What I’ve Been Fangirling Over Lately: Life Update, Books, & TV Recs

It goes without saying that there are many difficult things going on in the world right. I hope this post finds everyone safe and healthy. I am especially grateful right now for my little corner of the Internet and being able to escape into the world of books and fangirl things for a while.

I’ve talked about this on Instagram and Twitter, but it’s major life update time. As some of you know, I am a college senior. My school had just gotten back from spring break during the second week in March only to find out on that Tuesday, we would be going online until April 3rd. We had the option of staying on-campus or going home, but with all the uncertainty going on, I elected to go back home. I was bummed that I’d basically be home for a month during the last eight weeks of senior year, but felt it was important to me at home with my family, and nothing was going on on-campus. I was also disappointed that this meant that my last college formal had been postponed, but I looked forward to going back a month later.

A Tuesday later, my college decided to officially go online for the semester. To say the least, I was, and still am, devastated. Yes, I have so much to be thankful for right now, and so, so many people have it way worse than me right now. All of my friends and family and myself included are safe and healthy. But I can’t help but think about those senior rites of passages I will be missing and won’t have the opportunity to get back: attending my last formal with my best friends; opportunities to present on my media and communications capstone research; ceremonies celebrating me and my classmates’ hard work; having my last day in the office I’ve worked in as a student employee for three years; saying my official last goodbyes to my best friends and professors; and the one that is hurting me the most right now, getting to walk across that graduation stage with my diploma in hand. My school is trying to work on a solution for this one, and I am really hope that a deferred in-person graduation will one day occur for us.

In light of all this, while I am still doing school work as I have online classes through the first week of May, books and TV have been a even more present comfort in my life right. I tend to not go on book buying sprees as often as I’d like, but I bought 5 books for myself within the first week I was home (thinking of them as early graduation gifts).

Today, I’ll be sharing and discussing the books and TV I’ve been enjoying lately in hope that you might find some comfort in them too. I’ve definitely been spending way too much time on my phone- my only exception in doing so is when I am FaceTiming or texting my friends- so I want to try to delve into more reading and watching this week.

Books

ARCs/Upcoming Releases: What I Like About You by Marisa Kanter &  We Are the Wildcats by Siobhan Vivian – If there’s one thing I really appreciate about social distancing (PSA, please practice it), it’s having the opportunity to catch up on all my review copies. What I Like About You (YA book blogger with a love for cupcakes and an online alias meets her online crush and best friend IRL) and We Are the Wildcats (girls’ field hockey team must deal with a very toxic coach and reunite as a team) were two of my most anticipated releases of the year and they did not disappoint at all. Reviews for both will (with an inspired recipe or two) will be coming in April!

Tweet Cute by Emma Lord – I now also have plenty of time to catch up on early 2020 releases that I missed; insert sigh here that I didn’t put more books on hold before the libraries closed- I’ll read you soon, Of Curses and Kisses & Anna K . My weekend read was Emma Lord’s Tweet Cute, which I am still utterly obsessed with! It was such a fantastic romance and I basically want to make 50 blog posts with recipes inspired by the book.Read More »

A NEW SJM FAVE: House of Earth & Blood Review

Whenever Sarah J. Maas comes out with a new book, it gets immediate priority on my to-read pile. According to my Goodreads, I had Crescent City on my TBR since May 2018, so I had plenty of time to plan my reading around its release. House of Earth and Blood, the first book in the Crescent City series, is SJM’s latest release since Kingdom of Ash came out in October 2018, so it was such an exciting experience going to the bookstore on release day and pick up her first adult fantasy book.

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I highly recommend checking out SJM’s Crescent City Q&A on the World of Sarah J. Maas YouTube channel. Since she cancelled the Crescent City tour due to the health climate, SJM and her husband, Josh aka Papa Maas, hosted a live show answering readers’ questions about the new series and basically anything SJM related. With no spoilers, they shared a lot of fun details about the book and Sarah’s writing process. I loved when SJM talked about the cover design and revealed the hidden details within. She also talked about her life outside of being an author, from how she met her husband to what it’s been like being a mom and her struggle and journey with anxiety and depression. Although she warned that things could change, it looks like we’ll be getting the first book in the Nesta ACOTAR spin-off series and Crescent City #2 in 2021. Like Crescent City, the Nesta spin-off will also be considered adult fantasy. SJM revealed that the new ACOTAR covers coming in June are meant to grab more adult readers.

