Bonus Content, Listologies Galore!

For Shame: Books on My Shelves I Haven’t Read Yet

Hello, bookish friends, and welcome back to the very first edition of “let’s shame the book blogger!” Ha, just kidding, but maybe not? For this week’s post, I thought I’d take a gander at all of my bookshelves and make a list of all the books I own but haven’t yet read. Then, at the end of 2021, I would see how much progress I’ve made on getting these books read. I love seeing these kinds of posts on other blogs and thought I’d jump on the bandwagon myself this year! Let’s get started, shall we?

  • The Queen’s Resistance by Rebecca Ross
  • The Heir by Kiera Cass
  • Everless by Sara Holland
  • Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian
  • Prince of Shadows by Rachel Caine
  • Rook by Sharon Cameron
  • Alex & Eliza by Melissa de la Cruz
  • An Affair of Poisons by Addie Thorley
  • Lovely War by Julie Berry
  • The Queen’s Handmaid by Tracy L. Higley
  • Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally
  • Stealing Parker by Miranda Kenneally
  • Defending Taylor by Miranda Kenneally
  • Meant To Be Broken by Brandy Woods Snow
  • Illuminated by Erica Orloff
  • How Many Letters Are in Goodbye by Yvonne Cassidy
  • Essential Maps for the Lost by Deb Caletti
  • The Book of Summers by Emylia Hall
  • Menagerie by Rachel Vincent
  • Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige
  • The Wicked Will Rise by Danielle Paige
  • Reflection by Elizabeth Lim
  • Red’s Untold Story by Wendy Toliver
  • 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson
  • Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert
  • The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai
  • Only a Breath Apart by Katie McGarry
  • Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson
  • Restore Me by Tahereh Mafi
  • The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima
  • Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder
  • One Small Thing by Erin Watt
  • Courting Darkness by Robin LeFevers
  • Tempest and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce
  • Bloodleaf by Crystal Smith
  • The Memory of Light by Francisco Z. Stork
  • Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan
  • The Diabolic by S. J. Kincaid
  • Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
  • Les Misérables (shortened version!) by Hugo Reimann
  • Son of a Witch by Gregory Maguire
  • The Rose Society by Marie Lu
  • Proxy by Alexander London
  • The Giver Quartet by Lois Lowry
  • Chasing Lucky by Jenn Bennett
  • 99 Days by Katie Cotugno
  • The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord
  • Open Road Sumer by Emery Lord
  • When We Collided by Emery Lord
  • Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare
  • Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy by Cassandra Clare et al.
  • The Bane Chronicles by Cassandra Clare et al.
  • Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
  • A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir
  • The Darkest Legacy by Alexandra Bracken
  • Once and For All by Sarah Dessen
  • The Natural History of Us by Rachel Harris
  • The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead
  • Till Death by Jennifer L. Armentrout
  • See Me by Nicholas Sparks
  • Promise to Return by Elizabeth Byler Younts
  • Reason to Breathe by Rebecca Donovan
  • The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks
  • The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks
  • The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks
  • Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks
  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  • Christmas at Harmony Harbor by Debbie Mason
  • Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
  • Hold Me Closer by David Levithan
  • Replica by Lauren Oliver
  • A Vow So Bold and Deadly by Brigid Kemmerer
  • Fable by Adrienne Young
  • Much Ado About You by Samantha Young
  • It Only Happens in the Movies by Holly Bourne
  • These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong
  • Lore by Alexandra Bracken
  • Twilight by Stephanie Meyer
  • New Moon by Stephanie Meyer

Holy moly, you guys! This list was honestly way more extensive than I thought it was going to be. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, considering I had such a slow year of reading last year (and kind of a big year for purchasing new books), but DANG. How many books are on your TBR for the year?

Well, looks like I ought to sign off of here and get to reading then! Happy Weekend, and may it be filled with putting a dent in your very own TBRs! 😊  

Historical Fiction, Young Adult

Romanov by Nadine Brandes

Pages: 337

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Release Date: May 7, 2019

Genre(s): Historical Fiction/Fantasy

Format: Hardcover

Goodreads Synopsis

The history books say I died.

They don’t know the half of it.

Anastasia “Nastya” Romanov was given a single mission: to smuggle an ancient spell into her suitcase on her way to exile in Siberia. It might be her family’s only salvation. But the leader of the Bolshevik army is after them, and he’s hunted Romanov before.

Nastya’s only chances of saving herself and her family are to either release the spell and deal with the consequences, or enlist help from Zash, the handsome soldier who doesn’t act like the average Bolshevik. Nastya has only dabbled in magic, but it doesn’t frighten her half as much as her growing attraction to Zash. She likes him. She thinks he might even like her.

That is, until she’s on one side of a firing squad . . . and he’s on the other.”

What Did I Think?

