Engaging the Office Enemy (California Dreamin’ #5): Review

About the Book:

Title: Engaging the Office Enemy 

Author: Kristin Canary 

Publisher: Dreaming of You Press 

Release Date: September 26, 2022

Pages: 211

Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance 

Synopsis:

I hate fakers—and Dax Nyhart is as fake as they come.61221832._SY475_

I also hate to lose.

My nemesis has been stealing all the best clients for the last year at the marketing firm where we both work—and not because he’s better than me. Because 1) his uncle is the boss and 2) he kisses up to people.

And I’m sick of it.

So when he asks me to fake an engagement so he can land another job—far away from me—I agree. It’s only one dinner, right?

Yeah, sure. One dinner turns into an entire Caribbean cruise. But I’ll do anything to get rid of this pain in my backside. Even pretend to like Dax. Or love him, as it were.

Even hold his hand, laugh with him … kiss him. Discover that maybe there’s more to Dax Nyhart than meets the eye.

The problem? I have no idea what’s fake and what’s real anymore. I’m afraid this game we’re playing might leave me losing more than just clients to Dax.

And this loss might be the most painful of all.

Fans of Jenny Proctor and Emma St. Clair will love this closed-door, friends-to-lovers romantic comedy with lots of sizzle and spice, but no on-page explicit content.

Review:

5

*I received an e-arc from the author/publisher and all thoughts and opinions are my own*

This is my first book from this author, other than one other novella, and this won’t be my last! I was quickly sucked into this fun, contemporary romance. This is book five in the California Dreamin’ Series by Kristin Canary, and it can be read as a standalone or as a part of the series. I plan on reading the others I haven’t read as soon as I can. If you like enemies to lovers, fake dating, and one bed tropes, you won’t want to miss this one! 

Alexis is a graphic artist and her arch nemesis at work, Dax Nyhart, seems to be taking all of the best clients that she needs so that she can afford to pay off her mortgage. He’s not getting the work because he is better than Alexis, but because he’s the nephew of the boss and kisses up to everyone. Alexis is so sick and tired of it all. 

Dax comes to Alexis with a request for help. If she would go out to dinner with him and pretend to be his fiancée, he may be able to land a new job, one that would be far away from her. She agrees to the dinner, and that winds up turning into an entire Caribbean cruise. Alexis decides it will be worth it to get him out of her hair, so she’ll pretend to like him, or even love him if she has to.

Throughout the cruise, they hold hands, laugh, and even kiss. Alexis begins to see that there’s more to Dax than she thought. The lines begin to blur around what’s real and what’s not, and Alexis may have more to lose than just clients to Dax.

The witty banter and the chemistry between the two characters is an absolute delight! If you like romance, I highly recommend this one. 

About the Author:

Kristin is a thirty-something wife and boy mom who functions best on peach tea and cookie dough ice cream. She writes closed-door romantic comedies with lots of sizzle and spice but no explicit on-page content. A desert dweller, she always has her eye on the next trip to a beach somewhere–and if she can’t travel there in person, then you’d better believe she’s going to write about it. Kristin is never fully satisfied with a movie, TV show, or book without a hefty dose of romance in it, and she’s grateful to be living a true-life love story with her own crazy little family. Connect with her at KristinCanary.com.21643510

Forestfall (Lakesedge #2): Review

About the Book:

Title: Forestfall

Author: Lyndall Clipstone

Publisher: Henry Holt & Co (BYR)

Release Date: September 27, 2022

Pages: 384

Genre: YA Fantasy

Synopsis:

Some oaths can never be broken…OIP

The curse that haunted Lakesedge Estate has been broken, but at great cost. Violeta Graceling has sacrificed herself to end the Corruption. To escape death, Leta makes a desperate bargain with the Lord Under, one that sees her living at his side in the land of the dead.

But this world of souls and mist hides many secrets. And when Leta realizes she is still connected to Rowan by a tethering spell, she will risk everything— even her soul— to try and reach him.

Torn between power and love, life and death, Leta struggles to keep hold of her humanity as she falls further and further under the spell of the world Below… and the Lord Under.

Review:

5

*I received an e-arc via the publisher and Netgalley for review. Thank you for the opportunity. All thoughts are my own. This review contains spoilers for book one.*

After reading Clipstone’s debut, Lakesedge I became an instant fan! Her sophomore follow up, Forestfall did not disappoint. This story was dark, atmospheric, and wickedly beautiful from start to finish.

