Instant Karma | Book Review

My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Title: Instant Karma

Author: Marissa Meyer

Format: eBook (borrowed)

Pages: 400

Categories: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

In this young adult contemporary romance, a girl is suddenly gifted with the ability to cast instant karma on those around her—both good and bad.

Chronic overachiever Prudence Barnett is always quick to cast judgment on the lazy, rude, and arrogant residents of her coastal town. Her dreams of karmic justice are fulfilled when, after a night out with her friends, she wakes up with the sudden ability to cast instant karma on those around her. Pru giddily makes use of the power, punishing everyone from public vandals to karaoke hecklers, but there is one person on whom her powers consistently backfire: Quint Erickson, her slacker of a lab partner and all-around mortal enemy. Soon, Pru begins to uncover truths about Quint, her peers, and even herself that reveal how thin the line is between virtue and vanity, generosity and greed . . . love and hate. 

  • I enjoyed the slow burn of Prudence and Quint’s relationship. Their partnership during the school project was quite intense. They do not like each other and honestly…I can see Quint’s point because being micro-managed is the worst! Yet I relate to Prudence where you know you will pick up the slack of the other team member if need be for a good grade. I like that we see them get to be friends first though.
  • Love the theme of environmentalism and this story set in a coastal town. Who doesn’t love a story about trying to save wildlife?
  • Prudence isn’t perfect, she’s just Type A controlling at times and super ambitious – which is a good thing, because she is determined to reach her goals. I’m glad Quint was there to call her out on some things though because she was super judgmental when it came to Quint. I just wanted to shake some sense into her sometimes.
  • Prudence got on my nerves a lot. Poor Quint! I like that she learns a lot of things in the end, like how it’s not all about business and making money, that causes have to actually mean something if you want other people to care about it too.
  • The instant karma..”magic” for me didn’t work at times…especially when it kind of disappears in the middle of the book? Haha…I guess everyone was on good behavior or something? It was an interesting idea though, and Prudence learned from it in the end.

Overall, this was a quick read and I enjoyed the enemies to lovers vibe with Prudence and Quint. I’m not a fan of Prudence though, she seriously needed to let go of control but I’m sure my husband says the same about me. 🤣 Basically no one is perfect but if you can listen to the other person and let them help out, good things can actually happen.

📚 ~ Yolanda

A Curse of Ash and Embers | ARC Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: A Curse of Ash & Embers

Author: Jo Spurrier

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 272

Publication Date: 11/3/20

Publisher: Voyager

Categories: Young Adult, Fantasy, Witches

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

A dead witch. A bitter curse. A battle of magic.

Some people knit socks by the fire at night. Gyssha Blackbone made monsters.

But the old witch is dead now, and somehow it’s Elodie’s job to clean up the mess.

When she was hired at Black Oak Cottage, Elodie had no idea she’d find herself working for a witch; and her acid-tongued new mistress, Aleida, was not expecting a housemaid to turn up on her doorstep.

Gyssha’s final curse left Aleida practically dead on her feet, and now, with huge monsters roaming the woods, a demonic tree lurking in the orchard and an angry warlock demanding repayment of a debt, Aleida needs Elodie’s help, whether she likes it or not.

And no matter what the old witch throws at her, to Elodie it’s still better than going back home.

Thank you to Voyager and NetGalley for giving me a chance to read this eARC!

My Attention: it couldn’t hold my attention

World Building: Black Oak Cottage, witches and a mystery to uncover

Writing Style: atmospheric

Bringing the Heat: none

Crazy in Love: nope – not crazy

Creativity: magic, witches and monsters

Mood: mixed feelings

Triggers: violence

My Takeaway: Elodie is a strong and brave young woman who can take care of herself.

  • I enjoyed the story of Aleida and Gyssha, the witches of Black Oak Cottage. When Elodie meets Aleida, Black Oak Cottage isn’t in good condition. We learn about Gyssha’s demise and then more about the witches’ history but Aleida is pretty fierce.
  • The female characters in this book are strong. Elodie is a great character because she is literally just turned out from her home. Her step-father wants her gone and unfortunately her mother agrees it’s time for her to go. She’s a young woman, away from family and home. Elodie is smart, and isn’t afraid to ask questions. I liked her inquiring mind as she met different people like the wizard.
  • The writing is wonderful and atmospheric. There is action and danger to keep things somewhat exciting.
  • Unfortunately, I found myself bored at times reading this story because it moves slowly like a mystery.
  • Would have liked a little more romance, but that’s a personal thing for me because I love romance in my stories.

