BOOK REVIEW: Kaitlyn Deann “The Brand of Anem”

41xtnkquoclTitle: The Brand of Anem

Author: Kaitlyn Deann

Genre: Dystopian/Romance

My Rating: 4.5/5 stars

 

A brand is a divine marking that results out of intimacy and is considered beautiful… unless you’re unwedded.

Margaret James is the Duchess of Deneb and the daughter of the highest political figure in their city: Judge Mark James. She is expected to follow the rules without fail and to never, ever falter to her flesh. She has been pledged to the chief officer, William Lach. But there is one problem with this arrangement…

Margaret James shares a brand with Carson Owens.

Carson belongs to the infamous Owens family and to the Middle Class, which means it’s impossible for him to marry the woman he loves. Despite the rules, the two of them bound themselves together as young teenagers, and now they will do everything in their power to hide the brand given to them by Anem, the goddess of souls. If caught, they will suffer dire consequences.

Getting caught is inevitable.

The first in a series of novellas to follow, The Brand of Anem is a wild ride from start to finish.

Described by the author as an afternoon read, this book, while short, packs a punch. Deann manages to fit a lot of information in a limited number of words, and the story flows in an easy, simple way. We’re introduced to the characters and are immediately swept up in their lives and their forbidden love.

The Brand of Anem poses a lot of interesting questions about right and wrong, morality, sin and love. This will leave the reader with both a wonderful story and hopefully an engaged mind.

I found the world building fascinating and I’m excited to see the author develop on this in the next books. There was the obvious air of mystery regarding the Owens family and their history, and what lies in store for Carson and Margaret. The cliffhanger of this book was devestating and if I don’t get the next installment soon, I’m gonna lose my mind. (Trying to remain professional but on the inside, I’m screaming and using lots of exclamation points. Take that however you’d like.)

Definitely can’t wait to find out what happens next, and I highly recommend this special read!

Kaitlyn Deann: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

The Brand of Anem: Amazon | Goodreads

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Mental Health Update

Good morning, readers! It’s been a little while since I’ve updated my blog, so I thought I’d follow up with some real talk for a bit.

The diagnosis is in: I’m depressed. This diagnosis has actually been in for a while now, but I ignored it the first time. It went a little something like this:

Doctor: “Miss, you’re depressed.”

Me on the outside: “Oh, okay.”

Me on the inside: “Psh, yeah alright, are we done here?” 

I’ve always been scared of it. Depression. If I’m being honest, I knew I was depressed. I had known for a few years, but hearing the words spoken out loud was daunting. I never believed that I had a problem because my issues were nowhere near as bad as other people’s. I never believed that I had a problem because I had a great life: family and friends that love me, a comfortable life, endless opportunities. There was no reason for me to be depressed; how dare I?

What I’m slowly realizing is that it’s not necessarily depression based on circumstances, although things have been rough lately (see; recent miscarriage + life just sucks sometimes?). I finally decided after these recent events that I wanted to find out what was wrong with me once and for all. I decided to seek help.

It took a lot. Months, actually. I decided I was going to talk to my doctor about it back in October, and guess when I finally made the appointment? December. It took me 3 months to make a stupid phone call.

Anyway, I’m set to have my first counseling session soon, and I am not excited. Talking about my feelings with a stranger does not sound appealing to me in the slightest. There’s a 99% chance I’m going to cry in front of said stranger. This is not going to be an easy journey.

However, I owe this to myself. I deserve to feel good and healthy in all ways. I deserve to resolve my mental health, no matter what I’ve been conditioned to believe about depression. My depression has effected my marriage, my physical health, my friendships, my schooling, my energy, my motivation. It has made it difficult to get out of bed, leave the house, lose weight. If I want the other aspects of my life to flourish again, I have to make my mental health a priority.

Like I said, I have a difficult road ahead, but I’ve taken the first steps toward recovery; and those are the most important. It took me about 4 years too long, but better late than never, right? I’ll try to share updates on my journey as this new year progresses and I hopefully begin to see improvements. I have high hopes for 2019 and the things I will accomplish, so look out world!

