book review, Dystopian, netgalley, romance, Young Adult

Dustborn | ARC Review

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Title: Dustborn

Author: Erin Bowman

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 432

Publication Date: 4/20/21

Categories: Dystopia, Post Apocalyptic, Romance, Survival, Young Adult

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

Delta of Dead River has always been told to hide her back, where a map is branded on her skin to a rumored paradise called the Verdant. In a wasteland plagued by dust squalls, geomagnetic storms, and solar flares, many would kill for it—even if no one can read it. So when raiders sent by a man known as the General attack her village, Delta suspects he is searching for her. 

Delta sets out to rescue her family but quickly learns that in the Wastes no one can be trusted—perhaps not even her childhood friend, Asher, who has been missing for nearly a decade. If Delta can trust Asher, she just might decode the map and trade evidence of the Verdant to the General for her family. What Delta doesn’t count on is what waits at the Verdant: a long-forgotten secret that will shake the foundation of her entire world.

  • When it takes me days to read a book it usually means I’m not into it. This isn’t the case with Dustborn ~ I think I’ve been so immersed in fantasy worlds that coming back to dystopian takes some getting used to, but really I enjoyed how cutthroat and no F’s given is this world that Delta lives in. I would not survive…at all.
  • Aesthetic ~ the cover made me request the book! Love how fiery it looks.
  • World Building ~ you get a sense right away, life is tough in this world where water is scarce, and dust storms rage often. Think Mad Max, where people live in small groups or packs. I could really feel Delta’s despair from the first chapter when she needs to get her sister some help. From there everything went downhill for Delta. I think it was unique, especially parts where they described how to make water in desperate times and vehicles they use with old tech/parts that they find.
  • Characters ~ Delta is strong because she’s had to be in able to survive. The Wastes coddle to no one. Asher is Delta’s friend from long ago and when they meet again, she’s not sure if she can trust him. We meet other characters like the General who runs Bedrock and his people are loyal to him. The General has something Delta has and will do anything to get the information he seeks. Then there is the Prime who runs Powder Town, Delta gets caught in between trying to figure out who to trust in order to free her pack.
  • Romance ~ yes…I mean how can romance bloom in a world like this? But something grows between Delta and Asher, not that it takes over the story at all, this one is all about survival and truth.
  • I didn’t totally connect to Delta and Asher, but that’s not a bad thing, it gave the book more of a desperate vibe, and seriously…reading this made me feel like I would die on day one without barely any water! Haha, you know how in reality we always say to hydrate? How do you do that when you have to turn your pee into water and you are dehydrated?! Ugh…I’m so grateful to have water right now haha. I was really intrigued by the characters in Powder Town though. Loved that they had a female ruler and soldiers.
  • The twist in the end was good, we get to find out more history and what really happened in the early days.
  • Triggers: violence, death

If you like dystopian stories set in basically a desert world, then you will enjoy this one. Delta is practically alone in the world and has to save her pack. She has to do the impossible to do it. But when people come along can she trust them to help her reach her goal? Dustborn is a gritty dystopian story filled with adventure, desperation and even a little romance in the desert.

🧡 ~ Yolanda

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

Slingshot | ARC Review

My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Title: Slingshot

Author: Mercedes Helnwein

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 352

Publication Date: 4/27/21

Categories: Young Adult, Mature Situations, Romance, Family, Abuse, Boarding School, Coming of Age, Contemporary

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

An exciting debut contemporary young adult novel perfect for fans of Rainbow Rowell and Mary H. K. Choi 

Grace Welles had resigned herself to the particular loneliness of being fifteen and stuck at a third-tier boarding school in the swamps of Florida, when she accidentally saves the new kid in her class from being beat up. With a single aim of a slingshot, the monotonous mathematics of her life are obliterated forever…because now there is this boy she never asked for. Wade Scholfield.

With Wade, Grace discovers a new way to exist. School rules are optional, life is bizarrely perfect, and conversations about wormholes can lead to make-out sessions that disrupt any logical stream of thoughts. 

So why does Grace crush Wade’s heart into a million tiny pieces? And what are her options when she finally realizes that 1. The universe doesn’t revolve around her, and 2. Wade has been hiding a dark secret. Is Grace the only person unhinged enough to save him?

