My Favorite Books of 2018

2018 has been good for me in terms of reading. At least, until Autumn hit. I haven’t picked up a book since November 1st!

So, since I doubt I’ll be finishing anything else during the Holidays, I figured it’d be a good time to tell you all my favorite books of 2018!

These are in no particular order!

I’ve seen a lot of mixed reviews regarding Madeline Miller’s Circe–in fact, even my best friend didn’t like it that much. But I don’t mind a slow, character-driven read. I found this book to be beautiful and it only solidified my love for Madeline Miller’s works.

Circe by Madeline Miller Review

When I started this book, I was like

What in the world am I reading???

But as I continued, the more I fell in love with these characters.

Not to mention this book is downright hilarious!

My Lady Jane by The Lady Janies Review

Oh my God, Rose. We know. You love The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang. We get  it. You really love this book.”

Well if you know, why haven’t you read it yet?

The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang ReviewT

My most anticipated book of the year did disappoint a little. The more I think about it, the more mad I get. But that doesn’t change the fact that I did enjoy it as I was reading it!

If you’re interested in hearing my updated thoughts, let me know! But, for now, you can read my original review!

Vengeful by V.E. Schwab Review

I said these were in no particular order, but if you were to ask for my favorite book this year, I’d probably tell you this one!

Which is strange. This isn’t the type of book I usually go for. But the social commentary in this book is probably the best I’ve seen!

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid Review

And there you have it–my favorite books of 2018!

If you’re interested in seeing my least favorite books, let me know! I’m unsure if anyone wants to see that kind of negativity.

But in the meanwhile, tell me some of your favorite reads this year down in the comments!

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Book Blogger Test| Book Tag

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It’s that time of the week again where I have no clue what to post, so I decide to do a tag!

This week, we’re doing the Book Blogger Test tag!

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1. What are your three bookish pet peeves?

  • When a book series or universe is dragged out longer than what it was originally planned for. For example: the ACOTAR series being extended. Or just the entirety of the Shadowhunters universe.
  • An over-abundance of sexual jokes in dialogue.
  • Exclamation!!! Points!!!!

2. Name a perfect reading spot.

I only ever read in bed. It’s my happy place.

3. Give three reader confessions.

  • I annotate my books!!! Oh, the h o r r o r 
  • I DNFed the Harry Potter series about two years ago.
  • I have a hard time visualizing things in my head. I always feel like I’m missing important elements in books because I can’t picture what’s going on.

4. When was the last time you cried during a book?

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The last fifty pages in this book, you guys. I was a mess.

5. Number of books on your bedside table? 

I’m currently not at my house right now. But a good guess would be eleven.

6. Favorite reading snack?

I don’t tend to read and eat at the same time. But if I do, it’s most likely popcorn.

7. What are three books you’d recommend to anyone?

This is really hard, considering everyone has different tastes. But three books I tend to want to shove toward people are:

Vicious because it presents a really interesting cast of characters.

The Final Empire because I feel like it has a little something for everybody.

And The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo because it tackles a lot of social stigmas without coming across a preachy.

8. Provide a picture of your bookshelves.

Again, I’m not at home, so I don’t have a picture of my entire bookshelves, but I do have a picture of my favorite section of my shelves!

9. How much do books mean to you in three words?

Wow, so much

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10. Biggest reading secret?

You already saw that I DNFed the Harry Potter series. I don’t know anything that’s worse than that.

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As usual, I’m not tagging anyone. If you’d like to give this a go, feel free! Consider yourself tagged!

rose

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo | Review

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Pages: 465
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
Publication Date: September 29, 2015
My Rating: B

synopsis

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price–and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone…

A convict with a thirst for revenge.

A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.

A runaway with a privileged past.

A spy known as the Wraith.

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.

Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.

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After having this book sit on my shelf for three years, I am finally getting to review it!

The verdict?

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Don’t get me wrong–I enjoyed it! I just just expecting more.

The highlight of Six of Crows, of course, is its cast. Juggling six main characters and five points-of-view is no easy feat as a writer. Luckily, Bardugo was able to weave the chapters in a way that I never exactly felt bored. Even with the characters I wasn’t as engaged in, I didn’t mind reading from their perspective.

This, of course, could be due to the fact that the characters were rarely ever separated. There were only a handful of times a main character wandered off by themselves. So no matter who’s head your in, your more than likely still going to get the ensemble’s banter.

