better as a complete narrative, but it doesn’t take away from the emotional rollercoaster that is Daisy Jones & the Six. You will cheer on these characters, cry for them, scream at them and everything in between because they are flawed and that’s what makes them so painfully relatable.

❝Daisy was Carole King, she was Laura Nyro. Hell, she could have been Joni Mitchell. And they wanted her to be Olivia Newton John.❞

I wasn’t around in the 70s, but I thought this book did an excellent job at capturing the atmosphere of that era. The atmosphere of the entire book, in fact, was electrifying and compelling. I was completely convinced this could have been a real band from that time. All the dialogue itself was vivacious and fun with a lot of memorable quotes, so even if the style wasn’t for me, it didn’t change the quality of Reid’s writing. As much as this is a story about drugs, sex and rock ‘n’ roll, it knows how to pack a punch and covers the hard topics — it’s not vapid or superficial, despite how some characters may seem on the surface. There’s a very real, raw struggle and as it’s so eloquently put in the book . . . we love broken, beautiful people.

❝She’s going to be the girl bleeding in a beautiful dress until it kills her.❞

CHARACTERS

❝If the rest of the world was silver, Daisy was gold.❞

First of all, we’re introduced to Daisy Jones — something of a groupie and an eventual It Girl — and I adored her. She isn’t perfect, but I could see why people would aspire to be like her — she is confident and in control of her sexuality. I think having somebody who was so unapologetically themselves in time when sexism was prevalent is so important. Of course, Daisy is still relevant today too and she contrasts well with Karen. They were different examples of female empowerment and both knew they owed men nothing, but expressed it in their own away. Daisy wears what she wants and doesn’t care if it’s revealing or promiscuous whilst Karen dresses down so her body doesn’t distract from her music.As much as I admired Daisy’s attitude, she is a deeply troubled person and I wish we got to know more about her redemption. We found out she was sober amongst some other things in a ‘where are they now‘ type segment, but I wish we saw more of her battle to get better. We did see her struggle in other ways, but I could only imagine what a force to be reckoned with Daisy Jones would have been if we saw her once she was fully in control of her body and mind.

❝Passion is . . . it’s fire. And fire is great, man. But we’re made of water. Water is how we keep living. Water is what we need to survive.❞

Our other central character is Billy Dunne — an incredible artist that is left fighting demons like alcohol and lust on tour whilst his wife at home with his kids. He was complex and being able to see all the layers to him was fascinating. I think male characters — ones like Billy — who who are arrogant and have the world in the palm of their hands can be difficult to get right without making them unlikeable, but Reid managed it. She showed us what happens when someone chips away at Billy’s walls. There is a real emotional range that we don’t see often in male characters with Billy. I appreciated there were clear consequences for his actions. This is not the the story of a man that got drunk, high and then cheated on his wife with no regrets — it’s the story of a man that fought every day to do right by his family and made mistakes sometimes, but pulled himself back from the edge too. His inner conflict and fear of being like his own father is hard-hitting and you understand it — you don’t like it, but you definitely understand it.

MY FAVOURITE MOMENT

I loved when Daisy and Billy realise they are better working together and decide to try collaborate on the songs. All the lyrics that were teased and the full songs at the end felt like such a fantastic edition to the book — mainly because they were good and I could imagine myself listening to the songs. Although we didn’t get access to the events in live time or full, the chemistry between the two were palpable even through the pages. They are both broken beyond repair and not necessarily good together, yet it is obvious that they put so much of themselves into the songs they don’t know where their career starts and they began.

MY LEAST FAVOURITE MOMENT

The reveal that the journalist was Julia, Billy’s daughter, felt forced and jarring. The break in the narrative wasn’t needed. Of course, it was an important aspect to the story, but there was no flare or elegance to how we found out about it, so much so that I felt underwhelmed. It was unexpected, but I was apathetic towards the entire thing — especially because it felt like a quick add on at the end.

I’ve mentioned this at the start already, but the transcript format is what stopped this being five stars for me. This book has such a strong plot that deserves to be fully fleshed out, but the interview style meant there was a part of me that was never wholly immersed in the story.

FINAL VERDICT

Everyone should read this book. It’s style is unorthodox, but that makes it a quick read once you become absorbed in the story. Daisy Jones & the Six doesn’t shy away from anything — not rehab or abortion — and has a core cast that either represent or oppose a lot of issues that were on the 70s music scene. Some issues that are still found today. It’s an infinitely quotable rollercoaster ride and I’m so glad I finally read this.

read it and weep,

My Most Anticipated Book Releases of April 2020

Fun fact, April is the month that has the most books being released that are on my TBR list! That means I’m going to get straight into the list because it could be a long one.

Disclaimer: On creating this, the release dates included are up to date, but that can sometimes change last minute.

1. You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle

Naomi Westfield has the perfect fiancé: Nicholas Rose holds doors open for her, remembers her restaurant orders, and comes from the kind of upstanding society family any bride would love to be a part of. They never fight. They’re preparing for their lavish wedding that’s three months away. And she is miserably and utterly sick of him.