Acidly funny and compulsively readable, Mercedes Helnwein’s debut novel Slingshot is a story about two people finding each other and then screwing it all up. See also: soulmate, friendship, stupidity, sex, bad poetry, and all the indignities of being in love for the first time.

  • Grace is a MESS. She’s 15, at a boarding school, unlikable, mean, a jerk, lacking social skills, says whatever she wants to say usual not caring about the consequences and she doesn’t believe in love. In a way she’s courageous, for not giving a crap but in lots of ways she’s afraid (of love) but wouldn’t admit it out loud until Wade and even Beth comes into her life. Also, she and her mom are her dad’s secret family so it’s no wonder she doesn’t believe in love. The blurb says “acidly funny” and all that acid comes from Grace haha!
  • Watching Grace navigate all her emotions was riveting and I could not put the book down. She’s all over the place. This girl is in love with her teacher then hates him when she finds out she was basically delusional about it. She pretty much scars a guy she hates, then sleeps with him and then unknowingly breaks his heart. If she went to my high school, this girl would have been getting into a lot of fights – she’s that girl. Despite her psychotic tendencies – I related to her thoughts about relationships, falling in love and sex because the relationships I saw growing up were totally dysfunctional too.
  • As for the romance with Wade ~ they start off as unlikely friends. Then best of friends into the possibility of something more and then into love. So it wasn’t instant which was nice, because Grace has a lot of issues but it was a sweet spot in the book. Wade is a good guy but we don’t know much about him until almost the ending. His life is complicated too.
  • Bittersweet ending – in true fashion, Grace falls for Wade, has this amazing time with him and it all comes crashing down. One thing is for sure with Grace, who basically hates everyone…she doesn’t hate Wade. And because Wade is so good, she learns to open up a bit…even make some friends and let some in. It’s not a total happy ending but realistic? I think so.
  • Triggers: student/teacher crush (one-sided), abuse, bullying
  • Grace crushes on her Bio teacher – hard. She thinks he reciprocates her feelings but ugh…he surely does not. And she basically does crazy stuff to him because she’s angry at him (breaks his pencils, writes him notes, tells him off) ~ this is how we are introduced to Grace and honestly from then on, I knew she needed therapy! This might turn people off to this book right away but seriously, it’s all one-sided.
  • Kind of bummed that Grace let all her grades go because of that whole teacher crush heartbreak – obviously this girl is SMART just lacking so much social skills and is almost hungrily studying others around her, hating them, judging them, needing praise (even it’s from some random guy like Derek who she hates) – dooming herself to loneliness because in the essence of it all she thinks her father never wanted her. Doesn’t love her.
  • I felt called out when Grace says she was into older music like 80’s/90’s and starts jamming to Smashing Pumpkins and Rage Against the Machine. 🤣 Talk about nostalgia – that was the music of MY high school years! Yes I’m old, but damn it the music was good!
  • This book totally could be a tv series, it’s quirky and dark enough, and Grace is so problematic.

Do not be fooled by this pink, happy book cover…this is not a fluffy, cutesy love story. Grace is a mean, cold, hurt, lost teenager trying to navigate all these feelings of love, sex, and friendship. She takes it out on everyone around her, and then Wade comes along and she tries to be better, for him. This story will not be for everyone, Grace has no filter ~ but she reminds me of someone I befriended in my younger years and things turned out okay for my friend. Moral of the story, we are all flawed, the teenage years are angsty and emotional, but we can still turn out okay.

🖤 ~ Yolanda

adult fiction, Blog tour, book review, historical fiction, netgalley, romance

BLOG TOUR } The Last Bookshop in London by. Madeline Martin | ARC Review

Welcome to the blog tour for The Last Bookshop in London!

My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Title: The Last Bookshop in London

Author: Madeline Martin

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 320

Publication Date: 4/6/21

Publisher: Hanover Square Press

Buy Here: Amazon | B & N | Bookshop | IndieBound | Libro.fm | Books-A-Million | Target | Kobo | AppleBooks | Google Play | Audible

Categories: Historical Fiction, WWII, London, Romance, Friendship, War, Bookshop

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

Inspired by the true World War II history of the few bookshops to survive the Blitz, The Last Bookshop in London is a timeless story of wartime loss, love and the enduring power of literature.

