BOOK REVIEW: The Ballad of Never After {Once Upon A Broken Heart, Book 2} by Stephanie Garber

"She used to think love was like a house. Once it was built, a person got to live in it forever. But now she wondered if love was more like a war with new foes constantly appearing and battles creeping up. Winning at love was less about succeeding in a battle and more about continuing to fight, to choose the person you loved as the one you were willing to die for, over and over."

I didn't think it was possible to love this series more; yet here I am, having just closed the pages of Stephanie Garber's The Ballad of Never After, further enchanted by the world, by the characters, by the trilogy as a whole. Y'all, I don't typically get swoony over books, but this one...I could not put down. The magic, the mystery, the heartbreak was immense, and I am still recovering from it. True story.

Evangeline Fox is done with Jacks, aka, the Prince of Hearts. Once before she made the error of trusting him, only to be double-crossed and lied to; therefore, the best course of action now is to simply ignore him. But alas, that is easier said than done, as betrayal is bad, yes; but a new curse has entered the chat, and Jacks is the only one who can help Evangeline unravel it.

While the last curse that plagued Evangeline was one of love; the new curse that has been placed upon her is quite a bit different...in fact, it's murderous. With Jacks' assistance, it is deemed necessary for Evangeline to do precisely what she has been avoiding for dear life...open the Valory Arch. Though she's hesitant to do so, she is aware that it's her only hope for a shot at true love {not to mention survival}; thus, she agrees to the task, and begins her quest to unearth the four magical stones needed to fulfill her duty - that of youth, truth, luck, and mirth.

The only thing known of the stones is that they are all hidden somewhere within the Magnificent North - enshrouded in riddle, glamour, and intriguing soiree. But not all is magnificent in the north. Though places like the Hollow and Merrywood are charming habitations; others, such as Slaughterwood Castle, are heavy on horror, and light on loveliness. Nevertheless, Evangeline has Jacks by her side; and, though she's wont to admit it, she's at her happiest in his company. But as we've learned about Evangeline over the course of the past two books, a happy ending seems unlikely to be a part of her world; and just as she feels as if true love and happiness is within reach, the rug is firmly pulled out from under her in a way that will send her and Jacks into an unexpected spiral that they may be unable to recover from.

That cliffhanger! Usually, I like a little breathing room following the read of a truly enchanting story to fully digest the new revelations; but the placement of the cliffhanger to close this tome has left me grappling for the finale, A Curse for True Love, as I absolutely must know what happens to Jacks and Evangeline.

Never have I ever felt so strongly that two fictional characters must be each others endgame; but I cannot bare the thought of the two of them not ending up together. I am positively in love with Jacks, and he and Evangeline have such a brilliant relationship, what with the banter and the flirtiness and the fact that they genuinely care for each other {despite the fact that they pretend that they don't}. They are literal goals, and I feel empty not knowing how their story ends. A Curse for True Love, here I come!

Star Rating: *****



NOTD: OPI Big Zodiac Energy Infinite Shine Collection in Big Sagittarius Energy

Two coats of OPI Big Zodiac Energy Infinite Shine Collection in Big Sagittarius Energy. Burgundy Pearl.

Y'all, this is a top tier color for fall; but yeah, I'm trying it for the first time at the start of spring. Go figure.

Big Sagittarius Energy is a gorgeous burgundy pearl that is a quintessential bridge between maroon and plum. This shade is simply decadent, and would look so beautiful coupled with cognacs and slouchy knits in the throes of autumn; but for now it's just divine for adding a kiss of vamp to your florals and pastels. Formula was fantastic here! Yes, you can get full opacity in just one coat; but I opted for two to really get that richness. I absolutely adore this one!



NOTD: OPI Your Way Nail Lacquer Collection in Without A Pout

Two coats of OPI Your Way Nail Lacquer Collection in Without A Pout. Hawt Pink Creme.

Yesyesyes! Y'all, this shade is serving!

Without A Pout is a spicy hawt pink creme that gives Barbie vibes, and makes me want to apply a bright pink lippy stat! Downside? The formula here was terrible! Without A Pout flaked in less than 24 hours (even with a base and top coat!), and continued to do so for the entire week that I wore it. Not sure if this was just a bad bottle or not; but I had to toss it. Womp womp.



NOTD: ZOYA March 2024 Color of the Month Nail Lacquer in Lucky

Two coats of ZOYA Nail Polish in Lucky. Leaf Green Infused w/ Gold and Blue Glitter.

