Six Crimson Cranes (Six Crimson Cranes, #1) – Elizabeth Lim [ARC Review]

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

Synopsis:

A princess in exile, a shapeshifting dragon, six enchanted cranes, and an unspeakable curse… Drawing from fairy tales and East Asian folklore, this original fantasy from the author of Spin the Dawn is perfect for fans of Shadow and Bone.

“A dazzling fairytale full of breathtaking storytelling.” – Stephanie Garber, New York Times bestselling author of Caraval.

Shiori’anma, the only princess of Kiata, has a secret. Forbidden magic runs through her veins. Normally she conceals it well, but on the morning of her betrothal ceremony, Shiori loses control. At first, her mistake seems like a stroke of luck, forestalling the wedding she never wanted. But it also catches the attention of Raikama, her stepmother.

A sorceress in her own right, Raikama banishes the young princess, turning her brothers into cranes. She warns Shiori that she must speak of it to no one: for with every word that escapes her lips, one of her brothers will die.

Penniless, voiceless, and alone, Shiori searches for her brothers, and uncovers a dark conspiracy to seize the throne. Only Shiori can set the kingdom to rights, but to do so she must place her trust in a paper bird, a mercurial dragon, and the very boy she fought so hard not to marry. And she must embrace the magic she’s been taught all her life to forswear–no matter what the cost.

Weaving together elements of The Wild Swans, Cinderella, the legend of Chang E, and the Tale of the Bamboo Cutter, Elizabeth Lim has crafted a fantasy like no other, and one that will stay with readers long after they’ve turned the last page.

Review:

Huge thank you to Knopf Books for Young Readers/Random House Children’s and Netgalley for providing this e-ARC in exchange for my honest review. I was a huge fan of Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim so I was thrilled to see she was coming out with a new book! Six Crimson Cranes immediately grabbed my attention with that absolutely G O R G E O U S cover! I could seriously stare at it all day. Major props to the cover artist!

Overall, I really enjoyed Six Crimson Cranes! It is part fantasy part fairytale that features East Asian folklore and tells a truly beautiful story. Elizabeth Lim is a fantastic storyteller. My favorite part of Six Crimson Cranes was the imagery and setting. Every single scene . . . from the snowy mountain view in Iro to the nettles on Mount Rayuna and even Raikama’s garden . . . was stunningly crafted. I am in awe of Lim’s ability to create a scene and truly pull the reader in.

I also really loved Shiori’s interactions with the dragons plus her relationship with her brothers. I was initially a bit concerned about this story because there were several plot points that seemed to be very similar to those in Spin the Dawn. Both books feature a female lead with brothers + the female lead is on a mission to craft/sew/weave a magical object in order to save her family. I’m happy to say that the similarities ended there.

The reason that Six Crimson Cranes was only 3.5 stars for me was the pacing. The first part of the book was good, but it didn’t really capture my interest. It wasn’t until Shiori arrives in Iro that I was fully hooked by the story. The climax and last part of the story were so exciting and had me on the edge of my seat. I wasn’t surprised by any of the twists or the ending, but I still was totally captivated. However, the last line of the book totally blew me away because I did not see that coming.


Six Crimson Cranes was a really good story that featured some truly beautiful scenery. If you are a fan of Spin the Dawn then I definitely recommend this one. I can’t wait to find out what happens in the next book!

SIX CRIMSON CRANES BY ELIZABETH LIM IS SET TO BE RELEASED JULY 6TH, 2021.

The Nature of Witches – Rachel Griffin [ARC Review]

54717138

Rating: ⭐️⭐️

Synopsis:

For centuries, witches have maintained the climate, their power from the sun peaking in the season of their birth. But now their control is faltering as the atmosphere becomes more erratic. All hope lies with Clara, an Everwitch whose rare magic is tied to every season.

In Autumn, Clara wants nothing to do with her power. It’s wild and volatile, and the price of her magic―losing the ones she loves―is too high, despite the need to control the increasingly dangerous weather.

In Winter, the world is on the precipice of disaster. Fires burn, storms rage, and Clara accepts that she’s the only one who can make a difference.

In Spring, she falls for Sang, the witch training her. As her magic grows, so do her feelings, until she’s terrified Sang will be the next one she loses.

In Summer, Clara must choose between her power and her happiness, her duty and the people she loves… before she loses Sang, her magic, and thrusts the world into chaos.

Practical Magic meets Twister in this debut contemporary fantasy standalone about heartbreaking power, the terror of our collapsing atmosphere, and the ways we unknowingly change our fate.

Review:

Huge thank you to Sourcebooks Fire, Netgalley, and Rachel Griffin for providing this e-arc in exchange for my honest review.

I stumbled upon The Nature of Witches while scrolling through Netgalley and I was instantly intrigued by the title, cover, and synopsis. I love all things w i t c h y so I was very excited to read this. Unfortunately, The Nature of Witches fell flat for me.


I’ll start with what I liked!

My favorite part of The Nature of Witches is the magic. It is such an incredibly cool magic system. Every witch has seasonal based powers based on the time of year they were born. There are Autumn, Winter, Spring, and Summer witches. Each season witch is strongest during their season and can control that season’s weather. Clara is an Ever Witch, an incredibly rare type of witch who is able to use magic of all four seasons. I loved all the scenes where the witches were using their magic. It was so cool to see them control the weather and combat natural disasters like catastrophic tornadoes, heat waves in the winter, floods, etc. If I were a witch in the world of The Nature of Witches I would definitely want to be an Autumn witch. No surprise there since it is my favorite season!

