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, E-book, fantasy, magic, New adult, romance, Young Adult

A Twist of the Blade | Book Review

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Title: A Twist of the Blade (Shadows and Crowns, #2)

Author: S.M. Gaither

Format: eBook (Kindle Unlimited)

Pages:

Publication Date: 1/28/21

Categories: Young Adult, New Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Friendship

Mercenary. Survivor. Queen. 

Who is Casia Greythorne?


Still reeling from an unimaginable loss and the revelation of an identity she isn’t sure she wants to embrace, Casia has one plan: Try to control something. Something like the strange magic awakening inside of her. Mastering that magic will take her and her friends on a quest through cursed lands, into the dwellings of old gods, and deep into a southern empire filled with deadly foes and unlikely allies.

Meanwhile, the foundations of the Kethran Empire continue to crumble. The king-emperor clings to his crown with increasingly bloodied hands. Monsters and soldiers alike stalk Casia’s every step, determined not to let her return to claim a throne that is rightfully hers. Still, the greatest threat to her possible rule may not lie in the king-emperor, but in a former captain of his army—a man that she came dangerously close to falling in love with.

Elander Revenmar thought he knew who he was. He had a mission, a plan, a god he was content to serve. Then came Casia. A woman as mysterious as she is dangerous. One he should have stayed away from, and whose life he never should have saved.

Because salvation always comes with a cost. 

And some debts can only be paid for in blood. 
  • World Building ~ I really enjoy the story about the Gods and their revenge on humans. Cas was in Oblivion at the ending of book one but she doesn’t stay long. She needs to find her friends and stop her brother Varen from world domination. So Cas picks herself up, her broken-hearted, weakened, lost self and puts one foot in front of the other and keeps moving forward. We get to visit a different kingdom in this book which is great because Cas needs help, so she goes and seeks it out.
  • Characters ~ Cas is resilient, even when she thinks of giving up, she tries again and again and that’s so inspiring. And I love her friends, her support group that sticks by her no matter what. There were many times when the story was emotional because of what was happening to her friends.
  • Romance ~ or what is left of it…it is “complicated” as Elander likes to say. This is a story of past and present, reincarnation, a second chance, but it gets more complicated for Elander and Cas the more the truths are revealed.
  • Storytelling ~ this just flowed so easily, I read it in one night. I like how nothing is easy in this story between Cas and Elander with their romance or with Cas and Varen and their family ties. But for sure I love when Cas has her friends around her.
  • Not gonna lie, I wanted more of Elander and Cas together ~ I love them. But he kept having to disappear, he had his reasons though.

This story had action, good story telling, great world building, an inspiring main character and a complicated romance that just makes me hope so hard that Cas and Elander have a happily ever after. I look forward to reading book three which can’t come soon enough!

⚔️ ~ Yolanda

book review, E-book, kindle unlimited, New adult, paranormal, romance, urban fantasy

Blood Casino | Book Review

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Title: Blood Casino (Vampires & Vices, #1)

Author: Nina Walker

Format: eBook (Kindle Unlimited)

Pages: 324

Publication Date: 1/28/21

Categories: Urban Fantasy, Supernaturals, Romance, Vampires

Keep your cards close and your enemies closer.

At least that’s what my mom always told me. Becoming a vampire hunter was never in my cards, but it is now that she needs my help. A decade ago vampires seized control of the bars, casinos, and the dark underbelly of society. Now they deal in addiction and bargain with blood, and humans over twenty-five can’t fight back against their compulsion. It’s made my mother vulnerable––the only family I have left.

To save her, I’m forced to make a deal with the devil––one who lives above a casino, wears a crown, and wants to drink my blood. Adrianos Teresi may be dangerous and alluring but I’ve got a stake hidden up my sleeve. I’ll go all in and play his game, waiting for the perfect moment to strike.

What I don’t expect? The heart that needs guarding is my own.

