Little Thieves (Little Thieves, #1):Review

About the Book:

Title: Little Thieves 

Author: Margaret Owen

Publisher: Henry Holt & Company

Release Date: October 19, 2021

Pages: 512

Genre: YA Fantasy

Synopsis:

Once upon a time, there was a horrible girl…

Vanja Schmidt knows that no gift is freely given, not even a mother’s love–and she’s on the hook for one hell of a debt. Vanja, the adopted goddaughter of Death and Fortune, was Princess Gisele’s dutiful servant up until a year ago. That was when Vanja’s otherworldly mothers demanded a terrible price for their care, and Vanja decided to steal her future back… by stealing Gisele’s life for herself.download (27)

The real Gisele is left a penniless nobody while Vanja uses an enchanted string of pearls to take her place. Now, Vanja leads a lonely but lucrative double life as princess and jewel thief, charming nobility while emptying their coffers to fund her great escape. Then, one heist away from freedom, Vanja crosses the wrong god and is cursed to an untimely end: turning into jewels, stone by stone, for her greed.

Vanja has just two weeks to figure out how to break her curse and make her getaway. And with a feral guardian half-god, Gisele’s sinister fiancé, and an overeager junior detective on Vanja’s tail, she’ll have to pull the biggest grift yet to save her own life.

Margaret Owen, author of The Merciful Crow series, crafts a delightfully irreverent retelling of “The Goose Girl” about stolen lives, thorny truths, and the wicked girls at the heart of both.
 

Review:

4

This was my first read by Margaret Owen, and I definitely want to read her backlist books that are sitting on my TBR! I really enjoyed this retelling that was loosely based on The Goose Girl, which I didn’t realize going into this one. This was such a fun retelling!

Vanja Schmidt is the adopted goddaughter of Death and Fortune, a former servant, and currently a princess. She possesses a magical string of pearls that give her her former mistresses’ face, life, and future husband. She’s been living the double life of a jewel thief as well. If she can pull off this final heist, she can get what she truly wants, her freedom. Just before she’s about to pull off her last heist, she crosses the wrong god and is cursed with a terrible curse. She will slowly turn into jewels, stone by stone, for her greed.

Vanja only has two weeks to figure out how to break her curse and gain her freedom. Things are complicated with a feral guardian half-god, her mistresses’ fiancé, and a junior detective all on her tail. She will definitely have to pull out all the stops!

I really enjoyed this book and recommend it to others who enjoy ya fantasy and retellings. There’s action, adventure, and even some romance. I thought that it ended perfectly, and I am a bit nervous for the sequel. Time will tell!

About the Author:

Born and raised at the end of the Oregon Trail, Margaret Owen spent her childhood haunting the halls of Powell’s Books. After earning her degree in Japanese, her love of espresso called her north to Seattle, where she worked in everything from thrift stores to presidential campaigns. The common thread between every job can be summed up as: lessons were learned.download (28)

She now spends her days wrestling disgruntled characters onto the page, and negotiating a long-term hostage situation with her two monstrous cats. (There is surprisingly little difference between the two.)

Together We Burn: Review

About the Book:

Title: Together We Burn 

Author: Isabel Ibañez 

Publisher: Wednesday Books 

Release Date: May 31, 2022

Pages: 368

Genre: YA Fantasy, YA Romance

 

Synopsis:

Eighteen-year-old Zarela Zalvidar is a talented flamenco dancer and daughter of the most famous Dragonador in Hispalia. People come for miles to see her father fight in their arena, which will one day be hers.

But disaster strikes during their five hundredth anniversary show, and in the carnage, Zarela’s father is horribly injured. Facing punishment from the Dragon Guild, Zarela must keep the arena—her ancestral home and inheritance —safe from their greedy hands. She has no choice but to take her father’s place as the next Dragonador. When the infuriatingly handsome dragon hunter, Arturo Díaz de Montserrat, withholds his help, she refuses to take no for an answer.

But even if he agrees, there’s someone out to ruin the Zalvidar family, and Zarela will have to do whatever it takes in order to prevent the Dragon Guild from taking away her birthright.

An ancient city plagued by dragons. A flamenco dancer determined to save her ancestral home. A dragon hunter refusing to teach her his ways. They don’t want each other, but they need each other, and without him her world will burn.

