Book Review | When the Stars Lead to You

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: When the Stars Lead to You

Author: Ronni Davis

Format: Hardcover (owned)

Pages: 394

Categories: Romance, Depression, Suicide, Young Adult

Eighteen-year-old Devon longs for two things.

The stars.
And the boy she fell in love with last summer.

When Ashton breaks Devon’s heart at the end of the most romantic and magical summer ever, she thinks her heart will never heal again. But over the course of the following year, Devon finds herself slowly putting the broken pieces back together.

Now it’s senior year, and she’s determined to enjoy every moment of it as she prepares for a future studying the galaxies. That is, until Ashton shows up on the first day of school. Can she forgive him and open her heart again? Or are they doomed to repeat history?

From debut author, Ronni Davis, comes a stunning novel about passion, loss, and the power of first love. 

I chose this book as my YA Book of the Month choice for November. I wanted to read a contemporary YA book with romance and look at that cover. 🤩

Devon and Ashton meet one summer and it is insta-love, but at the end of summer it was also insta-heartbreak. Two years later, Devon is pretty much over him until Ashton ends up at her school. The feelings and memories come rushing back for both of them but Devon doesn’t want to get her heart broken again. Devon is at the top of her class with dreams of being an astrophysicist to study the stars! But Devon and Ashton get swept up in their feelings. Underneath it all though, Ashton isn’t so stable and Devon finds out the challenges in their relationship go below the surface.

  • The cover definitely caught my eye. I love the color palette and the title sounds romantic.
  • There is sex in this book, and I do like that Devon’s mom raised her in a sex positive environment. When Devon and Ashton are leading up having sex, Devon’s mom asks her questions. They have an honest relationship which is very refreshing and her mom hands her condoms and information. I love their trusting relationship.
  • There are deep subjects in this story, but it gets revealed slowly. Ashton deals with depression and it shows the impact of it on their relationship. It shows how Devon chose to help him and it threw off her focus at school. But the depression is talked about in this book and explained and that’s what stood out in this story. I think the therapy scenes for both Asthon AND Devon, was very impactful.
  • Devon is bi-racial and Ashton comes from a rich white family so there was some tension there that added challenges to their relationship. Ashton’s family had certain requirements for the girls he dated but I’m glad he stuck to Devon, at least…this time around.
  • I loved the parts in the book that went into Devon’s passion: astronomy. I thought those parts were fascinating.
  • Triggers: this is a trigger filled book because there is heartbreak, a death of a family member, depression and attempted suicide.
  • I struggled through the beginning and middle because I thought okay, another insta-love story with a break-up and here they go back together again but the story at least got better near the end. Unfortunately by then I was just reading to finish it but learning about Ashton’s depression really kept me in the story.
  • Although their love is all consuming (they think about marriage in the future) I felt detached from Devon and Ashton. Their romance was quick, getting back together was quick and I just didn’t get swept away in it like they did. There were sexy scenes that didn’t give me feels at all. I can’t pin point why but I think because I wasn’t invested in these two characters until way later in the book that it their relationship just fell flat for me. It might be the writing, these two characters don’t exactly pop off the page.
  • This is not a happy story. For the most part Devon’s main struggle outside of her relationship with Ashton is trying to get into the college she wants to attend. But Ashton…he has depression, on top of a dysfunctional family life and he hits rock bottom.
  • Devon being in a co-dependent relationship with Ashton was heartbreaking to see, maybe because we know it’s going to cause heartbreak again.

The best part of this book was learning about depression and what it would take to get Ashton in a better place. I felt sad most of the time reading this book but I’m glad Devon had such a supportive cast of family and friends. As for Ashton, I wanted to reach inside this book and help him, but he needed to do the therapy work himself, like he said. The depression and therapy scenes in this story are impactful, if you can handle reading about the subject. Overall, it was an okay book maybe I needed to be in the right mood to read it.

Book Review | Wintersong

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

Title: Wintersong (Winterstong, #1)

Author: S. Jae-Jones

Format: Paperback (owned)

Pages: 436

Categories: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Dark Fairytale

The last night of the year. Now the days of winter begin and the Goblin King rides abroad, searching for his bride….

