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Jessica (HDB)

I'm a bookworm of the highest caliber! If you see me, I'll probably be reading. There's nothing I love more than finding a good book, and then sharing it with the world!

Currently reading

The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe
Kij Johnson
Prince of Thorns
Mark Lawrence
Progress: 30%
The Dovekeepers
Alice Hoffman

Secrets of a Reluctant Princess by Casey Griffin

Secrets of a Reluctant Princess - Casey Griffin

Be still, my heart! Friends, I'm about to shamelessly gush about this book. Consider yourself warned. I mean, I admit that it did take me a few chapters to warm up to Andy but once I did? Well, you couldn't have pried me away from this book if you tried. It has everything I love. Great characters, realistic life lessons, sweet romance, and LARPing. Yes, LARPing. My nerdy heart is so happy right now.

Andy, or Adrianna as her mother prefers she goes by, is the type of character that I wish we saw more of in YA literature. Used to being bullied and mocked, she uses her fresh start in her "new life" to remake herself into someone who avoids all that. The problem is, that she soon learns that it's difficult be someone you're not. Even more than that, she learns that sometimes fitting in means being the bully. If more teens learned that lesson early on, well, high school might not be such a difficult space to exist in.

My absolute favorite part of this story though was that it was a love letter to nerdom. Griffin points out the deep divide that exists between the popular crowd, and the "nerds". However she goes beyond that by showing that it's perfectly acceptable to love what you love. Comics, drawing, cosplay, it's all in here. I was instantly able to tell that Griffin did her research, and I adored the spotlight that she gave to this group that is often ignored.

Then there were the characters. Most importantly, or maybe I have a minor crush myself, is Kevin. Kevin is sweet. He's kind, honest, and he loves LARPing. It takes his character, unafraid to be himself, to teach Andy who she really wants to be. The awkward, often tear-jerking relationship between these two was the icing on the cake really. I would have loved them even if they were just friends.

Secrets of a Reluctant Princess has it all. Family loyalty, forever friendships, high school drama, and enough giggle worthy moments to make the tear-jerking moments totally worthwhile. I loved this book! I genuinely hope you'll add it to your TBR, because it's well worth you time.

Reading progress update: I've read 10%.

Norse Mythology - Neil Gaiman

Can I please hire Neil Gaiman to just read everything to me? Good LORD this man has a voice that just melts me. The audiobook opened, he started reading, and I was rapt. I mean, the first chapter is basically his introduction to the book, and I was INVOLVED.


What me? Have a crush on Neil Gaiman?


You're damn right I do.


Pardon me while I go revel in his voice some more.

The Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak

The Impossible Fortress - Jason Rekulak

Look, I'll be completely honest with you straight off the bat. I went into this book not sure if I was going to make it the whole way through. Billy, Alf and Clark started out as this misfit group of boys that, despite the fact that I'm sure teenage boys actually do act exactly as they did, drove me to the brink of madness. I honestly wasn't certain I was going to be able to follow them through the entirety of the story.


Then, something magical happened. Video games came into play! 80's nostalgia blossomed, and suddenly Billy was more than just a typical teenage boy to me. He was a video game obsessed, extremely talented, passionate young man. He was a character who wasn't afraid to put his heart, soul, and ample amounts of his time into doing something that he really loved. After that, I felt so much more connected to this story. I wanted Billy to succeed, and I so hoped he'd learn how amazing he really was.


Things picked up from there. Mary was introduced, and I instantly fell in love with her character. I adored that she was intelligent, unafraid to show her passion for coding, and full of the kind of wit that I can only wish for. She screamed "future girl boss" to me, and I ate it up. Her banter with Billy was perfection, her no nonsense look at the world was intoxicating, and I was hooked. If this book had simply revolved around Mary, I would have been smitten from the beginning. As it stands though, Mary was the part of this story that made Billy whole. Their little romance, even the rough parts of it, gave me life.


Jason Rekulak showed me that I really shouldn't give up on characters after the first few pages. Billy, Alf, and Clark turned into boys that I actually fell head over heels for. I didn't always agree with their thoughts, or their actions, but it didn't change the fact that they were realistically flawed human beings. They were just teenage boys, obsessed with Vanna White, intent on getting girls, and learning to navigate this crazy world we all live in. We'd all love to pretend that our teenage years weren't peppered with bad decisions, and mistakes. That's just life though, and Rekulak shows that in a way that is equal parts funny and honest. 

Ms. Allergy Pants

So, I'm currently sitting on my couch and working from home because I woke up this morning to a puppy child covered in hives. I mean COVERED. She was itchy, and I had to cover her with a sweater to keep her from scratching them to bleeding. A vet visit was arranged, she was given Benadryl and Prednisone, and now I'm on puppy child watch until this evening. Which, to be honest, is pretty easy since she's passed out on the couch. Poor little girl.


Apparently bulldogs are quite prone to allergies, specifically during the wetter months. So this might be the first of many times we have to put up with this. My wallet weeps. LOL.