BOOK REVIEW: Colleen Hoover “It Ends With Us”

817vqET828LTitle: It Ends With Us

Author: Colleen Hoover

Genre: Contemporary/Romance

My Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Ouch, this book hurt.

First of all, I almost didn’t read this. My first experience reading Colleen Hoover was November 9, which I despised. I hated it so much that I DNF’d it. I won’t get into it here, but I’ll just say: gross, controlling male MC. No, thank you.

Yet I decided to give Hoover another chance. I saw that It Ends With Us was a Goodreads Choice Awards winner, so I figured there had to be something good about it. The audiobook was available, so the stars were aligned. I read the book.

Holy crap, it hurt so much.

It’s difficult to talk about what this book is about without giving away too much; let’s just say that one of the heavier topics is domestic abuse. This wasn’t at all what I expected, but in the best way possible. It was beautiful and heartbreaking and so so difficult.

The main character, Lily, faces a few different abusive men in her life, the first of which was her father. Given her circumstances, it’s made her sure that if she ever found herself in a relationship with a man like that, she would never stand for it. She would never go back to him. She would be different.

Yet when she finds herself in a relationship with a man who does hurt her, she finds it’s so much harder when you’re the victim. She justifies it, makes excuses, and tries to write it off. He’s different, he’s not like her father.

When some new information comes to light about her current abuser, I was afraid that Hoover would make it seem like it was okay to stay. Encourage it even. In the end, though, I felt that the topic was dealt with really well. With such a sensitive subject, this book could have easily gone off-course; thankfully it didn’t.

I’m so glad that I gave Hoover another shot and hope to read a few more of her books. Comment your recommendations below!

BOOK REVIEW: Taylor Jenkins Reid “Evidence of the Affair”

41Cfcwc9hcLTitle: Evidence of the Affair

Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid

Genre: Contemporary

My Rating: 4/5 stars

 

For a short story, I’ll be writing a short review (which tends to be my type of review anyway; who wants to read a book about a book?).

This is a story told in letters written between Carrie and David. Their spouses are cheating on them with each other’s spouses. Messy stuff.

It begins with Carrie writing to David to inform him that his wife is having an affair with her husband. She knows this because she’s found some letters addressed to her husband from David’s wife. Carrie asks David if he can look for letters from her husband among his wife’s things because she just wants to know why, and asks if he wants to see his wife’s letters.

So begins the correspondence between the two as they cope with the pain of betrayal and ask each other for advice. What will they do? Will they try to work things out? Will they confront their spouses?

It’s a very easy read, and the end is both satisfying and yet not enough. It makes me wish there had been just a little bit more, or maybe even, dare I say it, a sequel? In such a short amount of time, Reid made me fall in love with Carrie and David. I cared for them both and wanted to see them happy.

I’ve had varying experiences reading Reid’s work, but I can say that this was a win for me.

BOOK REVIEW: Maggie O’Farrell “I Am, I Am, I Am”

81CDbgRQIrLTitle: I Am, I Am, I Am

Author: Maggie O’Farrell

Genre: Memoir

My Rating: 4/5 stars

 

A book about 17 near-death experiences, what could possibly go wrong?

This book was both incredibly interesting and anxiety-inducing. I finished this book with an intense fear of the world and the people in it. There are so many horrible humans who are out to hurt others. The earth itself is full of hazards and animals and things that will kill you. I mean, you can’t read this book and not think about all the ways that you could have died already in your own life. All the near death experiences that you’ve had. It makes you feel so very mortal.

There were parts that made my skin crawl, chapters that made it difficult to breathe, whole segments that made your own heart beat faster for the narrator. There were some parts that dragged, but it was ultimately amazing.

One chapter in particularly shook me to my core, but it’s not exactly a near-death experience. It talked about the author’s several miscarriages, and reading it so close to my own miscarriage was definitely a punch to the gut. It was strangely healing, but definitely hard to read.

O’Farrell’s writing was absolutely beautiful. She conveyed emotions flawlessly and made me feel everything that she had been feeling. It was such a roller coaster of a book, but I would say it was a rewarding one.

Rip It or Ship It!