All her life, Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, dangerous Goblin King. They’ve enraptured her mind and spirit and inspired her musical compositions. Now eighteen and helping to run her family’s inn, Liesel can’t help but feel that her musical dreams and childhood fantasies are slipping away.

But when her own sister is taken by the Goblin King, Liesl has no choice but to journey to the Underground to save her. Drawn to the strange, captivating world she finds–and the mysterious man who rules it–she soon faces an impossible decision. With time and the old laws working against her, Liesl must discover who she truly is before her fate is sealed.

Dark, romantic, and powerful, Wintersong will sweep you away into a world you won’t soon forget.

Wintersong is a perfect fall read and winter read actually, I mean it is called Wintersong.

When I heard this was part Labyrinth (one of my favorite movies) and Beauty and the Beast (one of my favorite Disney movies haha) I knew I had to read this…and I tried when it first published but for some reason it didn’t catch my interest at the time. I heard some good things about it lately and decided to give it another go and I can see how readers can be entranced by this story! And why didn’t anyone say it’s part Phantom of the Opera too? Without the opera of course.

In this dark, sexy and magical story, the Goblin King has been eyeing Liesl since she was a child. He is entranced with the untamed music that lives inside her and he sees someone who maybe can appreciate the wildness in him. We follow Liesl and learn how close she is with her exceptionally and musically talented brother. Whereas her beautiful and passionate sister, Kathe is left to her own devices. As Winter approaches she is reminded by her grandmother about the Goblin King coming to take a wife. When he steals Kathe away and makes a bargain with Liesl, she knows she has to win or pay the consequences. Who will Liesl choose? Her family, the Goblin King or herself?

  • This book is sexy…I mean, it has sex and though it’s not explicitly described because this is a YA book, I like that it went there because this is a dark attraction between a human and the Goblin king, who is basically fae and powerful. You can’t deny the connection between Liesl and the Goblin King.
  • This story is dark and the story telling is enchanting. The writing is lyrical and poetic. I loved the folklore Constanze told about the Goblin King, it’s that spooky fairytale, not the ones with a happily ever after. There is nothing very happy in this book, Liesl is consumed with music, so much so that it brings her absolute joy but she is obsessed about it. Same with the Goblin King and how he covets Liesl and her joy with music. They both desire and want but you also see it in Liesl’s family, her brother the musical virtuoso, her sister Kathe who dreams of finer things and a rich husband. This story explores desire, and what length one goes to attain them.
  • It’s interesting that the book ends with a Beethoven quote, because music is central to this story. I mean the Goblin King plays Liesl body like a violin (ahem-ahem 🔥🥵) – talk about sensual. But music IS sensual, it’s full of emotion and this story wove it’s enchantment on me like Beethoven’s music does (he’s my favorite). Liesl is a genius composer, her brother is a gifted violinist and the Goblin King is a musician as well.
  • The love story between Liesl and the Goblin King as mentioned is scintillating. It is full of dark desire and sweetness too, but tragic.
  • I enjoyed the games Liesl and the Goblin King would play because the stakes were high. It was interesting and maybe predictable what path she chooses but she did kind of give in pretty quick.
  • Liesl and the Goblin King…had that push and pull relationship that kind of made me crazy. I wanted them to make up their minds, especially when she decides to go all in and then he backs off. I understood why it was that way, but I also got tired of it too.
  • I would like to know more about the Goblin King. I know he is all mysterious but I was getting confused about how he is the Goblin King but his looks keep changing when he is with Liesl. She sees a boy of her age and then he looks like the fae he becomes. I mean her grandmother wanted to be the Goblin King’s wife at one point and I’m just hoping it wasn’t HIM has the Goblin King that time. 😅 Because…awkward. He is a fascinating character because he used to be human, worshipped God and brought some of those customs with him into the Underground. But I’d like to learn more about him.
  • The ending was…okay? I guess in a sense it was the right thing to do, but damn did I just want them to go all in and make it work. If I was Liesl, I’d be all about being the Goblin Queen and never leave and die a dark death. 🤷🏻‍♀️ I mean, the story was dramatic in every other aspect, might as well make the ending one too!
  • Triggers: mind manipulation (I mean, the Goblin King does mess with Liesl!)

