June & July Wrap Up

This summer has simultaneously felt as if it has been a 100 years and just a blink at the same time. I honestly don’t even remember what happened in June, so I really have no excuse on why I didn’t post an wrap up. July on the other hand was hard for me. My company decided to move my store location to a bigger store so we closed the last week of July and packed everything up, moved and then unpacked and staged for the next two weeks and then finally reopened last Friday. So I was working a lot in July and it left me physically, mentally and emotionally drained. With the store reopened my schedule is finally getting back to normal so I am starting to feel like normal. So with out further adieu here are my June and July reads.

Squad 312 is back and they are here to save the universe.

Aurora Burning was one of my most anticipated releases of this year and it did not disappoint me. Since this is a sequel I won’t be going in depth on the plot to avoid spoiling the first one, but I will say that this book broke my heart in the best way possible at the end. I laughed, I cried, I screamed. Finian is still my favorite. Kal and Auri are one of my favorite couples of all time. Everyone please for my sanity go read this series. Its on my all time favorites. Not surprisingly this was a five star read for me.

I have so many feelings about the ACOTAR series that I literally have not been able to shut up about them since June (though technically I read A Court of Frost and Starlight in July). I even have a playlist on Spotify that I update regularly (https://open.spotify.com/playlist/265tcEUdIEQVQ9NIAXPfyN?si=OUq8XDicSDazdU74Em-k-Q) with songs that remind me of the series. I do plan to do an in depth analysis and review of this series cause I think there is a lot to unpack with these books. This series has my #1 spot on my favorite series list. I have already pre-ordered A Court of Silver Flames. Nesta is one of my ABSOLUTE favorite characters and Cassian is my man! Again unsurprisingly all three of these were five star reads.

Civil War reenactments have never looked this good.

I’m not going to lie to you this book felt very strange to read in today’s political climate. I will give it props for pointing out that Civil War reenactments are inherently racist and that there really isn’t anything romantic about a Plantation home. I read this directly after A Court of Wings and Ruin which was both a good thing and a bad thing. Compared to the masterpiece that is ACOWAR, Confederates Don’t Wear Couture doesn’t hold a candle to it, but it is so different that it did help me avoid a reading slump. This is also a sequel to Pilgrims Don’t Wear Pink. As far as contemporary romances go it was cute and easy read. I don’t think I would recommend it to anybody unless they were looking for something hella specific, but I did enjoy it so I did give it 3 stars.

Wanderlust in a book.

Now for a contemporary romance that I absolutely LOVE!! Love & Gelato is the perfect summer read, especially during a pandemic where none of us are going anywhere remotely vacation-y. After the death of Lina’s mother she gets sent to live with the father she never knew about in Italy of all places. Lina is less then thrilled about leaving her best friend, Addie, and everything she has ever known behind, but she soon learns that there is more to her move to Italy then Lina thought. She comes into possession of the journal her mom kept during her time in Italy and Lina begins to unravel the mystery of what happened between her parents and along the way she makes some friends and even meets someone that maybe more. I loved the romance in this book not only between Lina and Ren but Lina’s parents as well. It was so cute and I cannot wait for the third one in this series, Love & Olives, to come out later this year. Love & Luck (which I read in March) is the second one in the series and Love & Gelato is the first, Though it you don’t have to read them in order. If you are a fan of Anna and the French Kiss trilogy then you will adore these books. 5 stars from me!

Their love could cost them their lives.

As you probably have noticed I have been trying to finish up series I have started. Here’s yet another sequel. The Rose & the Dagger is the sequel to The Wrath & the Dawn. I will forever love Khalid and Shazi, but I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I loved the first. I wanted more romance, more magic, more conflict, more tough choices. Just more. It was still a 4 star read though.

Women Supporting Women

Oh look another sequel! I honestly didn’t realize I read this many sequels in the pas couple of months. This book gave me MAJOR The Surface Breaks vibes. Their plots and themes were incredibly similar. I did love the story and much like The Surface Breaks I want more. I felt as if this book was a build up to something more and it ends right before everything goes down. Sea Witch Rising takes place about 50 or so years after Sea Witch and had a backdrop of the very beginning of WWI. I did love the first one better, but this was still 4 stars.

You are stronger then you think you are.

This book was given to my mom by my Great Aunt and then my mom passed it down to me a few years ago when I was going through a hard time. This is a children’s picture book and yet I will never read it and not cry. It has such a beautiful message for those who suffer from depression or any other mental illness. It always makes me feel less alone and reminds me that I do mean a lot to my friends and family and how sad they would be with out me in their lives just like I would be sad if they weren’t there. Its a great tool to discuss mental illness with children and a great story to remind adults that they are loved even when the darkness doesn’t let them feel that love. Five stars for me!

This time its more then just a game… its life and death.

I cannot even begin to tell you how much I love the Caraval trilogy. Legendary is no exception. I normally am not a fan of love triangles, but this one was just so well written that I loved both and wanted her with both I’m not going to lie. I fell even more in love with Julian and Scarlett. Five stars!

May Wrap Up

I have my reading mojo back, baby! May was a really goo reading month for me and I was able to read 6 books. 6 seems to be my cap for the amount of books I read in a month but I am hoping to break that in June.

Shes the Republics IT girl. Hes the Republics most wanted. Together they hate each other.

I read the Legend Trilogy by Marie Lu when it first came out years ago and I loved them. Last year she released a new book in the series, Rebel, and I wanted to reread the first three to remind myself what happened, cause it has been awhile, before I read it. I still love this trilogy and it is very reminiscent of things that are going on in the world today. The story takes place years in the future and the United States has been divided into the Republic of America and The Colonies of America and they have been shaped by massive floods. The Republic and The Colonies have been at war for decades and The Republic has devised a system to create the best soldiers based on genetics and skill called the Trial. June is The Republics prodigy. She comes from an affluent family and is the only person to score a perfect score on her Trial. Day is The Republics most wanted criminal, but they have no idea who he is. He is basically The Republic’s version of Robin Hood. Through a serious of events they are thrown together and they uncover evidence that suggest The Republic may not be what it seems. This is a classic enemies to lovers romance full of espionage, conspiracies, and dystopia realness. I gave this four stars mostly because the romance, despite the enemies to loves plot, it was a bit insta-lovey and it is paced kinda slow. There is a lot of action in it but it was just a tad bit slow. If you love the Divergent series or The Hunger Games series then you will love Legend and I will pretty much always recommend it to people looking for a good YA dystopian.

