Book Review: When Life Gives You Vampires (Slaying It) β€’ Gloria Duke

Single. Curvy. Vampire.

About This Book

Title & Author: When Life Gives You Vampires by Gloria Duke

Length: 336 pages

Genres: Romance, Supernatural, Comedy

Publication: Sourcebooks Casablanca [October 4, 2022]

Book Description

Twenty-five year old Lily Baines is used to waking up hungover, overweight, and underemployed. Waking up with fangs? Not so much. But when little light necking has more serious consequences than she ever imagined, Lily’s determined to get to the bottom of it, or die (again) trying.

Tristan hadn’t meant to harm Lily – it’s against vampire law – but now that she’s here, they need to team up to save both their hides. They strike an uneasy truce, fending off other vampires, Lily’s work-rival-turned-slayer, and her mother’s tone-deaf romance and fitness advice… all while Lily faces down her insecurities about the fact that she lives in a diet-obsessed world with a body that will never age, never die, and never change.

Falling for her maddeningly gorgeous sire? Easy. Surviving an ancient vampire Master determined to see her twice-dead? Piece of cake. But can Lily ever learn to love the woman she’ll be forever more?

My Review

Star Rating: πŸ¦‡πŸ¦‡πŸ¦‡ β€’ 3 / 5 vampire bats

I swear, this whole vampire thing is just one giant kick in the tits after another. Every time I turn around, there’s a new layer of s*** getting piled onto the s*** cake.

This book was fun. That’s really the whole long and short of it, honestly. It was a funny, spicy, Halloween-y read, and relatively light-hearted. I don’t usually read contemporary romance, even when there’s magic stuff going on, and this book kind of reminded me why, unfortunately.(They’re just not my thing, is all.) But I didn’t not like it, so there’s that!

The best part of the book by far was the characters. Our protagonist – Lily Baines πŸŒΊπŸ–‹οΈ – was, in particular, a narrating gem. For the most part. (We’ll get to that.) She’s sassy, funny, and she doesn’t take crap from anyone. But she’s also a nervous, self-conscious, and emotionally vulnerable young woman. A relatively well-rounded character overall, which is what I like to see.

Tristan Newberry πŸ–‹οΈπŸ“–, the love interest, as well as the vampire that sired Lily, is also total eye candy. Or is it word candy, since it’s a book? Whatever, regardless, he was pretty hot, and he had a rather kind personality, if a bit old-fashioned. But don’t worry – Lily sets him straight. I also adored how he absolutely loved Lily, inside and out, though it took her a bit to accept that. Oh, and he also writes romance novels. Sexy!

“Well,” I say – and I can’t believe I’m about to ask this, but here goes: “What did the sparkly vampires do for blood?”

Lily’s friend Cat was also great; she and Lily played off of one another very well, and I loved how they attempted to use Twilight to help Lily figure out her new unlife. The side characters were also decent, though I found them to be pretty underdeveloped.

Annnd, now it’s time for some of the cons…

Okay, so… I didn’t really like some aspects of Lily’s narration. She’d say stuff like “Obvi” a lot, which I’ve never heard someone say aloud, only in like chat messages or shorthand. And the worst part is that she didn’t say it either – because she really didn’t. Oh no, this particularly sucked (no pun intended) because it was on her narration, and like, in her thoughts and stuff. All the time. And it wasn’t just this one non-word, no, she used a lot of Internet speech the same way. And it was pretty friggin annoying.

The other thing that I didn’t like, was that Lily would say that something would happen, and then say something (in the narration, not the dialogue) along the lines of: “Yeah we did this/talked about this, but it was kind of boring and you don’t care, so I’ll give you the Cliff Notes “ Seriously? Show-don’t-tell is one of the cardinal rules of writing, and instead of showing how these characters are interacting and developing through dialogue – ya know, naturally? – you’re just gonna give the scene to us in bullet points?!? What the heck?!

Regarding everything else, it was pretty average. The plot was slightly meh, and the villains and minor characters were soggy pieces of toast. And very stereotypical. Oh, and this is actually another con, but I hate it when the two romantic leads don’t friggin communicate. It’s tasteless, easy, and unnecessary drama.

But yeah, even though I thought this book was mostly average, a lot of the lines of dialogue and the descriptions were really funny. And it was great seeing Lily grow as a character and finally learn to accept and love herself. (Spoilers…?) And Tristan was the (mostly) perfect man, which is always yummy to read about. (Also, he wasn’t abusive like 90% of the other vampires in books! Yay, I guess?) Also, there are a few trigger warnings regarding body image, fatphobia, mental health, and other stuff, so check out all of the TW’s to make sure it’s something okay for you to read.

Anyway, here’s my review for When Life Gives You Vampires. Like I said, it was a fun, easy little romp. If you like contemporary rom-coms with a splash of supernatural, this one’s for you.

Thank you to everyone for tuning in, and have a great day/night! Have you read this book? Did you enjoy it? What are your favorite contemporary romances? Vampire books?


Shelf Control [Week #1] | ACOWAR

Shelf Control logo from BookshelfFantasies.com (…and ACOWAR too, I guess)

Guys. It’s time…

…for my first Shelf Control!

Shelf Control is an original feature created and hosted by Lisa @ Bookshelf Fantasies.

Shelf Control is a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up! For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out this post from BookshelfFantasies.com.

This is my first week participating in it, and I’m very excited! I’ve got a ton of books that I’ve bought, but are still sitting unread on my shelves, months or even years later. And the book that I, Marin Gier, have decided to start off with is… πŸ₯πŸ₯πŸ₯

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas (Both its 1st & 2nd edition covers)

Title & Author: A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses [Book #3]

Length: 736 pages

Publication 1st Edition: Bloomsbury USA Children’s [May 2, 2017]

Publication 2nd Edition: Bloomsbury Publishing [June 2, 2020]

Book Description (ala Goodreads):

Feyre will bring vengeance.