My reading Romanov could quite easily be equated to going on a blind date – I bought the book for the cover and my knowledge of any kind of Russian history is slim-pickens. But you know what? I think it was probably the best date I have every been on in my entire life by far, so SCORE!

For those of you who have followed me for a while now, it probably comes as no shock to you that going into this book, I knew absolutely nothing about the mysterious circumstances surrounding the execution of the real Romanov family in 1918. And to be honest, I’m so glad I was completely clueless, as my lack of knowledge allowed me to just completely immerse myself san background noise in an absolutely beautiful story that I don’t ever foresee myself forgetting.

The overall concept of Romanov was so intriguing to me – the more I read, the more I fell in love with this twisted tale of both true events and the magical elements Brandes incorporates to fill in some of the blanks the history books can’t seem to fill in. I greatly appreciated the fact that the horrific living conditions of the Romanov family weren’t overly romanticized, which allowed me to sympathize with their struggles but also admire the strong bond this family had with one another that much more. It comes as no surprise that Romanov was a rollercoaster of heartbreak and triumph, and it truly was so special to be able to experience all of these events and emotions right alongside the characters.

Speaking of characters… Let’s jump into my ramblings about our main protagonist, Anastasia. We meet Nastya when she is just sixteen years old, and if it hadn’t been written in the novel, I would have assumed that she was much older. I greatly admired her maturity and ability to face challenges head-on in a logical, well thought-out way. Regardless of the hardship thrown her way, she continued to carry herself with poise and never lost sight of the fact that even in the darkest of moments, hope for a better future can never be completely lost. I also appreciated the fact that she was never quick to jump to conclusions – she was almost always willing to listen to another perspective and try to understand their side of the story, which is something even full-blown adults have difficulty doing. On the flipside of her maturity, I equally loved the moments where her teenage shenanigans came out in full force. It really showed that she wasn’t going to let the Bolsheviks take everything she loved away from her and that deep down, she was still a kid who wanted to have some good old fashioned fun from time to time. Overall, I honestly couldn’t get enough of Nastya’s narration and watching her story play out, even when it broke my heart to see her struggle through some heartache along the way.  

One of the reasons Nastya is as mature and understanding as she is has to do with her upbringing and how much she cares for her parents and siblings. I love to see strong family dynamics in young adult novels, and I can admit wholeheartedly that the Romanov family unit has to be one of the best portrayals of this I have ever seen. Their family motto speaks for itself: “The bond of our hearts spans miles, memory, and time.” I greatly admired Nastya’s Papa and how even though the Bolsheviks mistreated and misjudged him, he was the first to throw compassion and understanding back at them rather than ugly retaliation, and his wife and children were quick to follow his lead. I could see so much of him in Alexei and Nastya, and I had so many “proud parent” moments as I watched them work through their trials with as much poise and dignity as their father would have.

The most complex character of the novel would have to be Zash, one of the Bolshevik soldiers charged with looking after the Romanov family during their exile. I’m a sucker for mysterious characters that have so much more depth than what they show on the surface, and Zash totally fits this mold. I won’t go into too much detail about his character (you’ll just have to read Romanov yourself for the full scoop!), but I will say that watching his walls come down as the story went on and seeing his perspective on his role when it came to the Romanov family continued to catch me off guard, but in the best of ways. I never knew what we were going to get from Zash, and that suspense factor is honestly what made his character so enjoyable.  

Though the overall concept and characters in the novel were intriguing right from the get-go, I don’t think Romanov would have been nearly as compelling had it not been for Brandes’ stunning writing style. Each line of the novel made me feel something, and I can’t think of one word that was just placed in the story as filler. I seriously couldn’t get enough, and I am so looking forward to diving into Brandes’ other books to get my fill of all her writing has to offer.

If I were to make a list of everything I would expect to see in an ideal historical fantasy novel, I have no doubt someone would hand me a copy of Romanov. I fell in love with the dedication these characters had to their causes, the bravery that shone through in the most dire of circumstances, and how through it all, they never completely lost hope in what could be for themselves and their country. The plot was engaging and kept me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end, and I couldn’t help but want more by the time the tale came to a close. If you’re looking for a mysterious historical fantasy that’s quick to grab your attention and never let you go, look no further than Romanov by Nadine Brandes.   

Who Would I Recommend This Book To?

Romanov is perfect for readers who love standalone historical fantasy titles that are fast-paced with complex characters and strong familial relationships.

I would highly recommend Romanov to fans of Ryan Graudin’s writing style and eye for integrating fantastical vibes into her knowledge of history.

Bonus Content, Favorites Lists

Most Memorable Opening Lines of All Time

Hello, bookish friends, and welcome back to the blog! Over the years, I’ve read a lot of books, but one thing that always remains memorable to me are intriguing opening lines. Sometimes they’re funny, super serious, or in one way or another end up snagging my attention. For today’s post, I thought I’d share eight of my favorite opening lines with you. It was so hard to narrow this list down because there are so many great ones, but I hope you enjoy those I’ve found pretty darn memorable. Let’s get into it then, shall we?

