Monday, February 29, 2016

Publisher: Poppy
Pages: 246 pages
Release Date: September 1, 2015
Source of my copy: bought
Summary (for full synopsis visit Goodreads)
On the night before they leave for college, Clare and Aidan have only one thing left to do: figure out whether they should stay together or break up. Over the course of twelve hours, they retrace the steps of their relationship, trying to find something in their past that might help them decide what their future should be. The night leads them to family and friends, familiar landmarks and unexpected places, hard truths and surprising revelations. But as the clock winds down and morning approaches, so does their inevitable goodbye. The question is, will it be goodbye for now or goodbye forever?
Michelle's Thoughts:
I wanted to like Hello, Goodbye, and Everything In Between so much. I have enjoyed three of Jennifer E. Smith's books in the past before picking up this one and I've rated them all between 3-4 stars. I rate Hello, Goodbye, and Everything In Between a disappointing 2 stars.

I picked this book up because I wanted a book that I can read in a day (trying to catch up with my Goodreads challenge). With only 246 pages, I did read it in one day but I did not swoon, sigh (okay, I did sigh but in frustration, not because of cutesy moments), nor root for Clare and Aidan.

I gave it 2 meh stars. I didn't hate it, but I didn't like it all that much either. I was mostly frustrated with Aidan and Clare (but mostly Clare) because they (she) just can't seem to make up their mind whether to break up or not. They kept having the same conversation over and over the entire novel. SO FRUSTRATING!! At one point, I was *this* close to chucking the book across the room and shouting "JUST FUCKING BREAK UP ALREADY!!"

This book promised to be "charming, bittersweet, and full of wisdom and heart, [and] irresistible" (via the full synopsis) and I didn't find it any of those things. Instead, I got a frustrating, annoying, and ultimately uninspired. Definitely, my least favorite novel by Jennifer E. Smith. Skip this one.

Publisher: Dutton
Pages: 339 pages
Release Date: August 14, 2014
Source of my copy: bought
Summary (for full synopsis visit Goodreads)
Hopeless romantic Isla has had a crush on introspective cartoonist Josh since their first year at the School of America in Paris. And after a chance encounter in Manhattan over the summer, romance might be closer than Isla imagined. But as they begin their senior year back in France, Isla and Josh are forced to confront the challenges every young couple must face, including family drama, uncertainty about their college futures, and the very real possibility of being apart.
Leslie's Thoughts:
I finished Isla and the Happily Ever After on the plane on my way to college, which is kind of appropriate because Isla did a bit of traveling in the novel! I think it's my favorite one out of the three novels by Perkins because, out of the three heroines, I related to Isla the most. I actually teared up at some parts of the book, especially towards the end of the book.

I loved Isla! I related to her because when I was her age I was that insecure girl and, like her, I got excellent grades but I wasn't the most social girl. I didn't put myself out there, especially with boys, because I often feel shy and awkward in social situations. I really liked that instead of building up to the will-they-or-won't-they-get-together like in the other two books in the series (and like most contemporary romantic YA), we instead saw them as a couple for most of the novel and they had to work on their relationship. I found that refreshing.

Another thing I enjoyed was all the traveling Isla did. I hope to travel one day, and it was fun vicariously traveling to New York, then to France, then to Spain, and back again with Isla.

So, my order of favorites: Isla and the Happily Ever After, Lola and the Boy Next Door, and Anna and the French Kiss.

Lola is before Anna because of Cricket--I really liked him and √Čtienne not as much. Also, I felt like I couldn't relate to Anna at all (except for some of her insecurities). I actually saw more of myself in Meredith (although, I'd never get a nose ring like Meredith!). But, ohmigosh, I loved that proposal scene between one of the couples! **Swoon** That was soooooooo cute!! I mean, I knew about it was going to happen because I spoiled myself when looked up quotes from Isla on Goodreads before reading the book, but it was still great. I highly recommend this entire series! If you haven't read any of the books, you're missing out.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Mass Market: 384 pages
Publisher: Signet
Release Date: February 2, 2016
Source of my copy: publisher
Series: Killer Instincts #7
Out of all the stone-cold mercenaries in Jim Morgan's black ops organization, Derek “D” Pratt is the most intimidating. He is tight-lipped and covered in tattoos, and even the other guys on his team are afraid to ask him about his past. D’s been off the grid for years, but after his teammate Sullivan is mistakenly captured in his place, D is forced to come out of hiding and face his demons.