Even with the few issues I had with the story, it wove its dark enchantment around me. I feel like I’ve been waiting so long for a story about the Goblin King (ever since Labyrinth) and wow, there haven’t been any that I remember reading about. I’m about to pick up the second book in the duology so stay tuned for my review on that one soon. If you like dark fairy-tales written in a poetic, lyrical style, you might want to give this one a try.

Book Review | The Delinquent Crown

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

Title: The Delinquent Crown (Olexia Legends #1)

Purchase Link: Amazon

Author: Sydney Faith

Format: eBook (from author)

Pages: 263

Categories: Fantasy, Young Adult, Adventure, Family

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from the author, Sydney Faith, in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

Olexia is a wild and dangerous world filled with magic.

Miri and Nick find Olexia by chance but choose their fate when they step through the portal. A shard of glass and a hastily-written letter from their mother are all they have to solve their puzzling past.

In Olexia Miri and Nick find danger and unlikely allies, and with their help, they learn to wield their newfound powers and find out the truth about Olexia’s buried secrets.

When the ruthless Council leader learns the siblings harbor a powerful artifact, he sends his bloodthirsty LaKaio soldiers to hunt them down at any cost.

With time running out and secrets about their past being revealed around every corner, Miri and Nick must decide if they’re going to hide away or rise up against the sinister leaders of Olexia.

Thank you to Sydney Faith for giving me a copy of her book to review.

Miri and Nick are siblings living somewhat normal lives on Earth. I say somewhat because Miri, experiences painful episodes that the doctors diagnosed as epilepsy. But her episodes are more than just a medical condition. When they find out about a new magical world called Olexia everything strange about their lives makes so much more sense.

Once these siblings are in Olexia the adventure never ends as Miri and Nick learn about this world full of magic, a different language and way of life.

  • This is the first book of the series and already I am immersed in this world of Olexia. When Miri and Nick steps through portal it reminds me of Narnia, where everything is just so different from Earth. In Olexia they know about “Earth” and call it Terra. But the world building is great, there are different types of people with their owl languages and customs. Also I feel like this book only scratched the surface of Olexia and there is more to learn.
  • There are some strong side characters like Kayta and Siymin who stumbles into Nick and Miri right away. I like Kayta and her attitude, she’s feisty. Siymin is calm, clever and smart. Siymin and Miri’s relationship grows throughout the story and there is a hint of a romance coming between them but I’m sure that will be explored more as the series goes on.
  • The magic system was explained really well too. Not only Miri and Nick both have their own unique powers. Where Miri thought it was a hindrance on Earth, her powers to see the future in Olexia is super useful as well as Nick’s power as a jumper. And I like that they take the time to learn their craft with Tuko also. Being new to this world and magic, it was nice that they didn’t know how to use their powers right away and had to do some actual training.
  • The sibling bond between Miri and Nick is tight and it has to be, for years it has only been the two of them. They were raised in foster care but they always wondered about their past and parents, more so with Miri. Nick has been Miri’s caretaker and he’s done a fine job at it, he’s an awesome big brother. When secrets are revealed in Olexia, it’s a lot for the siblings to take in but I’m sure we’ll see them deal with the information they have more in the next book.
  • The action keeps going in this book which kept it fun. There is a quest for Miri and Nick to find pieces of a magic mirror and they are also trying to find their parents. They encounter LaKaio (basically the bad guys) and have to get out of many dicey situations.
  • I’ve learned that in YA, there can be such an age spectrum when thinking about what audience would love this book. I’m an older adult reading YA and this book felt a little younger compared to some of the YA I’ve been reading lately…seriously, some YA at times can be considered adult reading…or at least New Adult. But this one is definitely for teens and I’d even say middle grade could enjoy this!
  • There are a lot of characters we meet when Miri and Nick jump into Olexia – especially when they meet Siymin’s large family and you would think because their names are so unique, I could follow – but at times I got a little lost. Maybe because I was getting used to the different sounding names.
  • It has a cliffhanger ending! That’s a warning if you don’t like cliffhangers haha…but yeah I read that last sentence and I was like…ohhhh. 🤭

Overall, I really enjoyed getting to know Miri and Nick and this new imaginative world of Olexia. As the series continues I’m sure there will be so much more to learn about Olexia and the people that populate such a magical world. Also the cliffhanger ending makes me want to find out what other secrets will be revealed in the sequel! This is a very solid first book for the start of a young adult fantasy series.

