Monstress, Vol. 1: Awakening by Marjorie M. Liu, Sana Takeda – Spoiler Free Review

Publisher: Image Comics

Publication Date: July 19, 2016

Genre: Fantasy, Steampunk, Graphic Novel

Adventure Rating: 4.5 Stars

Amazon

” Set in an alternate matriarchal 1900’s Asia, in a richly imagined world of art deco-inflected steam punk, MONSTRESS tells the story of a teenage girl who is struggling to survive the trauma of war, and who shares a mysterious psychic link with a monster of tremendous power, a connection that will transform them both and make them the target of both human and otherworldly powers.”

I guess this could kind of be a mini review? This is my first time ever reading a graphic novel and I loved it! I am so glad a friend picked this for our book club!

The art is GORGEOUS. I stared at the art for a good long while on each page. It was gore and blood but really interesting and fun to read. I like the lore the author came up with. I am very interested to see where it takes Maika, Kippa (a little fox girl), and Ren (a talking cat)! I can’t wait to see more of what exactly Maika is and what she can do. You figure things out as Maika figures them out. I like that mystery aspect.

I really love the mix of science, magic, and machinery. The items those things combined make are really interesting. But scary in the witch women’s hands! This really would make such a cool show or movie!

What are your favorite Graphic Novels?

*Book sleeve, as always, is from Love You More Studio! Use my code to save 10%! Code: Storied10

*Amazon link is my affiliate link*

A Touch of Death by Rebecca Crunden – Feature

Publisher: Rebecca Crunden

Publication Date: February 23, 2017

Genre: Sci-fi, Dystopia, Fantasy

Amazon

A thousand years in the future, the last of humanity live inside the walls of the totalitarian Kingdom of Cutta. The rich live in Anais, the capital city of Cutta, sheltered from the famine and disease which ravage the rest of the Kingdom. Yet riches and power only go so far, and even Anaitians can be executed. It is only by the will of the King that Nate Anteros, son of the King’s favourite, is spared from the gallows after openly dissenting. But when he’s released from prison, Nate disappears.

A stark contrast, Catherine Taenia has spent her entire life comfortable and content. The daughter of the King’s Hangman and in love with Thom, Nate’s younger brother, her life has always been easy, ordered and comfortable. That is, where it doesn’t concern Nate. His actions sullied not only his future, but theirs. And unlike Thom, Catherine has never forgiven him.

Two years pass without a word, and then one night Nate returns. But things with Nate are never simple, and when one wrong move turns their lives upside down, the only thing left to do is run where the King’s guards cannot find them – the Outlands. Those wild, untamed lands which stretch around the great walls of the Kingdom, filled with mutants and rabids.

This sounds so good! It seems to check all of my boxes. I really enjoy dystopian fantasies. I love supporting indie authors when I can too. So, go check out her books!

What are some of your favorite indie authors?

*Book Sleeve is by Love You More Studio! Save 10% by using my code, STORIED10*

*Amazon link is my affiliate link*

Unique Gifts for Book Lovers

As a book lover, I find other book lovers very easy to shop for. However, I can understand how a non-book lover would have a hard time with us! So, let me give you some cool and unique gift ideas for the book lover in your life! (How many times can I put ‘book lover’ in a paragraph?)

These are some shops that I have personally bought from, love, and can attest to their quality. I will try and put their Black Friday deals here, as well as some coupon codes if you can’t make the Black Friday deals! (Coupon codes are not combinable with Black Friday deals)

Book Sleeves They are this nifty invention that keeps your books safe from wear and tear in your bags. I have found that something like this started back in the 90s! My go-to place is Love You More Studio.

Coupon Code: Storied10 to save 10%.

Black Friday Deal: BOGO 50% off their ‘Great Gift’ sleeves 11/29- 12/01. 15% off winter and Christmas sleeves 11/29 only (with a code, check their Instagram for this). PLUS a free little gift for every purchase all weekend!

Book Signs These are so fun to use as decorations! You can customize them to say anything you want as well as the color and font. Check out Bookish Signs and More. They are really easy to work with. They also have bookish ornaments, decals, bookmarks, wine glasses, some sprayed edges books, and mini signs!

I love getting signs with different book places on them!

Coupon Code: Lauren10 to save 10%

Black Friday Deal: 10% off the whole shop, 20% off purchases of $40 or more, free shipping at $35. Ends 12/02.