This book may have not captured my full attention but many people who read young adult fantasy will enjoy this story very much. It has witches, action, danger and a girl named Elodie who finds a new home in the most unexpected place.

Incendiary | Book Review

My Review: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 1/2

Title: Incendiary (Hollow Crown, #1)

Author: Zoraida Cordova

Format: eBook (borrowed)

Pages: 384

Categories: Magic, Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance

I am Renata Convida.
I have lived a hundred stolen lives.
Now I live my own.

Renata Convida was only a child when she was kidnapped by the King’s Justice and brought to the luxurious palace of Andalucia. As a Robari, the rarest and most feared of the magical Moria, Renata’s ability to steal memories from royal enemies enabled the King’s Wrath, a siege that resulted in the deaths of thousands of her own people.

Now Renata is one of the Whispers, rebel spies working against the crown and helping the remaining Moria escape the kingdom bent on their destruction. The Whispers may have rescued Renata from the palace years ago, but she cannot escape their mistrust and hatred–or the overpowering memories of the hundreds of souls she turned “hollow” during her time in the palace.

When Dez, the commander of her unit, is taken captive by the notorious Sangrado Prince, Renata will do anything to save the boy whose love makes her place among the Whispers bearable. But a disastrous rescue attempt means Renata must return to the palace under cover and complete Dez’s top secret mission. Can Renata convince her former captors that she remains loyal, even as she burns for vengeance against the brutal, enigmatic prince? Her life and the fate of the Moria depend on it.

But returning to the palace stirs childhood memories long locked away. As Renata grows more deeply embedded in the politics of the royal court, she uncovers a secret in her past that could change the entire fate of the kingdom–and end the war that has cost her everything.

My Attention: read in 3 days

World Building: epic world building inspired by Spanish Inquisition era

Writing Style: flowed nicely, story slowed down a bit in the middle

Crazy in Love: so in love 

Creativity: Moira people have magic, Whispers are the Moira rebels fighting the king of Puerto Leones

Triggers: grief, violence, death, torture

My Takeaway: Who can you really trust?

  • That cover is pretty amazing!
  • I liked learning about the world of the Moira, people with different magic. Renata is a Robari, she can take memories and even do it to the extent to kill or “hollow” out a person. Other magics include persuasion, illusions and reading minds. The Moira have been pushed out of their homes and they are being hunted by the King of Puerto Leones. Now the king has a weapon that would ensure the destruction of the Moira for good.
  • Renata is a Robari so a lot of what her character does is taking memories and examining them. But her past is a mystery to her – she remembers some things, but not everything. This is a weakness for her. She’s a fighter, she’s tough and brave, but because she can’t fully face the memories of her past, there are things she misses and it causes her to make some mistakes. I thought it was fascinating to watch her deal with feeling like an outcast with both the rebels and being in the palace.
  • There are some twists and turns in this story that was like putting together a puzzle. But I could only really piece them together through Ren taking memories. It definitely drew an unexpected picture of evil Prince Castian!
  • This story is dark – I mean the Spanish Inquisition, with all that torture? 😒
  • The story starts off fast, with action but it dies off somewhere in the middle. Then picks up again to finish strong. I think what was missing for me was Prince Caspian making a real appearance throughout the book. He is there at the beginning and the end, the middle felt like a mystery and slow…I just wished he was there throughout the whole thing, just to give Ren someone to battle.
  • The beginning starts off with no world building, you get thrown into the story with a lot of action – so I did have to get my bearings.
  • So that cliffhanger ending…what the heck is going to happen in book two?!

This story grew on me. I found the world building interesting, even though the rebels with magic versus the king who hated magic trope is pretty similar to many young adult fantasy books out there. I think the Spanish Inquisition inspiration makes it stand out. Renata with her missing memories and taking memories is a fascinating character, and so is Prince Castian who we still don’t really know much about! And yes, I will be reading book two because that ending was pretty crazy.

