The Beautiful (The Beautiful, #1) – Renée Ahdieh [ARC Review]


Rating: ⭐️💫


New York Times bestselling author Renée Ahdieh returns with a sumptuous, sultry and romantic new series set in 19th century New Orleans where vampires hide in plain sight.

In 1872, New Orleans is a city ruled by the dead. But to seventeen-year-old Celine Rousseau, New Orleans is a safe haven after she’s forced to flee her life as a dressmaker in Paris. Taken in by the sisters of the Ursuline convent in the middle of the carnival season, Celine is quickly enraptured by the vibrant city, from its music to its fancy soirées and even its danger. She becomes embroiled in the city’s glitzy underworld, known as La Cour des Lions, after catching the eye of the group’s enigmatic leader, Sébastien Saint Germain.

When the body of one of the girls from the convent is found in Sébastien’s own lair–the second dead girl to turn up in recent weeks–Celine battles her attraction to Sébastien and suspicions about his guilt along with the shame of her own horrible secret.

After a third murder, New Orleans becomes gripped by the terror of a serial killer on the loose–one who has now set Celine in his sights. As the murderer stalks her, Celine finally takes matters into her own hands, only to find herself caught in the midst of an age-old feud between the darkest creatures of the night, where the price of forbidden love is her life.

At once a sultry romance and a decadent, thrilling mystery, master storyteller Renée Ahdieh embarks on her most potent fantasy series yet.


I was so excited to pick up a copy of The Beautiful by Renée Ahdieh at Book Expo. I had read the synopsis and I was super intrigued. I was so excited to read it because of the setting! A supernatural story set in 19th century New Orleans!? With a murder mystery aspect?! Sign me up!! I even got to meet Renée at Book Expo and have her sign my arc! I’m sad to say this, but The Beautiful was a complete and total let down.

Quick note . . . I haven’t written such a negative review in a long time. I always feel bad doing it, but I started this blog to honestly review books. Unfortunately, that means that sometimes I have to be negative. Normally, whenever I review a book I didn’t like I try to find at least one positive thing to include in my review. I don’t think that’s the case for this book.

Basically it just sucks to write a bad review because I want to support authors and their work, but I just can’t help it sometimes. I do not tag authors in bad review posts if that’s any consolation.

Anyways, on to the review. . .

One of the things that intrigued me most from the synopsis was the setting of New Orleans. It seemed like it was going to be the perfect atmospheric setting for a vampire story! Unfortunately it totally fell flat. Ahdieh could have done so much more with the setting and make it a true presence or even a character. It was just a throw away background. The book could have taken place in any random city.

Going along with the setting . . . the entire world building was lacking. It felt like we were given a couple random pieces of information but nothing was really expanded upon. This is especially true when it comes to the Court, the Fallen, and the Brotherhood. I was especially excited to learn about La Cour des Lions after reading the synopsis. We are only shown quick glimpses of these groups and I still have almost no idea what/who they are. The only history and world building we get is through the villain’s narrated chapters, but even that is just brief and confusing.

As for the actual story . . . it was an easy read, but pretty dang boring. Not much happens and I wasn’t attached to any of the characters. There was so substance to any of them. All the characters were bland and had nothing special or new. Everything in the story also progressed way too quickly. Why is everything instantly in love with Celine? The only two qualities I can identify about Celine are that she is the most beautiful ever and she stands up for herself (which is great), but other than that I do not know anything about her. Literally everyone that meets her is immediately obsessed with her. I just don’t get it.

One thing that really bugged me about Celine’s character was her inner dialogue. She is constantly thinking about how she wants power and how dark she is. She just kept repeating it over and over and over again. It just became irritating. We get it! You’re different than all the other girls. I also absolutely hated that Celine kept shaming herself for fighting off her attacker. It just seemed off base – I’m not saying she should be happy about killing someone, but she doesn’t need to feel shame for protecting herself. I know a lot of young readers with pick up this book so I don’t want them to be influenced by the message of shame.

Another issue I had was the romance. There’s no reason that Celine (and I guess spoiler?) Bastien fall in love. They meet once and hate each other, but then like 2 days later they are obsessed with one another. It was insta-love to the extreme. And again, I don’t know anything about these two characters! It’s the same with Celine’s other potential love interest. She literally hates both men and then suddenly is totally and completely charmed by them.

One thing I did mildly enjoy was the mystery of who the killer was. The killer’s POV chapters were definitely my favorites to read. Although, these chapters were not at all scary . . . just overly dramatic. These chapters were the most interesting part of the entire book.

