You’ve Reached Sam by. Dustin Thao | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: You’ve Reached Sam

Author: Dustin Thao

Format: ebooks (borrowed)

Pages: 304

Publication Date: 11/9/21

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Categories: Grief, Romance, Coming of Age

Seventeen-year-old Julie has her future all planned out—move out of her small town with her boyfriend Sam, attend college in the city, spend a summer in Japan. But then Sam dies. And everything changes.

Heartbroken, Julie skips his funeral, throws out his things, and tries everything to forget him and the tragic way he died. But a message Sam left behind in her yearbook forces back memories. Desperate to hear his voice one more time, Julie calls Sam’s cellphone just to listen to his voicemail.

And Sam picks up the phone.

In a miraculous turn of events, Julie’s been given a second chance at goodbye. The connection is temporary. But hearing Sam’s voice makes her fall for him all over again, and with each call it becomes harder to let him go. However, keeping her otherworldly calls with Sam a secret isn’t easy, especially when Julie witnesses the suffering Sam’s family is going through. Unable to stand by the sidelines and watch their shared loved ones in pain, Julie is torn between spilling the truth about her calls with Sam and risking their connection and losing him forever.

Content Warning: Grief, Death of Loved One

First off, I love this book cover, it’s so pretty and perfectly reflects the story. Julie and Sam had future plans but the future changes when Sam dies in a car accident.

Julie is grieving and grieving has many stages – we see Julie go through lot of them in this story about love, death and letting go. As a character Julie comes off as unlikable but what do we really know about her outside of grieving Sam? I’ve experienced grief but not in high school, when you are young and think life is so long. Some people see Julie as selfish for not attending any of Sam’s memorials or even the funeral, others know to give her space and maybe a break. Everyone grieves differently. I did find it kind of wild that she was trying to get rid of some of Sam’s things a week after he died. Like…I know we all grieve differently but wow, I couldn’t part with my late husband’s things after just a week, even if it was hard to look at it.

I thought talking with Sam through the phone was interesting. It definitely helped her get through some of the beginning stages of losing Sam but other than that, I didn’t see the point except when we hear Sam’s explanation. That part almost made the tears come – almost! I thought it would be super emotional for me but surprisingly, it wasn’t as heartbreaking as I thought it would be. I think it’s because there really wasn’t any conflict between Sam and Julie until the night of the accident, which sucks bad, but everyone can see how it was an accident and that they were crazy about one another. Strangely, I felt it was more meaningful when Sam got to talk to Mika and his brother, because they were having a hard time with his death.

As for Julie moving on – I didn’t feel like she really did have a life outside of Sam. Her connection to her friends wasn’t a strong one, the one she did seem close to, Mika (Sam’s cousin) – was someone she pushed away the moment Sam dies. I thought that sucked for Mika who clearly needed a friend and someone who knew Sam like she did. But the great thing about her is that she does try her best to move on with the help of Sam and her friends.

Why you should read it:

  • takes a look at grieving and the different ways people grieve
  • Sam and Julie’s sweet love story
  • see how Julie learns to move on

Why you might not want to read it:

  • didn’t really connect to the characters
  • at some points Julie comes off as unlikable but she’s grieving, she’s in high school on the verge of graduating and lost her first love in a tragic accident but she does come off as immature as times

My Thoughts:

For me this book was okay – I was expecting to be bawling my eyes out but I didn’t. In a way I’m relieved I didn’t cry my eyes out but I wanted to feel more than I did. This is a story that takes a look at grieving and moving on. Julie does move on, with a little help from Sam.

📚 ~ Yolanda

Quote from the Book:

Letting go isn’t about forgetting. It’s balancing moving forward with life, and looking back from time to time, remembering the people in it.”

-Dustin Thao, You’ve Reached Sam

Forging Silver into Stars by. Brigid Kemmerer | ARC Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

Title: Forging Silver into Stars (#1)

Author: Brigid Kemmerer

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 560

Publication Date: 6/7/22

Publisher: Bloomsbury YA

Categories: Fantasy, Politcal Intrigue, Young Adult, Romance, LGBT+, Spinoff of Series, Series

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

Thank you to Bloomsbury YA for giving me a chance to read this eARC in exchange for an honest review!

When ancient magic tests a newfound love, a dark fate beckons . . .

Magic has been banished in the land of Syhl Shallow for as long as best friends Jax and Callyn can remember. They once loved the stories of the powerful magesmiths and mythical scravers who could conjure fire or control ice, but now they’ve learned that magic only leads to danger: magic is what killed Callyn’s parents, leaving her alone to raise her younger sister. Magic never helped Jax, whose leg was crushed in an accident that his father has been punishing him for ever since. Magic won’t save either of them when the tax collector comes calling, threatening to take their homes if they can’t pay what they owe.

Meanwhile, Jax and Callyn are astonished to learn magic has returned to Syhl Shallow — in the form of a magesmith who’s now married to their queen. Now, the people of Syhl Shallow are expected to allow dangerous magic in their midst, and no one is happy about it.

