Goodreads Monday: The Bone Orchard by Sara A. Mueller (10/25/21)

Hello Readers!

Goodreads Monday is hosted by Lauren’s Page Turners. To participate, choose a random book from your TBR and show it off.

Title: The Bone Orchard
Author: Sara A. Mueller
Genre: Adult Fantasy / Mystery / Paranormal
Publication Date: March 22nd, 2022
Publisher:  Tor Books

Sara A. Mueller’s The Bone Orchard is a fascinating whodunit set in a lush, gothic world of secrets and magic–where a dying emperor charges his favorite concubine with solving his own murder, and preventing the culprit, which undoubtedly is one of his three terrible sons, from taking control of an empire.

Charm is a witch, and she is alone. The last of a line of conquered necromantic workers, now confined within the yard of regrown bone trees at Orchard House, and the secrets of their marrow.

Charm is a prisoner, and a survivor. Charm tends the trees and their clattering fruit for the sake of her children, painstakingly grown and regrown with its fruit: Shame, Justice, Desire, Pride, and Pain.

Charm is a whore, and a madam. The wealthy and powerful of Borenguard come to her house to buy time with the girls who aren’t real.

Except on Tuesdays, which is when the Emperor himself lays claim to his mistress, Charm herself.

But now–Charm is also the only person who can keep an empire together, as the Emperor summons her to his deathbed, and charges her with choosing which of his awful, faithless sons will carry on the empire—by discovering which one is responsible for his own murder.

If she does this last thing, she will finally have what has been denied her since the fall of Inshil — her freedom. But she will also be betraying the ghosts past and present that live on within her heart.

Charm must choose. Her dead Emperor’s will or the whispers of her own ghosts. Justice for the empire or her own revenge.” (Goodreads)

I saw this cover last week and immediately added it to my tbr! It’s so lovely, although a tad creepy, haha. The story sounds like a unique mix and I’m looking forward to reading it when it comes out.

Does this one sound like something you would read?

Find me on Instagram / Goodreads

-Joanna TheGeekishBrunette (1)

Arc Review: Skin of the Sea by Natasha Bowen

Title: Skin of the Sea
Author: Natasha Bowen
Genre: YA Fantasy / Mythology / Retelling
Publication Date: November 9th, 2021
Publisher:  Random House Books for Young
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐✨

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for an earc to review! All opinions are my own.

“A way to survive.
A way to serve.
A way to save.

Simi prayed to the gods, once. Now she serves them as Mami Wata–a mermaid–collecting the souls of those who die at sea and blessing their journeys back home.

But when a living boy is thrown overboard, Simi does the unthinkable–she saves his life, going against an ancient decree. And punishment awaits those who dare to defy it.

To protect the other Mami Wata, Simi must journey to the Supreme Creator to make amends. But something is amiss. There’s the boy she rescued, who knows more than he should. And something is shadowing Simi, something that would rather see her fail. . . .

Danger lurks at every turn, and as Simi draws closer, she must brave vengeful gods, treacherous lands, and legendary creatures. Because if she doesn’t, then she risks not only the fate of all Mami Wata, but also the world as she knows it.” (Goodreads)

One thing I enjoy about reading books like this one based on mythology or even historical events are that the author’s note is detailed. This author in particular told us the setting of the story and where it correlates with history, although this is fantasy. Because of that, she gives us more information on the mythology she is using as well. The author’s note really helped me put everything together and honestly made for a better read.

The author does have content warnings for this book so I will put them there: violence, enslavement, death, and suicide.

The book is told from one point-of-view and it comes from Simidele aka Simi. She is a Mami Wata or mermaid and helps the souls who die at sea pass on. I thought this was very interesting and liked how the first two chapters depicted her job and the feelings towards it. Simi also has flashbacks throughout the book as she tries to find out who she was before her transformation into what she is now. The flashbacks help to piece together her life and give us first hand knowledge as well. I always enjoy flashbacks or a past timeline and I thought it was done well.

If you are looking for a protagonist who is determined, caring, and strong, you will find all of these qualities in Simi. I could understand her choices, especially when it came to Kola.

