book review, E-book, fantasy, historical fiction, magic, New adult, paranormal, romance

From Ash and Blood | Book Review

My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Title: From Blood and Ash

Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout

Format: ebook (owned)

Pages: 634

Publication Date: 3/30/20

Categories: Romance, Fantasy, New Adult, Paranormal

A Maiden…

Chosen from birth to usher in a new era, Poppy’s life has never been her own. The life of the Maiden is solitary. Never to be touched. Never to be looked upon. Never to be spoken to. Never to experience pleasure. Waiting for the day of her Ascension, she would rather be with the guards, fighting back the evil that took her family, than preparing to be found worthy by the gods. But the choice has never been hers.

A Duty…

The entire kingdom’s future rests on Poppy’s shoulders, something she’s not even quite sure she wants for herself. Because a Maiden has a heart. And a soul. And longing. And when Hawke, a golden-eyed guard honor bound to ensure her Ascension, enters her life, destiny and duty become tangled with desire and need. He incites her anger, makes her question everything she believes in, and tempts her with the forbidden.

A Kingdom…

Forsaken by the gods and feared by mortals, a fallen kingdom is rising once more, determined to take back what they believe is theirs through violence and vengeance. And as the shadow of those cursed draws closer, the line between what is forbidden and what is right becomes blurred. Poppy is not only on the verge of losing her heart and being found unworthy by the gods, but also her life when every blood-soaked thread that holds her world together begins to unravel.

I finally read this book that has been sitting on my ebook shelf since last year! Lately I’ve been seeing it everywhere on blogs and instagram so I finally read it and here are my thoughts:

  • I love me a good paranormal story with vampire/werewolf lore. It’s a classic tale, lots of forbidden love stories can come from it and it’s dark with all the danger and blood sucking. So this was an intriguing concept – a Maiden, that’s Poppy, is waiting to Ascend. To heaven? Nah, nope. For awhile it’s a mystery what these Ascended people are. We just know as a Maiden, Poppy is to be preserved, to be kept worthy of her role as a Maiden, but that life is like being a cloistered nun. So Poppy does what she can and escapes once in awhile to experience life outside the Duke’s home.
  • Poppy has a good crew around her, Tawny her maid/friend who I adore. Vikter her guard/who is like a father to her. And Rylan who dies protecting her. Then the hottest new guard steps in to be her royal guard and things get spicy.
  • The spice? The new guard Hawke is so confident, so charming, so handsome and attractive. He’s also a solid and talented protector who is dedicated to protecting Poppy. The attraction is there and things happen between them, sexy, naughty things. It’s clear they can’t resist each other.
  • I think my favorite part of the book was the fighting scenes! I like the action, it is thrilling. I love that Poppy can kick butt under that veil, thank goodness Vikter taught her well! And when she rages, watch out!
  • Triggers: abuse, kidnapping, violence
  • The author lays down ground work for the world building in the beginning of the story but it felt like a slow build. I remember picking this up in 2020 and putting it down after three chapter. It wasn’t catching my attention but with all the hype about it right now, I decided to give it another shot. There working for me for some reason, maybe due to the info dump?
  • There was a bunch of repetitive use of words…intriguing, inappropriate and Hawke being turned on by Poppy’s violence repeatedly.
  • Now here’s where most of my conflict with the book is ~ it’s with Hawke. And I usually love the alpha bad boys and Hawke in the second half of this book did not do it for me. He went from likable to me wishing Poppy would find a way to escape him 😏. But she is hooked on him and he knows it. It kind of grates on me how he likes to remind her of that fact even when he is the one who has been betraying her all this time. Poppy went from one prison, being the Maiden to falling for Hawke who is controlling her future as well? 🤦🏻‍♀️

I did enjoy Hawke and Poppy’s banter in the beginning, it was actually turning out to be a romance that had potential to be something great. I also found Poppy’s relationship with those she cares about very touching – and I really love that she can fight. I guess I like when she’s violent too, Hawke! Haha! I will be reading the sequel to see what happens and I hope Hawke redeems himself in my eyes. Overall, a fairly entertaining read even though I wasn’t into the male lead.

