Grey & Darker by E.L. James

(NOTE: This may contain spoilers if you haven’t read the original trilogy.)

The release of the final Fifty Shades of Grey movie, Fifty Shades Freed, is upon us, and with the prompting of a friend, I decided to give Grey and Darker, the first two books in the Fifty Shades trilogy told from Christian Grey’s perspective, a try.

32024902E L James revisits the world of Fifty Shades with a deeper and darker take on the love story that has enthralled millions of readers around the globe.

Their scorching, sensual affair ended in heartbreak and recrimination, but Christian Grey cannot get Anastasia Steele out of his mind, or his blood. Determined to win her back, he tries to suppress his darkest desires and his need for complete control, and to love Ana on her own terms.

But the horrors of his childhood still haunt him, and Ana’s scheming boss, Jack Hyde, clearly wants her for himself. Can Christian’s confidant and therapist, Dr. Flynn, help him face down his demons? Or will the possessiveness of Elena, his seducer, and the deranged devotion of Leila, his former submissive, drag Christian down into the past?

And if Christian does win Ana back, can a man so dark and damaged ever hope to keep her?

First, I don’t know why, but I hate strongly dislike books told from alternative points of view, especially if it’s an entire book published way after the fact to capitalize on the success of the first. Why wasn’t the story told in dual POV in the first place? Does this character – a secondary character, really – have anything to add to the story? Alas, there’s a special place (a small, red room, perhaps?)  in my heart for Fifty and I gave Christian’s perspective a try.

Grey and Darker were impossible to put down. Much like reading their counterparts for the first time, I was immediately immersed into Christian’s dark world and it was kind of a pleasure to get a peek into his fifty-shades-of-effed-up head. However, Christian comes across less domineering and more damaged hero with his constant worrying and insecurities. I found them endearing.

My biggest struggle with reading Grey and Darker is you only get Christian’s perspective. Sure, it allows you to see some interesting things we missed in the original books (i.e. Christian’s fear and immediate attachment to Ana, what really went down when Charlie Tango crashed, and my personal favorite, what Christian’s mother said after finding out Mrs. Robinson and Christian’s secret.) However, I found myself struggling to remember what actually happened when Ana is “off-the-page,” specifically Ana with her Mom in Georgia and Ana and the gun-wielding sub in book two.  It made me want to go back and read the originals (even though I loathe re-reading), which I read years ago now, to get the full picture.

I did enjoy Christian’s perspective, but I wish these stories had been told side-by-side since the get-go, which goes back to my instinctual dislike of Alternate POV retellings. However, Christian’s nervous energy and fear would have taken away from his allure in Fifty Shades of Grey. It’s only endearing to readers after we get to know him and the end of his story.

My favorite part of Christian’s POV is the look into his past, specifically his “crack whore” mom and his early sub days with Mrs. Robinson. This really filled out Christian as a character for me and made his domineering, controlling ways more palatable. He became more of a person than a typical caricature of an “Alpha Male.”

I initially listened to Grey on audiobook, and the narrator did an AMAZING job, but I don’t think this book is conducive to narration because of all the email traffic and contracts. There is nothing more boring than listening to the narrator read the ENTIRE contract, especially when I skimmed through most of it the first time I read this story.

In the end, I give this story four stars because I couldn’t put it down and it was entertaining and familiar. I love these characters and their story, and I enjoyed being immersed back into their world. I couldn’t give it five stars because it can’t standalone. You have to read the original to get the retelling.

STARS: 4 out of 5


Blogoversary and Bookish Resolutions

Happy Blogoversary to me!

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Today, I’ve been blogging for SIX years. This blog began as a New Year’s resolution that I’ve stuck with for six. whole. years. CRAZY! There have been times when I thought about retiring my blog because it’s a lot to keep up with but I keep going because I love books that much and I can’t help but talk about them.

Last year, I made the following resolutions.

1.Stay consistent with my blogging throughout the year.

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I’m fairly satisfied. I’ve stayed mostly consistent but I’m trying not to stress myself out, which requires me to be okay with ghosting from the blogging world for awhile.

2. Focus on quality over quantity for reviews.


I met this goal because I wasn’t worried about reviewing every book I read, but focused on writing quality reviews at a steady pace. So I’m going to call that some high quality H2- oh, er, reviews.