“Late in the winter of my seventeenth year, my mother decided I was depressed, presumably because I rarely left the house, spent quite a lot of time in bed, read the same book over and over, ate infrequently, and devoted quite a bit of my abundant free time to thinking about death.”

“There is blood under my fingernails.”

“I’ve been locked up for 264 days.”

“There was a demon in McDonald’s.”

“Spontaneity is overrated.”

“I’ve been looking for Sawyer for half a lifetime when I found him standing in front of the Slurpee machine at the 7-Eleven on Federal Highway, gazing through the window at the frozen, neon-bright churning like he’s expecting the mysteries of the universe to be revealed to him from inside.”

“I’ve read many more books than you.”

“I have just taken an overly large bite of iced bun when Callum slices his finger off.”

….

There you have it, folks – eight fabulous opening lines that, I’m just now realizing, happen to come from books I thoroughly enjoyed reading! Did one of your favorites not make the list? Drop it in the comments below! There are seriously SO MANY hooks that are sure to pull all of us avid readers in from the start.

Until next time! May the rest of your week be filled with all the books 😊

Contemporary Romance, Young Adult

Love & Olives by Jenna Evans Welsh

Pages: 506

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Release Date: November 10, 2020

Genre(s): Contemporary Romance

Format: Hardcover

Goodreads Synopsis

Santorini felt like an island holding its breath. As if it were keeping in a secret…

Liv Varanakis doesn’t like to think about her father much, which makes sense—he fled to Greece when she was only eight, leaving her with just a few painful memories of their shared love for the lost city of Atlantis. So when teenage Liv suddenly receives a postcard from her father, who explains that National Geographic is supporting a documentary about his theories on Atlantis—and asks if she will fly out to Greece and help—Liv is less than thrilled.

When she arrives in gorgeous Santorini, things are just as awkward as she’d imagined. There are so many questions, so many emotions that flood to the surface after seeing her father for the first time in years. Liv doesn’t want to get sucked back into her father’s world. She also definitely doesn’t want Theo, her father’s charismatic so-called protégé, to witness her struggle.

Even so, she can’t help but be charmed by everything Santorini has to offer—the beautiful sunsets, the turquoise water, the sun-drenched villages, and the delicious cuisine. But not everything on the Greek island is as perfect as it seems. Because as Liv slowly begins to discover, her father may not have invited her to Greece for Atlantis, but for something much more important.”

What Did I Think?

Going into reading Love & Olives, I had previously read the other two books in the Love & Gelato series and thoroughly enjoyed them. Just like the first two, I thought Love & Olives was a super cute read, but there were a few things that made me like this read less than the other two.

Let’s jump into the overall concept of this book – a highlight for me! The tie-in to the Atlantis legend was so intriguing to me, and it was so fun watching Olive, Theo, and Nico hunt for this oh-so-mysterious underwater city. I cannot even imagine all the research that had to be done in order to make this part of the story so compelling, to huge props to Jenna Evans Welsh for all of her efforts on that front! As with the other two books in this series, I found the international travel aspect to be an absolute blast. I’ve never been to Greece, but because of this read, I have no choice but to add Santorini to my bucket list of places to visit! As a whole, I thought the overall concept of this book – girl travels to learn about why her father left through their shared love of Atlantis and come to term with who she is and where she wants to go in life – was portrayed clearly throughout the novel and, for the most part, kept me wanting to read more.

Olive/Liv/Kalamata is the main protagonist of the novel, and the primary reason why I don’t think I enjoyed Love & Olives as much as I was hoping to, unfortunately. At just 17 years old, Olive has gone through a lot and had to overcome some massive struggles. While I do sympathize and can relate to a lot of what Olive has to contend with, I was not always a huge fan of her “Debby Downer” attitude that remained consistent throughout most of the novel. In some scenarios, it made sense, but in others, it just made her seem very self-centered and immature. However, her character did have some redeeming qualities that made her not a complete bust for me. Her interest in art was so much fun to read about, and I lived for the moments where she would embrace this side of herself that she so clearly got from her dad. While I don’t think her character grew leaps and bounds, I thought she embodied the “coming-of-age” component of the novel very well, particularly when she was contemplating what to do about her boyfriend back home, where to go to college, and generally what’s important to her in life. As a whole, I don’t think I particularly enjoyed reading things from Olive’s perspective a lot of the time, but did find myself appreciating some of the smaller components of her character that I wish could have been highlighted more.

On to the reason why I read this book to the very end: Theo, the super adorable and endlessly optimistic Greek teen with no filter whatsoever! I became literally OBSESSED with Theo from the moment we meet him. His excited energy was absolutely contagious and radiated right of the page, and I couldn’t help but smile at all of his shenanigans! I don’t really understand filmmaking at all, but it was clear that Theo is meant to be a documentarian and is so passionate about creating quality content that is meaningful for the actors and viewers alike. He served as the ultimate foil to Olive’s nature, and it was so good to see him begin to rub off on her by the end of the book. Overall, I need a Theo in my life! Side note: I am still not #TeamKalameo because I just don’t think these two fit very well together. Though sometimes opposites do attract, I think this is a stretch.