  • Vampires and gambling definitely go together. In Blood Casino, the stakes are high ~ Evangeline is trying to save her mother from a gambling addiction, and who runs the casinos? Vampires. A vampire prince in this case, named Adrian. He is centuries old, deadly but looks 25, uh huh ~ you know that vampire genes don’t age haha. The hate is mutual between but they keep running into each other.
  • Love the setting of New Orleans. I went there once as a teen and I still remember the French Quarter vividly, it’s definitely a place you can’t forget. But the whole seedy, dark vibe makes New Orleans the perfect place for supernaturals to thrive.
  • Adrian is not a nice guy ~ he’s a vampire who’s been a live a long, long time. He kills in front of Eva, threatens her with violence, is violent, and scheming. Exactly what my image of vampires were like before Twilight lol…no hate on Twilight, I love Twilight, but before that…the vampires I knew burned in the sun, they did not sparkle.
  • I like action. Eva’s friends are vampire hunters but all is not what it seems with their leader Leslie Tate. We don’t learn much about Tate but I think more will come in the sequel. I like the vampire hunter action and the twist in the end as well.
  • The enemies relationship between Adrian and Eva is not quite to the “lovers” yet…and will it ever get there? We shall see, Eva’s got options, is all I’m saying.
  • Love triangle in the making? We shall see, but Eva has crushed on her best friend’s brother for awhile and now they are training as hunters, they get to spend more time together. The only thing that happens in this book is kissing. And very few kissing scenes at that, so there is a lot of room to grow with the romance angle.
  • Eva is 18 years old. I love how she tries so hard to survive and take care of her mom..but she is just 18, making mistakes, acts like a teenager especially around a very old vampire ~ she really is lucky she hasn’t been killed by chapter one! I hope we see more growth in her.

This story was a pure escape for me and a fresh take on vampires in urban fantasy. I enjoyed it so much I read it in one night and I’m here scouring this author’s backlist so I can binge read this week. I’ll be waiting impatiently for the sequel.

🧛‍♀️ ~ Yolanda

Blog tour, book review, bookish, coming of age, contemporary, E-book, romance, Young Adult

BLOG TOUR | How to Build a Heart by. Maria Padian

Welcome to the blog tour for How to Build a Heart by Maria Padian!

My rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Title: How to Build a Heart

Author: Maria Padian

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 352

Publication Date: 1/28/21

Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers

Categories: Young Adult, Coming of Age, Contemporary, Family, Friendship, Romance

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

One young woman’s journey to find her place in the world as the carefully separated strands of her life — family, money, school, and love — begin to overlap and tangle.  

All sixteen-year-old Izzy Crawford wants is to feel like she really belongs somewhere. Her father, a marine, died in Iraq six years ago, and Izzy’s moved to a new town nearly every year since, far from the help of her extended family in North Carolina and Puerto Rico. When Izzy’s hardworking mom moves their small family to Virginia, all her dreams start clicking into place. She likes her new school—even if Izzy is careful to keep her scholarship-student status hidden from her well-to-do classmates and her new athletic and popular boyfriend. And best of all: Izzy’s family has been selected by Habitat for Humanity to build and move into a brand-new house. Izzy is this close to the community and permanence she’s been searching for, until all the secret pieces of her life begin to collide.

How to Build a Heart is the story of Izzy’s journey to find her place in the world and her discovery that the choices we make and the people we love ultimately define us and bring us home.

