The Poison Season by. Mara Rutherford | ARC Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️

Title: The Poison Season

Author: Mara Rutherford

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 400

Publication Date: 12/6/22

Publisher: Inkyard Press

Categories: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance

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

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

Outsiders are always given a choice: the Forest or the lake. Either way, they’re never heard from again.

Leelo has spent her entire life on Endla, coexisting with the bloodthirsty Forest and respecting the poisonous lake that protects her island from outsiders who seek to destroy it. But as much as Leelo cares for her community, she struggles to accept that her younger brother will be exiled by his next birthday, unless he gains the magic of enchanted song so vital to Endla.

When Leelo sees a young outsider on the verge of drowning in the lake, she knows exactly what she’s supposed to do. But in a moment that will change everything, Leelo betrays her family, her best friend, and Endla by making an unthinkable choice.

Discovery could lead to devastating consequences for both Leelo and the outsider, Jaren, but as they grow closer, Leelo realizes that not all danger comes from beyond the lake—and they can only survive if Leelo is willing to question the very fabric of her society, her people, and herself.

Content Warning:

This one is a DNF for me. I love the cover and I enjoyed some other books from this author but this one just wasn’t doing it for me. Here’s what I thought:

+ Interesting concept, was intrigued about the Forest and mysterious island.

~ I felt no connection to the characters and kept wondering what is happening and wishing the story would move faster.

~ I think it would appeal to teen readers. For me, I just wanted more. I was bored and didn’t want to struggle to finish it.

Tropes: secret island

Why you should read it:

  • you like the author’s other works
  • interesting concept – mysterious island, a poison lake, magic through singing

Why you might not want to read it:

  • too slow and wasn’t keeping my attention

My Thoughts:

I tried many times to finish this book but I think it was clear I was just not interested and it wasn’t for me. I think this will still appeal to young adult fantasy fans though.

Book Links:

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

The Bodyguard by. Katherine Center | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: The Bodyguard

Format: ebook (borrowed)

Author: Katherine Center

Pages: 309

Publication Date: 7/18/22

Categories: Contemporary, Romance

She’s got his back.
Hannah Brooks looks more like a kindergarten teacher than somebody who could kill you with a wine bottle opener. Or a ballpoint pen. Or a dinner napkin. But the truth is, she’s an Executive Protection Agent (aka “bodyguard”), and she just got hired to protect superstar actor Jack Stapleton from his middle-aged, corgi-breeding stalker.

He’s got her heart.
Jack Stapleton’s a household name—captured by paparazzi on beaches the world over, famous for, among other things, rising out of the waves in all manner of clingy board shorts and glistening like a Roman deity. But a few years back, in the wake of a family tragedy, he dropped from the public eye and went off the grid.

They’ve got a secret.
When Jack’s mom gets sick, he comes home to the family’s Texas ranch to help out. Only one catch: He doesn’t want his family to know about his stalker. Or the bodyguard thing. And so Hannah—against her will and her better judgment—finds herself pretending to be Jack’s girlfriend as a cover. Even though her ex, like a jerk, says no one will believe it.

What could possibly go wrong???
Hannah hardly believes it, herself. But the more time she spends with Jack, the more real it all starts to seem. And there lies the heartbreak. Because it’s easy for Hannah to protect Jack. But protecting her own, long-neglected heart? That’s the hardest thing she’s ever done.

Content Warning: violence, hostage situation

This has been on my TBR and I forgot it was then saw it on my online library and borrowed it. This was kind of an unexpected read and I enjoyed so much about it! Here’s what I thought:

+ A female bodyguard? Yes! And not the type of bodyguard we usually think about that tails someone closely wearing black. Those are usually huge, beefy guys but in this story Hannah is the kind of bodyguard that gets all the details and prevents something from happening to her client. This was such a unique take on a romance – I found it refreshing.

+ Hannah is going through some things! Her mom died, her a-hole of a boyfriend dumped her, and she’s not doing too hot mentally and her boss has noticed. So instead of giving her the international jobs she covets so she can escape, her boss gives her an assignment in town to prove she can handle bigger jobs. I like Hannah. She’s level headed, detailed, straight-forward and even though her life seems to be caving in – she still pushed forward.