Babes, this color! All of the heart eyes, let me tell you!

Lucky is a leaf green infused w/ gold and blue microglitter that brings all of the magic of fairy dust, pots of gold, and four leaf clovers to your fingertips! This one is absolutely stunning and so incredibly unique that you'll want to wear it over and over again for spring. Formula was fantastic. Two coats gave me full opacity; and it dried in the literal blink of an eye. An absolute must for St. Patrick's Day ladies!


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BOOK REVIEW: House of Earth and Blood {Crescent City Book 1} by Sarah J. Maas

"The scent of her still lingered on the sidewalk, lilac and nutmeg and something he couldn’t quite place — like the gleam of the first stars at nightfall."

Let me preface this review by stating that Sarah J. Maas' House of Earth and Blood almost ended up in my DNF pile. I literally struggled for the first 200 pages or so, disliking the characters and feeling overall underwhelmed; and then everything started to fall into place and I could not put it downo , so pleasepleaseplease let this be a sign to you to keep on. Maas' first books focus a lot on world-building in the beginning, but the payoff is incredible - and so worth sticking around. Just saying.

Bryce Quinlan had the perfect life. Sure, as a half-Fae half-human she wasn't always accepted by either species, not to mention the fact that her powerful Fae father has never wanted anything to do with her; but there were some who thought the world of her - specifically, her BFF Danika. Danika...the yin to Bryce's yang - two party girls navigating the world of hook-ups and screw-ups. The singular oddity being Danika's role as leader of the pack - and we're not talking about the Regina George type of leader; rather, we're talking full-fledged werewolf pack leader. And yes, you read that right.

On a night when Bryce decides to ditch her bestie for an evening of drugs, drinking, and overall debauchery, however, indescribable tragedy occurs in the form of a demon who savagely murders all of the people Bryce cares most about, leaving her alone - a mere shell of herself. The accused being behind bars is a small consolation to her loss; but two years later, when the murders begin again, Bryce is back in the spotlight. This time, acting as the literal heartbeat of the investigation - and at the end of the day, she will do anything to avenge the deaths of her friends. That includes working side by side with an intolerable Fallen Angel.

Hunt Athalar, the Fallen Angel in question, is notorious for his prior bad behavior. Currently serving a slavery sentence to the very Archangels he once attempted to overthrow, Hunt is known for his strength and brutality {thus the reason he was so good at his job as assassin}. Now, Hunt is willing to say yes to any job that will shorten his slavery punishment - and if that means working side by side with Bryce to find the murderer, so be it. But as the two begin digging deep into the gritty underbelly of Crescent City, it soon becomes clear that a dark power is at work, placing everyone they love in grave danger. And surprisingly enough, one of the things they love most is none other than...each other. Whether they'll be able to save Crescent City and its residents forever as they know it to see if the spark between them can survive, however, depends on how much they're both willing to risk.

Y'all, when I say that I didn't like Bryce at the beginning of this book, I am not lying. I found her to be immature and obnoxious; but seeing her growth from beginning to end was insane. I'm not sure if it was Hunt's presence in her life, or simply going through everything she went through, that changed her; but, in the end, I loved her, and I loved Hunt, and I loved Bryce and Hunt together, and I loved the fact that they essentially became the Nancy Drew and Ned Nickerson of the supernatural world. Their personalities just vibed in all of the best ways, and I could not resist their chemistry. And then when you toss in the bad Fae Prince that is Ruhn Danaan? NGL...literally dying.

This right here is what incredible urban romantasy looks like. It doesn't matter if you weren't a fan of A Court of Thorns and Roses or Throne of Glass...you absolutely must try Crescent City on for size because it. is. amazing. I literally cannot wait to spiral into House of Sky and Breath, because if it is anything like its predecessor, you know it is a literal chef's kiss. Thank you for this gem, Ms. Maas!

Star Rating: *****



NOTD: OPI Big Zodiac Energy Infinite Shine Collection in Scorpio Seduction

Two coats of OPI Big Zodiac Energy Infinite Shine Collection in Scorpio Seduction. Cobalt Blue Pearl.

It's giving Frozen ice queen vibes.

Scorpio Seduction is a stunning cobalt blue pearl that reads blurple in certain lighting, and is just decadent to look at. This one definitely gives off a winter, New Year's feel; but, if you dig darks, you'll probably love this year-round. Formula is slightly thin; however, it builds to opacity quickly, and dries in a flash.

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