Book Inspired Tea Got a book lover whose go-to drink is tea? Get them some book inspired tea! A shop that I highly recommend is The Simply Bookish Co. Their tea is amazing. They also have mug rugs (which are hand sewn coasters), bookmarks, mugs, buttons, and coasters!

Coupon Code: Storied10 to save 10%

Black Friday Deal: 11/26 $1 Bookmarks, 11/27 $6 Tea Tins, 11/29 Gift Sets & $5 baggie sets, 12/1$10 Grab bags and a la carte mugs

Minimalist Book Shirts I can’t tell you how much I love Not Very Lady Like. They have gorgeous Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings designs. Their shirts are really comfy too. I wear mine quite often. They also have glass mugs (these were actually my first obsession from them!), tote bags, magnets, and blankets.

Coupon Code: Lauren10 to save 10%

Black Friday Deal: 10-15% off 11/29-11/30 and keep an eye out for a possible Cyber Monday sale!

Artsy Book Merch/ Baby Book Merch Sweet Sequels has some of the most beautiful art I’ve ever seen. I have two large paintings of maps she did hanging up in my library/ office. She has a really large variety of items including cloth bound books for babies and swaddles! She also has mugs, bookmarks, book sleeves, tapestry, blankets, shirts, pillows, and more!

Code: Wellread10 to save 10%

Black Friday Deal: Past exclusive tees available 11/30, 20% off on Cyber Monday

Pins Pins are are really fun way to dress up your jacket or bag. My favorite pin designer is Dust and Pages! She has pins from all sorts of fandoms. I have quite a large selection and am trying to basically collect them all. These make great stocking stuffers!

Black Friday Deal: BOGO 50% off from midnight Black Friday to 12/6.

Wooden Bookmarks I am also in the process of collecting In the Reads bookmarks. She has beautiful artwork! I also love her Lord of the Rings style maps, one of which is hanging up in my office/ library. She also has these really unique coasters! The bookmarks make a good stocking stuffer!

Code: Cayla10 to save 10%

Candles Every book lover needs a candle to set the reading mood. These are a variety of different label styles, and all are companies I have bought from and love. A few of my favorites are:

MLC Co – They have these sorting candles that are so fun to see what house, or sect, or court, or whatever you get sorted into! They also have amazing bath products and a monthly subscription box!

Coupon Code: MLCBunny for 10% off

Rhodes and Wick – I love that you can put their candles anywhere in your house and it would fit your decor style.

Some other candle shops worth checking out: Novelly Yours, Say Anything Studio, and Gillywick Goods.

Jewelry Book inspired jewelry is such a fun way to display your love of books. Check out Bookish Adventures Shop.

Coupon Code: Belles10

Black Friday Deal: 11/29 All jewelry and bookmarks will be 25% off, 11/30 All clothing and accessories will be 20% off, 12/02 The entire shop will be 15% off, 11/29-12/02 Get a FREE surprise pin button or magnet with all orders over $20

Book Subscription Boxes These are a few boxes that I have gotten and loved and that would be a perfect gift weather you get them a one-time box or a subscription!

Young Adult: Owl Crate, Fairyloot, Fae Crate

Adult Fiction: The Bookish Box (they also have a YA option)

Adult Romance: Bae Crate (Coupon Code: Storied5 to save 5%)

Artsy: Nerdy Post

Hopefully this was helpful and not overwhelming! There are many, MANY more bookish shops that are out there and are wonderful. I hope you find the perfect gift for your book lover! And a good deal too!

*Pictures are mine*

Net Force: Dark Web by Jerome Preisler, Tom Clancy, and Steve Pieczenik – Spoiler Free Review

Publisher: Hanover Square Press

Publication Date: November 26, 2019

Genre: Adult Fiction

Adventure Rating: 3 Stars

Amazon

The return of the cutting-edge thriller series Net Force, created by Tom Clancy and Steve Pieczenik and written by Jerome Preisler.

The number one threat to our nation’s security is in cyberspace. The new US president wants to tackle the urgent problem head-on and launches a top secret line of defense: Net Force. But before the organization can be announced, the country is hit by an unprecedented, two-pronged terror attack.

Not yet empowered by Congress nor embraced by a dubious intelligence community, still untested, unproven and officially unnamed, Net Force’s elite group of cyber experts and field operatives must lead the fight against the ongoing waves of hacks while tracking down the mastermind. Their failure could mean global catastrophe. Success may lead them to become the highest-level security agency in the United States.

