Thoughts|| Hot Mess.

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Hot Mess by Emily Belden
4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads Description: Twenty-something Allie Simon never imagined she’d fall for a recovering drug addict—but that was before she met Benji Zane, Chicago’s hottest up-and-coming chef, who’s known as much for his hard partying ways as for his unparalleled culinary skills. Six months into their relationship, the food and chemistry are out of this world, but the reality of living with a cooking wunderkind hasn’t exactly been all hearts and flowers.  Still, Allie’s convinced that her love is the key to fixing this talented man’s broken soul—so when Benji is offered his dream job as chef de cuisine for a new restaurant opening on Randolph Street, Chicago’s foodie hot spot, Allie agrees to invest her life savings in his future. But less than a month after she goes all in, Allie learns a heartbreaking lesson: addicts lie. Benji cracks under the pressure, relapses and disappears, bagging out not only on the restaurant, but on her, too. Left with nothing but a massive withdrawal slip and a restaurant that absolutely must open in a matter of weeks, Allie finds herself thrust into a world of luxury and greed, cutthroat business and sensory delight. Lost in the mess of it all, she can either crumble completely or fight like hell for the life she wants and the love she deserves.


I was sent a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I read Emily Belden’s first book Eighty-Sixed and really enjoyed it, so I was so excited when the publisher reached out to me and asked if I wanted to read and review Hot Mess!

Hot Mess was pretty fun to read and at times it got a little intense. I was sucked into right at the start. The story is told in Allie’s POV and I instantly liked her. Right from the start Benji seemed a little sketchy to me, but Allie was in love with him and willing to do whatever to make sure he never relapsed; even looking past all the red flags that were popping up and intense situations between them. I couldn’t believe she was willing to invest her life savings into Benji and the restaurant and of course it takes a turn for the worse. Now Allie is stuck trying to figure out the food business without him.

There were times in the story when it did slow down for me and was a bit hard to get through. It was probably around the time that Benji disappears after he relapsed. I felt like the pace slowed down and some things weren’t as exciting as before. I still really enjoyed it for the most part though and I loved all the funny conversations and things happening between Allie and some of the other characters. Allie grows throughout the book, which I love and she tried to push on with life even after Benji up and disappeared. It’s not at all an easy road for her.

Let’s talk food! Hot Mess is all about the food industry and restaurant business. I honestly don’t know that much about any of that (aside from watching all the cooking shows on Food Network :P), but it was interesting to learn about. AND ALL THE FOOD DESCRIPTIONS! I was hungry about 90% of the time as read this book. I wanted to climb in the book and just eat everything. Overall, I enjoyed Hot Mess so much. It was fun, a little crazy at times, but it had a mix of everything you could want in a contemporary. It did slow down a little bit for me, but I seen other reviews that actually thought the opposite, so maybe it was just me? I would recommend reading this book, especially if you love a good contemporary and FOOD!

In case you missed it;
Book Tag|| 20 Questions.
Random|| Picture Update.
Thoughts|| Invictus.

I hope you have a great Friday and weekend!

ashleyblack

Thoughts|| Invictus.

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Invictus by Ryan Graudin
3 out of 5 stars

Goodreads Description: Farway Gaius McCarthy was born outside of time. The son of a time-traveling Recorder from 2354 AD and a gladiator living in Rome in 95 AD, Far’s birth defies the laws of nature. Exploring history himself is all he’s ever wanted, and after failing his final time-traveling exam, Far takes a position commanding a ship with a crew of his friends as part of a black market operation to steal valuables from the past.  But during a heist on the sinking Titanic, Far meets a mysterious girl who always seems to be one step ahead of him. Armed with knowledge that will bring Far’s very existence into question, she will lead Far and his team on a race through time to discover a frightening truth: History is not as steady as it seems.


I originally received Invictus from The Novl and from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I didn’t get around to finishing it last year (more later), but I decided to check out the audiobook from my library and finally finish it.

So why did I not finish it last year? Honestly, I just wasn’t in the mood for it. I started to get bored early on and decided I needed a break from it. I didn’t want to force myself to read it when I wasn’t in the mood for it, because it probably would have made me hate it. I set it down and it got lost in the pile. I finally finished it though, so at least there’s that.