August 1939: London prepares for war as Hitler’s forces sweep across Europe. Grace Bennett has always dreamed of moving to the city, but the bunkers and blackout curtains that she finds on her arrival were not what she expected. And she certainly never imagined she’d wind up working at Primrose Hill, a dusty old bookshop nestled in the heart of London.

Through blackouts and air raids as the Blitz intensifies, Grace discovers the power of storytelling to unite her community in ways she never dreamed—a force that triumphs over even the darkest nights of the war.

  • How can I not enjoy a story about a bookshop? This one is even more inspirational because it’s about a bookshop in London during the Blitz in World War II. London was being bombed and yet this bookshop was there to keep people’s spirits up, keep them hoping, or keep their mind off what was happening.
  • Almost all the characters are wholesome, especially Grace who is a nice girl just wanting to get some work experience in London. She helps turn a bookshop around but other than that she is a very caring person ~ you can see it with the way she is with her friends and the new people she meets in London.
  • There is a minor romance in this story and what is a war story without a love story? Thankfully this one isn’t tragic, but sweet and hopeful. It’s always nice to remember when once upon a time, people did fall for each other through letter writing! It was all about patience back in the day.
  • I learned a lot of historical information from the book. I got a glimpse of all the organization people could volunteer for to help in the war. I thought that moment Grace and Viv go out on the town while bombs were dropping was pretty surreal! Also I enjoyed all of the St. Paul’s Cathedral history because it was one of my favorite places to visit when I did go to London few years ago. London really did survive!

Triggers: war, death, bombing

  • This was a super fast read, almost like the story glossed over the many things about war. I expected depth but it felt like a light historical fiction story. There was death and such but the story never felt heavy, unless I just never connected to the characters to feel their grief. Despite lacking depth, I think it held on to the message of Grace and the bookshop being an inspiration, a candle in the dark to so many suffering in the city during that time.

If you want to read a World War II story about books and hope, you will enjoy this one. Although it lacked the heaviness and depth of typical stories set during war time, I think the message about friendship, and community is a beautiful thing.

📚 ~ Yolanda

About the Author:

Madeline Martin is a USA TODAY bestselling author of historical romance novels filled with twists and turns, adventure, steamy romance, empowered heroines and the men who are strong enough to love them.

Website: http://www.madelinemartin.com/ 

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

book review, fantasy, netgalley, New adult, romance, Young Adult

Gilded Serpent (Dark Shores, #3) | ARC Review

My Rating: 4/5

Title: Gilded Serpent (Dark Shores, #3)

Author: Danielle L. Jensen

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 576

Publication Date: 4/27/21

Publisher: Tor Teen

Categories: fantasy, young adult, new adult, romance, politics

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

THEIR BATTLES ENDED IN VICTORY

Lydia returns to Mudaire to enter training at the healing temple. But instead of fighting to save lives, she’s convinced she is doing more harm than good. She delves into the history of the gods only to discover a truth that will change her life forever.

His birthright as commander of the Royal Army is finally in his grasp, but Killian feels anything but victorious. Burdened by his past, he embraces the darker side of his mark—and in doing so, risks starting a war.

BUT THE WAR HAS ONLY JUST BEGUN

Having defeated the tyrant Urcon, Marcus struggles to form a lasting alliance with the Arinoquians. But he is plagued by the knowledge that there is a traitor among his friends, and it could cost him everything that he’s fought for.

Torn between her growing allegiance to the Thirty-Seventh legion and her need to liberate her people, Teriana finds herself mired in a web of secrets. She embarks upon a path that will either save everyone she loves—or put them all in their graves.