💕 ~ Yolanda

ARC Review | These Vengeful Hearts

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

Title: These Vengeful Hearts

Author: Katherine Laurin

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 384

Publication Date: September 8, 2020

Categories: Young Adult, Contemporary, Revenge, Secret Society, Romance

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

Anyone can ask the Red Court for a favor…but every request comes at a cost. And once the deed is done, you’re forever in their debt.

Whenever something scandalous happens at Heller High, the Red Court is the name on everyone’s lips. Its members–the most elite female students in the school–deal out social ruin and favors in equal measure, their true identities a secret known only to their ruthless leader: the Queen of Hearts.

Sixteen-year-old Ember Williams has seen firsthand the damage the Red Court can do. Two years ago, they caused the accident that left her older sister paralyzed. Now, Ember is determined to hold them accountable…by taking the Red Court down from the inside.

But crossing enemy lines will mean crossing moral boundaries, too–ones Ember may never be able to come back from. She always knew taking on the Red Court would come at a price, but will the cost of revenge be more than she’s willing to sacrifice?

Thank you to Inkyard Press and NetGalley for giving me a chance to read this eARC.

These Vengeful Hearts is a mean girls story. There is a secret group at Heller High called The Red Court and they rule the school in a way. If you want something to happen, you can get in touch with The Red Court and they can help you with your goal. But in turn, they can come to collect a favor from you when it’s needed.

Ember Williams has revenge on her mind, but when she’s finally a part of the infamous court, can she carry out her plans?

  • Love the cover of this book and the concept of the story. Ember Williams is going to take down the red court because they hurt someone she loves. But once she is in, she admits she likes being part of a group that is in control of people’s lives. I liked seeing Ember walk her tight rope balancing revenge, lies, romance and eventually truth.
  • Ember has a cool best friend, Gideon, and I love their relationship. He tells her things straight out and tries to keep her level-headed about her revenge scheme.
  • The romance, though it starts off because of a Red Court mission…is something I did enjoy because Ember comes clean, but Chase does too. Anyway I’m glad even through it, things work out. The romance isn’t the main story which is nice too, it just shows how lies can hurt.
  • I liked the twist in the story, it made things even worse for Ember but…it made her realize, truth was the right thing in the end.

  • As much as I love the concept of the book, I didn’t feel like the story was sinister enough at times. The first half was losing steam and thank goodness it picked up in the second half but The Red Court just seemed to be breaking couples up and rigging homecoming election. So, it didn’t seem like a big deal at first but that was my biggest issue with the book.
  • Maybe it was all too predictable and it had so much potential to be more…I was expecting more.
  • Triggers: bullying

Overall, I enjoyed the story okay enough, mostly in the second half when Ember has to decide her course of action but I do believe this story had so much potential and fell a bit short. Main lesson from the story: if you live honestly then you have nothing to hide! It’s a good lesson. The teaser of a Black Court in the end left me intrigued! I’m not sure if there is a sequel…but if there is, I may read it to see where the story goes.

The Last Story of Mina Lee | ARC Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: The Last Story of Mina Lee

Author: Nancy Jooyoun Kim

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 384

Publication Date: 9/1/20

Publisher: Park Row

Categories: Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Mother/Daughter Relationship, Korean Culture, Mystery, Family, Grief, Immigration, Identity

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

Margot Lee’s mother, Mina, isn’t returning her calls. It’s a mystery to twenty-six-year-old Margot, until she visits her childhood apartment in Koreatown, LA, and finds that her mother has suspiciously died. The discovery sends Margot digging through the past, unraveling the tenuous invisible strings that held together her single mother’s life as a Korean War orphan and an undocumented immigrant, only to realize how little she truly knew about her mother.

Interwoven with Margot’s present-day search is Mina’s story of her first year in Los Angeles as she navigates the promises and perils of the American myth of reinvention. While she’s barely earning a living by stocking shelves at a Korean grocery store, the last thing Mina ever expects is to fall in love. But that love story sets in motion a series of events that have consequences for years to come, leading up to the truth of what happened the night of her death.