+ The romance is so cute! Jack is a hot, famous actor but he has issues of his own to do with his family. I thought Jack and Hannah complimented each other well. He brought the fun and she brought the protection.

~ Because Jack and Hannah had chemistry I wish this book was steamier! But it’s super mild and perfect for the readers who like it that way. But a bodyguard and an actor? I was hoping for some action. There is barely any romance until the end! I wanted sparks but we get more of a friendship/comforting vibe between them.

~ I didn’t feel like there was much of a threat for Jack to have a bodyguard really. But it makes for a cute story.

Tropes: fake dating

Spice Level:

Why you should read it:

  • fake dating trope
  • it’s a cute, sweet, slow burn romance – no spice at all (if that is your thing)
  • great banter and chemistry between Jack and Hannah, some heart warming situations

Why you might not want to read it:

  • needs more spice (in my opinion)

My Thoughts:

I wasn’t sure what to expect with this one but I was very pleasantly surprised! I thought Hannah being Jack’s bodyguard was so cute because they were opposites in personality. This one is a light-hearted story and a super slow burn. My only issue with it was that it needed more sparks between the characters and spice would have been really nice! But if you like a sweet romance, with just one amazing kiss, then you will love this book.

Book Links:

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Pride & Puppies by. Lizzie Shane | ARC Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: Pride & Puppies (Pine Hollow, #4)

Author: Lizzie Shane

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 368

Publication Date: 11/21/22

Publisher: Forever

Categories: Contemporary, Romance, Dogs, Jane Austen, 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 Forever for giving me a chance to read this eARC in exchange for an honest review!

Struggling to find her modern-day Mr. Darcy, a Jane Austen fan gets more than she bargained for when she swears off men and adopts an adorable puppy. 

Dr. Charlotte Rodriguez is single—again—and she blames Jane Austen. She made brooding, aloof men sound oh sodreamy. But after years of failing to find her own Mr. Darcy, Charlotte decides it’s time to swear off dating. She’s going to lavish all her love and affection on someone who actually deserves it: her new puppy, Bingley.

And there’s no one better to give her pet advice than her neighbor and coworker George Leneghan. He’s quiet and patient and, best of all, way too sweet to ever be her type. But as their friendly banter turns flirty, the unimaginable happens—Charlotte starts catching feelings.

Just as Charlotte is trying to untangle what it is she truly wants, George announces he’s contemplating a cross-country move. Suddenly, Charlotte wonders if she’s kept her soulmate in the friend zone so long that she’s entirely missed her chance at a happily ever after. Dear Reader, could it be possible she’s had it wrong all this time?

Content Warning:

I got sucked into requesting this arc because of the title. Pride & Puppies? The two things I love in one book: Jane Austen and dogs? I had to read it and this is what I think about it:

+ Two people, Charlotte and George are friends and now both are dog owners. Charlotte has given up on men and decided to get a puppy. The dogs are so cute especially with Charlotte naming hers Bingley! Loved all the Jane Austen love in the story. They are two good people that find love.

+~ There is a whole cast in this book – Charlotte has a tight group of friends and her sisters. Then George has all his sisters too! Thing is I didn’t know this was book #4 in a series! I wish I knew that before requesting it. Thing is I didn’t feel totally lost reading it without reading the others but now I wonder is that how Charlotte and George already knew each other?

+ It’s a sweet romance. They go from friends to lovers so not too much big drama happen between them.

~ I don’t think I connected to the romance very much even though it was cute because of the dogs. I did like how sweet they were together but I guess I wanted more.

Tropes: small town romance, friends to lovers, meddling families

Why you should read it:

  • sweet romance
  • its has Jane Austen love and dogs
  • both Charlotte and George have large families that you get to know throughout the story

Why you might not want to read it:

  • it’s book number 4 in a series

My Thoughts:

I thought this was a cute and sweet romance between two nice people who both love dogs and their families. For me, I wanted a little more chemistry between the two characters but I think it was still cute how they bonded. It’s light-hearted and heart warming, definitely perfect for Jane Austen lovers.