Fast forward to this year and I finally finished Invictus! I am not entirely sure what to say in this review, so it may end up being a short one. As you can see, I gave it three out of five stars. The boredom still lingered at the beginning and at some parts throughout the book. I didn’t feel enough excitement. The second half of the book was a little better though and I did enjoy it. There’s a lot more going on and things to get a little excited for. I felt like I didn’t click with the characters as much as I hoped I would. They were likable, but my connection to them just wasn’t that strong. There were some “feels” moments and laugh out loud moments with them. Not enough for my liking though.

Overall, I did enjoy the second half of Invictus a lot more than the first half. While I didn’t love the characters in the story, I did like them. There were some fun moments and a couple interesting twists. I’m sad I didn’t love it as much as I had hoped I would, but I am still glad that I finally picked it up again. This was my first time reading a book by Ryan Graudin, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. It wasn’t a bad story at all and I can see why so many people loved it.

Have you read Invictus? If so, what did you think?

In case you missed it;
WWW Wednesday #49.
Thoughts|| Huntress.

I hope you have a great day!

ashleyblack

WWW Wednesday #49.

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WWW Wednesday is a weekly MEME hosted by Taking on a World of Words. Simply answer the following questions. 🙂

The three Ws are:
What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

*Goodreads linked below.


Hey!

Once again it’s been awhile since I’ve done one of these posts. It’s so hard doing these lately, because I am not reading as much as usual; so they always end up looking exactly the same as previous weeks. I’ve been trying to fit in more reading, but school and regular life is happening too. I like the school work though, although the reading for school is a little boring. Haha. Here’s what I’ve been reading over the last couple of weeks.

Currently Reading:

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Invictus by Ryan Graudin
Hot Mess by Emily Belden
Member of the Family by Dianne Lake

I’m reading three books…I know, it’s a lot. I actually don’t usually ever do this either! The most I read at one time is two. On the plus side, I am almost done with two of them. Invictus and I’ll have it finished today. Honestly, I’m not that impressed by it. It has it’s good moments, but I’m mostly bored with it. 😦 Part of why it took me forever to finish it, because I originally started it last year! I’ll have a review coming soon. I’m also reading Hot Mess, which I am really into it! I am almost finished with this one too. It’s really good and pretty crazy at times. I’ll have a review probably next week. I am also reading Member of the Family, which is written by one of the girls that was a part of the Charles Manson family. It’s about her life when she lived with him on the ranch. I’ve always been interested in everything about Charles Manson since I was younger (weird, I know, haha). I’m not that far into it, but so far it’s good.


Recently Finished:

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Huntress by Julie Hall

I recently finished Huntress, which I thought it was really good. It’s about demons, angels, demon hunters. Supernatural vibes all around. It was a pretty fun read minus all the religious vibes. I guess it’s understandable (to some extent) because it is about angels and demons. There’s mention of God and Satan too being involved. Sometimes it just felt a little much. It was still enjoyable though. My review will be linked at the end of this post if you want to see more.


Reading Next:

ontheroadwarfare

On the Road by Jack Kerouac
Warfare by Julie Hall

I am not really sure what I am going to read next, to be honest. I have so many choices of books, especially ARCs that I need to read for review. I’ll probably be picking up one of those. Not sure which one yet, I’ll keep you posted! I checked out the On the Road e-book from my library and I may give that one a chance. I’ve seen it mentioned in quite a few books I’ve read (most recently being Member of the Family (mentioned above)). I think I might finally get around to reading it since I’ve seen it mentioned once again. Warfare is also on my list of what I might read next. It’s the sequel to Huntress (mentioned above). Honestly though, it’s up in the air.

What are you currently reading? Recently finished? Reading next? Have you read any of these books? Feel free to link me to your posts, so I can check them out!

In case you missed it;
Thoughts|| Huntress.
Photo A Day|| April 1-4.
Wrap Up|| March.

I hope you have a great day!

ashleypink

Thoughts|| Huntress.

huntress

Huntress by Julie Hall
4 out of 5 stars.

“Life, and even the afterlife, is a dance between being prepared and letting go. The wisdom is in knowing how to prepare and when it’s time to let go.”

