Top 5 Saturday: Books set in the Forest!

Welcome back to another Top 5 Saturday! Just in case you don’t know Top 5 Saturday is a weekly meme created by Mandy @ Devouring Books and it’s where we list the top five books (they can be books on your TBR, favourite books, books you loved/hated) based on the week’s topic. You can see the upcoming schedule at the end of my post 🙂 This week’s topic is actually: books set in the forest.

I focus most of my Top 5 Saturdays on books that are still on my TBR but this week I thought I’d take a look at five favourite books that are set in the forest. There’s a good mix of fantasy, romance, horror, and mystery in this lot and they were all wonderfully atmospheric reads—the forest often felt alive in these settings! Without further ado… Here are my recs for you!

The Bear and the Nightingale

At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.

After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.

And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village.
Read more…

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Top 5 Saturday: Books with Bones on the Cover!

Welcome back to another Top 5 Saturday! Just in case you don’t know Top 5 Saturday is a weekly meme created by Mandy @ Devouring Books and it’s where we list the top five books (they can be books on your TBR, favourite books, books you loved/hated) based on the week’s topic. You can see the upcoming schedule at the end of my post 🙂 This week’s topic is actually: Bones on the Cover

It’s been a hot minute since I did a Top 5 Saturday post but of course I had to come back on the day when the topic is a toughie (for me!) LOL. 😂 It took a little bit of digging on Goodreads but I managed to find 5 books that are on my TBR that have bones on the cover and that I can’t wait to read! ☠️

If We Were Villains

Oliver Marks has just served ten years in jail – for a murder he may or may not have committed. On the day he’s released, he’s greeted by the man who put him in prison. Detective Colborne is retiring, but before he does, he wants to know what really happened a decade ago.

As one of seven young actors studying Shakespeare at an elite arts college, Oliver and his friends play the same roles onstage and off: hero, villain, tyrant, temptress, ingenue, extra. But when the casting changes, and the secondary characters usurp the stars, the plays spill dangerously over into life, and one of them is found dead. The rest face their greatest acting challenge yet: convincing the police, and themselves, that they are blameless.

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Goodreads Monday – How It Feels to Float by Helena Fox

Welcome back to Goodreads Monday! It’s been a very hot minute since I did one but I figured I might as well get back into it! This weekly meme was started by @Lauren’s Page Turners and it invites you to pick a book from your TBR and explain why you want to read it. Easy enough, right? Feel free to join in if you want to! I’ll be using a random number generator to pick my books from my insanely long GR Want-to-read list.*

*Sorry if a book has been featured twice. I need to make better note of which ones I’ve done already!

This week’s featured book is How It Feels to Float by Helena Fox. It’s a Young Adult Contemporary that came out in 2019 and has an average rating of 4.02 with over 3k ratings and just under 1k reviews.

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Top 5 Saturday: Hyped Books

Welcome back to another Top 5 Saturday! Just in case you don’t know Top 5 Saturday is a weekly meme created by Mandy @ Devouring Books and it’s where we list the top five books (they can be books on your TBR, favourite books, books you loved/hated) based on the week’s topic. You can see the upcoming schedule at the end of my post 🙂 This week’s topic is actually: Hyped Books.

There are so many hyped books so this list really could be endless. While I’m always eager to know what the hyped books are, I’m also quite wary of them because I’m intimidated by the hype and I’m always worried that I won’t end up liking the book half as much as everyone else! Though I do get caught up in the hype and I quite often cave in and pre-order or buy the book not long after its been released, they usually end up sitting on my physical/kindle shelves for… A long time before they actually get read. I know you know what I’m talking about, right?! Here are some more “recent” hyped books that I’ve been telling myself to read but have still not picked up!

These Violent Delights

The year is 1926, and Shanghai hums to the tune of debauchery.

A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets red, leaving the city helpless in the grip of chaos. At the heart of it all is eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, a former flapper who has returned to assume her role as the proud heir of the Scarlet Gang—a network of criminals far above the law. Their only rivals in power are the White Flowers, who have fought the Scarlets for generations. And behind every move is their heir, Roma Montagov, Juliette’s first love…and first betrayal.

But when gangsters on both sides show signs of instability culminating in clawing their own throats out, the people start to whisper. Of a contagion, a madness. Of a monster in the shadows. As the deaths stack up, Juliette and Roma must set their guns—and grudges—aside and work together, for if they can’t stop this mayhem, then there will be no city left for either to rule.

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Top 5 Saturday: Intimidating Books

Welcome back to another Top 5 Saturday! Just in case you don’t know Top 5 Saturday is a weekly meme created by Mandy @ Devouring Books and it’s where we list the top five books (they can be books on your TBR, favourite books, books you loved/hated) based on the week’s topic. You can see the upcoming schedule at the end of my post 🙂 This week’s topic is actually: Intimidating Books.

I’m pretty sure I’ve done a similar topic to this quite a few times on the blog already but I always focused on chunky books that intimidated me. So for today’s post I’m going to look at books that I’m intimidated by because of the hype surrounding them. Some of these are classics that I have heard so many good things about and that are often referenced in modern texts, and the others are more recent releases in the fantasy genre that have been so hyped up that I’m a little afraid to pick them up! 😂 Now without further ado, let’s get into it!