Before putting a wrap on this review, I feel obligated to highlight some of the main issues I had with this read. This book was 500 pages and while I enjoyed many of the moving parts of the novel, I felt like there were so many that things got lost in the shuffle. Some rather large things (no spoilers!) were mentioned, but were never double-backed to and, in my opinion, they warranted further discussion.  I also found the wording in the first quarter of the novel to be very repetitive – descriptions were essentially given twice sometimes, and it was totally overkill and became distracting. While this is a work of fiction, I also had an issue with much of the plot being quite unrealistic. For example, Olive hasn’t seen or spoken to her father in like 9 years, and then all of the sudden, her mother puts her on a plane by herself to hang out with him for awhile unattended? I went with it, but there were so many things similar to this that made me not find this book super relatable or realistic.

Though I have some mixed feelings about Love & Olives, I have to give credit where it is due – THAT ENDING! The last 30ish pages were absolutely BEAUTIFUL and served as the most perfect conclusion to the book. I just wish the whole novel could have been like that! The plot was paced nicely, the overall concept was compelling, the setting was absolutely stunning and well-suited for the plot, and I had so much fun discovering Atlantis alongside the characters. Issues aside, Love & Olives was a solid read with qualities I believe many readers will find themselves enjoying.

Who Would I Recommend This Book To?

 If you read and enjoyed Jenna Evans Welsh’s Love & Gelato and Love & Luck, I highly recommend checking out the adventure she takes you on in Greece in Love & Olives.

I would also recommend this book to fans of Stephanie Perkins’ Anna and the French Kiss, any of Kasie West’s contemporary novels, and Jenny Han’s The Summer I Turned Pretty series.

Bonus Content, Book Tags

The Valentine’s Day Book Tag

Hello, bookish loves, and welcome back to the blog! Since Valentine’s Day is just two short days away, I thought we could celebrate this holiday of love by talking about my very first love: books! This is one of those posts that requires little introduction, so let’s just jump right into this, shall we?

1) Stand alone book you love

Romanov was one of my first reads of 2021, and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it/recommending it to anyone who loves strong family dynamics and tales of history blended with a little magic.

2) Dystopian book you love

I honestly can’t remember the last time I read a true dystopian novel, but Legend is one of the few that feels like I just read it yesterday. It was published in 2011, but if you haven’t given Legend a read yet and are itching for a good dystopian read, I highly recommend giving this beaut a try!

3) A book that you love but no one else talks about

It absolutely flabbergasts me that people STILL aren’t talking about this book! It literally had everything I was expecting and more. I laughed out loud on numerous occasions, fell in love with the Shakespearian tie-ins, and was wishing for more of this tale by its end. Just read it so we can chat about it together, you guys!

4) Favorite book couple

This question always gives me legit anxiety to answer because there are SO MANY amazing book couples to choose from! In honor of this being a Valentine’s Day post, I think I’m digging Lara Jean and Peter from Jenny Han’s To All the Boys series. They’re just one of the sweetest fictional couples out there, plus I’ve been dying to give this series a re-read!

5) A book that other people love but you haven’t read yet

Some of you may be having a mini heart attack reading this, but Harry Potter has just never been a good fit for what I’ve always enjoyed reading. No other comments from me on this one other than I am v sorry to disappoint all of you Potterheads. I swear I am a real booknerdigan like the rest of you, but I just don’t think this book/series will end up on my TBR anytime soon.

6) A book with red on the cover

In addition to this cover being the most beautiful shade of red, I am obsessed with this series and can’t believe this is the final book in this world!

7) A book with pink on the cover

This beautiful pink book has been on my TBR for so long, and I really hope 2021 is the year I finally dive into this read!

8) You were given a box of chocolates. What fictional boyfriend would have given them to you?

Daniel from Jenn Bennett’s Serious Moonlight would 100 percent be the guy to go the traditional route (albeit so sweet and delicious!) for a Valentine’s Day gift. And as much as he loves pie, there’s no doubt he has as much of a sweet tooth as I do!

9) You are single on Valentine’s Day. What book would you read? What TV show would you watch? What movie would you watch?

Ha, this is funny because I’ve been single most of the Valentine’s Days I’ve been alive and never thought about any of these questions until right now. I’d probably re-read one of my favorite Jennifer L. Armentrout books, watch some kind of Valentine’s Day-themed Food Network show on TV, and any Hallmark movie because those are always so adorable and romantic.

10) You are in the bookstore. All of the sudden you get shot with an arrow by Cupid. What new release will you love?