Naomi wants out, but there’s a catch: whoever ends the engagement will have to foot the nonrefundable wedding bill. When Naomi discovers that Nicholas, too, has been feigning contentment, the two of them go head-to-head in a battle of pranks, sabotage, and all-out emotional warfare.

But with the countdown looming to the wedding that may or may not come to pass, Naomi finds her resolve slipping. Because now that they have nothing to lose, they’re finally being themselves–and having fun with the last person they expect: each other.

EXPECTED PUBLICATION: 7th April 2020

2. The Best Laid Plans by Cameron Lund

It seemed like a good plan at first.

When the only other virgin in her group of friends loses it at Keely’s own eighteenth birthday party, she’s inspired to take things into her own hands. She wants to have that experience too (well, not exactly like that–but with someone she trusts and actually likes), so she’s going to need to find the guy, and fast. Problem is, she’s known all the boys in her small high school forever, and it’s kinda hard to be into a guy when you watched him eat crayons in kindergarten. 

So she can’t believe her luck when she meets a ridiculously hot new guy named Dean. Not only does he look like he’s fallen out of a classic movie poster, but he drives a motorcycle, flirts with ease, and might actually be into her.

But Dean’s already in college, and Keely is convinced he’ll drop her if he finds out how inexperienced she is. That’s when she talks herself into a new plan: her lifelong best friend, Andrew, would never hurt or betray her, and he’s clearly been with enough girls that he can show her the ropes before she goes all the way with Dean. Of course, the plan only works if Andrew and Keely stay friends–just friends–so things are about to get complicated.

Cameron Lund’s delightful debut is a hilarious and heartfelt story of first loves, first friends, and first times–and how making them your own is all that really matters.

EXPECTED PUBLICATION: 7th April 2020

3. Meet Me at Midnight by Jessica Pennington

Sidney and Asher should have clicked. Two star swimmers forced to spend their summers on a lake together sounds like the perfect match. But it’s the same every year—in between cookouts and boat rides and family-imposed bonfires, Sidney and Asher spend the dog days of summer finding the ultimate ways to prank each other. And now, after their senior year, they’re determined to make it the most epic summer yet. 

But their plans are thrown in sudden jeopardy when their feud causes their families to be kicked out of their beloved lake houses. Once in their new accommodations, Sidney expects the prank war to continue as usual. But then she gets a note—Meet me at midnight. And Asher has a proposition for her: join forces for one last summer of epic pranks, against a shared enemy—the woman who kicked them out. 

Their truce should make things simpler, but six years of tormenting one another isn’t so easy to ignore. Kind of like the undeniable attraction growing between them.

EXPECTED PUBLICATION: 7th April 2020

4. The Lucky Ones by Liz Lawson

May is a survivor. But she doesn’t feel like one. She feels angry. And lost. And alone. Eleven months after the school shooting that killed her twin brother, May still doesn’t know why she was the only one to walk out of the band room that day. No one gets what she went through–no one saw and heard what she did. No one can possibly understand how it feels to be her. 

Zach lost his old life when his mother decided to defend the shooter. His girlfriend dumped him, his friends bailed, and now he spends his time hanging out with his little sister…and the one faithful friend who stuck around. His best friend is needy and demanding, but he won’t let Zach disappear into himself. Which is how Zach ends up at band practice that night. The same night May goes with her best friend to audition for a new band. 

Which is how May meets Zach. And how Zach meets May. And how both might figure out that surviving could be an option after all. 

EXPECTED PUBLICATION: 7th April 2020

5. What I Like About You by Marisa Kanter

There are a million things that Halle Levitt likes about her online best friend, Nash.

He’s an incredibly talented graphic novelist. He loves books almost as much as she does. And she never has to deal with the awkwardness of seeing him in real life. They can talk about anything…

Except who she really is.

Because online, Halle isn’t Halle—she’s Kels, the enigmatically cool creator of One True Pastry, a YA book blog that pairs epic custom cupcakes with covers and reviews. Kels has everything Halle doesn’t: friends, a growing platform, tons of confidence, and Nash.

That is, until Halle arrives to spend senior year in Gramps’s small town and finds herself face-to-face with real, human, not-behind-a-screen Nash. Nash, who is somehow everywhere she goes—in her classes, at the bakery, even at synagogue.

Nash who has no idea she’s actually Kels.

If Halle tells him who she is, it will ruin the non-awkward magic of their digital friendship. Not telling him though, means it can never be anything more. Because while she starts to fall for Nash as Halle…he’s in love with Kels.

EXPECTED PUBLICATION: 7th April 2020

6. The Perfect Escape by Suzanne Park

Nate Jae-Woo Kim wants to be rich. When one of his classmates offers Nate a ridiculous amount of money to commit grade fraud, he knows that taking the windfall would help support his prideful Korean family, but is compromising his integrity worth it?

