Book Review: The Light At The Bottom Of The World by London Shah

Book Review: The Light At The Bottom Of The World by London Shah

Published October 2019 by Disney-Hyperion|320 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: The Light At The Bottom Of The World #1

Genre: YA Sci-Fi

Hope had abandoned them to the wrath of all the waters.

At the end of the twenty-first century, the world has changed dramatically, but life continues one thousand feet below the ocean’s surface. In Great Britain, sea creatures swim among the ruins of Big Ben and the Tower of London, and citizens waver between fear and hope; fear of what lurks in the abyss, and hope that humanity will soon discover a way to reclaim the Earth.

Meanwhile, sixteen-year-old Leyla McQueen has her own problems to deal with. Her father’s been arrested, accused of taking advantage of victims of the Seasickness-a debilitating malaise that consumes people,often claiming their lives. But Leyla knows he’s innocent, and all she’s interested in is getting him back so that their lives can return to normal.

When she’s picked to race in the action-packed London Submersible Marathon, Leyla gets the chance to secure his freedom; the Prime Minister promises the champion whatever their heart desires. The race takes an unexpected turn, though, and presents her with an opportunity she never wanted: Leyla must venture outside of London for the first time in her life, to find and rescue her father herself.

Now, she’ll have to brave the unfathomable waters and defy a corrupt government determined to keep its secrets, all the while dealing with a secretive, hotheaded companion she never asked for in the first place. If she fails, or falls prey to her own fears, she risks capture–and her father might be lost forever.

The Light At The Bottom Of The World sounded pretty cool!  I mean, I can’t remember coming across a book that takes place underwater that’s not about mermaids.  The concept is pretty cool, and that drew me in.

I like that because earth is a terrible place to live in the distant future, we’re living underwater instead of heading to space.  I already mentioned not remembering coming across something like that before.  If I have, then I obviously don’t remember.  I read a lot and it’s amazing I can remember what I read a few months ago, much less years ago.

Back to the book, though.  Living underwater has its consequences, and you hear about people losing hope and getting sick because of it.  It’s interesting people went underwater but we make it work despite the horrible conditions earth is in.

Even though I liked the concept and surviving underwater is pretty cool, I wasn’t as interested in this book as I thought I would be.  It’s not the first time I’ve picked up a book because it sounds cool, read it, and find that I’m not that into it. It definitely won’t be the last.

I get why she’s trying to get to her father, and I don’t blame her.  But for the life of me, I could not tell you what happened to him.  I know she finds out where she is to get him, but I could not tell you what happened to him after that.  Considering she spends the whole book trying to get to him, you’d think what happened to him would stand out more.

I had a hard time getting into this book.  The world was interesting, but I wanted more.  It’s underwater London, but I had a hard time picturing it.  I kept forgetting we were underwater, and even though it seemed like it would be this oppressive place full of despair and hopelessness, it didn’t feel that way to me.  Things weren’t what they seemed, and we definitely find that out.  But I still kept forgetting we were underwater, and it felt like it could have been happening anywhere.

I just didn’t feel invested in Leyla’s mission to get her dad.  As bad as it might be, it was just hard for me to care or be interested in what happened.  Maybe I wasn’t in the right mood for this book when I read it.  Maybe I would have felt this way no matter when I read it.  We’ll never know, least of all me, but I did finish it, so it did keep me reading.

2 stars.  I wanted to like this book more because I liked the concept but I had a hard time with this book.

Book Review: A River Of Royal Blood by Amanda Joy

Book: A River Of Royal Blood by Amanda Joy

Published October 2019 by Putnam|368 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: A River Of Royal Blood #1

Genre: YA

An enthralling debut perfect for fans of Children of Blood and Bone set in a North African-inspired fantasy world where two sisters must fight to the death to win the crown.

Sixteen-year-old Eva is a princess, born with the magick of marrow and blood–a dark and terrible magick that hasn’t been seen for generations in the vibrant but fractured country of Myre. Its last known practitioner was Queen Raina, who toppled the native khimaer royalty and massacred thousands, including her own sister, eight generations ago, thus beginning the Rival Heir tradition. Living in Raina’s long and dark shadow, Eva must now face her older sister, Isa, in a battle to the death if she hopes to ascend to the Ivory Throne–because in the Queendom of Myre only the strongest, most ruthless rulers survive.