Told through the intimate lens of a mother and daughter who have struggled all their lives to understand each other, The Last Story of Mina Lee is a powerful and exquisitely woven debut novel that explores identity, family, secrets, and what it truly means to belong.

Thank you to Park Row and NetGalley for giving me a chance to read this eARC.

Now let’s break it down!

My Attention: it had my attention

World Building: Koreatown, Los Angeles

Writing Style: beautiful, lyrical writing

Bringing the Heat: none 

Crazy in Love: not a romance story

Creativity: I don’t usually enjoy flashbacks in a story, but it worked so well in this particular story as we see both journey of mom and daughter

Mood: broken hearted

Triggers: grief, suicidal thoughts/attempts, depression, death, mentions of abuse, harassment, deportation

My Takeaway: Everyone has a past – some stories we just don’t know until we dig for the truth. Also sometimes love looks different to people.

  • This is an introspective tale about a mother and daughter whose relationship isn’t close. It’s tense, and there are so many differences separating them. This is a painful story…you can feel the despair and loneliness that Mina Lee feels all her life from the moment she is separated from her parents. Mina has lived with trauma all her life and it has affected her and her daughter. Imagine, not having family? ☹️
  • This story goes deep. It’s not a happy story at all. It is heartbreaking – it doesn’t shy away from Mina’s suicidal thoughts. Mina experiences so much loss and struggle, her story broke my heart over and over. And then her daughter Margot who just wanted to be away from her…I could feel her struggle to love her daughter and yet not know how to love her the way Margot wanted her to. There is no bridge between them while Mina is alive. It’s only after her death that Margot starts to piece things together and heal as she faces the truths about her life and her mother.
  • Usually mystery stories don’t hold my attention, because it’s a slow build but in this story Mina’s life intrigued me since she was so private about her past.
  • The story touches on the struggle of immigrants, documented or not, as they assimilate in America. In this instance Mina and Margot make their life in Koreatown – Los Angeles, California. I love how the author brings issues of the Korean American experience to the surface. My parents are Filipino immigrants and in that sense I could relate to the story a lot. When the author touches on the language barriers, the job opportunities, the American “dream” and what it looks like for different people, it really resonated with me and made me think of my own parents. Do immigrants truly ever feel like they belong here?
  • The writing is beautiful. I was highlighting sentences like crazy.
  • This is a slow unfolding story – don’t go into it thinking it’s a fast paced story. The mystery of how Margot’s mom dies is why Margot starts digging yet she can only get the version the few people who knew Mina could tell her. And seriously, only one person knew Mina, Mrs. Baek and even then, she didn’t know Mina fully! Mina was secretive, because she didn’t want to love people and lose them again.
  • Margot has one friend, Miguel, who helps her out in Los Angeles, but though they seem close – even that relationship seems somewhat superficial. He’s there for her but Margot doesn’t seem to let people get super close to her as well. I’m glad she wasn’t totally alone, because that would have been even more tragic.
  • Mina’s lost everyone and then she dies? When the mystery is solved I felt like it was so unfair! How realistic was the conclusion though? I think that part threw me off a little. I did like Margot’s journey to the truth though, that’s the most important thing.

This story pummeled me in the heart. I found myself agreeing with Margot so many times because I grew up with immigrant parents as well. Mina’s story is absolutely heartbreaking and I wish so much she had a happier ending but real life is not like that. At least Margot has a chance to change things in her life and to heal. This is a moving, heartbreaking, eye-opening Own Voices story about the strained relationship between a mother and daughter as well as the search for identity.

Read an EXCERPT here: https://pastmidnight.home.blog/?p=5209

ARC Review | The Silvered Serpents (The Gilded Wolves, #2)

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

Title: The Silvered Serpents (The Gilded Wolves, #2)

Author: Roshani Chokshi

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 416

Publication Date: September 22, 2020

Categories: Historical, Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult

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

They are each other’s fiercest love, greatest danger, and only hope.

Séverin and his team members might have successfully thwarted the Fallen House, but victory came at a terrible cost ― one that still haunts all of them. Desperate to make amends, Séverin pursues a dangerous lead to find a long lost artifact rumoured to grant its possessor the power of God.