Luck comes in the form of Kate Anderson, Nate’s colleague at the zombie-themed escape room where he works. She approaches Nate with a plan: a local tech company is hosting a weekend-long survivalist competition with a huge cash prize. It could solve all of Nate’s problems, and she needs the money too.

If the two of them team up, Nate has a real shot of winning the grand prize. But the real challenge? Making through the weekend with his heart intact…

EXPECTED PUBLICATION: 7th April 2020

7. Rules for Being a Girl by Candace Bushnell and Katie Cotugno

Don’t be easy. Don’t give it up. Don’t be a prude. Don’t be cold. Don’t put him in the friendzone. Don’t act desperate. Don’t let things go too far. Don’t give him the wrong idea. Don’t blame him for trying. Don’t walk alone at night. But calm down! Don’t worry so much. Smile!

Marin is a smart, driven, popular girl – she’s headed for Brown when she graduates and has a brilliant career as a journalist ahead of her. Especially in the eyes of English teacher Mr Beckett. He spends a lot of time around Marin, and she thinks it’s harmless . . . until he kisses her. 

No one believes Marin when she tells them what happened, so she does the only thing she can: she writes an article called ‘Rules for Being a Girl’ for the school paper to point out the misogyny and sexism that girls face every day. As things heat up at school and in her personal life, Marin must figure out how to take back the power and rewrite her own rules.

• Check out my ARC review of Rules for Being a Girl here.

EXPECTED PUBLICATION: 7th April 2020

8. Crave by Tracy Wolff

My whole world changed when I stepped inside the academy. Nothing is right about this place or the other students in it. Here I am, a mere mortal among gods…or monsters. I still can’t decide which of these warring factions I belong to, if I belong at all. I only know the one thing that unites them is their hatred of me.

Then there’s Jaxon Vega. A vampire with deadly secrets who hasn’t felt anything for a hundred years. But there’s something about him that calls to me, something broken in him that somehow fits with what’s broken in me.

Which could spell death for us all.

Because Jaxon walled himself off for a reason. And now someone wants to wake a sleeping monster, and I’m wondering if I was brought here intentionally—as the bait.

EXPECTED PUBLICATION: 7th April 2020

9. Seeing Voices by Olivia Smit

Skylar Brady has a pretty good idea of how her life is going to turn out, and getting in a car accident the summer before twelfth grade isn’t supposed to be part of the plan. Although Skylar escapes mostly unharmed, the accident has stolen more than just her hearing from her: she’s also lost the close bond she used to have with her brother.

When her parents decide to take a house-sitting job halfway across the province, it’s just one more thing that isn’t going according to plan. As the summer progresses, Skylar begins to gain confidence in herself, but as she tries to mend her relationship with her brother, she stumbles upon another hidden trauma. Suddenly, she’s keeping as many secrets as she’s struggling to uncover, and creating more problems than she could ever hope to solve.

EXPECTED PUBLICATION: 15th April 2020

10. Clique Bait by Ann Valett

Chloe Whittaker is out for revenge.

Last year her best friend Monica’s life was unceremoniously ruined by the most popular students at their high school, so this year Chloe plans to take each and every one of them down. She’s traded in her jeans and T-shirts for the latest designer clothes, erased anything on social media that would tie her to Monica (and blow her cover), and carefully figured out how she will befriend the members of the clique, find out their deepest and darkest secrets, and reveal them to the world.

Chloe has the perfect plan . . . but there’s one thing she didn’t prepare for. And that’s falling for someone she’s determined to destroy. The closer she gets to uncovering the secrets the in-crowd is determined to cover up, the more she realizes that she is going to have to choose between betraying her oldest friend or the boy who’s captured her heart.

EXPECTED PUBLICATION: 20th April 2020

11. Time of Our Lives by Emily Wibberly and Austin Siegemund-Broka

A boy desperate to hold on, a girl ready to let go.

Fitz Holton waits in fear for the day his single mother’s early-onset Alzheimer’s starts stealing her memory. He’s vowed to stay close to home to care for her in the years to come–never mind the ridiculous college tour she’s forcing him on to visit schools where he knows he’ll never go. Juniper Ramirez is counting down the days until she can leave home, a home crowded with five younger siblings and zero privacy. Against the wishes of her tight-knit family, Juniper plans her own college tour of the East Coast with one goal: get out.

When Fitz and Juniper cross paths on their first college tour in Boston, they’re at odds from the moment they meet– while Juniper’s dying to start a new life apart for her family, Fitz faces the sacrifices he must make for his. Their relationship sparks a deep connection–in each other’s eyes, they glimpse alternate possibilities regarding the first big decision of their adult lives. 

Time of Our Lives is a story of home and away, of the wonder and weight of memory, of outgrowing fears and growing into the future

EXPECTED PUBLICATION: 21st April 2020

12. Queen of Coin and Whispers by Helen Corcoran

When Lia, an idealistic queen, falls for Xania, her new spymaster–who took the job to avenge her murdered father–they realise all isn’t fair in love and treason. 