When Eva is attacked by an assassin just weeks before the battle with her sister, she discovers there is more to the attempt on her life than meets the eye–and it isn’t just her sister who wants to see her dead. As tensions escalate, Eva is forced to turn to a fey instructor of mythic proportions and a mysterious and handsome khimaer prince for help in growing her magick into something to fear. Because despite the love she still has for her sister, Eva will have to choose: Isa’s death or her own.

A River of Royal Blood is an enthralling debut set in a lush North African inspired fantasy world that subtly but powerfully challenges our notions of power, history, and identity.

I liked A River Of Royal Blood!  It’s like a combination of Children Of Blood And Bone, Throne Of Glass, and Three Dark Crowns.

It’s definitely an interesting book, and I really want to know more about Eva’s magic.  Hopefully, we’ll see more of her magic and learn more about it.  Her magic seems like the sort of magic that people are wary of it, and that makes me want to see it more.  I totally get why we didn’t, and I’m hoping there’s a way for Eva to use her magic without too much trouble.  Honestly, it’s not looking good, but hopefully, things will work themselves out.

Isa’s magic actually scares me more than Eva’s.  The control she has over people, and the way she’s able to bend them to their will is much more terrifying than killing.  I mean, it seems like that’s what Eva’s magic is, but it’s hard to say because I feel like we get so little about it.  But for now, what Isa can do is a lot more scary.  I really want to see what any challenge or battle would look like between the two.

I did feel bad for Eva, because it seems like she was kept in the dark about so many things.  I can’t imagine being close to a sibling and then finding out that one of you won’t survive the fight for the throne.  It made me sad for Eva.  And finding out that my magic was bound, and can only be removed by someone who’s no longer around to do it?  That would also be a terrible thing to know.  I can get why these things would be kept for her, but it made things harder for her, especially at court.  But I also felt like, in the end, she also decided she had to fight for her life.  Hers is a world where it’s killed or be killed, and I feel she really made the decision to fight after everything that happened.

Not that it wasn’t there before, but it seemed like she lived in Isa’s shadow.  It was like she accepted that Isa was going to be queen, and was everyone’s favorite.  I think it took a while for Eva to believe in herself, and hopefully, she’ll continue to do so.

This book is definitely Eva’s journey, but there is part of me that wanted to see more of Isa.  I’m not always a big fan of multiple narrators, but I think seeing a few chapters from Isa’s POV would have been interesting.  Still, I’m glad we got to follow Eva, and I definitely find myself rooting for her.

3 stars.  I liked A River Of Royal Blood.  While I don’t think I’ll be rushing to read the next book in the series, I’m still interested enough to see what happens next for Eva.

Book Review: Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett

Book: Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett

Published October 2019 by Knopf Books For Young Readers|290 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

In a community that isn’t always understanding, an HIV-positive teen must navigate fear, disclosure, and radical self-acceptance when she falls in love–and lust–for the first time. Powerful and uplifting, Full Disclosure will speak to fans of Angie Thomas and Nicola Yoon.

Simone Garcia-Hampton is starting over at a new school, and this time things will be different. She’s making real friends, making a name for herself as student director of Rent, and making a play for Miles, the guy who makes her melt every time he walks into a room. The last thing she wants is for word to get out that she’s HIV-positive, because last time . . . well, last time things got ugly.

Keeping her viral load under control is easy, but keeping her diagnosis under wraps is not so simple. As Simone and Miles start going out for real–shy kisses escalating into much more–she feels an uneasiness that goes beyond butterflies. She knows she has to tell him that she’s positive, especially if sex is a possibility, but she’s terrified of how he’ll react! And then she finds an anonymous note in her locker: I know you have HIV. You have until Thanksgiving to stop hanging out with Miles. Or everyone else will know too.

Simone’s first instinct is to protect her secret at all costs, but as she gains a deeper understanding of the prejudice and fear in her community, she begins to wonder if the only way to rise above is to face the haters head-on…

I liked Full Disclosure!  I really felt for Simone, who’s pretty amazing.

It can’t be an easy diagnosis, and you see how much it affects her.  Whether it’s telling friends, or a guy she likes, it’s not an easy thing for her to share.  When it does get out to the whole school, people are completely horrible to her.  People just don’t want to take the time to truly understand what it means.

Miles, Claudia and Lydia are pretty supportive, and even though Simone has her issues with them, they do care about her, and it’s clear they support her and still want to be around her.  It’s especially important with Miles, since they’re pretty into each other.  Being HIV positive is a pretty big deal in any romantic relationship, but he was great because it honestly didn’t seem to bother him or scare him away.  It seemed like he was willing to take things slow and wait.