3. Write more.

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Since last year, I’ve written two novels  — a contemporary romance and a YA Fantasy. I’m now in the editing stage to get my manuscripts prettied up for querying. So NAILED it!

4. Get more ARCs.


FAILED! I absolutely failed. I think I got as far as glancing at my netgalley account and then nothing. I’ve read a lot of good books this year, just no advanced copies.

Now for my 2018 Bookish Resolutions.

  1. Read what I want to read. I’m such a mood reader and I often feel pressured to read the newest books instead of what I really want to read. Here’s to reading what I want, when I want in 2018.
  2. Participate in Top Ten Tuesday…sometimes. I love lists and I adore reading other bloggers’ Top Ten every Tuesday, but I’ve never taken the time to get it together and do it myself. So I’m going to try, but I can’t guarantee I can pull it off every week because of time and sometimes I just don’t like the topic.
  3. Start Querying. I’ve written a few novels, found some critique partners and I’m in the thick of heavy edits. My goal this year is to start querying agents because I’ve realized that getting published really is my new dream.
  4. Get ARCS. Yeah, I’m going to try this one again. Fingers crossed!

What about you? Any bookish resolutions?

2017 End of Year Survey

I know it’s now officially 2018, but I wanted to participate in this year’s (2017) End of Year Survey created by The Perpetual Page-Turner.

Number Of Books You Read: 105
Number of Re-Reads: 1
Genre You Read The Most From: Romance


1. Best Book You Read In 2017?

(If you have to cheat — you can break it down by genre if you want or 2017 release vs. backlist)

A Court of Wings and Ruin by S.J. Maas

Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff

Wildfire by Ilona Andrews

Breath of Fire by Amanda Bouchet

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?


Violet Grenade by Victoria Scott. I thought I was going to love this one but I ended up hating it.

 3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?  

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Hunted by Megan Spooner. I liked this one way more than I expected.

 4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?

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I pushed Ilona Andrews Hidden Legacy series, and of course, anything written by Sarah J. Maas.

 5. Best series you started in 2017? Best Sequel of 2017? Best Series Ender of 2017?

Started: Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller

Sequel: Tied by Carian Cole

Ender: A Court of Wings and Ruin by SJM

 6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2017?

Laura Thalassa and Amanda Bouchet

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?


Devils Within by S.F. Henson. Although this book is YA, which I read all the time, it wasn’t the kind of YA I typically read.

 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

I binged the Hidden Legacy series by Ilona Andrews

 9. Book You Read In 2017 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

I don’t typically re-read, but if I do, it’ll probably be SJM’s ACOTAR series.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2017?


Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff. It’s badass and aligns completely with this story.

11. Most memorable character of 2017?

Cat Fisa from the Kingmaker Chronicles by Amanda Bouchet. She’s a badass heroine that can tell when people are lying.

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2017?

A Court of Wings and Ruin or Tower of Dawn by SJM

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2017?

I want to say Hunted by Megan Spooner or the Fallen World Trilogy series by Laura Thalassa

 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2017 to finally read? 


Outlander, definitely

 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2017?

From A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas:

“Remember that you are a wolf. And you cannot be caged.”

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2017?

Shortest: What About Her by Emma Tharp

Longest: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

 17. Book That Shocked You The Most

Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

(OTP = one true pairing if you aren’t familiar)

Serenity and The King from the Fallen Trilogy by Laura Thalassa,  Cat and Griffin from the Kingmaker Chronicles by Amanda Bouchet, and of course, Rhys and Feyre from ACOWAR by SJM

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

I have no idea on this one.

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2017 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

Pipe Dreams by Sarina Bowen

21. Best Book You Read In 2017 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

The Fallen World trilogy by Laura Thalassa was a recommendation and I am SO thankful!

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2017?


Griffin from the Kingmaker Chronicles by Amanda Bouchet

23. Best 2017 debut you read?


Song of the Current by Sarah Tolcser

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

Twist by Kylie Scott

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2017?

Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?


Tied by Carian Cole

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2017?

Nine Minutes by Beth Flynn

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas because she left us with the “Fireheart” chapter that made me want the final book NOW!


New favorite book blog you discovered in 2017?

I’ve followed a lot of new people but I enjoy posts from A Novel Glimpse and Twin Bookmarks because we have the same taste in books and they recommend some great books I’ve never heard of before.