When a stranger rides into town offering Jax and Callyn silver in exchange for holding secret messages for an anti-magic faction, the choice is obvious — even if it means they may be aiding in a plot to destroy their new king. It’s a risk they’re both willing to take. That is, until another visitor arrives: handsome Lord Tycho, the King’s Courier, the man who’s been tasked with discovering who’s conspiring against the throne.

Suddenly, Jax and Callyn find themselves embroiled in a world of shifting alliances, dangerous flirtations, and ancient magic . . . where even the deepest loyalties will be tested.

Content Warning: Violence, Kidnapping, Abuse, Mention of Rape

I requested this book because it was written by Brigid Kemmerer but I didn’t realize it was a spinoff of The Cursebreakers series until I started reading it. I felt myself rebelling against this book because I didn’t love the ending of that first series. It was okay, I just didn’t think I’d return to that world again – yet here I was with Grey, Lia Mara and of course Tycho (who I vaguely remember).

This new series is set in Shyl Shallow and is told by three perspectives: Tycho, Jax – a blacksmith in Shyl Shallow, and Callyn, a baker and Jax’s best friend. It took me awhile to get into this book because I didn’t know what we were doing back here…is there a story to tell? Well – it seems like there is no happy ever after still and there is a growing faction of people who are opposed to King Grey and magic. The plan is to eliminate him and save the queen (but she doesn’t need saving). But things don’t go as planned.

I did like that this was Tycho’s story. He’s traveling between Grey’s court and Rhen’s Emberfall a lot and those two always leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I just never liked how the previous series ended, I guess. But I did my best to concentrate on Tycho’s side of things. I love that he meets Jax – they have an attraction that gets kind of steamy. I felt bad for Jax because his dad abuses him and he is just trying his best to survive it. As for Callyn -I liked meeting her but then she lands in the morally grey area, especially when Lord Alek comes around and I’m not sure what will happen to her in the sequel. In this story no one is perfect.

Grey and Rhen are back for a little bit but like I said I don’t have happy feelings for either of them. The beginning of this story took awhile to get into but I did find myself caring about Tycho and Jax by the middle of it all. As for Cal and Alek? Ugh – all I feel are red flag alerts. I think it’s supposed to be an enemies to lovers romance building but I think I hate Alek…so, can he redeem himself in my eyes? I don’t know! In relation to the story…do we need to be back in this world? It just feels like an unending cycle and no one will come out totally happy, with magic or not. I am intrigued about the scravers though! But enough for me to want to read book two? I’m still not sure. I did enjoy the second half of this book though so we shall see.

Why you should read it:

  • you loved The Cursebreakers series, want to revisit old characters and the same world (you should read The Cursebreakers series if you haven’t)
  • M/M romance
  • political intrigue and some good action at the end

Why you might not want to read it:

  • wasn’t happy with the previous series
  • relationships are constantly tested in this series

My Thoughts:

I went into this book kind of wary of returning to Shyl Shallow and Emberfall and yes I struggled to get into the story in the beginning because I wondered – was there really a story to tell about this world again? But I found myself invested midway to the end of the book. I liked Tycho and Jax’s romance and am sort of intrigued by Callyn and Lord Alek – but also warning bells are going off on those two also. I wasn’t as interested in being around Grey and Rhen again, I have bittersweet or maybe just bitter feelings about how that relationship turned out. I think Nakiis’s story would be enough to pull me back into the next book. For fans of The Cursebreaker series, you will love this spinoff because all the old characters are there, and it’s a familiar world. For the not so big fans of the series, you may want to skip this one…unless you are as curious as I was, then you should read it.

📚 ~ Yolanda

Book Lovers by. Emily Henry | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: Book Lovers

Author: Emily Henry

Format: ebooks (borrowed)

Pages: 384

Publication Date: 5/3/22

Categories: Romance, Grief, Family, Books

One summer. Two rivals. A plot twist they didn’t see coming….

Nora Stephens’ life is books – she’s read them all – and she is not that type of heroine. Not the plucky one, not the laidback dream girl, and especially not the sweetheart. In fact, the only people Nora is a heroine for are her clients, for whom she lands enormous deals as a cutthroat literary agent, and her beloved little sister Libby.

Which is why she agrees to go to Sunshine Falls, North Carolina for the month of August when Libby begs her for a sisters’ trip away – with visions of a small-town transformation for Nora, who she’s convinced needs to become the heroine in her own story. But instead of picnics in meadows, or run-ins with a handsome country doctor or bulging-forearmed bartender, Nora keeps bumping into Charlie Lastra, a bookish brooding editor from back in the city. It would be a meet-cute if not for the fact that they’ve met many times and it’s never been cute. 

If Nora knows she’s not an ideal heroine, Charlie knows he’s nobody’s hero, but as they are thrown together again and again – in a series of coincidences no editor worth their salt would allow – what they discover might just unravel the carefully crafted stories they’ve written about themselves.