She has left the Night Court – and her High Lord – and is playing a deadly game of deceit. In the Spring Court, Tamlin is making deals with the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees, and Feyre is determined to uncover his plans. But to do so she must weave a web of lies, and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well.

As mighty armies grapple for power, Feyre must decide who to trust among the dazzling and lethal High Lords – and hunt for allies in unexpected places.

But while war races, it is her heart that will face the greatest battle.

When I Got It:

November 2017

Why I Wanted to Read It:

I had read the first two – ACOWAR and ACOMAF – each after they had come out and enjoyed them, so I thought I’d do the same with this one.

Why I Haven’t Read It:

I read the first two in November of the years that they were released – despite them both coming out in May, just like this one – and I wanted to recreate the same feeling and atmosphere as when I had read the others.

I ended up getting both busy and distracted, and by the time I finally had time to read it, I just… didn’t. I didn’t feel like reading it at that time for whatever reason, and not just because it’s ginormous. And I guess I still haven’t gotten around to reading it because I kind of fell out of the ACOTAR series after that. I’d still kind of like to read it eventually, though.

Have you read this book? Or any of Sarah J. Maas’ series’? Did you like them or dislike them?

Thanks for tuning in, and have a great day/night!


Gold Spinners & Ghastly Spirits | Gilded by Marissa Meyer [A Book Review]

“Not every story is willing to reveal itself right away. Some of them are bashful.”

About This Book

Title & Author: Gilded by Marissa Meyer

Series: Gilded Duology

Length: 512 pages

Publication: Feiwel & Friends [November 2, 2021]

Book Description

Long ago, cursed by the god of lies, a poor miller’s daughter has developed a talent for spinning stories that are fantastical and spellbinding and entirely untrue.

Or so everyone believes.

When one of Serilda’s outlandish tales draws the attention of the sinister Erlking and his undead hunters, she finds herself swept away into a grim world where ghouls and phantoms prowl the earth and hollow-eyed ravens track her every move. The king orders Serilda to complete the impossible task of spinning straw into gold, or be killed for telling falsehoods. In her desperation, Serilda unwittingly summons a mysterious boy to her aid. He agrees to help her… for a price. Love isn’t meant to be part of the bargain.

Soon Serilda realizes that there is more than one secret hidden in the castle walls, including an ancient curse that must be broken if she hopes to end the tyranny of the king and his wild hunt forever.

My Review

Star Rating: 🌾🌾🌾🌾🌾 β€’ 5 / 5 bundles of gilded straw (yes I know it’s the wheat emoji. shut up.)

“As I understand,” she said, “gold has caused as many problems as it has ever solved.”

I absolutely adored this book. Marissa Meyer has done it again – she’s written yet another amazing retelling of a classic fairytale.

I’ll admit it: I’ve never actually finished The Lunar Chronicles, though I have read the majority of the series. I loved the sci-fi twist on the magic and such. But I just never had the time to finish reading TLC when I was first reading it. Perhaps I’ll come back to it one day…

Anyway, back to Gilded. I definitely liked it just as much as the TLC books I read, probably ever more so. This time Meyer goes full fantasy with a novel packed full of dark-fairytale creatures, ghosts, curses, and even hellhounds. It’s amazing.

Now if you haven’t guessed by the book’s title, which alludes to gold, this is a retelling of Rumpelstiltskin. It’s very different from the original fairytale, though. Sure it’s got the bare-bones spinning straw into gold deal – along with a couple other things that are spoilers – but Meyer adds so many more subplots and characters that are entirely wonderful and original.

The characters are fantastic in Gilded, as per the usual with Meyer. Serilda πŸ“– is a great protagonist, and I loved her neverending mischievous streak. She does make a few pretty stupid decisions – that seem to only happen for the plot to continue which I hate – but this is only part one of two in a duology, so it can be forgiven (for now), and chalked up as arrogance.

“I know I’ve barely met you,” he said, his voice fighting not to tremble, “but I can tell that you are worth all the bad luck in the world.”

Gild πŸ’› , Serilda’s new friend (and possibly more?? πŸ˜‰), is a total sweetheart. I’m so tired of the “bad boy” archetype that’s so often used in YA – wherein it’s especially popular – and Gild is the furthest thing from that. He’s kind, brave, supportive, and loves to joke around. And his relationship and banter with Serilda are absolutely fantastic. I look forward to more of him in the sequel.

The Erlking is a big ol’ a-hole. I’m sorry, there’s just no other way of putting that. But he’s the villain of the story, so it totally makes sense that he would be. He’s cruel, does whatever he wants, and goes on a magic hunt every full moon to kidnap and kill humans and beasts alike. That’s where all the ghosts in the book come from, see.

The Erlking and Serilda become acquainted during one of those hunts: she saves a couple of forest spirits that he considers his “prey.” She tricks him into sparing her life by convincing him that she can spin straw into gold. This comes back to bite her, however, when he returns on the next moon, expecting her to do just that for him.

Anyway, this book was absolutely fantastic, and a great fairytale retelling. It’s sooo good, and I can’t wait for the sequel that’s coming out.

Have any of you read Gilded? What did you think? Are you excited for the sequel, Cursed?

Anyway, thank you all so much for reading, and have a wonderful day/night!


Slightly Desaturated | A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab [A Book Review]

If magic coursed through anything and everything, was this what it felt like when it found itself again?

A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab

About This Book

Title & Author: A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab

Series: Shades of Magic

Length: 512 pages

Publication: Tor Books [January 17, 2017]

Book Description

Four months have passed since the shadow stone fell into Kell’s possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Rhy was wounded and the Dane twins fell, and the stone was cast with Holland’s dying body through the rift, and into Black London.