Goodreads Description: No one’s afterlife is as dispiriting as Audrey’s―at least that’s what she believes after waking up dead without her memories and being promptly assigned to hunt demons for the rest of eternity. She’s convinced God’s made a cosmic mistake; after all, she’d rather discuss the color of her nails than break them on angelic weapons. It doesn’t help that her trainer, Logan, is as infuriating as he is attractive. And just when Audrey and Logan appear close to developing an amicable relationship, a decision made under duress pushes their hearts in a direction neither of them saw coming. Despite her sub-par fighting abilities, an ancient weapon of unparalleled power chooses Audrey as its wielder, attracting the cautious gazes of her fellow hunters and the attention of Satan himself. With Satan’s eyes now fixed on Audrey, a battle for the safety of the living looms in the shadows.


I was sent a copy of Huntress from the author in exchange for an honest review. I was participating in a IG Tour & Giveaway for the final book in Life After series (Dominion), so I was sent copies of the books to read and review as well. There’s still a couple days left for the giveaway (ends April 12th) if you check out my Instagram account (foreverbookish_) or the author Julie Hall’s Instagram account (julieghall). Now onto my thoughts about the first book in the series, Huntress.

As you can see above, I rated it four out of five stars. There were a lot of things I really loved about this book. I enjoyed the characters, the plot, the world building, and it was such a fun book to read. It gave me a lot of Supernatural vibes with the demons, angels, and demon hunters. I was pretty addicted to the story and wanting to know what was going to happen next. There was a lot of information to take in and the first book really set everything up. There wasn’t a whole lot of demon hunting (which was a bit of a disappointment), but understandable since the main character had to train to be a hunter first.

With this story being about angels and demons and having God and Satan thrown it, it became a bit preachy at times; especially certain conversations with God himself. I felt like I was in a bible study class or something, lol. I am not religious at all and I felt like the entire exchange between Audrey and God was so weird. Aside from that, I really enjoyed Huntress. I thought it was a really fun read and trying to figure out what the heck was going on was making me crazy (but in a good way). I plan to continue with the series, because it was actually really good. A lot of things unanswered as well, which I am looking forward to seeing how they play out. I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I was going to.

In case you missed it;
Photo A Day|| April 1-4.
Wrap Up|| March.

I hope you have a great day!

ashleyblack

Thoughts|| Love and Other Carnivorous Plants.

 

Love and Other Carnivorous Plants by Florence Gonsalves
3 out of 5 stars.

“She makes me feel like I’m not myself and more myself at the same time. She devours me in the best way and kills me in the worst way, but I’m happy to be killed by her because she’s heaven too.”

Goodreads Description: Freshman year at Harvard was the most anticlimactic year of Danny’s life. She’s failing pre-med and drifting apart from her best friend. One by one, Danny is losing all the underpinnings of her identity. When she finds herself attracted to an older, edgy girl who she met in rehab for an eating disorder, she finally feels like she might be finding a new sense of self. But when tragedy strikes, her self-destructive tendencies come back to haunt her as she struggles to discover who that self really is.


I was sent an ARC of Love and Other Carnivorous Plants from The Novl. (Check out their monthly newsletters for chances to win books from them!) It is expected to release May 15th of this year.

I have mixed feelings about this book and writing this review is so difficult. It’s not that I didn’t like the book, because I did like it. I would even recommend reading it, because it talks about a lot of important things; such as eating disorders, mental illness, alcohol abuse, questioning your sexuality, and a few other things as well. It’s jam packed with important things.

As far as the characters go, I liked the characters. They were all going through something different. They were all struggling with something in their lives. Danny was really sarcastic a lot of the time and she tried to use humor to cope with some of the things happening in her life. I really liked her relationship with Bugg (the girl she meets in rehab). Bugg was a really cool character. Danny’s best friend, Sarah, I wasn’t the biggest fan of hers. But again, she was also going through a lot as well. I can see how it could change her.

This tragic event that happens, I honestly wasn’t expecting it at all. I think that’s also where the book took a turn for me and where my mixed feelings about the story came into play. The pace of the book started to slow down. I was waiting for things to happen and they just weren’t happening or at a decent pace anymore. It was taking awhile to get there. I was also hoping for a little bit more with the ending and for certain things to go differently. Like the tragedy that happened, I personally felt like that didn’t need to happen. It’s hard to really talk about it without giving spoilers though.