Content Warning: Grief, Family Pressure, Death of Family Member

Nora and Charlie both work in the book publishing industry. She’s an agent and he’s an editor – their first meeting doesn’t go very well but when they run into each other in a small town, they get to spend time together. These two work so well together! I love their dialogue and banter, there was a delicious slow burn building and I like that they got to see each other around their own families. Because family means a LOT to them. I like that Charlie gets to know the Nora that no one else knows about – not even her sister, because she really needed someone in her corner.

So the romance between Nora and Charlie is a given because yes, this is clearly a romance story but on the other hand Nora feeling the pressures of taking care of her sister and dealing with all the trauma and grief she’s held onto since their mom passed away really is half the book. Nora is ridden with guilt, and hasn’t let go of the responsibility of taking care of her sister, Libby, even though her sister is a mom of 2, soon to be 3 kids. Nora is a pressure cooker ready to explode. I related to her in the grief though. I loved all her thoughts about her fears, her love for her sister and mother, her love of books and her thoughts about not being the type of woman who wants to have children, or wants to settle down in a small quiet town. I love that Nora is supposedly the one in a book without a happy ending. Thing is Nora knows herself so much that she doesn’t want the kind of happy ending that you normally see in books. Married with children. But I felt for Nora having all the fears and vulnerabilities that she has been carrying since her mom passed.

For me this was an uneven reading experience. I was in the groove, vibing with Nora and Charlie because they are falling for one another. Their banter is wonderful, the attraction is there and then the mood would dissipate because Nora would get into her head about her rules and goals and into the role of saving her sister – who didn’t actually need saving. It’s definitely more women’s fiction than a full-on romance novel. The person Nora loves the most in this book is her sister, and that was the relationship she was working on saving. Charlie was just an added bonus to her life. Speaking of Libby – why was it such a mystery where she was half of the day and why couldn’t Nora just ask her? Nora gave her lots of space and wouldn’t ever confront Libby but that was so frustrating especially because they are super close…or was. I also felt like we didn’t know much about Libby except through Nora’s eyes and she got some things wrong about her sister. Lots of miscommunication there.

Another thing I really enjoyed about this book was the book making process. Between Charlie, who’s an editor and Nora who is an agent – we get a little bit of an inside glimpse of how they interact with authors and I loved seeing all this behind the scenes action! Also – the book tropes just had me smiling. I love that Nora and Libby love books and tropes – because we all have our own favorites right?

Why you should read it:

  • Two bookish people falling for one another in a delicious slow burn, with great dialogue and banter
  • it’s emotional – Nora and Charlie have separate issues but it both deals with family
  • Nora and Libby’s sisterly love and bond
  • an homage to book lovers and the tropes we’ve come to love or dislike

Why you might not want to read it:

  • like I mentioned above, it gets emotional. Nora is trapped inside some mental anxieties that she has to push through, but it gets heavy. So if you want something light-hearted? This is not it.

My Thoughts:

I was expecting a light-hearted romance novel between two bookish people but ended up getting a somewhat heavy story about two bookish people falling in love and dealing with family issues. But I loved it! I felt for Nora. I loved her relationship with Libby and watching her fall in love with Charlie was beautiful. Nora thoughts are funny especially when she starts thinking in tropes! As a book lover myself, this one felt like an homage to book lovers. I look forward to reading more books from this author.

📚 ~ Yolanda

BLOG TOUR} The Dachshund Wears Prada by. Stefanie London | ARC Review

Welcome to the blog tour for The Dachshund Wears Prada by. Stefanie London!

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

Title: The Dachshund Wears Prada

Author: Stefanie London

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 336

Publication Date: 5/3/22

Publisher: HQN

BUY HERE: | Harlequin | Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Books-A-Million | Powell’s

Categories: Contemporary Romance, Dogs

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

Thank you to HQN for giving me a chance to read this eARC in exchange for an honest review!

How do you start over when the biggest mistake of your life has more than one million views? 

Forget diamonds—the internet is forever. Social media consultant Isla Thompson learned that lesson the hard way when she went viral for all the wrong reasons. A month later, Isla is still having nightmares about the moment she ruined a young starlet’s career and made herself the most unemployable influencer in Manhattan. But she doesn’t have the luxury of hiding until she’s no longer Instagram poison. Not when her fourteen-year-old sister, Dani, needs Isla to keep a roof over their heads. So, she takes the first job she can get: caring for Camilla, a glossy-maned, foul-tempered hellhound.

After a week of ferrying Camilla from playdates to pet psychics, Isla starts to suspect that the dachshund’s bark is worse than her bite—just like her owner, Theo Garrison. Isla has spent her career working to make people likable and here’s Theo—happy to hide behind his reputation as a brutish recluse. But Theo isn’t a brute—he’s sweet and funny, and Isla should not see him as anything but the man who signs her paychecks. Because loving Theo would mean retreating to his world of secluded luxury, and Isla needs to show Dani that no matter the risk, dreams are always worth chasing.