Her dads are pretty awesome too, and I love the relationship she has with both of them.  It’s obvious they love her and would do anything for her.  It’s also nice to see a YA book where the parents are around and involved in her life.  A lot of times, it feels like the parents are absent or barely there, so it’s nice that they actually show up more than once or twice, if at all.

I also liked that we got the whole story with Sarah.  It’s interesting that there was no flashback, but I thought it’s inclusion was well-done.  And I get why it’s hard for Simone to trust people because of what happened with her.  I really felt for her when it happened again.  Because people can be horrible, especially with things they don’t understand.  But she has a great support system with her dads, her best friends, and Miles.  And even her support group was pretty cool too.  They definitely understood what she was going through when no one else did.

It’s definitely an important read, and I’m glad I read it.  I think Positive by Paige Rawls is a good read-alike for this one.  Positive is a memoir, but I was reminded of it the whole time I read this book.  Simone is more than her diagnosis, and she really came to life in this book.  I’m not a musical person by any means, but for some reason, I feel like I’d get along with her.  I thought it was interesting that Rent was the school musical, though I got really angry when one of the teachers involved with the musical was hoping that Simone, as a student director, would win the school a lot of theater awards.  I hated she would try to use a student like that, but thankfully, the other teacher involved wasn’t about to let her do that.

3 stars.  I liked Full Disclosure, though I didn’t love it.  I’m not sure why, but regardless, this is a must-read!

Book Review: Sapphire Flames by Ilona Andrews

Book: Sapphire Flames by Ilona Andrews

Published August 2019 by Avon|400 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: Hidden Legacy #4

Genre: Adult Paranormal Romance

In a world where magic is the key to power and wealth, Catalina Baylor is a Prime, the highest rank of magic user, and the Head of her House. Catalina has always been afraid to use her unique powers, but when her friend’s mother and sister are murdered, Catalina risks her reputation and safety to unravel the mystery.

But behind the scenes powerful forces are at work, and one of them is Alessandro Sagredo, the Italian Prime who was once Catalina’s teenage crush. Dangerous and unpredictable, Alessandro’s true motives are unclear, but he’s drawn to Catalina like a moth to a flame.

To help her friend, Catalina must test the limits of her extraordinary powers, but doing so may cost her both her House–and her heart.

I liked Sapphire Flames a lot more than I thought I would!  I mean, I liked the previous books in the series, so I was expecting to just like this one.  But I liked it a lot more than I thought I would!

So, this book focuses on Catalina, Nevada’s younger sister.  This book is set several years after the third book on the series, and it’s clear that Nevada’s story is pretty much over.  She does pop up, by way of phone calls, but this book is clearly centered on Catalina as head of house and navigating the family through hard times as their three-year grace period comes to a close.

I really liked Alessandro and Catalina together.  I didn’t spend the whole book waiting for something to happen between them, and I felt like there was more of a something between them than I did with Nevada and Rogan.  I like them together, and there are certainly going to be challenges in terms of them getting together, but I have no doubt it will happen.  I feel like they’re evenly matched, more than Nevada and Rogan.  I’m interested to see how their story plays out over the next few books, and if there will be more books but featuring other characters.

I’m also curious to see how things will go now that they’re past their grace period.  Catalina has a lot in store for her, and I’m sure she’ll rise to the challenge of steering her house in the right direction.  I just hope she can balance that with finding love.  Hopefully with Alessandro, because I do like them together, and I feel like it’s being set up for it to happen.  It’ll be an adventure getting there, I think.

It’s weird how shifting a series to a different set of characters reset the series for me.  I liked Nevada, and I liked her story but maybe I wasn’t super into her story.  Still, her story led to Catalina’s, and that is something I’m happy about.  I’m glad we get to see her abilities, and I really want to see more of them.

4 stars.  I really Sapphire Flames, and I can’t wait to read what happens next!

Book Review: DEV1AT3 by Jay Kristoff

Book Review: DEV1AT3 by Jay Kristoff

Published June 2019 by Alfred K Knopf Books For Young Readers|448 pages

Where I Got It: I own the hardcover

Series: Lifelike #2

Genre: YA Sci-Fi

Lemon Fresh has seen better days.