While I didn’t feel especially connected to any of the characters, I did really like two of them. One is Paige because she calls out Clara on her shit and I loved it. Clara could get very frustrating so it was nice to have Paige there to slap the sense into her for me. The other is Sang. He is the most pure and kind person. I really liked how his character affected Clara.

I also loved the message about the environment and protecting the earth!


And now I’ll briefly touch on what I didn’t like about The Nature of Witches.

The plot was just meh. There were moments of excitement during the weather scenes, but otherwise it was pretty boring. I feel like not much happened. And while I know that the stakes were high (saving the planet from environmental ruin caused by non-witches), it didn’t feel that way. It didn’t feel like there was any urgency.

Clara is also a very difficult MC to like. I understand and felt for her struggle with the consequences on her power, but the self-pity could be too much. She came across as very immature at times (which she is only seventeen so I’ll allow it). As I said earlier, Clara could get extremely frustrating so it was great to have Paige there to knock some sense into her. Despite this, I did enjoy Clara’s journey towards self-acceptance and self-love. It was just annoying to read her somewhat whiny narration.


Overall, I thought that The Nature of Witches was just ok. Honestly, the magic and weather scenes saved it from being a one star read. I’m bummed because I loved the concept and the magic is so cool!

Have you read The Nature of Witches? Let me know what you think in the comments!

The Nature of Witches is set to be released June 1st, 2021 by Sourcebooks Fire.

The Prison Healer (The Prison Healer, #1) – Lynette Noni [ARC Review]

53968496

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Kiva Meridan has spent the last ten years fighting for survival in the notorious death prison, Zalindov, working as the prison healer.

When the Rebel Queen is captured, Kiva is charged with keeping the terminally ill woman alive long enough for her to undergo the Trial by Ordeal: a series of elemental challenges against the torments of air, fire, water, and earth, assigned to only the most dangerous of criminals.

Then a coded message from Kiva’s family arrives, containing a single order: “Don’t let her die. We are coming.” Aware that the Trials will kill the sickly queen, Kiva risks her own life to volunteer in her place. If she succeeds, both she and the queen will be granted their freedom.

But no one has ever survived.

With an incurable plague sweeping Zalindov, a mysterious new inmate fighting for Kiva’s heart, and a prison rebellion brewing, Kiva can’t escape the terrible feeling that her trials have only just begun.

From bestselling author Lynette Noni comes a dark, thrilling YA fantasy perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas, and Sabaa Tahir.

Review:

HUGE thank you to HMH Books for Young Readers & Netgalley for providing me with this eARC in exchange for my honest review!

I was browsing Netgalley one day when I came across a cover that caught my eye. It was The Prison Healer by Lynette Noni. I was immediately drawn in by the title and cover. Plus, while I had never read anything by Noni, my book bestie has read her The Medoran Chronicles series and is a massive fan! So suffice to say that I was thrilled when I got approved for an arc! And holy cow. Guys. The Prison Healer was freaking amazing!

The Prison Healer tells the story of Kiva Meridan. Kiva was imprisoned with her father ten years ago and she has been fighting to survive ever since. She works in the Zalindov prison as — you guessed it — the healer. Kiva spends everyday caring for the inmates of the brutal prison while maintaining hope that her family will rescue her. But everything changes when the Rebel Queen is captured and Kiva is placed in charge of the sick woman’s care. The Rebel Queen is sentenced to the Trial by Ordeal, but Kiva receives a message from her family to keep the queen alive. Kiva sacrifices everything and volunteers to take the Trials in the queen’s place. What comes next is intense, action-packed, and full of all kinds of twists and turns.

I absolutely loved The Prison Healer. I was immediately hooked by the atmosphere and high-stakes setting. The prison is intense, grim, and full of danger around every corner. I found myself so nervous as Kiva explained the day to day life of the prison. It is simply terrifying. Lynette Noni did an exceptional job of crafting this world and creating an all-encompassing, tension-filled atmosphere. I truly felt Kiva’s terror as she dealt with both the horrors of the prison and the Trial by Ordeal tasks. Kiva encounters abusive guards, aggressive fellow inmates, and truly terrifying trials. I was so on edge during the trials . . . especially the Trial by Fire. I’ll keep this spoiler free, but all you have to know is that I was petrified during this trial. Once again, Noni did such an incredible job of making me feel like I was with Kiva. I was with Kiva throughout the entire book and I couldn’t put it down. I had to know what happened next!!

One of my favorite parts of The Prison Healer is the healer aspect. As a nurse, I love to see characters who are passionate about healing and healthcare. Kiva was so incredibly inspiring with how she was truly selfless in her care. She cares for everyone who comes through her door the exact same way. It doesn’t matter who they are or what they’ve done. It’s what we all are trained to do as healthcare workers and I love seeing it represented so well in a fantasy book! I saw parts of myself in Kiva as she cared for her patients!

I was also fascinated by Kiva’s research and investigation into finding out the cause of the stomach virus plague that has overrun the prison. It was so fun (lol I am such a nerd) watching Kiva reason through the outbreak and come up with a plan to investigate. I am a huge nerd so I was loving all of the research and evidence based experimenting that Kiva was doing. Yay science!! This subplot was not only super interesting, but it also was another way that Noni was able to illustrate the injustices taking place at the prison.