Content Warning: Parental Neglect

I absolutely loved this book because it’s got romance and a dog with an attitude!

Isla is trying to recover from a shattered career as a social media consultant because she messed up really bad with her last client. Theo is one of the richest men in New York City, who’s beloved grandmother has passed and left him with her very challenging dog, Camilla, who is a dachshund that thinks she runs the world. He’s gone through many pet-sitters only to run out of luck until he meets Isla.

Isla is miss sunshine. She holds her head up even after the most disastrous career mistake ever, but she moves on because she has no choice. Isla is in her 20’s but is an older sister/mom to her younger sister – their mom deserted her so it fell to her to be Dani’s caretaker and guardian. I love their sisterly bond and you can just feel in the book that Isla is a good person. Theo on the other-hand is anti-social. He has his reasons and abhors social media. He has had to deal with losing his parents at a young age, and now his grandmother ,who took him in when he was an orphan. He has lost everyone he’s loved so naturally he is protective of himself. Theo is known as a hermit because know one really knows him or has seen him around.

When Isla and Theo meet and interact, the attraction grows quickly. I like how her friendly nature got him to come out of his shell. They are perfect for one another. They go through some challenges in the end but nothing major. I thought their romance was very sweet and spicy.

Camilla the dachshund is something else! But we learn she has a history too and all she was reacting to was missing the person who showed her love. Her antics were hilarious though and I thought Isla’s instagram account of her was clever. Who doesn’t love pets on social media?

I love that they become this small little family in the end.

Why you should read it:

  • sunshine girl and anti-social rich guy falling for one another
  • there is a dog with an attitude who just made me laugh a lot – and I love dogs
  • cute love story, lots of laughs but also heartwarming moments between family and friends

Why you might not want to read it:

  • the relationship might seem like it happens fast but I think because it’s a quick read I had no problem with it – but other readers might want more of a buildup

My Thoughts:

I love this story – it has everything I could want in a romance: humor, heartwarming moments between family and friends, a little spice between Isla and Theo, a dog with trust issues and a Vogue cover shoot, and a happily ever after. If you want a light hearted, romantic comedy that features romance and a sassy little dachshund then you will enjoy this book!

📚 ~ Yolanda

About the Author:

Stefanie London is a USA Today Bestselling author of contemporary romance. Her books have been called “genuinely entertaining and memorable” by Booklist, and her writing praised as “elegant, descriptive and delectable” by RT Magazine. Originally from Australia, she now lives in Toronto with her very own hero and is doing her best to travel the world. She frequently indulges her passions for lipstick, good coffee, books and anything zombie related.

Author Website | Instagram: @stefanielondon | Facebook: @London’s Lovelies | Goodreads

Once Upon a K-Prom by. Kat Cho | ARC Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: Once Upon a K-Prom

Author: Kat Cho

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 338

Publication Date: 5/17/22

Publisher: Disney

Categories: Contemporary, Young Adult, Romance, Coming of Age, K-Pop, Friends to Lovers

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

Thank you to Disney for giving me a chance to read this eARC in exchange for an honest review!

What would you do if the world’s biggest K-pop star asked you to prom? Perfect for fans of Jenny Han and Sandhya Menon, this hilarious and heartfelt novel brings the glamour and drama of the K-pop world straight to high school. 

Elena Soo has always felt overshadowed. Whether by her more successful older sisters, her more popular twin brother, or her more outgoing best friend, everyone except Elena seems to know exactly who they are and what they want. But she is certain about one thing – she has no interest in going to prom. While the rest of the school is giddy over corsages and dresses, Elena would rather spend her time working to save the local community center, the one place that’s always made her feel like she belonged. 

So when international K-pop superstar Robbie Choi shows up at her house to ask her to prom, Elena is more confused than ever. Because the one person who always accepted Elena as she is? Her childhood best friend, Robbie Choi. And the one thing she maybe, possibly, secretly wants more than anything? For the two of them to keep the promise they made each other as kids: to go to prom together. But that was seven years ago, and with this new K-pop persona, pink hair, and stylish clothes, Robbie is nothing like the sweet, goofy boy she remembers. The boy she shared all her secrets with. The boy she used to love. 

Besides, prom with a guy who comes with hordes of screaming fans, online haters, and relentless paparazzi is the last thing Elena wants – even if she can’t stop thinking about Robbie’s smile…right?

Content Warning: Bullying

When I first picked this up and read the first chapter, I thought this was going to be a drag to read because I wasn’t in the mood to read a high school prom story at the moment. Few weeks later, I picked it up again and never put it back down!

Elena’s childhood best friend, Robbie Choi is back in town and he’s a big K-Pop star now. He comes around asking her to go to prom because they made a promise as kids but Elena isn’t a kid anymore and prom is the least of her concerns. She’s trying to bring awareness to kids at school that the money they are spending for prom could go to a good cause like the community center she volunteers at. But Robbie is persistent, so when he keeps popping up in her life, they start to renew their bond and this time their relationship is on another level, one that Elena isn’t sure about.