Rebecca

A classic that has had several remakes now and that has influenced many art forms, whether it’s movies, books and/or songs. This book intimidates me on various levels but one of the main reasons is because it’s so well-lauded and I’m worried I won’t like it as much?

On a trip to the South of France, the shy heroine of Rebecca falls in love with Maxim de Winter, a handsome widower. Although his proposal comes as a surprise, she happily agrees to marry him. But as they arrive at her husband’s home, Manderley, a change comes over Maxim, and the young bride is filled with dread. Friendless in the isolated mansion, she realises that she barely knows him. In every corner of every room is the phantom of his beautiful first wife, Rebecca, and the new Mrs de Winter walks in her shadow.

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Goodreads Monday – The Bridge Kingdom by Danielle L. Jensen

Welcome back to Goodreads Monday! It’s been a very hot minute since I did one but I figured I might as well get back into it! This weekly meme was started by @Lauren’s Page Turners and it invites you to pick a book from your TBR and explain why you want to read it. Easy enough, right? Feel free to join in if you want to! I’ll be using a random number generator to pick my books from my insanely long GR Want-to-read list.*

*Sorry if a book has been featured twice. I need to make better note of which ones I’ve done already!

This week’s featured book is The Bridge Kingdom by Danielle L. Jensen. It’s a YA** romantasy that came out in 2020 and has an average rating of 4.11 with several thousand reviews/ratings on Goodreads. It’s the first book in The Bridge Kingdom series (1 of 5).

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Top 5 Saturday: People on the Cover

I just had a look for when I did my last Top 5 Saturday and it was back in April! It’s been a long time but earlier this week Mandy announced that they’re bringing back the weekly meme and I’m happy to be taking part in it again! As usual, I’ll be listing the new topics at the end of the post.

Welcome back to another Top 5 Saturday! Just in case you don’t know Top 5 Saturday is a weekly meme created by Mandy @ Devouring Books and it’s where we list the top five books (they can be books on your TBR, favourite books, books you loved/hated) based on the week’s topic. You can see the upcoming schedule at the end of my post 🙂 This week’s topic is actually: People on the cover.

This week I’ll be listing five books from my Goodreads TBR! I’m not always a fan of people on covers, especially when they’re “real” people but I am a huge fan of illustrated characters on covers. I don’t know if I can say that this trend is illustrated people on covers trend is quite new but I have noticed it more and more in contemporary romances over the years, and now in a lot of other genres, too. I hope that these covers will continue being made (especially in romances!) because they’re absolutely some of my favourites 😍 On that note, here are some of my most recent adds to the TBR with people on the cover!

Love and Other Disasters

The first openly nonbinary contestant on America’s favorite cooking show falls for their clumsy competitor in this delicious romantic comedy debut “that is both fantastically fun and crack your heart wide open vulnerable.” (Rosie Danan, author of The Roommate)

Recently divorced and on the verge of bankruptcy, Dahlia Woodson is ready to reinvent herself on the popular reality competition show Chef’s Special. Too bad the first memorable move she makes is falling flat on her face, sending fish tacos flying—not quite the fresh start she was hoping for. Still, she’s focused on winning, until she meets someone she might want a future with more than she needs the prize money.

After announcing their pronouns on national television, London Parker has enough on their mind without worrying about the klutzy competitor stationed in front of them. They’re there to prove the trolls—including a fellow contestant and their dad—wrong, and falling in love was never part of the plan.

As London and Dahlia get closer, reality starts to fall away. Goodbye, guilt about divorce, anxiety about uncertain futures, and stress from transphobia. Hello, hilarious shenanigans on set, wedding crashing, and spontaneous dips into the Pacific. But as the finale draws near, Dahlia and London’s steamy relationship starts to feel the heat both in and outside the kitchen—and they must figure out if they have the right ingredients for a happily ever after. 

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Goodreads Monday – To Best the Boys by Mary Weber

Welcome back to Goodreads Monday! It’s been a very hot minute since I did one but I figured I might as well get back into it! This weekly meme was started by @Lauren’s Page Turners and it invites you to pick a book from your TBR and explain why you want to read it. Easy enough, right? Feel free to join in if you want to! I’ll be using a random number generator to pick my books from my insanely long GR Want-to-read list.*

*Sorry if a book has been featured twice. I need to make better note of which ones I’ve done already!

This week’s featured book is To Best the Boys by Mary Weber. It’s a YA fantasy/dystopia that came out in 2019 and has an average rating of 3.71 on Goodreads.

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Reading the Highest & Lowest Rated Books on my Goodreads TBR…

I was inspired to do this post after watching one of my fave booktubers, Jack Edwards, post a video reading the highest and lowest rated books on his bookshelf. It looked like a lot of fun and I thought, why not give it a go cos it seems like a great way to continue slashing down the TBR!