⚔️ ~ Yolanda

book review, E-book, fantasy, netgalley, romance, Young Adult

Namesake | ARC Review

My Rating: 4.5/5 STARS

Title: Namesake (Fable, #2)

Author: Adrienne Young

Format: ebook (NetGalley)

Pages: 368

Publication Date: 3/16/21

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Categories: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

Trader. Fighter. Survivor.

With the Marigold ship free of her father, Fable and its crew were set to start over. That freedom is short-lived when she becomes a pawn in a notorious thug’s scheme. In order to get to her intended destination she must help him to secure a partnership with Holland, a powerful gem trader who is more than she seems.

As Fable descends deeper into a world of betrayal and deception she learns that her mother was keeping secrets, and those secrets are now putting the people Fable cares about in danger. If Fable is going to save them then she must risk everything, including the boy she loves and the home she has finally found.

  • The covers for this whole series is gorgeous. The writing is beautiful, the characters are developed, the world building is creative! I love this world of dredging, gems and traders – it just takes pirating to a different place that I enjoy so much.
  • Fable uncovers more secrets about her mother’s past. We meet some new characters not only connected to Fable but from Auster’s past as well. The deceptions are present too – who is Fable to trust?
  • Nothing about Fable’s life is easy, not even when it comes to loving West who has his own complications. But this story shows that Fable is her own hero and yes, she now learns to trust others to help her in the bind she is in – she isn’t alone anymore, she has a new found family.
  • Everything in this story comes full circle yet and it’s a satisfying ending to a wonderful duology.
  • Will we get more of this world in the future? I feel like there could be more written about some new characters that we met in this book. I’d love to return to this world.

I gave this book 4.5 stars because I felt like some of the intensity from book one was missing but it’s not a bad thing because overall, the whole series is a 5 star series for me. This book had danger, deception, secrets to unravel, and it was emotional too when it came to Fable’s relationships: West, her love and Saint, her father. This is a series not to miss – it’s creative, intense action, and emotional. Namesake was the perfect ending to this amazing duology.

💙 ~ Yolanda

book review, E-book, fantasy, magic, romance, urban fantasy, Young Adult

Wings of Ebony | ARC Review

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Title: Wings of Ebony

Author: J. Elle

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 368

Publication Date: 1/26/21

Categories: Racism, Identity, Young Adult, Urban Fantasy, Family

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

“Make a way out of no way” is just the way of life for Rue. But when her mother is shot dead on her doorstep, life for her and her younger sister changes forever. Rue’s taken from her neighborhood by the father she never knew, forced to leave her little sister behind, and whisked away to Ghizon—a hidden island of magic wielders.

Rue is the only half-god, half-human there, where leaders protect their magical powers at all costs and thrive on human suffering. Miserable and desperate to see her sister on the anniversary of their mother’s death, Rue breaks Ghizon’s sacred Do Not Leave Law and returns to Houston, only to discover that Black kids are being forced into crime and violence. And her sister, Tasha, is in danger of falling sway to the very forces that claimed their mother’s life.

Worse still, evidence mounts that the evil plaguing East Row is the same one that lurks in Ghizon—an evil that will stop at nothing until it has stolen everything from her and everyone she loves. Rue must embrace her true identity and wield the full magnitude of her ancestors’ power to save her neighborhood before the gods burn it to the ground.

  • Aesthetics ~ Love the cover and the colors are just such a good combination. It perfectly matches the story of Rue and the urban fantasy setting of Wings of Ebony.
  • World Building ~ the story is set in the urban city of Houston but Rue now lives in Ghizon which is this Wakanda-inspired a fantasy hidden island. Ghizon is fascinating because the people there have gray skin and magic. But the mystery is how they were gifted these magic powers. The truth is shocking but the knowledge helps Rue step into her power. As for what happens in Houston, crime is rampant and someone is behind it, when it ties into Ghizon, Rue does everything she can to help stop what is happening. The story is action-packed which moves the story quickly.
  • Family ~ Rue loves her half-sister Tasha, she’s basically all she has left (beside her dad that she hardly knows) . Everything Rue does stems from protecting Tasha. Also, even though Rue’s mom is gone, you can say that how she raised her daughters has made them strong enough to deal with anything that was being thrown at them. I love that they had Ms. Leola though. Also her relationship with her father was strained due to all the secrets,
  • Characters ~ Rue has a strong voice. She is flawed, but brave and unapologetic and wants to do the right thing. I love when she calls out her best friend Bri, when the truth about Ghizon is revealed. Rue is like a superhero queen! I enjoyed the other characters like Bri, Tasha, and Ms. Leola also.
  • There is an insta-love moment in this book, but honestly, I think it’s going to carry on into book two and it works. It comes later in the book and I don’t blame her for the attraction!

