ARC review: Kiss of the Royal by Lindsey Duga

Kiss of the Royal by Lindsey Duga
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Links: AmazonTBDGoodreads
Publication Date: July 3, 2018
Source: ARC from publisher

In the war against the Forces of Darkness, the Royals are losing. Princess Ivy is determined to end this centuries-long conflict once and for all, so her new battle partner must succeed where the others failed. Prince Zach’s unparalleled skill with a sword, enhanced by Ivy’s magic Kiss, should make them an unstoppable pair—but try convincing Zach of that. 

Prince Zach has spent his life preparing for battle, but he would rather be branded a heretic than use his lips as nothing more than a way to transfer magic. A kiss is a symbol of love, and love is the most powerful weapon they have—but try convincing Ivy of that.

With the fate of their world on the line, the battlefield has become a testing ground, and only one of them can be right. Falling for each other wasn’t part of the plan—but try convincing their hearts of that.

I was intrigued by the concept of this book, a magical world in which Kisses with capital Ks have almost limitless power, but after finishing the book, I’m not just not convinced. The story itself is kind of cute, sort of like a fairytale with its princes and princesses and witches and dragons.

That said, I didn’t feel like the overall story was particularly unique and it took quite awhile for me to care about what was happening. More than anything, I just felt burned out by reading the word Kiss eighteen times on each page. I’m in a bit of a reading slump as it is, which didn’t help.

I think this is partially a case of me not really being in the mood for this sort of fluffy fantasy, so I’m rounding my rating of 2.5 stars up to 3. It’s an interesting concept, for sure, and the ending was cute. It just wasn’t for me.


Book review: Faithful Place by Tana French

Faithful Place by Tana French
Series: Dublin Murder Squad #3
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: AmazonTBDGoodreads
Publication Date: July 13, 2010
Source: Borrowed

That which was buried is brought to light and wreaks hell — on no one more so than Frank Mackey, beloved undercover guru and burly hero first mentioned in French’s second book about the Undercover Squad, The Likeness.

Faithful Place is Frank’s old neighborhood, the town he fled twenty-two years ago, abandoning an abusive alcoholic father, harpy mother, and two brothers and sisters who never made it out. They say going home is never easy, but for Frank, investigating the cold case of the just-discovered body of his teenage girlfriend, it is a tangled, dangerous journey, fraught with mean motivations, black secrets, and tenuous alliances. Because he is too close to the case, and because the Place (including his family) harbors a deep-rooted distrust of cops, Frank must undergo his investigation furtively, using all the skills picked up from years of undercover work to trace the killer and the events of the night that changed his life.

No matter how good you are, this world is always going to be better at this game. It’s more cunning than you are, it’s faster and it’s a whole lot more ruthless. All you can do is try to keep up, know your weak spots and never stop expecting the sucker punch.

Alright, so this was my first book by Tana French and I am not disappointed. I had expected your standard murder mystery, but what I actually got was a story about a dysfunctional family and young love that ends too soon. I’m not even really sure what I can say about this book because my mind is kind of all over the place right now.

So, sure, there’s a murder mystery here. More than one, actually, but I’m not even going to get into that. The mystery is secondary to Frank’s relationship with his family and all of the backstory about his relationship with Rosie. Tana French has a way with words and even though she broke my heart with this book, I guess I’ll keep coming back for more. I don’t know if I can really say any more about this book without blurting out all of my feelings (and the associated spoilers), so I’ll stop here.

Thanks to Daniel for the recommendation!

#mm18: crack the case

Monthly Motif: June Update

It’s time for another Monthly Motif reading challenge update! In June, the theme was crack the case, so it was all about mysteries! I don’t read a lot of mysteries, but with the help of some of my favorite bloggers, I came up with a couple choices! ❤ I ended up really enjoying both books, so I think this whole mystery thing might be here to stay.

Books read:

Books not read:

  • People Like Us by Dana Mele, which I might still read in the next couple days if my library hold ever comes in!
  • Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz, which was recommended by spinesthatshine. I didn’t get to it this month, but I put it on my library wishlist!
  • The Dry by Jane Harper, which was recommended by miscellanypages. I also didn’t get to it this month but it’s also on my library wishlist!

July’s theme is vacation reads, which works out pretty nicely since I’m headed back home to Wisconsin for a few days, so I guess I’ll be sharing the books that I read on the plane! I’m also headed to Virginia for a bit at the end of July, so I might as well share the books I read there, too. (It’s a long drive, so maybe an audiobook will do the trick.)