Overall, I liked Love and Other Carnivorous Plants. I thought it was a good story. It dealt with a lot of pretty important and tough things. For the most part they were handled pretty well. I liked Florence’s writing style and it was easy to read. I wish the pace didn’t change in the second half of the book, but it was still a good read. I would still recommend reading it.

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In case you missed it;
Book Haul|| March.
Travel|| Butterfly World.

I hope you have a great day!

ashleyblack

3 & 3.5 star reads of 2017.

2017books

Hey!

I thought it would be fun to do a blog post with the books that I rated five stars. I also decided I would do one for all of the other ratings as well. This post post will show the books that I read in 2017 that I rated 3 stars or 3.5 stars. This is the last post in this little “mini series”, because I didn’t have anything lower than 3.5 stars last year.

In 2017 I read 67 books.
I rated 14 of those with 3-3.5 stars.

These are in no particular order. I just sorted my Goodreads 2017 list by “rating” and these are listed from top to bottom. I did try to group same author/series together though.

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Amish Guys Don’t Call by Debby Dodds
Bang by Barry Lyga
Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert
Bad Mommy by Tarryn Fisher

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The Art of Starving by Sam J. Miller
The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee
The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness
TMI by Patty Blount

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History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler

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The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

What are some books that you rated three stars in 2017? Have you read any of the books that I read? Did we have any similar ratings? Let me know!

Here are the links to my other two posts if you want to check those out:
4 & 4.5 star reads of 2017.
5 star reads of 2017.

And in case you missed it;
Random|| Picture Update.
Top Ten Tuesday|| Books that have been on my TBR the longest.

I hope you have a great day!

ashleyorange

Random|| Picture Update.

pictureupdate

Hey!

I have a random picture update for you guys. Basically just what’s going on in my life, what I’ve done recently, what I’ve taken pictures of recently, etc., but really just a ton of pictures of my furbabies. Kidding…half kidding… 😛 There’s others too, haha.

The hubby and I stumbled upon a brewery (Hollywood Brewing Co) that was on the beach, so we had to check it out! Amazing beer and food! I got the sliders and they were so good. I also got a mango IPA and a Limon Lager. Loved them both! I don’t remember the first beer the hubby got, but his second one he got the Limon one too. Hands down though, the fries stole the show. SO AMAZING! We sat outside and you can see in the last picture the beach right across from us.

Speaking of the beach and food…we ate at this place another time called Taco Beach Shack and OMG it was amazing. I forgot my ID at home, so I couldn’t drink that day, sadly. BUT the tacos were so damn good. I need to go back ASAP! Maybe I can talk to hubby into going this weekend, because damn I need these tacos again.

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Here are some other random pictures from the beach from the last two times that we’ve gone. I love taking pictures at the beach. There’s always neat things. I need to go back again ASAP. I literally live like two miles away. It’s even walking distance.

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A random picture of some of my favorite things. I spotted Cadbury mini eggs at the dollar store last weekend and I was STOKED! These are hands down my favorite Easter candy (and probably my all-time favorite candy ever). I am impatiently waiting for the stores to get the bigger bags though, because I plan to hoard as many as I can because waiting a year to get them again SUUUCKS. Not going to lie, I ate every single bag in one day, but ot be fair, they were mini bags. 😛 I got this cute “crazy cat lady” mug from the hubby’s family for Christmas. I finally used it to drink my orange juice, because I am trying to do everything I can to NOT get the flu. GIVE ME ALL THE VITAMIN C!!!