Their hunt lures them far from Paris, and into icy heart of Russia where crystalline ice animals stalk forgotten mansions, broken goddesses carry deadly secrets, and a string of unsolved murders makes the crew question whether an ancient myth is a myth after all.

As hidden secrets come to the light and the ghosts of the past catch up to them, the crew will discover new dimensions of themselves. But what they find out may lead them down paths they never imagined.

A tale of love and betrayal as the crew risks their lives for one last job.

Thank you to Wednesday Books and NetGalley for giving me a chance to read this eARC.

I don’t know what I was expecting from this book but wow, I waited to read this arc because the publication got pushed back but I’m glad I finally did read it!

We return to the world of The Gilded Wolves, but the crew has been torn apart by the death of Tristan, Severin’s brother. They come together again for another mission to find a mythological artifact – The Divine Lyrics. This time their quest takes them to Russia and Siberia. Severin wants it badly to make him and his friends, gods. Yet Laila needs it to stay alive. Once again we have the amazing characters I came to love in book one, but this time they are dealing with grief and questioning their self-worth. The heists, puzzles, riddles, action and surprises make this sequel so much more exciting to me than the first book. But this one also broke my heart! 🥺

  • The characters are what make this series. They are awesome and diverse! I love how they are all different and have fascinating back stories. Enrique is my favorite, but Hypnos really shined in this one too. They are all smart and skilled in their own ways but in this sequel we see their vulnerabilities and it got me in the feels. I am heartbroken for all of them, for losing Tristan. But Enrique and Zophia kept this mission afloat – they had to since Severin and Laila were falling apart.
  • The clues, riddles, high stakes, and heists are so much fun to me. I love, love, love Enrique’s inquisitive mind and capacity for memorizing historical information. But there are dangerous moments in this sequel as well and the twists in the story were good too!
  • There is so much emotion in this book: grief being a major part of it for Severin and all of them really, but Severin most of all. Also the wall between Severin and Laila was hurting my heart. They love each other but Severin fears love because it can be lost, like how Tristan was. The same for Laila – why love Severin when knowing her life could be lost soon, she doesn’t want to hurt him. They all want love and to be loved yet there is so much fear in it too. The ending gutted me, when love is explained as something that looks different to people – I felt that strongly.
  • Hypnos…I mentioned him earlier, but thank goodness he brings such humor to this story. I love him.
  • Severin takes a back seat in this story…and he is COLD hearted in this one. He is dealing with grief but wow…he is not the same guy from book one – and I was scared how far he’d gone at the end! We shall see what happens to him in the next book.
  • Sometimes there is so much information that Enrique is spewing out, I get lost LOL…which is funny because he mentions he feels like no one cares or listens to him. He is my fave but even sometimes his incessant talking goes over my head…and why am I talking about him like he’s real?! 🤣😍
  • Triggers: blood (a new character, a blood forger is introduced), violence, grief

I loved this book more than the first one! It was faster in pace, with another high stakes quest but with the crew falling apart at times. Yet there were funny moments too especially with Hypnos helping them out. I loved seeing the characters deal with their vulnerabilities, which was so relatable. And the thing I take away from this book is love – how it looks different to every one of us but we all want love. Love from family, from a friend, or from a partner. ❤️ But love is scary too because the pain of losing a loved one is hell. There are a few quotes from this book that I absolutely adore but can’t post since it’s an arc…but it made me want to weep, for Severin and the rest of the crew. Definitely looking forward to the next book!

Fable | ARC Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: Fable

Author: Adrienne Young

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 368

Publication Date: 9/01/20

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Categories: Pirates, Young Adult, Adventure, Romance, Family, Survival, Fantasy

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

As the daughter of the most powerful trader in the Narrows, the sea is the only home seventeen-year-old Fable has ever known. It’s been four years since the night she watched her mother drown during an unforgiving storm. The next day her father abandoned her on a legendary island filled with thieves and little food. To survive she must keep to herself, learn to trust no one and rely on the unique skills her mother taught her. The only thing that keeps her going is the goal of getting off the island, finding her father and demanding her rightful place beside him and his crew. To do so Fable enlists the help of a young trader named West to get her off the island and across the Narrows to her father.

But her father’s rivalries and the dangers of his trading enterprise have only multiplied since she last saw him and Fable soon finds that West isn’t who he seems. Together, they will have to survive more than the treacherous storms that haunt the Narrows if they’re going to stay alive.