Bright side, we caught it before she had any worse side effects. The vet said some dogs get all the way to the point where their throats or nasal passages swell and they can't breathe. So I'm glad we're good puppy parents and pay attention to her health.


I'm just REALLY glad I'm allowed to work from home. *sigh*

DNF @ 25%

Kaijumax Vol. 1 - Zander Cannon, Zander Cannon

So, I gave this a fair shake! One of my best reader buddies was totally in love with this series, and then it popped up on Comixology Unlimited. Free, and loved by someone that I adore? Sold. 


Alas, despite the fact that the art is pretty cute, this just wasn't for me. Maybe I'm just not that into Kaiju. Maybe it drove me slightly mad because of the way they talk. Maybe this was actually a lot more violent than I thought it would be... but yeah. Not in love.


DNF, and onto the next comic!

Reading progress update: I've read 50%.

Forging Divinity (The War of Broken Mirrors) - Andrew Rowe, Jessica Richards

This book is....






The characters aren't bad. The story isn't honestly all that bad either! It's just slow, and that's a shame. I'm listening to the audio and my brain keeps wandering to other things.

Giveaway Post!

If you have an Instagram account, and would like to win a book, I'm hosting a giveaway! :)




It ends 2/24 at 6pm PST. Winner gets their choice of book up to $15 and (if you have a U.S. mailing address) a pick of bookmarks from Lexy Olivia's shop. Trust me. You want one of those. They are GORGEOUS.



Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe - Benjamin Alire Sáenz

This book is EVERYTHING. I'd give it 6 stars if I could, because it has been a long, long time since a book has completely gutted me like this one did. I don't even know what else to say about it, to be honest. It's just so honest. So raw. Watching these two boys, at a time in their life when they are discovering who they are, from two very different families, it all just made for a book that I couldn't stop falling in love with. This book is perfection.


Was I eagerly awaiting that first real kiss? Yes, yes I was. Was I hoping beyond hope that they would each come to understand how much they truly loved one another? You bet your behind I was.


I'm in love. 

June Jenson and the Shield of Quell by Emily Harper-Mohammed

June Jenson and the Shield of Quell - Emily  Harper

Well now, this was a lot of fun! I already knew that June and I would get along famously. After all, she's an accomplished Oxford professor, loves her grumpy old grandfather, and simply wants to make a name for herself in the world of archaeology. What's not to love? My only hope was that her journey would be just as exciting as she was shaping up to be. Happily, that was exactly the case!

Massive love goes to Emily Harper for crafting such enjoyable characters. Although I already knew I'd love June, it was really her grandfather that stole my heart. His giggle worthy attempts at complimenting June, his deep dislike of trousers (I feel you on that, Professor), and his need to keep his accomplishments in the forefront of his mind, were all things that endeared him to me. Pairing him with June, who just didn't know how to handle him at all times, was perfection. I loved watching them interact, and thought he added a perfect spice to the mystery!

Now, the mystery itself, shall we? I thought Harper did a brilliant job at laying out all the breadcrumbs as June fell further down the rabbit hole. From the moment she was inducted into the secret "Alliance" guarding the shield, I knew that things were going to get interesting. What I didn't expect was how much fun this whole mystery would be. As June and her rather unusual entourage searched for answers, I breathlessly followed after them. There was the perfect amount of humor, mixed in with all the action. As I said, a ton of fun.

Am I ready for the next book? Absolutely, I am! Which, thankfully, I also have in my possession. Expect to see a review of that book as well, very soon. While you wait, pick up June Jenson and the Shield of Quell! It's well worth your time!

Merrow by Ananda Braxton-Smith

Merrow - Ananda Braxton-Smith

So it should be no surprise that Merrow caught my eye. Just look at that lovely cover. I dare anyone to pass up a book that clearly shows that mermaids will be involved. I'm a lover of all things fantastical, but mermaids have a very big piece of my heart. Alas, imagine my disappointment when I found out that, in fact, there may or may not actually be any mermaids hiding in Merrow. If you're looking for a very literary book, with a lot of descriptive writing, this is it. If you're looking for a book that focuses on mermaids, you may want to look elsewhere.


Let's start with the good. First off, Neen Marrey was a character that I could absolutely get behind. She was strong, hardworking, kind, and honest to a fault. I loved that she felt realistic and, most of all, that her relationship with her Aunt was always perfect. Watching the two of them go through ups and downs, while still remembering to support one another despite what was thrown in their path, made me smile. Families, whatever their makeup, aren't always perfect, and I appreciated Braxton-Smith for highlighting that. I also very much enjoyed the story telling in this book. Neen's family history is passed down orally, which was quite a treat.


Now, as far as what bothered me, you'll actually find that my issue with this book is the same with the last review I wrote on this blog. If there is one thing I can't abide, it's books that rely solely on lyrical writing and purple prose, ignoring the actual world that they are building. Merrow reads beautifully. It's lilting, and moves like the ocean waves. What it doesn't do, is ever really pick up speed. This is a slow read and, truth be told, one that is very easy to skim. Neen's ultimate hunt for the fate of her mother was an interesting plot point but, since there didn't seem to be any actual mermaids here, one that I quickly lost track of. I still loved the family dynamic, and Neen's growth, but that initial reason I started reading this had gone out the window and so had the majority of my attention span.