Lia won’t mourn her uncle: he’s left her a bankrupt kingdom considered easy pickings by its neighbours. She’s sworn to be a better ruler, but if she wants to push through her reforms, she needs to beat the Court at its own games. For years, Xania’s been determined to uncover her father’s murderer. She finally gets a chance when Lia gives her a choice: become her new spymaster, or take a one way trip to the executioner’s axe. It’s an easy decision.

When they fall for each other, their love complicates Lia’s responsibilities and Xania’s plans for vengeance. As they’re drawn together amid royal suitors and new diplomats, they uncover treason that could not only end Lia’s reign, but ruin their weakened country. They must decide not only what to sacrifice for duty, but also for each other.

EXPECTED PUBLICATION: 23rd April 2020

Looks like I’m going to have a busy April. Let me know in the comments what book you’re most excited to read in April — have I missed any?

read it and weep,

Chosen Ones by Veronica Roth ARC Review

Chosen Ones by Veronica Roth

Published by: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on April 7, 2020

Genres: Adult Fantasy, Romance

Pages: 432

My Rating: ★★★ ½

🚨 MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD 🚨

SYNOPSIS

A decade ago near Chicago, five teenagers defeated the otherworldly enemy known as the Dark One, whose reign of terror brought widespread destruction and death. The seemingly un-extraordinary teens—Sloane, Matt, Ines, Albie, and Esther—had been brought together by a clandestine government agency because one of them was fated to be the “Chosen One,” prophesized to save the world. With the goal achieved, humankind celebrated the victors and began to mourn their lost loved ones.

Ten years later, though the champions remain celebrities, the world has moved forward and a whole, younger generation doesn’t seem to recall the days of endless fear. But Sloane remembers. It’s impossible for her to forget when the paparazzi haunt her every step just as the Dark One still haunts her dreams. Unlike everyone else, she hasn’t moved on; she’s adrift—no direction, no goals, no purpose. On the eve of the Ten Year Celebration of Peace, a new trauma hits the Chosen: the death of one of their own. And when they gather for the funeral at the enshrined site of their triumph, they discover to their horror that the Dark One’s reign never really ended.

MY THOUGHTS

I‘ve spent a long time feeling conflicted over what to rate this book — the first half was a chore to read, but the second half was exciting and had me throughly invested. One of the reasons I stuck with this book is because Roth has the most captivating writing style that always manages to leave me in awe. She had fallen in love with him a half a dozen times before she knew she had” and “Always famous but always fading, the way old movie stars were, carrying the ghosts of their younger selves in their faces” are two quotes that don’t have much relevance to the plot, but highlights the consistent enchanting quality of Veronica Roth’s writing. My main issue though — as I could see it being for otherswas the pacing. It was slow and I didn’t even know what the plot was meant to be until I was 300 pages in. A part of me wonders if the book knew what it was meant to be itself, although it relied heavily on the ‘Chosen One’ trope, there was nothing original about it.

I couldn’t help but see elements of other books and shows in it — the Dark One and the siphons reminded me a lot of Shadow & Bone’s the Darkling and amplifiers. One thing that did differentiate from what we might have seen before is the fact this was set after the Chosen Ones had defeated the villain. This left me conflicted because, would we still have read Harry Potter if Harry was 30 and rehashing his glory days to us rather than readers experiencing them first hand? I actually think it would have been more interesting if we saw the characters in battle when they were younger as opposed to merely hearing about it. Without knowing everything that happened beforehand, I was frustrated and felt like I never had the full picture. For Roth’s first venture into adult fiction, the only thing that felt adult about it was the age of our characters and I can’t help but wonder if it’s due to the stigma around YA as a genre. The content was no worse than Divergent, but a lot of writers seem to think YA is a stepping stone to more prestigious paths.

CHARACTERS

There are five ‘Chosen Ones’ we’re immediately introduced to — Albie, Esther, Ines, Matt and Sloane — but two of them we don’t see much of it. The main character, however, is Sloane. God, I love Sloane. She is fierce, clever, independent and everything you could want in a heroine — albeit, I might argue the case of her being an anti-heroine, all things considered. Despite being a hero to the rest of the world, she’s shrewd, bitter and left reeling from PTSD after her final battle. She never wanted to be chosen and never plays into being chosen either. All of that made Sloane more relatable and I definitely identified with her most. If I was expected to risk my life, I’d be tired and angry too. Sloane is a perfect contrast to Matt, the golden boy and hero archetype, alongside Esther, someone who relishes in her fame.

In the other dimension, we then meet Mox. Although he serves as a romantic interest for Sloane, he stands on his own as a fascinating character. He balances Sloane well and he a lot of wit to him, it was nice to see a relationship of equals for once. Mox may be a little unhinged, but he’s full of good interiors and bravery too. Their romance isn’t a fast burn, but it still felt too fast for me. As a whole, he is a great example of how multi-faceted the characters in Chosen Ones are.