Book Links:

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Bloodmarked by. TracyDeonn | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: Bloodmarked (Legendborn, #2)

Format: ebook (own)

Author: Tracy Deonn

Pages: 576

Publication Date: 11/8/22

Categories: Young Adult, Contemporary, Urban Fantasy, Romance, King Arthur Reimagined

The shadows have risen, and the line is law.

All Bree wanted was to uncover the truth behind her mother’s death. So she infiltrated the Legendborn Order, a secret society descended from King Arthur’s knights—only to discover her own ancestral power. Now, Bree has become someone new:

A Medium. A Bloodcrafter. A Scion.

But the ancient war between demons and the Order is rising to a deadly peak. And Nick, the Legendborn boy Bree fell in love with, has been kidnapped.

Bree wants to fight, but the Regents who rule the Order won’t let her. To them, she is an unknown girl with unheard-of power, and as the living anchor for the spell that preserves the Legendborn cycle, she must be protected.

When the Regents reveal they will do whatever it takes to hide the war, Bree and her friends must go on the run to rescue Nick themselves. But enemies are everywhere, Bree’s powers are unpredictable and dangerous, and she can’t escape her growing attraction to Selwyn, the mage sworn to protect Nick until death.

If Bree has any hope of saving herself and the people she loves, she must learn to control her powers from the ancestors who wielded them first—without losing herself in the process.

Content Warning: violence, grief, racism, mention of slavery, trauma, drugged

This is one of my most anticipated reads of 2022 and I finally read it ~ here’s what I think:

+ I’m going to start off with the characters because I fell in love with this series because of them. We get more Alice, Bree’s best friend, which is awesome. Also we get lots of William who I loved in book one. There is less Nick (boo!), but more Selwyn (yay) and of course Bree who is going through too much turmoil in this sequel. There are some new fascinating characters in this book like Erebus, Valec, and Lark.

+ Bree does some memory walking in this story which means she travels back into King Arthur’s time a lot. But she also goes down her family tree memory line too which I think is awesome because we see the past and how it’s forged what Bree is today. I love how the history of slavery is discussed in this book because the story is set in the American South. It’s why I love Bree’s Root powers and we get to learn from her ancestors which is a beautiful thing.

+~ Bree is going through a LOT. She’s the rightful heir but who will back her claim? She has a loyal bubble around, thank goodness but there are those trying to keep her down. On top of the chaos in the Order, there are demons hunting for her and she finally finds out why. This is the book where Bree is down bad. She gets hurt a lot, and people around her get hurt because of her lack of control and her temper too. I do wish she actually learned to use her powers…like no one is there to help her at all and she struggles a lot. There were times I wanted to shake some sense into her and hope that William and Alice could shake some sense into her. But I know she’s going to come back kicking some major butt in the next book. This is just the story where she has to figure out a lot of stuff, she makes some poor decisions and I’m just hoping she makes better ones in book three.

+~ This love triangle is not for the faint of heart lol…it is not clear at all and usually I pick a guy right away. Nick isn’t in this book much, which is a shame because when he is…oh my heart. He is comforting and they have a connection. And then there is Sel and honestly the bad boys always win it for me but he was such an ass at times in this book…by the end I understand why but Sel and Bree fight a lot and their communication isn’t the best, but he will always take care of her, and always save her.💔 How can I love both boys? It’s the whole Guinenvere, Arthur, and Lancelot drama except here we have Arthur, Lancelet and Merlin? 🤷🏻‍♀️ I’m gonna say it’s gonna be Bree and Sel in the end because of the ending of this book but their lack of communication and fighting worries me…it’s the only reason I feel at times Nick is better for her.

~ I honestly wish at times we got Sel’s perspective in this book – I know that boy has lots of thoughts and emotions!

~ There is a lot going on with this book and I think the author did well enough that I didn’t get lost with all the explanations but I think the story lagged a bit in the middle.