They want to kill each other. They don’t succeed.

I HAVE SO MANY FEELINGS ABOUT THIS BOOK! So much so I literally sent my friend a copy and made her read it too. This is the first Kathryn Purdie novel I have read and she is such a beautiful writer and I am totally hooked and ordered another one of her books while I wait impatiently for Bone Crier’s Dawn. Bone Cries’s Moon is based off the French folklore Les Dames Blanches or The White Witches (which is the same folklore that Serpent & Dove is based off, but trust me they are very different stories.) The story is told from the point of views of Sabine, Ailesse, and Bastien. Sabine and Ailesse are Leurress’, or Bone Crier’s, that gain the graces of the animals that they ceremoniously hunt, by taking, carving, and wearing the animals bones. They then use these graces are then used to ferry the dead to either Tyrus’s underworld or Elara’s heavens. Sabine only has one grace bone and finds it difficult to take the life of the animals she needs to. She is sweet and loyal and Ailesse’s best friend. Ailesse is fierce and passionate and dreams of joining her mother in ferrying the dead through the gates. To do this she must collect three grace bones and then complete a ritual to lure her amouré, or her soulmate, and then killing him in order to prove her loyalty to Tyrus and Elara. Bastion hate Bone Crier’s ever since one of them killed his father. He has dedicated his entire life, along with his friends Jules and her brother Marcel, to learning about them and waiting for his chance to kill one of their kind. Of course neither Ailesse nor Bastian’s plans go to plan and everything goes awry. If you loved Serpent & Dove you will adore this book! Sabine was my favorite character cause I love her strength and her loyalty to her friend and man she has some MAJOR character development. I love the romance between Bastion and Ailesse. This is the creme de la creme of enemies to lovers (the trope I will die with). I CANNOT wait for February 2021 for the squeal! 5 stars and everyone needs to go read it like ASAP!

Nerds Unite in the Line!

This is just a cute little read about two Star Wars nerds in a line and what that means to them. Its about 60 pages long and just a super cute short bit of fluff. If I am being 100% honest I would love more from this story, but I love it for what it is. Perfect if you are in a reading slump.

Saving the kingdom is a thankless job

Poison was actually published posthumously which is pretty cool. This book gives me like Princess Bride/Monty Python vibes. It has nods to modern life, like apartments and room service, but in a definitely in a middle age type setting. Kyra is a Master Potioner who is on the run for trying to assassinate the the princess… who happens to be her best friend. Unfortunately her assassination attempt failed and in order to save the kingdom she must succeed in killing the princess. In order to try again she needs to find the princess, so with the help of a very adorable pig and an incredibly handsome, slightly annoying stranger named Fred she sets out to do just that. This again was a good quick, fun, fluffy read. The pacing was a bit off and it does feel like it was missing some things, like it wasn’t 100% flushed out. I would definitely recommend it if someone was looking for something specific but I wasn’t really like a mind blowing journey. It was a three star read for me. It was good and it was enjoyable but it was no Bone Crier’s Moon.

Beauty and the Beast with a Fae twist!

So this was a combo between Tik Tok made me read it and Tik Tok made my best friend read it and thus made me read it. And I am so glad that I did! There is so much to unpack with this book cause really its just a moment. Feyre’s family has fallen from wealth and now can barley put food on the table. It is up to Feyre to put food on the table since her father can’t move with his busted knee and her sisters are too busy lamenting over their old life and how far they have fallen. On a hunting expedition Feyre kills a wolf that ended up being a faerie in wolf’s clothing. The fae are a vicious and cruel race that humans fought a war against 500 years ago and have a fragile peace with. To atone for the fae’s murder Feyre is whisked away to the land of Prythian to live out the rest of her days in the Spring Court. Tamlin is the master of the house that serves as her gilded prison. I loved this story so much! The first half of the book is the Beauty and the Beast story we are all familiar with; the second half is where everything gets flipped on its head. Lucian is my man and I love him. He is just the epitome of a sass king and snaps for Lucian. Feyre on the other hand isn’t my fav heroine in a book. She can be annoying at times and I feel like she needs to pay attention more. I love Tamlin I do, but if you are at ALL failure with the hype that is the ACOTAR fandom you know there is better (and there is better). This was another five star read for me and everyone needs to pick it up ASAP. Like seriously go and read it right now. I mean it.

My babies!

I read this book back in August of 2019 and I RAVED about it. Well….. I STILL LOVE IT. This book gives me life and if you want to read my full review it is in my August wrap up. This is one of my all time favorite books and again everyone needs to read it yesterday.

March & April Wrap Up

We interrupt your regularly scheduled quarantine programming for some bookish content (I know finally, right?). I have been in a bit of a reading slump in April not going to lie as I have mentioned before all of this quarantine business has really messed with my schedule and has just thrown me for a complete loop. So, unless I finish Legend by Marie Lu today, I will have only read 2 books for April (Spoiler, I did not finish Legend.). March on the other hand was a very different story, I read 6 books total. Six for some reason tends to be the number I just cannot get past. It is the greatest number of books I have read in one month since I started keeping track. I really want to beat it, maybe May will be the month I do.

Houston, We are Fucked.

I can’t even begin to tell you how much I enjoyed this book. It was such a joy to read and it had everything I need in a book. It is funny at parts, dramatic at others, and emotional in others. I was a bit concerned going into it cause it’s an adult sci-fi novel and I thought I wasn’t going to be able to get passed all the science jargon, but I was actually able to keep up better than I thought I would be able to. Now I cannot explain what Watney did or how he did it, but I could visualize what he was doing so I was not getting lost in the science and math of it all. Weir is a beautiful writer that combines the technical aspects of what he is writing about and the entertainment aspects into a vivid and imaginative story. I also loved how the book jumps back and forth from Mars to Earth I think it really added to the story and it gave way for some truly beautiful one liner. As soon as I finished the book I did go back and watch the movie (again). I saw the movie when it first came out and I had not read the book yet, but I had not seen it since it came out and I wanted to compare it to the book. Lucky for me I was not disappointed at all! For the most part the movie is about 90% book accurate. There were a few things that differed but nothing major and I could see why they took out what they took out and put it in what they put in. They did change one characters last name and his religion, which I do not know why they did, but at least they kept him Indian cause he was Indian in the book. So, nothing was whitewashed which was nice to see. Overall, I give the book 5 stars and the movie 4 stars.