As likeable as all the characters were, some felt like they were being introduced in excess only to serve no other purpose, such as Kyros. I never want to include too many spoilers either, but I predicted the identities of the Dark One and the Resurrectionist, which left me underwhelmed when the book reached its climax. Developed as they are, I kept waiting to be surprised by the characters and ended up disappointed.

MY FAVOURITE MOMENT

The Dive was so intense and gritty, it is easily my favourite moment and allows for Sloane’s emotional baggage to be understood more. When we meet her, she’s apathetic and how she became like that was always going to be difficult to get right — what type of thing could plunge a person into such a state of emptiness? — but Roth did it. In this scene, I felt Sloane’s fear, her panic and it’s the first time I thought the book might be start of something good.

Sloane’s first kiss with Mox was a standout moment too. Romance isn’t the focus of this book, but those two feel like the product of something natural. Their chemistry is amazing, but I get the sense they make each other better people too. Even if we don’t see much of them in a relationship, it was nice for all the drama to be outside of the actual couple for once, so the kiss scene felt rewarding after the two of them endured so much manipulation and pain.

MY LEAST FAVOURITE MOMENT

Not that it’s my least favourite moment, but the proposal. It felt pointless — in fact, a lot of the first half was unnecessary. Of course the relationship between Matt and Sloane needed to be established, but then it made me feel like their was too much left unresolved between them when Sloane began to move on. I despise loose ends and this caused some. It didn’t feel right Sloane agreed to the proposal either — even under pressure, it didn’t make sense why she wasn’t more upfront with him later.

The articles, transcripts, diary entries etc between chapters were interesting in the beginning, but ended up being annoying and overdone as well. They broke up the story when I was finally engaging with the events and seemed like a convenient excuse to increase the book length. If anything, they started to be repetitive and served to complicate the magic system that had already been explained so well.

FINAL VERDICT

This book has left me with mixed feelings, but I’d still recommend it — if you can push past the boring first half. Whilst it tries to put a fresh spin on an overdone trope, I don’t think the book included anything that hasn’t been explored before. I didn’t have a burning desire to keep reading it at all, the characters and the relationships they forged were a saving grace as opposed to the all-over-the-place plot. However, the world building was brilliant with a complex magic system grounded in science. I don’t know if this is part of a series or not, I do know that I still have a lot of questions to be answered and would not be averse to picking up a sequel in the future in spite of my hold backs.

Thank you to Hodder & Stoughton and NetGalley for providing me with a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review.

read it and weep,

#TropeTuesday: Books with Enemies to Lovers

The days might have slowly started to bleed into each other with most of the world in isolation, but that doesn’t mean I’m letting any of you forget that today is #TropeTuesday. I thought long and hard about what trope to focus on this week — maybe something to lighten the mood given the state fo the world? — and then I thought, “What’s a cheerier feeling than going from wanting to rip someone’s throat out to their pants?” Thus, I decided to recommend some of my favourite enemies to lovers books.

Don’t forget to check out last week’s #TropeTuesday if you like fake relationships too. You can find that here.

1. To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing they loathe most—a human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen or remain a human forever.

The ocean is the only place Prince Elian calls home, even though he is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Hunting sirens is more than an unsavory hobby—it’s his calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she’s more than what she appears. She promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good—But can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy?

To Kill A Kingdom is one book you need to stick with for a little while, but I promise it’s worth it and you’ll soon be sucked in. Although this sounds like a retelling of The Little Mermaid, it is twistier and darker with main characters that are both morally ambiguous at best. This is a romance between a siren and a siren killer or, alternatively, a prince and a prince killer, so it’s a slow burn and you need to be prepared for that. This is such an exciting and compelling read that you’ll finish the book and question your life’s purpose after it, I swear.

2. Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin

Two years ago, Louise le Blanc fled her coven and took shelter in the city of Cesarine, forsaking all magic and living off whatever she could steal. There, witches like Lou are hunted. They are feared. And they are burned.

Sworn to the Church as a Chasseur, Reid Diggory has lived his life by one principle: thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. His path was never meant to cross with Lou’s, but a wicked stunt forces them into an impossible union—holy matrimony.

The war between witches and Church is an ancient one, and Lou’s most dangerous enemies bring a fate worse than fire. Unable to ignore her growing feelings, yet powerless to change what she is, a choice must be made.

And love makes fools of us all.

Serpent & Dove gives us enemies to lovers, slow burn and a (forced) marriage of convenience, so it’s literally ticking every box for me. Lou and Reid have such fun flirty banter along with some serious moments, which I adore because it makes their relationship feel established and realistic. Sometimes, in a world of fantasy, it’s those types of relationships that can anchor the plot and make you believe in the unbelievable. I do think the world building could have been better, but if you’re a fan of books heavily focused on characters, then this could be for you.

3. Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.

With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she’s ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.

But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle—a shifting maze of magical rooms—enthralls her.