Goooood morning and welcome to the newest segment on my blog: Rip it, or ship it! I’ve never done this before, so I’m really excited! I asked for submissions on my Instagram page a few weeks ago, and now I’m writing my post. First up, Kylo Ren and Rey.

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Kylo Ren & Rey (Star Wars)

So I’ll be up front and say that I’m not the biggest Star Wars fan; however, I do know and have seen enough to be able to rip or ship Kylo and Rey. That’s a total ship from me! I am a sucker for the enemies-to-lovers trope and these two are as swoony as they come.

Jacob & Bella (Twilight)

Jacob-Bella-Kiss

Honestly, ship it. I was never a huge fan of Edward and I think Bella would have been just as happy with Jacob. Now, I’m not the biggest fan of Twilight anyway; I tend to watch the movies just to make fun of them anyway. But Robert Pattinson has got nothing on Taylor Lautner. Like I’m sorry, there’s no competition for me.

Chuck & Blair (Gossip Girl)

CHUCk-and-blair-happy

Ship. It. I love them so much. Were they a little dysfunctional? Yes, definitely, absolutely, at times. But in the end, they love each other more than 90% of the TV couples out there and I will ship them until the end of days. It got to the point where I only watched Gossip Girl for these two because everyone else sucked.

Lorcan & Cassian (Throne of Glass and A Court of Thorns and Roses)

The person who submitted these two were obviously trying to mess with me, but I’ll humor them. Rip it. Absolutely not. Never in a thousand years. Nope. Also I think Lorcan would murder Cassian; but that’s just my opinion.

Doug & Tracy (Christy Miller series)

Ship it! That one random book where Doug and Christy were dating was really awkward, so I was really glad when Doug and Tracy came to their senses. No photos of these love bird but rest assured, they are precious.

Aelin & Feyre (Throne of Glass and A Court of Thorns and Roses

Y’all are killing me. Le sigh. Something tells me that Feyre may be on board with this match because she’s into strong and sassy, but I don’t think Aelin would be into it. Rip it. 

Kaz & Chaol (Six of Crows and Throne of Glass)

Who even thought to match these two up? I feel like I gotta rip it since it’s kind of difficult to ship anyone with Kaz, particularly a drama queen like Chaol. No disrespect Chaol, but you know it’s true.

Hiccup & Cress (How To Train Your Dragon and The Lunar Chronicles)

This is such a strange pairing, but I could actually see it working. Both are quirky and adorable enough to make me ship it.

Michael Scott & Donna Noble (The Office and Doctor Who)

To the person who submitted this pair (you know who you are)… what is wrong with you? I’m dead. To be honest, I wouldn’t ship anyone with Michael ever, not unless you’re name is Holly Flax. Although it’s hilarious that Catherine Tate (Donna Noble) also played in The Office, although not really alongside Steve Carell. No matter. That’s a big fat rip it from me.

The Darkling & Levana (Shadow and Bone and The Lunar Chronicles)

Huh, this one is actually making me stop and think. Two psychotic characters who have deluded themselves into believing that they’re doing right? I mean, it just might work? Right? I might actually ship it?

John Ambrose McClaren & America Singer (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and The Selection

While I definitely wish absolute happiness for that precious cinnamon roll John Ambrose, I wouldn’t ship anyone with America Singer because she sucks. Rip it.

Carswell Thorne & Nina Zenik (The Lunar Chronicles and Six of Crows)

This is another one that’s making me stop and think. They’re both strong and sassy characters, but I tend to think that opposites attract. So maybe they’d be too alike? I think I’ll rip it for now. But my mind could be changed.

That’s the last of the submissions! This was a lot of fun and I look forward to doing this again. This may have been more the ravings of a fan girl rather than the intelligent musings of a book lover, but that’s okay sometimes right?

BOOK REVIEW: Ruth Emmie Lang “Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance”

91p1dqTF21LTitle: Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance

Author: Ruth Emmie Lang

Genre: Fantasy

My Rating: 4/5 stars

 

Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance is the first Book of the Month that I ever selected. I’m ashamed it’s taken me this long to get to it, considering I’ve read several other BOTM picks since then. Oops.