Men are Trash.

There are spoilers in this review.

The Surface Breaks is a feminist retelling of The Little Mermaid by Has Christian Anderson. I enjoyed this book, a solid 4 stars, as far as the feminism goes that really doesn’t come into play till the last 100 pages or so (maybe even 50 pages) but it does make some great commentary about societies view on the place of women in society throughout the book. I wish Gaia had found her inner power a bit earlier in the book I think it would have made for a more compelling plot, but because she didn’t find her strength till closer to the end I really want a sequel of her exploring that strength and bringing down the patriarchy. Alas this book is a standalone and not likely to get a sequel. I did like that as far as retelling go I love that O’Neill incorporated parts of the original story that tend to get left out of retellings, for instance in the original fairy tale when he tail gets turned to legs every step she takes feels like pins and needles and is incredibly painful. It was nice to see O’Neill include this detail. It added to the story as the cost of the magic and a way to manifest the emotional pain she had been suffering for years at the expense of her place within the merpeoples society. Spoiler, but this story does not have your traditional fairy tale ending. Gaia does not end up with the prince in the end in fact she does not even really end up alive. They originally also don’t have a happy ending, she the prince marries another and she turns into sea foam. In O’Neill’s version she ends up turning into a rusalka, which is the Slavic version of a siren. They sing out and lure sailors to their death to seek revenge for how they were treated in their human life. Overall, the story was great and the only reason that it was 4 stars instead of 5 was because it just felt rushed in the end and there could have been more depth to it.

A Bladed Fan is the Perfect Accessory to Any Ballgown.

I cannot even begin to tell you how much I love this series! Carriger just does such a brilliant job with world building and character development that it’s just such an enchanting read (or in my case listen). I have been steadily working my way through the Finishing School series on audio book and I just adore the women who reads them, Moira Quirk, she just has such a lovely voice and it just adds a lovely element to the story. In this installment Sophronia finds herself and her friends mixed up in a Picklemen plot quite accidentally as her original mission was to get Sidheag to Scotland to help her wolf pack. I love Sophronia so much! She is quick witted, strong, adventurous, and loyal, but if I had to pick a favorite it will forever and always be Dimity. I love how her goal is to be the wife of some noble and travel the world before coming back to England and being a staple in society despite going to a school for espionage and all of her friends respect that about her and don’t try to change her. I also love the friendship she has with Sophronia. Even though she isn’t the best intelligencer she always has Sophronia and Sidheag’s backs no matter what. I will say that I am totally Team Soap, but I do adore Felix and Sophronia does not give him enough credit. But Soap is her perfect match, they are always on the same page and they read each other like books. Five Stars!

Two Women. One House. Decades Apart.

Tigger Warning: Themes of Abuse and Rape

Recipe for a Perfect Wife is an absolute must read! I enjoyed it so much. It offers such great commentary on what it means to be married and what it means to be married to the correct person and to not lose yourself in your marriage. Alice Hale is a publishing executive, or at least was until the incident, and lives with her husband in their minuscule apartment in New York City, or again she did till the incident. The Incident changed Alice’s life and had her trading in her minuscule, but beloved apartment, in for a mid-century home that had seen better days (but at least it had a beautiful garden) and trading her extra high work heels for a spatula and ovulation kits. Nellie Murdoch on the other hand is a 1950s housewife. She lives in her modern home with her husband Richard and spends her time tending to her beautiful garden, the best on the block, and making mouthwatering meals. At first glance these women have nothing in common but as Alice delves deeper into fixing up her house, she learns more and more about Nellie’s life in it, but Nellie has her secrets and Alice has her own problems. Brown did a brilliant job crafting a beautifully poignant story about two women decades apart but yet so eerily similar. While Nellie and Alice do not necessarily have the exact same marital issues their husbands harbor some of the same red flags. Richard, Nellie’s husband, tends to be controlling and demanding as well as violent at times. While Nate, Alice’s husband, is never shown to be violent he is demanding and controlling. While Nellie was such a joy to read and I adored her character it was Alice’s character that I resonated with. She is at a point in her life where she is just lost and not sure where the next step all the while dealing with a husband whose life plan is not what she thought it was going to be. Alice had always seen herself as a city girl with a big job in publishing and sure wanted kids but wasn’t ready for them and then all of a sudden she is whisked off to the suburbs to be a housewife and trying for a baby. This book was quick to end up on my favorites of 2020 list! Highly recommend it to anyone looking for something entertaining with some depth to it. This also made me want to start baking and gardening while wearing vintage clothes.

A Girl Can Cut Open Cadavers and be Fashionable.

There is nothing I want more in this world to be a Victorian lady in a Historical YA novel. I love me some Victorian vibes, it is my favorite era other than the reign of the Henry the VIII, and this book brings them hard. I enjoyed Audrey Rose as a character. She is headstrong, determined, quick witted, and fashionable. I do wish she was bit less of the “I’m not like other girls’ trope” though. She doesn’t really have any female friends which I always love to see and there is a bit of insta-love between her and Thomas Cresswell but I will forgive it cause honestly if faced with Thomas Cresswell I would fall in love instantly too. I love the friendship these to have and I also love that Thomas is always impeccable dressed and yet seems to have a complete disregard for all of societies norms. The flirting between these two is absolutely A+. I really enjoyed it and look forward to reading the rest of the series. The only reason I gave it 4 stars and not five is that it was pretty easy for me to figure out who the killer was based on the blurb on the back of the book, which is all the fault of the publisher and none on the part of the author. Had that blurb not been there I would not have even begun to guess the identity of the killer till much closer to the end. High recommend to anyone who loves a good historical mystery!

Ireland Heals All Wounds

Addie, out heartbroken heroine, is in Ireland for her aunt’s wedding and after the wedding she is supposed to board a plane to see her best friend in Italy with her brother Ian, but Ian has other plans. In order to secure her future Addie ends up trekking across Ireland with Ian and Ian’s cute mystery friend all the while following a travel guide of Ireland for the broken hearted. When I say this book made me want to go to Ireland I wanted to jump on the next plane. This is the first book I ever read from Welch and it is part of her Love & Gelato series, which is a series like Anna and The French Kiss is a series, meaning you can read any book in the series without reading the other but if you do read the others your favorite characters may make an appearance. Love & Luck is the second one with Love & Gelato being the first. As soon as I finished Love & Luck, I immediately bought Love & Gelato. This was such a light and fluffy read that was just super quick and easy which is perfect if you are in a bit of a reading slump. I fully expected this to be romance heavy, but it was more focused on friendship and family which was really refreshing. Now there is an implied romance, but nothing is really explicitly said or done about it. I loved how the focus was on mending Ian and Addie’s relationship, Addie learning how to heal form heartbreak and lean on her friends and family when she needs to. This is also a favorite of 2020!