Welcome to a world made dangerous by the sea and by those who wish to profit from it. Where a young girl must find her place and her family while trying to survive in a world built for men.

Thank you to Wednesday Books and NetGalley for giving me a chance to read this eARC.

WOW.

My Reactions:

My Attention: absolutely swept away – read this in one sitting

World Building: epic – the setting is in the islands I’m sure inspired by the Caribbean but I could feel the humid air, see the school of fish in the reef, feel the pressure of the water as Fable dove deep….SO good.

Writing Style: flowed beautifully

Bringing the Heat: 🔥 – barely any but it didn’t need it

Crazy in Love: slow burn love story

Creativity: I loved everything about Fable and her gem mage powers, I want to learn more about it

Mood: Excited 

Triggers: violence, thieving

My Takeaway: Fable is abandoned by the only parent she has but makes a promise to herself to survive and take what is hers.

  • First off – that COVER. It is to die for! Absolutely beautiful.
  • Fable’s story is pretty amazing – she is surviving on her own, trying to get back to the father that left her to die (or survive). She has grit, brains and courage! It also helps she’s a gem mage, it helps her skills as a dredger (a diver). She does what she has to do to survive. My heart broke for her when it came to her relationship with her father.
  • In any pirate story, it’s ALL about the crew and the crew of the Marigold is great. We have a gay couple, siblings and lots and lots of secrets. West is the helmsman who commandeers the ship and he is as mysterious as they come but we learn about his background.
  • Fable’s dad, Saint, tells Fable she doesn’t belong in this world. She feels like he means in the world in general…but he means HIS world, this rough, dangerous, cold trading world of the Narrows. It’s cutthroat and he meant for her to be safe. I like the complicated feelings and history between them.
  • Danger is everywhere in this story and the author captures the setting so well. I was rooting for Fable and nervous for her from the moment I started the book and I could not STOP reading. And when the book came to an end, I wanted the next book.
  • I’ve read this author’s previous series but this one to me takes her writing to a whole new level. I was so immersed in this story.
  • The magic Fable has is as a gem mage and though she uses it while doing her work as a dredger – I think there is more to learn about her skill and her mother’s history. I want to definitely learn more about her mom’s family!
  • The romance doesn’t overtake this story, it’s slowly building and you wonder if it will turn into something and when it does…wow. We shall see what this means for the sequel!

I love a good pirate story, there is danger, high stakes, traders trying to be or stay the top dog and keeping their territories under their rule. This story hooked me right away! I loved everything about this book and I cannot wait to read the sequel.

Book Review | Sawkill Girls

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: Sawkill Girls

Author: Claire Legrand

Format: Hardcover (own)

Pages: 447

Categories: Horror, Romance, Young Adult, Paranormal

Beware of the woods and the dark, dank deep.

He’ll follow you home, and he won’t let you sleep.

Who are the Sawkill Girls?

Marion: the new girl. Awkward and plain, steady and dependable. Weighed down by tragedy and hungry for love she’s sure she’ll never find.

Zoey: the pariah. Luckless and lonely, hurting but hiding it. Aching with grief and dreaming of vanished girls. Maybe she’s broken—or maybe everyone else is.

Val: the queen bee. Gorgeous and privileged, ruthless and regal. Words like silk and eyes like knives, a heart made of secrets and a mouth full of lies.

Their stories come together on the island of Sawkill Rock, where gleaming horses graze in rolling pastures and cold waves crash against black cliffs. Where kids whisper the legend of an insidious monster at parties and around campfires.

Where girls have been disappearing for decades, stolen away by a ravenous evil no one has dared to fight… until now.

I read this book last night and got halfway through before going to bed. I woke up with a nightmare because of a scene in the book that kinda grossed me out and took on an even more disgusting form in my dreams. 😫 I didn’t think this book would be creepy but the more I read I got sucked into this place called Sawkill Rock and the events happening there.

Girls have gone missing on Sawkill Rock and three girls share an interesting fate there. Marion is new to the island, she and her family are grieving the death of her father so this is a new start. Zoey moved there awhile ago to live with her father but things haven’t going so well there. And Val is queen bee of the island, gorgeous and popular with a hidden agenda.