  • Izzy is going through a lot as a teenager. She lost her dad, her best friend is in a rough situation at home, her mom is working as hard as she can to make ends meet, she meets a boy and her family has a chance to have their own home through Habitat for Humanity. We see Izzy navigate life, making a mess of things by lying and just trying to cope and find her way.
  • I learned a lot about Habitat for Humanity and how someone earns their own home through reading this book. I always thought the organization was amazing, but I didn’t know about earning hours and such, so that was eye opening.
  • Izzy is bi-racial, half white, half Puerto Rican, but takes after her white father the most. In the story she deals with certain situations like racism within her own family, from her Crawford’s side.
  • Izzy isn’t perfect but I give her credit for trying in the end to sort of make it right.
  • My favorite part of this book is when her cousin Mark comes into the picture because Izzy desperately needs that connection to her father’s side. When Roz, her best friend, reaches out to her cousin for her – it helps her deal with some questions she had about her Crawford’s side. Mark helps her open up and calls her out on running away from her problems and lying. I also love Izzy’s mom who is a good person (she helps protect Roz as best she can), and works so hard for her family.
  • Izzy’s relationship with her best friend Roz was just not okay to me. They were tight in the beginning, best friends, and then Izzy goes for the guy Roz likes and doesn’t even bother mentioning any of it to Roz. Izzy comes off opportunistic to me because she doesn’t even mention running into Sam at all…I’d tell my “best friend”. I know she’s a teenager and she’s making mistakes, but I couldn’t figure out why she wouldn’t even just mention it…it really felt like Izzy was throwing Roz away for a new set of friends and life. Roz has her issues though and one of them being she almost physically hurts Izzy in anger. Obviously Roz needs a lot of help because of her the scars of her upbringing and it was awesome to see some people in the end help her out. I think what bothered me was that Izzy was about to just end their friendship and here was Mark and Betts willing to help Roz and they barely knew her.

How to Build a Heart is a journey of a teenage girl trying to find her bi-racial identity, deal with the loss of her father, searching for her place in the community, and also finding family and love. If you like stories that have romance, family and coming of age themes, you will definitely enjoy this one. In the end, we are all as imperfect as Izzy but we try to do the best we can.

💕 ~ Yolanda


MOST ANTICIPATED / BEST OF LISTS:

Children’s Book Council: “Hot Off the Press: February 2020”

Latinos in Publishing: “January 2020 Latinx Releases”

Kirkus Reviews: “11 Early Books We Love”

Kirkus Reviews: “16 Books We Can’t Wait For in 2020”

“A Pretty In Pink story about grief, family, class, and first love.”

Bustle

“This is not a polemic about racism but an exploration of what identity means… The force of Padian’s storytelling, the pain of watching Izzy’s worlds collide, moved me to tears more than once.”

Portland Press Herald

“Padian creates a world that the reader can easily dive into. Anyone who’s ever been a self-conscious teen will see themselves in Izzy.”

Book Riot

“A balance of vivid description and witty, discerning storytelling [gives] a refreshing zeal to Izzy’s first-person narrative… Padian’s How to Build a Heart encourages us to embrace our authentic selves by letting go, not only of secrets, but of the desire to hide parts of ourselves in hopes that others will accept us.”

Cleaver Magazine

“A sensitively rendered story, but also a fun read, brisk and engaging… Padian’s book demonstrates the importance of home as a source of support and identity for teens.”

BookPage

“Complex, heartrending, and beautifully explored, How to Build a Heart is a deeply poignant read that is not only deep enough to move you, but wonderfully engaging and quirky.”

The Young Folks

How to Build A Heart is, at its core, a contemporary romance. But it also strives to be more than that. It’s a story of family, friendship, and the bonds that get us through… The novel is simple, sweet, and bursting with hope.”

The Fandom

“A potent coming-of-age story about the courage often required for pulling together multiple threads of a life to create an authentic self.”

BookBrowse

“Padian’s latest book delivers an enjoyable story about how Izzy eventually finds her place in her ever-changing world… This book effectively captured the chaos that can sometimes come with being a young adult.”

The Daily Free Press (Boston University Student Paper)

“Padian shows again and again that a story is always more complicated and more ordinary than it seems.”
The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“Padian masterfully portrays the internal struggles Izzy goes through in her Catholic faith… An absolutely enthralling depiction of family and self-discovery.”

Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)

“Padian creates a compelling world with relatable characters and deals with serious issues without feeling heavy-handed…An excellent classroom or book discussion starter. Hand this to readers who are ready to tackle these issues with a lighter touch.”

School Library Journal

“Padian takes a familiar theme—a girl hiding her background from others—and makes it fresh with her protagonist, Izzy Crawford… The characters around her are well-defined and support Izzy and the plot well. Throughout the novel, Izzy’s strength, candor, and humanity shine through.”