Previously: January | February | MarchAprilMay

Are you participating in the Monthly Motif reading challenge? If so, what did you read for this month’s prompt? Do you have any favorite mysteries that I should check out? Or, looking forward, do you have any recommendations for what I should read in July?

Weekly Update

In case you missed it, here are this week’s blog posts:

  • Review: Save the Date by Morgan Matson
  • Review: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson
  • Top Ten Tuesday: Poolside Reads
  • Review: Seaside Sweets by Melissa Chambers
  • Review: Flying Lessons anthology
  • TBR: Summer 2018
  • Review: The Foxhole Court by Nora Sakavic
  • Blog tourSeaside Sweets by Melissa Chambers

Tags this week:

I’ve been reading:

Holy heck, I think my slump is finally over!!!

Recently acquired:

  • I’m on a book-acquiring ban until I get caught up!

4 things this week:

  • I’m down to only five library books that I need to read (plus, you know, everything I just bought and a couple ARCs) but I am feeling so much better!
  • Oh my god, I applied to a bunch of publishing jobs in NYC. What am I doing with my life. I’m so scared. I hope I get an interview.
  • I met my new niece! She’s so tiny and cuddly and I love her so much but my nephew says I can’t steal her. I also took said nephew (he’s 3) to Prospect Park and I’m not sure when he became so hilarious, but I couldn’t stop laughing all day.
  • Shout out to Angela for letting me ramble (on video!!) about books, book blogging, and my preference for cinnamon rolls over alphas for a good hour on Tuesday night! ❤ I took a couple things away from that conversation, but the biggest was that I should probably tell people in my real life that I have a book blog! I’m getting there.

Blog hopping:

  • I really love girlxoxo and this week, Tanya shared twenty different links she loved. All of this week’s blog hopping links came from her!
  • Mandy @ A Girl Obsessed shared a list of 20 easy things you can do to improve your blog!
  • Carly @ Carly the Prepster talked about how to make friends as an adult. This is really hard for me since NJ isn’t the friendliest state and I tend to keep to myself a lot. I loved her tips, though, and I’m hoping to put them to good use!

Weekly playlist:

I’ve been listening to Lithium (channel 34) on XM a lot this week, so here are my favorite 90s alternative songs! I probably forgot like 800 of them, so let me amend that sentence. Here are a few of my favorite 90s alternative songs!

Blog tour (+ playlist!): Seaside Sweets by Melissa Chambers

Seaside Sweets by Melissa Chambers
Series: Love Along Hwy 30A #1
Links: Goodreads ♥ Amazon
Publication Date: June 19, 2018

After her ex runs up her credit card, clears her bank account, and gets her fired, Seanna Perry makes her escape to the quaint beach town of Seaside, Florida. The houses are pastel, the ocean air heaven, and the men hot as the Gulf Coast sun…one in particular. But while paying the price, literally, for the last man she trusted with her heart, she’s not interested in any sort of beach romance, or so she keeps reminding herself.

Living in the idyllic coastal paradise of the 30A area hasn’t eased Blake Evans’ guilt over what went down three years ago. He can’t stop blaming himself, and certainly none of his wonderful friends can ever find out what happened. Blake’s done a good job of keeping romantic feelings toward any women at bay, and he needs to keep it that way. But when Seanna begins to show him how to live again, he finds himself struggling to keep his guard up.

Seaside Sweets is book one in the Love Along Highway 30A series, which features beautiful beach communities, a circle of unique and amazing friends, and romances that will have you cheering on the couples and fanning yourself from the heat. All books are standalone and can be enjoyed in or out of order.


An M83 song came over the speakers, electronic dance music’s answer to the slow dance. She tilted her head to the side, lifting an eyebrow. “After that Chicken Dance, you got this one in the bag.”

He huffed a laugh, trying to hold back his grin, but not doing a good job of it. She hadn’t seen him smile this much the whole time she knew him. He pulled her to him, resting his hands on her hips. She eased her hands up to his shoulders, her stomach alive with a nervous flutter. She had always been fairly confident around men. It had been the rare bird who could put her insides into a tizzy. But there was something about Blake’s quiet cool, the fact that he seemed to listen when she talked and actually care about what she said. He wasn’t one of those straight guys where she felt she had a good thirty seconds then needed to wrap it up.