Tropes: chosen one, secret society

Spice Level: 🌶

Why you should read it:

  • you loved Legendborn and want to return to the world and characters
  • Bree’s journey with her powers and how she tries to make sense of it all
  • lots of action

Why you might not want to read it:

  • you hate love triangles

My Thoughts:

Did this live up to my expectations? I think so because I had it a bit low because sequels are mostly a miss than a hit it seems but this is the book where Bree has to struggle and she does, a lot. I was getting frustrated with her for her poor decisions but I expect her to grow a lot from this sequel. There is a lot going on with the story, some I loved, some I thought maybe was too much but the story ends in a cliffhanger so we shall see what happens next. As for the love triangle? I don’t know where this it’s gonna go but I’m ready for it. Overall, I was entertained even though the middle got a bit slow for me. I felt like this story could be made into a Netflix series, I’d definitely watch it! I’m excited to see what happens next.

Book Links:

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Legendborn | ARC Review ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

A Wilderness of Stars by. Shea Ernshaw | ARC Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

Title: A Wilderness of Stars

Author: Shea Ernshaw

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 400

Publication Date: 11/29/22

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Categories: Dystopian, Sci-fi, Romance, Young Adult

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

Thank you to Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers for giving me a chance to read this eARC in exchange for an honest review!

An illness cursing the land forces a teen girl astronomer to venture across the wilderness in search of the stars’ message that will, hopefully, save them all.

If magic lives anywhere, it’s in the stars…

Vega has lived in the valley her whole life—forbidden by her mother to leave the safety of its borders because of the unknown threats waiting for her in the wilds beyond. But after her mother dies, and Vega sees the fabled twin stars in the sky, it’s an omen she can no longer ignore, forcing her to leave the protective boundaries of the valley. But the outside world turns out to be much more terrifying than Vega could have imagined. People are gravely sick—they lose their eyesight and their hearing, just before they lose their lives.

What Vega keeps to herself is that she is the Last Astronomer—a title carried from generation to generation—and she is the only one who carries the knowledge of the stars. Knowledge that could hold the key to the cure. And so when locals spot the tattoo on Vega’s neck in the shape of a constellation—the mark of an astronomer—chaos erupts as the threats her mother warned her about become all too real.

Fearing for her life, Vega is rescued by a girl named Cricket who leads her to Noah, a boy marked by his own mysterious tattoos. On the run from the men who are hunting her, Vega, Cricket, and Noah set out across the plains in search of the cure the stars speak of. But as the lines between friend and protector begin to blur, Vega must decide whether to safeguard the sacred knowledge of the astronomer. Or if she will risk everything to try to save them all.

Content Warning: death or a parent, death, sickness, violence

I’ve read two other books by this author and always loved her atmospheric writing. This book is way different than those books I read and here’s what I thought:

+ Atmospheric writing and mysterious world building. For some reason I thought this took place in the past…far into the past when settlers came to America. Think dirt roads, saloons, tonics, etc…I thought this story was set in the wild west! The story is raw and gritty, the people are sick with consumption and dying and it seems like a tough place to live. So this is a western, dystopian, sci-fi book and I loved the whole mix of it!

+ I say this is sci-fi but only at the ending and I can’t say much without revealing things about the story.

+~ Vega is the chosen one. She holds a secret and she needs to get to her final destination to do something (no one knows what, even the reader). She’s very mysterious and determined to get to where she is going. But because she has been so sheltered and only taught astronomy – she doesn’t know much about surviving in the wild until it’s time for her to go and find the Architect. She frustrated me at times – especially because she was rash in her decisions and because she’s the chosen one, everyone around her dies because of her. I was getting annoyed with that by the ending.

+~ The romance is pretty passionate and insta-love. Vega and Noah are like a fated romance which works for me because they are living in the end of days and desperate times – why not fall in love and kiss a boy before you die, right? I was all for it…but that ending! It saddened me.

~+ I’m all for mystery but 3/4ths into the book I just wanted to know what the heck the Astronomer and Architect needed to do to save everyone. I was over the mystery and wanted information. Everything is so vague until the end. I will say I read this book quick though because I was curious to know what was causing the people to be sick and why Vega was so special. I did like the reveal at the end, I thought that was a cool reveal. I just didn’t like how things ended between Vega and Noah.