This story picks up right where Lakesedge left off. The curse at Lakesedge Estate has been broken, but at a huge cost. Violeta “Leta” Graceling has sacrificed herself to end the Corruption. To escape death, Leta made a bargain with the Lord Under, one that sees her living in the land of the dead.

She discovers that the World Below hides many secrets, and there are dangers she never could have anticipated. Leta soon realizes that she is still connected to Rowan through a tethering spell. She decides that she will risk everything, including her very soul to reach him.

Leta finds herself torn between the World Above and the World Below, between life and death, and between power and love. She struggles to hold onto her humanity as she gets pulled further into the World Below and the spell of the Lord Under.

I loved Leta’s growth in this story. It was interesting to see just how far she would go to be with those she loves, and she does some pretty cutthroat things. We also meet some new fascinating characters that really add to the story, and Clipstone does some amazing world building with the World Below.

If you’re looking for some spooky reads, World at the Lake’s Edge duology would make the perfect choice! I loved this duology so much, and I can’t wait to see what Clipstone writes next. Sign me up!

About the Author:

Lyndall Clipstone writes about monsters and the girls who like to kiss them. A former youth librarian who grew up running wild in the Barossa Ranges of South Australia, she currently lives in Adelaide, where she tends her own indoor secret garden. She has a Bachelors in Creative Writing and a Graduate Diploma in Library and Information Management.

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The Make-Up Test: Review

About the Book:

Title: The Make-Up Test 

Author: Jenny L. Howe 

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin 

Release Date: September 13, 2022

Pages: 336

Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance 

Synopsis:

ONE TO WATCH meets BEACH READ in this smart, swoony, romantic comedy, in which two college exes find themselves battling against each other—and their unresolved feelings—for a spot in a prestigious literature Ph.D. program.

Allison Avery loves to win. After acing every academic challenge she’s come up against, she’s finally been accepted into her dream Ph.D. program at Claymore University, studying medieval literature under a professor she’s admired for years. Sure, grad school isn’t easy—the classes are intense, her best friend is drifting away, and her students would rather pull all-nighters than discuss The Knight’s Tale—but she’s got this. Until she discovers her ex-boyfriend has also been accepted. Colin Benjamin might be the only person who loves winning more than Allison does, and when they’re both assigned to TA for the same professor, the game is on.

What starts as a personal battle of wits (and lit) turns into all-out war when their professor announces a career-changing research trip opportunity—with one spot to fill. Competing with Colin is as natural as breathing, and after he shattered her heart two years ago, Allison refuses to let him come out on top. But when a family emergency and a late night road trip—plus a very sexy game of Scrabble—throw them together for a weekend, she starts to wonder if they could be stronger on the same team. And if they fall for each other all over again, Allison will have to choose between a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and what could be a twice-in-a-lifetime love.

Charmingly bookish and unequivocally fat positive, The Make-Up Test embraces the truth that people can sometimes change and grow, even when you least expect it. 

Review:

*I received an e-arc from the publisher and Netgalley for review. All opinions are my own. *

I thought the Make-Up Test was a great debut for Jenny Howe! It’s a contemporary romcom, with two exes who find themselves pitted against each other in a prestigious literature Ph.D. program. I loved the academic setting and the fat rep! There are some difficult topics discussed in the book, and I felt that the author handled them in a positive way.

Allison Avery has a very competitive spirit. She’s always aced every academic challenge and has finally been accepted into the PhD program she’s always dreamed of at Claymore University. She’ll be studying medieval literature under a professor that she’s admired for years. Her classes seem intense, her relationship with her best friend and roommate isn’t going according to plan, and her students don’t seem to want to participate, but she feels determined. She then finds out that her ex-boyfriend Colin who is just as competitive, has been assigned to TA with her under the same professor, and for her it’s game time.

As Allison and Colin compete, they start falling for each other again. Will they be able to overcome their past and have a second chance at romance?

I really enjoyed seeing Allison’s growth and development throughout this story and how she was able to speak up for herself. I loved her passion for learning and how devoted she is to her field of study. Such a refreshing character! Colin grew on me too throughout the book, and I loved how nerdy they were together.

I definitely recommend this one for romance readers and I am excited to read more from Howe in the future!

About the Author:

Jenny L. Howe first started scribbling stories into black-and-white composition notebooks with neon pink pens when she was in junior high and never really stopped. In college, she decided to turn her love of books into a career by pursuing a Ph.D. in literature, where she spent the next few years studying bizarre and entertaining medieval romances. Now, as a professor, she teaches courses in college writing, literature, and children’s media. When she’s not writing and teaching, Jenny spends her time buried under puzzle pieces, cross-stitching her favorite characters, and taking too many pictures of her rescue dogs, Tucker and Dale. The Make-Up Test is her debut novel.