Review:

4

*I received an e-arc from Netgalley and Wednesday Books in exchange for an honest review*

Together We Burn was my first book by this author, and it did not disappoint! I really enjoyed this lush and magical tale that takes place in the beautiful ancient Hispalia inspired by medieval Spain. It features flamenco dancing and dragons that fight Dragonadors in the ring. 

Zarela Zalvidar is a flamenco dancer and the daughter of the most famous Dragonador in all of Hispalia. People come in droves to their arena to see her father fight, and she knows that one day the responsibility of the arena will fall on her shoulders.

At their five hundredth anniversary show, the unimaginable happens and disaster strikes the arena. Lives are lost and her father is gravely injured. Facing punishment from the Dragon Guild, Zarela knows she must keep the arena which is her ancestral home and her inheritance safe. Her one and only option is to take her father’s place as the next Dragonador. She seeks out the handsome dragon hunter, Arturo Díaz de Montserrat who blatantly refuses to help her. She doesn’t take no for an answer and continues to pursue him. Even if he agrees to help, someone is out to get her family and Zarela knows that she will have to do what it takes to protect herself and her family legacy.

Together We Burn has the right amount of action, adventure, romance and mystery to keep you enthralled. I for sure recommend this standalone fantasy which is releasing on May 31, 2022. Be sure to add it to your TBR now! 

About the Author:

Isabel Ibañez was born in Boca Raton, Florida, and is the proud daughter of two Bolivian
immigrants. A true word nerd, she received her degree in creative writing and has been a
Pitch Wars mentor for three years. Isabel is an avid movie goer and loves hosting family and
friends around the dinner table. She currently lives in Winter Park, Florida, with her
husband, their adorable dog, and a serious collection of books. Say hi on social media at
@IsabelWriter09.

 

 

 

 

A Forgery of Roses: Review

About the Book:

Title: A Forgery of Roses

Author: Jessica S. Olson

Publisher: Inkyard Press

Release Date: March 29, 2022

Pages: 368

Genre: YA Fantasy, YA Romance

Synopsis:

Myra Whitlock has a gift. One many would kill for.

She’s an artist whose portraits alter people’s real-life bodies, a talent she must hide from those who would kidnap, blackmail, and worse in order to control it. Guarding that secret is the only way to keep her younger sister safe now that their parents are gone.51941042

But one frigid night, the governor’s wife discovers the truth and threatens to expose Myra if she does not complete a special portrait that would resurrect the governor’s dead son. Desperate, Myra ventures to his legendary stone mansion.

Once she arrives, however, it becomes clear the boy’s death was no accident. Someone dangerous lurks within these glittering halls. Someone harboring a disturbing obsession with portrait magic.

Myra cannot do the painting until she knows what really happened, so she turns to the governor’s older son, a captivating redheaded poet. Together, they delve into the family’s most shadowed affairs, racing to uncover the truth before the secret Myra spent her life concealing makes her the killer’s next victim.

From Sing Me Forgotten author Jessica S. Olson comes a gothic fantasy murder mystery perfect for fans of Kerri Maniscalco and Erin A. Craig.

Review:

5

I fell in love with Jessica S. Olson’s writing last year when I was lucky enough to read an advanced copy of her debut, Sing Me Forgotten. A Forgery of Roses did not disappoint and in fact, it has cemented Jessica as an auto-buy author for me. Forgery is a thrilling and delectable fantasy, compelling mystery, and sweet romance rolled into one that will take readers on an unforgettable adventure! 

Myra Whitlock is a Prodigy, and as an artist she can alter people’s real life bodies with a painting. She has had to hide her gift and keep it safe from those that would try to exploit her, especially now that her parents are gone and she has a younger sister to protect. 

One night, the Governor’s wife discovers the truth about her gift and threatens to expose Myra if she doesn’t paint a special portrait that could resurrect her dead son. Left with no other choice, Myra heads to their lonely mansion.

Once she arrives, Myra begins to see that all is not as it seems and she teams up with the Governor’s oldest son, August, to discover what really happened to his brother. She must race against the clock to find out the truth, before she becomes a victim herself. 

I loved Myra so much! She is such a strong and compelling character. Her relationship with her sister Lucy is one of my favorite parts of the story. Her sister suffers from a chronic illness and I loved how Olson explores this in the story. Such great representation! Another character also suffers from anxiety, and I also appreciated that representation as well, as I suffer from anxiety myself. 