Tropes: chosen one, insta-love

Why you should read it:

  • the story is atmospheric and mysterious with a good reveal
  • Vega and Noah falling in love before the world ends

Why you might not want to read it:

  • the mystery takes too long and you might be bored and tired by the time everything is explained
  • Vega is the chosen one and everyone dies around her

My Thoughts:

I had to process my thoughts on this book a lot because when I realized it was a western/dystopian story and the big reveal at the end, the feeling I had was I really enjoyed the book. Then my mind picked apart the things I could have done without like how long the mystery and vague information went on in the book and how Vega got on my nerves because she is the chosen one and protected and everyone is going to die and sacrifice themselves around her. I also loved the ending because of the reveal but I was so sad about Noah…so my feelings are all over the place about this book but I’m glad I read it. Overall, I’m going to say I did enjoy it more than disliked especially the ending when things started to make sense.

Book Links:

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Nothing More to Tell by. Karen M. McManus | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

Title: Nothing More to Tell

Format: ebook (borrowed)

Author: Karen M. McManus

Pages: 368

Publication Date: 8/29/22

Categories: Young Adult, Thriller, Murder Mystery, Romance, Crime

True crime can leave a false trail.

Four years ago, Brynn left Saint Ambrose School following the shocking murder of her favourite teacher. The case was never solved, but she’s sure that the three kids who found Mr. Larkin’s body know more than they’re telling, especially her ex-best friend Tripp Talbot. He’s definitely hiding something.

When Brynn gets an internship working on a popular true-crime show, she decides to investigate what really happened that day in the woods. But the further she dives into the past, the more secrets she finds.

Four years ago someone got away with murder. Now it’s time to uncover the truth . . .

Content Warning: neglectful parent, murder scene description, underage drinking

I’ve read one book from this author and enjoyed it. I’ve been meaning to read more so I decided to borrow this one and enjoyed it! Here’s what I thought:

+ The story flows so well and I could not figure who the murderer was yet had all my suspicions! I like many of the twists the story took, it really kept me on my toes and engaged. I read this in one sitting.

+ I like Brynn and Tripp a lot. They used to be friends, until Tripp pushed her away. Brynn moved away and is now back in Sturgis. Clearly Tripp had the biggest crush on her when they were kids, but it’s cute to see her like him now as they are older. I liked them together and though the romance takes a back seat, I did like that it was there because I’m a romance lover.

+ I thought the whole cast was great and had their roles to play. I love Brynn’s younger sister who actually helped Brynn kind of solve this murder mystery.

~ My major issue with the book is the ending. It didn’t seem like a totally shut case for who they suspected the murderer to be. I know the story was pulled in so many directions which left me guessing as to who really committed the crime, but even the ending didn’t give us solid evidence or a confession of the crime. This story may bug me…unless they turn it into a series. I want closure! lol

~ This is supposedly set in a private school and though it mentions the division between elite and dregs…not much comes out of that. It doesn’t show much division between the kids. So I’d say it didn’t really give off those vibes.

Tropes: childhood friends to enemies to lovers

Spice Level:

Why you should read it:

  • kept me on my toes, it’s fun, engaging and entertaining – read it in one sitting
  • Brynn and Tripp’s little romance was cute in the midst of the murder mystery

Why you might not want to read it:

  • ending felt a little anti-climatic, is it going to be a series? 🤔

My Thoughts:

I’m glad I read this one, it kept me on the toes to the very end! I just wish the ending evidence around the supposedly killer was more concrete – it was left a bit open I think. So I’m not sure if there will be a spin off? It would be cool to see Brynn’s sister have her own story because that girl was on it and helping Brynn figure stuff out. Overall, I enjoyed this book!

Book Links:

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

The Cousins | Book Review ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The River Has Teeth by. Erica Waters | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

Title: The River Has Teeth

Format: hard cover (own)

Author: Erica Waters

Pages: 393

Publication Date: 7/26/21

Categories: Young Adult, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller, Paranormal, Romance, Horror, LGBT+, Witches

Natasha’s sister is missing.