And now for what you’ve all been waiting for . . . the romance. There wasn’t an overwhelming amount of romance in The Prison Healer. There are definitely moments and the start to more, but the romance was not the overall focus of the book. I was initially worried that the romance/love-interest was a bit too insta-lovey. It seemed liked that was the direction the story was going, but I definitely changed my mind. I think what started in the beginning as an initial attraction/insta-love became a supportive friendship that slowly developed over time. The way that Jaren supports Kiva throughout the story was amazing. I was definitely swooning! Even in his prison disarray . . . Jaren is dreamy!

As much as I love Jaren, he is not my favorite character from the book. That title belongs to Tipp!!! He is absolutely adorable and such a sweet kid. I loved all of his scenes. It’s heartbreaking that a sweet, innocent eleven-year-old is in a horrible prison, but Tipp is such a light in the darkness. He really pulls Kiva out of herself and I love it. Tipp, Jaren, and Naari (a prison guard) were all fantastic supporting characters. Shout out to Mot too! The whole cast of characters is so well done. Even the bad guys . . they were so creepy and truly evil, but so well done!

The Prison Healer ends with several major twists and a huge cliffhanger! I suspected a couple aspects of some of the twists, but I had no idea the extent. I was shocked! There are so many reveals and truly EPIC twists that my jaw dropped. And that ending?! Are you kidding!? I need book two now!!

As you can see I absolutely loved The Prison Healer! This book was incredible. The world-building, cast of characters, plot, and twists were all exceptional. My only problem now is that I need more. The Prison Healer hooked me from the start and kept me on the edge of my seat. It is definitely one of my new favorite books and I cannot recommend it enough!

The Prison Healer is set to be released April 13th, 2021.

The Paris Library – Janet Skeslien Charles [ARC Review]

Image result for the paris library

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Synopsis:

Based on the true World War II story of the heroic librarians at the American Library in Paris, this is an unforgettable story of romance, friendship, family, and the power of literature to bring us together, perfect for fans of The Lilac Girls and The Paris Wife.

Paris, 1939: Young and ambitious Odile Souchet has it all: her handsome police officer beau and a dream job at the American Library in Paris. When the Nazis march into Paris, Odile stands to lose everything she holds dear, including her beloved library. Together with her fellow librarians, Odile joins the Resistance with the best weapons she has: books. But when the war finally ends, instead of freedom, Odile tastes the bitter sting of unspeakable betrayal.

Montana, 1983: Lily is a lonely teenager looking for adventure in small-town Montana. Her interest is piqued by her solitary, elderly neighbor. As Lily uncovers more about her neighbor’s mysterious past, she finds that they share a love of language, the same longings, and the same intense jealousy, never suspecting that a dark secret from the past connects them.

A powerful novel that explores the consequences of our choices and the relationships that make us who we are—family, friends, and favorite authors—The Paris Library shows that extraordinary heroism can sometimes be found in the quietest of places.

Review:

Huge thank you to Atria Books and Netgalley for providing this e-arc in exchange for my honest review.

I am a huge fan of historical fiction! I was browsing Netgalley for books to request when I came across The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles. The cover is absolutely gorgeous and immediately grabbed my attention. I read the synopsis and was hooked. I requested and was lucky enough to receive an e-arc!

The Paris Library follows two young women through two timelines. Odile is a young woman living in Paris during the 1930’s-40’s. Odile has just started as a librarian at the American Library in Paris (the ALP). The book follows her journey throughout the Nazi occupation of Paris and WW2. Lily is a teenage girl in Montana in the 1980’s. Lily is a student who is fascinated by everything French. She decides to interview her neighbor, Odile, for a school project about France.


I absolutely adored The Paris Library. It is first and foremost a love letter to readers. The overarching theme of The Paris Library is the power of books and the importance of libraries. I felt so connected to Odile whenever she described her love of books, libraries, and reading.

There are so many fantastic quotes . . .

Breathing in the best smell in the world—a mélange of the mossy scent of musty books and crisp newspaper pages—I felt as if I’d come home.

I loved being surrounded by stories, some as old as time, others published just last month.

I never judged a book by its beginning. It felt like the first and last date I’d once had, both of us smiling too brightly. No, I opened to a page in the middle, where the author wasn’t trying to impress me.

“I’m Odile Souchet. Sorry to be late. I was early, and I opened a book . . .” “Reading is dangerous,” Miss Reeder said with a knowing smile. “Let’s go to my office.”

The Library is my haven. I can always find a corner of the stacks to call my own, to read and dream. I want to make sure everyone has that chance, most especially the people who feel different and need a place to call home.

“The best thing about Paris? It’s a city of readers,” our neighbor said.

“We’re bookmates,” she said, in the decisive tone one would assert “the sky is blue,” or “Paris is the best city in the world.” I was skeptical about soul mates, but could believe in bookmates, two beings bound by a passion for reading.

Then, with a handful of pages left, I started to dread the fact that this world that I loved was coming to an end. I wasn’t ready to say goodbye. I read slowly, just savoring the scenes.

“Why on earth would you want to be a librarian?” he asked, an étincelle, a sparkle, in his eye. “Sometimes I like books more than people.” “Books don’t lie or steal,” he said. “We can depend on them.” I was surprised, and heartened, to hear an echo of my own feelings.

