October tbr check in

Hello, friends, and happy middle of October! For today’s post I’m going to be doing a check in on how I’m doing with my tbr for the month. So, without further ado, let’s see how I’m doing!

🔘 = not read; ❌= DNF; ✅ = read

Book of the Month

  • The Invisible Life of Addie Larue 🔘 I haven’t read this yet but it is on my TBR for Dewey’s Readathon, which takes place this Saturday!
  • A Deadly Education ❌ I gave this one a try despite the controversy but it was not worth it. I can’t speak on the representation of the MC, but I did notice other things that were problematic in regards to witchcraft and use of practices from closed traditions, so I’m not surprised this book has other issues. And honestly, I was not a fan of the clear Harry/Draco vibes so this was a DNF for me.
  • Bringing Down the Duke 🔘 not read yet
  • Practical Magic 🔘
  • Mexican Gothic 🔘

October Releases

  • Beyond the Ruby Veil ❌ I tried this one but found the MC insufferable and her whole character kind of trite. The book seemed like it was trying too hard to be cool and dark and came off as comical instead.
  • Plain Bad Heroines ❌ I might try this at another time but I found the writing style very challenging.
  • The Once and Future Witches 🔘
  • This is All Your Fault ❌ this is my second attempt to read this author but I’m thinking her writing style is not for me. It’s very odd and feels stilted when I try to read it and something about it feels off to me. This particular book is also too similar in plot to another book I read recently, THE SUMMER OF EVERYTHING, which was much better.

From Previous Months

  • The Scapegracers 🔘
  • Surrender Your Sons 🔘
  • Girl, Serpent, Thorn ✅ Melissa Bashardoust became an autobuy author for me with this book. The sapphics are so lucky to have her.
  • Legendborn 🔘
  • You Should See Me In A Crown 🔘
  • Cemetery Boys 🔘

www wednesday // 8-26-20

WWW Wednesday is a book blog meme hosted by Taking On A World of Words where book bloggers answer these questions:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What are you reading next?
  • What did you just finish reading?

what are you currently reading?

I am currently reading kind of two books. I started GIRL, SERPENT, THORN right before my vacation but haven’t read much of it yet. I also decided to start FIVE DARK FATES even though I just started GIRL, SERPENT, THORN because I just couldn’t wait to find out what happens to Mirabella, Katharine, and Arsinoe (okay, mostly Arsinoe and Katharine, because Mirabella is dry toast).

what are you reading next?

I keep meaning to read HORRID before it comes out, so I should probably get around to that one, though I also really want to read PLAIN BAD HEROINES by Emily Danforth soon.

what did you just finish?

I recently posted my review for NOW THAT I’VE FOUND YOU, which was one of my most anticipated reads for 2020. Sadly, it did not live up to my personal expectations, but I would still recommend it to people.

shiny new content plans!

Hello, bookish friends! Today, I’m going to be sharing some new content plans that I’ve been cooking up. I’ve been thinking about starting a few new features here on Cotton Candy Book Witch, and I would like to share them with you all.

bookish news is good news

This is going to be a news feature sharing good news in the book community. The current plan is to share information such as new features by book bloggers, exciting book deals, releases to keep an eye out for, upcoming readathons, virtual book events that are happening, and other book-related happy news that is announced. This feature was originally going to focus more on explaining what people were subtweeting about on book Twitter in a given week because half of my TL is people subtweeting and the other half is people asking what is going on, but I realized I really want to focus on bringing more positivity to the book community, at least on my blog. I still might do a kind of “ICYMI” Twitter account for that, but for now this feature is going to focus on good news in the book community.

I’m also debating doing a bookstagram featuring this news. I really like the format of another bookish news related instagram, Bookish You Should Know, and I’d like to do something similar with Bookish News is Good News. I did start a Twitter account for Bookish News is Good News, @NewsBookish, but I’m not sure if I’ll be able to maintain it because I’m focusing on growing my own Twitter following.

Please let me know in the comments if you would be more interested in a Bookish News IGN Twitter account or Instagram.

book blogger highlights

I’m not sure about the name of this feature yet (if you have ideas, feel free to share in the comments!) but I’ve really liked discovering new book blogs and blog hopping lately and want to give back to the community. This feature will spotlight new book blogs, other blogs I discover, posts I like, and cool blogger features.

weekly wrap

I had been doing the Sunday Post for a long while now as a weekly wrap up, but stopped doing it because I wasn’t sure if the host blog was even still active, didn’t see others still doing it, and didn’t like posting on Sundays. If I do another wrap up post every week, I’d prefer to do it on a Friday or Saturday, so I can include books read on a previous weekend and have that be my weekend post.

anticipated schedule

As for the first two features, Bookish News is Good News and Book Blogger Highlights, I want to make those biweekly features, so every other week I’ll do one of them. I could probably do Bookish News weekly, but I want to have room for other content and the posts would have more to feature if I used newsworthy items every two weeks, so that remains the current plan.