A Wilderness of Stars: Review

About the Book:

Title: A Wilderness of Stars 

Author: Shea Ernshaw 

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

Release Date: November 29, 2022

Pages: 320

Genre: YA Fantasy, YA Romance, YA Dystopian

Synopsis:

In this magical romance from the New York Times bestselling author of The Wicked Deep, a mysterious illness cursing the land forces a teen girl astronomer to venture across the wilderness in search of the stars’ message that will, hopefully, save them all.

If magic lives anywhere, it’s in the stars…

Vega has lived in the valley her whole life—forbidden by her mother to leave the safety of its borders because of the unknown threats waiting for her in the wilds beyond. But after her mother dies, Vega begins to see stars falling from the sky. It’s an omen she can no longer ignore, forcing her to leave the protective boundaries of the valley. But the outside world turns out to be much more terrifying than Vega could have imagined. People are gravely sick—they lose their eyesight and their hearing, just before they lose their lives.

What Vega keeps to herself is that she is the Last Astronomer—a title carried from generation to generation—and she is the only one who carries the knowledge of the stars. Knowledge that could hold the key to the cure. And so when locals spot the tattoo on Vega’s neck in the shape of a constellation—the mark of an astronomer—chaos erupts as the threats her mother warned her about become all too real.

Fearing for her life, Vega will be rescued by a girl named Cricket who will lead her to Noah, a boy marked by his own mysterious tattoos. On the run from the men who are hunting her, Vega, Cricket, and Noah will set out across the plains in search of the cure the stars speak of. But as the lines between friend and prisoner begin to blur, Vega must decide whether she will protect the sacred knowledge of an astronomer. Or if she will risk everything to try to save them all.
 

Review:

* I received an arc for review. All thoughts are my own*

A Wilderness of Stars is a compelling read from start to finish. I didn’t know too much about the story going in, but it is definitely a departure from Ernshaw’s previous YA books, and I loved that about it! It was just the escape that I needed.

Vega has never left the shelter of the valley. She has been expressly told by her mother to never leave the safety of it’s borders due to threats that await in the wilds beyond. But after her mother dies, Vega sees twin stars in the sky. She finds she can no longer ignore the omen, and must leave all she has ever known and venture outside the valley and journey to the sea. The outside world turns out to be more horrifying than she could have imagined, as the people beyond are very sick and are losing their lives.

Vega holds onto to a secret. She is the Last Astronomer, a title that has been passed down from generation to generation, and she is the only one with knowledge of the stars. This knowledge could be the key to the cure for all those who are sick. When locals spot a tattoo of a constellation on Vega’s neck, the mark of an astronomer, she finds herself in danger as all that her mother warned her about has become reality.

Fearing for her life, she meets Cricket and Noah on her travels, who vow to help her on her mission to get to the sea. Vega must decide if she will protect the sacred knowledge of the stars she possesses, or if she will risk everything to save them all.

An enticing and atmospheric tale, I found myself enjoying following Vega’s journey and learning things about the world as she did. I loved trying to guess what was going to happen next, and I loved the twists and turns along the way. I felt like the story would have worked well without the romance, but I definitely enjoyed it. I’m always a sucker for love! I highly recommend this one, I loved it, and I hope that you’ll preorder it. It’s releasing in November 2022.

About the Author:

Shea Ernshaw is the #1 New York Times, USA Today, and Indie Bestselling author of the YA books: THE WICKED DEEP, WINTERWOOD, A WILDERNESS OF STARS, and LONG LIVE THE PUMPKIN QUEEN. Her debut adult fiction novel, A HISTORY OF WILD PLACES, was an Indie Next Pick and a Book of the Month selection. She is also the winner of the Oregon Book Award.
She often writes late, late, late into the night, enjoys dark woods, scary stories and moonlight on lakes.

The Girl With the Golden Eyes: Review

About the Book:

Title: The Girl With the Golden Eyes 

Author: Samantha Hastings 

Publisher: Independently Published 

Release Date: September 27, 2021

Pages: 236

Genre: Historical Romance, Regency Romance, Mystery 

Synopsis:

Hana’s life is forever changed when the Comtesse de Champagne, a wealthy and eccentric Englishwoman, sees a painting of her. The comtesse purchases Hana from her father, and Hana’s existence transforms from one of poverty to one of privilege.download (40)

For years Hana enjoys the comforts of her new position, but she hates how controlling and neurotic the comtesse is. When the comtesse is accused of murdering Sir Reginald Shipley over a painting, Hana must do all in her power to prove the comtesse’s innocence or she’ll lose everything.

