Happy Monday! We had another great week of new books showing up on my front porch! One book is one that I have been waiting for forever, and I’m so happy it’s finally here!
The first thing I got during the week was my Book of the Month box! I decided to go a thriller/mystery route this month, hence the three books I chose! My main book was 56 Days by Catherine Ryan Howard. I was intrigued by the synopsis and thought “why not?”. I’ve been anticipating the release of Riley Sager’s new book, Survive the Night, and could not pass up on the $10 addition to my cart! The last book, Pretty Little Wife, sounded good, so I also added it. I’m excited to read each of these and can’t wait to see what they’re all about!
This stack is a conglomeration of books I read via Kindle and wanted paper copies, and ones I just wanted. I read the Wicked Trilogy last month and needed it on my shelves! I was hoping to get it when the JLA Shop opened last week, but there were issues and by the time I could get on, everything was literally sold out. The Blood is Love is the second book in a duology and it was released July 1st. I wanted the physical copy to go with the first book. While I waited impatiently for delivery, I ended up reading it on my Kindle. It did not disappoint! Bright Midnight was released earlier in the year and I bought the ebook, but then it got pushed down my list by all the other books I’ve bought. I’ll get to it eventually, but wanted the physical copy to add to my Karina Halle shelf!
THIS IS THE ONE I’VE BEEN WAITING FOR!!!!! I read an ARC of this book before it was released last year and I LOVED it. It’s a fun YA fantasy that has great food imagery in it and made me fall in love with one of the deadly sins. The second book comes out later this year and is going to be New Adult and I am stoked for it! Anyway…This is the Fairyloot edition and when it first dropped, I wasn’t part of the Fairyloot club yet as I was on the waitlist. December 2020 I got an email saying January 21 I will be part of Fairyloot’s monthly boxes and I was ecstatic. FL said that early 2021, they would have this in their Fairy Trove restock and I waited and waited; thinking that FL and I had different ideas of what “early 2021” meant. Then, an announcement finally came and this was going to be the first day of the restock! I set an alarm and many reminders on my phone, waited for the email, and then finally bought it! Fast forward to July 1 and it finally came! I am blown away by how beautiful it is. The black edges, the stencils, the cover (not pictured is a foiled image on the hard cover under the sleeve). FL is doing a similar thing with the second book when it releases and you can bet I will buy it!
I’m very pleased with the goodies I got this week! I don’t know what I’ll get this coming week, as I don’t have anything planned, but who knows! The 13th I go to Vegas and then San Diego and plan on hitting up the Little Free Libraries in the areas…I may need a new suitcase just for books. Yikes!
This year has been quite the reading year for me! I have ended 2020 with 108 books added to my “read” list! Technically it’s 97 different books with 11 being rereads (some are multiple). Never did I imagine that I would read 20 books this year…let alone over 100! Quarantine has been good for something!
I also started a book inventory the other day so I can keep track of all the books I own. I finished the two shelves in my craft room/ library room and am just over 300 books…I still have about 100 more scattered throughout the house to log (plus ones I have pre-ordered/yet to come in the mail). Before quarantine, I didn’t own enough books to fill a full row on my bookshelf….needless to say, I’ve spent A LOT of money on books and I don’t regret any of it!
A lot of my money has also gone to book themed subscription boxes. I do the YA version of each and am obsessed. However…I think I may need to cancel some of the subscriptions (I already cancelled two). Below are the ones I’ve tried/still do.
Owlcrate: I love OC so much. They usually have great books/dust jackets and the authors write notes and sign the books. I haven’t loved all the merch that OC chooses, but most of the time they’re okay. I would like to see more small business support in their bookish goodies.
Bookish Box: This was the first one I subscribed to. It’s very similar to Owlcrate. I enjoy it a lot, but when compared with some of the other boxes, I don’t know if it’s worth the money.
Once Upon a Book Club Box: I only got two of these books. They’re formatted so that the goodies you get are hidden and tell you to open them when you get to certain pages. I am not patient enough for that…I also didn’t enjoy a majority of the items in these boxes and ended up cancelling.
Fae Crate: I only got one Fae Crate before cancelling. It wasn’t really my style. I’m glad I tried it out though.
Illumicrate: I’ve gotten two so far (I just got off the waitlist!). I LOVE Illumicrate! They have great items and great books. I’m a sucker for sprayed edges and they do them often! Highly recommend.
Fairyloot: I haven’t gotten one yet because I just got off the waitlist. My first box will be coming in January and I am SO excited. I have heard AMAZING things about FL and can’t wait to see what the first box I get is like. Their books are GORGEOUS and I know they do a lot of sprayed edges as well!
Overall, I think Fairyloot and Illumicrate may kick Owlcrate, Bookishbox, or both out of the running. I really shouldn’t be spending all that money for four subscription boxes a month anyway…oops…don’t tell my husband!
Favorite Books of the Year!
I have had quite a lot of five star reads. I’m going to list all of them and then figure it out from there!