Anyway, those are some exciting new features to look forward to on Cotton Candy Book Witch! I am really excited to begin putting these together and am confident I have a lot of great content to share for both.

best books i’ve read out of my comfort zone

For the past couple of years, I’ve really made an effort to read books outside my usual comfort zone, which is typically YA contemporary and fantasies. Last year, I think a little over half the books I read were out of my comfort zone, and this year I’ve read 9 so far.

So, today I’ll be sharing some of my favorite books that I’ve read over the past couple of years that are outside my comfort zone:

the kiss quotient by helen hoang

THE KISS QUOTIENT was my first foray into romance, and I’m so glad I read this book on a whim. I didn’t even really know what it was about when I started, which turned out to be good, because I never would’ve thought I’d like a book where the love interest is an escort. I loved all the characters in this book and the romance was so swoony, and this book convinced me to try out more romances.

home before dark by riley sager

The first thriller for adults I read was Riley Sager’s other book, LOCK EVERY DOOR, which I enjoyed. I was definitely interested in reading HOME BEFORE DARK, his 2020 release about a woman whose father is famous for writing a memoir about their time in a supposedly haunted house. When he dies, he warns her to stay away from the house, which of course she doesn’t do when she discovers they never sold it, and goes back to find out why her parents have lied to her for her whole life.

This book was everything I wanted LOCK EVERY DOOR to be, with more of a horror bent but an equally shocking resolution. I haven’t been able to fully guess the outcome of a Riley Sager book so far and I hope that trend continues as I read his other books.

red, white, and royal blue by casey mcquiston

I tried to read this book 3 times before finally reading the whole thing. I think my main issue with this book was that I tried reading it while in reading slumps, which was challenging because the writing style is somewhat odd for a contemporary romance and my brain could not compute. I’m happy I stuck with this book, which is a romance between the first son of the US and a prince of England. This book is full of international shenanigans and squad goals characters and I seriously cannot wait to read more books by this author.

daisy jones and the six by taylor jenkins reid

Before I read this, I had seen TJR’s other popular book, THE SEVEN HUSBANDS OF EVELYN HUGO, hyped on book Twitter. I didn’t try that one because I still wasn’t sure about adult fiction, but when I read a bit of this one in the bookstore I instantly knew I had to buy it and am so glad I did because it is one of my favorite books of all time now. I loved the documentary/interview style and the amazingly complex cast of characters and all the music talk. This was such a Mel book and I still fully intend to read more by this author.

a dash of trouble (love sugar magic #1) by anna meriano

I actually really wanted to read this book when it came out a few years ago, but then I learned it was MG and at the time I wasn’t into reading MG. However, I ended up checking it out through OverDrive this year for a book talk video for work and I ADORED it. If you like your witches and magic with a side of sweet bakery treats on the side, I highly recommend this book. I am very much looking forward to reading the sequels.

lucky number 7 book tag: a book tag for taylor swift’s “seven”

This tag is inspired by Taylor Swift’s song “Seven” on her new album, FOLKLORE. While listening to this song, I couldn’t help but come up with book prompts for so many of the lyrics and had to make a tag for it. Keeping with the “seven” theme, there are seven prompts for this tag.

Here are the tag rules:

  • Link back to the creator (credit: Mel @ Cotton Candy Book Witch)
  • Feel free to use the graphics with credit
  • Tag as many or as few people as you want! (maybe tag 7 people?)

My pick for this prompt is going to be THE DEVOURING GRAY by Christine Lynn Herman. I loved this book when I finally read it a few months ago, as it is full of creepy small towns, mysterious curses, and numerous chaotic bi characters.

I’m going to choose Jenny Han’s first series, THE SUMMER I TURNED PRETTY, for this one. If you don’t like love triangles, this series about Belly’s relationships with Jeremiah and Conrad will not be for you, and honestly Belly is kind of annoying sometimes, but I devoured these books when I read them in college and was extremely entertained by them.

I will always love the original Grisha trilogy by Leigh Bardugo. I know people prefer SIX OF CROWS and CROOKED KINGDOM, and I have not read that duology yet so I can’t compare, but I just so loved this series and wish I had read it earlier when they first came out so I could be in on the hype.

I have become a fan of Riley Sager’s books this year and particularly liked his latest release, HOME BEFORE DARK. It’s about a woman whose father is famous for writing a bestselling horror memoir about their time living in what he claimed was a haunted house. When he dies and she finds out her parents still own the house, she goes back to uncover the truth behind the lies she’s grown up with her whole life.