As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex’s secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love.

Cruel Beauty was one of those that got recommended me to a lot, but I put it off because I am very much anti dumb fantasy names and this book is full of dumb fantasy names — IGNIFEX, I MEAN, COME ON! Dumb fantasy names aside, I was pleasantly surprised by the book itself. I predicted some elements, but there were some twists that left me gaping like a fish too. I especially appreciate how Nyx holds out on her plan for so longsometimes, the characters enter with revenge in mind and forget about it the second their enemy smiles at them. Nyx doesn‘t and it takes time for her mind to change.

4. The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions. 

One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin. 

But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined. 

In The Winner’s Curse, Arin is a slave and Kestrel is his owner, but they fall in love — that’s the epitome of enemies to lovers. One part I really loved in this was how many sweet moments there were on top of all the action and plot-driven scenes. Their romance turns out being very soft in the end, but it has a lot of layers to it and feels well-developed, so even when things can feel like they’re happening fast, it makes sense and you can understand why the two of them fall in love.

5. The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.

And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.

Jude was seven when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

As Jude becomes more deeply embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, she discovers her own capacity for trickery and bloodshed. But as betrayal threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.

The Cruel Prince is quickly becoming a YA staple and I genuinely think Jude and Cardan are one of the best written enemies to lovers pairings I’ve ever come across. The moral greyness! The sexual tension! The tail! Um, what what? Okay, if we ignore the fact one of the characters has a FREAKIN’ TAIL, then this is such a transportive book with incredible world building and a slow burn that made me think it would have been less painful if I set myself on fire.

6. Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan

A girl who can speak to gods must save her people without destroying herself.

A prince in danger must decide who to trust.

A boy with a monstrous secret waits in the wings. 

Together, they must assassinate the king and stop the war.

In a centuries-long war where beauty and brutality meet, their three paths entwine in a shadowy world of spilled blood and mysterious saints, where a forbidden romance threatens to tip the scales between dark and light.

Wicked Saints is definitely more on the insta-love side of things when compared to my other recommendations, but it has a girl who talks to god falling in love with a boy that had a hand in the war her country is in and it’s . . . intense. The relationship between Nadya and Serefin is refreshing because it’s flawed, but they both know it and it’s never made out to be anything less. It’s quite fast paced, if you like that, but it’s by no means an easy read as there’s a heavy focus on religion and the writing is stunning, yet complex at times.

7. We Hunt The Flame by Hafsah Faizal

People lived because she killed.
People died because he lived.

Zafira is the Hunter, disguising herself as a man when she braves the cursed forest of the Arz to feed her people. Nasir is the Prince of Death, assassinating those foolish enough to defy his autocratic father, the king. If Zafira was exposed as a girl, all of her achievements would be rejected; if Nasir displayed his compassion, his father would punish him in the most brutal of ways. 

Both are legends in the kingdom of Arawiya—but neither wants to be.

War is brewing, and the Arz sweeps closer with each passing day, engulfing the land in shadow. When Zafira embarks on a quest to uncover a lost artifact that can restore magic to her suffering world and stop the Arz, Nasir is sent by the king on a similar mission: retrieve the artifact and kill the Hunter. But an ancient evil stirs as their journey unfolds—and the prize they seek may pose a threat greater than either can imagine.

Zafira is a hunter and Nasir is sent to kill her, but they’re forced to be reluctant allies — can you feel the tension yet? They’re opposites in every way and — admittedly — this wasn’t the type of romance that left me with heart palpitations, but it was a strong effort at slow burn enemies to lovers. The real strength of this book, to me, is in all the side characters and the eloquent writing style.

8. And I Darken by Kiersten White

No one expects a princess to be brutal. And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.

Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.

But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.

And I Darken is something I read a few years back, but it’s something I come back to a lot. It’s gritty and dark and gory and has a badass anti-heroine. Albeit, I think it’s a love-or-hate situation and won’t be for everyone. Romance isn’t an overwhelming focus in And I Darken, instead it’s packed with social commentary and political intrigue. I’d argue Mehmed is more representative of Lada’s enemy, rather than a direct enemy, but I just couldn’t resist including it.

9. The Wrath and The Dawn by Renée Ahdieh

In a land ruled by a murderous boy-king, each dawn brings heartache to a new family. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, is a monster. Each night he takes a new bride only to have a silk cord wrapped around her throat come morning. When sixteen-year-old Shahrzad’s dearest friend falls victim to Khalid, Shahrzad vows vengeance and volunteers to be his next bride. Shahrzad is determined not only to stay alive, but to end the caliph’s reign of terror once and for all.

Night after night, Shahrzad beguiles Khalid, weaving stories that enchant, ensuring her survival, though she knows each dawn could be her last. But something she never expected begins to happen: Khalid is nothing like what she’d imagined him to be. This monster is a boy with a tormented heart. Incredibly, Shahrzad finds herself falling in love. How is this possible? It’s an unforgivable betrayal. Still, Shahrzad has come to understand all is not as it seems in this palace of marble and stone. She resolves to uncover whatever secrets lurk and, despite her love, be ready to take Khalid’s life as retribution for the many lives he’s stolen. Can their love survive this world of stories and secrets?