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2017?

Probably Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff because I was so on fire when I wrote my review or the few times I used gifs writing Mini-Reviews, which I think I’ll try to do more of in the future.


3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?

I would say my monthly recap posts because I have fun putting them together and sharing a bit of what I’m doing outside of my reading life.

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

I went to see Sarah J. Maas at the Tower of Dawn release and UtopiaCon was awesome this year. Also, S.F. Henson, who wrote Devils Within, lives in my area and visited my book club!

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2017?

The best moments for me is when I can convince someone to read something they love or when I find a new book/author based on another blogger’s recommendation.

6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?

I’m an aspiring author so I’ve been trying to juggle reading, blogging and writing. This makes it hard to focus sometimes, and inevitably, something falls off my radar for a period of time.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

My most viewed was surprisingly my review for The Chemist by Stephanie Meyer and That Time I Met Sarah J. Maas.

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

Probably any time I write a discussion post.

9. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

I love receiving my Uppercase Box, which is a YA monthly book subscription, each month. I also buy a book quite often from my daily Bookbub email newsletter much to my wallet’s dismay.

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

I met my goal of 100 books for the Goodreads Challenge. I want to join other challenges but I don’t have time to be that organized.


1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2017 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2018?


I’ve resisted reading the last book in Kim Harrison’s Hollows series and Chloe Neil’s Chicagoland Vampire series because I don’t want to let go of those characters yet.

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2018 (non-debut)?

A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas

3. 2018 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

 4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2018?

Blood Fury by J.R. Ward and Rage by Cora Carmack

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2018?

See my upcoming post on Bookish Resolutions.

Mini-Reviews: Hidden Legacy Series, Trust, Cake and Breath of Fire

Hello world! I’m back after an unintentional hiatus.


My sister got married. I got the flu. And, ya know, decided reading and watching TV was more fun than writing blog posts. But I’m back after a much needed pep talk.

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I’ve read so many books over the past month so I’ve decided to do some mini-reviews right out of the gate and do a little catching up. Here goes!

The Hidden Legacy Series by Ilona Andrews

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Woo! I’m still fanning myself after this scorcher of a romance. I devoured all three of these books back-to-back, and if you’re interested in reading them, I’d recommend you make time for all three because they are that addicting. I’m a huge fan of Ilona Andrews but I’d argue this series is her best yet. The magic. The mayhem. The hot as hell male lead Mad Rogan. Nevada is a kick ass heroine with a cool-as-hell family, including her badass grandmother. Just read it, people. If you like Urban Fantasy, you won’t regret it.

STARS: 5 out of 5

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Trust by Kylie Scott


Kylie Scott is an auto-buy author for me. I LOVE her work, so when Trust came out and it didn’t meet my expectations, I was beyond disappointed. It had so much promise. The premise was intriguing, her main character showed love to curvy girls everywhere, and the love interest was a complex bad boy. Unfortunately, the story was a bit far-fetched and I didn’t buy it. The plot built but the climax never came. The story fell flat for me. I am so disappointed I didn’t like it more.

STARS: 3 out of 5

Review in gif: 

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Cake by J. Bengtsson


I took a chance on Cake after reading rave reviews and downloaded the audiobook, because let’s face it, I’d never knowingly read a story named “Cake.” Granted, I did end up loving the inspiration for the title. This story was such a surprise. It was the sweetest most engaging love story. I hung on every word. However, this novel had a kryptonite, and it was pacing. At times, the story was perfect and I was enthralled swooning and smiling, and then the story would drag and I’d have to force myself through. And with it being an audiobook, it’s hard to force yourself to listen through the slow, boring parts. It took me way longer than normal to listen to this entire novel. However, it had enough good parts to outweigh the bad. I’m hoping this author pays more attention to pacing in her future novels, because her writing and story-crafting show promise.

STARS: 3.5 out of 5

Review in gif: 

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Breath of Fire by Amanda Bouchet


The Kingmaker Chronicles is a fantasy romance that shouldn’t be missed. Where has Amanda Bouchet been all my life? I devoured this sequel and was left squalling for the third and final book that won’t be out til 2018. Cat and Griffin are #relationshipgoals, and the magic and setting had me daydreaming about this world long after the last page had been read. It was exciting adventure that left my blood pumping in more ways than one.