Getting Down by Helena Hunting
Handle with Care by Helena Hunting
Shacking Up by Helena Hunting
Lingus by Mariana Zapata
House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J Maas
Empire of Storms by Sarah J Maas
Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J Maas
A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson
Smut by Karina Halle
A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas
Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco
A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J Maas
With This Heart by R.S. Grey
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Regretting You by Colleen Hoover
The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta
Beach Read by Emily Henry
Home Before Dark by Riley Sager
A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Gifting Me to His Best Friend by Katee Robert
The Mindfuck Series by S.T. Abby
Book 2-10 of the Experiment in Terror Series by Karina Halle
I obviously love each of these books for many different reasons! My top three are actually entire series and I hold each of them dear to my heart.
In third place for the year (and maybe ever) I have the From Blood and Ash Series. AKOFAF threw me into a rough reading slump after I finished it. I was so drawn into this world that JLA created and was in love with the characters, that when I finished I couldn’t pick up another book without wanting to read about Poppy and Cas. I am so excited for the new book coming in 2021!
In second place is the Experiment in Terror Series. I have never read nine books so fast in my life. I read a book a day and couldn’t stop until I devoured all of Karina Halle’s words. I became obsessed with this series in November and was SO stoked to hear that a new book was coming out December 11…well it came out a day early and you bet your booty that I bought it and read it that day! I was struggling in November with picking up books and this series sucked me out of that slump and threw me head first into an amazing paranormal realm with beautiful and enticing characters. I am so happy I came across this series!
In first place we have the ACOTAR series. My dear friend Sophie recommended me these books in January and I ended up finding them on clearance in Target. I tried the first chapter of ACOTAR and wasn’t feeling it. Fast forward a few month and add a bored, quarantined Allison, and I picked up the book again. This time I was intrigued. I got passed chapter one and was really vibing with the feeling of the book. I then became enamoured by Tamlin (ugh, ew) and couldn’t put the book down. Once I finished the first one I just had to dive into book two (which is my favorite of the series…I read it 5 times so far). I finished the series and all I wanted to do was read more SJM books….no, all I wanted to do was read. This series made me fall in love with reading again and I am so thankful that Sophie recommended them to me almost a year ago! I have my SJM shrine on my bookshelf and currently own 54 SJM books (a lot of duplicates and special editions….don’t judge).
2021 Reading Goals
For 2021 I plan to go with the flow and read whatever my heart desires. I don’t want to stress over my ever growing TBR list. I do have a handful of books that I will read when they’re released, but other than that, I want to freely roam my shelves and enjoy each page I read. I also want to become more comfortable with DNFing books. I struggle with this because I feel like if I paid for a book, I should read it. But…why read something I’m not enjoying? I plan to keep up with blogging and booktube more but we’ll see about that. Overall, I want reading to be fun and not a job (which some people I follow make it seem like one…). I read for me and no one else and that’s that!
So, thanks Sophie and SJM for helping me find something I’m passionate about this year! I’ve really gotten to visit some amazing realms and worlds through books and can’t wait to see where 2021 takes me!
“You’re the light in all this madness. You’re my light. “
So this review is going to be a smidge different than my normal format because it’s based on a whole series. I’m going to do my overall thoughts on the whole series and then do snippets from each of the main books. I’m not going to touch on the novella’s because this review may then become its own novella, but maybe in a different post I will! Buckle up…this fangirl is about to take you on a lust filled ride.
When I say that I am OBSESSED with this series, I mean that I eat, sleep, and breathe the pages. I haven’t read anything else since finishing it and I am (im)patiently waiting for December 11th to roll around because that’s when book 10 comes out! I’ve never been more excited for a series to continue than I am for this one…I need more Dex and Perry!
Anyway, I bought the kindle version of Darkhouse because it was recommended on FB group I’m in. I’ve read one other Karina Halle book, Smut, and loved it entirely too much, so I figured I would give it a try. Though Darkhouse, and the first few books of the series, doesn’t have any smut in it, there is A LOT of sexual tension and I am 100% here for it! I also love that it’s a paranormal series and that I was legit scared so many times while reading. If you’re a smut lover like I am, don’t fret…once the smut starts later in the series, it does not disappoint!
Perry is curvy, plus sized woman and I vibe with that because I too, am a curvy plus sized woman! I was very excited to read a book with a plus sized main character that I could relate to. Perry’s thoughts often mirrored thoughts I’ve had about myself and I appreciated being able to have a main character that I could see myself as. I also love Dex Foray and I may or may not have already married him…who’s to say? He’s 32 years old and full of sex appeal and sarcasm, all while being a douchecanoe. At first he creeped me out and I wasn’t convinced of him, but he grew on me and now I will love him forever.
As for the plot of the series, I am obsessed. The whole paranormal aspect had me hooked. I love the premise of the stories and how each one built off of the others. I also liked that book 7 was in Dex’s POV…I don’t often read books with male main characters/narrators, but his book was just…wow. As I said above, I was truly creeped out in many parts of the series and I cannot wait to see what the 10th book is going to bring!
I think my favorite part about this series is that Darkhouse was the first book that Karina ever wrote, back in 2011. I thoroughly enjoyed watching her writing progress as the series went on and can’t wait to dive into more of her stories. Oh, Karina may also be my favorite smut writing author. I decided that after reading her book Smut, but these books just solidified that for me. Seriously…the smut in these books is to die for…the waiting and sexual tension/frustration is completely worth it!