As I said above, if you're looking for a book that is lyrical and reads like a folktale, then Merrow is absolutely for you. If, like I was, you're looking for a fantastical tale of mermaids? Well, you'd be better off looking elsewhere. I can see the draw to this book, and I know that many will love it from beginning to end. I just wasn't able to count myself among that number.


I'm sorry I keep forgetting to be on here, all! I got so used to this site being slow, and so used to updating my reading progress on Goodreads, that I've honestly fallen out of the habit of checking in here. I'm sorry guys. I MISS YOU! I'm going to have to build a habit all over again.


Please accept this picture of Luna sniffing books, and all my book updates over the next 20 minutes, as a peace offering. *HUGS*


*tries to remember the last time she posted a Luna picture*

*wonders if it's too soon to post another*

*shrugs and posts anyway*


MY BAAAABBBYYYYYY. She's been in an extra cuddly mood lately, which I absolutely don't mind. Well... except when she sits her butt right on my chest, or directly onto the book I'm currently reading while laying on the grass. Luna time is all the time. Reading only gets in the way of Luna time, apparently.


5 more days and she'll be 9 months! 

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Caraval - Stephanie G. Garber

Unfortunately, I was not as impressed with Caraval as I expected to be. Which, trust me, shocked me just as much as it might shock you. Books like this, with themes of magic and intrigue are usually my bread and butter. I wholly expected to be swept away by this story. If Caraval had spent more time with the world building and character building, instead of so much time with sweeping purple prose, I really think this would have been a winner for me. More on that below.


First off, Scarlett is a tough character to love. Although I adored her connection with her sister, and applauded her fierce protectiveness, there wasn't much else about Scarlett that endeared her to me. She was frustrating, to say the least. I absolutely don't mind a character who puts others above themselves, especially when it comes to family. However the lack of character development in this case drove me mad. Scarlett barely learned. She barely grew. She made the same mistakes over and over, while lamenting her situation instead of doing something about it. I was only just starting to see a spark of a woman who might have gained something from all of this, when the book ended.


My other big issue, as I mentioned above, was that no real love was given to the world that Scarlett and her sister inhabited. From the island that they felt imprisoned on, to the surrounding islands, all the way out to Caraval itself, all of it was just implied. Here is an island. It holds magic. This man who has a lot of power, due to a very quickly told backstory, holds a game here that you might win a wish out of. Done, and done. I was given only the briefest glimpse into anything, even when Scarlett was running all over the game itself. Again, frustrating. I'd have loved to see much less purple prose, and much more actual description. I wanted the world brought to life for me, and I truly believe it would have helped massively.


I believe I truly understand why a lot of people adore this book. The concept of a magical island, the idea of a game that pushes the very folds of reality, is a fascinating thing. If only it had been more fleshed out, and given much more attention, I would have fallen in love too. My Fantasy driven mind demands a foothold in any new book I read. A place that is described beautifully enough that I can find myself there in an eyeblink. Caraval lacked that for me, and so the story just felt flat.

Reading progress update: I've read 65%.

The River at Night - Erica Ferencik

Me: "These women don't really seem like they should be out in the wilderness. I bet something bad is going to happen."


*something bad happens*


Me: "Yup, called it."


*something else bad happens*


Me: "Oh, crap. That sucks."


*something else bad happens*


Me: "Well, they're going to die..."


Mind you.. I'm not even done with this book yet. Taking bets. There are 4 women. Who thinks at least 2 aren't going to make it to the end of this book. In the words of Family Guy... DAMN NATURE, YOU SCARY!

Reading progress update: I've read 30%.

The Firebird - Susanna Kearsley

Katherine Kellgren's voice is the one thing keeping me solid today. Her ability to pull you into the story with her voice has always impressed me, but this book is really letting her vocal abilities shine. More than once today I found myself with my eyes closed, following along in my mind. Maybe not the best way to work... I suppose. It definitely kept me from imploding today though.


I'm loving this book, and very sad I set it on the backburner for so long.

The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well by Meik Wiking

The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well - Meik Wiking

Can someone please just take this whole book, and magically apply it to my life? Ever since the concept of hygge was first introduced to me (thank you bookish friends!) I've been obsessed with it. Why wouldn't you want to make your space comfortable and happy? Fung Shui is so overrated. I'm all about hygge.


This book is wonderful. It lays out everything from the history of hygge, to which lighting is best for this concept. On a day when I was feeling absolutely mad with stress and worry, I opened this book and fell into the pages. I was surrounded by ideas of warm drinks, quiet time with friends, candlelight, and even cozy socks. It inspired me to go out and buy a lamp for my reading nook, so I can cozy up under a blanket and read by a softer light than our crazy "day time" living room lights.


I needed this so much, and I didn't even know it until it came into my life.