My Attention: read in 2 days

World Building: epic world building and so much more traveling in this one through xenthier stems and a deadly trek through Sibern

Writing Style: kept the intensity throughout

Crazy in Love: slow…angsty, forbidden love stories 

Creativity: I love the Dark Shores series, it has everything

Triggers: violence, killing

  • I love that even though this book is told through 4 perspectives, the chapters are so short, each person has enough book time. BUT…I was worried I’d be attracted to one couple more and for me personally, I was drawn more to Teriana and Marcus. They two of them are just so intense, so strong-headed and Marcus is just stuck in a tight, tight spot. Killian and Lydia are complicated as well, but they have other problems.
  • There is an intense time for Teriana and Marcus and let me tell you it gets so rough for them. All seems lost, they are losing hope but they each carry one another through this difficult time. There is a sex scene between them (honestly it had to happen! haha), so that’s why I thought it was more New Adult than Young Adult. Except for that scene though, they are pretty chaste.
  • Killian and Lydia goes through hardships too but their story seems slower because they are apart. It picks up steam in the ending. Most of the book they are apart with Lydia under Quindon’s tutelage now and Killian making his choice of putting they kingdom before anything else. The angst between these two frustrated me, Killian frustrates me! The good thing about Killian and Lydia’s scenes were learning more about the blight and Rufina’s history.
  • The distrust growing in the Thirty-Seventh adds so much tension and complication to Marcus’ life and it gets even crazier in the end when Cassius thwarts him again. Seriously Marcus gets such a bad deal!
  • I made a big mistake reading this book assuming this was the LAST BOOK in the series…at the midway point of this 500+ book, I was like…wait a minute this book cannot be ending this way, nothing is being wrapped up. Yeah…it’s not the ending of the series at all! 🤦🏻‍♀️
  • These couples cannot be together for so many reasons. Killian and Lydia have a chance, but Marcus and Teriana…what will Marcus do? I just want them all to come out of this happy and ALIVE.
  • The author took the characters in this book and seriously put them through the wringer…😭 this can only mean good things are coming in book four, right? But the ending…is madness!

You know, I think I would have been happy for a book of only Marcus and Teriana again because they are my favorite. I think Killian and Lydia’s story is about to get more intriguing because of the reveal at the end but they could have had their own book also. I assumed in this book the four would meet up together, but I was wrong. I’m glad the series isn’t over yet, because I love everything Danielle L. Jensen writes. Give me more romance, angst, political intrigue and action. I’m looking forward to the next book in the series!

💛 ~ Yolanda

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

Kisses and Croissants | ARC Review

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Title: Kisses and Croissants

Author: Anne-Sophie Jouhanneau

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 320

Publication Date: 4/6/21

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Categories: Romance, Ballet, Young Adult, Paris, Contemporary

As sweet as a macaron from Laduree, with writing as crisp as a freshly baked baguette, this romantic novel set in Paris about an American ballerina and a charming French boy is parfait for fans of American Royals and Netflix’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.

Sixteen-year-old Mia, an American girl at an elite summer ballet program, has six weeks to achieve her dreams: to snag an audition with one of the world’s best ballet companies. But there’s more to Paris than ballet—especially when a charming French boy, Louis, wants to be her tour guide—and the pair discover the city has a few mysteries up its sleeve.

In the vein of romances like Love and Gelato, this is the perfect summer adventure for anyone looking to get swept away in the City of Love.

  • Aesthetics ~ Paris, ballet and a romance? What’s not to like? And that cover too? It screams cuteness!
  • It’s set in Paris, I’ve been there once and it was way too short, but Mia’s romantic ideas about Paris is what I felt too when I was there. It’s a beautiful city and I was jealous at how many croissants she was eating in the book. Even Mia’s insta-romance with Louis was perfect because come on, it’s Paris.
  • I love ballet stories ever since I saw the movie Center Stage (remember that oldie but goodie?). And then there was Black Swan which was pretty wild. So my love for ballet started with movies and I could see this book turned into a movie or tv series. Ballet is so intense with competition between dancers but mostly the competition within oneself to be the best, it’s drama and always makes a great story.
  • Speaking of drama? I love Audrey and Mia’s relationship the best. When they finally get to know one another, they make realize they have made each other better dancers. I like seeing two top girls supporting one another! I really enjoyed their friendship journey.
  • As for the romance, Mia and Louis fall in love after 6 weeks. Quick? Oh for sure, but it fits Mia’s character, she feels about everything strongly, love and heartbreak equally. I enjoyed her adventure with Louis as they looked for Mia’s ancestors who maybe was in a painting by Degas.
  • This is a super quick, light and fluffy read which charmed me the moment Mia touched down in Paris. There were some issues Mia had to deal with like her mother not being supportive of her passion for ballet, but other than that Mia pushes forward because she knows what she wants.
  • I did like that Mia pointed out to Louis just because she knew what she wanted she had to remember some people are still trying to find out what theirs is. So true.