Though I haven’t read it yet (just a few days away from its release date, hallelujah!), A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J. Maas takes the cake, for sure! I’m wrapping up my re-read of the ACOTAR series as we speak and I cannot contain my excitement without the help of Cupid’s arrow. I think I would be losing my mind if I had actually been shot with one because this read is one of my most anticipated forthe year!

That’s a wrap on the Valentine’s Day Book Tag! Thank you all so much for reading, and I hope you get to spend this beautiful holiday with those you love! What are some books that put you in the Valentine’s Day spirit? Drop me your recommendations below and let’s chat about them!

Until next week, bookish friends! May your weekend be filled with sweet reads and lots of love! ❤

Fantasy, New Adult/Adult

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

Pages: 432

Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses #1

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Release Date: May 5, 2015

Genre(s): Fantasy

Format: Hardcover

Goodreads Synopsis

.“Feyre’s survival rests upon her ability to hunt and kill – the forest where she lives is a cold, bleak place in the long winter months. So when she spots a deer in the forest being pursued by a wolf, she cannot resist fighting it for the flesh. But to do so, she must kill the predator and killing something so precious comes at a price…

Dragged to a magical kingdom for the murder of a faerie, Feyre discovers that her captor, his face obscured by a jewelled mask, is hiding far more than his piercing green eyes would suggest. Feyre’s presence at the court is closely guarded, and as she begins to learn why, her feelings for him turn from hostility to passion and the faerie lands become an even more dangerous place. Feyre must fight to break an ancient curse, or she will lose him forever.”

What Did I Think?

I first read A Court of Thorns and Roses back when it first released in 2015, but decided to give it a re-read to prepare for newest book in the series releasing this year. I can honestly say that I am so so happy I decided to pick this book up again because I had totally forgotten how much I enjoyed it the first time!

The fact that this book is basically a very loose, fae-themed Beauty and the Beast story made my fairytale retelling-loving heart so happy! I quickly started falling for the stunning descriptions of Prythian and the different creatures roaming the mystical lands of the Spring Court that sharply contrast with the simplistic (and poverty-stricken) mortal realm of the novel. Maas quickly but thoroughly establishes the history between the fae and humans, which allows the reader to sympathize almost immediately with why the humans are so fearful of their faerie neighbors. Overall, the overall set-up and concept of this beauty was right up my alley!

Our main protagonist, Feyre, is so very human – both biologically and psychologically – and it’s one of my favorite things about her because it makes her experiences so relatable and understandable to the reader. The dedication she has to her family throughout the entire novel was so admirable, especially given the fact that they have undergone a lot of hardship that has created rifts in their bonds with one another. Through everything, Feyre continually cares for her family and ensures their safety, regardless of the way she’s been treated since her mother’s passing and the pain these efforts cause her. I really enjoyed the fact that while she is fiercely independent to the core, she begins to appreciate being cared for herself when she arrives in the Spring Court. Sometimes we all need some help, and seeing Feyre come around to that and to find joy in a life that could just be hers is something she wholeheartedly deserved. I also appreciated the moments when Feyre’s bravery shined through her fears – fears that fae wouldn’t have, but that any human in fae territory totally would have felt. Lord knows I would have been terrified to face half of the things Feyre did, but she took it all in stride to save herself and those she loves. I had a blast getting to know Feyre in this book, and I can’t wait to see how her character evolves in A Court of Mist and Fury.

Moving on to our Spring Court friends, Lucian and Tamlin. I am hands-down obsessed with Lucian. I found his bluntness extremely funny, even when his comments were not exactly the kindest by any stretch of the imagination. I also loved that he was always quick to admit when he’d made a mistake and try to make up for it however he could. Though he uses Tamlin as an excuse, I think he secretly has a soft spot for Feyre himself. Speaking of Tamlin… I also really enjoyed his character! While he not be my favorite male supporting lead of all time, his character certainly had a lot of depth. The moments when his true self managed to shine through the “beast” in him were some of my favorites to see, as well as those when he started to see Feyre as more than just a murderer/useless human. As a whole, Lucian and Tamlin were both very dynamic characters, and I’m excited to see how their viewpoints shift in the next book.

A Court of Thorns and Roses was just as fun to read this time as it was when I first picked it up. Maas’ world-building was beautifully done and had just enough detail for the reader to begin getting a feel for Prythian while leaving us wanting more of these mystical lands. All of the characters were nicely developed while leaving room for them to continue to grow as the series progresses, and the plotline was action-packed and well-paced. While this was a re-read, diving into A Court and Thorns and Roses once more felt like I was reading it for the first time. I am so excited to continue my re-read, and I have a sneaking suspicion that my love of these books will only grow as I keep flying through this series!        

Who Would I Recommend This Book To?

If you love a good fae-filled fantasy novel that’s more on the mature side, A Court of Thorns and Roses may just be your next great read! I’d also recommend this book to readers who are suckers for loose fairytale retellings (like me!).