Booklist

adult fiction, book review, contemporary, E-book, magic, paranormal, romance

Fables & Other Lies | Book Review

My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Title: Fables & Other Lies

Author: Claire Contreras

Format: eBook (Kindle Unlimited)

Pages: 224

Publication Date: 12/20/20

Categories: Gothic Romance, Adult Fiction, Paranormal

Do you believe in curses? 

I never did.

Not until that fated night, six years ago, when I sat in The Devil’s Chair and made a wish.

Not until it came true. 

Not until I met River Caliban himself, heir to a fortune of curses. My fated sworn enemy. 

I knew I should have stayed away from him. I should have run the other way when he called out my name, when he flashed that sinful smile of his, but instead, I walked toward him, leaving the light behind. Instead, I go against all reason, against all warning, and attended the gala of the year at his dark, allegedly haunted home at the top of the hill. 

The moment I step foot inside I know I’m in trouble, but there’s something about River that magnetizes me, reels me in, and when he asks for the impossible, I find it impossible to turn him away. 

  • I love the whole mysterious, haunted house that is always covered in fog. There is a whole legend about the curse between the Guzman and Caliban families and it draws you in. The mood of this book was perfectly dark, somewhat creepy and yet sexy all at the same time.
  • Penny is a normal young lady, but a Guzman with a past she’s running from. She comes back home to take photos of the “house” which is about to be listed for sale. Coming back home brings back all kinds of memories that she has to deal with.
  • I enjoyed Penny’s friends Dee, Jose and Martin. They were lively, fun and had her back. I’m glad Penny had them since it doesn’t seem like she had much family.
  • The attraction between River and Penny is instant but nothing much happens until near the end of the book.
  • River is a fascinating character, very vague and mysterious but we do find out more about him in the end.
  • Triggers: sexual assault
  • I wish the story was longer..I think there was room to expand on River and Penny’s growing attraction. There was definitely sexual attraction but it would be nice to see them bond on another level and get to know River’s personality more. I was expecting much more emotions from them.
  • At the ending of the book, with the twist, at first read, I don’t know if it worked for me. I was confused for a moment, had to reread to make sense of it. After I thought about it, I realized I just had to keep my reality suspended.

I love the whole vibe of this book. It is dark, sexy, and mysterious. It drew me in, making me question the curse, the house, and made me wonder how will River and Penny come together. I do wish the story was longer so we could see their relationship grow, also the ending felt rushed. I definitely would like to read more from this author in the future though.

📚 ~ Yolanda

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

Greythorne | Book Review

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

Title: Greythorne (Bloodleaf, #2)

Author: Crystal Smith

Format: eBook (own)

Pages: 352

Published Date: 9/1/20

Categories: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Magic

Princess Aurelia’s life is turned upside down when the kingdom she thought she saved turns to ruin, a loved one is tragically killed in a shipwreck, and her home country refuses to respect her brother’s legitimate claim to the throne. With no place left to call her own, Aurelia returns to Greythorne Manor—her best friend’s family mansion—only to get swept up in a coup d’état on the night of her brother’s coronation. 

With everyone turned against her and enemies closing in on all sides, Aurelia has nothing left to lose in a mad fight to protect the only people she has left—her family. But in her darkest moments when all seems grim, will Aurelia find a spark of hope from a love she thought long lost?