The main reason for the constant change in POVs was to get more of the individual character’s backstories. Which for me, was the most interesting part of the plot. This, of course, is because the most interesting part of morally ambiguous characters is finding out how and why they became so corrupt.

Other than that, the plot was kind of non-existent.

The book is marketed as a heist novel and it really wasn’t. The “heist” doesn’t start until about the halfway point, and even then–it’s a rescue mission, not a heist.

That wouldn’t be a problem at all if I felt the driving plot was stronger. I never really felt the severity of what was going on. It’s strange, because I knew why they were going on this mission and its importance, but I simply wasn’t convinced by it.

I’m not saying this is true, but it felt like Bardugo had this cast of characters in mind–complete with personalities and backstories and relationships–but didn’t know exactly what to do with them. So she threw this plot together because everyone likes a good heist.

Luckily, the characters (for the most part) were so well developed that it didn’t seem to matter if the plot was weak. We’re here for the Dregs–for their personalities and backstories and relationships.

Speaking of relationships: you have three main ones in the works here.

The most well developed and interesting in my opinion was Nina and Matthias. They were the only ones that felt real to me. Maybe because they are the only ones whose relationship went anyway. You saw them go from enemies to friends to potential lovers and, quite frankly, I’m a sucker for that.

Jesper and Wylan are obviously being set up for the second book. I’m here for it. I loved their banter throughout the book. They’re doing amazing.

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However, I never really felt Kaz and Inej. I think they work better as friends. Of course, a lot of YA authors have a habit of pairing all the mains together. I just feel like it wasn’t necessary here.

All in all, I feel an attachment to these character. But I know in about a month, I probably won’t be able to tell you anything about the plot.

That being said: I am jumping into Crooked Kingdom as soon as I publish this.

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Have you read Six of Crows? Were you absolutely blown away by it? Or did it leave you with a little something to be desired? Comment down below and let me know!

rose

I’m Addicted to Audiobooks (And It’s Ruining My Reading Experience)

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For the longest time, I was against audiobooks.

Not because I didn’t think it was a valid form of reading–I wasn’t against other people listening to them. But they just didn’t work for me.

I’m not one who can multi-task. I can’t listen to things while I’m cooking or sewing because when I’m doing those things, I block everything else out. I also tried listening before going to bed every night (and when I woke up in the morning before starting my day), but I found I still couldn’t concentrate on them.

Fast forward to when I picked up My Lady Jane on Scribd. I found myself not being able to concentrate, though I was enjoying what I did pick up. I was about to give up on the audiobook in exchange for just reading the physical copy when I had an amazing idea!

I decided to follow along in the physical copy while listening.

This allows me to trick my brain into thinking it’s doing something by giving it something to focus on while not having to exude too much energy on actually reading. It’s the equivalent of listening to someone read out loud in a classroom.

Except listening at normal speed was not working, so I bumped it to double.

Doing this felt revolutionary to me. I was knocking out books left and right and was able to churn out so many more reviews last month than usual. It was great!

Was.

Somewhere along the line, I decided that double speed was too slow. So I bumped it up to triple.

The thing about listening at triple speed is that it’s usually fine. When the narrator is speaking at a normal, even pace, it’s easy to follow. But then things in the story will get intense, or a character will start speaking and suddenly I can’t keep up.

You might be thinking:

Ro, just switch back to double.

I tried!

When starting Daughter of Smoke and Bone, I had the audio set to double. I got about forty pages in when I started having thoughts of “Why spend six hours listening to this when I can speed it up and get it done in four?”

I’ve decided that I’d rather get things done faster than actually enjoy them and take them in. That’s not really a good thought process to have when you’ve obligated yourself to analyze books for review.

I don’t take notes while listening to audiobooks.

I’m finding it hard to connect with characters when listening at such high speeds.

I’m finding it hard to remember books shortly after finishing them.

The best solution for me right now would be to just take a break. Maybe cancel my Scribd subscription for a month and read some physical copies or ebooks. Get myself back into a groove of not having to read things so fast.

Whether or not I actually do that is up in the air. The thought of not having any audio alongside my reading seems like a foreign concept at this point.

What are your thoughts on audiobooks? Love them? Hate them? Have an awful addiction to them that you can’t seem to break? Comment down below and start a discussion!

rose

Second Chance Sunday: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor | Review

 

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Second Chance Sunday is a monthly meme I came up with to give myself incentive to re-read books that I either didn’t like and want to give another chance, or read books that I loved a few years ago and see if they hold up. My goal is to reread at least one book a month and compare my thoughts now to the thoughts I had to it when I first read it.

