Isa Lavinia

I'll read anything, even the back of shampoo bottles, if there's nothing else.

Deep Dark Fears by Fran Krause

Deep Dark Fears - 

Fran Krause
ARC provided by Ten Speed Press through Netgalley
I had seen a few of Fran Krause's comics around tumblr, so when I saw this book on Netgalley I simply had to read it!
Thankfully I was approved because it was a delightful read!
Krause accepts submissions of tumblr users' darkest fears and draws them in a charming art style, bringing them to life and giving them the humour needed to soften the horror they represent. 
One thing I experienced, when I saw his comics on tumblr, was that I not only shared quite a few of the deep dark fears drawn, but that I would also end up with new fears I didn't have before...
For instance, a fear I have:
A new fear these comics have given me:
If you like funny comics and scary things please give this a try, I recommend it!
Fran Krause's official site, and the Deep Dark Fears tumblr
Buy Deep Dark Fears 
@ The Book Depository (with free worldwide delivery!)

A Sorceress of His Own by Dianne Duvall

A Sorceress of His Own (The Gifted Ones Book 1) - 

Dianne Duvall
DNF @ 35%
This has to be one of the most clichéd and boring books I've ever read.
The story starts with Alyssa, the Wisewoman's granddaughter who, at sixteen, believes herself madly in love with Lord Dillon, whom her grandmother serves.
I know we're all familiar with love at first sight, but this is actually love at NO SIGHT.
This girl has literally NEVER met this guy. 
But she fell in love with what she knows of him from the things her grandmother tells her, despite him being known as a bloodthirsty cruel man.
So off she sets to take her grandmother's place, disguising herself as an old woman, painting age spots on her hands, and faking a feeble voice, all at the age of sixteen even if her entire family tells her she's being stupid. 
Mary Sue that she is, she single-handedly defeats Dillon's enemies even though they'd been laying siege to the fortress forever. Apparently, during a siege, people just walk right in and out of a fortress, and go around poisoning the ENTIRETY of the fortress' inhabitants. 
Seven years pass and we're told, not shown, that Dillon and Alyssa become bff, playing games, unburdening their hearts to each other, etcetera.
This girl has zero personality. Her entire existence revolves around her precious Dillon. Not that I can say much about Dillon either, since his entire existence revolves around... nothing at all. 
Thankfully, Dillon dreams of his future bride, who is, of course, Alyssa, so when he is brutally wounded and Alyssa selflessly takes his wounds for herself while healing him her true guise is discovered. 
Desperate confessions of love are professed because OMG SHE'S HOT NOW and he can't lose her!
"“Nay,” he denied, his heartbeat thundering in his ears. “Nay! Nay!” he repeated, his voice rising to a shout. “Do not leave me, Seer! You cannot!" 
Yes, I know it's the nae nae, not nay nay.
Quite honestly, I couldn't keep going after this. 
The plot is barely existent, the pacing is fast and boring at the same time, the characters are a Mary Sue and a Gary Stu, their romance is implausible, and the entire story reeks of immaturity - if it weren't for the sexual content I'd say the book would be suitable for very young teens. 
I'm giving it one star instead of zero stars for the language used, which was period appropriate, but that's literally the only good thing about this book.
Dianne Duvall's official site
Buy A Sorceress of His Own
@ The Book Depository (with free worldwide delivery!)

From Wallflower to Countess by Janice Preston

From Wallflower to Countess - 

Janice Preston
This is one of those cases where the rating is quite literal: 2 stars means it's okay, 3 stars means it's good, and this book was in the middle of these two.
From Wallflower to Countess is very readable. I read it all in one go!
It doesn't have any excessive drama, and it's entertaining. 
We're skilfully shown (not told! so that's good!) what makes these characters who they are, from the main characters to the secondary ones. 
You didn't get villains who did things just to be evil, they had their reasons and these reasons made sense. 
Of the "good" characters there was none I didn't like. 
While the crux of the story kept me reading and it made sense, it also kept me feeling as if these people needed to wake up and realise that it was irrelevant what they chose to do or not to do, because the situation was already happening and they were turning into a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts. Mind you, this is addressed in the book! 
The thing is, I never felt strongly about any of it, save for Felicity's sister, her mother's fate, Charles, and little Millie. 
And while Felicity's sister's story was concluded, the others were just left dangling.
What happened to her mother and her odious new husband?
What happened with the annoying Charles?
Who did that despicable thing to poor Millie?
It just felt unfinished, even if the main plot was resolved.
Still, it's an entertaining read, especially for a cosy afternoon :)
Janice Preston's official site
Buy From Wallflower to Countess
@ The Book Depository (with free worldwide delivery!)