After the climactic battle in Babel, she finds herself separated from Ezekiel and Cricket in the wastelands. Lemon’s abilities to manipulate electricity mark her as a deviate, and deadly corporate operatives are hunting her to use as a weapon in the war between BioMaas Incorporated and Daedelus Technologies. Instead, Lemon finds herself falling in with a group of fellow deviates—a band of teenagers with astonishing abilities, led by an enigmatic figure known as the Major, who may hold the secrets to Lemon’s past.

Meanwhile, Cricket finds himself in possession of the puritanical Brotherhood, a religious cult set for a head-on collision with the Major and his band. Searching for Lemon, Ezekiel finds a strange ally in an old enemy, and uncovers a plot that may see him reunited with his beloved Ana.

And inside Babel, a remade Eve hatches a plan to bring an end to the world.

Honestly, I don’t know what I think about this book.  I felt the same about the first book in this series, and that continued with this book.

I liked Lemon Fresh, and she has an interesting time in this book.  It was the same with Cricket, but I didn’t really care about what happened with Eve.  It was interesting to see how the groups that Cricket and Lemon Fresh ended up had so many connections to each other.  Personally, I wish we saw more of that but with how things went with Lemon Fresh, I’m not that surprised we didn’t.  And I did feel for Lemon Fresh, because I wanted a different story for her.

I think Lemon Fresh was my favorite to follow.  Hers is the one I remember more, though Cricket had his own challenges.  I felt like we didn’t get enough of Eve for me to have strong feelings either way.

I know people love Jay Kristoff, and this series, but I had a really hard time getting through this book.  I could only read a couple chapters at a time before needing to put it down and do something else.  I felt like it took me forever to get through this book.  I struggled to get through Lifelike when I tried to re-read before this one, and I remember having a hard time getting through it when I read Lifelike for book club ages ago.

I think I read this one because I wanted to know what happened next.  For some reason, Eve’s family made me think of the Romanov’s, and how people think Anastasia survived her family’s execution.  Part of me is wondering if it’s just coincidence, or if there is some inspiration there.  Either way, I wanted more about that, and it didn’t happen.  Which is fine, because I’m glad we followed Lemon Fresh and Cricket.  Still, I would have liked a chapter or two from Eve’s perspective.

Both Lemon Fresh and Cricket narrate, but it didn’t really work for me.  I thought it was confusing and their chapters sounded exactly the same.  It took a while to figure out who was narrating, and by the time I got settled into who was narrating, it switched, and I’d start the process all over again.  Maybe I’m just really used to books where it’s obvious who’s narrating.

I’m not sure if I’m going to going to finish the series.  Part of me does want to know what happens next, but I don’t know that I’m invested enough to keep going.  It’s an interesting world, and I wish we knew more about what life was like before this world started, and what life is like everywhere else.  It seems pretty contained to a Southern California-type area, at least from what I can gather from the map.  So it makes me wonder what it’s like everywhere else in the U.S.

2 stars.  Overall, Deviate is just okay.  I really liked Lemon Fresh’s story, but I don’t know if it’s enough to keep me reading.

Book Review: Serpent And Dove by Shelby Mahurin

Book: Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin

Published September 2019 by HarperTeen|513 pages

Where I Got It: I own the hardcover

Series: Serpent & Dove #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

Bound as one to love, honor, or burn.

Two years ago, Louise le Blanc fled her coven and took shelter in the city of Cesarine, forsaking all magic and living off whatever she could steal. There, witches like Lou are hunted. They are feared. And they are burned.

Sworn to the Church as a Chasseur, Reid Diggory has lived his life by one principle: thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. His path was never meant to cross with Lou’s, but a wicked stunt forces them into an impossible union—holy matrimony.

The war between witches and Church is an ancient one, and Lou’s most dangerous enemies bring a fate worse than fire. Unable to ignore her growing feelings, yet powerless to change what she is, a choice must be made.

And love makes fools of us all.

Serpent & Dove was just okay.  I wanted to like it more, because overall, the story was pretty cool.

I mean, a witch marries the man who’s hunting her.  It actually bothered me that she was pretty much forced into it to make the Chasseurs look good.  It was hard to get past that, especially once we learn a lot more about the witches and the church.  The church, by the way, reminded me a lot of the Catholic church, and something about how witches are hunted down made me think of the Spanish Inquisition.

