It's New Years Eve!
I hope you've all had a fantastic year and I wish you the very best in 2019!
2018 has been CRAZY!
This year, I started my blog, which has been so much fun! I've met some incredible new people; readers, bloggers and authors. I went to my first ever book festival which was fantastic, and I both started and stopped receiving monthly book boxes lol which were fantastic and so much fun!
I read 100 books this year! I've discovered some incredible new titles and authors and I've loved writing about them!
According to my Pinterest board, I have 49 favourite books of 2018, but since that's a few too many to list here, I'm going to list 5 of my favourites below and you're welcome to check out my Favourite Books of 2018 board here to see them all.
I can't say that these 5 books are my top 5 books of the year but they are in the top 10. These 5 books stood out because each one was truly fantastic.
They Both Die at the End was an emotional roller coaster of a book. It was heartbreaking, breathtaking and a beautiful and bittersweet read.
Nevernight was incredible, a truly epic fantasy with one of the best heroines I've ever read! I'm hoping to read Godsgrave really soon.
The Bones Beneath My Skin was a truly unique, and stunning LGBT Sci-Fi. This book blew me away.
While I enjoyed Six of Crows, it's sequel, Crooked Kingdom made the duology so much better. I loved how it kept me on my toes until the very end.
The Lightning Struck Heart was the first book I ever read by TJ Klune, who has quickly become one of my favourite authors. This might just be the funniest book I've ever had the pleasure of reading!
You can check out my full review for any of these books by clicking on the covers.
In my next post, I'll be sharing the books currently on my ARC shelf and the book tours I have coming up in January!
Have a fantastic New Year! Thanks for reading :)
Rating: 4/4.5 STARS
How I got this book: Bought
You’ll make it out of here, Brian. I swear.
I had everything—school quarterback, popular with girls, and my dad was proud of me. I told myself it didn’t matter no one knew the real me. And then I nearly died. Landon saved my life. He’s the bravest guy I know. He came out a few years ago, proud and fierce, and he ran into gunfire to help others. Me, I’m a mess. Can’t even stand to be in a room with the curtains open. But here’s the thing about losing it all: You get a chance to start over and be someone new. Only how can I move on when the two shooters who attacked our school were never caught? And why do I feel like I’m still in the crosshairs?
Will you kiss me?
When I came across Brian Marshall,the hottest guy in school, dying on the cafeteria floor, I did what anyone would do. I tried to save him. His request surprised me, but I figured he needed comfort, so I kissed him on the forehead. When he survived and came back to school, he was broken in body and mind. He still needed me, and soon we were unlikely besties. But what I saw at school that day woke me up. I want to demand action on gun control, lead protests, raise my fist. I’ll tear the world down if I have to. And if I can get the man of my dreams and save the world at the same time? I’ll take it. Only I didn’t understand that the horror at Jefferson Waller High wasn’t over.
Trigger warnings: Mass shooting, PTSD, depression, homophobia, graphic violence.
Just from reading the synopsis I could tell that this book wasn't going to be an easy read.
I've only seen information about mass shootings and school shootings on the news and on Twitter. The coverage is always quite brief, giving only the details of what occurred, the death toll, and speculation about the shooter(s).
Boy Shattered went so much further by providing a completely vivid view of life as a survivor of a mass shooting that was incredibly painful and almost unbearable to read, but at the same time, so completely relevant and necessary that I urge you to read it.
This book is overflowing with heart-ache and tragedy, focusing on how the shooting affects the two main characters of the story in very different ways with one character retreating into himself and the other becoming an activist against gun violence.
It is a romance novel but there's a great deal of sadness, pain and angst between the two characters that makes the relationship feel raw and extremely powerful. It is a YA and so, whilst there is sex involved, it's much more character and plot driven.
To me, the book felt like a suspense novel. With the hunt for the shooters ongoing and Brian's PTSD, the pace was fantastic and the story completely engrossing.
Coupled with the tragedy, another painful aspect of this book is the homophobia which is rife in Brian's life, so much so that he's completely in the closet and terrified of making a wrong move that could reveal his secret.