About the Author:

SYDNEY FAITH is a YA author who, after a lifetime of living in her make-believe worlds, decided to start sharing them at 17 in the form of books.
When she’s not writing, Sydney enjoys creating YouTube videos, baking and eating chocolate chip cookies, and thinking about writing.
As a Midwesterner, you’ll find Sydney pointing out cows on road trips, enjoying the state fair, and complaining about the snow.

You can find her at:
Instagram: @sydfaithauthor

Book Review | The Queen of Nothing

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: The Queen of Nothing (The Folk of the Air, #3)

Author: Holly Black

Format: Hardcover (owned)

Pages: 305

Categories: Young Adult, Fantasy, Political Intrigue, Romance

After being pronounced Queen of Faerie and then abruptly exiled by the Wicked King Cardan, Jude finds herself unmoored, the queen of nothing. She spends her time with Vivi and Oak, watches her fair share of reality television, and does the odd job or two, including trying to convince a cannibalistic faerie from hunting her own in the mortal world.

When her twin sister Taryn shows up asking of a favor, Jude jumps at the chance to return to the Faerie world, even if it means facing Cardan, who she loves despite his betrayal.

When a dark curse is unveiled, Jude must become the first mortal Queen of Faerie and uncover how to break the curse, or risk upsetting the balance of the whole Faerie world.

The finale to the New York Times bestselling Folk of Air trilogy, that started with The Cruel Prince and The Wicked King, from award-winning author Holly Black.

This was my most anticipated 2019 read and I finally got my hands on it and the series is over. And that’s all I want to read for 2019. 😂 It was everything I anticipated and more. It left me happy, sad and yet oh so satisfied.

I read the two other books in this series before I started this blog, so maybe one day I’ll write mini reviews for them – and I was attempting to reread them before QoN came out, but failed. I didn’t have enough time and when my copy got delivered yesterday I couldn’t wait and read it.

Just a recap, Jude is a human girl raised in Faerie. She always knew her place in the pecking order of things in Faerie but Jude wanted more. And if she couldn’t be a faerie, she wanted them to fear her. This starts a whole chain of twisty events, we watch her rise in The Cruel Prince and we watch her fall in The Wicked King, so here we are in The Queen of Nothing.

Jude is exiled from Elfhame, her husband, Cardan, the High King, has banished her. Jude starts off The Queen of Nothing trying to survive in the mortal world and wondering when and if she can ever go back to faerie. Has she lost everything because she reached too high? Did Cardan toy with her as fae are known to do with humans? And what of her sister Taryn and her betrayal? Jude thought she had the upper hand but maybe she really is now the Queen of nothing.

“Perhaps I will never live without fear, perhaps power will slip from my grasp, perhaps the pain of losing him will hurt more than I can bear.”