The author does a fantastic job of creating a magical world and weaving in the mythology that had me intrigued from the beginning. I’m always down to learn more about other mythology I haven’t heard of before and this was no exception.

I only had a couple issues with the book and these may be solely based on my tastes. I wasn’t a big fan of the writing style and it did cause me to get through this one at a slower pace than usual. The writing can be quite lyrical and this is usually a hit or miss for me. I don’t think it takes away from the story in anyway because I did like the plot and characters. My other issue was the ending. If this is a standalone, as I have not seen anything otherwise, the ending is very open and it’s something I don’t like. It could be turned into a duology or series but I guess only time will tell on that one.

Overall, I like this one and thought it was a good debut.

Weekly Update (10/24/21)

Hello Lovely Bookworms!

Another week down!

I’m so glad that my daughter didn’t argue when it came to school this week! It was nice and easy. We were able to get it all done and she is doing so well. I’m still not ready to say that my daughter is growing up, haha. I just don’t understand where the time goes…

This week I got some reading done. I did get some finished but I am working through multiple books at one time so it takes some time, haha. The Return of the King as been wonderful! I’m also really enjoying The Eye of the World.

Gaming has been on the backburner but I’m digging the slower pace of FFXIV. It’s not as time consuming as World of Warcraft and at least their work ethics are a lot better since they aren’t in a lawsuit.

Other than that, it’s the same as usual!

I hope you all have been having a great weekend! ❤

  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley ⭐⭐⭐
  • Dawnspell (Bridge of Legends #2) by Sarah K.L. Wilson ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Those Not-So-Sweet Boys Vol. 4 by Yoko Nogiri (manga) ⭐⭐⭐
  • It Will End Like This by Kyra Leigh (arc) ⭐⭐⭐✨
  • Usborne Graphic Novel: Dracula by Russel Punter ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Wake the Bones by Elizabeth Kilcoyne (arc) ⭐⭐
  • The Return of the King (The Lord of the Rings #3) by J.R.R. Tolkien (audiobook)
  • The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan
  • Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
  • Bound by Firelight (Wickery #2) by Dana Swift (arc)
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How was your week? Did you do anything fun over the weekend? Read anything good this week? Let me know in the comments!

Find me on Instagram / Goodreads

-Joanna TheGeekishBrunette (1)

Book Review: Dark Waters (Small Spaces #3) by Katherine Arden

Title: Dark Waters (Small Spaces #3)
Author: Katherine Arden
Genre: Middle Grade Paranormal / Horror
Publication Date: August 10th, 2021
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

New York Times bestselling author Katherine Arden returns with another creepy, spine-tingling adventure in this follow-up to the critically acclaimed Small Spaces and Dead Voices.

Until next time. That was chilling promise made to Ollie, Coco and Brian after they outsmarted the smiling man at Mount Hemlock Resort. And as the trio knows, the smiling man always keeps his promises. So when the lights flicker on and off at Brian’s family’s inn and a boom sounds at the door, there’s just one visitor it could be. Only, there’s no one there, just a cryptic note left outside signed simply as –S.

The smiling man loves his games and it seems a new one is under way. But first, the three friends will have to survive a group trip to Lake Champlain where it’s said Vermont’s very own Loch Ness monster lives. Brian is thrilled. He hasn’t sailed since visiting his family in Jamaica and even the looming threat of the smiling man can’t put a damper on what is guaranteed to finally be a day of fun–even if it is awkward being stuck on a boat with both his old best friend, Phil and his new best friends, Coco and Ollie. But when a misstep from Phil causes a tragedy onboard and leaves them shipwrecked on an island haunted by a monster on both land and sea, Brian’s survival instincts kick in and it’s up to him to help everyone work together and find a way to escape.

One thing is for sure, the smiling man is back and he wants a rematch. And this time Brian is ready to play.” (Goodreads)

This was a very thrilling book! It’s hard to decide if this beats out the first book in the series but I am glad that it took the shock and horror value up a notch because the sequel just didn’t do it for me.

The book is told in third point-of-view but mostly from the view point of Brian. I’m pretty sure the other two books were Ollie’s but I could be wrong. I was intrigued but also surprised by the change because she usually has had the answers due to her special watch. I will say that this change does make sense by the end up the book and I’m very much onboard with the direction of the plot!