But more than anything, it was the way he looked at her—his blue eyes boring into hers like he knew her…like he was curious about her. And she wanted to know more about him—anything he’d be willing to share. He lifted his chin, seeming ten feet tall so close to her, sending her heartbeat up a step. She looked away, breaking under his gaze.

She leaned into his chest, as he pulled her there. She wasn’t sure who had made the move—maybe both of them at the same time. She breathed in the scent of his skin and lifted her chin to get a good whiff of his neck. The subtlest hint of his body wash lingered, causing her to close her eyes and drink him in.

Her hands wanted to wander down Blake’s back toward his ass—his perfectly proportioned, round ass. Tonight, it was covered by his blazer, but Halloween costume material was thin and cheap. If she could get her hands down there tonight, she could get a good squeeze in. He pulled back from her. “What are you smiling

I shared my review of Seaside Sweets a couple days ago, but now I’m so excited to share something else with you! It’s no secret that I’m a huge music fan, so I was thrilled when Melissa Chambers offered to create an exclusive playlist inspired by her book! I hope you like it as much as I do.

It’s summertime!

I’m a summer fanatic. It’s probably why most books I write take place at the beach! There’s nothing better than relaxing in a chair with your feet dug in the sand and a
sweet, summer tunes flowing through your earbuds.

So in celebration of summer, and of the release of Seaside Sweets, here’s an exclusive playlist for Sara’s followers!

Go get your summer on! And pick up a copy of Seaside Sweets for your beach bag
while you’re at it! 🙂

Melissa Chambers writes contemporary novels for young, new, and actual adults. A Nashville native, she spends her days working in the music industry and her nights tapping away at her keyboard. While she’s slightly obsessed with alt rock, she leaves the guitar playing to her husband and kid. She never misses a chance to play a tennis match, listen to an audiobook, or eat a bowl of ice cream. (Rocky road, please!) She serves as president for the Music City Romance Writers and is the author of The Summer Before Forever and Falling for Forever (Entangled Teen).


Don’t forget to enter the giveaway here!


Tags: Book Personality Challenge + Mid-Year Freak Out

I wasn’t tagged to do the Book Personality Challenge, but I saw that Gerry did it and it looked like a lot of fun, so I just went right ahead and stole it.

What is your MBTI personality type?
I’m a turbulent ISFJ! Introverted, Sensing, Feeling, Judging – “The Defender.” The turbulence basically means that I’m a “self-conscious perfectionist” and I don’t know if that could possibly be more accurate if it tried.

I’m going to copy Gerry here for a second and annotate my personality description.

(My manager and my boss didn’t come in on Thursday, so this is what I did at work. Whoops. I also had my work bestie take the test to find out her MBTI type and we’re the same!)
If you were a character in a book, what would be some of your character strengths and flaws?
I’m not a character in a book, but I’m pretty sure all of these are 100% correct and that’s a little bit creepy.
  • supportive
  • reliable and patient
  • imaginative and observant
  • enthusiastic
  • loyal and hard-working
  • good practical skills


  • humble and shy
  • take things too personally
  • repress their feelings
  • overload themselves
  • reluctant to change
  • too altruistic

Do any authors share your personality type?
Nope! But here are some celebrities who do.

What fictional characters share your personality type?

If you were a character in a book, what job would you have?
Apparently I’m on the right track since ISFJs tend to do well in the medical field! If I were a book character, I might also be a teacher, a social worker, or a volunteer at a shelter, food bank, or school.

What personality type would complete your OTP?
According to, I am best paired off with an ESFP or ESTP.

Who are some fictional characters that would complete your OTP?



I can’t say that I’m really too excited about any of these choices!

I wasn’t actually tagged to do this one, so I’m not going to turn around and tag anybody either. That said, please link back to me if you decide to do this tag! I’d love to see your answers.

I’ve seen a million and one people do the Mid-Year Freak Out Book Tag and I was so happy to actually be tagged by Bibi to do it! I really enjoy freaking out about books, so here it goes…

1. Best book you’ve read this year?
I’m going to say it’s a toss-up between The Kiss Quotient and Love and Other Words. I also really loved Starry Eyes and Alex, Approximately. And if I’m expanding to four, I should probably just really go for it and also include Little Fires Everywhere and the entire Raven Cycle.

2. Best sequel you’ve read in 2018?
Definitely The Dream Thieves!

3. New release you haven’t read yet but want to?
Well, everybody in the world is talking about how amazing Circe is and I’m pretty mad at myself for not choosing it as my Book of the Month. Also, literally every book that’s sitting unread in my bedroom.