When D lands in Mexico, he’s ready to risk everything to save his friend. To complicate matters, Sofia Amaro, a feisty doctor whom D had a one-night stand with months ago, has tracked him down. And in an instant she’s unintentionally caught up in his life-threatening rescue mission.

Now D must extract not one but two people from the most violent world he's ever encountered. And one of them is carrying his child...

Book #7 of the Killer Instinct Series
Do you need to read the previous books in the series before you jump into Midnight Revenge? Yes, you do. While the main plot line--Derek and Sofia's story--can stand alone, the secondary story line, which takes up a pretty big chunk of the novel, does not. It relies heavily on Sully and Liam's relationship, which was developed in the last few previous books. Besides, you'd want to start at the very beginning anyway because you don't want to miss out on any of the books in this AMAZING romantic suspense series.
My Ranking of the Books in the Series
I absolutely LOVE this series--I've rated all of the books either 5 or 4 stars--but of course I like some of the books more than the others. So, here's my ranking of the books from my favorite to my least favorite.
1. Midnight Action (#5; Noelle and Jim)
2. Midnight Captive (#6; Bailey and Sean)
3. Midnight Pursuits (#4; Juliet and Ethan)
4. Midnight Games (#3; Isabel and Trevor)
5. Midnight Alias (#2; Olivia and Luke)
6. Midnight Revenge (this book)
7. Midnight Rescue (#1; Abby and Kane)

As you can see, Midnight Revenge is kind of low on my favorites ranking and I'll explain why but first...

What I Loved
First and foremost, the writing was fantastic. You really can't go wrong with an Elle Kennedy novel. All the books I've read by her (the entire Killer Instinct series and books 1-2 of the Off-Campus series) are so readable, addicting, fast-paced, exciting, engaging--basically all the adjectives that describe an awesome read. In particular, her Killer Instinct series is riveting and action-packed, and Midnight Revenge is no exception. The mission here was a nail bitter. Holy cow! All the craziness thrown at Derek (whose past really came back to haunt hunt him down) and Sofia, you wonder how they'll ever get out of it alive. SO GOOD!!

Since meeting Derek Pratt in Midnight Rescue, I've wanted his book. He was the most mysterious and hardened of the soldiers in Jim Morgan's team. No one knew his background and he sets himself apart. Of course, I was dying to know what made him tick. We finally learn his background and it was so sad and horrible--more horrible than any of the others who also didn't have an easy childhood. It was hard reading that part, but it explained why he was the way he was.

We met Sofia Amaro in previous books--she was actually introduced in Midnight Rescue and I vaguely remember (correct me if I'm wrong--I read Midnight Rescue almost a year ago) that she kind of had a moment with Derek in that book. She runs a small clinic in a small village in Mexico. She basically works for Jim Morgan (who funds her clinic) because she's his men's go-to doctor. I love that while she's not a bad-ass mercenary or an assassin, she can stand her own among all the alpha men and women she treats.

I think Sofia and Derek were well-matched. Reading the other books in the series, I wondered if the author was going to match Derek with one of Noelle's chameleons, or even Noelle herself because they had a brief affair. But Noelle was too hardened, and Derek needed someone softer. Not that Sofia was soft or innocent, because she had her own issues to deal with, but she's a doctor who saves lives and while she's aware that there's a lot bad people in the world, she's not coming face to face with them on a regular basis. And Derek needs someone who is outside the assassin and mercenary circle. They need each other and balance the other out. And, of course, the chemistry between them is HOT!!