I love how the characters' natures contrast and compliment each other. Brian is troubled, hiding who he is and constantly terrified, whilst Landon is compassionate, determined and supportive.
Overall, Boy Shattered is completely heartbreaking and the title couldn't be more accurate. Feeling Brian's pain and terror, experiencing Landon's fear and his need to do something about it, watching the seeds of their relationship take hold - it was beautiful, gripping and exceptionally painful.
Brace yourself going in and you'll quickly find yourself immersed.
Rating: 2.5 STARS
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series/Standalone: Irish Kiss #2
How I got this book: Bought
Indie rock god.
The devil with midnight hair and blue-flame eyes.
After six years I thought the pain of what he’d done to me had faded.
Because I’m standing in this crowded lecture hall of the most prestigious music school in Ireland, staring at the person who healed me when I was broken. Right before he shattered me beyond repair.
And I still feel everything.
My ex-best friend.
My first love.
…is now my professor.
I read the premise of Professor's Kiss and was intrigued. Enemies to lovers, bad boy...what's not to love?
Turns out, quite a lot.
I don't usually write 'negative' reviews but I just had to vent about this book!
You know how in most enemies-to-lovers stories there's a character (usually male) who's a lovable jerk? He's arrogant, an ass but he has redeemable qualities?
Yeah, well that guy does NOT exist in this book. Danny is an asshole sure enough, but he's not redeemable. His masculinity is toxic, he's disgusting, some of the things he does are utterly repulsive and made me want to throw the book against the wall (the only thing stopping me was that I did not want to break my Kindle).
His whole 'redeeming' arc was utter bull. He literally had no valid reason for the way he acted at all. I'm sorry but experiencing personal loss does not justify victimising and bullying another person.
Then there's the heroine, who's completely spineless and pretty pathetic in her devotion (read: unhealthy obsession) with Danny.
Can we also PLEASE STOP using calling someone a lesbian as a goddamn insult? 🙄
I think what annoyed me the most about this book was that I actually liked the plot. I liked that Danny was a singer struggling to go it alone without the record label and that Ailis was a very talented singer working hard to get what she wants. Throw in the slightly taboo (but age appropriate) professor/student romance and it seemed like things should work out well, but the characters just suck.
The only 'chemistry' they have is some weird pervy lust and I was so annoyed that I found myself just skipping through parts I didn't want to read.
I just hated that there was so much material to work with in terms of the story, but the characters just ruined it. Even at the end, Ailis doesn't become her own woman, doesn't go her own route, she's still following Danny around like a wet lettuce.
Anyway, I gave the story 2.5 stars because the writing drew me in and kept me reading until the end and the plot held promise but overall, I could not stand the characters.
Rating: 4 STARS
Series/Standalone: Tales from Verania #2
How I got this book: Bought
Once upon a time, the wizard’s apprentice Sam of Wilds got his happily ever after in the arms of his cornerstone, Knight Commander Ryan Foxheart. A year has passed, and while Sam’s been captured five or six more times since then, things are pretty great. His parents are happy, Gary and Tiggy still eat sass for breakfast, Randall is somehow alive despite being older than the gods, the King rules with a gentle hand, Kevin the dragon is as gross as ever, Morgan sighs a lot, Ryan continues to be dashing and immaculate, and Sam is close to convincing Prince Justin they will be best friends forever.
Life is good.
Until it’s not.
Because Vadoma, the leader of the Gypsy clan and Sam’s grandmother, has come to the City of Lockes with a dire prophecy written in the stars: a man of shadows is rising and will consume the world unless Sam faces his destiny and gathers the five dragons of Verania at his side.
And she brings along her second-in-command, a man named Ruv.
Ruv, who Vadoma says is Sam’s true cornerstone.
It would seem that I'm having a bit of a TJ Klune marathon at the moment since I just can't stop reading his books...even after finishing this I immediately started one of his contemporary romances. He's JUST SO GOOD, I CAN'T STOP!
Anyway, back to the book at hand.
A Destiny of Dragons is book two in the Tales of Verania fantasy series by TJ Klune. If you haven't read book one yet, feel free to check out my review of The Lightning Struck Heart.