The Queen of Nothing by. Holly Black
  • I love Jude. She’s not a likable character but I find her ambition and focus admirable and real. Jude is absolutely flawed but that’s what I love about her. She is ambitious. In the previous books we see Jude become a spy, play the game of political intrigue, she makes some amazing boss moves, and some mistakes too. She is human and she may be ambitious but she is also fueled by fear. In QoN she shows her bravery again but this time, Madoc (her foster dad) is right, she has a weakness. When Cardan’s prophecy stares her in the face, Jude has to ultimately decide if she will be like the fae and do the ruthless thing to realize her ambitions or will she do the right thing in the end?
  • Cardan. I mean…he was such a punk in the first book, and I hated yet loved him. But we get to know more about his story and the prophecy at his birth in QoN. I loved seeing Cardan reach his potential, with Jude by his side. I also love that he was braver with admitting his feelings to Jude.
  • Jude and Cardan together. Two flawed people who found a way to squirm through each other’s walls and barriers. Jude and Cardan brings heat to this story with their undeniable attraction. These two people who don’t know much about what love is, they stumble and figure it out, in not the most easiest or romantic ways (which I love about them). But I did buy the Barnes & Noble edition where there is extra content in the back of the book. And Cardan’s missing letters are the extra content. 😍😩 When I read it I was like….AHHHH. My heart. Reading Cardan’s words to Jude almost made me cry. A happy cry though!
  • The political chess game of this whole series is what kept me hooked. Jude with her scheming and everyone else trying to scheme her! Who can Jude trust? And on the other hand, how can anyone trust her? Madoc always worried me, he was so good at this game, he could have easily won. He just underestimated his human foster daughters. Madoc basically made the person who becomes his downfall. 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼
  • The world of Elfhame is magical and…scary. I love Holly Black’s faeries because they are not sweet. They are scary, they are wicked and I love it. A species with that kind of elemental power would be scary to us humans and I get that in Holly’s writing. It’s why I’ve always loved her world of faerie, in whatever book she’s writing. It’s also why I understood that Jude had to do what she had to do to rise in the world of faerie, even if it made her a villain as well.
  • The twist and turns of the story: Taryn, Cardan, Madoc, Ghost, Grimsen…Jude – the story ties up loose ends nicely and there is a happily ever after at the end. This doesn’t end dark like how it starts in The Cruel Prince and in The Wicked King and I’m happy about that because Jude and Cardan starts off with darkness in their lives already. I needed them to have a turning point where something good was going to happen for them.
  • Taryn. Did she get off lightly? I think she was punished enough with her own choices and she did redeem herself by helping Jude in the end. I mean they are sisters, twins! Their relationship was shaky with jealousy and betrayal as part of their history but ultimately, I was happy with how it turned out. Their family is complicated and Jude isn’t an angel either so I’m all about second chances. Also is it bad of me that I liked that Taryn showed she could be underhanded too? 😂
  • Triggers: violence (of course, this is Jude we are talking about!)

This was my most coveted read of 2019 and when Holly Black moved up the date of release I was ecstatic. Usually books gets pushed further back, not moved up! Did this story satisfy me? Hell yes. I got my Jude and Cardan fix. I got things explained like Cardan’s prophecy, Ghost’s betrayal, Taryn’s betrayal and Madoc. Other than Jude’s relationship with Cardan, I think I was always fascinated with her relationship with Madoc as well. He killed her parents, but raised her to be this force and she bested him. I am satisfied with her punishment of him because even through all of it she did love him, and also despite defeating him, he was proud of her. And I shall miss this world of Elfhame! I’ll miss all the characters so thank goodness I have the box set! It’s one of my favorite series to date and I could go on and on in this post but I won’t. I’m so happy this is on my bookshelf, I’ll be rereading it for years to come.

Also, if you love Jude and Cardan as much as I do, get the Barnes & Noble edition. ♥️ Trust me on this.

“By you, I am forever undone.”

The Queen of Nothing by. Holly Black

Book Review | The Beautiful

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: The Beautiful

Author: Renée Ahdieh

Format: Hardcover (owned)

Pages: 448

Categories: Paranormal Romance, Historical Fantasy, Young Adult

In 1872, New Orleans is a city ruled by the dead. But to seventeen-year-old Celine Rousseau, New Orleans provides her a refuge after she’s forced to flee her life as a dressmaker in Paris. Taken in by the sisters of the Ursuline convent along with six other girls, Celine quickly becomes enamored with the vibrant city from the music to the food to the soirées and—especially—to the danger. She soon becomes embroiled in the city’s glitzy underworld, known as La Cour des Lions, after catching the eye of the group’s leader, the enigmatic Sébastien Saint Germain. When the body of one of the girls from the convent is found in the lair of La Cour des Lions, Celine battles her attraction to him and suspicions about Sébastien’s guilt along with the shame of her own horrible secret.