My Biggest Issue
The main reason I gave Midnight Revenge four stars instead of five was because I felt Sofia and Derek's relationship wasn't as developed as it could've been. It felt rushed. Okay, so they've known each other for years and there's a bit of attraction between them, but as readers we didn't really see a lot of that. They together were not part of any secondary story line (minor or not) in the previous books (unlike Isabel and Trevor, Jim and Noelle, and Bailey and Sean) and until their one-night stand they really weren't anything other than as patient-doctor. In the novel, their relationship really went from point A to point B in three days. Yes, they were in life-and-death situations and that brought out strong feelings, but there wasn't that gradual build up of trust and love as with the other couples, and that kind of disappointed me. I've waited for Derek's book for so long, and I was expecting something more and the romance between Derek and Sofia kind of fell short. Instead, the tortured, emotional, multiple-books in the making romance went to Liam and Sully. These two are getting their own book eventually, right?

I Want More!
I can't wait for book 8! Since everyone in Jim Morgan's A-team already found their HEA with the exception of Ash (I think he'll eventually be paired up with with Cate, but I think she's still too young yet), as well as Sully and Liam, but after what went down with Sully in this book I don't think they're ready yet either. Maybe the next one will be one of Noelle's operatives... maybe the mysterious Paige? I don't really care who. I just want it in my hands already!

Final Thoughts
Midnight Revenge might not be my favorite novel in the series, but it's still a fantastic read and an excellent addition to the series. There were a lot of twists and turns, and you don't quite know how everything will come together. Lots of edge-of-your-seat action that I just ate up! The Killer Instinct is one of the BEST romantic suspense series, and a must-read for any fan of romantic suspense. If you enjoy Elle Kennedy's new adult Off Campus series and are looking for other books by her, I suggest you pick up this series. It's just as amazing!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Hello everyone,
I am so excited to be part of the Arrows blog tour, which was organized by the awesome Tika of Fangirl Confessions. You can read my review of Arrows here.

Arrows is the story of the son of Eros and Psyche, Aaryn. During his final test to join the ranks of a full-time cupid, he was supposed to shot a love arrow at both Karma and her boyfriend Danny but realized too late that he only had one working arrow. He shot Karma but not Danny, and his mistake changed the course of Karma's life forever.

A modern cupid story set in present-day Wisconsin combining the fantastical elements of Greek mythology with the contemporary drama of MTV's Teen Mom.

People don’t understand love. If they did, they’d get why dance prodigy Karma Clark just can’t say goodbye to her boyfriend, Danny. No matter what he says or does or how he hurts her, she can’t stay angry with him . . . and can’t stop loving him. But there’s a reason why Karma is helpless to break things off: she’s been shot with a love arrow.

Aaryn, son of Cupid, was supposed to shoot both Karma and Danny but found out too late that the other arrow in his pack was useless. And with that, Karma’s life changed forever. One pregnancy confirmed. One ballet scholarship lost. And dream after dream tossed to the wind.

A clueless Karma doesn’t know that her toxic relationship is Aaryn’s fault . . . but he’s going to get a chance to make things right. He’s here to convince Danny to man up and be there for Karma. But what if this god from Mount Olympus finds himself falling in love with a beautiful dancer from Wisconsin who can never love him in return?

This fast-paced debut novel explores the internal & external conflicts of a girl who finds herself inexplicably drawn to a boy who seemingly doesn't reciprocate her feelings, touching on the issues of love, sex and responsibility, with a heroine struggling to control her destiny--perfect for fans of Katie McGarry's novels and MTV’s 16 and Pregnant.

Arrows is a modern cupid story so I thought it'd be fun to feature 10 of my favorite Greek (mostly tragic) love stories and couples.

Ceyx and Alcyone
via Wikipedia
Alcyone and Ceyx had a happy marriage. So happy and blissful, in fact, that they referred to each other as "Zeus" and "Hera," which angered the real Zeus and Hera. While Ceyx was at sea, Zeus hurled a thunderbolt at his ship and Ceyx drowned. He appeared to Alcyone as a ghost telling her what happened and she was so upset and tormented that she threw herself into the sea to join him. The gods took pity on them and transformed them into kingfishers (a type of bird).