A Destiny of Dragons starts with a rather foreboding prologue that, since finishing this book, I have a really, really, really bad feeling about but I'm trying not to think of it so that I don't cry, but Chapter One picks up not too long after where we left things in book one and it immediately falls back into TJ's hilarious rhythm, with Sam trying to show Justin how much he cares before being hit on by a stranger and discovered by a posing Ryan. I really loved being back with the insane Verania crew who I can't seem to get enough of.
The best thing about this book is 'Sam's New Destiny (capitalised so it must be true)' as much as he hates and complains about it, for the following reasons:
ALL THE FEELS!
As always TJ Klune manages to blend this incredible mixture of awesome magic and magical creatures with outrageous, very crude humour and so much emotion you feel like your heart might just burst.
Sam is on another adventure that he didn't ask for and with the help (and hindrance) of some new characters he still handles it with his classic 'Sam' attitude:
"Finally, I did the only thing a person could do if they were in my position and faced with a gigantic hill monster after having been bad-touched by an old lady into the middle of the woods. I waved and said, “Heeeyyy there.”
As with The Lightning Struck Heart, A Destiny of Dragons takes us on a journey across Verania, with some amazing new places to discover this time around.
However, where the first book in the series delivered very over-the-top comedy, this book didn't have quite the same carefree feel. Things are different for Sam, things are darker, harder and more difficult with much more at stake for Sam and the people of Verania. In this book we see strains on friendship and fear that strikes at Sam's heart, and the hearts of those around him.
I'm really excited and nervous to see how things play out in the rest of the series as there's promise of a lot of dark, depressing shit (there was a point in this book that I was so very close to crying) and I'm completely on edge having no idea what's going to happen next. I really don't think it'll be long before I read book three!
So, to finish, I'm going to leave you with one of my favourite quotes from this book, a little pearl of Sam wisdom:
"You can’t hide your head in the sand without expecting your ass to get burned.”
Rating: 4 🔥🔥🔥🔥
How I got this book: This novella is available for free exclusively at tjklunebooks.com
When he sees Satan stuck in a rut, God provides a little divine intervention, suggesting the Devil get back to basics.
Taking God's advice, Satan answers a summons to a crossroad on Earth, hellbent on brokering a deal in exchange for the soul of the human who summoned him.
The problem with that is the summoner is a deviant twink named Jimmy who immediately falls in love at first sight, much to Satan's dismay.
Blasphemy! Where God is a frat bro who wants to get his brother laid, Satan absolutely does not have time for this shit, and Jimmy wants to climb the Devil like a tree.
Important note: If you are extremely religious or find religious satire offensive, this is NOT the book for you!
First off, I want to say:
1. How awesome is the artwork above? The banners were designed by members of TJ Klune's Facebook reader group and I love each one!
2. The author provided this novella for free on his website. It's available to read on the site or you can download the PDF or Mobi files to your devices!
If you've read some of TJ's other work, specifically the Tales of Verania series, you'll be very familiar with the authors' brand of satirical, twisted humour. If you haven't, think like a really vulgar (but in the best way) Terry Pratchett but with waaay more sex, swearing and generally outrageous behaviour involved.
Blasphemy! was a really short read (around 20,000 words) and is a tale about the lord of the underworld and his growing loneliness. Throw in some help from his (and I quote) "brother-dad" God who's incredibly interfering, and a very naive young human who falls head over horns in love and you have a classic, hysterically funny TJ Klune story that will keep you laughing out loud from start to finish.
"And while Satan had never been too fond of labels, he sometimes wondered if he was a bear now, like the type who could be called Daddy."
Featuring appearances from a Demon named Derek, a man named Carl, and a very teenage Jesus Christ this story is pretty much un-quotable but I did manage to find this little snippet to give you a taste of what's in store:
"Jesus! Jesus Christ, you better not be making a mess in the kitchen. We just had it cleaned!"
A surly response came crackling through the monitor. "I'm not! And don't tell me what to do! You're not even my real dad. Joseph is! When he and Mom get back from their vacation, I'm going to tell them you never let me do anything."
As I said above, this book is really not intended for anyone who's highly religious or easily offended, but if that's not you, and you're looking for a quick-paced read that promises some heavy belly laughs, go and grab this book!