This is a fantastic start to an exciting new series. I enjoyed learning about this secret island of Ghizon with it’s magic, technology and gray skinned people. I think Rue is a strong, black female lead who is protective of those she loves, willing to fight hard for what she believes in and is confident in who she is. She is truly a Queen. If you like fast paced urban fantasy that confronts race and social justice themes, then you will definitely like this one!

💜 ~ Yolanda

book review, fantasy, magic, netgalley, romance, Teen Readers, Young Adult

The Stolen Kingdom | ARC Review

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Title: The Stolen Kingdom

Author: Jillian Boehme

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 336

Publication Date: 3/2/21

Publisher: Tor Teen

Categories: Young Adult, Teen Readers, Fantasy, Romance, Magic, Court Intrigue

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

For a hundred years, the once-prosperous kingdom of Perin Faye has suffered under the rule of the greedy and power-hungry Thungrave kings. Maralyth Graylaern, a vintner’s daughter, has no idea her hidden magical power is proof of a secret bloodline and claim to the throne. Alac Thungrave, the king’s second son, has always been uncomfortable with his position as the spare heir—and the dark, stolen magic that comes with ruling.

When Maralyth becomes embroiled in a plot to murder the royal family and seize the throne, a cat-and-mouse chase ensues in an adventure of dark magic, court intrigue, and forbidden love.

  • World Building ~ Mara lives on a vineyard that produces the best wine in Perin Faye. That all changes when she discovers she is from a royal bloodline, and she is maybe the true heir to the throne. The Thungraves have ruled Perin Faye since they stole the magic and throne from the Dallowyn line. There is dark magic, good magic and politics at play here which makes it an intriguing story.
  • Characters ~ I thought Mara was pretty level headed even if she was thrust into a high pressure situation. She also knew she didn’t want to just be a winemaker all her life and I liked that she accepted her role as Queen. There were two sides to this story, and two perspectives being told which I appreciated. Prince Alac didn’t want to be royal but he is tied to this dark magic his father has entrusted upon him. What will he do when someone comes to take the crown from them? Will he fight or surrender? I think he was the perfect spare, kind of aloof, didn’t care for the royal duties and out of sync with his father and brother.
  • Romance ~ slow burn, enemies to lovers – I think it was perfect. Mara had her goals and really did good sticking to them until she came to care for Alac. Alac had his own dreams too until something major comes between them. I was fascinated to see how it would work out for them after the major scene that took place to throw all Mara’s plans off but in the end it worked out well. And this story is very PG rated, basically only kissing happens and not a lot of it.
  • The story is written well. I read it in one sitting which was unexpected but I was drawn to Mara and Alac’s story.
  • Triggers: death
  • A little bit of insta love? Maybe – Mara and Alac only knew each other for like…2 weeks? I didn’t mind it and this is a standalone so I think it fit because they did fight their feelings for one another and the ending left me satisfied.

I really enjoyed The Stolen Kingdom. I found Mara to be a strong main character and Alac equally intriguing, they made an interesting pair who in the end had a common goal to save their kingdom. I think this is more for teen readers than young adult but can be enjoyed by both.

📚 ~ Yolanda

book review, coming of age, contemporary, netgalley, romance, Young Adult

Five Ways to Fall Out of Love | ARC Review

My Rating: 2.5/5 Stars

Title: Five Ways to Fall Out of Love

Author: Emily Martin

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 336

Publication Date: 3/16/21

Publisher: Inkyard Press

Categories: Romance, Young Adult, New Adult, Contemporary

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

How do I hate thee? Let me count the ways…

Aubrey Cash learned the hard way not to rely on love. After all, Webster Casey, the new boy next door she’d been falling for all summer, stood her up at homecoming in front of everyone with no explanation. Proving her theory that love never lasts seems easy when she’s faced with parents whose marriage is falling apart and a best friend who thinks every boy she dates is “the one.” But when sparks fly with a boy who turns out to be Webster’s cousin, and then Webster himself becomes her lab partner for the rest of senior year, Aubrey finds her theory—and her commitment to stay single—put to the test.