I really enjoyed this sweet story about a girl with a dream and chasing after it in Paris! Mia makes new friends, she improves her craft and her french. She even finds family and love. What more could you ask for? I felt as light as this book by the end and wish I could hop on a plane to Paris to eat some amazing croissants.

💘 ~ Yolanda

book review, fantasy, netgalley, romance, Young Adult

Southern Sun, Northern Star | ARC Review

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Title: Southern Sun, Northern Star (Glass Alliance, #3)

Author: Joanna Hathaway

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 432

Publication Date: 4/20/21

Publisher: Tor Teen

Categories: Historical Fantasy, Romance, War

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

Battles, revolution, and romance collide in Joanna Hathaway’s stunning, World Wars-inspired Southern Sun, Northern Star

Reeling from the tragedy that beset her family, Princess Aurelia has joined the resistance in Havenspur, spying on the Northern leaders who were once her allies and determined to stop her uncle’s machinations for war. Meanwhile, her beloved pilot Athan leads his squadron into battle as the Safire wage a losing war abroad and combat growing unrest back home.

When Athan is sent on leave to Havenspur following the death of a comrade, the pair reunite and rekindle their romance until Aurelia uncovers one of Athan’s secrets, a secret that could save countless lives. But exposing it to the right people will cost her Athan’s trust, and this time, their shared memories of love might not be enough to stop the fateful path of destruction that threatens all they’ve fought to defend.

As history unfolds around them, every move they make drives them one step closer to either recreating their parents’ shadowed past or redeeming the alliance that could bring peace.

The breathtaking finale to a legendary series. Part war drama, part romance, Southern Sun, Northern Star is the epic conclusion to the Glass Alliance series.

  • War is horrible and it affects everyone on both sides or every side, in awful ways. This book is the culmination of the war Safire is waging, the precipice where we find out which way the ending will unfold. And it comes with fire, death, and the sheer will to keep going, fighting and surviving. We are at the front lines, we are in the trenches with these characters and it’s grueling.
  • We see Aurelia make the most drastic change of all the characters, she becomes the thing she never thought she could be. The reason I love this series is in most fantasies where a girl turns into a killing machine, there is an evil she is fighting. In this series, it is not so black and white ~ there is so much gray and the killing here is realistic. It is people killing people, not people killing fantastical creatures/people. So Aurelia changing from a sheltered Princess into a killer, saddened me. I was hoping someone would keep their innocence in this war but that’s what war does – it robs the young of their innocence.
  • Athan’s change comes with being a fighter pilot for way too many campaigns. He has killed, shot planes down, it’s become automatic but something has got to give. What gives is his family breaking apart. Athan’s childhood and young adult life has been tragic, but in this final book it takes his tragedy to a new level. Athan could have broken so many times…but he stays strong as best he can, it’s all he can do.
  • All the loose ends are tied up nicely in this conclusion. Secrets are revealed and very hard choices are made. The writing is beautiful consistent from the start to the finish of this trilogy.

Triggers: death, violence, war, PTSD

  • Arrin was the one who I wanted to know more about as the books went on and we do find out more about him which I’m happy for but his story is sad. Everyone’s story broke my heart but I was hoping something could turn around for Arrin.
  • I’m not sure if it was just me, but there were some spots I had to reread because I felt like I missed something, for example, the General’s secret being revealed. It took me awhile to realize how Athan found out, but minor things like that where I should have been paying more close attention, I think it was because I was so emotionally exhausted (the war scenes are gritty), I just missed a few things because I was trying to look for a happy moment and in this book it is rarely there.

This book is the perfect conclusion to the whole Glass Alliance series. What could I expect of a story of two families mired in war? Heartbreak. Despair. But it was so realistic, I was always hoping so hard for the war in the story to end. I love how this series delves into the changes that happen to the characters and shows how war affects everyone involved in it from the front lines, the masterminds and the people bothering not getting their hands dirty. From start to finish this series was written beautifully. It’s definitely a must read if you are into historical fantasy.

✈︎ ~ 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, 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