A Rogue by Any Other Name - 

Sarah MacLean
The summary for this book is so exciting! 
A rake trying to protect his virtuous wife from his life of sin!
Too bad that, though that is in the story, how we get there and how it's handled leaves quite a bit to be desired...
Michael, the marquess of Bourne, lost his entire fortune and properties on the gambling table to his late father's best friend.
Feeling betrayed, he swears vengeance and lives his life completely obsessed with gaining back his lands and destroying his enemy.
Cue Penelope, his childhood best friend. Once they were inseparable but, when Michael lost everything, he left society and Penelope behind. 
Nothing would make him go back... that is, until Penelope's father, now in possession of Michael's lands which he won from Michael's enemy, attaches said lands to Penelope's dowry.
I must say I absolutely LOVED Penelope. 
She was so sensible, so practical. All her actions and thoughts made sense, everything she did felt real. 
Which makes everything all the more jarring when Michael turns out to be totally crazy.
This dude was 21 when he gambled all his possessions and lost. 
What does he do? Admit the error of his ways, realise this was his fault?
He keeps on believing that he was an innocent ~child~ when this happened.
In what world is a 21 year old man a child?
I wouldn't have gambled my entire worldly possessions at 12, let alone at 21!
How irredeemably stupid do you have to be not only to do that but to go on believing it wasn't your fault.
It could be rightfully argued that a gambling addiction excuses his bet.
But it certainly doesn't excuse his dogged belief that the fault lies in the man who won the bet and not in himself.
Not only that but he acted like a creep. 
I thought he'd approach Penelope and, building on the friendship they had, try to court her.
He kidnaps her and compromises her. Manipulates her by threatening her sisters.
Then, when they could have moved on and been happily married he was all, "Woe is me!" and "I'm not fit to love her!", and "I must send her away!"
This dude acted like losing his stuff and becoming a self made man was the equivalent of sucking dick for coke, in terms of shame.
This turned what could have been a satisfactory, if problematic, book of about 200 pages into a boring drama of about 400 pages.
Still, I am curious and will probably read the second book with Pippa and Cross. 
The author does know how to write, even if her male protagonist was a complete waste.
Sarah MacLean's official site
Buy A Rogue by Any Other Name
@ The Book Depository (with free worldwide delivery!)


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Birthday Best Sellers

Essence - 

Lisa Ann O'Kane
arc provided by Strange Chemistry through Netgalley
I... don't even know what to write about this book.
This is really weird, because I tend to love Strange Chemistry's books, I don't understand how they decided to publish this... but other people seem to have liked it, so...
This book has one of the most annoying and tstl heroines I've come across recently. Honestly, I spent my time going, "Girl, don't do it! Oh my God."
Add to that a nonsensical plot, no character development, no worldbuilding, AND A LOVE TRIANGLE that felt so forced I was just frowning at the screen the whole time, and I was just done with this. 
I was drawn to this book because Autumn escapes a cult. As it turns out she escapes from one cult to another.
The insta-love was dreadful, the way she used Javi to make Ryder jealous was despicable...
And Ryder, the ~hot love interest~, is so disgusting! Drugging her, showing off his bits in what amounted to real live unwanted (as if they're ever wanted...) dick pics, lying to her, being a horrible influence urging her to risk her life for the thrill of it... Pushing her to sex, alcohol and drugs for the adrenaline, instead of treating these things in a responsible way...
How was this even published to a young adult audience?!

Frog and Toad Are Friends (Frog and Toad #1) by Arnold Lobel

Frog and Toad Are Friends - 

Arnold Lobel
Such a pity I didn't get to read this book as a child.
Every time Toad would speak I'd just go, "I feel you" and "This dude really gets me".


Buy Frog and Toad Are Friends
@ The Book Depository (paperback for only €3,86/$4.19!!!)



The Betrayal of Renegade X (Renegade X #3) by Chelsea M. Campbell

The Betrayal of Renegade X - 

Chelsea M. Campbell
This is seriously one of my absolutely favourite series, so this review will feature a lot of fangirling!
In the last book we see Damien finally make a choice regarding his future. Now we see him trying to see that choice through. 
I honestly loved seeing him fight the establishment, loudly disagreeing with the misinformation and propaganda taught in school. Being vocal about the dehumanization of the "enemy" they are being fed.
Of course that doesn't turn out well for him, academically speaking. 
One thing I find very realistic in this series is how his father says he'll try to do better and accept Damien as he is, but then he'll get disappointed about it and try to change him. He's always like, "Son, just watch, I will show you how proud I am of you for being true to yourself!" And then we're like, "Okay, let's see this." BUT it always ends up like:


Damien struggles with the need to be accepted while constantly suffering micro-aggressions for being who he is. When he gets the courage to do it, he points it out and the people surrounding him promise they'll do better... then a few pages later they're back to the usual crap.