As she navigates the breakdown of her family, the consequences her cynicism has on her relationship with her best friend, and her own confusing but undeniable feelings for Webster, Aubrey has to ask herself: What really happened the night Webster stood her up? And if there are five ways to fall out of love…could there perhaps be even more ways to fall back in?

  • Oh the drama of misunderstandings! This whole book is about miscommunication. Webster and Aubrey’s friendship falls apart because of a misunderstanding. It takes them a whole year to even discuss what really happened, but honestly they would’ve stayed enemies if Webster’s cousin Holland didn’t say something about it. I thought the drama was realistic. I can think of a lot of moments in my teen years when misunderstandings and miscommunication or lack of communication turned into some drama.
  • Aubrey’s parents have been fighting for years but it’s coming to the point where it is unbearable and they are separating. It’s no wonder Aubrey is so wary about love and very unsure what it means to be in love. Aubrey is cynical and she uses a scientific theory to gauge love.
  • My favorite thing about this book is Reese, Aubrey’s best friend. Their love for each other is apparent and Reese helps Aubrey loosen up. She made the story fun because the two of them together is comfortable, just like it should be with a bestie.
  • Triggers: divorce
  • I usually don’t mind love triangles but the one in this story made me cringe because Aubrey is basically into Webster and his cousin, Holland who is just a nice guy. 🤦🏻‍♀️ Poor Holland, he totally deserved better. It was just messy and so could’ve been handled better.
  • Webster is bi-sexual but for some reason the way Aubrey discusses this with him left me feeling uncomfortable. Aubrey tries to bring up college and how their relationship could change if he meets a guy. I mean…I guess she wasn’t worried about him meeting another girl…but a guy is problematic? It was awkward.
  • Some mature content: the characters do some sexual exploration like fondling and even masturbation, which is very realistic. I’m glad it didn’t shy away from that.

This book is more like a 2.5 star read for me but I did read this in one night, so it did keep my interest but mostly because I wanted to see if Aubrey’s character would grow. If you are more of a cynic about love or tend to lean that way, you may enjoy this one. I think I’m pretty cynical as an adult haha, but in my romance novels, I want it to be pretty hopeful and optimistic. I appreciate this story being realistic though but in the end it was just an okay story for me.

💙 ~ Yolanda

adult fiction, book review, contemporary, historical fiction, netgalley

BLOG TOUR } The Lost Apothecary by. Sarah Penner | ARC Review

Welcome to the blog tour for The Lost Apothecary by. Sarah Penner!

My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Title: The Lost Apothecary

Author: Sarah Penner

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 320

Publication Date: 3/2/21

Buy Here: Bookshop.org | IndieBound | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible | Apple Books | Kobo | Google Play | Books-A-Million | Target | Libro.fm

Categories: Women’s Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

A female apothecary secretly dispenses poisons to liberate women from the men who have wronged them—setting three lives across centuries on a dangerous collision course

Rule #1: The poison must never be used to harm another woman.

Rule #2: The names of the murderer and her victim must be recorded in the apothecary’s register.

One cold February evening in 1791, at the back of a dark London alley in a hidden apothecary shop, Nella awaits her newest customer. Once a respected healer, Nella now uses her knowledge for a darker purpose—selling well-disguised poisons to desperate women who would kill to be free of the men in their lives. But when her new patron turns out to be a precocious twelve-year-old named Eliza Fanning, an unexpected friendship sets in motion a string of events that jeopardizes Nella’s world and threatens to expose the many women whose names are written in her register.

In present-day London, aspiring historian Caroline Parcewell spends her tenth wedding anniversary alone, reeling from the discovery of her husband’s infidelity. When she finds an old apothecary vial near the river Thames, she can’t resist investigating, only to realize she’s found a link to the unsolved “apothecary murders” that haunted London over two centuries ago. As she deepens her search, Caroline’s life collides with Nella’s and Eliza’s in a stunning twist of fate—and not everyone will survive.