I completely fell in love with the atmosphere and feel of this story, and I wish it was not a standalone, as I would be so happy to spend more time with these characters. I also found myself thinking that I had things figured out, and then the author would surprise me again. Kudos to Olson for that! I highly recommend this one, and I hope that you will pick it up soon. 

About the Author:

Jessica S. Olson claims New Hampshire as her home, but has somehow found herself in Texas, where she spends most of her time singing praises to the inventor of the air conditioner. When she’s not hiding from the heat, she’s corralling her three wild—but adorable—children, dreaming up stories about kissing and murder and magic, and eating peanut butter by the spoonful straight from the jar. She earned a bachelor’s in English with minors in editing and French, which essentially means she spent all of her university time reading and eating French pastries. Sing Me Forgotten is her debut novel.19475731

Jessica is represented by Christa Heschke of McIntosh & Otis Literary Agency.

The War of Two Queens (Blood and Ash #4): Review

About the Book:

Title: The War of Two Queens

Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout

Publisher: Blue Box Press

Release Date: March 15, 2022

Pages: 628

Genre: Adult Fantasy, Adult Romance 

Synopsis:

From the desperation of golden crowns…

Casteel Da’Neer knows all too well that very few are as cunning or vicious as the Blood Queen, but no one, not even him, could’ve prepared for the staggering revelations. The magnitude of what the Blood Queen has done is almost unthinkable.download (25)

And born of mortal flesh…

Nothing will stop Poppy from freeing her King and destroying everything the Blood Crown stands for. With the strength of the Primal of Life’s guards behind her, and the support of the wolven, Poppy must convince the Atlantian generals to make war her way—because there can be no retreat this time. Not if she has any hope of building a future where both kingdoms can reside in peace.

A great primal power rises…

Together, Poppy and Casteel must embrace traditions old and new to safeguard those they hold dear—to protect those who cannot defend themselves. But war is only the beginning. Ancient primal powers have already stirred, revealing the horror of what began eons ago. To end what the Blood Queen has begun, Poppy might have to become what she has been prophesied to be—what she fears the most.

As the Harbinger of Death and Destruction.
 

Review:

5

The War of Two Queens is the fourth book in the Blood and Ash series, but I highly recommend reading A Shadow in the Ember (Flesh and Fire #1) before reading this one. ASITE takes place long before Poppy’s time and is the story of the Primals and gods. It truly explains a lot of the why in this one!

I loved this book so much! I’ve heard about there being some complaints from some early readers, and I have to say that I don’t get it. I thought that the character growth in this story was essential and things were done very tastefully and well. The last couple hundred pages of the book more than made up for the slow pacing in the beginning, and I can’t wait for the next installment in this series. Poppy, Casteel, and Kieran all hold a special place in my heart.

About the Author:

# 1 New York Times and # 1 International Bestselling author Jennifer lives in Charles Town, West Virginia. All the rumors you’ve heard about her state aren’t true. When she’s not hard at work writing. she spends her time reading, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, hanging out with her husband and her Jack Russell Loki. In early 2015, Jennifer was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, a group of rare genetic disorders that involve a breakdown and death of cells in the retina, eventually resulting in loss of vision, among other complications. Due to this diagnosis, educating people on the varying degrees of blindness has become of passion of hers, right alongside writing, which she plans to do as long as she can.h030r3g0j8vi8jm0p6kc8tguqo._SY600_

Her dreams of becoming an author started in algebra class, where she spent most of her time writing short stories….which explains her dismal grades in math. Jennifer writes young adult paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance. She is published with Tor, HarperCollins Avon and William Morrow, Entangled Teen and Brazen, Disney/Hyperion and Harlequin Teen. Her Wicked Series has been optioned by PassionFlix. Jennifer has won numerous awards, including the 2013 Reviewers Choice Award for Wait for You, the 2015 Editor’s Pick for Fall With Me, and the 2014/2015 Moerser-Jugendbuch- Jury award for Obsidian. Her young adult romantic suspense novel DON’T LOOK BACK was a 2014 nominated Best in Young Adult Fiction by YALSA. Her adult romantic suspense novel TILL DEATH was a Amazon Editor’s Pick and iBook Book of the Month. Her young adult contemporary THE PROBLEM WITH FOREVER is a 2017 RITA Award Winner in Young Adult Fiction. She also writes Adult and New Adult contemporary and paranormal romance under the name J. Lynn. She is published by Entangled Brazen and HarperCollins.