4. Most anticipated release for the second half of the year?
All of them? But really, What If It’s UsJosh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating, Vengeful, City of Ghosts, The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy, My Plain Jane… I could go on…

5. Biggest disappointment?
Easily Distrust. Other one-star books include Torn Hearts, Axl, and Before I Knew.

6. Biggest surprise?
Maybe The Brightsiders? I was kind of indifferent to Queens of Geek but I ended up absolutely adoring The Brightsiders. I was also really surprised at how much I enjoyed Bro Code!

7. Favorite new-to-you or debut author?
Hands down, the best debut I’ve read this year has been The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang. Other debuts I also really liked were Love Scene, Take Two by Alex Evansley, A Conspiracy of Stars by Olivia A. Cole, and Frat Girl by Kiley Roache. For new-to-me authors, Jenn Bennett, Shaun David Hutchinson, and Maggie Stiefvater.

8. Newest fictional crush?
Michael Phan from The Kiss Quotient!

9. Newest favorite character?
Every single Raven boy.

10. Book that made you cry?
Have I actually cried over a book this year? I guess I teared up a little bit while reading Head Over Heels by Serena Bell? Oh, I think Love and Other Words also made me cry.

11. Book that made you happy?
Wallbanger was so funny!

12. Favorite book-to-film adaptation?
The only adaptation I’ve seen this year is Love, Simon but I really liked it!

13. Favorite post you have done this year?
I really enjoyed coming up with my summer TBR (I think I’ll do one for all the seasons now). I also liked my post about BookCon since it sparked a lot of discussion.

14. Most beautiful book you’ve bought this year?
Probably Wild Beauty, but I haven’t read it yet!

15. What books do you need to read by the end of the year?
Please reference my sixteen mile-long TBR.

I think at this point, everyone that wants to do this one has probably done it. But if you haven’t, please consider yourself tagged and link back to this post so I can see your answers!

Book review: The Foxhole Court by Nora Sakavic

The Foxhole Court by Nora Sakavic
Series: All for the Game #1
Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Links: AmazonGoodreads
Publication Date: January 15, 2013
Source: Purchased

Neil Josten is the newest addition to the Palmetto State University Exy team. He’s short, he’s fast, he’s got a ton of potential—and he’s the runaway son of the murderous crime lord known as The Butcher.

Signing a contract with the PSU Foxes is the last thing a guy like Neil should do. The team is high profile and he doesn’t need sports crews broadcasting pictures of his face around the nation. His lies will hold up only so long under this kind of scrutiny and the truth will get him killed.

But Neil’s not the only one with secrets on the team. One of Neil’s new teammates is a friend from his old life, and Neil can’t walk away from him a second time. Neil has survived the last eight years by running. Maybe he’s finally found someone and something worth fighting for.

Do you belong to any Facebook groups for your favorite authors? I do, but only two: Krista & Becca Ritchie’s Fizzle Force and Sally Thorne’s Flamethrowers. Both groups post a ton of book recommendations and it’s generally terrible for my TBR. There was one day, several months ago, when it seemed like the entire group was talking about how much they loved this series. I figured I didn’t have much to lose by one-clicking the first book. Of course, I didn’t pick it up until four months later, but it’s the thought that counts.

I actually wasn’t even planning to read this book this month. I just wasn’t feeling my predetermined #killingthetbr books and I was really sick of all of them turning out to be awful, so I tried to pick one that I thought I’d enjoy. I was wrong. I’m really bad at this book-choosing thing lately. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. Also, it’s Pride Month, so I thought it might be fitting. It really wasn’t. I don’t know why this is tagged as an LGBT romance on Goodreads. It’s not. It’s just a bunch of crazy kids beating each other up.

I just… didn’t like this book. Apparently the series gets better as it goes on, but I’m just not feeling it and I have no desire to keep going. I’m not sure why everything’s so violent and I keep hearing all this stuff about how cute Neil and Andrew are but they just keep fighting? (More accurately, Andrew keeps punching people for no good reason.) The book is about a made-up sport (Exy) that doesn’t even make any sense. It’s weird and it’s so boring.

This isn’t how college works.
This isn’t how sports work.
This isn’t how drugs work.
This isn’t how teamwork works.

Literally the only positive thing I can say about this book is that it made me want to adopt Neil. He deserves better than his current life. The only reason I’m giving this two stars instead of one is because it’s marginally better than the last few single-star books I’ve read.

PS: I love this review over on Goodreads.

#killingthetbr: four months on shelf