As one of my go-to authors, I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t even need to read the full synopsis of her books anymore to know if I’ll pick them up or not- the answer is always yes! Of course, having loved SJM’s young adult books about Fae, I was even more excited for Crescent City when it was announced that this urban fantasy series would follow a young half-Fae woman on a mission to find the demon that murdered her closest friends two years prior.

Summary (from the publisher): Bryce Quinlan had the perfect life—working hard downloadall day and partying all night—until a demon murdered her closest friends, leaving her bereft, wounded, and alone. When the accused is behind bars but the crimes start up again, Bryce finds herself at the heart of the investigation. She’ll do whatever it takes to avenge their deaths.

Hunt Athalar is a notorious Fallen angel, now enslaved to the Archangels he once attempted to overthrow. His brutal skills and incredible strength have been set to one purpose—to assassinate his boss’s enemies, no questions asked. But with a demon wreaking havoc in the city, he’s offered an irresistible deal: help Bryce find the murderer, and his freedom will be within reach.

As Bryce and Hunt dig deep into Crescent City’s underbelly, they discover a dark power that threatens everything and everyone they hold dear, and they find, in each other, a blazing passion—one that could set them both free, if they’d only let it. 

 

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

It’s no surprise to anyone that I absolutely loved House of Earth and Blood. I am already crying over the fact that I finished it and need the sequel. While SJM’s books tend to be on the lengthy side normally, I read this 799 beast over the course of the week. I did have some other things in life going on at the time aka homework, dealing with a very much altered school schedule, and watching Star Wars, but I found that I couldn’t really fly through House of Earth and Blood because there are so many details. I also didn’t want to necessarily fly through me because I wanted to catch all the details and really enjoy being back in SJM’s writing.Read More »

Funko Wishlist & Collection Part 2

One of my new-to-me fandoms in 2020 has been Star Wars. Star Wars has always been a fandom I’ve really admired, but had never really tried getting into… until my family got Disney+ and my mom and I decided to watch the original trilogy on Christmas. Since then, I’ve completed the original and prequel trilogies and The Mandalorian, and I have started the new sequel trilogy- all I have left is The Rise of Skywalker. That being said, I’ve been looking into Star Wars merch, which of course includes Funko Pops!

IMG_4168As I’m writing this post, I just realized that I haven’t really done any sort of Funko collection update or wishlist since 2018! Since then, I’ve only added four new Funkos: the 2018 San Diego Exclusive Nearly Headless Nick, Luna Lovegood with her Gryffindor Hat, Order of the Phoenix Harry Potter (With Prophecy) and Herbology Hermione Granger (holding the mandrake). This Luna Lovegood was on my original wishlist and was a harder find – I think Barnes and Noble finally had it online in stock about two years ago and I knew it would be one of my few chances at getting it. I had also always wanted a Hermione Granger for my collection and the mandrake version was just so cute to pass up!

While I’d still like to add some of the Funko Pops from my original wishlist to my collection, here are a few more that I would love to grace my bookshelves.

Luke Skywalker and Yoda (Star Wars) – Funko is releasing more Star Wars Funkos for The Mandalorian and for the 40th anniversary of Empire Strikes Back. I know I want some sort of Yoda inspired Funko for my collection and I really love this one of him and Luke.

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Han Solo (Star Wars) – The original Star Wars Funkos are almost impossible to find other than eBay. I’m actually not too crazy about the originals because they were based on Funko’s old design. Han Solo is my favorite character from the original trilogy. I would consider adding the original Han Solo to my collection (for a reasonable price), but I also do like the Solo version of him.Read More »

ANTICIPATED SEQUEL: Girls with Razor Hearts Review

Summary (from the publisher):

46404346Make me a girl with a razor heart…

It’s been weeks since Mena and the other girls of Innovations Academy escaped their elite boarding school. Although traumatized by the violence and experimentations that occurred there, Mena quickly discovers that the outside world can be just as unwelcoming and cruel. With no one else to turn to, the girls only have each other—and the revenge-fueled desire to shut down the corporation that imprisoned them.