All in a Days Espionage.

Sophronia once again finds herself in at the center of a Picklemen plot, only this time it involves the school. What is an intelligencer to do? Put on her most stylish ballgown and save the school of course! Again, I listened to Manners & Mutiny on audio book and I loved it. This whole series was five stars for me, and it is one of the best series I have read in a while. I was delighted by the ending and how everything played out. I have such a deep love for all these characters that I want nothing more to read more of their story. I know some of these characters show up in the two other series that take place in the same universe and I cannot wait!  

What’s Worse: Being Italian or Soulless?

Soulless is the first book in The Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger. It takes place 26 years or so after the events of Manner & Mutiny and follows Alexia Terabotti, who has the unfortunateness to be half Italian and soulless (but only the supernatural set know about the soulless part). This is also an adult series as compared to the YA prequal. This was also an audiobook for me and at first, I was a bit put off because the narrator is not the same narrator from the Finishing School series. I kind of grew attached to Moira Quirk’s voice and how she pronounced certain names and the women who narrates The Parasol Protectorate series, Emily Gray, pronounced things a bit different and it through me for a loop at first. I eventually settled in and was able to get into the story and now I do not even notice. I love Alexia! She is smart and her sense of humor is so undeniable British it makes for some scathing retorts. He inner dialogue is utterly fantastic. I love the relationship she had with Lord Maccon (Sidheag’s grandfather). They have such great banter and chemistry! I also love how he loves her just the way she is even though all of English society seems to want to change her in some way. I also love the fact that Alexia had a knack for getting into trouble without really trying. Several characters from the prequals make an appearance in the first book, such as Lord Maccon and Lord Akeldama. It was always a thrill when one would show up. One of the things I love most about Carriger’s world is the way the supernatural are portrayed and the natural laws that they have to follow and I love how one becomes supernatural and the role Alexia plays in it! Not shockingly this was another five-star read for me!

February Wrap Up

Welcome to my February warp up! At least I am only three weeks late this time instead of two months. I am getting better. I am still trying to get into a routine that works for me. I read a total of two books this month one physical and one audio.

There is no formula for love.

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang is the physical book that I read. I was excited to read this book cause not only was it about a neurodiverse female lead, but she also works in a STEM career and she was the one who was wealthier. This book turned stereotypes on their head and that really intrigued me. Stella Lane is an econometrician with Asperger’s and spends all of her time immersed in algorithms. Its her happy place and romance is the furthest thing from her mind. Her mother on the other hand is desperately trying to marry her off to someone, specifically her coworker Philip James. Enter Micheal Phan, a male escort Stella hires to help her get over her sensory issues when it comes to intimacy and sex. Micheal has issues of his own, from his moms health and his on hold dreams, hes a equation that Stella can’t quite crack. Again I was actually quite excited about this book, not only cause of Stella, but also because Helen Hoang has Autism Spectrum Disorder. I was excited to read about a neurodiverse character written by someone who is neurodiverse. Unfortunately I hated this book. It took me nearly a month to read and I gave it one star. It dragged in most places and the characters seemed to be pretty flat. I didn’t feel a connection to any of them. Now I will say the sex scenes in this book were hella steamy! Just those scenes alone would be five stars. I just felt that there was drama where there shouldn’t have been and no drama where there should have been. It was also very insta-lovey for me. I am not a fan of the inst-love trope in YA or adult novels. I also couldn’t believe how quickly Stella got over her sensory issues with intimacy “because it was Micheal”. Now I do not have Asperger’s nor do I know many people who do, but I know people who have similar issues with intimacy and they were not so quick to over come them. Maybe its different if you meet the “right” person or maybe that was Hoangs own experience but I just didn’t quite buy it.

Where there’s a Conspiracy there is a Sophronia.

I AM LOVING THIS SERIES! I have been listening to them on Audible and I really love the narrator, Moira Quirk, shes just reads them so perfectly. My favorite character is probably Dimity, mostly because she is this over the top person who just wished to be a real lady, not a spy, and travel the world, but she still goes on all these adventures with Sophronia because that’s her best friend. I do love Sophronia though. She is a perfect mix of femininity and kick assery. In Curtsies and Conspiracies, Sophronia and her friends must figure out who is really behind the schools sudden field trip to London. There is a love triangle brewing in this book between Lord Felix Mersey, Sophronia, and Phineas B. Crow (aka Soap), but I can’t even be mad at it because I honestly love both boys. This is not a case of it is obvious that she prefers one over the other. Maybe its because Sophronia and her friends don’t spend all of their time and energy talking about their romantic interests that I don’t mind that there is a love triangle going on. It also helps that both boys are very different and respect her for who she is. Neither tries to change or control her in any way. Its very refreshing for a YA novel. I also like how she ages up every book instead of the whole series taking place when she is the same age.

January Wrap Up & Life Update…Kinda

January was STRESSFUL for me. So over Christmas I got the flu (like literally on Christmas Eve) so because of that I missed a week of work and a week of pay. This caused me to panic on how on earth I was going to pay for school and a very ill timed vacation. All of this was going on while I thought that I would be loosing my job for a few months because we are closing the location we have now to open a new location. So I was very stressed which lead to very little reading. However, I managed to pay for school, go on vacation (where I got all my reading done) and kept my job! So it all worked out. Here’s to February being much better! (where have we heard that before?)

Scrooge never looked this good!

The first book on the chopping block was The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand. Fun Fact about this book is that when I went to go and read it I realized it was signed by the author (I got the book from thrift books) so I put it on my Instagram stories and tagged Cynthia Hand and Thriftbooks and Cynthia Hand shared it to her story and Thriftbooks reacted to it and it was just about the coolest thing that has ever happened to me! The book itself was three stars for me. I like it enough and the concept is really cool, but I felt like Holly Chase, the protagonist, didn’t grow and had a lot of character growth at the same time. She wasn’t unlikable but I wouldn’t say she was likable either. I just felt kinda blah about it. I liked her romance with the romantic interest, Ethan, who was also the Scrooge they were trying to help and I think that helped her grow a lot. It just wasn’t everything I thought it was going to be, but it also wasn’t a bad read. I enjoyed the aspect that there was a secret organization that picks a “Scrooge” every year and gives them the Christmas Carol treatment. I just wish some more had been uncovered but there are just things that we never get answers for.