This story is so cute! There is something about these “falling for a K-Pop star” books that is so addictive, even if at first I didn’t think I would be into this one – it got me in the end! I loved seeing Elena and Robbie rekindle their friendship and seeing it turn into something more, despite the drama that comes a long with it. It seriously played out like a K-drama show and I hope someone (Netflix) makes this one into a movie. But it has that recipe or formula that K-drama’s have, a relationship that has it’s problems and funny starts, then the feelings start catching and the betrayal or drama and then a super sweet ending that pulls at your heart strings. This story has all of that.

WDB is the K-pop group that Robbie is a part of and we get to meet the members. They are so sweet, except the leader of the group Jongdae but the only K-pop group I know is BTS so it’s who I compared to in my mind when reading. I am always fascinated when reading these K-pop romance stories when the business side of K-pop groups are revealed. There is a lot of sacrifice that goes into becoming a superstar, sometimes at the expense of who these stars really are inside as people and I think it’s a good reminder to us who just see them as celebrities that it’s not all glitz and glamour. It’s a controlling industry and we get a glimpse into how Robbie’s life is restricted as well as Sooyeon, the girl pop star they are friends with.

As for the characters, Elena isn’t the most likable but I think she is relatable. Sure, she’s the girl who thinks prom is a waste of time, and she’s a planner, a bit controlling and when things don’t go her way, she freaks out or pushes people away. She doesn’t know what she’s good at, or what her passion is (besides the community center) and always feels invisible compared to her siblings. But I think that’s where Robbie balances her out – he is sweet and laid back.

Why you should read it:

  • childhood friends to lovers, sweet love story, falling for a K-pop star
  • if you love K-drama and K-pop, this one is for you
  • loved all the Korean rep plus K-pop industry info

Why you might not want to read it:

  • not into K-pop

My Thoughts:

Honestly these K-pop romance stories have a good formula and it works. I didn’t think I was going to enjoy this one and yet in the end it was pulling on my heartstrings and making me wish a K-pop star asked me to prom! I need this one as a movie on Netflix, it would be so cute.

📚 ~ Yolanda

Fabric of Chaos by. Helen Scheuerer | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

Title: The Fabric of Chaos (Curse of the Cyren, #3)

Author: Helen Scheuerer

Format: ebooks (kindle unlimited)

Pages: 432

Publication Date: 4/1/22

Categories: Fantasy, Romance, Series, Adventure

An almighty power. A deadly choice. Will she come undone when chaos reigns?

After facing heart-breaking betrayals and jaw-dropping revelations in Akoris, Roh must steel herself once more and continue her quest to win the cyren throne.

But with poison lingering in her body and a new, unpredictable companion at her side, the trek to the mysterious territory of Csilla becomes all the more perilous. Dangerous schemes are afoot – ones that threaten not only the homeland Roh intends to rule, but all of cyrenkind.

As her journey stretches across the realm, Roh must navigate the dark web of her own ambition and master her newfound magic.

Will she triumph against the trials ahead – or sow the seeds of her own destruction?

More action-packed than ever, brimming with new secrets and a touch of romance, The Fabric of Chaos is the breathtaking third installment of Helen Scheuerer’s Curse of the Cyren Queen quartet.

Content Warning: Violence, Grief

I liked this one so much better than book two and almost gave it 5 stars but the slow burn is way too slow haha.

Roh and her group of friends travel to the next location to find the next gem for her crown. They take a harrowing journey to Csilla and encounter so much challenges and danger. When they get to Csilla we learn more about the past between Roh’s mother and the current queen. More secrets are revealed and this time we also get some backstory about the Water Warlocks and what atrocities their people were subjected to.

Roh has more character growth especially when it comes to finding her confidence, making the right decisions, and knowing who to trust. I love that the friendship between all of them has grown tighter.

As for the romance, finally something happens and my wait has come to an end at least. I do think the slow burn was way too slow and I had to wait for book three to get more action between Finn and Roh but I guess it was worth the wait. Of course then a twist in events once more makes Roh doubt herself. The torture for Roh is never-ending, she goes through a lot of turmoil in this book! I hope she gets a really good ending in the next and final book. But what I love about her is that she grows in each book in the series.

I do wish this series was a trilogy but I get with these kinds of series on Amazon that the release dates are a shorter wait than books from bigger publishers. I love that I don’t have to wait too long but also wish the story wouldn’t go on forever.

Why you should read it:

  • to continue the series – great story-telling
  • slow burn romance, finally we get some action between Roh and Finn
  • Roh’s character growth, lovable characters

Why you might not want to read it:

  • not into a long series…seems like it’s going to be a 4 books series – you might want to wait for the last book to be out and binge it

My Thoughts:

I love this installment to the series! It really had everything: action, danger, friendship, romance, plot twists, back story and it even ends really good! It setts up for an exciting conclusion in the next book I hope. I’ve come to love the characters and am rooting for Roh (queen or not) to make the best decisions and trust the small circle of found family around her. I look forward to reading the next book in the series and more from this author.