The Wrath and the Dawn — wow. I don’t know where to begin, but I’ve been on this reading kick of books that have females looking for revenge then falling in love in the process. Anyway, this is a retelling of 1001 Nights and is as every bit as romantic and angst-ridden as you’d expect. I do think Shahrzad missed a lot of opportunities to do some real damage and I almost expected more from her at times, but I was able to look over it because it’s such a beautifully written book. Ahdieh has such a poetic writing style.

10. Of Curses and Kisses by Sandhya Menon

Will the princess save the beast?

For Princess Jaya Rao, nothing is more important than family. When the loathsome Emerson clan steps up their centuries-old feud to target Jaya’s little sister, nothing will keep Jaya from exacting her revenge. Then Jaya finds out she’ll be attending the same elite boarding school as Grey Emerson, and it feels like the opportunity of a lifetime. She knows what she must do: Make Grey fall in love with her and break his heart. But much to Jaya’s annoyance, Grey’s brooding demeanor and lupine blue eyes have drawn her in. There’s simply no way she and her sworn enemy could find their fairy-tale ending…right?

His Lordship Grey Emerson is a misanthrope. Thanks to an ancient curse by a Rao matriarch, Grey knows he’s doomed once he turns eighteen. Sequestered away in the mountains at St. Rosetta’s International Academy, he’s lived an isolated existence—until Jaya Rao bursts into his life, but he can’t shake the feeling that she’s hiding something. Something that might just have to do with the rose-shaped ruby pendant around her neck…

As the stars conspire to keep them apart, Jaya and Grey grapple with questions of love, loyalty, and whether it’s possible to write your own happy ending.

Since most of this list has been fantasy, I thought I owed you at least one contemporary with Of Curses and Kisses. There are moments you might have to suspend your disbelief, but this is a Beauty and the Beast retelling where Jaya and Grey are caught in a centuries-old family feud. Jaya goes in with every intention of breaking Grey’s heart and I love that. One reason there aren’t many contemporaries in this list is because I didn’t want to mix in any rivals to lovers — which is a totally different thing — but these two are enemies. The hatred and conflict goes beyond a pretty rivalry. Maybe it’s more so on Jaya’s side, but centuries of superposition mixed in with media accusations make for the perfect enemies to lovers story.

Let me know your favourite enemies to lovers pairing in the replies or what trope I should focus on next week!

read it and weep,

Goodreads Monday #1

Hi! This is my first Goodreads Monday on this blog — something I believe was started by Lauren’s Page Turners. If you’re unfamiliar with what this is, I’m going to talk to you about one book from my endless TBR list and why I want to read it. Simple, right?

Crave by Tracy Wolff

My whole world changed when I stepped inside the academy. Nothing is right about this place or the other students in it. Here I am, a mere mortal among gods…or monsters. I still can’t decide which of these warring factions I belong to, if I belong at all. I only know the one thing that unites them is their hatred of me.

Then there’s Jaxon Vega. A vampire with deadly secrets who hasn’t felt anything for a hundred years. But there’s something about him that calls to me, something broken in him that somehow fits with what’s broken in me.

Which could spell death for us all.

Because Jaxon walled himself off for a reason. And now someone wants to wake a sleeping monster, and I’m wondering if I was brought here intentionally—as the bait.

WHY I WANT TO READ IT: I don’t know if this is technically cheating because it’s only on my TBR list out of circumstance — it isn’t released until April — so the second I can take it off my TBR list, it will be gone. (Cue me scouring the Internet for every ARC giveaway because I’m impatient.) But, I’m saying it counts.

I’ve said this on my Twitter, but vampires are my brand! From Buffy to The Vampire Diaries to The Vampire Academy, it is my life mission to sink my teeth into (*ba dum tsss*) into any and every piece of vampire fiction I can find. Except sparkling ones. On this blog, we like to swoon, but never over disco balls . . . Not even ones that look like Robert Pattinson.

Moving on, the fact it had vampires in was enough for to make me excited — are vampires cool again? I feel there’s a resurgence of them on TV and in books — but then we have the fact it’s set at an academy. Academies are the perfect settings for dark, atmospheric reads and the type of privileged teens that are hiding world-shaking secrets, so they’re one of my favourite settings. They usually hint at a lot of angst too and I’m such a sucker (that one was unintentional, but I’ll take the credit ) for angst.

I can already tell this book is going to evoke SO MANY FEELS from me. The type of feels that I get whenever I rewatch Buffy for the 100th time to torture myself with that scene . . . You know the one.

So, I’m very excited to be picking up Wolff’s debut in the YA genre on the 7th April. Especially because it has a very pretty cover that will make for a very pretty addition to my book shelf, which never hurts on top of a great premise.