She is the owner of ApollyCon and The Origin Event, the successful annual events that features over hundred bestselling authors in Young Adult, New Adult, and Adult Fiction, panels, parties, and more.

House of Sky and Breath (Crescent City #2):Review

About the Book:

Title: House of Sky and Breath

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing 

Release Date: February 15, 2022

Pages: 805

Genre: Adult Fantasy, Adult Romance

Synopsis:

Bryce Quinlan and Hunt Athalar are trying to get back to normal―they may have saved Crescent City, but with so much upheaval in their lives lately, they mostly want a chance to relax. Slow down. Figure out what the future holds.download (24)

The Asteri have kept their word so far, leaving Bryce and Hunt alone. But with the rebels chipping away at the Asteri’s power, the threat the rulers pose is growing. As Bryce, Hunt, and their friends get pulled into the rebels’ plans, the choice becomes clear: stay silent while others are oppressed, or fight for what’s right. And they’ve never been very good at staying silent.

In this sexy, action-packed sequel to the #1 bestseller House of Earth and Blood, Sarah J. Maas weaves a captivating story of a world about to explode―and the people who will do anything to save it.

 

Review:

4

House of Sky and Breath is the second book in the Crescent City series by Sarah J. Maas. If you enjoyed the first book, you will definitely enjoy this one as well. I loved spending time with some of my favorite characters. Bryce and Hunt are one of my favorite couples and I freaking love Ruhn so much! I have to note that it took me close to about halfway through the book before I really became invested in this one, hence the four star rating. It is definitely all worth it though, and there is a twist that you won’t see coming! I am very interested in seeing where the story will go in the next installment.

About the Author:

Sarah J. Maas is the #1 New York Times and internationally bestselling author of the Crescent City, A Court of Thorns and Roses, and the Throne of Glass series. Her books have sold more than twelve million copies and are published in thirty-seven languages. A New York native, Sarah lives in Philadelphia with her husband, son, and dog. To find out more, visit sarahjmaas.com or follow @therealsjmaas on Instagram. Sarah-headshot-color-med

A Shadow in the Ember (Flesh and Fire, #1):Review

About the Book:

Title: A Shadow in the Ember

Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout

Publisher: Blue Box Press

Release Date: October 19, 2021

Pages: 647

Genre: Adult Fantasy, Adult Romance

Synopsis:

Born shrouded in the veil of the Primals, a Maiden as the Fates promised, Seraphena Mierel’s future has never been hers. Chosen before birth to uphold the desperate deal her ancestor struck to save his people, Sera must leave behind her life and offer herself to the Primal of Death as his Consort. 51r1jpA5DCS

However, Sera’s real destiny is the most closely guarded secret in all of Lasania—she’s not the well protected Maiden but an assassin with one mission—one target. Make the Primal of Death fall in love, become his weakness, and then…end him. If she fails, she dooms her kingdom to a slow demise at the hands of the Rot.

Sera has always known what she is. Chosen. Consort. Assassin. Weapon. A specter never fully formed yet drenched in blood. A monster. Until him. Until the Primal of Death’s unexpected words and deeds chase away the darkness gathering inside her. And his seductive touch ignites a passion she’s never allowed herself to feel and cannot feel for him. But Sera has never had a choice. Either way, her life is forfeit—it always has been, as she has been forever touched by Life and Death.

Review:

5

JLA delivers for me again! A Shadow in the Ember is a new prequel series that’s set in the world of From Blood and Ash, and it had me hooked from the beginning. A friend and I did a buddy read together, and thankfully found out that we should read this before reading The War of Two Queens. I highly suggest this, as it explains a lot of the history in TWOTQ. This book has been comped as being loosely based on Hades and Persephone, so I think if you like that story, and you love FBAA, you’ll definitely enjoy this one!

I absolutely loved Sera and Nyktos! Sera is such a strong female character and Nyktos is just Nyktos! Never thought I would fall for these characters so much. There’s a lot of witty banter between them and so much angst! I loved that this was a slow burn, but there was so much other stuff happening in the story that it kept me fully entertained. I really delighted in this world and the mythology so much, and that we were able to see the world during the time of the gods and Primals. My friend and I had lots of discussions as we were reading about different theories, etc. in this world and in the future FBAA world.