My one complaint from the second book was that the plot felt lack luster and the horror/spooky aspect wasn’t there like it was for book one. This third book didn’t have that issue at all! I was entranced by the story from the beginning and read it in one sitting, haha. I just needed to know what would happen next! Between the ax man and the lake monster there was a lot going on but it wasn’t overwhelming and everything connected together very well.

It does leave off on a cliffhanger which is to be expected since there will be one more book to finish off the seasons. It is a real big cliffhanger though and my mouth dropped when I read it. Katherine Arden is great at upping the suspense and I’m going to need the publisher to drop me book four right away, haha.

Overall, this was another great book for the series! I can’t wait to finish it off next year. I know this review is short and doesn’t share much but the books are definitely better when you go in blind! This would be great to pick up for the spooky seasons or pretty much any time of year if you like books like that!

First Lines Friday (10/22/21)

Hello Lovely Readers!

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!
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“Last night I dreamed I went to Manderley again. It seemed to me I stood by the iron gate leading to the drive, and for awhile I could not enter, for the way was barred to me.”

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The book is….

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Here is a classic that has been on my shelf for awhile! I finally got to it the other day and have only made it six chapters in but I am very curious. I’ll read a bit a day so I’m hoping to finish it by the end of the month.

Have you read this book? Do you want to read it?

Find me on Instagram / Goodreads

-Joanna TheGeekishBrunette (1)

Arc Review: Bright Ruined Things by Samantha Cohoe

Title: Bright Ruined Things
Author: Samantha Cohoe
Genre: YA Historical Fiction / Fantasy / Retelling
Publication Date: October 26th, 2021
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Rating: ⭐⭐

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for an earc to review! All opinions are my own.

Forbidden magic, a family secret, and a night to reveal it all…

The only life Mae has ever known is on the island, living on the charity of the wealthy Prosper family who control the magic on the island and the spirits who inhabit it. Mae longs for magic of her own and to have a place among the Prosper family, where her best friend, Coco, will see her as an equal, and her crush, Miles, will finally see her. Now that she’s eighteen, Mae knows her time with the Prospers may soon come to an end.

But tonight is First Night, when the Prospers and their high-society friends return to the island to celebrate the night Lord Prosper first harnessed the island’s magic and started producing aether – a magical fuel source that has revolutionized the world. With everyone returning to the island, Mae finally has the chance to go after what she’s always wanted.

When the spirits start inexplicably dying, Mae starts to realize that things aren’t what they seem. And Ivo, the reclusive, mysterious heir to the Prosper magic, may hold all the answers – including a secret about Mae’s past that she doesn’t remember. As Mae and her friends begin to unravel the mysteries of the island, and the Prospers’ magic, Mae starts to question the truth of what her world was built on.

In this YA fantasy, Samantha Cohoe wonderfully mixes magic and an atmospheric setting into a fantastically immersive world, with characters you won’t be able to forget.” (Goodreads)

I like to give authors a second chance before completely writing them because sometimes their next book may impress. Sadly this wasn’t the case and things I didn’t like in her previous book are what kept me from enjoying this one too. I have come to terms with this just not being an author for me and that’s okay.

The setting of the book is an interesting one. It’s set on an island full of spirits and magic that are somehow centered around the family that lives there, the Prospers. The beginning of the book had me intrigued as Mae as an orphan and upon her father’s death the Prosper family agrees to raise her until she comes of age. There is a lot of mystery surrounding this family and so I read on.

I’m not going to lie, I had a very hard time connecting with the characters. Some are just not friendly and have their own motives. Others are just so mysterious that it’s hard to understand who they are. The only one you really get to know is the main character Mae. She was fine at times but also felt clueless as well. The development of the relationships was very meh and it just made the romance/love triangle not work for me.

The last half of the book was very action packed but so much was going on that it was hard to keep track of it all. Don’t get me wrong, action is good but it also needs to have a good pacing to go with it.

My last issue was the ending. Open-ended endings are the bane of my existence. Just spell it out for me. I don’t want to sit and speculate. I want to know if it is what I think it is. Show me the money!