In many ways, things have almost returned to normal, though Rhy is more sober, and Kell is now plagued by his guilt. Restless, and having given up smuggling, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks like she always meant to do. As Red London finishes preparations for the Element Games – an extravagant international competition of magic, meant to entertain and keep healthy the ties between neighboring countries – a certain pirate ship draws closer, carrying old friends back into port.

But while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrill of the Games, another London is coming back to life, and those who were thought to be forever gone have returned. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night reappears in the morning, and so it seems Black London has risen again – and so to keep magic’s balance, another London must fall.

My Review

Star Rating: πŸ”΄βšͺβš«πŸ”΄ β€’ 4 / 5 Londons

Note: This novel is a sequel to A Darker Shade of Magic. You can see my review of that here.

Honestly, because this book suffers from Middle Book Syndrome, I was very tempted to give it a 3.5 / 5, but eh, I’ll let it have that extra half-point because I liked the first book so much, and I’ve heard good things about the third one.

For this book… For this book, I’m a little divided. On the one hand, I really enjoyed the first 150 pages as well as the last 150 pages. I also really love most of the characters, both new and old, and the character development and interactions in this book are *chef’s kiss.*

On the other hand, the middle 200 pages are a total slog. Also, as much as I enjoyed her character in the first book, Lila Bard was quite annoying at several points in this novel.

Lila groaned and looked down at the course rope cinched tight around her hands, doubly grateful that the bastards had left her legs here, even if she was trapped in an abominable dress. A full-skirted, flimsy green contraption with too much gossamer and a waist so tight she could hardly breathe and why in God’s name must women do this to themselves?

Good. God. Please. Shut up. It’s just a dress. She talks about it like it physically pains her to wear one, or like she’s allergic to them, or something. Because girl, that is what we call an overreaction.

And dialogue like this is only part of what annoyed me about her in this installment. Some of her character traits were very close to Mary Sue levels on a few occasions – being able to master a brand new language in just a few weeks, becoming a master at magic in just four months despite the fact that it took literally everyone else years to do this. And let’s not forget how often people tell her she’s “Not like other girls.”

She did have a couple of good lines though…

“I know where you sleep, Bard.”

She smirked. “Then you know I sleep with knives.”

Not to mention, I kind of feel like she stole the spotlight from my man Kell. Ya know, the main character?? And speaking of said main character, I really like where Schwab took his arc in this book.

Kell’s relationship and mysterious new connection with Rhy Maresh – his foster brother and heir to the throne of Arnes – was taken in the best direction. They had to deal with the fallout of the events of A Darker Shade of Magic, and I loved how they dealt with their shared pain, emotions, and PTSD, and how they eventually made themselves to be better and began letting their problems go, in order to make each other happy.

I also liked how Kell developed true goals and desires here. In A Darker Shade of Magic, despite his habit of collecting and trading contraband between the Londons, he was still Red London’s magic lapdog that was totally okay with being Red London’s magic lapdog. In A Gathering of Shadows – after experiencing a true adventure, as well as nearly dying for the first time – he wants to be free and go out and see the world whenever he wants. I loved seeing grow as a character like this.

I also enjoyed seeing Holland again and finding out what he’s been up to. AKA, how he moved the plot along while the other characters threw tournaments and parties. And – poor Holland – now that he’s free of Athos Dane’s curse, he just wants to save his world. And all he gets is done overpowered shadow-king who wants to “help.”

“What do you want?” asked Holland.

To live, said the shadow. I can save your life. I can save your world. It is a simple deal, Antari. My power for your body.

“And whose mind?” Holland challenged. “Whose will?”

Now talking about new characters, Alucard Emery was an absolute joy. He was the swashbuckling, handsome, and charming privateer and captain of the Night Spire. I also really liked his interactions with Lila, and how, similar to her interactions with Kell, he wouldn’t tolerate her crap if it went too far.

I also really liked that we finally, sort-of got to meet the main antagonist. We sort of got a glimpse of him in the first book, but he was never properly introduced. I won’t spoil anything more though!

I wish we got to see more of the other Londons, though. Most of the book was spent in Red London, and it felt like we hardly ever saw the other three, especially compared to the first book. I would have loved to see more of Grey London, since it’s basically our London from 1801. Kell only popped in like, twice, and one of those visits was super brief. I immensely enjoyed how Grey London was featured in A Darker Shade of Magic, and how it had characters based on real, historical figures.

It was also nice to pop in and see what was up with White London too, but, like Grey London, I really wanted to see more of it. It was awesome to see Black London for the first time, and that’s a location I understand wanting to save for the finale. It was fascinating to see its current state, and I hope the characters return and spend a good deal of time there in A Conjuring of Light.

But, for the majority of it, I did enjoy this book. And that ending got me excited for the last of the trilogy (and OMG THAT CLIFFHANGER!!). I recommend this book to anyone who liked the first one and is looking to continue the series, especially since it’s the kind of sequel where reading the first book is actually required to understand it.

Have any of you guys checked out this series? How did you feel about this book, if you’ve read it?

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful day/night!


(My) Most Anticipated Books Coming Out November 2022

You read the title right. I’m gonna give you guys a little list of the books that are coming out next month that I wanna read. And that’s a hard “I,” by the way. These may not be the most anticipated ones from all of those popular lists, these are the books that look interesting to me personally. So get ready for some fantastical and weird ones, cuz that’s the stuff I like to read.

Also, quick note. November is a good month this year. November 8th? A very good day. A very, very good one. I swear to God, I did not just look just look at which books came out on this day and call it a post. I’m just that lucky, I guess.