A story that seems ripped from tomorrow’s headlines, Net Force: Dark Web relaunches one of the most prescient thriller series at a time when cybersecurity is more vital than ever. “

*Thank you to the publisher and Net Galley for the e-arc in exchange for an honest review*

This is not a book I would normally pick up, however the publisher reached out to me and I thought I would try something outside of my reading comfort zone. It wasn’t exactly my cup of tea so I am rating based on what I would rate it if this is the type of genre I normally read. If that makes sense.

Likes The writing was really well done and easy to follow. When the action picked up, it was non-stop. I also liked the plot. It was really scary how accurate it could be! A cyber threat is really scary especially with the fact that almost everything runs through the system now. I really liked reading about the HIVE and how Alex gave it an Audrey Hepburn voice. What HIVE could do, a very real seeming virtual reality, was awesome! I liked that the author and creator came up with a plot so vast and intelligent that it seemed so real.

Dislikes It was really slow until a little over 50% of the way through. Then it was really interesting. I also didn’t connect with any of the characters. I just didn’t feel for them.

Final Thoughts I did like this overall. It ended on a cliff hanger! I really want this to be a movie. I think I would like it even more!

What are some books that are out of your reading comfort zone?

Down the TBR Hole #4

This is a blog meme created by Lia, Lost in a Story!

“Down The TBR Hole is a meme that revolves around cleansing your TBR of all those books you’re never going to read and sort through it all to know what’s actually on there.

Most of you probably know this feeling, your Goodreads TBR pile keeps growing and growing and it seems like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. You keep adding, but you add more than you actually read. And then when you’re scrolling through your list, you realize that you have no idea what half the books are about and why you added them. Well that’s going to change!

It works like this:

  • Go to your goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 (or even more!) if you’re feeling adventurous) books. Of course, if you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time.
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?”

Okay, at the end of my last TBR Hole post I had 1148 books on my TBR. I now have 1150. I’m still getting better! I’m not adding crazy amounts every month! I usually do 10 books with these so let’s get started! Clicking on the book takes you to it’s GoodReads page.

#1 Fatal Tide (East Salem Trilogy, #3) by Lis Wiehl with Pete Nelson

I have no interest in this trilogy anymore. I read the first book a long time ago and from what I remember, I don’t think I’d like it anymore.

SEE YA

#2 The Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortunate Events, #1) by Lemony Snicket

I still want to read these! I’m sure they’re short so maybe I can speed my way through!

KEEP

#3 The Princess Bride by William Goldman

I know the book is different than the movie, and I love the movie, but I still want to read this.

KEEP

#4 The House by the Sea by Santa Montefiore

I feel like I would love this as a movie but I can’t tell about reading it. I don’t know. Maybe I should keep it. Sometimes I’ve been in the mood for stuff like this just not often.

KEEP

#5 Doon (Doon, #1) by Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon

This doesn’t really sound like something I would like anymore.

SEE YA

#6 Little Woman and Me by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

I have no interest in this.

SEE YA

#7 Venom (Secrets of the Eternal Rose, #1) by Fiona Paul

I kind of think this sounds interesting still! A mystery in Renaissance Venice? Sounds fun!

KEEP

#8 All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill

This sounds pretty good! I don’t usually like standalone’s, but it sounds fun.

KEEP

#9 Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There (Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland, #2) by Lewis Carroll

No thoughts here!

KEEP

#10 Becoming Myself: Embracing God’s Dream of You by Stasi Eldredge

I loved Captivating so I definitely want to read this!

KEEP

Making progress! I now have 1146 books on my TBR! That’s the lowest it’s been in awhile! How many do you have?

Below (North, #1) by Alexandria Warwick – Spoiler Free Review

Publisher: Wolf Publishing

Publication Date: February 04, 2020

Genre: Fantasy, YA

Adventure Rating: 4 Stars

Amazon

From the author of The Demon Race comes a YA dark fantasy series inspired by Inuit mythology.

In the heart of the frigid North, there lives a demon known as the Face Stealer. Eyes, nose, mouth—nothing and no one is safe. Once he returns to his lair, or wherever it is he dwells, no one ever sees those faces again.

When tragedy strikes, Apaay embarks on a perilous journey to find her sister’s face—yet becomes trapped in a labyrinth ruled by a sinister girl named Yuki. The girl offers Apaay a deal: find her sister’s face hidden within the labyrinth, and she will be set free. But the labyrinth, and those who inhabit it, is not as it seems. Especially Numiak: darkly beautiful, powerful, whose motives are not yet clear.

With time slipping, Apaay is determined to escape the deadly labyrinth with her sister’s face in hand. But in Yuki’s harsh world, Apaay will need all her strength to survive.