• If vampires are your thing, don’t forget to check out these Book Recommendations for The Vampire Diaries Fans.

Let me know what’s on your TBR list in the comments. Or feel free to fan girl over vampires with me, that works too.

read it and weep,

Book Recommendations for The Vampire Diaries Fans

We have history together.

Elena Gilbert
The Vampire Diaries is one of my favourite shows of all time. There’s something so special about the show that I always try to find the same kind of magic in the books I read. So, these are some books that I love because they give off the same vibes as The Vampire Diaries through their world-building and romance. 1. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is about Tana, who wakes up at a party where she is one of the few survivors after vampires have killed everyone. Although vampirism is treated more like an infection here, it definitely gives off a lot of early TVD feels in being part romance, part survival and part road trip adventure. Tana and Gavriel are very reminiscent of Stelena too — and yes, I do think Stefan is the better brother. Gavriel is every bit as brooding and self-loathing as Stefan because he sees himself as a monster, which parallels the human/vampire relationship of Stefan and Elena.

2. The Casquette Girls by Alys Arden

This actually one of my current reads, but so far, it’s reminding me a lot of The Vampire Diaries and The Originals — the latter mainly because it’s New Orleans location ensures a beautifully rich, eerie atmosphere. There are witches, vampires, flashbacks to the past and a love triangle every bit as divisive as the whole Stefan vs Damon saga. Honestly, such a beautiful world and backstory is weaved in The Casquette Girls and I think it’s a underrated gem.

3. The Beautiful by Renée Ahdieh

More vampires! Not all these recommendations are vampire related, I promise. Anyway, The Beautiful is also set in New Orleans and utilises the setting to create an enticing world with vampires and murder. It’s definitely a little on the darker side and is set in the 1800s, so that’s why I could so easily see it as being perfect for someone who loved the Mikaelsons as much as I did. There is a love triangle if that part of TVD appealed to you, but there’s mystery, forbidden romance and a super swoony character that could rival Damon Salvatore himself too.

4. Fallen by Lauren Kate

Instead of vampires, Fallen focuses on angels and features a love triangle similar to Stefan/Elena/Damon. Daniel is definitely as tortured as Stefan and Luce, our heroine, reminds me of Elena with how oblivious she can be, yet so willing to sacrifice herself when required. Albeit, I am on the Elena Gilbert defence squad and I think Luce is a tad more annoying. There’s the added fact that Daniel falls in love with Luce time after time, which makes me think of Stefan and his ensuing Katherine/Elena saga. Both relationships are very insta-love, but have a lot of history behind them. The romance and mystery is undeniably Vampire Diaries-esque.

5. Cupid’s Match by Lauren Palphreyman

Another book that instead of vampires, it’s angels — or a variation, to be technical. Cupid’s Match features cupids amongst a whole host of other mythological creatures in a story about Lila, a girl that has a love match with THE Cupid. This reminded me of The Vampire Diaries because it starts in a high school setting with an ordinary girl who is then dragged head first into paranormal drama. Whilst the mythology is possible richer than what can be found in Mystic Falls, Cupid’s Match has enough plot twists, family drama, parties, epic battles and romance to fit right in with any episode from the TVD universe.

6. Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

Beautiful Creatures is a book that I read a few years back now, but I clearly remember the small town of Gatlin being every ounce as mysterious and atmospheric as Mystic Falls. If the small town setting was something that drew you in, Gatlin might fill the TVD shaped hole in your heart with its secrets and long history. Ethan and Lena are drawn to each other like Stefan and Elena were, but it’s actually Lena who throws Ethan’s small town life into a state of disarray — which feels like a nice trope reversal on the small town girl’s life being changed by the new supernatural boy. There’s a magic system like TVD too, but it’s quite different with Lena having to wait until she’s 16 to find out if she’s a ‘light’ or ‘dark’ caster.

7. The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman

The Devouring Gray came out in 2019 and — excuse the pun — I devoured it. This is another one that is great if the small town setting is something you like. In Four Paths, there’s an emphasis on ancestry and the founding families, which was one part of TVD I always found interesting. We follow four characters in this book — Violet, Harper, Isaac and Justin — who are all very different, but are brought together by the mystery of their rural town. I think there’s a character everyone can identify with and the larger cast is great if you liked Caroline’s and Bonnie’s and Tyler’s stories on the show as much as Elena’s.

Bonus Recommendation — The Awakening by L.J. Smith

This one is pretty self-explanatory as The Awakening is the first book in The Vampire Diaries book series. I will say the books are very different, so if you don’t mind that and can treat them as something separate to the TV show, they’re definitely a good read — if not painfully 90s in parts.

That concludes my recommendations based on The Vampire Diaries, but let me know what show I should suggest books on next. I’ve already done Gilmore Girls and you can find that here. I’d also be interested to here if you were Team Stefan or Damon in the comments.

read it and weep,

And English and French.

Stefan Salvatore

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