  • The story is told through three perspectives, the past with Nella and Eliza and then present time with Caroline.
  • Caroline is going through some marriage trouble but I love how her curiosity to find out about an old apothecary bottle leads her to learning a lot of things about herself and the choices she made in life. I could relate to Caroline a lot.
  • Nella and Eliza’s story were fascinating ~ especially because that apothecary was one used by women to do harm. Was it okay for them to do that? In those times women had no resources to help them against men causing them harm so I can see why they resorted to poison. I felt for both Nella and Eliza and what happened to them.
  • The history about the apothecary is fascinating and I love how at the end of the book the author included recipes, non-harmful ones, of course!
  • There were moments I was more interested in Caroline’s life than Nella and Eliza’s but I think there was a good balance of both.
  • The twist in the end definitely tied in the women’s stories together.

I found the historical aspects of this story quite fascinating since I’ve always been drawn to stories about apothecaries and healing. It’s so interesting to learn about how people survived without modern medicine but in this case, how women survived some very bad situations they were trapped in. Caroline is the modern woman trying to get out of a situation she’s found herself in and researching Nella’s apothecary helps her find the strength to do the right thing.

📖 ~ Yolanda

About the Author:

Sarah Penner is the debut author of The Lost Apothecary, to be translated in eleven languages worldwide. She works full-time in finance and is a member of the Historical Novel Society and the Women’s Fiction Writers Association. She and her husband live in St. Petersburg, Florida, with their miniature dachshund, Zoe. To learn more, visit slpenner.com.

https://www.sarahpenner.com/ | Facebook: @SarahPennerAuthor | Instagram: @sarah_penner_author | Twitter: @sl_penner

book review, fantasy, historical fiction, romance, Young Adult

Dark of the West | Book Review

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Title: Dark of the West

Author: Joanna Hathaway

Format: Hardcover (owned)

Pages: 480

Publication Date: 2/5/19

Categories: Young Adult, WWII Inspired World, Historical Fantasy, Romance, Family

He was raised in revolution. She was raised in a palace. Can their love stop a war? Code Name Verity meets The Winner’s Curse in Joanna Hathaway’s Dark of the West, a breathtaking YA fantasy debut.

Aurelia Isendare is a princess of a small kingdom in the North, raised in privilege but shielded from politics as her brother prepares to step up to the throne. Halfway around the world, Athan Dakar, the youngest son of a ruthless general, is a fighter pilot longing for a life away from the front lines. When Athan’s mother is shot and killed, his father is convinced it’s the work of his old rival, the Queen of Etania—Aurelia’s mother. Determined to avenge his wife’s murder, he devises a plot to overthrow the Queen, a plot which sends Athan undercover to Etania to gain intel from her children.

Athan’s mission becomes complicated when he finds himself falling for the girl he’s been tasked with spying upon. Aurelia feels the same attraction, all the while desperately seeking to stop the war threatening to break between the Southern territory and the old Northern kingdoms that control it—a war in which Athan’s father is determined to play a role. As diplomatic ties manage to just barely hold, the two teens struggle to remain loyal to their families and each other as they learn that war is not as black and white as they’ve been raised to believe.