  • I’ve been wanting to read this since it came out, even though I vaguely remember book one. All I know is that I enjoyed Bloodleaf and had to find out what would happen next. I was not disappointed! Fascinating to see in my Bloodleaf review, Princess Aurelia wasn’t a favorite of mine. But jumping into Greythorne without rereading Bloodleaf, I forgot about those things I didn’t enjoy about her. In Greythorne, she’s loved and lost and is dealing with grief and trying to move on. She’s grown a lot.
  • We learn more about the magic in Greythorne and so much history about Aurelia’s family. It was eye-opening and made the book much more emotional than I expected it to be! I loved learning more about Onal and Rosetta and how their past contributed to what was occurring now.
  • Zan and Aurelia’s relationship is complicated and deadly. But Aurelia wants him to live…yet he wants her to live…it was breaking my heart because they couldn’t be together. Their love story doesn’t take over though and they are hardly ever together.
  • This story was always moving and I read it in what would have been one day (but I have a new puppy…so I read it in 2 days). It had enough action, and plot twist were so great, I love how everything was connecting. It was an emotional roller-coaster. 💔
  • Kellan will do anything to protect Aurelia…even die with her. But she doesn’t want that to happen to her best friend so she finds another way instead. I’m not sure how this decision will play out in book three. I do hope Kellan gets a happy ending somehow, he seriously deserves it for his devotion to Aurelia. 🥺
  • There are some time jumps that can get confusing if you don’t pay attention but because Aurelia can walk in the Gray, she gets to witness things that have happen or will happen. I’ll leave it at that.

I didn’t even like Aurelia in book one and now here I am in Greythorne cheering her on! This was beautifully written, the story flowed so well and what surprised me most was that it hit me emotionally. I also really enjoy the magic system. I loved learning more about blood magic, feral magic and how Aurelia could walk into the Gray. Usually, middle books in a series tend to disappoint me but this one actually was so good and makes me very eager to read book three.

📖 ~ Yolanda

book review, Dystopian, E-book, romance, Young Adult

The Princess Trials | Book Review

My Rating: 3/5 Stars

Title: The Princess Trials, #1

Author: Cordelia K Castel

Format: ebook (Kindle Unlimited)

Pages: 504

Categories: Young Adult, Dystopian, Romance

Thirty young women. A handsome prince. A battle to the death

Water is scarce. Deserts have taken over the land. Nuclear war has devastated humanity. Humans live in walled super cities to keep out the irradiated. The land that was formerly known as America is divided into kingdoms ruled by royal elites.

Born into the lowest Echelon of the Kingdom of Phangloria, sixteen-year-old Zea Calico faces a life of hunger, thirst, and toil. The only way out of this drudgery is revolution, and Zea is desperate to help the cause. 

When the palace calls for candidates to compete to marry Prince Kevon, Zea joins the Princess Trials to search the palace for weaknesses. 

The trials should be a fairytale of sumptuous meals, ballgowns, and romance, but one misplaced word causes Zea to attract the Prince’s attention. When Zea uncovers the man beneath Prince Kevon’s public facade, she is at risk of falling in love and losing sight of her mission. 

But the televised beauty pageant turns deadly, and Zea must fight for survival.

Perfect for fans of The Hunger Games and The Selection, this exciting tale of courage, intrigue, and betrayal will have you turning pages.

  • World building – was interesting though it reminded me a lot of the Hunger Games, The Selection and the tv show The Bachelor. So it was nothing new. It’s a dystopian society in what seems to be North America but called Phangloria now. There are different classes of people from different regions, for example: Royals, Nobles, Industrials, Harvesters, etc…. Zea is a Harvester from Rugosa and basically her people are the farmers which provide the food for the kingdom. She’s also a Red Runner rebel planning to take down the royals and infiltrates the kingdom by joining the princess trials. It’s a cutthroat world of girls trying to become the next Queen by impressing Prince Kevon. The princess trials are like reality tv on steroids, where people all over can watch the girls fight over the prince. The girls are filmed constantly and the footage edited without their control.
  • Characters – there is a lot of them, so far I liked Gemini and Berta (who is awful but made things interesting for sure), who were other girls with Zea who are basically the entertainment for a bloodthirsty audience. Gemini is ostracized because her dad is a traitor, and Berta has a traitor in her family too…but the two girls are different as night and day. Zea is just thrown in with them. Prince Kevon seems like a good guy so far, but we shall see what happens with that.
  • I did like how there was political intrigue that kept the story moving.
  • What is special about Zea-Mays Calico, except her name? She can wield a slingshot and she has some fighting skills but I didn’t feel like her “mission” was an urgent thing for the rebellion? Obviously she has to fit into the princess trials but she stands out a lot as the defiant girl ~ luckily it’s drawn Prince Kevon to her. But she really doesn’t know a lot about the life in the Oasis and learns it all mostly from Gemini and Berta. Also, she’s in love with Ryce (the rebel soldier) but she has some lukewarm feelings growing for Prince Kevon. And it’s not like her relationship with Ryce is a big thing, he is barely in this book and doesn’t come off genuine (at least to me). I’d like to see more from her…she is compassionate though, that is her strength.
  • I got confused at some points in the story and had to reread some parts.
  • I’m not feeling the romance, but I’ll read book two and see what happens.