These posts will be split up into two sections: My Thoughts Before, where I will give a brief summary of my old review; and my current review, which will be written like any other review post.

 

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Pages: 422
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: September 27, 2011
Initially Read: June 2012
Initital Rating: C
Current Rating: C

 

synopsis

Around the world, black hand prints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grows dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherworldly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”, she speaks many languages – not all of them human – and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

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Pros:

  • I found the writing to be “beautiful and witty.”
  • The side characters! I said they were funny.
  • I thought Karou was a strong lead

Cons:

  • Akiva
  • Like wow I did not like Akiva
  • I found the romance to be very insta-lovey
  • I trashed basically the whole second half of the book.

In short, in my initial review, I thought that “a great plot and lovely set of characters was watered down by an awkward love story.”

Did my thoughts remain the same after six years? Well, keep reading to find out!

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“Happiness. It was the place where passion, with all its dazzle and drumbeat, met something softer: homecoming and safety and pure sunbeam comfort. It was all those things, intertwined with the heat and the thrill, and it was as bright within her as a swallowed star.”

Me and Laini Taylor’s works don’t have the best relationship. I didn’t initially care for Daughter of Smoke and Bone on my first read, and I’ve DNFed Strange the Dreamer twice now. Despite that, I always feel the need to give her another chance.

I’ll start this off by saying that I still feel pretty meh about Daughter of Smoke and Bone. However, I do feel more compelled now to continue the series.

It’s no secret that Laini Taylor is most known for her poetic style of writing. She’s able to weave words in a way that feels magical, yet is easy to understand. Reading her books feels like reading a fairy tale.

“Hope can be a powerful force. Maybe there’s no actual magic in it, but when you know what you hope for most and hold it like a light within you, you can make things happen, almost like magic.” 

The humor did fall very flat for me, though, ranging from “not-funny-at-all” to “I-think-I-just-pulled-a-muscle-in-my-neck-from-cringing.” I can see why my younger self found this book humorous–especially where Zuzana was involved–but my sense of humor has definitely changed in the past six years.

What I found compelling in this story was it’s mythos. I’ve always been a sucker when it comes to stories about angels and demons. And when it comes to books that feature them, this is probably one of the best. I loved the concept of teeth that was presented here, and well as the wish-granting beads (though some of the wishes they were used for resulted in less-than-funny gags).

I was fully invested in any part of the story that had to do with the magical world that Laini Taylor created.

What I was not invested in, though, was the love story that came with it.

The insta-love that was presented here happened faster than the ones featured in Golden Era Disney Princess movies. I wish I was exaggerating. Karou and Akiva were in-love with each other upon their second meeting (and it only took one meeting for Akiva to begin stalking her).

What makes it worse was that Akiva was given no personality whatsoever. No humor; no charm. He was written simply to be a love interest. And I think that is such a disservice to Karou.

Not to say that Karou is the most well-rounded YA protagonist. She’s badass and sassy enough to make her enjoyable to follow. But my point is: do you really think a girl who was raised by a tooth-collecting demon is really going to fall for this walnut of a character?

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A lot of reviews say that they didn’t enjoy the second half of the book as much as the first. I don’t know if I exactly agree.

I do think there is a definite disjoint between the two parts. And the romance in the second-half is flimsy, at best. But I am interested in the world and politics presented in the second-half of the book, and I want to explore it more.

I think this book is a mediocre set-up to what I’m hoping is a good series. I know that beyond the eye-rolling romance and fairly flat characters, there’s something there. I just hope that it’s realized as the series goes on.

rose

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The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid | Review (Minor Spoilers)

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Pages: 388
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: June 13, 2017
My Rating: A

synopsis

Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one in the journalism community is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?

Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband, David, has left her, and her career has stagnated. Regardless of why Evelyn has chosen her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.

Summoned to Evelyn’s Upper East Side apartment, Monique listens as Evelyn unfurls her story: from making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the late 80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way. As Evelyn’s life unfolds through the decades—revealing a ruthless ambition, an unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love—Monique begins to feel a very a real connection to the actress. But as Evelyn’s story catches up with the present, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.

review

You do not know how fast you have been running, how hard you have been working, how truly exhausted you are, until somewhat stands behind you and says, “It’s OK, you can fall down now. I’ll catch you.”