#3: Scattered Showers β€’ Rainbow Rowell

Release Date: November 8, 2022

Length: 288 pages

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Excitement Level: 🌈🌈🌈🌈 β€’ 4 / 5 rainbows

Confession time: I haven’t actually finished any of Rowell’s books. The only one that I’ve read any of is Carry On, and I think I got maybe a third of the way through it before I had decided that it was moving too slowly for my liking. (I loved everything else about it! Why, oh why, was it so glacial, though??) But this book is essentially a collection of short stories, and they all look so interesting! I’ll just pretend I’ve read the Simon Snow trilogy when I get to the Simon Snow one.

Book Description:

Rainbow Rowell has won fans all over the world by writing about love and life in a way that feels true.

In her first collection, she gives us nine beautifully crafted love stories. Girl meets boy camping outside a movie theater. Best friends debate the merit of high school dances. A prince romances a troll. A girl romances an imaginary boy. And Simon Snow himself returns for a holiday adventure.

It’s a feast of my irresistible characters, hilarious dialogue, and masterful storytelling – in short, everything you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell book.

#2: Children of Ragnarok β€’ Cinda Williams Chima

Release Date: November 8, 2022

Length: 560 pages

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Excitement Level: πŸͺ–πŸͺ–πŸͺ–πŸͺ–πŸͺ– β€’ 5 / 5 (Viking) helmets

I had absolutely no idea Chima was starting another series, so it was a pleasant surprise to discover when I was looking into what books were coming out soon. And it’s a Viking fantasy to boot!

It’s been a bit since I’ve read anything by Chima, but I absolutely adored the Seven Realms series and the (original three) Heir Chronicles books. (Didn’t enjoy Flamecaster though, so never read the Shattered Realms.) So I’m really looking forward to something new by her.

Book Description:

Ever since Ragnarok – the great war between the gods and the forces of chaos – the human realm of the Midlands has become a dangerous place, bereft of magic, where most lead lives of desperation.

Sixteen-year-old Eiric Halvorsen is among the luckier ones. Between fishing, going vikingr, and working his modir’s farm, the family has remained prosperous. But Eiric stands to lose everything after being convicted by a rigged jury of murdering his modir and stepfadir. Also at risk is his half-sistyr, Liv, whose interest in sedir, or magic, had made her a figure of suspicion. Then a powerful jarl steps in: he will pay the blood price if Eiric will lead a mission to the fabled Temple at the Grove – the rich stronghold of the wyrdspinners, the last practitioners of sorcery.

Spellsinger, musician, and runecaster Reggin Eiklund had spent her life traveling from town to town, performing at alehouses all for the benefit of her master, Asger, the fire demon she is desperate to escape. Then after one performance that amazes even Reggin herself, two wyrdspinners in the audience make her an irresistible offer: return with them to the temple to learn sedir, forever free of Asger.

Eiric, Liv, and Reggin’s journeys all converge in New Jotunheim, the site of the Temple at the Grove, a paradise fueled by magic. They soon realize a great evil lurks beneath the dazzling surface, and they old betrayals and long-held grudges may fuel another cataclysmic war. It will require every gift and weapon at their command to prevent it.

Sweeping adventure, breathtaking twists of fate, and immersive worlds based on Norse mythology are woven into this first volume of the Runestone Saga.

#1: Cursed β€’ Marissa Meyer

Release Date: November 8, 2022

Length: 478 pages

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Excitement Level: πŸ§΅πŸ§΅πŸ§΅πŸ§΅πŸ§΅β€’ 5 / 5 spools (of golden straw)

I love, love, love fairytale retellings. And Marissa Meyer is the Queen of fairytale retellings. I loved the Lunar Chronicles, and I loved Gilded even more. This is probably my most anticipated book all of the year.

And yes, this is a sequel – the sequel to Gilded, actually – so if you haven’t read that one, please check it out before reading this one when it comes out.

Book Description:

Be still now, and I will tell you a tale…

Adalheid Castle is in chaos.

Following a shocking turn of events, Serilda finds herself ensnared in a deadly game of make-believe with the Erlking, who is determined to propel her deeper into the castle’s lies. Meanwhile, Serilda is determined to work with Gild to help him solve the mystery of his forgotten name and past.

But soon it becomes clear that the Erlking doesn’t only want to use Serilda to bring back his one true love. He also seeks vengeance against the seven gods who have long trapped the Dark Ones behind the veil. If the Erlking succeeds, it could change the mortal realm forever.

Can Serilda find a way to use her storytelling gifts for good – once and for all? And can Serilda and Gild break the spells that tether their spirits to the castle before the Endless Moon finds them truly cursed?


These are the books releasing this November (and next week, I guess, lol) that I’m most excited for. (I’ve limited myself to three, because I still want to have time to read spontaneously.) Do any of them look up your alley? What books coming out next month are you looking forward to?

Witches, Werewolves and… Baking? | Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker & Wendy Xu [A Book Review]

A story about love and demons, family and witchcraft.

About This Book

Title & Author: Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker

Illustrator: Wendy Xu

Genres: Contemporary Fantasy, Romance, Graphic Novel

Length: 256 pages

Publication: Oni Press [October 15, 2019]

Book Description: Nova Huang knows more about magic than your average teen witch. She works at her grandmothers’ bookshop, where she helps them loan out spell books and investigate any supernatural occurrences in their New England town.

One fateful night, she follows reports of a white wolf into the woods, and she comes across the unexpected: her childhood crush, Tam Lang, battling a horse demon. As a werewolf, Tam has been wandering from place to place for years, unable to call any town home. Pursued by dark forces eager to claim the magic of wolves and out of options, Tam turns to Nova for help. Their latent feelings are rekindled through the backdrop of witchcraft, untested magic, occult rituals, and family ties both new and old, in this enchanting tale of self-discovery.

My Review

Star Rating: 🍰🍰🍰 β€’ 3 / 5 cakes!

So. D’you wanna tell me what’s going on?