She reluctantly works with Aaron Shipley, Sir Reginald’s grandson, to track down the true murderer, only to discover shocking secrets that will shake everything Hana and Aaron thought they knew about themselves and their families. And falling in love could prove deadly.

Review:

 

4

* I was provided a copy for review by the author. All thoughts are my own.*

The Girl With the Golden Eyes is an enthralling mystery story set in the Victorian Era. The fact that it was inspired by some real historical figures made it all the more intriguing. There is a sweet romance as well that made me swoon! I found myself eagerly turning the pages, trying to figure out the mastermind.

Hana’s life is altered forever when the very wealthy and eccentric Englishwoman, The Comtesse de Champagne sees a painting of her. The comtesse purchases Hana from her father, and her life of poverty turns into a life of wealth and privilege. 

For years Hana enjoys the comforts of her new life, but as she gets older she begins to hate how controlling and neurotic the comtesse is. When the comtesse is accused of murdering Sir Reginald Shipley over a painting, Hana must prove the comtesse’s innocence or risk losing everything.

She reluctantly begins to work with Aaron Shipley, Sir Reginald’s grandson, to track down the true murderer. The shocking secrets they discover will churn up everything that Hana and Aaron thought they knew about themselves and their families, and falling in love could prove a deadly mistake.

If you’re looking for a fun, quick read that involves mystery, romance, and delves into Victorian life then I think you’ll enjoy this one. I definitely recommend! 

 

About the Author:

Samantha Hastings has degrees from Brigham Young University, the University of Reading (Berkshire, England), and the University of North Texas. She met her husband in a turkey-sandwich line. They live in Salt Lake City, Utah, where she spends most of her time reading, eating popcorn, having tea parties, and chasing her kids.93275_1

Three Kisses, One Midnight: A Novel: Review

About the Book:

Title: Three Kisses, One Midnight 

Authors: Roshani Chokshi, Evelyn Skye, and Sandhya Menon

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Release Date: August 30, 2022

Pages: 288

Genre: YA Fantasy, YA Contemporary 

Synopsis:

New York Times bestselling authors Roshani Chokshi, Evelyn Skye, and Sandhya Menon craft a spellbinding novel about discovering the magic of true love on one fateful, magical night in Three Kisses, One Midnight.

The town of Moon Ridge was founded 400 years ago and everyone born and raised there knows the legend of the young woman who perished at the stroke of twelve that very same night, losing the life she was set to embark on with her dearest love. Every century since, one day a year, the Lady of Moon Ridge descends from the stars to walk among the townsfolk, conjuring an aura upon those willing to follow their hearts’ desires.

“To summon joy and love in another’s soul
For a connection that makes two people whole
For laughter and a smile that one can never miss
Sealed before midnight with a truehearted kiss.”

This year at Moon Ridge High, a group of friends known as The Coven will weave art, science, and magic during a masquerade ball unlike any other. Onny, True, and Ash believe everything is in alignment to bring them the affection, acceptance, and healing that can only come from romance—with a little help from Onny’s grandmother’s love potion.

But nothing is as simple as it first seems. And as midnight approaches, The Coven learn that it will take more than a spell to recognize those who offer their love and to embrace all the magic that follows.

Review:

*Thank you to Netgalley and Wednesday Books for the review copy. All thoughts are my own.*

Three Kisses, One Midnight is an enchanting tale that’s full of pure magic! It is comprised of three novellas, each told from three different points of view. Three best friends, Onny, Ash and True have called themselves the Coven since they were little kids, and this tale involves their quest for love. It takes place near Halloween, making it the perfect fall read. The first story is Onny’s story, the second is Ash’s story, and the third is True’s story. I found this format easy to follow and I really enjoyed it! I would also like to mention that there’s a great cast of diverse characters which I found very appealing.

The town of Moon Ridge was founded 400 years ago, and legend says that a young woman perished that night at the stroke of midnight when she was supposed to embark with her true love. Every century since, one day a year, the Lady of Moon Ridge comes down from the stars to walk among the people of the town. It is said that she will help those willing to follow their hearts’ desire.