When more bodies are discovered, each crime more gruesome than the last, Celine and New Orleans become gripped by the terror of a serial killer on the loose—one Celine is sure has set her in his sights . . . and who may even be the young man who has stolen her heart. As the murders continue to go unsolved, Celine takes matters into her own hands and soon uncovers something even more shocking: an age-old feud from the darkest creatures of the underworld reveals a truth about Celine she always suspected simmered just beneath the surface.

At once a sultry romance and a thrilling murder mystery, master storyteller Renée Ahdieh embarks on her most potent fantasy series yet: The Beautiful.

I finally read The Beautiful! I had ordered through the YA Book of the Month club and waited almost 3 weeks for it. Then when it came, it sat on my shelf as I had to get through some arcs and library books first. But I’m glad I waited, because the hype died down and also…the reviews were coming in disappointing. 😕 It helped lower my expectations and so now that I’ve finally read it I can say, I actually liked it a lot!

Celine Rousseau is a girl with a past. She’s left Paris and now lives at a convent in New Orleans and no one knows her secret. Celine falls into a mysterious crowd of people called the Court of Lions and is enticed by their decadent world of parties, and…magic. Celine has a feeling they are different, more than inhuman, but what?

But there is also a killer on the loose in the city and this killer keeps leaving bodies where Celine is usually present. Will Celine be able to resist the charms of this dark court, and can she uncover who this killer is before it’s too late for her and the ones she care about? Celine has stumbled upon something bigger than what she thinks she knows

  • I have loved vampires since L.J. Smith wrote The Vampire Diaries in 1991 and then Anne Rice and her decadent world of vampires in New Orleans with The Interview with the Vampires, then of course there’s Twilight (and yes sparking vampires did make me pause when I first read it but I enjoyed it all the same 😂) and then Vampire Academy. With that said…this book had all the dark danger that I love about the world of vampires.
  • I love the cliches – I know, I know, it’s all been said and done, but I love it. Give me the forbidden love trope, the love triangle trope even, and give me the bad boy hot vampires too! This story has it and it’s nothing new, but I enjoy it anyway.
  • The book is written in third person except for the killer’s perspective which is in first person. The killer gave us insight into their thoughts of revenge. I really liked the murder mystery and the twist at the end wasn’t something I expected at all, so I look forward to reading the sequel to see what happens there!
  • I love the setting of New Orleans. It shows it’s dark, decadent side but also gives us a little history of the time it’s set in, 1870. Of course this book made me hungry, but I didn’t know most of the french foods that was being described, but it sounded delicious!
  • I liked the characters: Celine has secrets and lives at the convent but she is not a timid girl – she actually questions if what she did in the past makes her evil, also at times she is reckless and a rebel. She likes to play with fire, regardless if she gets burned or not. Bastien, was exactly how I want my bad boy – beautiful, powerful, and trying hard to resist Celine but he can’t help himself. Odette, Arjun, Pippa, and Detective Grimaldi were also interesting characters that I hope we get to see more of in the sequel!
  • Triggers: murder, blood, violence, memories of sexual assault, curse words
  • Not gonna lie, there was a lot of french in this book that just went over my head.
  • Celine…haha yes I did put her in the “like” section because I did like her sass and her reckless bravery at times, but sometimes she was a bit too much. She wants to be miss independent and not fall for Bastien but what does she do? 💆🏻‍♀️ But I don’t blame her, he’s rich, powerful, young and gorgeous…and the sparks between them. But there is another guy involved who…well we shall see what happens in book two, but warning, love triangle red flags!!! I’m here for it though. 🙋🏻‍♀️
  • Cliffhanger ending…😩.

The Beautiful had everything I enjoy in a vampire story. It had mystery, danger, forbidden romance, a budding love triangle and the decadence of New Orleans. I mean it’s been so long I’ve read a vampire story that for me, even with all the cliches, I loved it! The ending left me wanting to read the sequel right away, like tomorrow would be good, haha. I look forward to reading the next book in this series!