I definitely can not wait for the sequel, A Light in the Flame which will be published in November 2022!

About the Author:

# 1 New York Times and # 1 International Bestselling author Jennifer lives in Charles Town, West Virginia. All the rumors you’ve heard about her state aren’t true. When she’s not hard at work writing. she spends her time reading, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, hanging out with her husband and her Jack Russell Loki. In early 2015, Jennifer was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, a group of rare genetic disorders that involve a breakdown and death of cells in the retina, eventually resulting in loss of vision, among other complications. Due to this diagnosis, educating people on the varying degrees of blindness has become of passion of hers, right alongside writing, which she plans to do as long as she can.h030r3g0j8vi8jm0p6kc8tguqo._SY600_

Her dreams of becoming an author started in algebra class, where she spent most of her time writing short stories….which explains her dismal grades in math. Jennifer writes young adult paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance. She is published with Tor, HarperCollins Avon and William Morrow, Entangled Teen and Brazen, Disney/Hyperion and Harlequin Teen. Her Wicked Series has been optioned by PassionFlix. Jennifer has won numerous awards, including the 2013 Reviewers Choice Award for Wait for You, the 2015 Editor’s Pick for Fall With Me, and the 2014/2015 Moerser-Jugendbuch- Jury award for Obsidian. Her young adult romantic suspense novel DON’T LOOK BACK was a 2014 nominated Best in Young Adult Fiction by YALSA. Her adult romantic suspense novel TILL DEATH was a Amazon Editor’s Pick and iBook Book of the Month. Her young adult contemporary THE PROBLEM WITH FOREVER is a 2017 RITA Award Winner in Young Adult Fiction. She also writes Adult and New Adult contemporary and paranormal romance under the name J. Lynn. She is published by Entangled Brazen and HarperCollins.

She is the owner of ApollyCon and The Origin Event, the successful annual events that features over hundred bestselling authors in Young Adult, New Adult, and Adult Fiction, panels, parties, and more.

One For All: Review

About the Book:

Title: One For All 

Author: Lillie Lainoff

Publisher: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux

Release Date: March 8, 2022

Pages: 400

Genre: YA Historical Fiction 

Synopsis:

An OwnVoices, gender-bent retelling of The Three Musketeers, in which a girl with a chronic illness trains as a Musketeer and uncovers secrets, sisterhood, and self-love.51l61Ub7KbL._SX325_BO1,204,203,200_

Tania de Batz is most herself with a sword in her hand. Everyone in town thinks her near-constant dizziness makes her weak, nothing but “a sick girl”; even her mother is desperate to marry her off for security. But Tania wants to be strong, independent, a fencer like her father—a former Musketeer and her greatest champion.

Then Papa is brutally, mysteriously murdered. His dying wish? For Tania to attend finishing school. But L’Académie des Mariées, Tania realizes, is no finishing school. It’s a secret training ground for a new kind of Musketeer: women who are socialites on the surface, but strap daggers under their skirts, seduce men into giving up dangerous secrets, and protect France from downfall. And they don’t shy away from a swordfight.

With her newfound sisters at her side, Tania feels for the first time like she has a purpose, like she belongs. But then she meets Étienne, her first target in uncovering a potential assassination plot. He’s kind, charming, and breathlessly attractive—and he might have information about what really happened to her father. Torn between duty and dizzying emotion, Tania will have to lean on her friends, listen to her own body, and decide where her loyalties lie…or risk losing everything she’s ever wanted.

This debut novel is a fierce, whirlwind adventure about the depth of found family, the strength that goes beyond the body, and the determination it takes to fight for what you love.

Review:

4

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

One For All was such a pleasure to read, and a wonderful debut for author Lillie Lainoff! I thoroughly enjoyed this gender-bent Three Musketeers retelling, that was full of action, adventure, and a cast of characters that I adored. There are daring sword fights, plot twists, and a main character with a chronic illness that must learn to love herself. Historical fiction fans won’t want to miss this one!

Tania de Batz has always loved the feel of a sword in her hand, ever since she can remember. Everyone in her small French village thinks that she’s weak and just a “sick girl” because of her almost constant dizziness. Her mother wants to find her someone to marry, so that she’ll always be taken care of. Tania however aspires to be like her father, a former Musketeer, strong, independent, and a fencer.