This year at Moon Ridge High, the Coven will come together at a masquerade ball like never before and will interlace magic, science, and art. Onny, Ash, and True believe that everything is in alignment to bring them what they’ve been seeking, all with a little help from Onny’s grandmother’s love potion.

Nothing turns out to be as easy as the friends think. As midnight draws near, the Coven will learn that it takes more than a spell to recognize when love is offered and embrace the magic that follows.

I thought all three of these stories were absolutely adorable! If you’re looking for a quick read, that’s romantic and heartwarming, this one is for you.

About the Authors:

Roshani Chokshi is the author of commercial and critically acclaimed books for middle grade and young adult readers that draws on world mythology and folklore. Her work has been nominated for the Locus and Nebula awards, and has frequently appeared on Best of The Year lists from Barnes and Noble, Forbes, Buzzfeed and more. Her New York Times bestselling series includes The Star-Touched Queen duology, The Gilded Wolves, and Aru Shah and The End of Time, which was recently optioned for film by Paramount Pictures.

EVELYN SKYE is a New York Times bestselling author of novels for adults and young adults, including the forthcoming THE HUNDRED LOVES OF JULIET and THREE KISSES, ONE MIDNIGHT.

Her book THE CROWN’S GAME was an Amazon Editor’s Pick, as well as an Amazon Best Book of 2016. Evelyn’s work has also been featured on Best Of lists by Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, Indie Next, Goodreads, Buzzfeed, and more. She is a graduate of Stanford University and Harvard Law School, and she lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and daughter. 

Sandhya Menon is the New York Times bestselling author of several novels with lots of kissing, girl power, and swoony boys. Her books have been featured in several cool places, including on The Today Show, Teen Vogue, NPR Book Review, Buzzfeed, and Seventeen. A full-time dog servant and part-time writer, she makes her home in the foggy mountains of Colorado.

Beguiled: Review

About the Book:

Title: Beguiled 

Author: Cyla Panin

Publisher: Amulet Books 

Release Date: August 23, 2022

Pages: 384

Genre: YA Fantasy 

Synopsis:

A dark and enthralling story about a young woman who makes a deal with a spirit to try and gain her independence—and the twisted price she has to pay for it61-ebylRfSL

Ella is a 17-year-old weaver whose entire livelihood depends on her loom. She dreams of opening her own shop, but when her father died in debtor’s prison, she had to support herself by taking whatever clients she could get. In order to buy her supplies she goes into debt of her own, and when her loom breaks, Ella realizes she needs more help than a repairperson can give her. She, like everyone, has heard about the old washerwoman spirit called the Bean-Nighe who will grant any one wish—for a price.
 
But Ella is desperate, so she asks the Bean-Nighe to fix her loom. And it works. The loom is fixed, and she’s creating beautiful pieces she could have never imagined before. All she has to do is feed the loom a drop of blood each time she weaves—a small price to pay for such magnificent silks. And when she brings two bolts to a rich client, she meets a mysterious young man named Callum and bargains for an invitation to his exclusive party. At that party, he’s so mesmerized by her talent, he offers Ella a place to live and patronage for her art. It seems like Ella’s fortune is finally turning for the better . . . until she begins to notice the loom taking more from her than she offered.
  
As she becomes entangled in the lives of the city’s rich, swept into Callum’s allure, and trapped by the Bean-Nighe’s magic, Ella must figure out a way to secure her future while she still has a future at all.
 

Review:

4

*I received an e-arc from the author and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

Beguiled is a luscious YA Fantasy story that is the perfect autumn read! It is steeped in Celtic folklore, full of mystery and has a spooky gothic atmosphere. I really thought that having the main character be a textile artist was very unique and creative as well. 

Ella is a seventeen-year-old weaver whose very livelihood depends on her loom. Her father passed away in debtor’s prison and she has had to take whatever jobs she can to support herself. She has always dreamed of opening her own shop, but that dream is so farfetched as she barely has enough to get by. In order to buy supplies, she winds up owing a large debt to a cruel man in the marketplace. When her loom breaks, she realizes that she needs more than a repair to ever do more than just survive. She entertains the idea of visiting the Bean-Nighe (an old washerwoman spirit by the river)who may grant her a wish, for a price.

Ella becomes so desperate for help, she goes to the Bean-Nighe and asks her to fix her loom. It works, her loom is fixed, and she begins to weave gorgeous pieces that she never could have imagined before. She has to feed the loom a drop of her blood every time she weaves, and she thinks this is a small price to pay for weaving such magnificent silks. She immediately brings a couple of bolts of the beautiful fabric to one of her rich clients, and meets an enigmatic young man named Callum and bargains for an invitation to one of his exclusive parties. At the party, he is so mesmerized by her work, he offers her a place to live at his home and patronage for her art. Ella feels like her fortunes have at last changed for the better, until she begins to notice that the loom is taking more from her than she bargained for.