I didn’t care for the relationship between Lou and Reid, and I think it’s because of how they’re forced together.  I just had a hard time rooting for them, knowing what I know about Lou and how she had to hide it.  How she managed to keep it hidden from Reid for so long surprised me, but then again, he seemed oblivious at times.

The beginning and the ending were interesting but it was hard to get through the middle of the book.  We learn a lot at the end of the book, and there’s a lot of action at both the beginning and the end, but it felt like the middle was full of nothing I cared about.  I’m actually surprised I finished it, because there were times I wanted to just not finish the book.  I did want to know how everything came together but I don’t know if I’ll be picking up the next book.  It just felt really slow and long.

I felt like, even though there’s more than enough story for a sequel or two, that the story did wrap up pretty well.  It would work well as a stand-alone novel, in my opinion.

2 stars.  Serpent & Dove was okay, and really long and slow-paced.

Book Review: The Everlasting Rose by Dhonielle Clayton

Book: The Everlasting Rose by Dhonielle Clayton

Published March 2019 by Freeform|344 pages

Where I Got It: I own the hardcover

Series: The Belles #2

Genre: YA Fantasy

In this sequel to the instant New York Times bestseller, Camille, her sister Edel, and her guard and new love Remy must race against time to find Princess Charlotte. Sophia’s Imperial forces will stop at nothing to keep the rebels from returning Charlotte to the castle and her rightful place as queen. With the help of an underground resistance movement called The Iron Ladies-a society that rejects beauty treatments entirely-and the backing of alternative newspaper The Spider’s Web, Camille uses her powers, her connections and her cunning to outwit her greatest nemesis, Sophia, and restore peace to Orleans. 

I have really mixed feelings about The Everlasting Rose.  I really liked The Belles when I read it almost two years ago- enough to pick up the sequel and see what happened next.  But I’m not sure how I feel about the sequel.

I really liked the world and we see more of it in this one.  I felt like the underground resistance randomly came up but I also feel like it sort of makes sense, considering how little Camille actually knew.  We learned some stuff at the end of The Belles that is the focus in this book.  Sophia really takes things to a different level, and part of me wishes we had spent more time closer to Sophia to actually see what happens.  We do get it in bits and pieces throughout the book, which is fine, and works okay enough, considering what’s going on with Camille, Edel and Remy.

I did like the significance of the Everlasting Rose, and how it had a few different meanings.  I really liked the moments where I got to see each meaning of it.  One is definitely better than the other, that’s for sure.

There’s definitely more to the Belles power than I originally thought.  It was hinted at in The Belles, and I did kind of like how it was used throughout the book.  It makes me wish we saw it earlier in the series, because I wanted to see a little bit more of it, but I think it worked well here.  Just because the first book had a different focus than this one, and it might have been a little out of place in this book.

Changes are in store for Orleans, and under Sophia’s rule, you see how much it affects everyone.  What people think about the changes under Charlotte’s rule remains to be seen, and hopefully, we’ll see that in the last book.  Even though my overall feeling is…meh…I still want to finish out the series and see how much has changed.  I won’t be rushing out to get the next book, but at some point, when it is released, I’ll pick it up and read it.

I wanted to like it more, but considering how fast I went through this book, I didn’t like it as much as I could have.  It did keep me reading, though, so I’ll give it that.

2 stars.  Overall, The Everlasting Rose was okay.  The world is interesting but I lost interest in Camille’s world in this book.  Hopefully, the next book get my attention a lot more than this one day.

Book Review: Wildfire by Ilona Andrews

Book: Wildfire by Ilona Andrews

Published July 2017 by Avon|400 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: Hidden Legacy #3

Genre: Adult Paranormal Romance

Just when Nevada Baylor has finally come to accept the depths of her magical powers, she also realizes she’s fallen in love. Connor “Mad” Rogan is in many ways her equal when it comes to magic, but she’s completely out of her elements when it comes to her feelings for him. To make matters more complicated, an old flame comes back into Rogan’s life…

Rogan knows there’s nothing between him and his ex-fiance, Rynda Sherwood. But as Nevada begins to learn more about her past, her power, and her potential future, he knows she will be faced with choices she never dreamed of and the promise of a life spent without him.

As Nevada and Rogan race to discover the whereabouts of Rynda’s kidnapped husband and are forced to confront Nevada’s grandmother, who may or may not have evil motives, these two people must decide if they can trust in each other or allow everything to go up in smoke.

I liked Wildfire!  I’ve enjoyed this series, and it’s been pretty entertaining and interesting.  I’m also excited to keep reading because I really want to see what happens next with Nevada and her family.