“But seriously, why books. Because no other thing possesses that mystical faculty to make people see with other people’s eyes. The Library is a bridge of books between cultures.”

“We all have a book that’s changed us forever,” I said. “One that let us know that we’re not alone. What’s yours?”

“Books will outlast us all.”


The Paris Library is very much a character driven story. There is little to no action. Unlike a typical WW2 based historical fiction, we do not see the outright violence and horror of the war or concentration camps. Instead we focus on the loss and devastation that individual people faced on daily basis. We see family members say goodbye to sons/brothers/friends as they leave to fight in the war. We see the women waiting in endless lines for miniscule rations. We see homes left abandoned after Jewish tenants are forced into camps. And, of course, we see the library and the censorship, surveillance, and rules that are forced upon it.

I honestly had never thought about the the impact of the war on libraries. During the Nazi occupation, Jewish and anyone determined to be an “enemy alien” library subscribers were banned from entering the library. However, librarians from the ALP worked together and delivered books to these subscribers at home. Odile is a fictional character, but librarians like her risked everything to make sure that everyone was able to have access to the library. This is just the most beautiful, kind, and courageous act. I can’t imagine how scary it would have been to pass through the Nazi checkpoints while delivering books. But they still did it.

“I decided that words were worth fighting for, that they were worth the risk.”

“Libraries are lungs,” she scrawled, her pen barely able to keep up with her ideas. “Books the fresh air breathed in to keep the heart beating, to keep the brain imagining, to keep hope alive.”

I think Lily perfectly describes how brave and incredible this was . . .

“You were brave,” I told Odile. “Keeping the library open and making sure all people could check out books.” She sighed. “I did the minimum.” “Le minimum? What you did was amazing. You gave subscribers hope. You showed that during the worst of times, people were still good. You saved books and people. You risked your life to defy the fricking Nazis. That’s huge.”

I could not have said it any better.

I highly encourage everyone to read the author’s note at the end of the book. Janet Skeslien Charles did a huge amount of research for this book. So much of The Paris Library is true and/or based in fact and on real people. I love reading author’s notes in historical fiction books because it is so fun to learn where authors get their inspiration from!


The Paris Library is also a story of friendship. There is loss, love, betrayal, and hope. The Paris Library shows the power of a true friend. It beautifully and heartbreakingly illustrates the importance of treasuring that friendship, being open with those you love, and not running away. This is shown through Odile’s relationship with Margaret.

As I said before, The Paris Library is a character driven story. And I came to love so many of these characters! I truly feel like I go to know each and every one of them. It’s like Lily thought after she heard Odile’s story . . .

“Her hand hugging mind, she introduced her cast of characters. Dear Maman and down-to-earth Eugenie. Blustery Papa. Remy, the mischievous twin I would see every time I looked at Odile. His girl, Bitsi, the brave librarian. Paul, so handsome, I fell in love with him, too. Margaret, every bit as fun as Mary Louise. Miss Reader, the Countess, and Boris, the heart and soul and life of the Library. People I would never know, would never forget. They’d lived in Odile’s memory, and now they lived in mine.

The relationships and friendships between these characters are one of the things that makes The Paris Library so special! Odile’s relationship with Remy, the staff at the ALP, and later with Lily are all beautiful examples of friendship. I love her bond with Remy and the way the staff at the ALP all nerd out about reading. However, my favorite relationship is between Odile and Lily. I love how Lily brings joy and light back into Odile’s life. And how Odile introduces Lily to books and the love of reading. I actually equally enjoyed reading both the Paris and Montana timelines.


As you can see I really enjoyed The Paris Library. I could keep gushing about it for a long time. I wrote down so many quotes that I love! The book mates one is my favorite – I sent it to my book bestie because it describes us perfectly!

I actually struggled writing this review because I don’t feel like I’m able to capture the magic I felt while reading The Paris Library. I think I ended up just ranting, but I can’t help it! The Paris Library actually reminded my of Ruta Sepetys’ books . . . a beautiful story that also teaches me something about a lesser known part of history. This is just a very special book that I think everyone should read. I will hold The Paris Library close to my heart forever.

Congrats to Janet Skeslien Charles on this stunning book!

The Paris Library is set to be released February 9th, 2021 by Atria Books.

The Project – Courtney Summers [ARC Review]

53138093

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Synopsis:

Lo Denham is used to being on her own. After her parents died, Lo’s sister, Bea, joined The Unity Project, leaving Lo in the care of their great aunt. Thanks to its extensive charitable work and community outreach, The Unity Project has won the hearts and minds of most in the Upstate New York region, but Lo knows there’s more to the group than meets the eye. She’s spent the last six years of her life trying—and failing—to prove it.

When a man shows up at the magazine Lo works for claiming The Unity Project killed his son, Lo sees the perfect opportunity to expose the group and reunite with Bea once and for all. When her investigation puts her in the direct path of its leader, Lev Warren and as Lo delves deeper into The Project, the lives of its members it upends everything she thought she knew about her sister, herself, cults, and the world around her—to the point she can no longer tell what’s real or true. Lo never thought she could afford to believe in Lev Warren . . . but now she doesn’t know if she can afford not to.

Review:

Huge thank you to Wednesday Books and Negalley for providing this e-arc in exchange for my honest review!