While Ella is whisked away by Callum’s charm and caught up in the web of the Bean-Nighe’s magic, she must find a way to secure her future endeavors while she still has a future left.

I enjoyed Ella as the main character. I had so much empathy for her, and the situation that she found herself in, but I don’t think I would have made the deal that she did.  She lived in a society that basically disregarded her, and I found her relatable in the way she struggled with feelings of self-worth. The story becomes darker as it goes along, and it was interesting to see the twists and turns that Ella has to face. I do wish there was a little more to the ending of the book, but overall I was satisfied. 

A great sophomore novel for Panin!  I hope that you pick this one up ASAP, as it releases Tuesday, August 23, 2022.

 

About the Author:

Cyla Panin is an MG and YA writer who prefers to look at the world through a dusting of magic. After spending most of her childhood wanting to escape into the wonderful worlds her favourite authors created, she’s now using her own words to craft magical places. When not writing, Cyla can be found playing dinosaurs with her two young boys, watching swashbuckling and/or period TV shows with her husband, and, of course, reading.download (38)

Her YA fantasy debut, STALKING SHADOWS is a gothic, feminist fantasy retelling of Beauty and the Beast. To protect her sister, Marie laces perfumes with honeysuckle to mark victims for Ama to hunt when she transforms into a beast at night. But when a child in their town is killed, Marie is forced to acknowledge that she might be losing control of Ama—and must instead find a cure for this curse. It will be published by Amulet/Abrams in fall 2021.

Long Story Short: Review

About the Book:

Title: Long Story Short 

Author: Serena Kaylor 

Publisher: Wednesday Books 

Release Date: July 26, 2022

Pages: 336

Genre: YA Contemporary, YA Romance 

Synopsis:

Growing up homeschooled in Berkeley, California, Beatrice Quinn is a statistical genius who has dreamed her whole life of discovering new mathematical challenges at a school like Oxford University. She always thought the hardest part would be getting in, not convincing her parents to let her go. But while math has always made sense to Beatrice, making friends is a problem she hasn’t been able to solve, so her parents are worried about sending her halfway across the world. The compromise: the Connecticut Shakespearean Summer Academy and a detailed list of teenage milestones to check off. She has six weeks to show her parents she can pull off the role of “normal” teenager and won’t spend the rest of her life hiding in a library.

Unfortunately, hearts and hormones don’t follow any rules, and there is no equation for teenage interactions. When she’s adopted by a group of eclectic theater kids, and immediately makes an enemy of the popular—and, annoyingly gorgeous—British son of the camp founders, she realizes that relationships are trickier than calculus. With her future on the line, this girl genius stumbles through illicit parties, double dog dares, and more than your fair share of Shakespeare. But before the final curtain falls, will Beatrice realize that there’s more to life than she can find in the pages of a book?

In this sparkling debut from Serena Kaylor, Long Story Short is a YA rom-com about a homeschooled math genius who finds herself out of her element at a theater summer camp and learns that life—and love—can’t be lived by the (text)book.

Review:

*I received an e-arc via Netgalley from the author and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for the opportunity!*

A YA summer romcom that gave me all the feels! This debut by Serena Kaylor was everything that I had wished for. There was friendship, romance, witty banter, a fun setting, and an unforgettable cast of characters! It should be noted that the main character has neurodiverse tendencies, although she’s not given a diagnosis in the book. The author tweeted that she herself is actually autistic and that nobody’s experience is the same. She also mentioned that a lot of the character’s behaviors and tendencies were mined from her own.

Sixteen-year-old Beatrice Quinn has grown up being homeschooled in Berkley, California. She’s a statistical genius and has dreamed of going to Oxford University to study math. She always thought that the hard part would be getting into this highly prestigious school in England, not convincing her parents to let her go. Math has always made sense to Beatrice, but making friends has been a problem she can’t solve, and her parents are worried about sending her so far from home. They decide to send her to the Connecticut Shakespearean Summer Academy with a list of teenage milestones to check off during her stay. She has six weeks to convince her parents that she can be a “normal” teenager and won’t spend the rest of her life hiding out, or she won’t be able to follow her dreams of attending Oxford in the fall, and will have to put off college for a year.