ARC Review | Scared Little Rabbits

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: Scared Little Rabbits

Author: A.V. Geiger

Format: eBooks (NetGalley)

Pages: 336

Publication Date: December 3, 2019

Categories: Technology, Augmented Reality, Romance, Young Adult, Suspense

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

We stand in a tight cluster, high above the lake. One-by-one, we made our way up the narrow trail from the edge of campus. Now, we wait shoulder to shoulder behind the police tape. Nineteen summer students.
All but one.

When Nora gets accepted into her dream summer program at the prestigious Winthrop Academy, she jumps at the chance to put her coding skills to use. But then a fellow student goes missing—and the tech trail for the crime leads back to Nora. With no one else to trust, Nora must race to uncover the truth and clear her name…or she might be the next to disappear.

Thank you to Sourcebooks Fire and NetGalley for giving me a chance to read this eARC.

Nora is a sixteen year old, coder who is accepted to a three weeks long summer program at Winthrop Academy. She’s a bit awkward in social situations and has trouble making friends. Nora has downloaded an app called InstaLove which is supposed to hook her up with someone special. Right away she runs into a fellow InstaLove player, Maddox, at Winthrop that she categorizes him as an InstaCrush in the game. But all is not what it seems at Winthrop and she doesn’t know who she can trust. Is Maddox really into her? Or is he still with his ex-girlfriend Eleanor who basically rules the school (but I mean, her parents own it)? Is Nora just a Scared Little Rabbit?

  • The story starts off with a mysterious incident which gives it a slightly dark vibe. We get a dual perspective from Nora and Maddox but also journal entries from Eleanor (Maddox’s ex). I was mistrustful of Maddox, and everyone else that Nora encountered at Winthrop Academy. I definitely enjoyed the suspense. The reveal in the end included lots of action, so that was my favorite part of the book.
  • The coding and technology information in this book is pretty legit. I think it’s fascinating that the story revolved around a dating app that uses augmented reality. As a mild gamer (like SO mild, my son and hubby are the gamers), and one who tried Pokemon Go (not my thing), having a dating app like that kind of scares me but can I see that being a reality for my kids, in their future? Oh for sure! My son’s VR games make me dizzy, so I don’t think I’d be someone who would want to wear a visor all the time to check out some potential hookup haha. But I can see the appeal for future generations I suppose. It’s obvious the author knows her coding and tech knowledge. 👏🏼
  • I liked seeing these characters, a lot of them girls 🙌🏼, so adept and confident at their coding skills. These girls at this summer program are smart, techy, innovative, okay most of them were mean girls or just weren’t nice to Nora (which sucked) but I do like that these girls were good at what they do. Maddox also was good looking AND smart, so that was good.
  • I guess it was obvious in the first chapters that this was going to be an insta-love story when it introduced Nora playing a game called InstaLove! 😂 So…if you aren’t into books with insta-love, this book is clearly one to stay clear of. It’s a three week summer program but Nora falls fast and hard for Maddox so fast. I felt bad for her at times, because clearly his situation was “complicated” with his ex-girlfriend who was Queen Bee on campus. That being said, I thought okay…it’s a crush, she’s sixteen, but…she was in LOVE and telling her parents that she needed to BE with Maddox and he was coming to visit her by the end of the story. 😳
  • Speaking of the ending…I thought it was abrupt. We barely get to know anyone’s parents in this book, but all of a sudden there is Nora and her mom having a scene at the end! It felt awkward.
  • Nora’s nickname given by the girls in the summer program got of my nerves. I understand it’s a “mean girls” type of story, but seriously, having them call her Lowercase, including Maddox, like really? That’s the guy who falling hard for? No. 🙄

Overall, I thought the story was fairly enjoyable especially when it came to the suspense and mystery aspect but it fell short for me in the romance department since I didn’t feel like Nora and Maddox’s connection was that deep. If you like a suspense story about technology and don’t mind some insta-love, then you might enjoy this one.

ARC Review | The Wickerlight

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: The Wickerlight (The Wren Hunt, #2)

Author: Mary Watson

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 416

Publication Date: November 26, 2019

Categories: Dark Urban Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult, Druids

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

It’s been two months since Zara’s sister Laila was found lifeless on the village green of the small Irish town Kilshamble, not a mark on her. Vicious rumors circle that she died of an overdose or committed suicide–but an autopsy finds no evidence.