I discovered Courtney Summers in 2019 when I read her incredible book, Sadie. I was initially drawn to Sadie because of the way it was written . . . in dual perspectives with one being Sadie herself and the other a podcast host who is investigating Sadie’s disappearance. I am a huge fan of true crime and podcasts so I was totally into this. Sadie ended up being an incredible book. It was dark, emotional, and raw, but such a powerful read. So when I saw that Courtney Summers was releasing another “true-crime-esc” book I knew I had to read it! Especially because I am FASCINATED by cults!

The Project tells the story of two sisters whose lives have been forever changed by the group known as “The Unity Project.” The story is told through both sisters perspectives and in both the past and present. The Project is about the bond between sisters and the lengths they will go for each other.

TRIGGER WARNINGS: suicide, trauma/ptsd, cults, mental + physical abuse, and violence

Overall, I really enjoyed The Project. It hooked me from the very first page! The Project is a dark and suspenseful story that illustrates the rise of an enigmatic and charming cult leader. I thought that Summers did an excellent job of showing how vulnerable people are taken in and exploited by cults. The Project is ultimately a story of how loneliness and the desire to belong can affect vulnerable individuals.

On the outside “The Unity Project” appears to be an excellent, service driven organization that does incredible work for the community. But we know, and the lead character (Lo) discovers that there is much more going on than appears. Lev Warren is the quintessential, cookie-cutter cult leader. He wasn’t any different than any other movie/tv show/pop culture cult leader character. I do think that Summers did a great job of showing Lev’s manipulation and how he pinpoints what each vulnerable potential member needs. This is especially true with him and Lo. At some points it was actually hard to read Lo’s journey. I keep using the world vulnerable, but I don’t know how else to describe her. It was difficult to watch her (minor spoiler alert) get taken in by this manipulative man.

The Project is a shorter book at 352 pages so the plot progressed fairly quickly. The journey is intriguing, but it did not wow me. I did guess the reveal pretty early on as well. But I was still expecting there to be a bigger moment of excitement or a big climax. The book just kind of ended without much fanfare. The ending was almost too clean. The plot was wrapped up too quickly and too easily. I even felt like one of the plot points involving a character was sort of dropped and not really wrapped up.

Despite my couple of complaints, I still did really enjoy The Project. I just wanted more! It was super interesting though and kept me hooked from the start. Also I’m obsessed with the cover!! I think it’s so striking and it fits the story so well!

The Project is set to be released February 2nd by Wednesday Books.

Lore – Alexandra Bracken [ARC Review]

53375824

Rating: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Synopsis:

From the #1 New York Times best-selling author of The Darkest Minds comes a sweepingly ambitious, high-octane tale of power, destiny, love and redemption.

Every seven years, the Agon begins. As punishment for a past rebellion, nine Greek gods are forced to walk the earth as mortals, hunted by the descendants of ancient bloodlines, all eager to kill a god and seize their divine power and immortality.
Long ago, Lore Perseous fled that brutal world in the wake of her family’s sadistic murder by a rival line, turning her back on the hunt’s promises of eternal glory. For years she’s pushed away any thought of revenge against the man–now a god–responsible for their deaths.

Yet as the next hunt dawns over New York City, two participants seek out her help: Castor, a childhood friend of Lore believed long dead, and a gravely wounded Athena, among the last of the original gods.

The goddess offers an alliance against their mutual enemy and, at last, a way for Lore to leave the Agon behind forever. But Lore’s decision to bind her fate to Athena’s and rejoin the hunt will come at a deadly cost–and still may not be enough to stop the rise of a new god with the power to bring humanity to its knees.

Review:

Huge thank you to Disney Publishing, Hyperion, and Netgalley for providing this e-arc in exchange for my honest review.

I was lucky enough to receive an advanced copy of Lore by Alexandra Bracken. I was so excited to receive this arc because I am a big fan of Bracken’s The Darkest Minds series. I also am fascinated by Greek Mythology so I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this book.

I don’t really know how to review this book because it’s super complex plus half of it was brutally slow and hard to get into, but the other half was fast paced and totally awesome! It took me a couple weeks to read the first 50-60% of the book, but then I literally read the last 40-50% in one afternoon. I’ve been going back and forth between 3-3.5 stars.

Lore is basically the Greek Mythology Hunger Games! The synopsis summarizes the basic concept so well . . . “Every seven years, the Agon begins. As punishment for a past rebellion, nine Greek gods are forced to walk the earth as mortals, hunted by the descendants of ancient bloodlines, all eager to kill a god and seize their divine power and immortality.” There is so much more to it, but our story centers around Lore, who is from the line of Perseides. We follow Lore as she is thrust back into this violent world with her heart set on revenge. There are fantastic messages of feminism, deciding your own fate, and the importance of being surrounded by loved ones.

This world is incredibly complex. The first half of the book is basically a massive information dump. There is just so much to remember . . . the original mythology, the new gods (plus the new names they have taken), the families, the powers, etc. etc. etc. It was honestly a lot to keep straight while reading. This is part of the reason why the first half of the book was so hard to get into. I was honestly a little bored because of all the information being thrown at me. I feel like all of the world-building, history, and info should have been more a part of the story and less just the characters reciting off info to each other. Although one exception to that is that I did love how the flashback chapters were woven into the story.

One other random minor dislike is that Lore is written in third person. It’s fine, but third person narrations are not my favorite.

Now all that being said . . . the second half of the book was awesome! Like I said, I literally read the second half in one sitting! The first half was a slow walk, but the second half took off running!! The story picked up and did not let go! The plot was fast paced and action packed! There were some truly great twists, turns, and reveals. I was finally completely pulled into the world of Lore. I couldn’t stop reading because I had to know what happened!