Upon her arrival at camp, Beatrice discovers that there’s no mathematical equation that can predict teenage interactions or relationships. She’s quickly adopted by some of the theater kids, but unfortunately makes an enemy of the very handsome, popular son of the camp founders, who also happens to be British. With her future on the line, she finds herself way out of her comfort zone and participating in things like double dog dares, and Shakespeare quote battles! Before camp ends, will Beatrice come to the understanding that you can’t learn everything in life from a textbook?

I was smitten with Beatrice! She’s so smart and quirky, and she had me in stitches. I loved that although she initially starts checking items off the teenage list to please her parents, eventually it becomes something she does for herself. The side characters are also amazing, and I’m so glad that Bea made some supportive friends. I also enjoyed the sweet romance in the story as well.

It was so difficult to put this one down, I loved it so much! A fun read that’s sure to put some sunshine into your summer! Available now, so be sure to pick it up or request from your local library. 

 

 

 

About the Author:

Thirty-something-year-old with a love of all things sparkly, over-dramatic, and pizza-related. Serena writes books about awkward teens, the chaotic world of theater, found families, Shakespeare himself, and a sprinkle of kisses.

A Darkness at the Door (Dauntless Path #3): Review

About the Book:

Title: A Darkness at the Door 

Author: Intisar Khanani

Publisher: Snowy Wings Publishing 

Release Date: July 21, 2022

Pages: 486

Genre: YA Fantasy

Synopsis:

I’ve been cursed, betrayed, and sold into slavery – but the truth I carry can’t be allowed to die.56131222._SY475_

Only Rae knows the extent of the corruption at the heart of the kingdom of Menaiya, from the noble lord who betrayed her, to the Circle of Mages whose wards protect the slavers from discovery. Injured and imprisoned on a slave ship, Rae’s options are quickly running out. When a desperate escape attempt goes terribly wrong, she finds herself indebted to a terrifying Fae sorceress.

Now Rae will not rest until she has rescued her fellow prisoners and freed her land from the darkness that has taken hold. To succeed, she’ll need every ally she can find—including Bren, the thief who may have stolen her heart. But Bren is hiding his own bloody secrets, and the curses that encircle Rae have sunk their claws into her mind. With her debts coming due and time running short, all the truths in the world may not be enough to save her kingdom, or herself.
 

Review:

5

*I received an e-arc from the author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for the opportunity!*

*This review may contain spoilers from the previous two books in the series*

The thrilling conclusion to the Dauntless Path series, A Darkness at the Door will take you on one heck of a ride! This was the absolute perfect conclusion to a series that I loved, it was everything I thought it would be, and more. 

 Only Rae knows the extent of the corruption permeating the heart of her kingdom, from the noble lord who betrayed her, to the Circle of Mages whose wards protect the slavers from discovery. After being injured and trapped on board a slave ship, she realizes that her options are quickly running out. When a desperate escape attempt goes awry, Rae finds herself unexpectedly indebted to a fearsome Fae sorceress. 

Rae decides that she will not rest until she has freed her fellow slaves and rid the land of the darkness that has seized it. To succeed, she’ll have to rely on her allies, including Bren, the thief who just may have stolen her heart. But Bren is keeping his own secrets, and the curses around Rae are taking their toll on her mind. With time running short and with debts to be paid, all the truth in the world may not be enough to save herself or her kingdom.

I am so impressed with Rae’s character arc throughout the story. Even though Rae is such a compassionate and kindhearted soul, she realizes that she has to do some bad things to survive and to help save the slaves. I could feel the inner turmoil that she was dealing with. She is stubborn, smart, brave, and loyal to a fault. I also appreciated how she has grew into getting to know and love her body the way that it is, and used that to her advantage. It was wonderful to see a disabled POC character represented in such a positive way. 

I loved the slow burn romance in this book! I honestly found myself moved to tears several times. It was just what I had hoped for. 

I really enjoyed all the secondary characters, and I felt that they brought a lot to the story. I especially loved the new character and was so happy that Rae had someone else to talk to. 

A story about love and loss, magic, family, sisterhood, friendship, justice, corruption, and court intrigue that you don’t want to miss! I hope that the author writes more in this world, as I’ll miss these characters so much. Highly recommend! 