  • My favorite part of this book is the intensity in brings. Athan is the youngest son of a General who is ruthless and has a reputation for fighting and winning wars. The General is a hard man who is always scheming. Aurelia is a Princess raised with rules but her mother is a Southern with a past that threatens their monarchy rule. There is a lot of political intrigue in this story and it brings the tension between all sides involved.
  • I was very invested in Athan and his struggles with wanting his dad’s approval, competing with his older brothers and wanting to be with his mother. I felt awful for him and what he had to deal with just to survive his family. His brothers all want to be the apple of their father’s eye and will do anything for his praise. Athan wants to disappear but he can’t because of his loyalty to his family and his mom’s memory. So what will he do?
  • Aurelia’s mother, the Queen of Etania is an intriguing character. She’s from Resyna but we don’t know much about the country because the story doesn’t travel there yet. All we know is what the characters tell us, and Sinora, the Queen has past that is entangled with Athan’s father. What happened exactly? We don’t know, but I hope I find out more about it in the sequel.
  • Having grown up in the 80’s, I was a big fan of the movie Top Gun and watched it a lot. This story is inspired by World War II but the plane fights reminded me of Top Gun and Athan is definitely Maverick. And Cyar is Goose ~ except I hope Cyar has a better storyline than Goose did in the movie! I enjoyed the flying and stunts in this book a lot though.
  • The political intrigue and scheming is very good and just like chess. Everyone is making moves and we aren’t sure who is going to win at this stage of the series. It’s a back and forth match but winner will take all. Unfortunately Athan and Aurelia are caught in the cross-fire.
  • The romance between Athan and Aurelia is sweet and very slow. They are both young, both have secrets but enjoy each other’s company. Will their bond continue to stay strong when the truth lets out?
  • Triggers: murder, violence, war
  • Aurelia at times comes off as naive but there was a moment in the end where she shows that she really isn’t just a useless princess. I’m curious to see what happens to her in the sequel.
  • Athan is said to be brilliant and smart but his character doesn’t seem to show it at all. He’s a good pilot, maybe shows off and disregards the rules too much, but brilliant strategist or something? I don’t see that yet. Maybe in the sequel?

I am glad I finally picked up this book. I was thoroughly entertained and was invested in the story because the tension between the warring countries was really good. The General seems to be a step ahead of everyone, or is he? I’ll need to find out more in the sequel but so far I’m enjoying this WWII inspired fantasy world with intriguing characters and a lot of political intrigue.

✈︎ ~ Yolanda

adult fiction, book review, fantasy, New adult, romance

A Court of Silver Flames | Book Review

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

Title: A Court of Silver Flames

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Format: eBook (owned)

Pages: 768

Publication Date: 2/16/21

Categories: Fantasy, New Adult, Adult, Romance, Family, Friendship, Mature Audience

Nesta Archeron has always been prickly-proud, swift to anger, and slow to forgive. And ever since being forced into the Cauldron and becoming High Fae against her will, she’s struggled to find a place for herself within the strange, deadly world she inhabits. Worse, she can’t seem to move past the horrors of the war with Hybern and all she lost in it.

The one person who ignites her temper more than any other is Cassian, the battle-scarred warrior whose position in Rhysand and Feyre’s Night Court keeps him constantly in Nesta’s orbit. But her temper isn’t the only thing Cassian ignites. The fire between them is undeniable, and only burns hotter as they are forced into close quarters with each other.

Meanwhile, the treacherous human queens who returned to the Continent during the last war have forged a dangerous new alliance, threatening the fragile peace that has settled over the realms. And the key to halting them might very well rely on Cassian and Nesta facing their haunting pasts.

Against the sweeping backdrop of a world seared by war and plagued with uncertainty, Nesta and Cassian battle monsters from within and without as they search for acceptance-and healing-in each other’s arms.