STARS: 5 out of 5

Review in gif:

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My #Utopiacon2017 Experience

In June, I went to Utopiacon in Nashville, which is a conference for authors, writers, bloggers and readers. I had a blast geeking out over books with my best friend, meeting my favorite authors, and of course, getting my books signed.


Here’s some of the highlights.

Utopiacon 2017_keynoteAmy Harmon, author of Making Faces and The Bird and the Sword, was the keynote speaker. She encouraged aspiring writers to “be a finisher,” and when it comes to writing, “what you don’t know you’ll figure out.” She also did a reading out of The Bird and the Sword, which was amazing because she has this awesome husky voice. I could have listened to her all day.

I got to meet Jennifer L. Armentrout. (Yes, that JLA, the woman who brought us Katy/Daemon from the Lux series, and my personal favorite Layla/Roth from The Dark Elements trilogy.) She’s one of my favorite authors and I did nothing but fangirl in her presence. (I tried to keep it together guys. I really did.)

Utopiacon 2017_Armentrout

I also saw her speak on a panel regarding hybrid authors. JLA talked about how her best career move was taking a risk and publishing with a small press, and discouraged aspiring writers from saying yes to everything. She commented on how that’s why she’s been working non-stop and putting out so many books. (I’m happy she said yes. #sorrynotsorry). Other authors on the panel had great insight. Shannon Mayer, author of Priceless, encouraged writers to invest in their cover and brand, and Elise Kova, author of The Alchemists of the Loom, talked about changing marketing tactics for each series.

Utopiacon 2017 panel

I saw a lot of other great panels and sat through some readings, which are now my favorite thing. Even if you don’t know anything about an author or their books, sit through a reading. I found some great new books this way.

I got to meet C.J. Redwine, author of The Wish Granter. She was so sweet. During a panel on the pressures in publishing, she said, “If I wouldn’t cry at your funeral, I don’t have to care what you think about me.” I’m pretty sure that’s my new life motto.


Over the weekend, I bought 12 books, which was quite the book haul!

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I got to meet a lot of authors.

Ginger Scott was so nice. I fangirled about The Hard Count and A Boy Like Me. We talked about the sports romance genre and how we both think that genre should include scenes where the sport is actually played.

Elise Kova seemed so business savvy. I went to her reading of The Alchemists of the Loom and I immediately wanted to read it.

Abbi Glines was quiet, but she signed my book and gave me Rush underwear so I was a happy camper!

Casey Bond was an author I’d never read before, but she spoke so eloquently during a panel, I had to see what she was about.

Amy Harmon was an absolute doll. So nice. I want to give her books a second chance. I think I’ll read The Bird and The Sword since it has some pretty cool magic.

Beth Flynn was such a surprise. I don’t know who was more surprised — me or her. She was shocked that I’d read her books, and I was shocked that this sweet older lady wrote a novel that tore my heart from my body. I joked about needing to join a support group after Nine Minutes, and she jokingly warned me that Out of Time might do me in. She’s pretty much a badass.

Shannon Mayer was another author I hadn’t read before, but I attended her reading and her new series has talking guns…and I was sold from the very first snarky remark. She was also very encouraging when I told her I was an aspiring writer. I kind of want to be her best friend and her Urban Fantasy Rylee Adamson series is next on my TBR.

I didn’t get a picture with Cambria Hebert, but she was fun to talk to, and I got to meet Jasinda Wilder.

The weekend ended with an awards ceremony and a Circus-themed Freakshow Ball. My best friend and I had a great time.

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Overall, Utopiacon 2017 was a success. Unfortunately, this is the final year of the conference, but they did mention a reunion Utopiacon in a few years.





Monthly Recap and Book of the Month

June has been a whirlwind. I’ve been reading like there is no tomorrow and I got to go to Utopiacon 2017. I’m absolutely exhausted going into July.



Book of the Month*


The Queen of Traitors by Laura Thalassa – 5 stars!

It was hard to decide the book of the month this month, but I loved this series so much and I binge-read it. It deserves the top spot this month.

*based on books reviewed this month

June Reviews (Total-7)

 2017 Reading Challenge Progress


 I have read 48 out of 100 books. (Read 7 books this month.)