The girls enroll in Stoneridge Prep, a private school with suspect connections to Innovations, to identify the son of an investor and take down the corporation from the inside. But with pressure from Leandra, who revealed herself to be a double-agent, and Winston Weeks, an academy investor gone rogue, Mena wonders if she and her friends are simply trading one form of control for another. Not to mention the woman who is quite literally invading Mena’s thoughts—a woman with extreme ideas that both frighten and intrigue Mena.

And as the girls fight for freedom from their past—and freedom for the girls still at Innovations—they must also face new questions about their existence…and what it means to be girls with razor hearts.

 

My Rating: 3.75/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

After really enjoying Suzanne Young’s Girls with Sharp Sticks last year, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the sequel, Girls with Razor Hearts. Girls with Sharp Sticks is set an elite private school, Innovations Academy, where girls are trained to be basically be the perfect companions for men. When Mena begins to suspect that things aren’t what they seem to be, her and the girls begin to rebel against their instructors and investigate what their school’s true agenda.

Girls with Razor Hearts was a solid follow-up novel to Girls with Sharp Sticks. Based on its sequence of events and ending, I suspect that there is going to be at least one more book in this series. That being said, Girls with Razor Hearts did fall into middle book syndrome. In the sequel, Mena and her friends must adjust to life outside of Innovations Academy, which includes facing their past trauma and stress. The girls are also on a mission to find the son of one of Innovations Academy’s prime investors at theor new and almost equally-sexist-as-Innovations school.

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favorite poetry collection: break your glass slippers review

Summary (from the publisher):

amanda lovelace, the bestselling & award-winning author of the “women are some kind of magic” poetry series, presents a new companion series, “you are your own fairy tale” the first installment, break your glass slippers, is about overcoming those who don’t see your worth, even if that person is sometimes yourself. in the epic tale of your life, you are the most important character while everyone is but a forgotten footnote. even the prince.

 

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My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

I am a firm believer that everyone needs to read a poetry collection now & then (or more often than that, if that’s your reading jam). One of my go-to authors for when I’m in a poetry mood is amanda lovelace.  I really enjoyed the princess saves herself in this one and the witch doesn’t burn in this one, the first two books in the women are some kind of magic series. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to review her upcoming collection, break your glass slippers. break your glass slippers is the first book in amanda’s latest series, you are your own fairytale, and this first collection puts a spin on Cinderella.

I’m so happy I read break your glass slippers when I did. As soon I finished reading it, I found myself going back to the beginning and rereading so many of the poems. amanda lovelace covers a wide range of sensitive topics, including abuse, toxic relationships and friendships, sexual harassment, eating disorders, trauma, fatphobia, and suicide. All of these topics are forewarned in the very beginning, with reminders to practice self-care and self-love while reading.

The collection is split into three sections. The first section spoke as the most Cinderella retelling-like to me, as about half of the poems take the form of wisdom from the fairy godmother. I especially loved the poems from the fairy godmother. This section is especially focused on the protagonist’s very toxic relationship, something I could not necessarily realte to but still appreciate obviously that amanda lovelace writes about this hard, but very real topic.Yet, there are many universal themes that all types of readers may be able to relate within this section. Although the toxic relationship does take focus, there were so many poems I particularly loved about self-care, self-love, and female friendship.

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Contemporary Romance TBR

Since about mid-2019, adult contemporary romance has been the genre I’ve been craving the most. I absolutely fly through most books in this genre, yet I find myself unsuccessfully attempting to take my time reading them because I want to enjoy them as long as possible. Everyone knows I love binge-reading series, but I’ve been trying not to binge-read the books in the series so I know I always have a book to look forward to.

Since I’ve been practically adding more contemporary romances to my TBR whenever I’m scrolling through Goodreads, today I’ll be sharing which adult & new adult contemporary romances I plan on reading (hopefully soon). I’ve divided this TBR by released books and 2020 releases still to come.