Surrounding this place is an urban legend about the Collector. Is he real or just an urban legend with no substance to the stories? Will they figure out what is going before more girls disappear?

  • Creepy! The atmosphere of Sawkill was perfect for a chilling story. There things that definitely go bump in the night on Sawkill Rock, especially in the Mortimer household. There is a lot of mystery about Val and her family but we ultimately find out what their purpose is.
  • So much LGBTQIA+ representation! The asexual relationship between Zoey and Grayson was really well done for someone like me who is trying to learn more about people who identify as asexual. I don’t find a lot of books with asexual relationships.
  • This is a superhero story – that was surprising! There was woman power all over this book, mostly at the end. At first the girls are struggling, Val is abused/controlled, Zoey is bullied – Val does the bullying, Marion comes off as strange but they have powers within them and that was cool to see them work together.
  • The Collector was creepy as hell and disgusting. He is a killer, manipulator, abuser, he’s gross and at times I felt uncomfortable about the things he did. Like am I the only who thought it was sketchy that at times he was in the form of a “boy child” and then meet he was a doctor seducing Val…like…what was I reading?! Eww, I mean he was straight evil.
  • It’s quite atmospheric so if you don’t like that type of story, this one might not be for you. I mean at times moths would speak to the girls and I couldn’t tell if that was a good or bad thing haha. The beginning was a bit slow going as we try to figure out what in hell is happening on this crazy island with Marion hearing things, Zoey seeing things and Val…doing things. 😒
  • Though the story starts off like a mysterious paranormal story, the second half is like a superhero movie, maybe more like X-Men. It was an interesting turn and direction that worked for the most part – but it also threw me off at times. I just went with the flow. 🤷🏻‍♀️
  • There is insta-love. More like…insta-lust?
  • Triggers: abuse, murder

This story was atmospheric, creepy and at times strange – the Collector is a vile villain. The message of women empowerment came through hard and the LGBTQIA+ reps were awesome. Overall, this one definitely caught my curiosity, I could’ve done without some of the horror aspects but that’s just me, since I don’t read much horror.

Book Review | Of Rioters & Royals

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

Title: Of Rioters & Royals (Swift Shadows, #1)

Author: M.L.Greye

Format: eBook (borrowed, Kindle Unlimited)

Pages: 421

Categories: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance

Disclaimer: **The author requested I read and review her book.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

Emry is a Royal – a princess of Enlennd. As is tradition, she must have a knight at her side as her protector. The only way to appoint one is through The Trials. Her Challengers from the five regions of Enlennd must compete for the infamous title of Princess’s Knight. The problem, though, is that the people of Enlennd are split into two categories: Rioters and Royals. Finding the perfect knight may be the last of her worries. War is coming to Enlennd. 

Declan is a Rioter. An upriser. An anarchist. He mistrusts the Jewels – the sovereign family of Enlennd. Yet, he is offering himself up as a Challenger in The Trials. The Mistress, leader of the Rioters, has a mission for him. The first step is for him to become the Princess’s Knight. He is ready for the task, until he actually meets Emry and discovers that betraying her would be much more difficult than he’d thought. 

Thank you to author, M.L. Greye for reaching out to me and asking I read and review her book. All opinions of the book are my own.

What stood out right away to me is this book has a very interesting magic system involving a person’s eye color. Each eye color defines what types of powers a person has. And I don’t think I’ve read a book with that kind of magic, so that was pretty cool.

Princess Emry is about to be assigned a knight and to find one the challengers must go through a trial. One of those challengers is Declan, who is there for other reasons. Will he win the trials and be her knight? Or something more?