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo was a book that surprised me. I’m not really one to read contemporary fiction. And while this is technically more of a historical fiction, the 1950s is still modern enough to initially turn me off to the idea of reading this.

All I’m going to say is boy am I happy for finding this at my local thrift store, because this is a book I didn’t know I needed.

I’m going to start this off by saying that the writing here is nothing to write home about. It’s fine, if a bit simplistic. It did take me a little while to get used to the narration, but once I got into Evelyn’s backstory, I didn’t really care whether or not it jived with me. I was just so engrossed with this woman’s story.

This is a book about a bisexual Cuban-American woman in 1950s Hollywood. It is about a woman who came from nothing and decided to become something, even it meant molding herself into what white, man-run Hollywood wanted her to be.

Evelyn looks at me with purpose. “Do you understand what I’m telling you? When you’re given an opportunity to change your life, be ready to do whatever it takes to make it happen. The world doesn’t give things, you take things. If you learn one thing from me, it should probably be that.” 

Evelyn Hugo is cunning, and a master manipulator. But that’s because she has to be. I love how Reid depicted the hardships that come with standing in Hollywood’s limelight–how the industry takes you and controls you; how frustratingly impossible it is to live the way you want to when everyone is watching you and waiting for you to mess up.

The greatest thing for me in this book, though, was the commentary on bisexuality. So many books I read will include bisexual characters–which is great! But this is the first one I’ve read that talks about the hardships we face concerning both the straight and gay communities.

I hated being called a lesbian. Not because I thought there was anything wrong with loving a woman, mind you. No, I’d come to terms with that a long time ago. But Celia only saw things in black and white. She liked women and only women. And I liked her. And so she often denied the rest of me. She liked to ignore the fact that I had truly loved Don Adler once. She liked to ignore the fact that I had made love to men and enjoyed it. She liked to ignore it until the very moment she decided to be threatened by it. That seemed to be her pattern. I was a lesbian when she loved me and a straight woman when she hated me.

I really wasn’t expecting this book to be as diverse as it was when it came to the character’s sexualities, having such a seemingly hetero title. You have wlw couples; you have mlm couples; you have interracial couples. And nothing felt forced.

Reading this book felt like reading an actual biography. It’s almost like waking up from a dream when you remember that Evelyn Hugo isn’t a real person. Even thinking of her now, there’s a part of me convinced she’s real. This is partly due to her being such a complex and realistic character, and partly due to her being inspired by real famous actresses (Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe, Greta Garbo…).

In short, this book feels real because it is real.

If you are looking for a book with drama and a set of wonderful, complex characters, I urge you to pick up this book. Even if it isn’t something you would normally be interested in, I just think this book is important and completely lives up to the hype surrounding it.

rose

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Books I Want To Re-Read (But Why I Won’t)

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Re-reading books?

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I’ve been in the online book community since 2011 and one thing that has always stayed consistent is the pressure to consume more and more new books.

And I don’t mean “new” as in “new releases.” I just mean consume materials that I haven’t consumed previously.

Just the other day, I had picked up And I Darken by Kiersten White, a book that I had read back in 2016 and loved! I wanted to re-read it to refresh by mind so that I’d be able to continue the series and not be lost.

But then I stared at the book.

And stared at it.

And I started to feel guilty.

I felt guilty for wanting to read a book that I enjoy! How silly does that sound?

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But the fact of the matter is that I got guilty because I have a TBR a mile high that I could be knocking books off of. I have ARCS that need to be reviewed. I’m not one who can read multiple books, so rereading feels like wasting time that I feel like I don’t have.

I don’t think this is a pressure given to bloggers by their audience. In fact, I don’t think audiences care at all if you take a little longer to put out a new review due to a little re-read detour.

And that’s not to say you can’t review a reread. In fact, one could probably argue that you could get a more in-depth review upon a re-read!

That being said: here are some books that I want to re-read! Feel free to pressure me in the comments to do so!

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Are you a rereader? Are there any books you want to reread? Share them in the comments!

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The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White | Review

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Pages: 304
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: September 25 2018
My rating: C

synopsis

Elizabeth Lavenza hasn’t had a proper meal in weeks. Her thin arms are covered with bruises from her “caregiver,” and she is on the verge of being thrown into the streets . . . until she is brought to the home of Victor Frankenstein, an unsmiling, solitary boy who has everything–except a friend.