Enjoy 🤣 and once you read it, feel free to leave your comments below!
Rating: 4.5 STARS
Series/Standalone: The Folk of the Air #1
How I got this book: Bought
Of course I want to be like them. They're beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.
And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.
One terrible morning, Jude and her sisters see their parents murdered in front of them. The terrifying assassin abducts all three girls to the world of Faerie, where Jude is installed in the royal court but mocked and tormented by the Faerie royalty for being mortal.
As Jude grows older, she realises that she will need to take part in the dangerous deceptions of the fey to ever truly belong.
But the stairway to power is fraught with shadows and betrayal. And looming over all is the infuriating, arrogant and charismatic Prince Cardan . . .
This book was so massively hyped that I found myself subconsciously staying away from it. Even though I was aware of the book, I had no inclination to actually read it until I stumbled across a copy in Waterstones last week and got hooked whilst reading the back cover - I had such a strong urge to read it that I started it the moment I got home.
I can tell you one thing - the hype is real! This book was fantastic!
Holly Black's writing is completely immersive, the world is captivating and the characters are complex and deliciously twisted.
Jude is perfect in her imperfections. She's bad-ass, conflicted and haunted. Living with her parents murderer and being forced to move to another world where she's belittled, tortured and abused has hardened her into a fighter both physically and mentally. She's a force to be reckoned with and I love both her character arc and her sass.
"I thought I was playing the game of pissing off people who hated me already and eating the consequences."
This book is filled with deception - the twists and turns from each character are unexpected, the plot is dark and gripping, and the pacing is perfect.
If you're looking for something darker and more thrilling than your traditional fairytale, you'll love this.
“Nice things don’t happen in storybooks,” Taryn says. “Or when they do happen, something bad happens next. Because otherwise the story would be boring, and no one would read it.”
The secondary characters were unexpected to say the least. I don't want to give too much away, but prepare yourself to be surprised.
This is a fantastic book and I can't wait to find out what happens in book 2 after that shocking ending!
If you loved the A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J Maas, you'll absolutely devour The Cruel Prince.
Rating: 3.5 STARS
Series/Standalone: Standalone (Collection)
How I got this book: Bought
Slow burn romance that quickens the heart. From sweet & light-hearted to raw and emotional - this collection contains eight contemporary gay romance novellas previously published individually between 2013 and 2016.
“Noticed Me Yet?”
“The Douglas Fir”
"It Could Be You"
"Bird Meets Cage"
You can catch my separate mini review of DJ Dangerfield here.
The stories in this book are short and sweet, perfect if you're looking for something to read before going to sleep.
I won't talk about every single story, because I don't have a huge amount to say about some of them. They were nice, sweet stories that delivered the promised HEA.
I'm going to talk about my favourite story first, which was 500 kisses. This is a very fun friends-to-enemies-to-lovers romance that I couldn't stop smiling over. The two characters are fun, witty and their verbal sparring sessions are perfect. Add to the mix several amusing teenage campers, a very risque bet and some drama from their past, this story was easily my favourite of the whole collection.
The Douglas Fir was another sweet story which took a rather unexpected turn. I'm not going to give too much away here but I did enjoy the plot twist. This isn't your typical romance, but it was nice, sweet and very tender. A great story for Christmas.
Bird Meets Cage was a much heavier story than the others. It features a slight age difference between the two lead characters and lots of emotional drama. What I loved the most though were the secondary relationships from family members and friends which added a lot more depth to the story.
If you haven't yet read anything else by Anyta Sunday but you're thinking of trying out her work, this collection of novella's is a great place to start!
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About Kayleigh (She/Her)
Book addict, film mad, music lover, business owner, writer and mum (not necessarily in that order), living in the UK.
About Sophie (She/Her)
Sophie loves books (obviously). She has a passion for photography and spotting wildlife, and is interested in anything made with passion and creativity.
THIS BLOG IS SPOILER FREE!
5 Stars - AMAZING!!
4.5 Stars - Almost perfect!
4 Stars - I really loved it
3.5 Stars - I liked it alot
3 Stars - I liked it
(I don't typically review books that I rate below 3 stars)
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