The big reveal at the end honestly just confused me. And not in a good way. I don’t really even care to find out what happens next.

The Beautiful is one of the most hyped up book releases for this fall. For a book hyped up for bringing vampires back there is very little actual vampire content. I wasn’t reading this book because of the vampires, but I know many people are so excited to dive into vampire stories again. These people are going to be thoroughly disappointed in the lack of vampires.

Thank you to Penguin Teen and Renée Ahdieh for providing an arc copy of The Beautiful at Book Expo!

The Beautiful will be released on October 8th, 2019.

The Fountains of Silence – Ruta Sepetys [ARC Review]

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Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Salt to the Sea and Between Shades of Gray comes a gripping, extraordinary portrait of love, silence, and secrets under a Spanish dictatorship.

Madrid, 1957. Under the fascist dictatorship of General Francisco Franco, Spain is hiding a dark secret. Meanwhile, tourists and foreign businessmen flood into Spain under the welcoming promise of sunshine and wine. Among them is eighteen-year-old Daniel Matheson, the son of an oil tycoon, who arrives in Madrid with his parents hoping to connect with the country of his mother’s birth through the lens of his camera. Photography–and fate–introduce him to Ana, whose family’s interweaving obstacles reveal the lingering grasp of the Spanish Civil War–as well as chilling definitions of fortune and fear. Daniel’s photographs leave him with uncomfortable questions amidst shadows of danger. He is backed into a corner of difficult decisions to protect those he loves. Lives and hearts collide, revealing an incredibly dark side to the sunny Spanish city.

Master storyteller Ruta Sepetys once again shines light into one of history’s darkest corners in this epic, heart-wrenching novel about identity, unforgettable love, repercussions of war, and the hidden violence of silence–inspired by the true postwar struggles of Spain.


Wow. Once again Ruta Sepetys has left me speechless. Ruta is one of my favorite authors and story tellers. I have read all of her books, and each one has told a beautiful story about forgotten moments of history. The Fountains of Silence is no exception.

Ruta Sepetys is one of the most gifted authors I have encountered. She writes historical fiction and chooses subjects that aren’t pretty or romanticized. Sepetys is always able to craft a captivating and beautiful story that shines light into dark moments of the past. With each of Sepetys books, I have learned something. The Fountains of Silence, like Between Shades of Grey, Out of the Easy, and Salt to the Sea, showed me periods or aspects of history that I didn’t know anything or very little about. I knew some vague information about the Spanish Civil War and Franco’s rule, but I never delved into the true stories and trauma of this time. Sepetys was able to create a beautiful story that seamlessly integrated the history and truth of what Spain was like at the time. It felt authentic every step of the way. You can tell that Sepetys didn’t choose this subject for shock and awe. She puts in the work and research and it shows in her incredible storytelling. I learned so much, and this book has inspired me to learn more about the Spanish Civil War and Franco’s rule.

The Fountains of Silence shows Ruta Sepetys’ incredible power of storytelling. The Fountains of Silence follows four main characters as they navigate life in Madrid, Spain. There’s Ana and Rafa, a brother and sister whose parents were part of the Republican movement against Franco, their cousin, Puri, and an American visitor named Daniel. Each of these characters lives intersect in different ways. Each is vital to the story and shows a different aspect of this period in Spain. One of my favorite parts is seeing Spain through Daniel’s photography. Sepetys was able to expertly describe what Daniel was seeing and photographing so that I could perfectly visualize the images in my mind. This elevated the already spectacular book.

One thing you can always expect from Ruta Sepetys’ books is an epic love story. The Fountains of Silence delivers another beautiful romance between two of the characters. Sepetys writes romance so well. She is able to create a love story that is vital to the plot, but never distracts or overshadows the rest of the story.

Ruta Sepetys has once again created a stunning book that is a great story, but also an importance piece of literature. The Fountains of Silence delves into a tumultuous time in Spain’s history. It shows the trauma and tragedy of the time, but also the hope and resilience of the Spanish people. The Fountains of Silence was a masterpiece and it will forever be a part of me.

HUGE THANK YOU to Ruta Sepetys, Penguin, and Philomel Books for providing this advanced readers copy of The Fountains of Silence at Book Expo.

The Fountains of Silence will be released October 1st, 2019.