INKHEART by Cornelia Funke, which follows the story of Meggie and her father Mo and his unique ability to bring book characters into the real world when he reads aloud, will always have a special place in my heart. I always felt like a weird kid because I loved to read, and this book made me feel like loving books was something magical that deserved to be celebrated.

OMFG, why did I pick this prompt, this is so hard! It’s a toss up between Jen Wilde’s THE BRIGHTSIDERS, about a party girl pop star, and Kalynn Bayron’s 2020 debut, CINDERELLA IS DEAD, a Cinderella story continuation set 200 years after the original fairytale in which the story is used to oppress anyone who’s not a cis het man. Both of these stories brought me so much joy for different reasons, and I am going to gush over any queer book that makes me feel happy to be queer.

THE SELECTION series by Kiera Cass is definitely my pick for this one! But to be clear, the original trilogy, not the duology featuring America’s spoiled brat daughter. I know this series is trash, but it’s just so fun and I have very fond memories of reading these books right before I went to college each year because they always came out close to when I went back to school and I’d read them on the drive. This series gave me everything I wanted with plenty of drama and heartache in the middle, so I still love these.

I tag…

now that i’ve found you: review

Title: Now That I’ve Found You
Author: Kristina Forest
Pages: 336
Date published: August 25, 2020

A YA novel about searching for answers, love, and your eccentric grandma in all the wrong places.

Following in the footsteps of her überfamous grandma, eighteen-year-old Evie Jones is poised to be Hollywood’s next big star. That is until a close friend’s betrayal leads to her being blacklisted . . .

Fortunately, Evie knows just the thing to save her floundering career: a public appearance with America’s most beloved actress—her grandma Gigi, aka the Evelyn Conaway. The only problem? Gigi is a recluse who’s been out of the limelight for almost twenty years. Days before Evie plans to present her grandma with an honorary award in front of Hollywood’s elite, Gigi does the unthinkable: she disappears.

With time running out and her comeback on the line, Evie reluctantly enlists the help of the last person to see Gigi before she vanished: Milo Williams, a cute musician Evie isn’t sure she can trust. As Evie and Milo conduct a wild manhunt across New York City, romance and adventure abound while Evie makes some surprising discoveries about her grandma—and herself. 

I was really excited when this book was announced because of how much I adored Kristina Forest’s debut, I WANNA BE WHERE YOU ARE. This book had a lot of elements I liked, and also featured a brief cameo of Chloe and Eli, the stars of the romance in IWBWYA.

What I liked most about this book was how nuanced Evie’s character was. While I loved Chloe in Forest’s debut, I felt like she was a more cut and dry character who was easy to understand and to love, she was not as interesting to me as Evie. Evie definitely falls under the category of “unlikeable” characters, who I always end up liking because they feel more realistic to me as a reader. Evie comes across as kind of selfish and self-centered for most of the book, but underneath it, there’s the constant feeling she has of wanting people’s approval, insecurity, and feeling abandoned by the people she loves. Kristina Forest gives the reader a lot to unpack when it comes to Evie’s character, and that made her more interesting to read about and even root for her at times despite some of her self-centeredness.

Though at times Evie’s character got on my nerves, I still rooted for her and looked forward to the major emotional glow up I figured was coming for her character arc. Unfortunately, that aspect of the story fell a bit flat for me because it came at almost the very end of the story and was rushed through. Evie definitely learns a lot as a person and begins to recognize her own flaws, but the development of that part of the story was not as strong as I wanted it to be and there could have been a few more pages devoted to that.

In general, I really felt that the story could have been 20-50 pages longer to round it out and provide a meaningful ending. The twist in Milo and Evie’s romance felt rushed through, and they make up within the last few pages of the book without much build up between the last time they see each other and the resolution to their relationship. It felt like pages were missing between those two events and the jump that happened between them was a bit jarring.

I also did not find the romance between Milo and Evie as swoonworthy and ship-able as Chloe and Eli. I didn’t feel the chemistry between them as much throughout the story, because Evie is suspicious of Milo’s motivations with her grandmother the majority of the time, so the romance ended up seeming somewhat forced. I liked Milo as a character and wanted to know more about him during the story, but the relationship with Evie felt manufactured and planned versus natural and real. I do love to see a romance between two artists, but this one unfortunately did not do it for me.

The focus of the story seemed to be more about Evie’s relationship with her grandmother, which also made the romance feel sort of unnecessary. I think there would still have been a lot to like about this story without the addition of the romance. I also think because Evie’s relationship with her grandmother was explored so deeply and her grandmother’s life was delved into much more, that made Evie and Milo’s relationship seem flatter and not as interesting. I definitely would’ve loved the mystery to take hold of the story completely and for friendship and family to be front and center as themes.