  • Off the bat I want to say if you were uncomfortable with Rhys and Feyre’s sex scenes – then you will be more so with Nesta and Cassian. Because let me tell ya…it’s hot, it’s intense, and Nesta and Cassian enjoy it that way. Some will think it’s too much but I was a romance reader before I was a young adult reader so this is nothing new. More power to them! I expected nothing less especially from Nesta and Cassian. I’m actually glad this book is for more mature audiences because it was starting to get that way with Rhys and Feyre but was still being touted as Young Adult. Nesta and Cassian in the sheets or out of it lol…is 🧨. But because this series went from young adult to new adult/adult, I think there should be warnings to prepare a young adult reader haha.
  • I always loved Nesta because she was fierce, not likable, but I could admire her protectiveness over Elaine even though I despised her for treating Feyre the way she did – but everyone has a past. Someone isn’t hard and bitter and cruel as a child, they are made that way. And we learn just how Nesta’s upbringing shaped her into this woman with very sharp edges and walls, so many walls. Her story is important. I cried for Nesta multiple times in this story. I resonated with her – her story triggered a lot of things in me. She is at rock bottom but she rises to the top, claws her way to the top of the mental pit she’s in.
  • Friendship. This book and the women in it and the FRIENDSHIP. Even with Cassian, it’s her friendship with him that makes them so perfect for one another. Cassian doesn’t give up on her, doesn’t pity her. It’s why Cassian is her perfect mate. But the new women we meet that come into Nesta’s life are a force to reckon with. These women have been traumatized, scarred, broken, like Nesta – but they help each other up. Ugh…what it did to my heart seeing women uplift women. It’s beautiful.
  • Family ~ this one is tricky and messy and so complicated. But even I understood how she needed to break from them and choose her own family (her friends). There is so much hurt between Nesta and her sisters, I mean look what they all went through in the previous books. Trauma. Feyre and Elaine weathered it better but Nesta did not. Nesta has to learn to make amends, and she has to forgive herself. So easy to say, so hard to do but she gets there. It’s heartbreaking but she gets there.
  • Romance ~ Cassian gives Nesta the tools to save herself and when she breaks, he is there to tell her she got this. THIS MAN. UGH….give him to me. 😅 I love how he wasn’t afraid of her sharp edges. I liked how he called her out on his bs, and I liked how he gave her space even though he wanted to consume her. She was always so safe with him, from day one.
  • Triggers: story of rape, story of abuse, violence, death, grief, depression, self-loathing
  • Because I’ve read so many romance novels in my lifetime and sex is always in it ~ I get that SJM’s sex scene can be go from dirty talk to stars are exploding and the world is ending or made new when they orgasm. 😅 I’m like, okay…chill with the universe coming apart already. Fae sex is good, I get it! lol…but that’s just her writing style.
  • This is a long book but I read it in one day (throughout the day because I have kids and a puppy to care for) ~ it didn’t feel long to me though. The story is very character driven but yes there is actually something going on other than Nesta falling apart haha, the human Queen that was turned into a crone in the Cauldron wants to be made young again and she needs three artifacts to do it. War between courts/kingdoms are also threatening to erupt again. But for me ~ Nesta took the spotlight. It is her story.
  • Did I mentioned I cried? Multiple times, because I could relate to Nesta’s personal journey on so many levels.
  • Now give me Azriel’s story. Also, Morrigan and Elaine’s please. ☺️

This book went above and beyond my expectations, especially with care to Nesta’s character development. Also, with Nesta and Cassian’s love story. This is for my new adult/adult romance lovers, young adult readers beware if you aren’t here for the sex because Nesta and Cassian deserve their adult sexy times. 😅 I think it’s funny how Cassian is an alpha male but hello, Nesta is an alpha female, so when those two collide? It’s not fire, it’s dynamite. What I loved the most in this story has to be the friendships that Nesta builds, as the story kept reiterating “like calls to like“. Nesta called to me from the moment I met her because she had some darkness in her, some trauma and grief we didn’t know about that shaped her and made her lash out and angry. She needed to break so many walls and fears inside her to rebuild herself into someone she doesn’t hate. Nesta had to face her past and make amends. She had to forgive herself, she had to not give up, she had to just try. That’s inspiring and brave. It’s courageous, and that’s Nesta. This story broke me in so many ways but it will be the one that stays in my head for a long time ~ when I feel low, I’ll just remember Nesta’s climb to the top. ♥️ One step at a time. 💪🏾

📚 ~ Yolanda

adult fiction, book review, fantasy, historical fiction, magic, Mystery, netgalley

The Conductors | ARC Review

My Rating: 3/5 Stars

Title: The Conductors

Author: Nicole Glover

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 384

Publication Date: 3/2/21

Publisher: John Joseph Adams/Mariner Books

Categories: Mystery, Historical Fantasy, Slavery, Underground Railroad, Magic, Adult Fiction

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

A compelling debut by a new voice in fantasy fiction, The Conductors features the magic and mystery of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files written with the sensibility and historical setting of Octavia Butler’s Kindred: Introducing Hetty Rhodes, a magic-user and former conductor on the Underground Railroad who now solves crimes in post–Civil War Philadelphia.

As a conductor on the Underground Railroad, Hetty Rhodes helped usher dozens of people north with her wits and magic. Now that the Civil War is over, Hetty and her husband Benjy have settled in Philadelphia, solving murders and mysteries that the white authorities won’t touch. When they find one of their friends slain in an alley, Hetty and Benjy bury the body and set off to find answers. But the secrets and intricate lies of the elites of Black Philadelphia only serve to dredge up more questions. To solve this mystery, they will have to face ugly truths all around them, including the ones about each other.