Overall, this was okay. I did like the plot a bit more than her first standalone but it still wasn’t enough to wow me. It is what it is!

WWW Wednesday (10/20/21)

Hello, My Lovely Bookworms!

This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and is now hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words.

It consists of answering these three questions:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

I am listening to The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien. (63% through)

I am reading The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan. (43% through!)

I just started It Will End Like This by Kyra Leigh last night. So far it’s interesting but I am a bit afraid that it will end up being predictable. Only time will tell! I also am having a hard time with the first person narrative. This is sometimes a problem for me with books but I am sure it’s just a me thing, haha.

  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley ⭐⭐⭐
  • Dawnspell (Bridge of Legends #2) by Sarah K.L. Wilson ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Those Not-So-Sweet Boys Vol. 4 by Yoko Nogiri (manga) ⭐⭐⭐

I’m not sure what audiobook I will pick up next.

I’m also not sure what I will read next, lol. I’m sure I will find something, hopefully!

Here are some options:

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What is your current read? Are you loving it? Have you read or want to read any that I have listed? Let me know in the comments!

Find me on Instagram / Goodreads

-Joanna TheGeekishBrunette (1)

Top Ten Tuesday: Things That Make My Reading Life Better (10/19/21)

Hello Bookworms!

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018.

Today’s prompt is Online Resources for Book Lovers but honestly, I can’t think of any resources to share besides good ol’ youtube and bookstagram but those things only add to my tbr, haha. Along with my blog, I can also share my reviews and thoughts with you all! I wanted to do something different so I am sharing Things That Make My Reading Life Better. This is everything I use to help my own reading adventure!

1.) My Library / Libby App

Besides buying and reading arcs, I use my library for all of my reading needs! Whether it’s audiobooks or ebooks, I’m here for the choices and the new books they add weekly. It really is a money saver!

2.) Reading Before Bed

If I can’t get any reading done for whatever reason during the day, reading at night is my go-to nightly routine. It helps to soothe my eyes after a long day of looking at screens. It also makes me tired, haha. It’s a win-win.

3.) Buying Secondhand Books

This doesn’t happen too often since my buying has slowed down but I do enjoy a good deal. Most of the time I don’t mind getting an ex-library copy or one that has been read before. They usually come in good condition and if I’m iffy about whether or not I will like it and it’s a backlisted read, I’d definitely rather save money!

4.) Creating a Kindle Book TBR on Amazon

I do this to keep track of what I want to read since I don’t have a subscription at the moment, but also because books will be listed as free for awhile! Some will also go down to 99 cents and you can’t beat that.

5.) BookBuddy+

This app is a lifesaver for categorizing the books that I own! I am able to do tags as well which is nice to keep track of favorites, signed books, and those that are special editions from book boxes. It also tells you what you have left that is unread.

6.) Multitasking With Audiobooks

I do this all the time when writing blog posts or blog-hopping! It really helps add in that extra time of reading. I usually try to listen for 30 minutes to an hour a day.

7.) My Kindle

I’m not even sure what I did before buying my kindle, haha. The number one reason I bought it was for Netgalley but now I use it for the library as well or Kindle Unlimited every once and awhile. It’s amazing the amount of storage it has. It’s also compact and can go anywhere!

What’s something that makes your reading life better? Do we have anything in common?

Let me know in the comments below!

Find me on Instagram / Goodreads

-Joanna TheGeekishBrunette (1)

Arc Review: Well Matched (Well Met #3) by Jen DeLuca

Title: Well Matched (Well Met #3)
Author: Jen DeLuca
Genre: Adult Contemporary / Romance
Publication Date: October 19th, 2021
Publisher: Berkley
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for an earc to review! All opinions are my own.

An accidentally in-love rom-com filled with Renaissance Faire flower crowns, kilts, corsets, and sword fights.

Single mother April Parker has lived in Willow Creek for twelve years with a wall around her heart. On the verge of being an empty nester, she’s decided to move on from her quaint little town, and asks her friend Mitch for his help with some home improvement projects to get her house ready to sell.