Before this review becomes a full fledged essay, I’ll conclude by saying it did not meet my expectations and overall it fell flat for me. It’s certainly not a bad book by any means, but compared to the author’s first book it simply wasn’t as good. However, this is definitely one I’ll be recommending to teens at the library because there are still many fun elements to it that I think a variety of readers would enjoy. There is a little something for everyone in this book, from mystery to romance to interesting characters. While it was not as good as I hoped, I’d still consider this one three stars and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to readers who want something a little different in their contemporary picks.

www wednesday // 8-19-20

WWW Wednesday is a book blog meme hosted by Taking On A World of Words where book bloggers answer these questions:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What are you reading next?
  • What did you just finish reading?

1. what are you currently reading?

now that i’ve found you – kristina forest

I’ve been excited for a new Kristina Forest book since reading her debut, I WANNA BE WHERE YOU ARE, last year. I’m liking this book so far, which focuses on emerging actress Evie and her struggle to get back to the top after a friend’s betrayal, but I don’t think I’m going to love it *as* much as IWBWYA. Evie is not as likeable as Chloe, and I really don’t like her as a person so far, but I am interested to see the character growth in her that I’m guessing will happen as the story progresses, and the most-likely romance with cute musician Milo.

2. what are you reading next?

plain bad heroines – emily m. danforth

I didn’t know about this book until seeing someone post about it on Twitter, and then I read the synopsis and knew I had to have it. I’ll admit to not reading Emily Danforth’s first book, THE MISEDUCATION OF CAMERON POST, despite its popularity, but this book I am sure I’m going to read and love. It’s a dark academia book about a school with a mysterious past involving a secret society started by two sapphics who were obsessed with a scandalous memoir and the woman who investigates their deaths and other mysterious deaths that took place there.

3. what did you just finish reading?

two dark reigns – kendare blake

I finally got around to continuing the THREE DARK CROWNS quartet with the third installment, TWO DARK REIGNS. This series absolutely crushes my soul and after how this one ends, I am so concerned for my faves in the finale, FIVE DARK FATES. Whose fates? Is Katharine really undead? Who will the mist kill next? So many questions, and the only way to find out is to have my soul crushed even more by reading FDF.

a list of book blogs compiled for your reading pleasure

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen my tweet asking for links to new WordPress book blogs started in 2019 or later. I was not expecting to get a lot of responses, but I was pleasantly surprised to end up with a long list of new blogs to peruse. Today, I want to share some of the book blogs I discovered because of that tweet and list those and a few others I’ve discovered lately here for your personal reading pleasure.

If you are reading this and responded to that tweet but don’t see your blog listed, fear not! I’m planning to make a new feature highlighting new blogs and blog posts that I like to help others find new blogs and give back to a community that has given me so much.

Without further ado, here are some of the blogs I’ve discovered recently:

A Little Shelf Righteous

I was so happy to discover Meg’s blog because her recommendation posts are especially killer. She has written recommendation lists on a variety of topics, including books for Folklore fans (ft. one of my childhood faves, THE LUXE), books by Black authors, reads featuring the rich & famous trope, and more. I even managed to discover some new titles I hadn’t heard of through her blog that I quickly added to my TBR list, and I’m sure you will, too!

Rae’s Reads and Reviews

What immediately stuck out to me about Rae’s blog was the uniqueness of her content. Her posts are extremely creative, from book tags (including this one based on the new Chloe X Halle album) to book recs based on Gospel songs.

Eleanor Sophie

Eleanor Sophie is a literary/lifestyle blog that I enjoy for the variety of topics she posts about! I especially enjoyed her post about her first impressions of Folklore (#sorrynotsorry for all the Folklore post hyping). I’ve also gotten a lot out of reading a bunch of her smart, detailed reviews, which are often of books that weren’t on my radar before.

Rin’s Reads

Erin migrated over to WordPress and started a new blog last month! If her early content is any indication of what’s to come, I’m definitely going to be a long-time follower! I’ve especially enjoyed her review of BOYFRIEND MATERIAL and her wrap up post for Reading Rush, in which she also discusses the hosts’ problematic actions.

The Diverse Clan

The Diverse Clan just came to be this month, and I am so pumped for it! They were founded with the goal of boosting content by marginalized bookish creators. They already have some great features on their blog, including a diverse bookish creators masterlist, information on important issues happening globally, and a place you can apply to be a contributor! I am excited to see content from a variety of creators about diverse books and can’t wait to see what they come up with!