Okay, to start off this review, I want to immediately make clear that this graphic novel was absolutely adorable. Saccharinely sweet, one might say, and not just because of the gorgeous cover.

At its core, this book is just a chill, slice-of-life story, with some fantasy and romance elements added to the mix. (I know. I have to stop it with these baking puns.) And I enjoyed it for being what it was. Not to mention, the main characters were pretty likeable, which is exceedingly important in a novel. So, before I get into the stuff I didn’t like as much, let’s talk about the things this book did that were fantastic.

First of all: the characters. I liked Nova πŸͺ„πŸ§Ή and Tam🐺🌳 – the protagonists. I liked how Nova was a witch and how she used the knowledge and magic she’d gained through her studies in her daily life. It seemed so casual and natural, and there was nothing forced about it. (I also enjoyed how Nova being hard of hearing was handled. I didn’t really know where to put this, but I wanted to mention it, so it’s here.)

I also liked Tam and their werewolf powers, and how the book emphasized that werewolves have magic, which is different from witch magic. I thought that was really cool, and it’s something I’ve never really seen before in a book. I also loved how the book handled Tam’s enby status. It was just a part of their character, and wasn’t their one and only defining character trail. Tam is also self-conscious, brave, and protective.

I missed you too.

Tatyana πŸ§ͺπŸ’‘ was the absolute best character in the novel, though. I loved how she was a total science nerd, and the scepticism she showed towards what could be done with magic, despite knowing that it existed. I also loved how supportive Nova’s grandmas were, and how the relationship mostly focused on in Mooncakes wasn’t the romance (though there was romance) but the found family aspect.

Also, before we get into my cons for the book, I really want to highlight the artwork. It’s seriously good. The cover is merely a prelude to the amazing pictures inside. Wendy Xu is a very talented artist, and should definitely be recognized for it.

Now, it’s time for my grievances. First off, the antagonists sucked. I know, I know, it’s a slice-of-life. But I just kind of expected the villains to be better, is all.

Second off, I did not appreciate the insta-love between Tam and Nova. I should clarify that this point in particular is probably a me thing: I’m a slow-burn type of gal. But I also feel like getting together at the end of Chapter 2, after only meeting again for the first time in years at the end of Chapter 1, was a little too fast. Yeah, I get it – they’re teenagers. It still bothered me. I also would’ve liked to get to know Nova and Tam as individual characters more before we got to know them as a couple. I much preferred all of the found family stuff. (The lesbian grandmas were perfect, though. I loved reading them interact.)

Also, one last criticism. I hated how Nova tried to rub in one of the antagonist’s faces that she was gonna make out with Tam. Like, this individual obviously did not care whatsoever. Not to mention, it seemed kind of childish for a 17-year-old; it honestly sounds more like something a 12-year-old would do. And also, the antagonists were too stupid to use this information, freely given, as some sort of leverage. Like, I was waiting for the other shoe to drop for most of the novel. (Minor spoilers, I guess?)

Anyway, Mooncakes was, over all, pretty great. It was beautifully illustrated, with a likable setting and characters. (Who doesn’t love a witchy story set in New England?!?) This book is great for those of you who enjoy gorgeous graphic novels and some fantasy. It’s a wonderful, cozy read, perfect throughout any time during the fall, though near Halloween might be the best.

Have you read this book? What are your favorite things to read around Halloween? Thank you all for reading, and have a wonderful day/night!

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Beware the Candles… | Wax by Gina Damico [A Book Review]

Evil has met its match.

About This Book

Title & Author: Wax by Gina Damico

Length: 394 pages

Publication: Clarion Books [June 6, 2017]

Book Description: Paraffin, Vermont is home to the Grosholtz Candle Factory. There, seventeen year old Poppy finds something unsettling: a room filled with dozens of startlingly lifelike wax sculptures. Later, she’s shocked when one of the figures – a teenage boy who doesn’t seem to know what he is – jumps naked and screaming out of the trunk of her car. Poppy wants to return him to the factory, but before she can, a fire destroys the mysterious workshop.

With the help of the wax boy, who answers to the name Dud, Poppy tries to find out who was behind the fire. Along the way she discovers that some of the townspeople are starting to look a little… waxy. Can they extinguish the evil plot?

My Review

Star Rating: πŸ•―οΈπŸ•―οΈπŸ•―οΈπŸ•―οΈ- 4 / 5 candles!

The town of Paraffin smelled of rot…

…Annnd lots of other stuff. But we’d be here all day if I described everything that Wax’s setting smelled like.

(Just kidding, lol. It was a seriously long opening paragraph, though.)

Wax, written by Gina Damico, was a delightful little read that ended up being a pick-me-up after a bit of a reading slump.

The novel takes place during a lovely November in Paraffin, Vermont. (Not a real town in Vermont, apparently, but it is a real type of wax. Get it?)

Our protagonist is the bullheaded and sassy Poppy Palladino 🌺🎭, a control freak, theater kid, who’s currently dealing with the fallout of an embarrassing incident that happened on love TV.

It was her one true love, and you don’t throw away your one true love over something as silly as profound emotional scarring.

(Fair Warning: Just gonna be a little upfront about the tone. Despite being very humorous, this is definitely a bit of a horror story. There’s a little body horror in this, actually, even if it’s mostly wax sculptures that look like people. But if you can’t stand any type of horror at all, then this might not be for you.)

Concerning the rest of the characters of the book, I thought they were all pretty great. I loved Poppy’s artsy, health nut, yoga teacher parents, even if they were a little comically oblivious at times. I also loved her best friend Jill; she’s the type of girl anyone would’ve wanted to be on their side in highschool: loyal, brave, and sassy.