Hero and Leander
via Wikipedia
The story of Hero and Leander is very tragic. Hero was a priestess of Aphrodite and Leander was from Abydos--basically, they live on opposite sides of the Hellespont (a narrow stretch of sea). At night, Hero would hand a torch so Leander could swim across the strait, using the torch's light to guide him. During a stormy night, the torch blew out and Leander lost his way and drowned. When Hero found out what happened, she drowned herself to be with her love.

Orpheus and Eurydice
via Wikipedia

Orpheus's wife Eurydice is a tree nymph (a dryad) who attracted the attentions of Aristaeus (the god of shepherd and cheese-making). Trying to get away from Aristaeus, she stepped on a poisonous snake and was forced into the Underworld. Orpheus went after his wife, and after a lot of obstacles, finally got Hades to release Eurydice with the condition that he not look back as they make their way out the Underworld. But, he looked back and he lost Eurydice forever. Another very tragic love story.

Philemon and Baucis
via Wikipedia
Philemon and Baucis's story is one of the happiest. They were an old married couple who, despite being poor, took in and comforted strangers into their home. Two of these "strangers" they invited into their home were actually Zeus and Hermes in disguise. They decided to reward Philemon and Baucis because before them, they were treated rudely by other mortals. They were gifted a grand temple and the gods granted their wish that if one of them dies, the other would as well. Upon their death, they were both transformed into trees (Philemon to an oak and Baucis to a linden tree). Their boughs intertwined to symbolize everlasting love.

Acis and Galatea
via Wikipedia
Acis, a river god, loved Galatea, a nymph. But Polyphemus, a cyclopes, also loved Galatea. But while Polyphemus was large and ugly, Acis was young and handsome so Galatea preferred him and they have a secret affair. One day Polyphemus found them together and he smashed Acis with a large boulder. But it didn't matter because Galatea turned Acis into an immortal river spirit like herself.

My other favorites Greek myth love stories include stories about Cupid/Eros and Psyche (Aaryn's parents in Arrows), Hades and Persephone, Apollo and Daphne (they're mentioned in Arrows because their tragic story kind of parallel Karma's), Artemis and Actaeon, and Zeus and Hera (they're a volatile couple but their story is definitely an interesting one).

Which tragic (or not so tragic) Greek myth love story is your favorite? How excited are you about Arrows? Inquiring minds want to know.

Arrows is already out in stores! Don't forget to add Arrows to your TBR list and stop by my review of Arrows and read all about my thoughts on Melissa Gorzelanczyk​'s fantastic debut novel. Follow the rest of the blog tour here for more Arrows goodness.

Happy reading,

a Rafflecopter giveaway
E-ARC: 256 pages
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: January 26, 2016
Source of my copy: publisher/Edelweiss
Series: standalone
A modern cupid story set in present-day Wisconsin combining the fantastical elements of Greek mythology with the contemporary drama of MTV's Teen Mom.

People don’t understand love. If they did, they’d get why dance prodigy Karma Clark just can’t say goodbye to her boyfriend, Danny. No matter what he says or does or how he hurts her, she can’t stay angry with him . . . and can’t stop loving him. But there’s a reason why Karma is helpless to break things off: she’s been shot with a love arrow.

Aaryn, son of Cupid, was supposed to shoot both Karma and Danny but found out too late that the other arrow in his pack was useless. And with that, Karma’s life changed forever. One pregnancy confirmed. One ballet scholarship lost. And dream after dream tossed to the wind.

A clueless Karma doesn’t know that her toxic relationship is Aaryn’s fault . . . but he’s going to get a chance to make things right. He’s here to convince Danny to man up and be there for Karma. But what if this god from Mount Olympus finds himself falling in love with a beautiful dancer from Wisconsin who can never love him in return?

This fast-paced debut novel explores the internal & external conflicts of a girl who finds herself inexplicably drawn to a boy who seemingly doesn't reciprocate her feelings, touching on the issues of love, sex and responsibility, with a heroine struggling to control her destiny--perfect for fans of Katie McGarry's novels and MTV’s
16 and Pregnant.

Initial Thoughts
I first heard of Arrows when Tika told me about it. She was organizing a blog tour for it and, of course, I had to get in on it because the premise of Arrows piqued my interest. Cupid's son shot a girl with a love arrow and ruined her life and then falls for her himself? I was very intrigued to say the least.