Currently Reading


Next on my TBR


What I’m Watching


I’m a sucker for Shadowhunters on Freeform. It makes me want to go back and finish reading The Mortal Instruments series. I never read the last book. The show deviates from the books, but it’s most definitely a guilty pleasure.


Younger is BACK!!!!! I freaking love this show. If you haven’t been watching it, binge-watch now. It’s addicting and I wish they were longer than 30 minute episodes.

What I’m writing


This is me trying to find beta readers for my novel. If you’re interested in reading a YA Paranormal Romance, hit me up. I’d love the feedback.

The Chosen by J.R. Ward

The Chosen by J.R. Ward and the fifteenth book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series left my heart black and blue – from both the heart-wrenching revelations and unexpected disappointment.

29863848.jpgA scorching forbidden love threatens to tear a rift through the Black Dagger Brotherhood in J. R. Ward’s newest novel in the #1 New York Times bestselling series.

Xcor, leader of the Band of Bastards, convicted of treason against the Blind King, is facing a brutal interrogation and torturous death at the hands of the Black Dagger Brotherhood. Yet after a life marked by cruelty and evil deeds, he accepts his soldier’s fate, his sole regret the loss of a sacred female who was never his: the Chosen Layla.

Layla alone knows the truth that will save Xcor’s life. But revealing his sacrifice and his hidden heritage will expose them both and destroy everything Layla holds dear—even her role of mother to her precious young. Torn between love and loyalty, she must summon the courage to stand up against the only family she has for the only man she will ever love. Yet even if Xcor is somehow granted a reprieve, he and Layla would have to confront a graver challenge: bridging the chasm that divides their worlds without paving the way for a future of even greater war, desolation, and death.

As a dangerous old enemy returns to Caldwell, and the identity of a new deity is revealed, nothing is certain or safe in the world of the Black Dagger Brotherhood, not even true love . . . or destinies that have long seemed set in stone.

I have been waiting for Xcor and Layla to happen for-ev-er, so it’s safe to say I was high on anticipation when I turned the first page. Unfortunately, Ward let me down. Their relationship lacked the heart and heat typically found in a BDB romance. It felt too mundane with the juggling of who’s watching the kids while Layla and Xcor were in their too-perfect-it’s-unbelievable love den. Layla felt flat and unrelatable. When Xcor and Layla finally got together, it was quite possibly the most boring love scene in BDB history. My favorite scenes were Xcor’s heartbreaking flashbacks to his tortuous childhood, and the mother-of-all-flashbacks that grotesque opening birth scene that was so effed up I couldn’t look away.

The Chosen had so much drama in it, and Qhuinn was at the heart of it. He basically goes postal, even more so than a Brother and bonded male typically does. I didn’t feel like it was true to his character and as the plot line unraveled, I found myself more and more frustrated. I didn’t feel sympathy when it caused issues with Blay and Layla. And to be perfectly honest, of the three of them, Blay is the only one I could stand by the end.

Now, the main characters of this particular installment aside, there was plenty going on in the periphery to keep me going. First, I was shocked when heartbroken and devastated Trez was given a surprising reprieve. Second, V’s chapters broke my heart with his relationship quietly unravelling. Third, I drank up references to Assail like drops of water in the desert. I WANT MORE! Finally, Lassiter’s new situation was surprisingly unsurprising and I loved the little pieces we got of him.

The one character that I could not stand was Throe as the soon-to-be evil bad guy. Granted, I’ve NEVER liked chapters of the omega and lessers.

The ending was by far the strangest, most surreal ending I’ve read by Ward. Even more surprising than how she ended The Shadows. Everything comes together for Layla/Xcor and Blay/Quhinn with a whiplash quality – too fast I couldn’t tell what happened and left a painful void from lack of understanding. There was a lot of heartbreaking stuff in those finally chapters but it wasn’t until the last line that I wanted to ugly cry. As much as I was excited about the potential of a future Lyric story, I felt like Ward broke the “fourth wall” if you will, and disrupted the tone and writing style of her novel. It was as if she reached up out of the book and smacked me in the face. I don’t know if I loved it or hated it. I only know I felt strongly about it.

Fortunately, the next book, The Thief, will be about Sola and Assail, so I’m hoping this next story will be redemptive for Ward and a bit of a reprieve from Brotherhood drama. I do want to see more of Trez and Assail’s twin guard/business partner/friend guys.

STARS: 3 out of 5