That being said, I had heard lots of good things about this, so I finally picked it up the other day! Okay, I found the audiobook at my library and I listened to it. Sue me.

That being said, I really enjoyed this. I’m not sure what I expected, although I knew this was a fantasy labeled as “magical realism”. It follows a boy named Weylyn Grey through the perspectives of those closest to them. First there’s the girl who delivers meat for her father to Weylyn and his wolf pack. She’s immediately fascinated by him and his life with the wolves, and over time decides to run away with them. Strange things seem to happen around him, though, but she doesn’t think much of it at the time.

Then there’s the foster family that takes Weylyn in after he and the girl are discovered with the wolves. Specifically his foster sister, who takes a liking to him and bonds with him. There’s the general education teacher who desperately wants children who finds a void filled with Weylyn’s company.

So many people touched by Weylyn’s presence in their lives, while still odd things tend to happen around him. The story sees him well into adult-hood and shows his power over nature and people growing. It’s such a heartwarming, lovely story that will just make anyone feel good.

Weylyn is naive as a child, obviously, considering his time with the wolves, but it seems to follow him years later as a grown-up. I can’t decide if I appreciate this or not. On one hand, his naivety was charming as a child, but it makes him seem clueless and stupid as an adult. But it’s easy to dismiss with such an adorable character like Weylyn.

This was just a very sweet, feel-good story that will be enjoyed by anyone who likes a happy ending.

A Year Full of Beautiful Covers

Listen, I’m not saying I judge books by their covers. I’m just saying, they’re nice to look at, and I’m more inclined to take pictures of them and display them on my shelves and okay maybe I judge books by their covers.

It’s just so hard not to when the books coming out are so dang pretty, and this year’s releases are no exception.

My blog is full of posts talking about books and their contents and reviews of those books. I think I’m entitled to be shallow every once in a while and bask in the beauty of a butt-load of book covers.

So here we go.

51ub94q0GWL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Even though I may not have loved A Very Large Expanse of Sea, the writing on this cover is so aesthetically pleasing. This combination of colors and pretty fonts is perfect, and I’m just disappointed I couldn’t love the inside as much as I loved the outside.

91JGnozCxiLThere is something so wonderfully ghostly about this paranormal re-imagining of Jane Eyre, My Plain Jane. I also happened to really enjoy this read, even more than I did My Lady Jane! Although I’ve never read Jane Eyre before, it definitely made me want to get into the original! And anything that inspires me to want to read classics is a win in my book.

81PYy9EQs1LWhat’s a pretty cover collection without a Schwab title? So I’m mad that this cover isn’t available in the US and I ended up with the blue-ish cover, but I can still admire this beauty from a distance. *soft crying noises* City of Ghosts was such a fun, adorable read, and it has convinced me that Victoria Schwab can literally write anything. Any genre, any age group, anything.

60869Another stunning cover that I think everyone can agree is just jaw-dropping is The Hazel Wood. The gold and silver embossing on this book is to die for; if I hadn’t actually enjoyed this read, I still would have kept it on my shelf just because. This one has such opposing reviews online, but thankfully I found it inventive and haunting and I can’t wait to read the next one!

the-wicked-deep-9781481497343_hrThe Wicked Deep is another obvious one for me, especially for the naked hardcover on the first edition and the beautiful night sky. *heart eyes* Such a lovely, atmospheric read, with writing just as pretty as the cover. I can’t wait to reread this next year around Halloween!

34499221I’ll indulge myself one moment longer and share the cover of To Kill a Kingdom, this beautiful Little Mermaid retelling. I absolutely loved this read, and it gave me hope that retellings aren’t completely hopeless! That’s not to say I don’t enjoy them, but lately they’ve become a little repetitive. To Kill a Kingdom was inventive and unique while still remaining true to the source material.

Thank you for sticking around for my book fashion show. I promise I’ll go back to intelligent musings and discussions after this, but come on. You have to admit. They’re so pretty.

BOOK REVIEW: Felicia Day “You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)”

23705512Title: You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)

Author: Felicia Day

Genre: Memoir/Humor

My Rating: 5/5 stars

 

I actually really enjoyed this.