The Plot
Love arrows come in pairs, and Aaryn, Eros and Psyche's son, shot Karma with one of the arrows. He was going to shoot her boyfriend Danny as well as part of his final exam to join the ranks of full-time cupids when he realized that he didn't have the other love arrow. He and his proctor decided to cover up the incident and left Karma in a horrible situation.

Fast forward to about a year later and Karma's life was essentially ruined because of Aaryn's mistake. She got pregnant and had a baby, she lost a prestigious dance scholarship, and was in a very toxic relationship with Danny. But, because she loves Danny she always found excuses for his behavior and lets him walk all over her.

However, the gods on Mount Olympus learned of Aaryn's mistake and wants him to fix it by convincing Danny to marry Karma or he will lose his god status. It didn't take Aaryn long to realize that Karma was special and she was too good for idiot Danny. And then Aaryn also found himself falling for Karma... So, what was he to do...?

Angry for Karma!
I was in a state of anger pretty much the entire time I was reading Arrows. I felt so bad for Karma and was so angry for her. She's raising her daughter Nell pretty much on her own because her deadbeat, dick of a boyfriend Danny couldn't be bothered. She was a dance prodigy, but had to give up her dreams of attending a dance school in New York because she got pregnant and then had to raise her daughter. But she may get a second chance if she wins a prestigious dance scholarship, but Danny wanted to go to college in Louisiana and she was ready to completely give up on her dreams to follow him. Because Karma was helplessly in love with Danny thanks to Aaryn's love arrow, she couldn't see past Danny's bullshit and lies.

I was so angry at Danny and every time he appeared on the page, I was to reach into the novel and kick him in the nuts. I was also angry with Aaryn because it was all of his fault, and then even though he saw right from the start that Danny was a talentless idiot and Karma was too good for him, he still tried to push them together to save himself. Aaryn did get better, especially when he started to question the idea behind what cupids do and how they interfere with the lives of humans, so I didn't stay angry with him the entire book. Karma's situation just pushed all of my buttons, you guys. I've personally known people who were in a similar situation as Karma--maybe not as extreme, but they put their partner's interests and ambitions first over their own dreams because they're in love.

What I Enjoyed
The author did a good job evoking a rollercoaster of emotions in the reader. I was frustrated and angry for Karma. She had everything going for her, and one mistake that was out of her control ruin her life. I pitied her, but at the same time I rooted for her to break the arrow's spell. On the surface, she was a doormat girlfriend thanks to the arrow, but beneath that you see her strength and her determination. She loves her baby girl, and she's determined to keep dancing despite all the setbacks.

I didn't find Aaryn very swoon-worthy because I was angry with him for a lot of the book. But I realize early on that Arrows is not a swoon-y read. There were some swoon-worthy moments in the end, but foremost it dealt with issues of love and loving someone who isn't right for you, responsibility, emotional and verbal abuse, pursuing your dreams, having agency, among others.

Some Issues
I did have some minor issues with Arrows. One was that the overall writing. It didn't flow quite as smoothly and there were some instances when I was taken out of the story because I didn't know how we got from point A to point B. I was reading an ARC, so it might've been cleaned up in the final copy, but I thought I mention it because there were parts of the book where I'd have to reread certain section to try to make sense of what had happened.

There were also some characters on the Mount Olympus side of the story that left me scratching my head. Mainly it was Tex. What was his deal? I didn't quite get it. So, was he working against Eros and he was following his own agenda? I was confused about his whole thing in the end. And the different types of arrows and chips--that could've been fleshed out a little more. We also saw glimpses of a few Greek gods and goddesses, but only glimpses. For me personally, I kind of wish we saw a little more of them, and they had more of a presence in the story.

Arrows was shorter than your average YA book, only about 250 pages. I would've have liked an epilogue in the end. The story ended kind of abruptly, and I would've like a small glimpse maybe a couple of months after the story ended to see how Karma and Aaryn were getting on. And while I could kind of guess the direction Danny's character was headed, I would've liked to see him on the other side of the arrow and experiencing the same torment and helplessness Karma went through.