Fans of Holly Black, Jennifer L. Armentrout,  and Leigh Bardugo will also likely fall in love with the worldbuilding and characters in A Court of Thorns and Roses.

Bonus Content, More Bookish Fun!

Tour My Bookshelves: Part One!

Hello, bookish friends, and welcome back to the blog! I don’t know about you guys, but I can never resist those bookshelf tour videos what pop up incessantly on my YouTube suggested watch lists. If you’re like me and can’t help but admire all the beautiful bookshelves that are out in the universe, then this post is for you! Instead of a video, I’ve decided to give you a play-by-play of each of my bookshelves and tell you a little bit about my personal organization method. I’m especially excited about this post because I just finished reorganizing all of my bookshelves for the first time in YEARS. This is going to be a three part series, so stay tuned for Parts Two and Three those in the near future! Shall we get Part One of this thing rollin’ or what?

The Quirky Contemporaries

The Montague Siblings series is hiding behind Carry On!

Of all my bookshelves, this one has to be one of my favorites because it holds contemporary reads that I have deemed simply unforgettable. Whether it be the impeccable writing, out-of-the-box overall concept, or hilariously eccentric characters I couldn’t help but relate to, all of these books have managed to steal my heart!

The Cassandra Clare Shelf

The Bane Chronicles, The Red Scrolls of Magic, Chain of Gold, and an illustrative Mortal Instruments book are behind the 10th Anniversary edition of City of Bones!

Given the fact that Cassandra Clare has about a million books in her Shadowhunter Chronicles, I had no choice but to dedicate an entire shelf (and then some!) to these beauties. I read the Mortal Instruments series many years ago, and I love seeing how the OGs have changed and meeting new characters as more books are released.

The Sarah J. Maas + Honorable Mentions Shelf

All merch in this picture was purchased from the Bookish Shop in their Throne of Glass and ACOTAR limited edition boxes.

Like so many of you, I am completely obsessed with anything Sarah J. Maas writes and I don’t see that changing anytime soon! In addition to her writing, Bloomsbury has done a fantastic job of making her covers absolutely STUNNING and it just seemed completely sacrilegious to hide them behind all the Maastastic merch I’ve collected over the years. I also included a few books by Holly Black and Brigid Kemmerer on this shelf because I found myself enjoying them almost as much as I did Sarah J. Maas’ books (some elements, I may have even liked more, as crazy at it is to believe!).   

Homage to the QUEEN (aka the Jennifer L. Armentrout Shelf)

The merch pictured was either purchased from the Bookish Shop, Hello Lovely, or I picked it up at Jennifer’s yearly ApollyCon event. Lots of hidden books on this shelf: the Harbinger series, part of the Dark Elements series, the Titan series, the Wicked trilogy, and the Wicked novellas.

I spent a ridiculous amount of time laying out this shelf because the QUEEN doesn’t deserve any less than perfection! I have been a JLA fan since I was 14 years old and I don’t see myself ever NOT being one. Each book I read by Jennifer is quick to draw me in and her plot twists/cliffhangers are like none other. Though this isn’t my entire JLA collection, this shelf contains all of my favorites by her (other than the Covenant series, which is on my Nook!).

The Fantasy Faves Shelf

I am totally blanking on where I purchased the Six of Crows prints from (I’m guessing I got them in either a Fairyloot box or a Bookish Box?), but the bookmark was from Barnes and Noble! The rest of the Darkest Minds series and Prosper Redding are hidden behind The Darkest Legacy.

This shelf contains a mix of some of my favorite fantasy reads. For the most part, these are those that I could read again and again and not tire of them!

The (Mostly!) Summery Contemporaries Shelf

Lots of hidden friends on this shelf, too: The Geography of Lost Things, Stay Sweet, The Boy Most Likely To, and My Life Next Door are behind The Chaos of Standing Still. The Unexpected Everything, Second Chance Summer, Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour, The Promise of Amazing, and The Natural History of Us are all behind Again, but Better.

This next shelf is for my go-to summer reads (or pick-me-ups I read in the winter when the cold starts getting to me!). As you can see from how packed this shelf is, I love a good contemporary romance that has a beachy/summertime setting and am always quick to add them to my ever-growing collection!

The Unforgettable Series Shelves

The Hunger Games series and the Beautiful Creatures series are peeking out from behind my Throne of Glass coloring book!

I decided to used these little cubes at the bottom of my bookshelf to store some of the series I’ve really enjoyed over the years. The one on the left contains the Vampire Academy and Bloodlines series – two series so long that it totally warranted its own cube! I didn’t have quite enough room on my SJM shelf for the Throne of Glass coloring book, so I decided to savor its beauty from here instead!

Quick and Easy Romance Reads Shelves

As the title suggests, these shelfs hold the vast majority of my adult contemporary/romances, most of which were gifted to me in some form or another. I look forward to putting more of a dent in these at some point this year!