The best character in the book though, was, by far, Dud πŸ•―οΈπŸ˜‡. Our dueteragonist here is a total sweetheart, and deserves to be protected at all cost. He’s just so innocent and loveable, and his origins as a living candle sculpture made him all the more interesting. I loved watching him develop his personality and build an identity. His relationship with Poppy was the absolute best part of the novel, as well; I adored how they made each other their best selves just by interacting with one another.

The antagonists were the weakest part of the book. Their concept was interesting, but I found their motives to be a bit weak. They were pretty funny, even if they acted pretty cliche. I still kinda liked them though.

The plot was pretty fun, too. I loved the intrigue that sort of floated in the background at first, but then gradually started to encompass the entire story as it went on. There was a kind of irritating expository element to the story, however. I think it was meant to gel with the satirical tone of the novel, but I just found it to be an annoying storyteller mechanic. Like, sometimes the plot would just pause for a second until it was time for this element to appear again. It does work extremely well in one instance, though, but I can’t talk about it because [SPOILERS].

And the ending – Oh My God! – that ending!! Definitely my favorite part of the book and more than worth the read to get there! My heart was pounding in my throat, and I was actually in tears!

All in all, I really enjoyed Wax. If you like creepy stuff and scented candles, then this book might be for you. It’s also an excellent fall read, being set in November, as well as having a mildly unsettling (but also humorous) tone. Paired with pumpkin or cinnamon spice candles, with a latte or some hot chocolate, underneath a cozy blanket.

Thank you so much for reading! Have a wonderful day/night!

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Ghosts and Ghasts and Ghouls | A Review of City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab

People think that ghosts only come out at night, or on Halloween, when the world is dark and the walls are thin. But the truth is, ghosts are everywhere.

Series: City of Ghosts

Length: 304 pages

Publication Date: August 28, 2018

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Book Description: Everyone has a ghost story. Ever since Cass almost drowned (okay, she did drown, but she doesn’t like to think about it!) she can pull back the Veil that separates the living from the dead… and enter the world of spirits. Her best friend is even a ghost. So things are already pretty strange. But they’re about to get much stranger.

When Cass’s parents start hosting a TV show about the world’s most haunted places, the family heads off to Edinburgh, Scotland. Here, graveyards, castles, and secret passageways teem with restless phantoms. And when Cass meets a girl who shares her “gift,” she realizes how much she still has to learn about the Veil – and herself.

And she’ll have to learn fast. The city of ghosts is more dangerous than she ever imagined.

My Review

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – 4.5 out of 5 stars!

This was a perfect October read! Especially just before Halloween. I haven’t read a ghost story in quite a while, and this kind of hit the spot. Sure, it’s technically in that awkward spot between middle-grade and YA, but who cares? Especially from an author I love.

(If you didn’t know, “Victoria Schwab” is actually another name that V.E. Schwab uses for some of her books. She uses “V.E.” for her adult novels, and “Victoria” for her YA stuff.)

City of Ghosts centers around Cassidy Blake, a girl who gains the ability to see spirits after (nearly) drowning, as well as a new ghostly best friend named Jacob.

He looks up at the word ghost and clears his throat. “I prefer the phrase ‘corporeally challenged.'”

Jacob was a wonderful character. Funny, smart, and protective of his best friend. He brought some levity and personality to the story that Cass’s narration lacked.

Not that Cassidy was a boring narrator. Not at all. Schwab wrote the preteen-girl-with-a-secret trope very well. The problem is just that though – average preteen girls aren’t usually the most interesting of people. I can say this confidently from previous, personal experience. Being an average, preteen girl, that is. But because Schwab encapsulates Cass’s identity as a preteen girl who sees ghosts in a great way, I think she wrote a pretty relatable character for middle and high school aged kids.

(I have to stop typing “average, preteen girl,” or else I’m going to scream.)

Addressing the other characters… Cass’s parents were fun. Her dad was the no-nonsense, nerdy, history professor type, and her mom was the dreamer, who believed in spirits and such. Their family dynamic was great, and it was nice to see some actually nice to see some actual parenting in a YA book for once. Like, they actually noticed that their daughter would run off and disappear, and they grounded her for it. Thank you!

Lara Jane Chowdhury was also a welcome surprise. Like Cassidy, she can also see spirits and cross the Veil and back. Unlike Cass, she actually knows what she’s doing. Lara is crucial in that she finally gives Cass an actual character motivation, instead of just floundering around with her spirit powers.

I also loved how Lara took everything seriously and was super no-nonsense, a foil to the more creative Cass, as well as the more easygoing Jacob. She was the straight man of the trio, for sure.

I really adored the friendships here, too. Jacob and Cassidy’s was so, so perfect. You could tell that they were really important to one another. Adding Lara to the dynamic was fantastic as well. I love how much she grew to care about Cass, and how far she was willing to go for the newbie.

And there was no romance! (Spoilers?) It feels like there’s romance in everything nowadays, even middle-grade fiction, so it was a welcome surprise for me, as someone who’s growing tired of it a little. Like, why can’t they just be friends? Not that I’m against it or anything – I actually really like it most of the time! I just enjoy reading books every once in a while that focus on other types of relationships, other than romance.

Nothing happens until it happens, and then it’s already happening.

I love love LOVED Schwab’s descriptions of Edinburgh. They all felt so life-like and real. You can tell she did a ton of research, and that she’d travelled there before. I know she’s been to a bunch of places in Europe, and that she actually lived in the UK for some time, and it shows. I almost felt like I was there, walking around Scotland with Cass and Jacob.

If I had to pick one thing that I didn’t like, though, it would have to be the antagonist. I felt like they were kind of a weak villain. Their motivation checked out, I just wasn’t really into them. I guess you can look at them as someone whose empathy has eroded away over many years, and who has been acting out of desperation. It felt a little forced, to me. But, they did work as intended, so I guess I’ll give them that.

All in all, I really liked the book and recommend it to anyone, regardless of age. If this book sounds like your thing, then I hope you pick it up and enjoy it!