It's disheartening, and painfully familiar to me. I can empathise with how tired, frustrated, and depressed Damien gets in the middle of all this.
This aimlessness strikes him hard. He doesn't feel accepted anywhere. 
So when his villain grandfather offers him the chance to make a difference in the world by being the voice for villain's whose human rights are openly broken, Damien feels as if he finally has a purpose, a future, just the way he is. 
The best part about this book is how Damien starts to accept that he is who he is, regardless of what other people expect of him, regardless of what other people project his personality to be. 
Sadly he still fights for approval, but let's be real, that's what all of us do. Still it's a really powerful message.
So, let me summarise my thoughts on this book: 
  • - Great plot
  • - Great character development
  • - Believable family struggles
  • - Quest for self discovery
  • - Social issues properly addressed


One thing I love in this series, and that's been slow building, is Damien's relationship with his sister Amelia. They outwardly hate each other, but when the going gets tough they're there for each other. That's so beautiful! I hope we'll see more of it in future books!
There is one thing I must be very critical about: this series deals with many social issues pertaining to minorities - violations of human rights, "fantastical racism", micro-aggressions, etcetera. 
But where are the actual minorities?!
Granted, not every character is extensively described, but is there anyone who is not white? 
This lack of diversity saddens me, it seems appropriative to address these issues with such a white cast of characters.
I hope I'm wrong and that I missed a few POC in the books, but even so I'm pretty sure none of them are main characters...
Still, as I said, this is one of my favourite series, and whenever I'm down I'll just read it and it cheers me up! So I highly recommend it!
Oh, and when will the hardback be available at the Book Depository? :(
Chelsea M. Campbell's official site
Buy The Betrayal of Renegade X

Dark Skye by Kresley Cole

Dark Skye - 

Kresley Cole
This is a difficult book to rate.
On the one hand I really loved the plot! I loved the characters! I loved the world building! I loved how feminist it was! I even, dare I say it, loved the angst.


But that dialogue? Wtf.


It was the most absurd, unbelievable dialogue I've read recently.
No one talks like that, no one. And I don't mean how old-timey it was, that's completely expected considering the characters' ages.
I mean how robotic everyone sounded. How much exposition there was every time someone opened their mouth. How everything was explained to the reader, as if we can't discern the plot for ourselves.
How no one would shut up, even while having sex! Really, they'd be hard at it and a constant stream of dialogue would accompany it...



So... I don't even know. Everything else is worth at least 4.5 stars... but it's all disconcertingly bogged down with that... thing that passed for dialogue.
Anyway, I still recommend it. It was a fun read, and I really felt for the characters and their story, they had depth, they were believable, and what's most important, I liked them. 

Kresley Cole's official site

Buy Dark Skye
@ The Book Depository (with free worldwide delivery!)



Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

Nimona - 

 Noelle Stevenson
I'm terrible at following webcomics, so, while I love everything that Noelle draws, I could never keep up with Nimona.
I'm glad I didn't because I could just read it all in one go!
This was soooo awesome!
I love Nimona! She's so cute and always ready to demolish everything!
My favourite part of Nimona is, of course, Nimona's relationship with Blackheart. They're best buds/father-daughter and it's the sweetest thing.
I honestly couldn't put this down!
Obviously, I highly recommend it :)

You can see a few Nimona extras in Noelle's #nimona tag on her tumblr.


Midnight's Kiss (Elder Races #8) by Thea Harrison

Midnight's Kiss (A Novel of the Elder Races) - 

Thea Harrison
This was such an entertaining and addictive read!
I find the Elder Races series as a bit of a hit-or-miss. Sometimes I don't particularly care for the character. Sometimes I just can't feel the connection between the couples. Sometimes I just don't like the book at all. 
But when Thea Harrison gets it right, she gets it really right!
I didn't read the book before this one. No offence but most of my friends found it dull, and since there was such a power imbalance within the relationship, and as I find the whole business with the djinn to be a great bore, I didn't really bother with it. However, I did read the epilogue to get sure I didn't miss anything going in to this book!
Melly and Julian were scorching the last pages of the book before this one, so I was quite enthusiastic to just move on to this book. And I was not disappointed!
Their relationship was just something that sizzled, the UST, the way Julian did not hesitate to risk his life for Melly even though their past wasn't all sunshine and rainbows...
I really felt as if their history, their connection, was real!
Add that to a solid urban fantasy plot, and I just could not stop reading until the book ended, and I wish I could read beyond that because I was loving this couple!
I obviously recommend it!
Thea Harrison's official site
buy Midnight's Kiss