Now, before I completely ruin the series….let’s get into some thoughts of each of the books! I’ll do my best not to spoil anything!
Thoughts on the Books!
Darkhouse, being the first book in the series (and the first book that KH ever wrote) had some progress to make. It did a great job at building Perry and Dex, but I wasn’t hooked into the story until I was about 80% done the book. I was tempted to DNF it until a later date but I am SO glad that I didn’t.
As KH’s writing progressed, my intrigue in the characters and plot did as well. I enjoyed the paranormal topic of this book and liked the addition of Maximus. The sexual tension is to die for and it only gets worse in the latter books! This book had a great trope too…pretending to be married! It only added to the tension!
This book genuinely terrified me…sweet baby Jesus! D’Arcy Island was scary and I was not a fan (in the best of ways). Per usual, the sexual tension between Dex and Perry was reaching astronomical levels and I literally wanted to reach into the book and write my own scenes so I could calm down. I’m not sure how Perry controls herself around Dex because I know I couldn’t…especially sharing a tent with him…oof. Can we also all agree that we hate Jennifer?
This book had my emotions all over the place. I finally got what I was waiting for and then had my heart ripped to shreds and was left with a cliffhanger. This one took us to an insane asylum and it was scary in itself…not to mention Abby…yikes. My favorite line from this book that may have killed me is “You’re not the only one who knows how to lie, Dex”…if you know you know. Sigh. I did enjoy seeing more into the lives of Dex and Perry though, outside of their show! Rebecca may be my third favorite character…I want her to be my friend. My hate for Jennifer also hit an all time high in this book. She is the nastiest skank bitch I’ve ever met.
This book was so well done I have no words. This book deals with demonic possession and it’s written in such a compelling and convincing way. I truly felt like I was in the character’s head seeing/feeling what they were feeling while watching themselves be possessed. I couldn’t put this book down. There’s also so steamy scenes, but I won’t say with whom! It’s action packed, heart wrenching, and scary all in one book! This is one of my top favorites of the series solely for the possession writing.
This book is just *chef’s kiss*. My love for Dex Foray skyrocketed (I didn’t know it could go any further but it did). I vibed with drunk Perry, big time, and really enjoyed the llama named Twatwaffle. Even though this book takes place in the freezing mountains, you won’t need a jacket because there’s enough tension between Dex and Perry to keep you warm…just how I like it. The ending of this book also warmed my heart and I may or may not have died a little when it ended. I had to start book 7 ASAP!
This book is in Dex’s perspective and sweet lord it will make you need a cold shower. That man is just a sexual force to be bargained with. This may be my favorite book in the series. It had the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, all while exploring New Orleans. I would love to see into Perry’s mind for some of the scenes in this book, but Dex’s filthy mind will do. I may have cried A LOT reading this book (again…IYKYK) and was close to throwing hands. Karina outdid herself with Dex Foray…ugh.
Ashes to Ashes is back in Perry’s POV and is spooky in all the best ways. The way KH continuously builds the characters and makes them feel like real people is amazing. Perry’s mind is a beautiful place and I love every part of it. I find myself feeling like I am Perry in these stories. I personally think this book had some of the scariest scenes in it (it involves creepy children so of course it’s terrifying), but it also has some really awesome other scenes…just saying! This book ended on a HUGE cliffhanger and I am so thankful that I didn’t have to wait for book 9 to come out (coming late to the party has its perks!).
Book nine flip-flops from Perry and Dex’s POVs and I am extremely glad that it did. There is so much going on in this book and I love that we got to see into both of their heads. Traveling, possession (again, so well done), haunting pasts, plot twists, and more, KH really threw the punches with this book. Dust to Dust was a phenomenal way to end the series…OH WAIT! It’s not done (HALLELUJAH!). I loved this book so much and really appreciated seeing how far Dex, Perry, and their stories came from the first book. The character and plot building was so well done.
So…those are my thoughts on the Experiment in Terror Series. I would LOVE to fangirl with you over Dex Foray…and the books themselves, so please find me on Instagram (@the_crafty_reader) or Twitter (@thecraftyreader) and chat with me!
Huge shoutout to Karina Halle for writing this phenomenal series. I already have some tattoo ideas in my head that I want to get. I loved this series so much I need it permanently on my being. Also if you haven’t read up on KH, her story is ADORABLE. She found her own Dex Foray when shooting book trailers for the series and they fell in love and got married…HOW CUTE IS THAT!!?
Came Back Haunted comes out December 11th! Dex and Perry’s story continues and I am living for it! Ghosted (EIT 9.5) is a preview novella for the new book, so read that if you’ve read everything else…Book 10 is going to be amazing, I can already tell! Ada, Perry’s sister, also has her own series and it’s just as wonderful! Book one is called Veiled and book 2 will be out soon! Look it up and give it a read, it doesn’t disappoint!
Thanks for hanging in there through my review! I know it wasn’t 100% fabulous (I’m not a writer, after all), but it’s real and it’s me! See you soon!