I really like that Lore is a standalone. It’s nice to read standalones sometimes! The story wraps up nicely with a definite end. I do think that there is an opening for Bracken to write some companion novels perhaps featuring Miles? Or maybe the other old gods? I think it would be fascinating to find out what the other gods were up to all this time!

I feel like I may need to reread Lore to fully appreciate it. Now that I have a grasp on the world and all its complexities I think I’d enjoy the first half more. Good news is that several book sub boxes are doing Lore for their January box so I will have a physical copy!!

Lore is set to be released January 5th, 2021 by Disney-Hyperion Books!

Kingdom of the Wicked (Kingdom of the Wicked, #1) – Kerri Maniscalco [ARC Review]

52735921. sx318 sy475

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

Synopsis:

From the #1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Stalking Jack the Ripper series comes a new blockbuster series…

Two sisters.

One brutal murder.

A quest for vengeance that will unleash Hell itself…

And an intoxicating romance.

Emilia and her twin sister Vittoria are streghe – witches who live secretly among humans, avoiding notice and persecution. One night, Vittoria misses dinner service at the family’s renowned Sicilian restaurant. Emilia soon finds the body of her beloved twin…desecrated beyond belief. Devastated, Emilia sets out to find her sister’s killer and to seek vengeance at any cost-even if it means using dark magic that’s been long forbidden.

Then Emilia meets Wrath, one of the Wicked-princes of Hell she has been warned against in tales since she was a child. Wrath claims to be on Emilia’s side, tasked by his master with solving the series of women’s murders on the island. But when it comes to the Wicked, nothing is at is seems…

Review:

Huge thank you to JIMMY Patterson Books and Negalley for providing this e-arc in exchange for my honest review.

Kingdom of the Wicked is my first venture into Kerri Maniscalo’s writing. I have always been super intrigued by her Stalking Jack the Ripper series, but I just haven’t gotten around to it. Gotta love that never ending TBR! Now that I’ve read Kingdom of the Wicked I am definitely hooked on Kerri’s writing.

Kingdom of the Wicked tells the story of Emilia and Vittoria di Carlo, twin witches who live nineteenth century Sicily. The twins spend their days hiding in plain sight and cooking at the family restaurant . . . until Vittoria is brutally murdered. Emilia sets off on a journey full of dark magic and ends up teaming up with Wrath, one of the Wicked princes of Hell.

Kingdom of the Wicked is a solid 3.5 star read for me. It was an exciting story full of action, mystery, and magic. There are parts I loved and parts that I thought were just ok.

My favorite part of Kingdom of the Wicked is the setting. It is simply stunning. Seriously go google pictures of Palermo, Italy and your jaw will drop. Maniscalco did an excellent job with her descriptions and truly painting a picture of the scenery. I have been to Italy, but just Rome and up from there. This story made me want to visit Sicily and Southern Italy. Simply stunning!!

This is also true for the food! My mouth was literally watering with all of the amazing food descriptions. Everything sounded so delicious! I love how Maniscalco seamlessly wove in food and cooking to the story. I feel like I really understand how much cooking is a part of Emilia’s life!

One super random thing that I loved about Kingdom of the Wicked is the mention of the card game Scopa. My mom is 100% Italian so all of our family gatherings are VERY Italian. Members of my family have been playing Scopa at every single gathering since I can remember. I never actually learned to play, but I totally associate Scopa with my family. It was so fun for me to see the game mentioned!

Another thing that I really loved about Kingdom of the Wicked is the Wicked! I am fascinated by the Princes of Hell!!! I was hooked from the second Emilia meets Wrath. He is such a great “enemies to lovers” trope . . . dark, mysterious, and a bit evil! My only complaint is that I want more of him. I feel like we got very minimal actual interaction between Wrath and Emilia. I want more!!! I have a feeling that the sequel will have lots more! And the other demon princes were so sinister! They make great villains!!

And now for the not so great things . . . my primary complaint about Kingdom of the Wicked is the pacing. Everything happened very quickly and felt super rushed. To me, it feels like not a whole lot actually happened in this book. This goes along with wanting more of Wrath and Emilia interactions. I just wanted more, but everything seemed rushed. My other issue was that the plot was fairly predictable. I guessed who the murderer was almost immediately and I also could see Emilia’s journey coming from miles away. That being said, I still really enjoyed the plot. It was exciting, mysterious, and definitely captivating! This was a super fast read and I really enjoyed it!

Kingdom of the Wicked ends on a pretty big cliffhanger. I’m keeping this review spoiler free so all I’ll say is that I am excited to see what Emilia has up her sleeve in the next book! I’m definitely excited to explore more of the Kingdom of the Wicked.

Kingdom of the Wicked will be released October 27th by JIMMY Patterson Books!

Something Happened to Ali Greenleaf – Hayley Krischer [ARC Review]

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Synopsis:

“Ali Greenleaf’s story is complex and beautifully told; full of fury, heartbreak, and hope.” –Kathleen Glasgow, New York Times bestselling author of Girl in Pieces and How to Make Friends With the Dark

Ali Greenleaf and Blythe Jensen couldn’t be more different.