📚 ~ Yolanda

The Wedding Season by. Katy Birchall | ARC Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: The Wedding Season

Author: Katy Birchall

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 384

Publication Date: 5/3/22

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

Categories: Contemporary, Romance, Weddings, Relationships, Women’s Fiction

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

Thank you to St. Martin’s Griffin for giving me a chance to read this eARC in exchange for an honest review!

Four Weddings and a Funeral meets The Wedding Party in Katy Birchall’s The Wedding Season: when a recently jilted bride is forced to attend seven weddings in one summer, her friends devise a series of challenges as distraction.

Freya Scott is getting married. Her wedding to Matthew, her long-term boyfriend, is the first of eight in her calendar this year, and as someone who prides herself on being meticulously organized, Freya is intent on making it the perfect day to remember.

But when Matthew calls things off hours before they walk down the aisle, Freya’s entire life plan goes up in smoke. Humiliated and heartbroken, the last thing she wants is to attend a summer of other peoples’ nuptials on her own.

Fortunately, her friends have an idea: together they devise a series of outrageous challenges for Freya to complete at each event, designed to distract her from Matthew and what might have been. From getting stuck in an old church bathroom and needing to be rescued by the vicar to making out with a barman at a French chateau, Freya realizes that despite herself, she might just be having fun.

By the time the final wedding arrives, she will discover that the road to a happy ending sometimes has unexpected detours, that “I do” is only the beginning––and that perhaps her own love story isn’t over just yet.

Content Warning: Divorce

Freya has been dumped the day before the wedding by her boyfriend of twelve years and to make things worse, it seems all her friends are getting married in the summer! To get over her misery her two besties, Ruth and Leo, come up with a wedding survival guide to get her out of her depression and to enjoy wedding season even though her heart has been broken. She ends up checking off everything on the list and then some.

This story is fun! It gave me Bridget Jones’ Diary vibes with the British humor and words I wasn’t super familiar with like hen do (we in the USA like to stay bachelorette party) so I learned a lot of words. Yes Freya’s heart has been broken so badly but honestly, she has awesome besties and other friends as a support group. On top of that she has her family, even if she hasn’t been close to her mother since her parents divorce but her brother and father are so awesome.

There are a lot of characters in this story, but the main ones stick out. I love Ruth and Leo, they are true best friends! I could feel the love and friendship between this trio. Here and there in the story a new friend of Freya’s will pop in and you just can see how big of a social group they have. It gives you an idea of how much Freya’s had to really just keep her head up throughout everyone’s happy moments but what I like about her is that she is genuinely happy for her friends. She has her moments of missing her ex or breaking down in the bathroom (or the loo) but Freya’s a tough girl and with a good support system she really does carry on beautifully. I thought her challenges were fun, especially when it puts her in the path of Jaime.

I loved her banter with Jaime and it was nice to see her not fall for him right away. Freya is still someone going through a massive breakup and she deals with those messy feelings. But I loved seeing them get to know one another especially since it didn’t start off on the right foot! It’s a very sweet, slow burn romance.

My only issue had to be with when Jamie appears. He comes into the story right before the middle of the story. The beginning was about Freya learning how to cope with Matthew dumping her. It’s what made this feel more like women’s fiction than a full on rom-com. This was more of a story about Freya’s journey to finding who she is without Matthew. She also gets to have a meaningful, truthful talk with her mother who she’s been having some issues with since the divorce. But overall it’s a heart warming story with a happy ending!

Why you should read it:

  • it’s fun and funny! It has best friends, hen dos, wedding ceremonies, and travel
  • the romance is a sweet, slow burn
  • Freya’s character growth

Why you might not want to read it:

  • a little bit of a slow start

My Thoughts:

This is a heart warming story about a personal journey, friendship, romance and family. I really loved Freya’s journey. She is someone who has her life planned out but when things don’t go as planned she has to figure out how to move on. This was such a fun book and I’m glad I decided to read it.

📚 ~ Yolanda

The Bone Shard Daughter by. Andrea Stewart | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: The Bone Shard Daughter

Author: Andrea Stewart

Format: ebooks (own)

Pages: 438

Publication Date: 9/8/20

Publisher: Orbit

Categories: Fantasy, Romance, LGBTQ+

The emperor’s reign has lasted for decades, his mastery of bone shard magic powering the animal-like constructs that maintain law and order. But now his rule is failing, and revolution is sweeping across the Empire’s many islands.

Lin is the emperor’s daughter and spends her days trapped in a palace of locked doors and dark secrets. When her father refuses to recognise her as heir to the throne, she vows to prove her worth by mastering the forbidden art of bone shard magic.

Yet such power carries a great cost, and when the revolution reaches the gates of the palace, Lin must decide how far she is willing to go to claim her birthright – and save her people.