Thanks for tuning in, and have a wonderful day/night!

Some Scary Stories for Spooky Season | October Book Recommendations

So, I realize that this is slightly late for a post recommending creepy books for October – being that it already is October – but it’s still spooky month, so I thought I could get away with it!

Plus, these are definitely some darker novels – some of them are straight up horror books – so I thought that I’d post this anyway, even though Halloween is only a week and a half away now. So here ya go!

Another by Yukito Ayatsuji

Length: 496 pages

Publication Date: October 28, 2014

Publisher: Yen On

Blurb: In the spring of 1998, Koichi Sakakibara transfers to Yomiyama North Middle School. In class, he develops a sense of unease as he notices that the people around him act like they’re walking on eggshells, and students and teachers alike seem frightened. As a chain of horrific deaths begin to unfold around him, he comes to discover that he has been placed in the cursed Class 3 in which the student body head count is always one more than expected. Class 3 is haunted by a vengeful spirit responsible for gruesome deaths in an effort to satisfy its spite. To stop the vicious cycle gripping his new school, Koichi decides to get to the bottom of the curse, but is he prepared for the horror that lies ahead…?

Brief Review: Look, I know all the weeb alarms are going off cuz I put this one first, but I only did it because I really, really like it, and I want to get more eyes on it. (Actually, I really like all of these books – but we’re not talking about them right now!) I will warn you, some of this book gets a little graphic, so if you can’t handle reading about some gore, you might want to steer clear of this one. Also, it’s already been adapted – as a manga and an anime – so if you can’t trust my word yet, trust the word of the thousands of people that made it popular enough to get an adaptation.

This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzie Lee

Length: 400 pages

Publication Date: May 16, 2017

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books; Reprint Edition

Blurb: In an alternative fantasy world where some men are made from clockwork parts and carriages are steam powered, Alasdair Finch, a young mechanic, does the unthinkable after his brother dies: he uses clockwork pieces to bring Oliver back from the dead.

But the resurrection does not go as planned and Oliver returns more monster than man. Even worse, the novel Frankenstein is published and the townsfolk are determined to find the real-life doctor and his monster. With few places to turn to for help, the dangers may ultimately bring the brothers together – or ruin them forever.

Brief Review: In some ways, this one might just be my favorite on the list. (In some ways!) It was a really fast-paced read for me – I powered through it in like three hours one evening – and it pretty much has great everything. Great plot, great writing, great characters – it’s got the works people! Lee just has a way with words. (In this book at least. I haven’t actually read any of her other novels, but they have excellent reviews, so take that as you will.) It’s a brilliant Frankenstein retelling, and there are a few surprisingly real people characterized her. (Shhh, no spoilers!)

How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather

Series: How to Hang a Witch

Length: 368 pages

Date Published: July 26, 2016

Publisher: Knopf Books

Blurb: Salem, Massachusetts is the site of the infamous witch trials and the new home of Samantha Mather. Recently transplanted from New York City, Sam and her step-mother are not exactly welcomed with open arms. Sam is a descendent of Cotton Mather, one of the men responsible for those trials – and almost immediately, she becomes the enemy of a group of girls who call themselves the Descendents. And guess who their ancestors were?

If dealing with that wasn’t enough, Sam comes face-to-face with a real, live (well, technically dead) ghost. A handsome, angry ghost who wants Sam to stop touching his stuff. But soon Sam discovers she is at the center of a centuries-old curse affecting anyone with ties to the trials. Sam must come to terms with the ghost and find a way to work with the Descendents to stop a deadly cycle that has been going on since the first accused witch was hanged. If any town should have learned its lesson, it’s Salem. But history may be about to repeat itself.

Brief Review: Out of all the recs on this list, I must confess that this one may be my least favorite. Don’t get me wrong – I enjoyed it quite a bit! But it just didn’t really click with me that well. And hey, if the summary looked great to you, then feel free to give this one a shot! It also has a sequel as well, if you really, really like it. It’s been compared to Mean Girls, so if you enjoyed that movie and YA is your thing, definitely look it up.

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

Series: Caster Chronicles

Length: 577 pages

Publication Date: November 11, 2009

Blurb: Little Brown; 1st Edition

Synopsis: Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she’s struggling to conceal her power, and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps, and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.

Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town’s oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.

In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.

Brief Review: So, um, I put one of the paranormal romance books that spawned from the Twilight craze on this list. Yeah…

I have a confession: I don’t know if this book (or its sequels) still hold up. I haven’t read this since the early 2010s. But it was one of my guilty pleasures back then, and I actually reread it a few times, and I don’t do that often. I gotta really like a book. And hey, it spawned three sequels and a sequel series, as well as a movie. A crappy movie, but a movie nonetheless. So that’s gotta count for something, right?

The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

Length: 368 pages

Publication Date: January 2, 2011

Publisher: Razorbill

Blurb: Mackie Doyle is The Replacement – left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago. He had been raised among us. But he is not one of us. Now, he must face the dark creatures of the slag heaps from which he came and find his rightful place – in our world or theirs.

Brief Review: So, this is a minimalist summary compared to the others, huh? But, sometimes short and succinct is the way to go, cuz this little plot synopsis kind of tells you all you need to know. This is a fun and dark little read that has an interesting portrayal of a certain creature that has taken over YA in the last several years. (I probably don’t need to tell you what it is – you totally already know, lol.) Anyway, if this looks interesting to you, go on and give it a shot.