Book Expo 2019 Recap

This past week I attended Book Expo in New York City with my book bestie, Kelsea. We had previously attended Book Con 2016 in Chicago and 2018 in NYC. After dealing with the pure chaos of Book Con, we decided to try to get into Book Expo. We were incredibly lucky to both get approved and in! It is important to note that Con is a fan event open to everyone and Expo is an industry event for publishers, authors, booksellers, educators, librarians, book clubs, and bloggers. We qualified in the blogger category.

Book Expo was absolutely incredible and totally worth it! It was so much less chaotic and more enjoyable than Book Con was. While BEA still had a large crowd, it was much more manageable than Book Con. The show floor is bigger and more spread out than at Con. There were still lines and a couple of areas with large masses of people (looking at you A Heart So Fierce and Broken and anything to do with Penguin). Overall, the vibe was so much more enjoyable at Book Expo. While there are obviously outliers and a few exceptions to this, the majority of people were polite, friendly, and mature. I couldn’t be happier with my experience at Book Expo.

Like Book Con, if you are going for advanced reader copies and signings, you MUST PLAN ahead of time for Book Expo. I had a schedule for each day with the panels, signings, and ARC drops I wanted to attend. Publishers release their Expo schedules in the week leading up to the event.

And now to recap my incredible three days. . .

Day 1

Day 1 at Book Expo was a shorter because the show floor was only open from 12:00-5:00. Despite the smaller time period, I still got so much in and done. Our first stop was to attempt to get tickets to Leigh Bardugo’s signing and Ninth House ARC drop. Going into this we knew that Leigh’s ticket was the hot item of the day. I knew that everyone would head to the ticket drop first and that it would go quickly. My philosophy was that I would try, but I was totally ok if I didn’t get it. And that’s exactly what happened. The line at Macmillan capped almost immediately after the show floor opened. I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get to meet Leigh, but I’m not devastated about missing out on Ninth House. I always remind myself that these books will be released within the next year.

Anyway, after our fail at Leigh’s signing we explored the show floor and did some shopping at the Unbound show floor. Throughout the day I was able to grab a ton of books and swag. I purchased a jumbo booksleeve from Book Beau, and a “Rattle the Stars” pin board, a Terrasen pin, and a Children of Blood & Bone pin from Wick and Fable.

I also attended the panel “Leigh Bardugo Discusses Ninth House.” It was a great panel and I am so pumped to read Ninth House. It was so cool to hear Leigh talk about her writing process. She is so fabulous!

Day 1 Haul
  • Here There Are Monsters
  • Queen of the Conquered
  • Beyond the Black Door
  • Winterwood
  • Cursed
  • Shatter City
  • Tarnished are the Stars
  • Queen of Ruin
  • The Storm Crow
  • Rise
  • Call Down the Hawk (Sampler)

Day 2

Day 2 was the longest day at Book Expo. The show floor was open from 9:00-5:00. We started the day with a bunch of ARC drops courtesy of Source Books and Fierce Reads. Then, while walking the floor, we found free mimosas! So good!!

Jenny Slate

One of the hardest parts of Book Expo/Con is having to choose between two events. This was the case for me on Day 2 when I had to choose between going to a highly anticipated ARC drop (The Memory Thief by Lauren Mansy) or going to Jenny Slate’s signing. Although I was bummed about missing out on The Memory Thief, it was a no brainer for me to choose to meet Jenny Slate. I will be able to read The Memory Thief when it is released, but I probably wouldn’t ever have another chance to meet Jenny Slate. I am so happy with my decision because I still can’t believe I got to meet Jenny Slate!! She is one of my favorite actresses/comedians! Her new book, Little Weirds, looks hilarious and I can’t wait to read it. Unfortunately there were no pictures, so please enjoy my creeper picture of Jenny signing!

After the Jenny Slate signing, I headed over to one of the biggest ARC drops of the day . . . A Heart So Fierce and Broken, the follow up to Brigid Kemmerer’s A Curse So Dark and Lonely. This drop was one of the more dramatic drops, but it still went smoothly and I was able to snag a copy!! One of the best things happened later that afternoon . . . National Geographic brought puppies and kittens to their booth!!! We obviously went and met them all! I wanted to adopt a kitten so badly!

For the last part of the day I had a ticket for Marie Lu’s signing for a sampler of Rebel. I have seen Marie before and I wasn’t super excited about the signing so I gave my ticket away to a fellow book lover who was super pumped about meeting her. Instead of going to Marie’s signing I went to another panel. This time it was Laugh Out Loud with Jenny Slate, Pete Holmes, and John Hodgman. It was hilarious!!

While walking around on day 2 I bumped into someone. As I turned to apologize I realized that the person I bumped into was the one and only LEIGH BARDUGO! I literally froze and was so star struck!