Content Warning: Death, Violence

This book was a pleasant surprise! I was drawn to the cover – because look at it, it looks amazing. And then I heard some good reviews about it so when I saw the ebook on sale on Amazon, I had to get it.

There are a few characters in this story, but the main ones for me are Lin and Jovis. Lin is the Emperor’s daughter and we learn her father is pitting her against his foster-son Bayan, to see who would be his rightful heir. Thing is the Emperor has an obsession. He makes constructs. These are creatures that are made, different animal parts put together to make a new creature. The construct is powered by a human part though – a bone shard taken from children. The Emperor claims these constructs are needed to keep the empire in order, but Lin knows something is wrong. I found the story about constructs so fascinating and so creative!

Outside of the palace, there is Jovis – a smuggler who is trying to pay down his debts and who has his own obsession – with a woman he loves and who went missing years ago. Since she has been gone he has been following clues to find her. I love his personality. He kind of reminded me of Aladdin (in the Disney movie lol) and he found a pet companion named Mephi. I loved their bond. Jovis definitely is that character that keeps the story moving and he gives us a tour of this world the story is set in. He travels to different islands and encounter the people that live so through him we get a lot of the setting.

The romance is between Phalue and Ramani. Phalue is a governor’s daughter, Ramani is a commoner and a rebel. They love one another but Ramani is trying to make Phalue see the plight of the people around them. I’m glad someone had a happy ending in this book because Jovis missing his love, Lin wanting her father’s love…it was tough for a lot of the characters.

Now this story is dark because the bone shards they use for the constructs come from children. There is a ceremony where a child’s shard is taken. The Emperor is like a mad scientist, he’s creating creatures and he doesn’t care about anything else. There are a few reveals in the end which sets up the sequel.

There are some questions I still have about the constructs – because it’s not futuristic, the constructs have instructions written on their shards. And how is it the Emperor is the only one who repairs this many constructs around the empire? There are a bunch of islands in this empire…so I just had a few questions. Maybe there will be more answers in book two?

Why you should read it:

  • original and creative story about constructs and bone shards
  • great world building and lots of action, especially if Jovis was telling his side of the story
  • LGBTQ+ romance rep
  • bond between Jovis and Mephi (love Mephi)

Why you might not want to read it:

  • not into high fantasy

My Thoughts:

This story has a lot going on but I thought the author did a good job balancing it all. There are multiple POVs, romance, action, plot twists and detailed world building. I was intrigued with the constructs, and the characters. It’s an entertaining story and I’m eager to read book two to see what happens next!

📚 ~ Yolanda

Ebonwilde by. Crystal Smith | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

Title: Ebonwilde (Blood Leaf #3)

Author: Crystal Smith

Format: ebook (owned)

Pages: 352

Publication Date: 4/12/22

Publisher: HMH Books For Young Readers

Categories: Young Adult, Fantasy, Magic, Romance

Get ready to be swept away, seduced, and swindled in the wickedly vicious third and final installment in the Bloodleafseries that Laura Sebastian called “enchanting, visceral, and twisty.”

Welcome to Ebonwilde. Come and find me. 

Aurelia’s last words haunted Zan. Left with the task of finding and reviving Princess Aurelia, Zan sets off on his own adventure to find her and return the gift she sacrificed for him—her life. But not all is what it seems, and Ebonwilde is more dangerous than anyone can predict.

Content Warning: Death, Violence

I’m not sure what I was expecting with the end of this series but this one surprised me, sometimes not in a good way.

I love the twists and turns but that came mostly at the ending. I like how the story was resolved and loose ends were tied up. I even liked how everyone is separated but come together to defeat the villain and make everything right. Some people get happy endings, others get a bad deal.

The thing I didn’t really enjoy was the timeline jumping. I understand why it happened, because Zan can basically time jump in the Gray. So there are many things going on at one time, kind of like the webs that the Spinner has to deal with. I did like that parallel. But it could get confusing at times. There is a Then, Now, 1620, 1921 (10 days before Midwinter…etc…)…and it was hard to follow at times. I wish it was a bit more straightforward but that’s what happens with time jumping!

Also, the love triangle bit was breaking my heart. I refused to believe it was happening and was thinking, this cannot end this way! Why now? I was getting upset. There were people dying that I didn’t want to die. Of course you have to read and find out what happens in the end and it is beautiful how it ends but I think it took a confusing way to get to there.

The thing I love about this series is the mythology and questions about power and how it affects people. I found this particular book fascinating because it touched on present day issues like like when a virus ravages a community. Or when a radical figure uses his power influence a group of people and cause chaos.

It was always about Aurelia in the beginning and her choices. Now we know why but I did like that in this last book, it took all of them, a collective effort, not just Aurelia, to save humanity. I like that we get to see other characters and their relationships. I loved all the reveals – but they really did come all at the end.