The Fantasy/Dystopian Series Shelf

This is the first of two shelves that are actually build into the headboard of my bed (a splurge when I bought it, but totally worth it for the extra storage!). You’ll find just a few fantasy/dystopian series on this shelf. I have read all of these but the Uglies series, which I hope to dive into once my brain stops momentarily rejecting the dystopian genre (ughh… the struggle is real, you guys!).  

The Leftovers Shelf

This shelf is a bit of a mixed bag, as I honestly just ran out of room on my other shelves and these were my odd balls I couldn’t quite figure out where to put. Some of these I just wasn’t a huge fan of, while others I remember thoroughly enjoying.

The Rando Book-Related Items Shelves

I used these two shelves to store some of my bookish merch. On the left is where I store all of my Book Beaus and bookish-themed pouches I’ve gotten in boxes and at events, as well as blankets and tapestries. On the right is where I store my Nook, any books I borrow from other people, and a binder full of the bonus stories I have received from preorders/author campaigns.

That’s a wrap on Part One of the Tour My Bookshelf series! I hope you all enjoyed checking out how I’ve decided to organize these first few shelves. How do you organize your bookshelves? I’ve always wanted to try to make a rainbow design, but I’m a little two OCD about series titles being together that I haven’t been brave enough to try it!

Until next week, bookish peeps! May the rest of your week be filled with beautiful bookish fun! 🙂

Historical Fiction, New Adult/Adult

Girl at War by Sara Nović

Pages: 320

Publisher: Random House

Release Date: May 12, 2015

Genre(s): Historical Fiction

Format: Paperback

Goodreads Synopsis

“Zagreb, summer of 1991. Ten-year-old Ana Jurić is a carefree tomboy who runs the streets of Croatia’s capital with her best friend, Luka, takes care of her baby sister, Rahela, and idolizes her father. But as civil war breaks out across Yugoslavia, soccer games and school lessons are supplanted by sniper fire and air raid drills. When tragedy suddenly strikes, Ana is lost to a world of guerilla warfare and child soldiers; a daring escape plan to America becomes her only chance for survival.

Ten years later Ana is a college student in New York. She’s been hiding her past from her boyfriend, her friends, and most especially herself. Haunted by the events that forever changed her family, she returns alone to Croatia, where she must rediscover the place that was once her home and search for the ghosts of those she’s lost.”

What Did I Think?

I’ll be the first to admit that Girl at War is not a book I would have gone to the bookstore and picked up to read for fun, and that honestly would have been such a shame because it truly was a  remarkable novel. I am so thankful that I got the opportunity to experience the brilliance of Girl at War for a good month as I crafted my final Senior Seminar research paper this past semester!

The overall concept and structure of the novel was very well organized and drew me in from the start. The novel is told in alternating story lines – Ana Jurić at ten years old, living in Croatia when then the Balkan Wars of the 1990s break out, and then Ana ten years later, attending college in the United States. In the early childhood chapters, the reader sees first-hand that the trauma she experiences is directly connected to the outbreak of the wars. I found these to be some of the most moving sections of the novel because though Nović was talking about so many tragic experiences, she did so with this very neutral, almost disconnected voice that likely mimicked the psychological “voices” of real people who underwent experiences similar to Ana’s. On the flipside, seeing the long-term effects of trauma and the way Ana manages to cope without finding closure as a child in her twenties allowed me to sympathize more with the struggles survivors (both veterans and civilians alike) of war have to contend with. Though I think most readers know that PTSD is certainly real and hits those with this condition hard, Nović uses heartbreakingly beautiful descriptions of Ana’s experiences to force the reader into a deeper understanding of how posttraumatic stress impacts the daily life of those who are working through their traumas. The moments Nović chose to switch perspectives were spot on, as they mirrored how a victim’s traumatic memories would typically resurface – something serves as a trigger, and memories spring to the forefront of their minds, sometimes in full detail and other times, just little breadcrumbs of remembrances come back.

Going into Girl at War, I didn’t know a single thing about the Balkan Wars, as embarrassing as it is to admit. In some ways, I’m glad I was so clueless. Not only could I just enjoy the novel for what it had to offer from a literary standpoint, but I also gained a lot of knowledge about the effects of these wars on citizens of Yugoslavia from a writer who uses her talent as a way to share the stories of her family and friends that lived through these conflicts. Nović’s writing style and structuring of the novel perfectly suited her subject, and I was hooked from the opening line. Girl at War is sure to take you on quite the educational adventure, with its hard-hitting subject matter, gripping descriptions of Ana’s traumatic childhood, and watching her emotional journey as she begins to heal from the ghosts that haunt her, but it’s totally worth the ride and more.

Who Would I Recommend This Book To?

The subject matter of Girl at War is so important that I highly recommend everyone give it a read!

I would also venture to say that lovers of historical fiction would find Girl at War particularly interesting.