The thing with Nevada and Rogan as a couple is that I’ve never felt completed invested in them as a couple.  There’s a lot of interactions but for the most part, it felt like business and not romantic.  I’m not sure if it’s something that happened more off-screen but I didn’t particularly care when a big moment happened between them.  I had a hard time caring because there was barely any build-up to it.

In fact, I’m not really sure why I’m shelving it as a paranormal romance because the romance for me has been minimal.  Actually, urban fantasy might be a better categorization but for now, I’ll keep it under the paranormal romance shelf.

I really like Nevada’s family, and there are a lot of challenges they have to deal with in this book.  I doubt things are over in this book but hopefully, things will be a little better for them.  I don’t want to give it away, but I wasn’t surprised by where things went in terms of them forming a House.  I also wasn’t surprised at the outcome, and I am excited to see how things are different for them.  Assuming things change at all, which they very well could.

Honestly, I don’t have anything else to add for this book.  I’ve definitely said everything I wanted to!

3 stars.  I liked Wildfire, but I’m not interested in Nevada and Rogan as a couple.  I still want to see what happens next!

Currently Obsessed With: It’s 2020!

I can’t believe it’s 2020 already!  I feel like 2019 passed by in a blur, and that it’s not only a new year, but a new decade!

2019 has been fun and it felt like so much and yet so little has happened.  I’m looking forward to a new year, and I actually have some things I want to focus on for 2020.  It’s that time of year where I sometimes decide I’m going to do all of these things, and do them for a while, only to stop doing them.  I really want that to be different this year.

One of the biggest things was taking a vacation at the end of the year- I talked about part of it here, and going to three theme parks in three days was fun but exhausting.  I spent the rest of my time off doing nothing but sitting in bed, watching t.v.  Okay, I did do a few things, like get my hair cut and seeing Star Wars, which I liked.  Plus some last minute Christmas shopping, since I was at the mall already.  Going back to work was pretty hard, especially because I went back the day after Christmas.  I definitely need to take more vacations!

I want to go to more places.  I haven’t been to the zoo in ages, so maybe it’s time to start going again.  Maybe I’ll even go back to Universal Studios.  To, you know, see the rest of it, because I only did the Wizarding World and then left.  I’m definitely going back to YALLWEST, and maybe I’ll even make my way to the LA Times Festival Of Books.  They are on back to back weekends, so that might be a good time for a vacation!  Even if I do absolutely nothing during that time.

I’ve been to the movies more times in the last couple of months than I have the rest of the year combined!  Since late November, I’ve seen Frozen 2, Stars Wars, Little Women and Knives Out.  I remember, just a few years ago, going to the movies a lot more than I have been, and it’s fun to watch something new, instead of re-watching the same two or three shows over and over.

So what do I want to focus on for 2020?

I crochet, but I really love Shutterbean, and her blog is such an inspiration!  I want to be more creative and painting and drawing sounds fun but I feel like I have no talent for it.  I’ve tried hand-lettering a little, but I’m planning on exploring it more.  I also love seeing all of the photos she shares, and at least right now, I’m determined to take more pictures this year.  I’ll still crochet, of course, and since it’s taken a backseat over the last few months, I’m going to start crocheting more.  It may be time to pick up another big project, like a blanket…or maybe continue the couple of blankets I started and never really went back to or just pick up every once in a while.

And journaling!  I used to journal all the time in high school and even college, and then, over time, I just sort of stopped.  I have a few sitting on my table, and even though they’re more guided than what I used to do back in high school, I think having something guided will be good.  I think it will focus my attention and get me to write about something specific.  Maybe, in time, and if I keep up with it, I’ll do more free-form journaling.

I’ve been using the food journal for about 6 months now, and it’s been nice to look back and see what I’m eating.  I’ve tried the counting calories food tracking thing, and I always give that up after a week or two.  But writing down what I eat allows me to see what I’m eating and what I need to work or what I want to keep doing.  Drinking water is something I need to do more of because I don’t drink enough of it!  It’s actually more helpful for me than counting calories, but I’m all for whatever is easier for people.

I also want to start cooking and baking again!  I love cooking and I love baking even more but I haven’t done a lot of it over the last 6 months or so.  I’ve relied a lot on sandwiches and t.v. dinners, mostly because I’ve felt too lazy to cook.  But it’s a new year and it’s time to start cooking again.  Things got a little weird for a while, and I felt lazy, unmotivated and apathetic.  With a new year and a new decade, I’m feeling motivated and determined to make it last.