The Freaks will inherit the earth.

Evolution, Me & Other Freaks of Nature is a reread for me and it is honestly one of my favorite books. It deals with petty high school drama, boys, religion and science in a way that isn’t preachy or making you lean one way or another. Mena is a freshman in high school ans wants nothing more then to be completely invisible, after all half of her ex-church and possibly her parents are being sued because of her. I love Mena. She is smart and she has a big heart (one of the reasons why everybody is being sued). She just wanted to do the right thing and doing it had major unintended consequences but because of it she was able to see the world from a different point of view. The main event in the story is that Mena’s ex-church and therefor her ex- friends are protesting the teaching of evolution in her biology class, but because she has been ostracized she doesn’t participate and she actually realizes that she A) likes biology B) gets the chance to make friends with her lab partner Casey and subsequently his family and C) realizes that science and religion get to coexist. I would like to think that Mena and Casey are still together and Casey is this world famous author and scientist like his dad and Mena is a theological scholar with a minor in biology and she sometimes helps Casey out and they have tons of black lab puppies. The one thing I dislike is how Mena’s parents treat her. They ice her out after “the incident” and they don’t even stand up for their own daughter and punish her for what she did. If my theoretical child did what she did I would fight hell hounds for them and reward them for doing the right but hard thing. Her ex-church and her ex-friends totally had it coming to them in my opinion.

Ladies of substance are more then they seem.

Etiquette and Espionage is my second ever audio book. One of my goals this year is to listen to more audio books. So I listen to them when I shower and when I do things around the house and so far I really enjoy it. I loved the Narrator for this one she does different voices for the different characters and it is absolutely perfect. I love that is steampunk-y and has female spies and evil geniuses and werewolves and vampires. It literally has everything I ever want in a book. Sophronia is a very interesting protagonist. I usually don’t like protagonist who are so much younger then me, Sophronia is almost grown up acting. I mean she still causes shenanigans, but shes going to spy school so. I also really enjoy how 99% of the cast of characters are female and it really focuses on the friendships between them. There isn’t really any romance which is pretty refreshing actually. There are just a bunch of girls who are loyal to each other and kick some serious ass. I am completely here for it!

October, November & December Wrap Up

I read a total of 5 books in October ,1 in November and 1 in December. At the end of October I got a new job and it has thrown me for a loop and way off my reading game, but I am working on getting back on the horse as quickly as I possibly can. I started working a retail job and the holidays are our busiest season. I think I had like 5 or 6 days off total during November and December. It was a lot of long hours and I was just too exhausted to do anything, but I am LOVING my new job and I am a lot happier then I was at the hotel.

Love was never apart of the game.

The first book I read in October was a carry over from my September TBR. This is a book that Mina had been trying to get me to read since high school. Like our Junior year of High school (for anybody wondering that was 8 years ago). So I finally read it… AND LET ME TELL YOU I WAS SLEEPING ON THIS BOOK! It is one of the best books I have ever read and not only is it on my favorites of 2019 list it quickly made it to my favorites of All Time list. I don’t even know where to begin with this book honestly. Its like if Charles Dickens wrote a book that was actually understandable. The book takes place in the late 1800s and early 1900s and is told mostly in the third person but follows the story of Celia, Marco and Bailey. Celia and Marco are forced to be adversaries in a game where they have little control and don’t know the rules. The venue of the game is a Night Circus that pops into towns all over the world and is only open at night. Nobody knows where it goes next but true fans have their way in. The writing is nothing short of lush and beautiful. I felt as if I could almost smell the caramel popcorn and magic. I was immersed in their world and I to became a rêveurs instantly.

Its not what it seems.

Caraval by Stephanie Garber was my second book of the month. Also a left over from my September theme. I wanted to read Night Circus and Caraval back to back because they often get compared to each other, or well Caraval gets compared to Night Circus. While they do have some things in common such as magic, circuses, games, and romance that’s where the similarities end for me. I loved Caraval I gave it five stars and it ended up on my favorites of 2019 list. I did not, however, end up on my favorites of all time list. Its a fantastic read. The story is amazing the characters are well flushed out and I love the romance between Scarlett and Julian, but the world wan’t quite as immersive as Night Circus. While Night Circus is definitely suitable for teen readers but it was written for adult one; Caraval is written specifically written for teen readers thus giving it a slightly different vibe to it. I still loved and would most likely reread it again and again.

These witches will burn or will they?

What happens when a Witch marries a Witch Hunter? Fireworks. This was my MOST anticipated release of this year (2019 that is because it is totally 4 months later. oops) I got mine in my Fairy Loot subscription box and when I say its absolutely beautiful that’s cause it is. It has beautiful gold sprayed edges and custom art on the reverse dust jacket. This book did not disappoint. Lou was a fantastic heroine. Shes brash, loud, foul mouthed, loving, compassionate, and loyal. She refuses to change who she is even if it would make her life easier. Shes a great foil to Reid who is reserved, proper, a rule follower, loyal, kind, and patient. Reid also refused to bend on his way of being and although he tries to tame the wild child that is Lou (shockingly it doesn’t go as he plans.) They grow into a trust the turns into friendship that turns into love. They each desire to make the other happy. They were forced into a marriage, but it works cause of them. Mahurin is a fantastic author and she came out with one hell of a debut novel. I cannot WAIT to read Blood & Honey which is the sequel to Serpent & Dove.

Sometimes the real monsters are the ones we love.

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea was a reread for me. This book is what made me fall in love with April Genevieve Tucholke’s writing. She is a master of the slightly unsettling Gothic vibe I love so much. Violet and her twin brother Luke live in a crumbling mansion, named the Citizen, in a small town on the coast somewhere while their parents are off in Europe being bohemian artists in Paris. To make ends meat Violet rents out the carriage house to River a handsome boy her age with a mysterious past and a slick tongue. Strange things happen when River is around; kids start to hunt the devil in the cemetery, men with hairy teeth appear in abounded tunnels, and Violet feels inexplicably drawn to River like a moth to the flame. This book is full of a Southern Gothic aesthetic that makes my heart jump for joy! I did only give it 4 stars though mostly cause I wanted something more. It was just lacking something.