Victor is her escape from misery. Elizabeth does everything she can to make herself indispensable–and it works. She is taken in by the Frankenstein family and rewarded with a warm bed, delicious food, and dresses of the finest silk. Soon she and Victor are inseparable.

But her new life comes at a price. As the years pass, Elizabeth’s survival depends on managing Victor’s dangerous temper and entertaining his every whim, no matter how depraved. Behind her blue eyes and sweet smile lies the calculating heart of a girl determined to stay alive no matter the cost . . . as the world she knows is consumed by darkness.

review

 

“I sought to puncture Heaven and instead discovered Hell.”

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein feels like a difficult book to talk about simply because I don’t really know how I feel about it.

I think what makes this book great is that it is very atmospheric. It’s dark, moody, and oh so very gothic, which I love. It’s perfect for the Halloween season.

One downfall with tone of the book is that it makes the pacing very slow. I read one review prior to reading the book that said it felt too long. Of course, being that the book is only about 300 pages, that confused me. But upon finishing it myself, I have to agree. I feel like this would have benefitted more from being maybe fifty to one hundred pages shorter.

The characters in this book are interesting, but don’t expect to find anyone that you’re going to make a strong connection with. Did I like Elizabeth? Sure! But that’s because I’m a sucker for characters who have an unhealthy obsession with their love interests. Twisted romances are some of my favorite things to read about.

But did I care about what happened to any of these characters?

No, not really.

I also feel like this book wrapped up a little too nicely. I personally would have preferred something a bit darker. Obviously, I’m not going to get into spoilers, but this was definitely a book that deserved a tragic ending.

This book reads more like a short story than it does a novel, which I think is its biggest downfall. However, if you’re looking to for a fairly quick rainy-day read, I think this is perfect.

Have you read The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein? What did you think about it? Comment below and let me know!

rose

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September Wrap-Up | 2018

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I can’t believe we’re already halfway through the first week of October. I feel like I say this every month, but September was both the longest and shortest month ever. Though, I do think it was my best reading month.

This year, anyway.

In September, I read six books. And I have reviews up for five of them currently!

Here’s what I read in September:

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Fawkes by Nadine Brades
Rating: D

I started Fawkes in August, I believe, but I didn’t finish it until early September. It was a book I felt was filled with interesting ideas that weren’t executed well. It also had, in my opinion, some racial themes that I felt were forced.

You can read my full review here.

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My Plain Jane by the Lady Janies
Rating: B

My Plain Jane is the second book in the Lady Janies series co-written by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows. While this book was good, I did feel like it lacked some of the charm from its predecessor.

You can read my full review here.

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The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang
Rating: A

My favorite read of the year! I put this book off for so long before finally picking it up. If you’re looking for a diverse read with unique mythology, definitely pick this up!

You can read my review here!

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Nevernight by Jay Kristoff
Rating: C

Another book I put off for a long time. Except I did not really fall in love with this one. I feel like the writing in this book is something people either love or hate, and I fall into the latter category. I wish I had liked this more!

For more details, you can check out my review here!

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Vengeful by V.E. Schwab
Rating: A

My most anticipated read of the year! And luckily, it didn’t disappoint! This book takes the themes and world of the previous book and expands on it.

For more of my thoughts, you can check out my review!

 

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The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White
Rating: C

The one book I haven’t yet reviewed on my blog. This book was very middle-of-the-road for me. None of the characters really stood out and it was really slow for being just under 300 pages. Keep a lookout for my review for more of my thoughts!

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What are some books you read in September? What are some of your planned October reads? Comment down below and let me know!

rose

Magic & Mayhem Illuimcrate Unboxing and Review | September 2018

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It is September 25th, and that means it is finally the day we’ve all been waiting for! Vengeful Day!

I’m not here to talk about the book, though (I’m about half-way through it, though). I’m here to talk about the Magic & Mayhem box from Illumicrate.

Illumicrate is a quarterly book box subscription service based in the U.K. With shipping, this box came out to about $97.

Before I get into the individual items in the box, I do want to just go ahead and say that I haven’t edited any of these photos. Partly because I’m feeling lazy today and partly because my laptop is deciding to be extra laggy.

But without further ado, let’s get into this.

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This is the box that everything came in. It did come a bit beat up, but considering it did come from overseas, that’s to be expected. I also just want to say that shipping for this was super fast. It was here in three days after being sent out. DHL is a blessing.