I initially thought about cataloguing all the unread books on my bookshelf like he did, but I admittedly have a lot more and I was feeling a little lazy! 😬 So instead I decided to take a look at my Goodreads “to-read” shelf, which definitely changes up the dynamic because the list includes books that I don’t own and also books that aren’t published yet. I also realised that would affect the average rating more as I noticed many of the books have a lower number of ratings/reviews, which obviously skews the results that come up top and bottom. So, it was already a little more complicated but instead of abandoning the idea I thought I’d still go through with it and I’m glad I did!

I chose the books based on 1) whether it was out or not and 2) whether I had a copy (physical/digital/ARC)—it’s not a perfect solution but it did end up working for me! In the end, the two books I had to read were: With You Forever by Chloe Liese and The Perfect Date by Evelyn Lozada. Both were ARCs that I had on hand so that was a good start and again, I know it’s not the most perfect system, but I just rolled with it! Here are some stats for the books:

Lowest rating:
The Perfect Date
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: No
Publication: June 2019
GR Rating: 2.61 (1,232 ratings)

Highest rating:
With You Forever (Bergman Brothers #4)
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Yes
Publication: September 2021
GR Rating: 4.73 (203 ratings)

HOW IT WENT: THE READING EXPERIENCE

Although I’ve been in a romance mood for a while, as a mood reader whose moods can flip very quickly, I was a bit hesitant to start the books, though I was also pretty excited about starting this small ‘project’ that I knew could help me get back into reviewing and blogging. Plus, I’d be knocking out two books from my TBR and my ARC list and what’s not to love about that, right?

Thankfully, things went pretty smoothly overall. I read the lowest rated book first which I thought might’ve been a mistake but it ended up working out well in the end. Both are also contemporary romances so I felt that put them on an ‘even’ level to start and I managed to read both pretty quickly, finishing one for each day of the weekend. That said, my reading experience for both books were very different. 🤣

THE NOT SO PERFECT DATE

To say that I didn’t enjoy The Perfect Date would be an understatement and after putting myself through the torture that was reading it, I can understand why this title has the rating that it does. Before I started I thought that it surely couldn’t be that bad—it’s got a cute cover, it’s a single-parent fake-dating trope romance that promises a sweet love story—what could possibly go wrong? The answer is a lot. I mean, a lot can go wrong and if there’s anyone who truly thinks this book had the “perfect date” I would ask them if they were okay. I know that sounds harsh but… this hero is the worst I’ve ever read in a romance to date. He was a condescending, egotistical, misogynistic asshole that did not change and I could not fathom how anyone would consider him perfect in any way. Long story short, it took me until the 10% mark to realise why I never finished this (very overdue) ARC in the first place but I truly wish that I had DNF’d it. It was a slog and I gave it 1 star—my first of 2021. 🥺

STAY WITH ME FOREVER

After finishing that perfectly hot mess, I was honestly unsure whether I wanted to keep reading romance but I thought: this is Chloe Liese, there’s no way I’m not gonna love it. As much as I jinxed myself when I said the first book couldn’t be that bad, I’m so happy to say that I wasn’t wrong about this one. With You Forever is a wonderful addition to the Bergman Brothers series and if you’ve been around my blog for a while, you’ll know this series is one of my all-time faves (shameless plug: check out my reviews for the first three in the series: Only When It’s Us, Always Only You, Ever After Always)! There was so much heart and tender emotion in this book and I only swooned about a thousand times because the slow-burn romance between Axel and Rooney was so not only super steamy but it was beautifully heartwarming as well. I cannot recommend this book (and this series) enough and you just might hear me gushing about it a bit more until release date. I gave it 4.5 swoontastic stars (rounded up)! 😍

DO I AGREE WITH THE RATINGS?

By the time I finished reading both books I couldn’t disagree with their respective ratings on Goodreads. Obviously, Liese’ book has a higher rating with a lower number of reviews, but I do feel that once the book is published and more people read it, its rating will remain high. I was also wondering whether my feelings for The Perfect Date were swayed at all by my knowledge of its low rating, and while I might’ve briefly toyed with the thought, I really don’t think that was the case. The totality of that book (characters, plot and writing) was just not good and I’m honestly a little shocked it was actually published by a major publishing house!

Overall, I had a lot of fun doing this little reading project. I thought it was a great way to bring some different content to my blog (although nothing ground breaking or anything) and it helped me get back into the swing of writing and reviewing! I’m quite tempted to keep doing this for books on my various TBRs: physical, digital, andARCs, and seeing whether those turn out as well as this one did!

If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading! Have you read either of these books or are they on your TBR? Do you have any fun ‘reading project’ ideas that you’ve seen or done yourself? I’d defo love to hear about them!

#TopTenTuesday: Colourful Middle Grade Covers!

So, we’re back with another Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly meme hosted by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s prompt is: Colourful Book Covers.

For this week’s topic I decided to focus on middle grade books because they have some of the BEST colourful covers! Maybe I’m biased because I love illustrated covers and middle grade books always serve hard when it comes to those. You can bet that if I had the money and the space, I would populate a whole section of shelves with these gorgeous books and it’d be fire 😍🔥 This list is a mix of books I’ve read and a few that are still waiting for me to pick them up!

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