 

 

About the Author:

Intisar Khanani grew up a nomad and world traveler. Born in Wisconsin, she has lived in five different states as well as in Jeddah on the coast of the Red Sea. She currently resides in Cincinnati, Ohio, with her husband and two young daughters. Prior to publishing her novels, Intisar worked as a public health consultant on projects relating to infant mortality and minority health, which was as close as she could get to saving the world. Now she focuses her time on her two passions: raising her family and writing fantasy.download (36)

Intisar is the author of the Dauntless Path books (Thorn, The Theft of Sunlight), and her indie epic fantasy series, The Sunbolt Chronicles.

To find out about new releases, giveaways, and so forth, subscribe to Intisar’s monthly author newsletter.
 

Spells for Forgetting: Review

About the Book:

Title: Spells For Forgetting 

Author: Adrienne Young 

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Release Date: September 27, 2022

Pages: 352

Genre: Adult Fantasy, Adult Mystery 

Synopsis:

A rural island community steeped in the mystical superstitions of its founders and haunted by an unsolved murder is upended by the return of the suspected killer in this deeply atmospheric novel.download (34)

Emery Blackwood’s life was forever changed on the eve of her high school graduation, when the love of her life, August Salt, was accused of murdering her best friend, Lily. Now, she is doing what her teenage self swore she never would: living a quiet existence among the community that fractured her world in two. She’d once longed to run away with August, eager to escape the misty, remote shores of Saiorse Island and chase new dreams; now, she maintains her late mother’s tea shop and cares for her ailing father. But just as the island, rooted in folklore and tradition, begins to show signs of strange happenings, August returns for the first time in fourteen years and unearths the past that no one wants to remember.

August Salt knows he is not welcome on Saiorse, not after the night that changed everything. As a fire raged on at the Salt family orchard, Lily Morgan was found dead in the dark woods, shaking the bedrock of their tight-knit community and branding August a murderer. When he returns to bury his mother’s ashes, he must confront the people who turned their backs on him and face the one wound from the past that has never healed—Emery. But the town has more than one reason to want August gone, and the emergence of deep betrayals and hidden promises that span generations threatens to reveal the truth behind Lily’s death once and for all.

Evocative and compelling, Spells for Forgetting is a vivid exploration of lost love and the unraveling of a small town and its many secrets.

Review:

5

*I received an e-arc from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you Delacorte and Netgalley for the opportunity!*

All I can say is WOW, Spells for Forgetting is sure to put a spell on you! Young’s adult debut novel is a hauntingly alluring read, that had me reading well past my bedtime. Releasing on September 27, 2022, this is the perfect read for fall and spooky season. 

The rural island community of Saiorse is suffuse with the mystical superstitions of its founders and haunted by the unsolved murder of one of its own. The return of the suspected killer overwhelms the community completely.

Emery Blackwood’s life was never the same after the love of her life, August Salt is accused of murdering her best friend, Lily on the eve of her high school graduation. Now, she is doing what she swore as a teen she would never do: living a quiet life among the community that completely ripped her world apart. She had once thought that her and August would leave the island together, instead she is running her late mother’s tea shop and caring for her ailing father. Just as the island begins to show signs of strange happenings, August returns to the island after fourteen long years. The past is brought up that no one wants to remember.

August Salt knows that he is not welcome on the island, not after that night that changed everything. As a fire raged in the Salt family orchard, the body of Lily Morgan was found, the community was totally shaken, and August became the main murder suspect. When he returns to bury his mother’s ashes, he must confront his past and all those that turned their backs on him. He also must face Emery, the one wound that would never heal. But the town has more than one reason for not wanting August home, and long buried secrets and betrayals he never could have imagined will be revealed.

A deeply compelling read that you won’t want to miss, abounding with witches, magic, lost love, and plenty of mystery. I highly, highly recommend this one! 

 

About the Author:

Adrienne Young is the New York Times, USA Today, and Indie list bestselling author of the Sky in the Deep duology, the Fable series, and the forthcoming Spells for Forgetting and Saint. Her books have been published in over twenty-five countries around the world and Fable had the honor of being selected as a Reese’s Bookclub YA Pick.download (35)

Young is also the creator of the continuously sold out Writing With the Soul Workshop and numerous initiatives to support women and youth storytellers, including the Fable Grant. Her first nonfiction project is the soon to be released The Storytellers Workbook, in collaboration with artist and author Isabel Ibañez.

When she’s not writing, you can find Adrienne on her yoga mat, on a walk in the woods, or planning her next travel adventure. She lives and writes in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.

For information on release, appearances, ARCs, giveaways, and exclusive content, sign up for the newsletter at https://adrienneyoungbooks.com/

Instagram: @adrienneyoungbooks