The Other by Thomas Tryon

Length: 272 pages

Date Published: October 2, 2012

Publisher: NYRB Classics; Main Edition

Blurb: Holland and Niles Perry are identical thirteen-year-old twins. They are close, close enough, almost, to read each others thoughts, but they couldn’t be more different. Holland is bold and mischievous, a bad influence, while Niles is kind and eager to please, the sort of boy who makes parents proud. The Perrys live in the bucolic New England town their family settled centuries ago, and as it happens, the extended clan has gathered at the ancestral farm this summer to mourn the death of the twins’ father in a most unfortunate accident. Mrs. Perry still hasn’t recovered from the shock of her husband’s most gruesome end and stays sequestered in her room, leaving her sons to roam free. As the summer goes on though, and Holland’s pranks become increasingly sinister, Niles finds he can no longer make excuses for his brother’s actions.

Brief Review: So, this book… I absolutely adore this book! It’s a bit of an oldie, compared to the rest of the recs on this list, but it deserves it as much as the rest; perhaps more-so. Thomas Tryon is an acclaimed author of the 20th century and has written for several genres, including horror, contemporary fiction, fantasy, and even western. This book haunted my summer several years ago, and it could haunt your October this year if you give it a try. The prose is awesome, the characters well-developed, and the plot twists are juicy and unexpected.

I would also be remiss if I didn’t recommend Tryon’s other well-known work Harvest Home, even as just an honerable mention. This is the novel that inspired Stephen King’s Children of the Corn, and I don’t believe it needs any other introduction than that! I highly recommend you check that one out as well – it’s just as good, if not even better than The Other.


Congratulations! You’ve made it to the end of this very long blog post. Here’s a virtual cookie! These are all the book recommendations I’ve got for you today. Toon in next time for a book review, probably.

Anyway, thank you so much for reading and have a wonderful day/night!

A Complex and (Slightly) Contrived Adventure | A Review of The Godstone by Violette Malan

⭐⭐⭐ β€’ 3 / 5 stars

This book was fine but I didn’t love it or anything. It gets 3/5 stars even. Some of the terminology was confusing and it was never really explained very well. Also, in the last third of the book one of the POVs got super confusing, but I’ll get into that particular issue more in a bit. The second half of the book was also slower than the first, and the ending was anticlimactic and, I felt, a little rushed.

There are a few spoilers ahead in this review, but don’t worry, I have them marked! Just keep an eye peeled for the spoiler tags!

(There’s a reason that this book took me a month to finish…)

The plot and the prose were probably the weakest parts of the book. The plot itself barely had a reason to happen; and all of the characters probably would have been better off if they hadn’t even started their journey at all. Like, the bad guys (whoops, a couple small spoilers, sorry!) couldn’t access the Reality Warping McGuffin With Sentience (aka “The Godstone”) without Arlyn, so why would you go straight to these people?? FENRA EVEN ADRESSES THIS NEAR THIS BEGINNING OF THE BOOK SO WHY. Finding said Reality Warping McGuffin With Sentience just to redo a stronger seal on it seemed to be a pretty flimsy excuse.

There are a few plot conveniences as well, and the writing itself seems like something out of an indie debut though the author’s little bio says she’s published books before. The world building also feels confusing sometimes, if only because the magic system, magical terminology, and language are never explained. We, as the reader, are expected to learn them all as we go. (I still don’t know what a freaking “Mode” is…) What I did understand of the world building, however, was pretty awesome. I also enjoyed the way the author described stuff — I felt like I could visualize the world and the characters really well in my mind. The dialogue seemed pretty natural too; it never felt super forced to me, which is something that is important to me while reading.

I did like the characters quite a bit though — they were by far the best part of the book — and their relationships with each other were also very nice. (For the most part…)

Arlyn Albainal was definitely my favorite character in the book. He was by far the most interesting of the three protagonists, and I loved his character development and was rooting for him from the beginning. There were only a few things that I didn’t like involving his character.

‼️ WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD! ‼️

I hate it when authors “redeem” characters by way of self sacrifice; I find it to be extremely cheap and unfulfilling for a character arc. Also, I get that Arlyn’s sort of possessed, but you didn’t have to make that POV… well, the best I can describe it is “Double 1st Person POV” — it doesn’t make sense, I know — but it was two technically separate characters both getting 1st Person POV at the same time. It would alternate between past and present tense to differentiate the 2 POVs, which is a crime in itself, and my grammarian and English BA brain felt like it was melting and burning at the same time.

✨ SPOILERS END ✨

Fenra Lowens was an okay second protagonist, but she felt a little bland, even though it seemed like the author did try l to make her an interesting character. I did like the quiet strength she displayed — she wasn’t a “girl boss” or a stereotypical “strong female character” so often seen in fiction nowadays. I also liked how she refused to take any lip from either of the guys, though. Her banter and relationship with Arlyn was very compelling, anf I felt that they played off each other well — Fenra was definitely the straight-man to Arlyn’s recklessness. However, I felt the reason she had for leaving the village she lived in and took care of for years and years at the beginning of the story to be weak (or non-existent really).

Elvanyn Karamisk was extremely likable but sometimes felt less necessary to the plot than the other two protagonists. Like, Arlyn and Fenra go to this secret dimension (called “the New Zone”) to escape some of the bad guys and they just happen to come across him there – even though it’s been decades and he should be long dead by now. But he’s still alive because people don’t age in the New Zone for some reason. This is never explained. The only excuse given is basically that other dimensions are weird. Then, the 3 leave the New Zone for the original world they were from and never go back. I really liked Elvanyn’s personality a lot though, he seemed like an fun mix of a cowboy and a pirate. I thought his apparent budding romance with Fenra felt forced and it feels kinda “insta-love” to me. I liked all 3 of the characters best as friends, and I don’t think a relationship between any of them was necessary.

So, in conclusion, this wasn’t a terrible book, but If The Godstone turns from a standalone into a series though – which I’m almost certain that it will, since there are loose ends – I don’t think I’ll continue beyond this. It just wasn’t for me is all. But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t for you, so if this book sounded interesting to you, then go check it out yourself!

See you later! ~ Mar

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