Mitch Malone is known for being the life of every party, but mostly for the attire he wears to the local Renaissance Faire–a kilt (and not much else) that shows off his muscled form to perfection. While he agrees to help April, he needs a favor too: she’ll pretend to be his girlfriend at an upcoming family dinner, so that he can avoid the lectures about settling down and having a more “serious” career than high school coach and gym teacher. April reluctantly agrees, but when dinner turns into a weekend trip, it becomes hard to tell what’s real and what’s been just for show. But when the weekend ends, so must their fake relationship.

As summer begins, Faire returns to Willow Creek, and April volunteers for the first time. When Mitch’s family shows up unexpectedly, April pretends to be Mitch’s girlfriend again…something that doesn’t feel so fake anymore. Despite their obvious connection, April insists they’ve just been putting on an act. But when there’s the chance for something real, she has to decide whether to change her plans–and open her heart–for the kilt-wearing hunk who might just be the love of her life.” (Goodreads)

I’m always worried about continuing on with a series because sometimes the next book just doesn’t live up to the hype. I loved Mitch from the beginning so I was really hoping this book would be good and guys, it didn’t let me down! I laughed and I cried. This author knows how to give me all the feelings.

The book is told in the perspective of April. In the first two books there isn’t much from her but I did like getting to know her better in this one. She is facing a lot of change when it comes to her daughter graduating high school and an ex-husband who left her who now wants to congratulate their daughter who he has never even met. No wonder she goes to a bar and runs into Mitch who rescues her from a guy who doesn’t understand the word no.

Even though this is a romance, there is a lot of development when it comes to April. I loved seeing her grow and realize that sometimes we just have to break free and do things we wouldn’t normally do or change our plans for something better.

Mitch is a sweetheart and I love him to pieces! I can’t ever get enough of him. We are used to seeing the confident side of him and this time around there is a more vulnerable side. In those moments it was easy to understand him and I seriously loved April for standing up for him when it came to his family belittling him about his job choice. There is nothing wrong with not getting a degree that pays more. Do what you love! Success shouldn’t be determined by how much money you make. Success is also weighed differently by person and if one person loves what they do than who cares! I’ve seen this type of thing in person and it just annoys me to no end.

Emily, Simon, Stacey, and Daniel are back as side characters and I always like seeing how their lives are going. Emily and April also share a great sibling bond.

When it comes to the romance of the book, I loved it all! The plot of fake dating is mentioned very early on when Mitch asks April to be his fake girlfriend for a family affair. The banter between them was hilarious. The book is just funny in general! It doesn’t take too long for them to realize that something is there between them and I liked the journey of them finding out together even if it wasn’t all rainbows and sunshine. Relationships, even fake ones haha, have their obstacles. If you also like the “only one bed” trope then it’s just another reason for you to pick this one up!

Overall, this was another fantastic book to add to the series. I finished it in one day and stayed up way too late but it was just so hard to put down!

Goodreads Monday: It Will End Like This by Kyra Leigh (10/18/21)

Hello Readers!

Goodreads Monday is hosted by Lauren’s Page Turners. To participate, choose a random book from your TBR and show it off.

Title: It Will End Like This
Author: Kyra Leigh
Genre: YA Mystery / Thriller
Publication Date: January 4th, 2022
Publisher: Delacorte Press

For fans of The Cheerleaders and Sadie comes a psychological thriller that reminds us that in real life, endings are rarely as neat as happily ever after. A contemporay take on the Lizzie Borden story that explores how grief can cut deep.

Charlotte lost her mother six months ago, and still no one will tell her exactly what happened the day she mysteriously died. They say her heart stopped, but Charlotte knows deep down that there’s more to the story.

The only person who gets it is Charlotte’s sister, Maddi. Maddi agrees—people’s hearts don’t just stop. There are too many questions left unanswered for the girls to move on.

But their father is moving on. With their mother’s personal assistant. And both girls are sure that she’s determined to take everything that’s theirs away for herself.

Now the only way to get their lives back is for Charlotte and Maddi to decide how this story ends, themselves.” (Goodreads)

I didn’t know about this one until it was put up on Netgalley. They had me at Sadie and The Cheerleaders. I loved those books so I have high hopes for this one!

Does this one sound like something you would read?

Find me on Instagram / Goodreads

-Joanna TheGeekishBrunette (1)