Well Met by Jen DeLuca – I’ve decided that on my next bookstore trip (or whenever I get a Barnes & Noble coupon) I’ll be buying Jen DeLuca. I’ve heard so many great things about this ren-faire inspired romance from many contemporary-loving bloggers. There will be also be two more books set in the Well Met world, Well Played (September 29) and Well Matched (2021).

Not the Girl You Marry by Andie J. Christopher – Not the Girl You Marry has received some mixed reviews, but I read its synopsis while strolling through the romance section in the bookstore and still added it to my TBR. I haven’t read a book set in the city in a while, and I love how the female protagonist, Hannah, is an event planner.

Roomies by Christina Lauren – I could probably dedicate a whole TBR to Christina Lauren books (actually, that’s not a bad future post idea…). Roomies received a ton of love and attention when it first came out in 2017, and I think it’s time for me to see what the hype is about.

Heidi’s Guide to Four Letter Words by Tara Sivec & Andi Arndt – What the main character does in Heidi’s Guide to Four Letter Words honestly sounds like something I would do. After being fired from her job as a kindergarten teacher, Heidi starts a podcast reading the steamy scenes from romance novels and finds way more success than she could have imagined.Read More »

MUST-READ SPORTS ROMANCE: Playbook Series Review

Sports romance is one of the many ways you could describe my reading life in 2019 and 2020. From Elle Kennedy’s Off-Campus and Briar U series to Lyssa Kay Adams’ The Bromance Book Club, I have been especially craving new adult and adult romance series that involve protagonists who are in relationships with professional athletes. I find myself rating almost all of these books 5 out of 5 stars because I genuinely enjoy them so, so much!

Enter Alexa Martin’s football romance series, Playbook, which includes Intercepted, Fumbled, and Blitzed. The wife of an ex-NFL football player, I love how Alexa Martin brings some personal experience to this series. As a football fan myself, I really appreciated how this series incorporates football alongside romance, family, friendship, and the plot overall.

Intercepted 

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

41V+0iO3ZkL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Intercepted was easily one of my favorite binge-reads of 2019. I read this book in two sittings, between the first one hundred pages and then the remainder of the book. Intercepted follows Marlee, a website designer and long-time girlfriend of Denver Mustangs football player, Chris. Marlee struggles fitting in with the Denver Mustangs WAGS (wives and girlfriends) club, the Lady Mustangs. Things get way more complicated when a football-playing, one night hook-up from her past, Gavin Pope, joins the Mustangs. When Chris cheats on Marlee one last time, Marlee finds herself once again falling for Gavin.

Intercepted was such a fun and entertaining read. A few reviews I’ve read have had problems with Marlee’s use of hashtags, but I didn’t really mind them and found myself relating to a few. “#SaintLukeBryan” is a personal favorite of mine! Much of the plot revolves Marlee’s combatting of the Lady Mustangs with her best friend, Naomi,  and the pressure and gossip surrounding her relationship with Gavin. However, one of the other major plot lines that I really enjoyed was Marlee’s balancing her career and personal apsirations with dating a NFL star like Gavin. Marleee does not at all want to give up her career and personal goals to become Gavin’s personal cheerleader- not that Gavin expected her to. Marlee is such a strong character and Gavin gives her space while yes, helping her fight some battles.

When it comes to the romance, Alexa Martin certainly delivers on the steam. There aren’t too many romance chapters, but the five to six scenes were very well-written. Outside of the romance, I really liked this installment’s balance of plot with football Marlee certainly knows her football, and I loved how realistic the story became when it came to contracts and free agents.

Fumbled 

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

fumbMy final read of 2019, Fumbled was another great binge-read. I didn’t loveeeee it as much as I loved Intercepted, but it was a really solid installment in this companion series. I wasn’t into the premise as much as I had been with Intercepted, but the relationship development, plot, and characters were still really well done. Fumbled follows single mother Poppy Patterson, who feels like she’s finally found a new normal while raising her nine year-old son in Denver. When she unexpectedly runs into her ex-boyfriend and starting wide receiver for the Denver Mustangs, TK Moore, at the club she works at, their suppressed feelings for one another suddenly rush back in. There’s some pretty big secrets between the two that make their relationship anything but easy.Read More »