To catch the devil you have to think like the devil

Between the Spark and the Burn is the sequel to Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea. Last Summer the Redding Brothers (Neely, River, and Brodie) brought mayhem, violence, and love into Violet’e life and now River is missing and Brodie has disappeared. Now Neely, Violet, Luke and Sunshine go on a cross country road trip to find River and stop Brodie. This is also full of the Gothic horror that makes my heart happy, but it did not play how out how I truly hoped it would. I also gave it four stars because of that.

Repent your secrets or pay the price.

The Merciless is also a reread for me. I read it way back in 2014 and I actually it in about 8 hours. This go around it did take me a bit longer… about a month longer. This book wasn’t as enthralling the second go around. It was still really creepy and gory and I loved those aspects but for some reason it didn’t suck me in the way it did the first time. I will say that this would make a fantastic horror movie that I would pay to see! Sofia is new in a small military town in the deep south. Sofia is used to being the new girl and tries to hid away from the attention it brings, but she finds herself friends with the popular girls in school. The only problem these girls are not what they seem. Their leader Riley is deeply religious and has a sick and twisted way of worship, one that involves an ex-friend tied up in a basement of a abandoned house in a exorcism gone horribly terribly wrong.

Getting stuck in an elevator isn’t such a bad thing.

The Wedding Date is my first adult romance novel and I have to say I absolutely fell in love with it. It was just adorable! Alexa and Drew were so cute together and I loved how the handled their relationship for the most part (this is a contemporary romance). It was light and fun and was a good way to get me out of the reading rut I fell into. Alexa and Drew meet in an elevator and she agrees to be his date to his ex girlfriends wedding, but then they start making excuses to be with each other and well we can all see where this is going to go.

September Wrap up

I read a total of 5 books during September which is just shy of halfway to my goal. I did a lot of traveling this month to see family (and they don’t always let me read when I would like to LOL). This month’s “theme” was books my best friend, Mina, has recommended to me and I bought and then never read. So I tried to pick up as many as I could remember her recommending. The only one she didn’t recommend was Shades of Earth by Beth Revis, which I talked about last month with the first two in the trilogy. I just wanted to finish the trilogy before moving on to her recommendations.

Breath taking blend of Greek Mythology and WWI.

While Lovely War by Julie Berry wasn’t exactly recommended to me by Mina she discovered it at Barnes & Noble while we were hanging out one day and told me it looked really good and interestingly enough we ended up reading it concurrently during September unbeknownst to the other till I asked if she had read it before while I was halfway through. Lovely War is a breathtakingly beautiful story about two couples who manage to find love during WWI and it is mostly told from the point of view of the Greek goddess Aphrodite, but Hades, Ares, and Apollo also tell parts of the stories that pertain to them. I loved this book so much! The writing an and storytelling is absolutely top notch and the characters feel so real. The amount of research that Berry did to tell this story is exquisite. She delivers an accurate account of what it would have been like for Aubrey, Colette, James and Hazel. I especially loved the twist of the story being told from the point of view of Aphrodite, it adds a layer to the story that just makes the story even more immersive. This was most defiantly a five star read for me and I highly recommend it if you are into historical romance or just a beautiful story.

Midas wasn’t the only one cursed that fateful day.

This was the first real recommendation I read for the month. She recommended this when I was going the my pirate/sea phase back in July. I like A Touch of Gold by Annie Sullivan and I gave it four stars, but I did find it to be pretty predictable in where the plot was going to go. Which was a bit eh for me personally. I wanted more from it. I kinda wish it had started in a different direction. I wanted Kora to be a bit stronger of a heroine (although she did eventually get there…kinda). I wanted there to be a stronger bond between Hettie and Kora, cause I love me some strong female friendships especially when they are your only friend and they are also family. I also wanted more form the romance parts of it. To me it was just lacking in places and was just a bit eh for me. In reality it was probably more of a 3.5 star book but I do what to tread the second one that comes out in 2020, even though I think that with a bit of fleshing out and a few tweaks to the ending this could have been a stand alone and probably should have been, but we will see when the sequel comes out.

Can you learn to love the man behind the monster?

THIS BOOK! I literally CANNOT with how much I loved this book. Ahdieh is a fantastic storytelling goddess and I don’t think anybody could convince me otherwise. This is the first book of hers that have read but I am now highly anticipating her new release The Beautiful which comes out in October. I also cant wait to get my hands on The Dagger and the Rose which is The Wrath and the Dawns‘s sequel. Shahrzad is literally everything I want in a heroine. She is intelligent, driven, sassy, loving, flawed, and strong. She holds her own against her new husband Khalid, the Caliph, who kills his brides at sunrise. Let me tell you Khalid is not a easy man to hold your own against, but my Shazi stands up to him like a boss. I do love Khalid I think he makes a great partner for Shazi. They pair really well together. Where he is all hard lines and stone she is soft and fluid. Where she conflicted and unsteady he is sure and stable. I adore them as a couple and I adore them as characters! This quickly became an All Time Favorite!

Southern Gothic meets the 21st century.

The last recommendation for September was Compulsion: Heirs of Watson Island by Martina Boone. This has been on my TBR for actual years. This one, much like A Touch of Gold, was a bit eh for me. I didn’t find it to be at predictable and unlike A Touch of Gold, Compulsion was an actual 4 star read. I wish there was a bit more back story about the founding families. Like I wish there had been a prologue about them just so as a reader we know whats happening between the families cause that isn’t exactly explained a whole lot. Much like Barrie, the reader is thrust in the middle of this small South Carolina town’s founding families controversies without really understanding its roots and how and why it began. It definitely has some Southern Gothic vibes to it which I am here for and it is a bit of a slow build up, but it also part of a trilogy so that probably the cause for the pacing. I do want to pick up Persuasion If anything to just find out what happens next with Barrie and Eight. I love Eight cause A) he has the ability to know exactly what people want which personally I think is a fantastic quality in a boyfriend and B) hes is protective enough for it to be cute but not enough to be creepy. He also tends to be the voice of reason which I love. I liked Barrie i just wish she had a bit more gumption to her. Shes got the sass part down, but she is often unsure of her self and what she truly wants and when she does she often ignores it in favor of pleasing others. I wish she followed her instincts a bit more.