Sadly her father is tragically murdered, and to honor his final request, Tania agrees to attend a finishing school in Paris. Soon after arriving, Tania finds that the school isn’t what it appears to be to those on the outside, that it’s actually a school to train female Musketeers. These young women are socialites on the surface, but have daggers strapped under their beautiful gowns, seduce men into giving up secrets, and know how to sword fight, all while trying to protect France.

As time passes and Tania adjusts to the school, she finally begins to feel like she belongs. She begins to feel that her life has a purpose, with her new sisters in arms. Tania soon meets her first target, Etienne while uncovering a possible assassination plot. He’s handsome, kind, charming, and may have some information she needs. As Tania gets swept up in all the political intrigue, she must not only rely on her friends, but listen to herself and her body, or risk losing everything she’s ever dreamed of.

I absolutely loved the chronic illness representation in this book, and I really hope that more books like this one make their way into the world. Kudos to the author for bringing her own experience living with POTS to life through Tania. I think it’s so important for readers to see themselves represented in stories, and I am grateful for this one. I loved how determined and fierce Tania is, and how she kept fighting and didn’t give up. I definitely found myself cheering her on throughout the story. I also loved the bonds of sisterhood and found family, and their support of one another.

This book is a standalone, but I would love to see more of these characters in the future. Fingers crossed for a companion novel in the future. This book is releasing March 8, 2022, so make sure that you pick this one up at your local bookstore, or put in a library request.

About the Author:

Lillie Lainoff received her B.A. in English with a concentration in creative writing and distinction within the major from Yale University. She currently is studying for her MA in Creative Writing Prose Fiction at University of East Anglia.20017235

Her fiction, non-fiction, and poetry has been featured in The LA Review, The Washington Post Outlook, Today’s Parent, via the Disability Visibility Project, Washington City Paper, and The Yale Daily News, amongst other places. She’s received recognition from Glimmer Train and The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, and is the 2019 Winner of the LA Review Literary Award for Short Fiction. She was a featured Rooted in Rights disability activist, and is the founder of Disabled Kidlit Writers (FB).

As an undergraduate, Lillie was a member of Yale’s Varsity Fencing team. As a senior, she was one of the first physically disabled athletes to individually qualify for any NCAA Championship event, and helped her team to an end-of-season 10th place ranking by the National Coaches Poll. She still fences competitively and coaches. In 2017, she was named a recipient of the inaugural Spirit of Sport award by the US Fencing Association.

This Might Get Awkward: Review

About the Book:

Title: This Might Get Awkward

Author: Kara McDowell

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Release Date: March 1, 2022

Pages: 336

Genre: YA Contemporary, YA Romance

Synopsis:

Sophie Kinsella meets Sarah Dessen in the most hilarious, romantic book of the summer about a girl with social anxiety and the boy who refuses to let her hide herself away.download (23)

Seventeen-year-old Gemma’s favorite kind of beach is an empty one. Social interactions are too much for her to handle. She always says the wrong thing—if she manages to say anything at all. She can’t even bring herself to speak to her longtime crush, Beau Booker, without losing sleep over her own awkwardness.

During a solo outing to her favorite beach, Gemma realizes—to her horror—that the popular kids from school have shown up to throw a party. Before she can sneak away (and possibly puke behind her car) Gemma is pulled into the action and ends up talking to Beau, who asks her to pretend that they’re “close.” Gemma is too flustered and flattered to refuse, and mostly, she’s wondering why Beau is talking to her at all . . . right up until the moment when he falls off the boat, hits his head, and ends up in a coma.

After rescuing Beau from the water, Gemma is mistaken for Beau’s girlfriend by his friends and family, including his mysterious older brother, Griff, who has returned to town after a year away. Gemma tries to correct the record, but her social anxiety (and a nosy reporter) gets in the way at every turn. Before she knows it, she’s in too deep to backtrack. And when Beau’s warm, boisterous family pulls Gemma into their orbit, she realizes how much she wants to keep them in her life.

For the first time, Gemma has everything she’s ever wanted: friends, big family dinners, and Griff—a boy who she can be herself around. But how can she embrace her new dream life when everything is built on a lie?

Review:

5

*I received an arc from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Scholastic Press.*

I ADORED this swoon-worthy romcom by Kara McDowell! This is my second book I’ve read by her, and I loved it just as much as the first. It’s the perfect summer read, and I especially loved the social anxiety rep, the humor, how the author tackled some tough topics, and the angsty romance.