Overall, it’s very Hunger Games/The Selection vibes which isn’t a bad thing. I loved both books and enjoyed how both were thrown into one story. In that sense, it wasn’t very original and it was predictable. The romance is lacking for me also, and at times the story was confusing ~ I’m not sure if that’s an editing issue? But despite all that, I’m going to read book two and see what happens.

📖 ~ Yolanda

book review, coming of age, contemporary, E-book, magic, New adult, paranormal, romance, Teen Readers, Young Adult

Love Spells and Other Disasters | ARC Review

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Title: Love Spells and Other Disasters

Author: Angie Barrett

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 400

Publication Date: 2/1/21

Categories: Romance, Young Adult, Witchcraft, Friendship, Family, Contemporary

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

I didn’t know when I wrote the first love spell that it would actually make things happen. Like, actually make people fall in love with each other… 

How could I have known something like that? I mean, magic isn’t real, right? 

But here’s the thing—the spell does work and so does the next one and the next one…and suddenly I’m getting a whole lot of attention from everyone at my high school. Me, Blend-into-the-Walls, Please-Let-Me-Introvert-in-Peace Rowan Marshall. And not only that, but I’ve also caught the attention of Luca Russo, a godlike, football-playing hottie who claims he likes me just the way I am. Ummm…

But as I’m about to learn, playing around with things you don’t understand means when things go wrong—like really, very awfully wrong—you don’t know how to fix them.

  • Rowan has an interesting mom who is famous for being a parapsychologist, someone who studies the mystical and unexplainable. Ro feels like people at school thinks she is weird because of it. She has one best friend, Ethan who’s been friends with her since childhood and that pretty much consists of her social life, or lack there of…until a project at school makes her realizes she has the power to cast spells.
  • The romance is cute with a touch of heat. There are some sexy scenes but it stays PG-13 for the most part. Luca is the hot jock who is actually a nice guy. The romance comes of as insta-love but he did confess he was into her way before he talked to her. I mean, there are love spells involved so it gets complicated.
  • I did like how Rowan and her project partner, Abby, innocently start making these love spells for a project without thinking of the consequences but when it all hits the fan…the consequences are bad. Rowan does the right thing and takes responsibility. She tries her best to fix broken relationships by doing acts of kindness, which I thought was awesome.
  • I think this story had a good blend of romance, drama, and witchcraft.
  • Rowan isn’t your typical strong girl who can stand up for herself, Ethan helps her do that. Abby pushes her around when it came to doing the spells, but I guess Rowan felt guilty also for her part in ruining Abby’s science project years ago. I think Rowan is strong in her own way, not loudly, but in telling the truth and acts of kindness.
  • We don’t learn much about Rowan’s magic lineage in the story until her mom starts finally talking about her dad which is near the end of the book. It would have been nice to get some idea of how she could do the spells earlier in the book.
  • Ethan was her best friend until that spell really took a turn for the worst and he turned on her. That sucked to see since yes Ro cast the spells, but Ethan asked for the spell. I’m just glad they made up.
  • I read an arc copy so there were some errors near the end of the book which probably will be cleaned up by publication.

I enjoyed reading this witchy romance story because it was a nice blend of sweetness and drama. I liked seeing Rowan blossom as she starts dating Luca and also it was good to see her tackle the consequences of the love spells going bad by helping the ones she hurt. Even though Rowan and Luca seems like an insta-love kind of deal, he actually was into her way before the spells and I loved their relationship. We get a happy ending and it gave me all the feels in the end, that’s all I wanted, so goal accomplished.

♡ ~ Yolanda