August Wrap-Up

Authors Note: I do talk about 6 books in the wrap up. I started Shades of Earth by Beth Revis on August 29 and finished in early September, but I wanted to talk about the series as a whole so I tacked it on to this wrap up.

Welcome to the middle of September! Yes I am just now posting a August Wrap Up. I was traveling at the beginning of the month and then I just didn’t do it so here we are. I read 5 books this month, which is 3 books below my goal of 8, but that’s okay because my goal for September is 12. (Hi my name is Jacqueline and I like to make insane reading goals and then act surprised when I don’t meet them.) I was feeling some heavy Space vibes this month, and tbh I still am, but Septembers theme is books that my best friend recommended to me and I bought and then never read. I also started a rewatch of Star Trek: Next Generation in August. Data is my absolute favorite and I hate that they come for him like every other episode, but that is irrelevant to this post i just need all to that.

People are not always what they seem to be.

The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw was up first for the month. This was left over from my July TBR where I was feeling some type of way about boats and the ocean. I really liked the vibes of this book. It gave me small ocean town mystery cozy vibes. Like this is the kind of book you want to read with a cup of tea on a stormy cold day curled up by the fire in a old house by the ocean. Like those are its vibes and I stan them. This book doesn’t necessarily have a happy ending, but its also not a crappy one. I was okay with the way it ended and where the characters ended up, but I do wish there a little more. I also wish it had been a tad more creepy; just a little darker. The story for sure leans into being a darker story but it could have leaned into it a bit more for my liking. Over all it was a 4 star read for me; would recommend, but wouldn’t make my friends read it.

Just cause it sounds cool doesn’t mean that it is.

Another July TBR left over is Girl at Sea by Maureen Johnson. I have read this one probably about a 100 times (hence the 5 star rating) and still absolutely love it. Its a quick easy rom-com book. Although this book is more about the relationship between father and daughter then it is about romance but trust there is romance. I love Clio and how feisty she is. She just marches to the beat of her own drum and does what she needs to do and she not afraid to get her hands a little dirty. She has lived a bit of a crazy life when her and her dad invented a best selling board game, but her dads shenanigans drove a wedge between them especially after her parents got divorced. So when she has to spend the summer with him in Italy on a yacht most people don’t understand why this is Clio’s nightmare. Johnson has a way of making complete wacky situations seem really normal and I’m here for it.

If the Breakfast Club and Guardians of the Galaxy had a baby it would be this book.

I HAVE A LOT OF FEELINGS ABOUT THIS BOOK!! Aurora Rising is the first book I have read by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (Although I do own the complete Illumonae Files trilogy.) and I am absolutely in love! so in love in fact that I have already bought other works by both authors. Aurora Rising is probably my favorite book of the year and has been quickly added to my favorite books of all time. I love me some sarcastic ass characters and lemme tell you this story is full of them. It is told from 7 different points of view which for some books is a disaster, but not for my baby. Each character has a distinct voice which makes it really easy to tell who is speaking. Our fearless Alpha is Goldenboy Tyler (Ty) Jones who is hot enough to melt a Popsicle in Alaska in winter. Scarlett (Scar) Jones is Ty’s twin and the sharp as a tack Face with a tongue like a knife. Cat Brannok is the sassy Ace and long time friend of Scar and Ty. Finian de Karran de Seelis is the Betraskan Gearhead that only speaks in sarcasm. Zila Madran is the Scientist on board with a tendency to shoot her crew mates. Kaliis (Kal) Idraban Gilwraeth is the teams Tank, hes also basically space Legolas who hates being touched. Then there is Aurora (Auri) Jie-Lin O’Malley who is not only a stowaway on Ty’s ship but the only survivor on a 220 year old ship thought to be lost in space. I love all of the characters so much, but my favorite chapters were always Auri, Kal and Finian. The only character who I was a bit eh about was probably Cat although I still did like her chapters. I am literally making everybody in my life read this book like ASAP. I need the second one!

The world building in the Across the Universe trilogy by Beth Revis is excellent, but the characters are a bit meh. I didn’t find myself rooting for either Amy or Elder (the two main protagonists). The story is told from both Amy and Elder’s prospective. To me the voice of each character was really similar, the only way I told them apart without looking at the chapter header was the situation they were in and where and who they with. I was especially luke warm about the romance in these books. It was kinda eh. I literally shipped her more with the bad guy in book three then I did Elder. I gave all three books 4 stars but they were probably more like 3.5. I found Amy to be a bit self righteous and and a little selfish. She just wanted things done her way because that’s what she thought was right. I mean it was a shock to her and the entire ship when she was woken up fifty years early, but she acted like a child for all three books really. That being said the Eldest was a bit unnecessarily cruel to her. Elder was a bit on the dim side in my opinion and idk it that was because he was raised on a ship that had limited information and the information it did have was changed to match what the corrupt rules needed the message to say or if its just because he was way to young to be a leader. In the end I though the way the characters acted was a bit out of place and I don’t think it would be a natural way for them to react. Like there was this automatic sense of Us or them (especially in Shades of Earth) that made sense for the “shipborn” people cause that’s the culture of the ship and part of the brainwashing done by the leaders of the ship, but it doesn’t make sense for the “earthborn” people because obviously on earth we encounter different cultures and people on the daily and they were briefed that it was generational ship so there would be other people there when they all woke up. So that kinds made me a bit angry cause its like I don’t understand why that would happen especially when you need each other to survive a new planet. I found it a bit cliched and boring. It was an okay trilogy.

Tiger’s Dream (Tiger’s Saga #5) By Colleen Houck

This was my absolute favorite in the entire series. For those of you keeping track that means it now goes: Dream, Voyage, Curse, Destiny, Quest. The perspective change was actually really refreshing. Thankfully Kishan isn’t quite as whiny as Kelsey is, but he is pretty bull headed and there were still several times in the book where I wanted to literally smack him. I adore Anamika/Durga (Ana) as a character! I found her to be well rounded and a strong female character. Shes sure of her self and knows what she wants and goes after her and yet there is such a vulnerability to her cause of what she went through as a child. To me the book stands apart from the original 4 but its also defiantly not a stand alone. Its almost like a prequel but not really. The way I kinda described it to my friends is that if the first four books were a movie the 5th would almost be like a prequel mixed with behind the scenes bonus content mixed with an epilogue.