Final Thoughts
Arrows was a refreshing read, in that it looked at love and falling in love and relationships at a different away. It had the lightheartedness and campy-ness of a Disney Channel movie, but the seriousness of a Lifetime movie. Overall, I really enjoyed it. I was engaged in the story and the characters' (Karma and Aaryn) situation. I am glad I picked it up.

About Melissa Gorzelanczyk​
Melissa Gorzelanczyk is a former magazine editor and columnist who loves strong coffee, live music, and arrow jewelry. She lives in Green Bay, Wisconsin, with her husband and two teenage children, one of whom is named after a Greek goddess.

​Author Links: Website | Twitter | Instagram​ | Facebook

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Hello everyone,
I am so excited to be part of the The Winner's Kiss blog tour! I absolutely love The Winner's Trilogy, and I am counting down the days until I can get my hands on my beautiful hardcover copy. Because even though the lovely people of Macmillan kindly sent the participants of this blog tour e-ARCs, I need to read how everything ends and what will happen to Arin and Kestrel with the physical book in my hands.

Okay, just in case you haven't seen the gorgeous The Winner's Kiss book cover or read the synopsis, here it is.

War has begun. Arin is in the thick of it with untrustworthy new allies and the empire as his enemy. Though he has convinced himself that he no longer loves Kestrel, Arin hasn’t forgotten her, or how she became exactly the kind of person he has always despised. She cared more for the empire than she did for the lives of innocent people—and certainly more than she did for him.

At least, that’s what he thinks.

In the frozen north, Kestrel is a prisoner in a brutal work camp. As she searches desperately for a way to escape, she wishes Arin could know what she sacrificed for him. She wishes she could make the empire pay for what they’ve done to her.

But no one gets what they want just by wishing.

As the war intensifies, both Kestrel and Arin discover that the world is changing. The East is pitted against the West, and they are caught in between. With so much to lose, can anybody really win?

So gorgeous! I can't get over this cover and I wait to get my hands on my copy so I can stare at that red dress.

For the blog tour, we were asked to share our favorite literary kiss: what is it in, who's involved in the kiss, and why is it my favorite. Of course, the first book that came to mind was Pride and Prejudice. Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth and their kiss in the end that I've anticipated since the moment they met is one of my absolute favorite literary kisses. But that's such as cliche answer so I decided to feature one of my other [more modern] more steamier of literary kisses...

What book is your favorite literary kiss in?
Not from one book, but from a series--The Shatter Me series by Tahereh Mafi.

Who is kissing?
Juliette and Warner (Of course! Adam is bleh.)

Why is it your favorite?
I read the Shatter Me series about a year ago, so I was a bit late to the series. But before I even picked it up I kept hearing people talking about Warner and how they ship him with Juliet. After I read Shatter Me, I was confused why people would ship Warner with Juliette--the guy was awful! But at the same time, I didn't let myself get too attached to Adam (Juliette's other love interest) because even though Warner was awful in the first book I was still kind of rooting for him. I mean, all the Warner shippers (which was basically everybody) couldn't be wrong right?!

Warner and Juliette actually passionately made-out kissed for the first time at the end of Shatter Me, but despite her discovering that there's this strong sexy connection between her and Warner when they kissed, she did it to distract him so she and Adam can escape. So, that was not my favorite kiss.

My favorite kiss between Juliette and Warner happened in book 2, Unravel Me. Chapter 62, to be exact. Warner was at his sweetest, most open, and most sensitive in this scene. I swooned, you guys. It's my favorite kiss in the whole series even though Juliette goes and ruins it in the end by calling Adam's name... URGH!!

And of course there were more kissing scenes between Juliette and Warner in Ignite Me and I love those as well. But, nothing beats Chapter 62 in Unravel Me (despite Juliette's horridness--I really hated her after).

**Forgive all the kissing Frary gifs. I love this couple! I stopped watching Reign after season 1 (because I heard their relationship deteriorates in the later seasons) so they are forever my OTP and I pretend they live happily ever after.