Yuki only plays the games she wins. “

*Thank you to the author for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review!*

I am a huge fan of Warwick’s. I am going to try an explain this, her writing makes me feel nostalgia. Below made me feel like watching The Never Ending Story and Labyrinth (It was not in any way based on those, just how it made me feel!). It just felt like my childhood. If that makes any sense.

Apaay has to battle sever weather, wild animals, survive Yuki’s nightmares come to life, survive being a prisoner, and survive Yuki’s punishments. There is a lot Apaay survives. It was very intense at some parts. I loved her never-give-up personality. She fought for those shes loves no matter the cost to herself. And there were high prices for her fight. I actually cried at one point. I NEVER cry reading. It hurt.

One thing I REALLY loved was the healthy and loving friendship she has with Ila! You don’t really see that a lot in books without it turning into a love story or something. I loved them!

Warwick also has an underlying message in her books. In Demon Race, it was forgiveness, and in Below, it was you are enough. Beautiful.

I wish there was a little more explaination of what Yuki and The Face Stealer were and where they came from. It was a bit confusing at times, BUT it left a ton of mystery to be solved for the next book! Which I need and can’t wait for!

What are some mythologies you love?

*Amazon link is my affiliate link*

*Book Sleeve is from Love You More Studio. Code: STORIED10 to save 10%*

The Bridge Kingdom (The Bridge Kingdom, #1) by Danielle L. Jensen – Spoiler Free Review

Publisher: Context Literary Agency

Publication Date: August 13, 2019

Genre: NA, Fantasy, Romance

Adventure Rating: 5 Stars

Amazon

” What if you fell in love with the one person you’d sworn to destroy?

Lara has only one thought for her husband on their wedding day: I will bring your kingdom to its knees. A princess trained from childhood to be a lethal spy, Lara knows that the Bridge Kingdom represents both legendary evil – and legendary promise. The only route through a storm-ravaged world, the Bridge Kingdom controls all trade and travel between lands, allowing its ruler to enrich himself and deprive his enemies, including Lara’s homeland. So when she is sent as a bride under the guise of fulfilling a treaty of peace, Lara is prepared to do whatever it takes to fracture the defenses of the impenetrable Bridge Kingdom.

But as she infiltrates her new home – a lush paradise surrounded by tempest seas – and comes to know her new husband, Aren, Lara begins to question where the true evil resides. Around her, she sees a kingdom fighting for survival, and in Aren, a man fiercely protective of his people. As her mission drives her to deeper understanding of the fight to possess the bridge, Lara finds the simmering attraction between her and Aren impossible to ignore.

Her goal nearly within reach, Lara will have to decide her own fate: Will she be the destroyer of a king or the savior of her people? “

First of all, thank you to the publisher and MTMC Tours for the free book to review!

FIVE FREAKING STARS. Okay? I flipping loved this book. It’s been a long time since I’ve obsessed over a book like this. This was one of my most anticipated reads of this year and it did not disappoint. I don’t have any dislikes so I’ll just dive right in!

Lara is a perfect, slightly flawed heroine. Yes, those two things can go together. She has been trained since she was 5 years old (for 15 years!) to be an assassin. And the book starts her out with a bang. My gosh. Her skill set is enviable. She wasn’t the best assassin out of all her sisters but she was the most clever and that gets her a long way! Even with Aren! Aren is a swoon worthy love interest. He is passionate, strong, good looking, and his people respect and love him. I shipped him and Lara right off the bat. Their chemistry was off the charts! Jensen matched them perfectly.

Let’s talk about the plot. Now, it’s not a unique plot to have a girl assassin trained for most of her life for a purpose, HOWEVER, who cares because I really like that trope. Plus pair it with a unique world and setting and it becomes fresh. I liked how it wasn’t insta love between the characters. The author did a REALLY good job of them knowing the difference between instant LUST and LOVE. And I actually appreciated their ability to not act on that lust (until it became love). It was unique. And can we talk about the cool bridge?! What a cool concept! It is a different piece to add in the book that I loved. It is a trade route, defense, and a few other things to the people of Aren’s kingdom. And it is the central piece of taking his kingdom down.

Everyone who loves fantasy romance, this is a must read. The writing is beautiful, the characters have growth, the world is lush and one I want to visit, some cool battle scenes, and there is a HEARTBREAKING CLIFF HANGER ending. I want the next book so, so bad.

What was the last book that you were obsessed with?

*Amazon link is my affiliate link*