Gemma is a seventeen year-old high school student who has social anxiety. She keeps to herself as social interactions are just too much for her to handle. She always feels like she says the wrong things, and that’s if she can bring herself to say anything at all. She’s never been able to even say a word to her long time crush. She often loses sleep over her awkwardness, and sometimes gets physically ill from her embarrassment.

On a day trip to the beach where Gemma plans on being alone and enjoying the peace and quiet, she finds herself being surrounded by all the popular kids from school who are there to throw a party. She winds up finally talking to her crush, Beau Booker, who tells her to pretend they’re “close” just before he falls off a boat, hits his head, and winds up in the hospital in a medically induced coma.

Gemma was Beau’s rescuer who pulled him from the water and gave him CPR, and friends and family mistakenly begin to identify her as Beau’s girlfriend. Due to her anxiety, she feels as though she has to go along with this lie, which leads to even more lies. Beau’s family also draws her in to their embrace, and she doesn’t want to let go.

Gemma at long last has friends, and then she also meets Griff, a boy that she can finally be herself around. She’s living her dream life, but she’s not sure how to carry on when everything is built on lies.

This has been comped to While You Were Sleeping, and this was the YA version that I didn’t know I needed, but I’m so glad that I have! If you love romcoms, I definitely think you will enjoy this story. This is out March 1, 2022, so add this one to your TBR.

About the Author:

Born in the mountains and raised in the desert, Kara McDowell spent her childhood swimming, boating, and making up stories in her head. As the middle of five children, Kara entertained her family on long road trips by reading short mystery stories out loud and forcing everyone to guess the conclusion. After graduating from Arizona State University with a BA in English Literature, Kara worked as a freelance writer. Now she writes young adult novels from her home in Arizona, where she lives with her husband and three young sons. 17678976

The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea: Review

About the Book:

Title: The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea 

Author: Axie Oh

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Release date: February 22, 2022

Pages: 336

Genre: YA Fantasy 

Synopsis:

Deadly storms have ravaged Mina’s homeland for generations. Floods sweep away entire villages, while bloody wars are waged over the few remaining resources. Her people believe the Sea God, once their protector, now curses them with death and despair. In an attempt to appease him, each year a beautiful maiden is thrown into the sea to serve as the Sea God’s bride, in the hopes that one day the “true bride” will be chosen and end the suffering.download (22)

Many believe that Shim Cheong, the most beautiful girl in the village—and the beloved of Mina’s older brother Joon—may be the legendary true bride. But on the night Cheong is to be sacrificed, Joon follows Cheong out to sea, even knowing that to interfere is a death sentence. To save her brother, Mina throws herself into the water in Cheong’s stead.

Swept away to the Spirit Realm, a magical city of lesser gods and mythical beasts, Mina seeks out the Sea God, only to find him caught in an enchanted sleep. With the help of a mysterious young man named Shin—as well as a motley crew of demons, gods and spirits—Mina sets out to wake the Sea God and bring an end to the killer storms once and for all.

But she doesn’t have much time: A human cannot live long in the land of the spirits. And there are those who would do anything to keep the Sea God from waking…
 

Review:

5

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

If I had to only choose one word to summarize The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea by Axie Oh, it would be brilliant. It was magical and captivating, with amazing world building and beautiful imagery. This was one of my most anticipated releases for 2022, and it did not disappoint.

Mina’s village has been suffering. For generations, deadly storms have been happening and floods have swept away villages. There has been fighting among the people over their few remaining resources. The village believes that the Sea God who once protected them, has now cursed them, and to appease him they send him a beautiful bride each year. Their hope is that one day he will find his “true bride” and then their suffering will finally come to an end.

Mina loves her brother Joon and has always been close with him. So when his beloved Shim Cheong is chosen as the next bride, Joon goes after her as she heads out to sea, even knowing that to interfere is a sentence of death. To save both her brother and Cheong, Mina jumps into the sea and sacrifices herself.

Mina is swept away to the Spirit Realm, a magical city with mythical beasts and lesser gods. She soon finds the Sea God, and learns that he is in an enchanted sleep. With the help of the curious young Shin, and other demons, gods, and spirits Mina works at waking the Sea God and bringing an end to the storms that have plagued her people for good.