Bonus Question: What kiss do you hope will occur in Marie Rutkoski's The Winner's Kiss?
ALL of the Arin and Kestrel kisses. I hope there will be a lot of kissing between them.

What about you guys? What book has your favorite literary kiss in?

Happy reading,

P.S. If you want to fangirl about Arin and Kestrel, Warner and Juliette, and/or Francis and Mary, I'm @chelleyreads on Twitter. ;)

Daphne, consider yourself kissed.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Review: From the Page Bookish Candles

Tuesday, February 9, 2016 with
Hello everyone,
If you had a chance to stop by my Instagram page, you know that candles are my new obsession. And not just any kind of candles either--I can't get enough bookish candles. Today, I'm going to be reviewing one of my first bookish candle orders from Etsy.

Etsy ShopFrom the Page

Type: 8 ounce 1 wick soy candle

Fragrance: I got Leather Bound Books, 221B Baker Street, and Hobbiton.

Cost: $11.00 each (But there is a "Pick Three" option where you can mix and match 3 scents for $31.00, which I did to save a couple dollars.)

The candles came in 8 ounce glass jars with a silver lid. The jars feel very sturdy and they taper off a bit so you can rest the jar on the lid while you're using the candle, which is nice. This way I don't misplace lids.

The candles do come in different colors, depending on the theme. There's also a label on the glass jar with the candle's name and the scents, which I really appreciated, and a cute little picture that usually match the color of the candle.

While nothing extraordinary, the packaging is attractive and practical.

Overall, the scent strength of the three candles I purchased were above average. They weren't overwhelmingly strong, but I could can smell them from across a medium-sized room so the throw is much to my satisfaction.

221B Baker Street (black currant tea and leather)
This one is my favorite scent of the three. I love burning this one--it's really the perfect scent for a quiet reading night at home on the couch. It's a sweeter, less muskier, more feminine version of Leather Bound Books. It's very pleasant and relaxing--the smell of leather is still there, but it's secondary to the lovely smell of the black currant tea.

Leather Bound Books (leather with hints of musk and vanilla)
This one took some getting used to. The first time I took a whiff of it, I wasn't sure I was going to like it because while I like the leather smell by itself, the combination of vanilla gave it this sweet, leathery smell that didn't quite appeal to me. However, once I started burning it, it wasn't quite so pungent like smelling it from the jar.

Hobbiton (meadow and English garden)
This was my least favorite of the three in terms of scent. I was most excited for this one because I heard others describe it as having a freshly-mown grass smell, but all I got was a masculine soap smell--it really reminded me of an Irish Spring soap scent, which I don't enjoy. I immediately gave it to my dad, who loves the scent of it. If you like the smell of Irish Spring soap like my dad you'll enjoy this one, but it wasn't for me.

Burn Performance
Excellent! The shop said the candles burn for approximately 55 hours--I don't know about that, but I've had these candles for about two and a half months and I burn them for about 3-5 hours at a time, every other week and I'm just a little past the halfway point so they last pretty long.

They also burn evenly, as long as you let it burn long enough to so that the entire top is liquid wax, which doesn't take too long with these candles. There's no black smoke or soot and they've very clean. I trim the wick before lighting them up again (from previous use), and the soy wax stayed nice and clean all the way through. The burn performance for these candles are one of the best from my experience so far. I'm highly pleased with them.

Will I be ordering more from this shop? Definitely! From the Page has a lot of scents to chose from, based on some of my favorite books like Harry Potter and other classic novels. I want to try other scents from them especially now that I know their candles burn very, very well and the price with shipping to Hawaii is relatively less expensive compared to the other Etsy shops.

Happy reading,

Thursday, February 4, 2016

E-ARC: 304 pages
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: February 29, 2016
Source of my copy: publisher/Edelweiss
Series: Reign of Shadows #1
Seventeen years ago, an eclipse cloaked the kingdom of Relhok in perpetual darkness. In the chaos, an evil chancellor murdered the king and queen and seized their throne. Luna, Relhok’s lost princess, has been hiding in a tower ever since. Luna’s survival depends on the world believing she is dead.