Back to cooking, though.  For a while, I didn’t really feel up to cooking or baking, but having done some of it over the holidays reminded me of how much I like it, and fun it is.  I have so many cookbooks, and it’s time to use them every week, instead of every few weeks.

Two things I’ve made lately: Instant Pot Ragu|Instant Pot Beef Brisket

They were both really good, and I have a lot of the Beef Brisket in the freezer right now, because it was a lot more than I could eat.  I’m glad I have something I can pull out of the freezer!  I have a couple of things I’m going to make, but I have some cookbooks I’m going to go through so I see what I’m in the mood for and put some sort of menu/meal plan together.

Even though creativity and cooking are two big things I want to focus on, I think focus is the underlying current.  For part of the year, I haven’t really felt like myself, and I had a hard time focusing on things like crochet and cooking, and over the last few weeks, I’ve felt like I can focus on it again.  I think, once I get back into, I’ll be fine, and getting back to being myself and doing things I enjoy.  If it means hanging out at the library more, or going to Panera or somewhere else to crochet or doodle or write things that may or may not be nonsense, then I’m going to do it.  And maybe make my apartment a place I want to be creative- though it is fun to get out of the house sometimes, and there’s something soothing about not being at home and doing something creative.  I’ve always been more productive when I’m not at home.

I’m feeling really excited about a new year and trying out new things.

Have a happy great 2020,

Book Review: White Hot by Ilona Andrews

Book: White Hot by Ilona Andrews

Published May 2017 by Avon|416 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: Hidden Legacy #2

Genre: Adult Paranormal Romance

Nevada Baylor has a unique and secret skill—she knows when people are lying—and she’s used that magic (along with plain, hard work) to keep her colorful and close-knit family’s detective agency afloat. But her new case pits her against the shadowy forces that almost destroyed the city of Houston once before, bringing Nevada back into contact with Connor “Mad” Rogan.

Rogan is a billionaire Prime—the highest rank of magic user—and as unreadable as ever, despite Nevada’s “talent.” But there’s no hiding the sparks between them. Now that the stakes are even higher, both professionally and personally, and their foes are unimaginably powerful, Rogan and Nevada will find that nothing burns like ice…

I liked White Hot!  I think I liked it about the same as the first book in the series, Burn For Me, and I liked seeing what was going on with both Nevada and Connor.

I’m still not sure how I feel about Connor and Nevada as a couple.  The romance really takes a backseat to everything else going on, and even though you can tell they’re into each other, it’s not really acted on until the end of the book.  Which is fine, but I did go into this series expecting more romance than what we’ve been getting.  I’m actually okay with that, because there’s a lot going on in both the book and the world that the characters live in.

I had never considered the extent of Nevada’s abilities before this book.  I mean, I was wondering what she could do, and if there was more to her ability than what we saw in the first book.  There definitely is, and that means there is a massive wrench in any sort of relationship with Connor.  Especially if she goes with one particular option.  And everything we learn about her family…it makes me wish we met her dad and knew him more.  He’s mentioned, of course, but right about now, I really wish he were alive.  Then again, how different would things be if he were alive?

There’s a lot going on in this book, and it’s more of a mystery than trying to find Adam Pierce.  Nevada’s trying to find out what happened to a lawyer, and it puts her in even more danger than trying to find Pierce.  I didn’t think that was possible, but it is.

There’s a lot of shadowy puppeteer stuff going on in the background, what with trying to solve this case, and dealing with the family stuff.  The family stuff is not going away, and I do want to know how that works itself out.  It will mean a lot of changes if Nevada does what I think she’s going to do.

Her family is still a priority, and I’m glad that hasn’t changed.  She would do anything to protect them and keep them safe, and I hope that is something that never changes.  I really do like that it’s important to her, and that she wants some semblance of normalcy and independence.

Rogan is frustrating sometimes, because he seems to go against what she wants, but in his own weird, twisted, messed up way, he does want to protect her and keep her safe.  He doesn’t seem to give her a choice, which she wants very much.  It’s frustrating that he doesn’t seem to respect that.  Hopefully, he’ll figure it out, and they can work things out, because they would be an interesting couple.

3 stars.  I liked White Hot, and I really like spending time in this world.  I can’t wait to see what happens next.