  • I liked the different magic system in this book where everyone’s eye color determines their powers. I don’t think I’ve read a book with that magic before, so I thought that was very creative and unique.
  • If you like romance in a YA fantasy, this one has a sweet romance. It’s not insta love but Emry and Declan have a past that we don’t know about until he comes to court as a challenger. Then we learn how they met before. I love how they are a Pair, no love triangles here!
  • There is action, secrets revealed and twists I wasn’t expecting. It’s a story between good and evil which is always inspiring.
  • I like Emry’s sisterly bond with Citrine, they were fun together. They are best friends and I’m glad they have each other.
  • The beginning with the prologue almost made me dread reading this story. But that’s just me, I’ve learned I have a hard time getting into books with long prologue giving the history about a kingdom, because it feels like a textbook. I would rather learn history throughout the story.
  • The prologue threw me a bit off so I didn’t really get into the story until halfway through and once I did, it’s a very quick read.
  • Character wise – Emry is obviously the main character who will have more powers than anyone and is a leader, I expected that. But I was drawn more to Declan because he is the one affected when some secrets are revealed.

I enjoyed the twists in the story and kudos to the magic system being unique and refreshing. There is romance, action and a fight between good and evil. I think this was a solid first book for a series!

Book Review | Bring Me Their Hearts

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

Title: Bring Us Their Hearts

Author: Sara Wolf

Format: Hardcover (borrowed)

Pages: 370

Categories: Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance

Zera is a Heartless – the immortal, unageing soldier of a witch. Bound to the witch Nightsinger ever since she saved her from the bandits who murdered her family, Zera longs for freedom from the woods they hide in. With her heart in a jar under Nightsinger’s control, she serves the witch unquestioningly.

Until Nightsinger asks Zera for a Prince’s heart in exchange for her own, with one addendum; if she’s discovered infiltrating the court, Nightsinger will destroy her heart rather than see her tortured by the witch-hating nobles.

Crown Prince Lucien d’Malvane hates the royal court as much as it loves him – every tutor too afraid to correct him and every girl jockeying for a place at his darkly handsome side. No one can challenge him – until the arrival of Lady Zera. She’s inelegant, smart-mouthed, carefree, and out for his blood. The Prince’s honor has him quickly aiming for her throat.

So begins a game of cat and mouse between a girl with nothing to lose and a boy who has it all.

Winner takes the loser’s heart.

Literally.

It was a crazy week of negative news all over the world and I decided to pick up this book and read it. I read it one night, finally reading past midnight (it’s been awhile since a book kept me up!).

A Heartless, Zera wants her heart back but her witch won’t give it back until she completes a mission to prevent another war between witches and humans. The mission? Take the heart of the Crown Prince, Lucien d’Malvane. And I mean, TAKE THE HEART, not win his heart…she has to pull it out of his chest. 😳 By the end of the book, can she do it?

  • This was pure escapism and so fun for me to read! Yes, a bit morbid and dark at times, but Zera is on a mission to take the heart of someone. Like she literally has to put her hand into his chest and rip it out. 😳
  • Zera is a Heartless, she “died” when she was 16 but now she’s immortal just as long her witch has her heart. I love Zera, she’s kind of all over the place, but her humor is her armor and she cracked me up a lot. I felt for her so much, she just wants her heart back and her memories of her past life with her mom and dad. For the most part she can pass off as human, but when the hunger in her takes over she turns into a monster and kills. 😥 I am rooting so hard for Zera and I hate her tough choices but it makes this story so addicting.
  • Malachite – Prince Lucien’s bodyguard is awesome and I love how he and Zera tease each other. He has Prince Lucien’s back and I like learning about him being a Beneather or Bene-Thar. As I said, I love the humor!
  • The world building is rich with witchlore, a war between witches and humans and different kinds of beings in this world like celeons (like cat people) and of course the Heartless. I was immersed into the world right in the beginning.
  • There was action, humor, a romance budding between a cold prince and a funny Heartless – of course she’s supposed to take his heart though, which makes things complicated. I loved the angst.
  • Then ending is killer! It’s crazy and wild and a cliff-hanger. Thank goodness I had the foresight to borrow the sequel at the same time!
  • Lucien comes off arrogant and irritating but that doesn’t deter Zera. She gets under his skin and it’s so good that I wanted MORE of them.
  • Triggers: death, violence

This was the perfect series to start during this crazy time with the everything shutting down around us in the real world. I loved learning what it means to be Heartless and reading quickly to the end to see if Zera could really take Lucien’s heart. I liked the court intrigue and the world building. Zera was made a Heartless without a choice…and now she has a chance to get her heart back. Will she? I’m addicted to this series and cannot wait to find out what happens next.