First and foremost, we have the book! This is a signed Illumicrate exclusive. The biggest difference being that the background is red instead of white like the U.K. edition. I’ll be honest, when I saw this, I was slightly disappointed just for the fact that I already have a U.S. edition of Vengeful, which is also red. However, this book looks really good next to my U.K. copy of Vicious. So, putting my snobbery aside, this is a really awesome edition of the book!

And of course, the book also comes with a letter from V.E. Schwab.

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The next thing we’re going to talk about is this As Travars keyring from Fable & Black. They actually have a few items featured in this box, which I’ll get to soon!

I honestly love the aesthetic of the Shades of Magic series, so I’m super happy that I can rep the series wherever I go! I put my keys on this as soon as I was done taking photos (and only broke one nail in the process!)

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The next thing from Fable & Black  is this Villains-inspired enamel pin. The quote on it says “We are all immortal until proven otherwise” which I love.

If you guys didn’t know, I am a bit of an enamel pin junkie. I love them! This will be such a nice edition to my backpack!

Excuse the mismatched clothes on my dress form–I’m working on a project!

But the last Fable & Black is this super cute, ultra amazing Londons scarf!

I kid you not when I say that I squealed when I saw this. And it’s such amazing quality! Super soft and not itchy at all! I can’t wait to try coordinating it into my outfits!

Next is this super cool book sleeve designed by Illumicrate. It’s double-sided with two quotes from the Villains series. I am such a sucker for the black-out design, so I love this. 

I haven’t tried putting any books besides Vengeful in it, which it was designed to fit. The U.K. copy of the book, while thick, is pretty short and narrow. I don’t think you’ll be fitting many U.S. hardbacks in here.

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Next up is this Delilah Bard pouch designed by Stella Bookish Art. I absolutely love pouches. They are super great for organizing! Of course, they can also be used as pencil cases or make-up pouches. Currently, I just have the prints that came with the box inside of it.

This candle is from Amelia’s Kitchen Candles. It smells like bergamot, cinnamon, and vanilla, which gives it a really cozy, homey feel which I like.

My feelings on this candle are pretty conflicting. I love the layering on it. And as I said previously, I love the aesthetic of the four Londons. I just wish the name of the candle was a bit more inspired than A Darker Shade of London. It feels like a cop-out.

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This is my first time receiving a mug in a book box and I couldn’t be happier! This is so darn cute!

This mug was designed by Temporary Places and was printed on an enamel mug. I think it’s 10oz, but I could be wrong.

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This amazing travel bottle was lettered by Crini and when I opened the box it came in, I squealed (yes, there was a lot of squealing during this upboxing).

Unlike mugs, which I really only use for displaying, I feel like I can use this. I table a lot of events and go to many conventions and this is probably perfect to take with me. It is very sturdy and I don’t feel like I’ll have to worry about it busting while in my travel bag.

This is the last of the non-paper items–a canvas tote bag illustrated by Rowa Tree! It features Eli and Victor on one side with Kell and Lila on the other.

I’ve already taken this bag out for a run and I feel like it can hold quite a few things. It’s sturdy and large. It’s also the only thing in this box that has Victor and Eli on it, so that’s a big plus!

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Now on to the paper items!

First up are these bookmarks from Merwild. Can I just say that these

Are

Gorgeous?

And probably some of the nicest bookmarks I’ve received quality-wise. Like, I don’t know if Hercules could bend these.

Honestly, I’ve never seen Rhy look so good. And I’ve been using him as a bookmark since I got him.

The others look great, too, of course. But like,

Rhy.

Next up we have these beautiful tarot cards illustrated by Monolime. They are probably one of my favorite artists right now, so I was super stoked to get these. My favorites in the set are probably the Danes, Holland, and Lila.

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This print is illustrated by Victoria Ying and features Lila and Kell during the Essen Tasch. I think the art style is cute and I love the artwork featured on her website, but I personally don’t feel like this art style lends to the series. Like, I’d like the piece if it wasn’t Lila and Kell, if that makes sense? It just doesn’t feel like them to me.

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These postcards from Moledro Craft Co and are so nice. Honestly, if you’ve never checked out this shop, I encourage you to do so! I absolutely love their work!

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And that is everything in the Magic & Mayhem box! I loved pretty much everything that was included in here. My only complaint was that I wish there had been more Villains merch. It was what I had initially bought the box for and was a bit disappointed when only three items even included anything from the series.

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What was your favorite item in this box? Comment down below and let me know!