Zara believes somebody must know what happened, and she throws herself headfirst into an investigation. But retracing her sister’s footsteps takes her to David, a member of an ancient magical faction called the judges. The judges are in the midst of an ancient feud with another faction called the augurs, and Zara quickly finds herself embroiled in a dangerous, twisted game. And if she isn’t careful on the path she’s treading, she could end up with the same fate as Laila.

Thank you to Bloomsbury YA and NetGalley for giving me a chance to read this eARC.

FYI: I did not read The Wren Hunt and I should have. Luckily, The Wickerlight is so good as a standalone I didn’t get totally lost. I wasn’t sure what to expect and when I first started the book, I admit I put it down for a few weeks because I had to let it permeate in my head. I picked it up again recently and I finished it in one night. That was totally unexpected.

In The Wickerlight, we get to know this Irish town of Kilshamble, and wow, it is dark, mystery, mystical and magical but not in a happy glittery way. This story is told in dual POV. We meet Zara who’s sister Laila is dead and Zara wants to know how and why. Then there is David, who is a judge (no not the kind with a gavel), he is part of this magical world where augurs and judges are enemies, and there is a silent war between them. I missed a big chunk of David’s background by not reading The Wren Hunt, so read that first. Zara doesn’t know what she’s stumbled into when she digs for clues about Laila’s death, but soon it’s too late to turn back. Zara is learning that maybe Laila was right about magic.

  • I loved learning about the druids and Irish folklore in this story. We learn about the Augurs and Judges who basically hate each other – they have a complicated history.
  • This story is set in a modern world but the magic is so subtle that it fits so well, I love how it came together seamlessly. We are Zara, learning about the secrets of this town. Most of the magic is not as powerful as it was long ago but it works in the modern day world of this story. It’s nature, earth magic. Also the folklore stories about monsters in the forest – gives us a creepy background for this setting. 😳 I enjoyed the dark, eerie tone in this story!
  • The mystery of Laila’s death really kept me in this story. We stumble into this strange magical world that exists in Kilshamble. I love how Zara peels a layer slowly to find out something else about Laila. Laila’s words at the beginning of each chapter adds to the mystery as well! I wanted to find out what happened to Laila for Zara and her family’s sake. Their grief is palatable and this family has crumbled, it wasn’t tight to begin with but Laila’s death has basically broken their family apart. I felt for Zara and her mother. 🥺
  • Zara and Laila’s stories of the Horribles. I freaking loved it because it was their thing together and the stories made it perfectly okay to not be good and perfect all the time as long as you are not cruel, mean or hurtful. The Horribles were their shadow family and a coping mechanism I think because of their family situation.
  • David and Zara. David sounds like he was a jerk in The Wren Hunt and in The Wickerlight his character is fleshed out. He’s not a saint, his life is about pain, and feeling pressure from his dad. As for Zara she feels out of place in this new town, her family life wasn’t perfect to begin with and she carries guilt from Laila’s death. Her choice in the end was unexpected! And I really like their slow burn romance.
  • Obviously if you didn’t read The Wren Hunt like me…I was a little lost in the beginning and thank goodness for the glossary in the back of the book. I had to learn about the Augurs and Judges and once I did get settled in, it was smooth sailing from there.
  • There is a scene where David gets tortured – so trigger warnings: cutting. It’s not a trigger for me but even I got squeamish at the visuals of the scene. But this book IS dark, the judges do not mess around when it comes to discipline. 👀 The augurs have their own form of torture, but it didn’t involve cutting, just mind bending/mind control.
  • The business about hoarding words to make a law (like a spell) at times confused me, especially when it is introduced into the story. I think the idea is so poetic and the story is so lyrical that it went over my head at first. But then the practice grew on me, the way words are precious and how different words call to a person. I especially loved when David was hoarding words, haha, I mean that boy felt it!

The Wickerlight is an intriguing, lyrical, deliciously, darkly magical, unique story. It starts with grief and pulls you into the mystery of a death and this world of old magic. Definitely read The Wren Hunt first and then come lose yourself in The Wickerlight like I did.