The hubby’s parents got me a felt letter board as one of my birthday gifts (my birthday is in March) and I was able to have it early. I am OBSESSED with this thing. The pictures I take with this letter board will be endless, haha. I was reading your name. by Makoto Shinkai…..

and you guys…it was amazing. HOLY CRAP! SO MANY FEELS. Hands down one of my favorite books that I read so far this year. I cried quite a few times. I plan to watch the movie this weekend. It was SO FREAKING GOOD!! I am living for it. I also got some new glasses that I am currently living for right now. I haven’t taken them off (well besides going to sleep, duh.). I have four pairs of glasses, but these have been my go to ever since getting them. New favorites. 😀

Books I got in the past week and a half. IMMORTAL REIGN, YOU GUYS!! It is finally hear and I am dying to open it and read it. I’m kind of trying to wait until my Immortal Reign bookmarks get here, because I want to use them with this book LOL. But I don’t know if I can hold out much longer, to be honest. I also came home to a package of ARCs from Fierce Reads. I was SO STOKED! So many books!!! SO MANY! I am really excited about all of them. A couple (Outcast and Between Frost and Fury) are sequels in a series and I think Outcast is even the 4th book. I don’t know if I will be reading those anytime soon or if I will do a books for trade for those two. I am really excited for all of the other ones though! Thank you to Fierce Reads for sending me this amazing package of Spring ARCs.

Another thing I am LIVING for is the new camper bracelet from Pura Vida Bracelets. I had to have it. I currently wear it all the time. I am also reading it right now as I type up this blog post, just saying. 😛 Below are pictures of the front and back. Front is a little camper and the back says “happy camper”. Pura Vida Bracelets currently has so many bracelets I really want. They have these new desert themed ones (a Teepee and some arrows) and this pine cone bracelet. I NEED! I am trying to hold off though. I’ve been spending way too much money lately. I’m supposed to be in saving mode this year. I just love stuff so much, it’s hard. I’m trying though!

I recently found out that Snapchat works on my kitten, Leaf. I’ve tried it with every single one of my furbabies and it doesn’t work on them except for Leaf. I am now obsessed with taking pictures of her with all the new filters. She probably hates it, LOL.

And speaking of furbabies. This is the part where I spam you with a million pictures of my cats and dog, because I love them and they are so cute.

These are a couple pictures of my girl October. It’s hard getting many pictures of her, because she doesn’t always like to come up on the bed or she usually just likes to be in her own little world by herself.

My other girl, little Leaf. She loves cuddling. My other cats don’t really like it and RARELY do, so I am thrilled that I finally have one that loves it. HAHA. We actually almost lost her. I guess the front door wasn’t closed completely and she pushed it opened and ran out. Luckily we caught her just in time before she got through the fence. We have to be very careful with her, because she always likes to sit up against the front door when we get home and she likes to try get out a lot. By the way, I don’t know why I always end up with pictures of her sleeping versus awake, lol. It just happens.

My ColbyJack. Honestly, he was my dream kitten. I’ve always wanted and dreamed of having an orange kitten and I finally got one. He’s a huge drama queen though and likes to eat everything in sight. I still love him more than I’ve ever loved anything. He’s a total mamma’s boy too.

And of course, my boy Dax. He just had his eighth birthday yesterday (recycled last year’s birthday picture because I packed away the birthday hat). I love this guy so much. He’s the oldest of them all. He’s also ColbyJack’s best friend. It’s cute that when Dax is scared or hiding, Colby will go find him and check on him.

Dax went crazy licking Leaf one day and it was seriously THE BEST thing. I got some any funny pictures of it, but she didn’t mind it. She loves Dax. Everyone loves Dax and Dax loves everyone.

I love that they all four get along with each other so well and love each other. They don’t usually fight and when they do, 9 out of 10 times it’s play fighting.

Last but not least, here are some random flower pictures. I haven’t posted them to Instagram yet, so you’re seeing them first! They’ll eventually make their way on there. A few other pictures in this post haven’t been on Instagram yet either, but those will also eventually make it there too. I love the little red ones (I forgot what my mom said they were called), but we forgot to water them and now they are about to die. 😦 I thought the little purple flower was pretty cool. It was just this random purple flower in a sea of green leaves, lol.

That is all for this post. I hope you enjoyed seeing all of my pictures. I always think it’s fun sharing them. I love taking pictures for fun, so it’s nice posting them here too and to get random little updates about what is going on in my life. You’ll definitely be seeing more of that this year on my blog since I am changing things up a little bit and not only focusing on books.

In case you missed it;
Top Ten Tuesday|| Books that have been on my TBR the longest.
4 & 4.5 star reads of 2017.

I hope you have a great day!

ashleyblack