She quickly discovers that she doesn’t have a lot of time as humans don’t live very long in a land of spirits, and there are those who don’t want the Sea God to wake.

This story totally read like a fairytale to me and I enjoyed the Korean folklore very much! The setting is just gorgeous and I thoroughly enjoyed the whole cast of characters. There is also slow burn romance, which is one of my favorite tropes. I think if you like any of the things I mentioned, you’ll definitely enjoy it. This book is releasing February 22, 2022 so be sure to add it to your TBR.

About the Author:

Axie Oh is a first-generation Korean American, born in New York City and raised in New Jersey. She studied Korean history and creative writing as an undergrad at the University of California San Diego and holds an MFA in Writing for Young People from Lesley University. 15243084

A River Enchanted (Elements of Cadence #1): Review

About the Book:

Title: A River Enchanted 

Author: Rebecca Ross

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Release Date: February 15, 2022

Pages: 476

Genre: Adult Fantasy 

Synopsis:

House of Earth and Blood meets The Witch’s Heart in Rebecca Ross’s brilliant first adult fantasy, set on the magical isle of Cadence where two childhood enemies must team up to discover why girls are going missing from their clan. IMG_6177

Jack Tamerlaine hasn’t stepped foot on Cadence in ten long years, content to study music at the mainland university. But when young girls start disappearing from the isle, Jack is summoned home to help find them. Enchantments run deep on Cadence: gossip is carried by the wind, plaid shawls can be as strong as armor, and the smallest cut of a knife can instill fathomless fear. The capricious spirits that rule the isle by fire, water, earth, and wind find mirth in the lives of the humans who call the land home. Adaira, heiress of the east and Jack’s childhood enemy, knows the spirits only answer to a bard’s music, and she hopes Jack can draw them forth by song, enticing them to return the missing girls.

As Jack and Adaira reluctantly work together, they find they make better allies than rivals as their partnership turns into something more. But with each passing song, it becomes apparent the trouble with the spirits is far more sinister than they first expected, and an older, darker secret about Cadence lurks beneath the surface, threatening to undo them all.

With unforgettable characters, a fast-paced plot, and compelling world building, A River Enchanted is a stirring story of duty, love, and the power of true partnership, and marks Rebecca Ross’s brilliant entry on the adult fantasy stage.

Review:

5

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

A delightful adult debut by Rebecca Ross! A River Enchanted quickly drew me in with its alluring atmosphere and rich prose. A magical and winsome story that I did not want to put down.

Jack Tamerlaine has been on the mainland studying music at the university, and hasn’t set foot on the isle of Cadence in about ten years. When young girls begin disappearing on the isle, Jack is summoned home by the Laird to help the clan find them. Cadence is no ordinary isle, and enchantments run deep. Gossip is carried on the wind, plaid shawls can be as strong as armor, and the smallest cut from a knife can instill unbelievable fear. The spirits that rule the isle are unpredictable and like to meddle in the lives of the humans that live there. Adaira, heiress of the east and Jack’s childhood enemy, hopes that Jack can use his gift of music to call the spirits forth and ask for their help in finding the missing girls.

Jack and Adaira strike a reluctant alliance, but as time passes, they see that they make better allies than rivals as their partnership develops into something more. With each passing song that Jack plays, they find that the trouble with the spirits is far more dire, and that an older and darker secret threatens them all.

This story is told from multiple points of view with Jack and Adaira at the forefront, but Sidra and Torin help bring everything together so beautifully. There’s an unforgettable cast of characters and I felt something for them all.

Please do me a favor and pick up this endearing story which is coming out on Tuesday, February 15th! It will warm your soul on these cold winter days. I can not wait for the sequel, which gives me something to look forward to.

About the Author:

Rebecca Ross writes fantasy novels for teens and adults. She lives in the Appalachian foothills of6nvcov73iutm8og51qhs57v841._SY600_ Northeast Georgia with her husband, their lively Australian Shepherd, and an endless pile of books. THE QUEEN’S RISING, THE QUEEN’S RESISTANCE, SISTERS OF SWORD & SONG, and DREAMS LIE BENEATH are her titles for young adult readers. A RIVER ENCHANTED is her adult fantasy debut, publishing February 15, 2022 with a sequel to follow. When not writing, she can be found reading or in her garden, where she grows wildflowers and story ideas. Find her on Instagram @beccajross or online at www.rebeccarossauthor.com