Ali is sweet, bitingly funny, and just a little naive. Blythe is beautiful, terrifying, and the most popular girl in school. They’ve never even talked to each other, until a party when Ali decides she’ll finally make her move on Sean Nessel, her longtime crush and the soccer team’s superstar. But Sean pushes Ali farther than she wants to go. When she resists–he rapes her.

Blythe sees Ali when she runs from the party, everyone sees her. And Blythe knows something happened with Sean; she knows how he treats girls. Even so, she’s his best friend, his confidant. When he tells her it was a misunderstanding, she decides to help him make things right.

So Blythe befriends Ali, bringing her into a circle of ruthless popular girls, and sharing her own dark secrets. Despite the betrayal at the heart of their relationship, they see each other, in a way no one ever has before.

In her searing, empowering debut novel, Hayley Krischer tells the story of what happened that night, and how it shaped Ali and Blythe forever. Both girls are survivors in their own ways, and while their friendship might not be built to last, it’s one that empowers each of them to find justice on their own terms.

Review:

Huge thank you to the Penguin Teen Influencer program, Razorbill, and Netgalley for providing this eARC in exchange for my honest review.

I don’t really know how to review this book. Something Happened to Ali Greenleaf is the story of Ali, who was raped by popular it boy Sean, and Blythe, who is the queen bee of high school and is Sean’s best friend. Hayley Krischer tells the story of Ali’s rape, the events that follow, and how both girls are forever affected.

Something Happened to Ali Greenleaf is quite hard to read at times. The trauma and emotions that Ali goes through are unimaginable but unfortunately so common. I had a very hard time sympathizing with Blythe at all, but I understand how the author was trying to show us another victim. Blythe is extremely unlikeable and I don’t agree with her actions but I do understand how she is a victim of Sean’s too.

This story is about rape culture in our society and the way victims are shamed and manipulated. It is a powerful story that shines light on a difficult subject. It at times made me sick to my stomach. But I am so glad I read Ali’s story. It is honest and heartfelt.

The author provides trigger warning and multiple resources for sexual assault survivors.

Something Happened to Ali Greenleaf is an intense, emotional, gut wrenching, and authentic story. While it can be difficult to read, this story is so important and powerful.

Something Happened to Ali Greenleaf is set to be released on October 6th.

Legendborn (Legendborn, #1) – Tracy Deonn [ARC Review]

Amazon.com: Legendborn (9781534441606): Deonn, Tracy: Books

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Synopsis:

Filled with mystery and an intriguingly rich magic system, Tracy Deonn’s YA contemporary fantasy Legendborn offers the dark allure of City of Bones with a modern-day twist on a classic legend and a lot of Southern Black Girl Magic.

After her mother dies in an accident, sixteen-year-old Bree Matthews wants nothing to do with her family memories or childhood home. A residential program for bright high schoolers at UNC–Chapel Hill seems like the perfect escape—until Bree witnesses a magical attack her very first night on campus.

A flying demon feeding on human energies.

A secret society of so called “Legendborn” students that hunt the creatures down.

And a mysterious teenage mage who calls himself a “Merlin” and who attempts—and fails—to wipe Bree’s memory of everything she saw.

The mage’s failure unlocks Bree’s own unique magic and a buried memory with a hidden connection: the night her mother died, another Merlin was at the hospital. Now that Bree knows there’s more to her mother’s death than what’s on the police report, she’ll do whatever it takes to find out the truth, even if that means infiltrating the Legendborn as one of their initiates.

She recruits Nick, a self-exiled Legendborn with his own grudge against the group, and their reluctant partnership pulls them deeper into the society’s secrets—and closer to each other. But when the Legendborn reveal themselves as the descendants of King Arthur’s knights and explain that a magical war is coming, Bree has to decide how far she’ll go for the truth and whether she should use her magic to take the society down—or join the fight.

Review:

Huge thank you to Simon & Schuster, Margaret K. McElderry Books, and Netgalley for providing me with this eARC in exchange for my honest review!

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn is a King Arthur retelling that follows sixteen year old Bree Matthews as she begins her Early College program at UNC-Chapel Hill. Bree hasn’t been the same since her mother was killed in a car accident. This program is the perfect escape for her to get away. On Bree’s first night on campus she witnesses a supernatural attack that sends her on an adventure to find answers. Bree is thrust into a world of demons, magic, knights, and legends. She discovers the Legendborn, a group who are the descendents of King Arthur and his thirteen knights. These Legendbord are all that stands between demons (the Shadowborn) and the human world. 

I absolutely LOVED this book! Legendborn is an incredible YA fantasy that tells a wholly original story. Yes, it is a King Arthur retelling, but Legendborn is so much more than magic, spells, and legends. Legendborn is an urban fantasy that deals with grief, loss, power, legacies of colonization and slavery, being a Black woman in the South, and finding oneself. 

I did not expect to be so profoundly affected by Bree’s story. Tracy Deoon tells an incredible fictional story that she connects to our society by directly confronting racism and the history plus the continued effects of colonization, slavery, and violence against Black people. As the reader, we see Bree encounter racism everyday . . .whether it be slurs, discrimination, stereotypes, or more. She also lives in a constant reminder of the slavery and brutality against Black people. As a white woman I will never understand what Bree is feeling or going through. I am so thankful that Tracy has given us this story and allowed me to gain more perspective through Bree’s eyes. I definitely recommend reading Tracy’s author’s note at the end of the book.

One of my favorite parts of Legendborn is Bree connecting with her answers and learning about her own family’s history. 