Why you should read it:

  • to finish the series
  • great world building and the story did tie up loose ends
  • love how the characters are complex, each has a role, and our heroine isn’t perfect

Why you might not want to read it:

  • first part is slow because many different perspectives and timelines happening
  • a love triangle (but read it to find out what happens)

My Thoughts:

I loved that this book tied up the loose ends and really did a nice job ending the series. I just wish it wasn’t such a confusing timeline for me – but that could be my fault for not rereading book two. I recommend doing so, so you are reacquainted with the whole cast of characters. I didn’t like the love triangle because it was so sad and bittersweet. The ending of this book was an emotional rollercoaster with twists and turns and your faves are not guaranteed to survive. I’m glad I got to finish this series. Book two was my favorite of the three, but I really did love all the reveals in book three.

📚 ~ Yolanda

Quotes from the Book:

Hope was such a pernicious, perilous thing. A rope to promised safety that could lead instead to the brink of a chasm, with no quarter for retreat or net to catch your fall.”

– Crystal Smith, Ebonwilde

And I will keep choosing you, every day, every hour, every minute, for as long as I live.”

– Crystal Smith, Ebonwilde

Everything that had ever separated us, every lie, every loss, every hurt, mistake, and misunderstanding, now became what dragged us back to one another.”

– Crystal Smith, Ebonwilde

I don’t believe that who we are is ever set in stone. We are transitory creatures—every day, we wake up as someone new, changed just a little bit by the experiences of the day before. Who we were is always a part of us, but it doesn’t determine who we are, nor who we can still become.

– Crystal Smith, Ebonwilde

Castles in Their Bones by. Laura Sebastian | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

Title: Castles in Their Bones

Author: Laura Sebastian

Format: hardcover (borrowed)

Pages: 514

Publication Date: 2/1/22

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Categories: Young Adult, Kingdom Politics, Fantasy

A spellbinding story of three princesses and the destiny they were born for: seduction, conquest, and the crown. Immerse yourself in the first book in a new fantasy trilogy from the author of the New York Times bestselling Ash Princess series.

Empress Margaraux has had plans for her daughters since the day they were born. Princesses Sophronia, Daphne, and Beatriz will be queens. And now, age sixteen, they each must leave their homeland and marry their princes.

Beautiful, smart, and demure, the triplets appear to be the perfect brides—because Margaraux knows there is one common truth: everyone underestimates a girl. Which is a grave mistake. Sophronia, Daphne, and Beatriz are no innocents. They have been trained since birth in the arts of deception, seduction, and violence with a singular goal—to bring down monarchies— and their marriages are merely the first stage of their mother’s grand vision: to one day reign over the entire continent of Vesteria.

The princesses have spent their lives preparing, and now they are ready, each with her own secret skill, and each with a single wish, pulled from the stars. Only, the stars have their own plans—and their mother hasn’t told them all of hers.

Life abroad is a test. Will their loyalties stay true? Or will they learn that they can’t trust anyone—not even each other?

Content Warning: Death, Violence

This gave me Three Dark Crown vibes and sometimes The Bridge Kingdom but way less dark and intense.

I liked the three sisters and their back stories. They were born to be wives of Princes in neighboring kingdoms with plans of their mother taking over each kingdom. That is the plan, but when the girls are aways from their mother – plans start to change.

Sophronia, is the soft hearted one and already half in love with her Prince. Beatriz, is the pretty one and placed in the most extravagant kingdom. Daphne, is the cunning and cold one and she’s place in the most northern kingdom which lacks a lot of comforts and luxuries her homeland of Bessimia is known for. It did take a moment to get each girl and their personalities situated in my head. I had to make sure who’s perspective I was reading, by checking each chapter title.

I think the story moved very evenly between the three perspectives which was really nice but I think I wanted a bit more intensity. I wanted the stakes to feel high for these sisters but I didn’t quite feel it. They knew their duties and knew their own personalities, so it played out how their mom anticipated. There is very limited romance in the story, lots of political intrigue and betrayal.

I did like the magic system of the wishes but would like to learn more about it and the stardust. I was definitely captured by the story and kept reading to see what would happen next.

The twist in the end made me a bit sad but I feel liked Daphne’s story will be one to watch. Will she help her sisters or follow her mom’s plan? It ends in a cliffhanger of course so I feel like I have to read book two just to know what Daphne will do.

Why you should read it:

  • court politics
  • it’s got stardust magic, and sisters meant to infiltrate other kingdoms
  • entertaining story

Why you might not want to read it:

  • the story didn’t wow me – but try it out if you like court politics!

My Thoughts:

Perfect for fans of kingdoms and court politics. Like I said in the beginning it had the Three Dark Crowns vibe but with a little Bridge Kingdom (the sisters infiltrating other kingdoms). I loved the bond of the sisters and it was interesting to see how each would carry out their plans in the places they were sent. There is little romance, lots of betrayal and a cliff hanger ending. Will definitely be reading book two to see what happens next.

📚 ~ Yolanda