  • I love how the underground railroad and slavery history are part of this story. Hetty helped many people escape the South after the Civil War by using her magic and bravery. Now that she is in Philadelphia she plays a role in figuring out murders taking place around them, some of the victims being her friends.
  • The celestial magic in the story was very interesting. I liked how it was based off of constellations and they used sigils to conjure up the magic.
  • Hetty is a strong character – she is smart, caring and so brave.
  • Hetty and Benjy’s relationship was a marriage of convenience but it grew into something more which was so nice to see. They really were partners in solving the mystery and taking care of the people around them.
  • Triggers: slavery, abuse, murder
  • This is definitely a mystery, not quite a cozy mystery, and mysteries and I have a strained relationship – meaning if it’s too slow, I will not be invested in the story. This was slow for me. If you like mysteries though, this might be up your alley.
  • It would have been nice to learn more about the magic system because it sounded so fascinating. I love the idea of using the constellation sigils as magic. I just needed a little more information about the magic.

The concept of blending magic, black history tied to slavery, post civil war and the underground railroad is fantastic. I just wished the story held my attention more and that we got to see more of the magic system. In the end, Hetty and Benjy make a good partnership as they figure out the mysteries and investigates murders happening around them. Even though this book wasn’t for me, I think mystery lovers will really enjoy this book because of it’s uniqueness.

📚 ~ Yolanda

book review, coming of age, contemporary, netgalley, New adult, Young Adult

Yolk | ARC Review

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Title: Yolk

Author: Mary H.K. Choi

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages:

Publication Date: 3/2/21

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Categories: Young Adult, New Adult, Eating Disorder, Cancer, Family, Healthcare, Contemporary

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

Jayne Baek is barely getting by. She shuffles through fashion school, saddled with a deadbeat boyfriend, clout-chasing friends, and a wretched eating disorder that she’s not fully ready to confront. But that’s New York City, right? At least she isn’t in Texas anymore, and is finally living in a city that feels right for her.

On the other hand, her sister June is dazzlingly rich with a high-flying finance job and a massive apartment. Unlike Jayne, June has never struggled a day in her life. Until she’s diagnosed with uterine cancer.

Suddenly, these estranged sisters who have nothing in common are living together. Because sisterly obligations are kind of important when one of you is dying.

  • Mary H.K. Choi is a must-read author for me because her stories are complicated and real. Also she just knows how to really get into the scary, vulnerable places of her characters’s mind.
  • World Building: this book is an ode to New York City and a little bit of Texas too. In her last book Permanent Record and now Yolk, New York City is a character. Jayne is enamored of all things New York City, but is struggling to make ends meet there.
  • Characters: Jayne is hurting herself. She is a bulimic. Jayne is trying to run from events in her past and the story shows flashbacks of what happened that could have started her eating disorder. June is her older sister who is smart and successful but now she has cancer. These two sisters have such a tense history. I thought it was funny how they fought, because…siblings fight dirty sometimes! But it was also painful to see because you know they both love each other.
  • This is about Jayne and through her we see New York City, we see how lost she is about school and her goals for the future. Jayne is traumatized by her past: uprooting from South Korea to move to America, her strained relationship with her mother, growing up Korean in America, and trying to figure out how to attain all the riches and dreams of New York City – her ideal American dream. Right now her dream is unattainable.
  • Triggers: cancer, bulimia
  • Obviously, there are hard topics in this story with Jayne having bulimia and June having uterine cancer. So proceed with caution – this is not a happy story. Some parts are funny, but for the most part, it’s heavy reading.
  • There is a little bit of romance but it’s definitely not the main thing about this story. It was realistic too and it didn’t dominate the story.

This story is dark, complicated, emotional, layered and real. I was hooked and yet scared for Jayne as she went through her life lost and in pain but hiding it so well. But one person sees through her mask, her sister June. I loved how these crazy sisters fought, because siblings fight – and I love how New York City comes to life through the author’s words. When everything comes to a clash: Jayne’s past, her present, cancer, family and bulimia – that’s when the hard work starts as these sisters grind through the surface of their tense relationship and find the love that’s been hiding under there all along.

💛 ~ Yolanda