Legendborn contains magic, mystery, romance, competition, and some MAJOR twists! I will say that the King Arthur lore and the history involved with the society, inheritance and magic was a bit confusing. I didn’t know much about King Arthur besides a little bit from “Merlin” and “Monty Python & the Holy Grail” so not much lol. I didn’t really know what to expect. I definitely had to take my time and do lots of highlights to keep everything straight. It is so extensive and there is a ton going on, but it never felt overwhelming. I felt like I was with Bree discovering and learning with her as she did. The world-building is all encompassing and so complete. Tracy Deoon truly crafted an entire world and lore using the legend of King Arthur. 

The magic is also fascinating! From aether to Rootcraft . .. it was all so interesting! I was very excited to read the author’s note and discover that Rootcraft is inspired by African American history and spiritual traditions. Rootwork was created by enslaved Africans and their descendents. The Rootcraft that Bree encounters is fictional, but inspired by this Rootwork. This is such a cool detail and I love learning something new! Again . . . please read the author’s note. It is not only inspiring, but also provided some really awesome insight into the inspiration for Legendborn.

The cast of characters in Legendborn is amazing and so incredibly diverse! The best part is that the diversity is done naturally and it doesn’t feel like a “shtick” or just for token diversity points. A great example of this is one of the Legendborn pages, Greer. Greer is non-binary. This is not announced or a big deal in the slightest. Instead Greer’s non-binary status is seemlessly part of the story. I love that They are just another character and They are accepted as such. It’s incredible to see! I hope this is an inspiration for everyone that reads this to be more accepting and tolerant of those different than you. The world needs more kindness and respect.

Bree is an excellent lead. She is strong, fierce, and loving. It was heartbreaking to watch her experience the grief from losing her mother. I truly felt like I was with her on this adventure.

I am a little undecided on how I feel about the romance. It definitely was on the insta-lovey side. It kind of has to be though because the whole book only takes place over about three weeks. Also, there is an explanation for the insta-love near the end which helps. There’s also a potential love triangle that I think will be delved into more in the following books. I am not a huge fan of love triangles, but I am intrigued by this one! 

The only reasons why I deducted a star is because of the insta-love and the overall rushed-ness of the beginning. Everything felt very boom boom boom. It all progressed very quickly. I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing, but it just felt a little rushed in the beginning. 


Legendborn is an exciting fantasy story that has so many important themes. I am so glad that I read this book because 1) it’s a fantastic and unique story & 2) I am thankful that I was able to read a modern day fantasy through the eyes of a young Black woman. It’s not enough and I will continue to work to improve myself to be a better ally, but Bree’s story is one step and allowed me to gain more insight into what Black men and women experience every day.  

I absolutely loved Legendborn. Even though it is inspired by the legend of King Arthur, this retelling feels totally original and utterly fascinating! I loved all the detail and the world building! And the ending was a rollercoaster of twists and reveals! I cannot wait to see where the story goes in the next book.

Legendborn will be released on September 15th by Margaret K. McElderry Books!

Skywatchers – Carrie Arcos [ARC Review]

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Synopsis:

From National Book Award Finalist Carrie Arcos comes a thrilling, genre-bending mystery about the history of the Cold War and the UFO phenomenon. Perfect for fans of In the Woods by Tana French and Netflix’s Stranger Things.

The year is 1952. The threat of invasion from the Soviet Union has people in a panic. The government has issued a call to civilians to act as radar–and Teddy, John, Caroline, Eleanor, Bunny, Frank, and Oscar eagerly answer. As members of their high school’s “Operation Skywatch” club, they, along with others across the country, look to the sky in an effort to protect the country from attack.

But they’re not prepared for the strange green light they see when on duty, which looks like nothing they’ve been trained to look out for. So when the mysterious object lands in the forest, Teddy, John, Caroline, and Bunny go in to investigate. Then, they disappear.

In this thrill of a novel inspired by real events, one group of teens will come face to face with the UFO phenomenon and the vastness of the unknown as they try to save one another, and possibly, the world. A powerful exploration of what if.

Review:

Huge thank you to the Penguin Teen Influencer program, Philomel Books, and Netgalley for providing this eARC in exchange for my honest review.

Prior to receiving the Penguin Teen influencer Fall 2020 ARC email I had not heard about Skywatchers by Carrie Arcos. The cover immediately caught my eye so I had to check the book out. I was super intrigued by the plot.

Skywatchers tells the thrilling story of a group of teens in the 1950’s who are a part of the “Operation Skywatch” club. Their job is to watch the skies for enemy aircraft. The club is pretty boring, at least until one night when a strange light appears in the sky. Four of the teens go to investigate, but they all disappear. The teens return, but all of their memories of the incident have been erased, and one of their group is still missing. Skywatchers is an exciting mystery that combines sci-fi and history.

Skywatchers was a lot of fun! I really enjoyed the suspense and the mystery! The story took a turn for me once the teens started to regain their memories. I liked the way the author went back in time to reveal what happened to the teens. I liked the big reveal, but everything happened very quickly. The reveal, the climax, and then the resolution felt very rushed.

Overall I really liked this story. It was a fun mystery that is outside my normal realm of reading. I enjoyed the suspense and the sci-fi aspects. The ending was just too rushed and resolved too easily. However, it was still super fun and exciting!

Skywatchers will be released on August 18th by Philomel Books & Penguin Teen.