Spinster's Gambit by Gwendolynn Thomas

Spinster's Gambit - 

Gwendolynn Thomas
I must admit, this book started off on the wrong foot.
Honestly, don't expect readers to take a liking to characters when their first words pertain to the best way to kill a cat, even if in jest.
That being said, it got better. 
Jac is a spinster who wants to experience life, even for a short while. So when her brother Daniel offers to teach her fencing if she disguises herself as a man and accompany him, she does not hesitate. 
It's very difficult to not feel sympathetic towards Jac, cat hater though she might be. There's something infinitely sad about a brilliant woman languishing away in a society which firmly ostracises women like her. And even sadder to know that all over the world women still struggle like this. 
It's in her manly disguise that Jac meets Aspen. Aspen, a duke, has the left side of his body and face covered in scars. He longs for a wife and family, though most ladies of the ton can barely look him in the eyes. 
So when Jac becomes fast friends with him we get to know the man behind the scars.
I really liked the friendship between Aspen and Jac, even if he didn't realise she was a woman. Though it was a little unbelievable that he wouldn't notice who she was, especially while dealing with her as a woman in balls. 
I know we're supposed to just go with it, and I did, but I couldn't help thinking how, if I were to do this, you know, come back from the club where I'd been smoking cheroots and discussing politics, to appear at a ball in a gown and be like, "Good evening, long time no see!" my friends would just go, "Are you an imbecile? We just saw you an hour ago..."
My favourite part of the book had to be Jac's brother Daniel and his relationship with Henry and Henry's daughter Laura. It was so sweet! It made me really sad that Jac wasn't a part of that for so long...
Despite my complaints regarding the treatment of cats and the improbability of the start of the plot, i highly recommend this book. It gets much, much better as you read on, so give it a chance!
buy Spinster's Gambit

Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation by Bill Nye

Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation  - 

Corey Powell, Bill Nye
I think this is a really good starter book for those who didn't study the subject matter at hand. 
However, for those of us who did, it seems pretty basic. I learned all of this from middle school through college and I don't know... I guess I was expecting something along the lines of Steve Jones' books, which always have those little known fascinating facts that even scientists feel wonder reading them.
Also, I was really expecting Nye to crack down on creationism, but he only does it for a very short length...
Still, this is a wonderful book for those who did not study evolution.

Bill Nye's official site

Buy Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation
@ The Book Depository



The Duke's Holiday by Maggie Fenton

The Duke's Holiday - 

Maggie Fenton

This is the perfect example of "too much of a good thing".
I can't recall a novel with a more entertaining beginning thank this one. The characters are hilarious, the setting is amazing, the dialogue is snappy, and Petunia the pig is great.

Montford, with his OCD and tragic past, is very endearing.
Astrid, with her mismatched eyes and bluestocking ways, is incredibly funny.
And aunt Anabele is one of the funniest characters in recent times!

It was absolutely delightful to dive into this world and all its crazy turns!

Sadly, near the end it started to drag. And drag. And draaag.
I honestly think that the

rape subplot

(show spoiler)

was unnecessary. It's a very touchy subject, unreadable for some, and I hate to see it used so lightly as a plot point. It really sucked all the fun out of the book...

And it wasn't much better how Montford, barely a day after the event,

decides to kidnap, tie up, and take Astrid to Gretna Green to get married

(show spoiler)

. No offence, but after such a traumatic experience the last thing you want to do is re-enact pieces of it in a ~romantic~ way.

That said, it was mostly enjoyable, and very funny, and I CAN'T WAIT to read the next book about Sherbrook and Lady Katherine!



Daughter of Glass by Vicki Keire

Daughter of Glass - 

Vicki Keire
Thank you so much to Curiosity Quills for providing us with this book in exchange for an honest review!


I was so, so excited about this book! 
Just read the summary! Doesn't it sound amazing?
Sadly, it didn't work for me...
The book is quite short, at about 199 pages, but it still doesn't feel like there is enough plot for it.
For starters it's overly-descriptive. Every little thing, as irrelevant to the plot as it may be, is told to us: car rides, extensive physical descriptions, every little thing that goes through Sasha's (the main character) thoughts is told to us in detail. 
And on the subject of being told... this book is all "tell", no "show". 
Readers can infer things, they don't need to be told, often through repetition (and repetition, and repetition...) what is going on. As a reader, I felt like I was being talked down to...
And when the author wasn't telling the reader every minutiae, we got awkward, stilted dialogue instead. 
Then there is Sasha (who is a very hard to relate to main character), and Noah's... "relationship". 
"For about the millionth time, I tried to name this feeling between us and failed."
It's insta-love, girl. 
To summarise, this book is basically a good plot idea failed in the execution, ending up as a collection of YA tropes, from the insta-love, to the absent parents, complete with tragically dead mother, too much drama... I could go on.
It just wasn't for me, but maybe others will like it. 

Buy Daughter of Glass
@ amazon

Vicki Keire's official site