Day 2 Haul
  • Wicked as You Wish
  • A Heart so Fierce and Broken
  • Little Weirds – Signed
  • Last Bus to Everland
  • Havenfall (Sampler)
  • Eight Will Fall

Day 3

Our final day at Book Expo was probably the most epic (and most crowded). The show floor was open from 9:00-3:00. Our first stop was to bolt over to the Macmillan booth to get tickets for their signings of the day. Macmillan is the only booth that required tickets for their in booth signings. We rushed over to the booth and I was able to grab the tickets I wanted . . . Katy Rose Pool and Cora Carmack!

After grabbing my tickets, I explored the floor for a while. This is one of the ways to get books and swag. I would just wander the booths and look for ARCs and swag. I stopped by the Penguin booth while wandering and was able to grab an ARC of Ruta Sepetys’s new book. This was super lucky because Penguin is the most frustrating booth. They don’t release any ARC drop schedules and are very sly about when anything will happen. The play dumb and then get mad when people crowd and loiter by their tables. I tried to get my hands on a copy of The Starless Sea all week, but I was never able to. I’m totally fine with not getting the book because it comes out in the fall, but Penguin made it super frustrating.

After this I headed off to my first signing of the day . . . There Will Come a Darkness by Katy Rose Pool. I actually got an early ARC of this book at Chicago Comic Con (C2E2) and brought it with me to get signed. I wasn’t sure if Katy would be able to sign the ARC and the one I brought (sometimes the publisher/agent is very specific about what can and can’t be signed) but she did! She was actually so excited that I had two editions of the book to be signed. After Katy, I darted over to Blackstone Publishing for a signing with Coco Ma and Jill Criswell. I am excited about both books, but Coco’s Shadow Frost is one of my most anticipated reads from Book Expo!

After Blackstone, I headed over to Renée Ahdieh’s signing for her new book The Beautiful. I knew this line would be super long so I saved my front of the line pass (which came with my purchased avid reader pass) to use. The front of the line pass was my savior for this line and was so useful! I was like the tenth person to meet Renée which was so cool! She was so nice and her makeup looked fierce as always!!

Brigid Kemmerer, author of A Curse So Dark & Lonely

After Renée’s signing I met up with Kelsea and one of the coolest things happened. We were sitting on the floor reorganizing and posting to our instagram stories, when Kelsea spotted Brigid Kemmerer!!! We said hi and started up a conversation. She was so incredibly kind and welcoming. She actually sat down on the floor with us, signed our stuff, and even took pictures!

And then to make the moment even cooler . . . we said goodbye to Brigid and turned and saw V. E. SCHWAB! Kelsea called out her name and she turned and said “I am very attuned to my name.” She was also so kind and inviting, so we walked up to her and had a quick conversation. She gave us each a hug and then headed off to get her own ARCs.

Obviously, we were freaking out!!! I kept saying “what!?” and “what just happened!?” for the rest of the day. It was so cool to meet some of our favorite authors in such a natural way. This is a perfect example of how different Book Expo is compared to Con. If authors just walked around like that at Con they would be mobbed!! At Expo, the authors walked around and were approached by fans, but everyone was respectful and acted appropriately! It was such a cool experience!!!

Anyway, after all that excitement, we went to our last two events of the day. We went to Brigid Kemmerer’s official signing (yes even though we had just met her) and then to Cora Carmack’s signing. We thought our day was over, but we were wrong. Kelsea is a member of Cora Carmack’s street team. Cora sent out an invite to her street team (and friends) to meet up after Book Expo was over. In case you don’t know, Cora wrote Roar and its sequel Rage which will be coming out later this year. We decided to go and it was so much fun! Cora, Kelsea, myself, and three other women sat around and talked for almost 2 hours! It was so cool to sit in and have a real conversation with an author in such a natural environment. It was definitely one of the highlights of my week.

Day 3 Haul
  • A Heart So Fierce and Broken – signed
  • The Fountains of Silence
  • The Beautiful – signed
  • Beasts of a Frozen Sun – signed
  • Shadow Frost – signed
  • Rage – signed
  • Imaginary Friend
  • There Will Come a Darkness – signed, Book Expo copy
  • There Will Come a Darkness – signed, C2E2 copy

Book Expo was a huge success!! I had an absolute blast and I couldn’t be happier with my experience. I was able to meet so many cool authors and fellow bookstagrammers. I received a ton of amazing advanced reader copies and swag! I had the best time celebrating all things books!!