I say really, because I didn’t expect much from this. To be perfectly honest, I haven’t been exposed to Felicia Day much except for her role in Eureka and a few episodes I’ve seen her in on Supernatural. I knew she was considered “Queen of the Geeks”, so she’s someone that I should know more about since I’m a self-proclaimed geek myself. I knew she was a gamer, but I’m only just now getting into video gaming and it’s definitely just on a recreational, occasional basis.

Moving on, Felicia Day’s memoir was so much more than I could have ever imagined.

First of all, I listened to the audiobook, which was read by her; so listening to her story in her own voice was an experience in itself. It felt like it was being told and read in the way that she intended, so it was perfect. Day is so funny, so her voice was a delight.

Learning about her early life was so interesting. I could definitely relate to her homeschool trials, being homeschooled myself, and found it so interesting that she originally went to college on a violin scholarship. Yet even though she could have made a career out of that, Day realized that she wasn’t passionate about playing violin like she should be. She chased a dream that hadn’t even fully formed yet, and for some reason there’s something so inspiring about that to me.

I’ve struggled myself lately, trying to figure out what I want to do with my life and what kind of career I want to pursue. There aren’t a lot of options for someone who doesn’t have a degree and doesn’t feel good enough to try. But Felicia Day dreamed and she took a leap. She put herself out there.

Amazingly, it wasn’t her work in commercials that launched her fame, but her web series start up. Felicia went against all odds to film a show without any professional help or funding, and she made a name for herself. I think that’s awesome, and it makes me think and realize that I am capable of anything. If she can do it, so can I.

It’s been a long time since a book moved me to become motivated in the way that I am now. It was amazing. I’m so glad that I read this and I think that anyone who needs a little push should read this as well.

The Wonder of Audiobooks

headphones man music person

Photo by Burst on Pexels.com

Hello, my name is Devyn, and I’m addicted to audiobooks.

I mean, it took long enough, right? Audiobooks are amazing. Everyone has been telling me this for years, yet every time I tried ended in failure. I’m not sure why this was, but I just felt like I wanted to be able to clean the house or do laundry while I listened, and I guess I just have a one-track mind. I couldn’t focus on one or the other.

Maybe I wasn’t listening to the right books, but for whatever reason I didn’t discover the wonder of audiobooks until about a week and a half ago. Something just clicked in my head and all of a sudden I got it.

I was listening to The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli and I was suddenly like, “Hey, this is awesome.” It helps that it was read by Pearl Mackie from Doctor Who, so there was an extra level of interest there.

After that, I was a goner. I’ve been listening to audiobooks nonstop ever since then and it has become a problem. But it’s so relaxing! I can lay in bed next to my husband while he’s playing video games, listening to books and coloring. I don’t understand why it took me so long to discover this, but I’m so glad I have now. I’ve been able to blow through my TBR and I’m killin’ it.

Some have been better than others, that’s for sure; but I have to admit that it’s been doing wonders on my reading times. I can listen to an entire book in less than a day. I can go for a walk and listen. Go to the gym and listen. Clean the house and listen. It’s amazing, okay. 

I know I sound like a broken record and many of you are like, “Um, okay crazy lady. I’ve been listening to audiobooks for years.” Okay, hipster reader person you, that’s awesome but I’m just learning it.

And listen, if you’re someone who has been apprehensive about listening to audiobooks or you’ve tried it already and thought it might not be for you, I beg you to reconsider. It’s possible that the books you were listening to just weren’t good. I listened to at least a dozen before this week that just weren’t for me, and even in the last week I’ve listened to one or two that I wasn’t a fan of. So I put them away. It’s okay to quit if you’re not feeling a certain audiobook; just pick another!

Of course there will be some people that never find the right audiobook and will never get into them. That’s cool, and they’re not for everyone. I just think that readers should know all the resources available to them, and audiobooks are a game-changer. I’ve just been checking them out from the library on the Overdrive app, so there’s a good chance that your library does the same sort of thing.

Just try it! You may find that it’ll change your life.