This book kinda jumps all over the place and plays with all kinds of timelines. We learn what happens to Kishan after he stays with Durga and how the curse came into being and how the mechanics of the curse worked. I found it all be really interesting the way it was pieced together is so layered and intricate its really mind boggling. I got answers to questions I didn’t even know I had. I think my favorite thing was watching Kishan and Ana go from adversaries to friends to lovers to soulmates. The love story to me was a lot more my speed then Ren and Kelsey’s. Ren and Kelsey were insta-love turned on again off again on again lovers, while Kishan and Ana were this slow build to trust and friendship and eventually two people madly in love. I mean the book is about 800 pages and for about 600 of those pages they can barely admit their feelings to themselves it seems. I also really enjoyed watching Kishan grow as a character more. We finally get to see him heal from the loss of the two women he thought he loved and heal from what he perceived to be his own failures. Kishan was definitely one of my favorite characters from the previous four books along with Kadam, but Ana really stole the show for me. Houck did a fantastic job in creating a really strong female lead here (if only she had done that for Kelsey). Ana is a drop dead gorgeous women. Kishan often describes her beauty in his inner monologues, but not only does he describe he beauty he describes her strength as a warrior as well as her venerability as a human. It makes her instantly likable as does the fact that she is unfamiliar with modern thing cause she was born in like the 16 or 1700s. Really what made me love the relationship between them was the Kishan sees her as an equal in every way. He wants to protect her but knows that she can protect herself. Ana views Kishan as an equal in every way too and she lets him protect her because its nice to be cared for. Unlike in Ren and Kelsey’s relationship where its seems Ren views Kelsey as a weak creature that needs protecting and Kelsey doesn’t really think she can protect herself. Ana is what Kelsey pretends to be really.

All in all for sure a five star read for me and one of my favorites of 2019 thus far. I think its a perfect addition to the saga as a whole and completes the story. Totally made me feel all the feels I felt reading the first 4 for the first time.

Tiger’s Destiny (Tiger’s Sage #4) by Colleen Houck

We have reached the end of the curse and things get HOT! The fourth and final task involves quite a lot of fire for our intrepid heroes. There are magical artifacts to retrieve and love triangles to resolve. In the grand scheme of the series Destiny is my 4th favorite with in the series. The ending is weird for me cause its the ending I wanted, but I’m not really pleased with circumstances of it. Up in till 2018 this was the final book in the series and thus the last book in the series that I am rereading. Rereading this series has kinda shown me how much I have grown since 2012 when Destiny came out. I used to be a lot like Kelsey in the way that she is very insecure in who she was and in her relationships. Something that 16/17 year old me definitely identified with, because I was very insecure growing up and not just about my appearance but about everything really. To me Kelsey embodies 17 year old me that is if 17 year old me had two really hot Indian princes fighting for my attention, which shockingly never happened. Now rereading them as a 24 year old women who has gone through what I have been through and learning to love myself as I have I just don’t really identify with her anymore as a heroine or a character. That being said I still love the world and the series as a whole and I think it will always be one of my favorites. Also I am not going to lie I have been procrastinating this review… So I like may or may not have finished this book like a month ago and read five other books since (I totally did). I gave this one a three stars and I honestly don’t remember a lot of how I felt about the plot, other then how I felt about the ending and the characters overall. So lets talk about that.

So again as in Voyage there were several times where Kelsey was quite literally forced (like gun to your head kinda forced) to admit her true feelings for Ren and yet she stubbornly stays with Kishan. A fact that really rubbed me the wrong way especially in the end. I love Kishan as a character. I think at of all of them he has the most character development. He honestly could have been a bit more broody, but he goes from being a self exiled tiger to a man who has learned not only how to be human again but how to love again. He deserves more then what Kelsey gave to him. To Kelsey he was the safe choice, the back plan if you will, and to Kishan Kelsey was the world. I just feel like he deserved more then what he got. Nobody, fictional or otherwise, deserves to be a second choice. Its not a cool move and not only does it make you a coward for not facing your own feelings, but it makes you a jackass for giving somebody hope for something that is basically completely doomed. Not that Kishan didn’t have his flaws cause he did. Bro Code Rule #1: Don’t try and seduce your brothers girlfriend; even I know this and I’m a female and an only child and Kishan did it TWICE! Overall I felt Kelsey to be kind of a weak character, I mean she fights (kinda), but mostly she just gets rescued and then laments about how she can be with the love of her life because he will leave her (which honestly her proves to her that he would never do that in like the first book. It literally took a mind sweep and intense physical pain to make him not date her and even then he never actually left her so she trippin’). Ren wasn’t exactly the Prince I fantasized about as a young teenager. He was demanding, a bit controlling and although his conviction to be with Kelsey was always there he made choices that pushed her away and forced her to “attempt” to get over him and when it came down to it he choose his happiness over both Kelsey’s and Kishan’s. I will give him that it was hella obvious that she was still madly in love with him and would have been way happier with him then with out him, but since Kelsey was absolutely atrocious at communicating ANYTHING he knew nothing for sure for sure so its still kinda a dick move.

SPOILER ALERT (and completely not shocking at all): Ren and Kelsey end up together. Only because Ren absolutely refuses to be Durga’s tiger and leave Kelsey and if I am being completely honest with the way its written Kishan wouldn’t really have had much of a choice anyway even if Ren was willing to sacrifice cause it was pretty clear that Durga (Anamika) and Kishan had a connection that rivaled Kelsey and Ren’s. The one thing that I did find a bit shocking (at least the first time I read) was that Kelsey and Ren get married like only 6 or 7 months after leaving Kishan behind in the past. Like maybe press a slow down button and decompress form 2 years of fighting mythical creatures and 300+ years of being a weartiger maybe? Plus at the beginning of the series Kelsey had just turned 18 I believe and by the end I believe she is only 20 so like maybe talk 1 or 5 years to explore a relationship that doesn’t involve almost being killed. It just felt like Kishan was this afterthought and I didn’t particularly like it. Another character that I personally thought was pretty weak was Lokesh. He obviously played some kind of part in the story especially at the beginning but honestly he wasn’t needed. I he was boring and very one dimensional. He didn’t really have any motives other then power which is always a goal of a villain but like it was his only motive and he really didn’t go after it in a way that would have made him a more formidable foe. He was just blah to me.