Monthly Reading Recaps

Monthly Reading Recap: January 2021

Hello, bookish friends! I can’t believe we are already a month into this brand new year. I’ve finally moved on from my 4-month reading/blogging/bookstagramming slump, and I am so so happy with my reading progress I have been able to make in just a short month’s time! Wanna know what I dived into this month? Keep reading to find out!

What I Read This Month

Let’s Break It Down

New Books Read: 4

New Novellas Read: 0

Book Re-Reads: 1

Novella Re-Reads: 0

Monthly Total: 5

Average Rating of this Month’s Reading: 3.8 stars

Favorite Read of the Month: Romanov by Nadine Brandes

Most Surprising/Impressive Read of the Month: Words on Bathroom Walls by Julia Walton

Least Favorite Read of the Month: The Chaos of Standing Still by Jessica Brody

Ratings

I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this anthology of sweet holiday tales! See my full thoughts in my review.

I fell so hard for this historical fantasy novel by Nadine Brandes. The writing was so beautifully done, the fantastical components were nicely placed to fill in the historical gaps, and the strong family dynamic that permeated the entire novel made the plotline that much more heart-wrenching but oh so loveable at the exact same time. Review coming soon because I have so many thoughts to share with you!


While many YA novels try to leave the reader with a lesson to have been learned and/or attempt to educate the reader on tough topics, I have found that it’s rare that one can accomplish this as well as Words on Bathroom Walls did for me. For someone who doesn’t struggle with their mental health on an on-going basis, I found Walton’s writing to be so helpful in understanding what coping with schizophrenia is like for those with the condition and certainly made more sympathetic to their struggles. In addition to the educational aspect, this book was absolutely hilarious (as it was intended to be to lighten some of the darker moments!) and is sure to make any reader smile. My review will be hitting the blog here directly, so keep your eyes open for my full thoughts!

Going into this book, I honestly thought I was going to love it. It pains me to have to have even given this book a two-star rating, but it just didn’t do it for me. However, I did really enjoy the unique overall concept and the quirky characters, which kept me reading until the very end. Review coming soon, so stay tuned!

In honor of A Court of Silver Flames releasing next month, I decided to begin my re-read of the ACOTAR series since I read these books when they first released (this one 2015… can’t believe it was that long ago!). I enjoyed this beauty just as much as I did the first time, and I am so excited to finish my re-read and jump into the brand new release in just a few short weeks!

I’m honestly so proud of my reading progress this month. Given that I haven’t read for pleasure in so long, this is huge feat for me, and I’m definitely going to make it a goal for myself this year to prioritize my “fun” reading. How many books have you read this month? Any favorites? Let’s chat in the comments about all our bookish fun we’ve been able to have to kick off the new year!

May your February reading be equally if not more prosperous as your January reading! 🙂

Bonus Content, Listologies Galore!

My Very First Book Haul of 2021!

Hello, bookish friends, and welcome back to the blog! We’re only a few weeks into the new year, and I have already managed to make a small dent in my bank account dedicated solely to book purchasing. While I wish I was ashamed of my decision-making, I can’t even pretend that I am because come on! Books are a fantastic financial investment! They provide endless entertainment, give your brain a good ol’ fashioned workout, and could be used to keep a fire going should you ever find yourself stranded in the middle of nowhere (though the thought of a torn up and burned book literally breaks my heart to even think about!). Okay… maybe this is all a tiny bit of a stretch/me just trying to justify why I spend so much money at Barnes & Noble every year, but I am still so excited to be able to share my very first haul of the year with you all today! Let’s get crackin’, shall we?

I am a complete sucker for YA novels that twist around Shakespeare plays, so These Violent Delights was totally an insta-buy for me. I’m also really looking forward to learning more about 1920s Shanghai (hopefully!) as well, as I have never been there and don’t know too much about their history!

After reading the synopsis of this beauty, there was just something about it that felt too relatable and real to not read. I always love contemporary reads that I feel like I can connect to, and It Only Happens in the Movies might shape up to be one of those books for me!

Fable has taken so many bookstagram accounts and book blogs by storm, and with a cover like that, I couldn’t resist the hype! I’ve also been super into pirate-y adventure books lately, so I am buzzing to dive into this gorgeous read!

I will read almost anything Alexandra Bracken writes, so I was thrilled to be able to purchase her latest, mythology-inspired tale, Lore! This book also deserves some major cover love – it’s even prettier in person, if that’s even possible!

Ha… You all knew this was coming! Sarah J. Maas is one of my few auto-buy authors, and I literally squealed when I found out she was continuing the ACOTAR series with Cassian and Nesta’s stories! I don’t mean to wish my life away, but can it be February 16th already, please?

Well, my very first book haul of the year has come to an end. Have you read and enjoyed any of these reads yourself yet? Let me know in the comments, and also tell me about any books you’ve already purchased this year that you’re super excited to read!

Until next week, bookish buds! May you weekend be filled with fun, socially-distanced trips to your favorite bookstores to buy more bookish goodies! 😊