But that doesn’t stop Luna from wanting more. When she meets Fowler, a mysterious archer braving the woods outside her tower, Luna is drawn to him despite the risk. When the tower is attacked, Luna and Fowler escape together. But this world of darkness is more treacherous than Luna ever realized.

With every threat stacked against them, Luna and Fowler find solace in each other. But with secrets still unspoken between them, falling in love might be their most dangerous journey yet.

Reign of Shadows Reading Must-Haves
I was part of the blog tour Reign of Shadows and I listed some "essentials" you need while reading this book. It was really fun putting together that post, especially finding the just-right nail polishes.

The First 65% of the Novel
I have to admit, I was worried I wasn't going to like Reign of Shadows while reading up to the 65% mark. I wasn't bored or anything--I was into the story and it wasn't a chore picking it back up after I put it down. It was just that nothing was really happening to drive the story forward. Okay, let me back up and describe the plot a little bit...

Luna lived in a world that was perpetually shrouded in darkness because of a seventeen-year-long (and counting) eclipse. Luna was born when the eclipse began, and in the chaos it brought, the High Chancellor murdered her parents the King and Queen and declared himself king. Luna was smuggled out of the place by [I believe] the midwife and a palace guard, and escaped to a high tower located in the middle of what was rumored to be a cursed forest. They've been living there for 17 years, and while Luna loved her guardians, she longed for something more.

Fowler was on a journey to Allu, a mysterious island free of dwellers (these creepy tentacle-faced creatures that plague their dark world), when he got into trouble and Luna ended up rescuing him. When Luna's tower was compromised, Fowler reluctantly took her with him on his search for Allu not knowing she's really the lost princess of their kingdom. They walk to Allu, all the while keeping a wary eye on and dodging dwellers as well as shady humans.

All of what I described occurred in the first 65% of the story. It wasn't until after the 65% mark did things get interesting and we kind of see the plot moving and evolving and we get a glimpse of where the author might take the story. But before then, there wasn't really much of a plot.

The Romance
The romance was probably my favorite part of Reign of Shadows... Well, actually, it wasn't the romance so much as Luna and Fowler's relationship and how it evolved. They thought the other other was attractive, so there was that kind of tension between them but they didn't really like each other in the beginning. They had a different outlook on life--Luna had a cup-is-half-full attitude while Fowler had a cynical view of the world. But, slowly as they spend more time together, they start to become reluctant friends, and eventually something more. But, I loved that it wasn't inta-love. Okay, I guess when you look at the time frame of the story they weren't together that long but you see a progression in their relationship--they didn't just wake up one day and decided they like each other. Instead, mutual respect and trust occurred first before the big romantic feelings.

The [No] Map Situation
Besides the nothing-was-happening bit, my biggest issue with this book was the fact that there was no mention of the characters following a map throughout their journey. It's a road trip book--the two main characters go on a quest to find this mysterious island, but how do they know the way? There was not mention of them following a map, a path, or even anyone telling either Luna or Fowler which way to go. The only time a map was mentioned was before their journey even started, when Fowler said that Allu Island is on every map and it's a 3-month journey from Luna's tower on foot. After that, they just start walking and Fowler just seem to know which direction to go without consulting anything or anyone. I mean, I'm very familiar with the town I live in, but even I need Google Maps or a GPS to find certain places. This just bothered me the whole I was reading Reign of Shadows. Whenever I thought about it too deeply, I get taken out of the story so I tried not to. I did read an e-ARC, so maybe this detail was remedied in the finished copy?

The Last 35% of the Novel
When all the things happened! The last 35% was so good that I was incapable of stopping so I just read it straight through late in the night. And, that ending! The last 35% definitely saved Reign of Shadows from being a meh read into one I cannot wait the sequel for. I am expecting book 2 to be all kinds of epic.

Final Thoughts
While it wasn't a struggle to read Reign of Shadows because there were elements in the novel that kept my interest, I did wonder where the author was taking the story. This book was a lot of background information for both the world and the characters. Now that we are past all of that, and after the revelations in the end of Reign of Shadows, the rest of the series should prove more engaging and thrilling.