Her car was found abandoned on the edge of a local nature preserve known as the Bend, but as the case goes cold, Natasha’s loss turns to burning anger.

She’ll do anything to find answers.

Della’s family has channeled magic from the Bend for generations, providing spells for the desperate. But when Natasha appears on her doorstep, Della knows it will take more than simple potions to help her.

But Della has her own secrets to hide.

Because Della thinks she knows the beast who’s responsible for the disappearance — her own mother, who was turned into a terrible monster by magic gone wrong.

Natasha is angry. Della has little to lose.

They are each other’s only hope.

Content Warning: murder scene, violence, drugging someone

I’ve had this book on my shelf since summer and it was time to finally read it for spooky season! I love the book cover and was intrigued by the synopsis. Here is what I thought of the book:

+ I enjoyed the mystery and suspense of the story. I love the witchcraft and history and lore about The Bend and Lloyd family. I was intrigued with it throughout the whole book. I loved the atmosphere of the Bend and the woods, it was definitely creepy at times, especially in the abandoned prison!

+ The story is told between two perspectives. Natasha who is looking for her missing sister and Della, the witch, a recluse of a girl who lives in the woods with her dad. Della is a Lloyd and we learn about the magic and history through her. I felt like the author did a great job highlighting how women are treated if they disappear – she even mentions the difference between white and black women and who gets the most coverage in the news.

+ There is a romance that happens between Natasha and Della and though it doesn’t overtake the story, I thought it worked for this type of suspense and mystery story. It’s not a sweet romance, more like one of desperation and desire because of the heavy emotions both are going through but I like how they do fit together. They are opposites that attract one another. Natasha is headstrong and Della is more of someone who thinks things through.

~ I wasn’t vibing with Natasha’s character. I know she was in a rage and desperate to find her sister, I related to that but she was angry throughout the whole book. So angry she was blinded by it and her actions really weren’t thought out. It’s why Della being with her was a good balance. Natasha could have really lost herself in the anger by the end and transformed into something else but Della pulled her back.

Tropes: opposites attract, rich girl/poor girl

Spice Level:

Why you should read it:

  • creepy, mysterious, great setting and very atmospheric
  • f/f romance, opposites attract
  • loved the lore of the The Bend and the witchcraft

Why you might not want to read it:

  • Natasha’s POV was full of anger, rightly so, but made her be rash about some of her decisions which annoyed me

My Thoughts:

I’m so glad I chose this to read for spooky season! It had the perfect creepy vibes, witchcraft, girls going missing and a possible serial killer on the loose. The Lloyd family has a fascinating history and a strong character in Della. I wish Natasha was just as likable but at times I was annoyed with her character. Overall though an enjoyable and entertaining story and I look forward to reading more from this author.

Book Links:

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Tokyo Ever After by. Emiko Jean | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

Title: Tokyo Ever After (#1)

Format: ebook (kindle unlimited)

Author: Emiko Jean

Pages: 336

Publication Date: 5/17/21

Categories: Young Adult, Romance, Japanese Royalty, Contemporary, Teen

Izumi Tanaka has never really felt like she fit in—it isn’t easy being Japanese American in her small, mostly white, northern California town. Raised by a single mother, it’s always been Izumi—or Izzy, because “It’s easier this way”—and her mom against the world. But then Izzy discovers a clue to her previously unknown father’s identity… and he’s none other than the Crown Prince of Japan. Which means outspoken, irreverent Izzy is literally a princess.

In a whirlwind, Izzy travels to Japan to meet the father she never knew and discover the country she always dreamed of. But being a princess isn’t all ball gowns and tiaras. There are conniving cousins, a hungry press, a scowling but handsome bodyguard who just might be her soulmate, and thousands of years of tradition and customs to learn practically overnight.

Izzy soon finds herself caught between worlds, and between versions of herself—back home, she was never “American” enough, and in Japan, she must prove she’s “Japanese” enough. Will Izumi crumble under the weight of the crown, or will she live out her fairytale, happily ever after?

Content Warning:

I found this on kindle unlimited and thought I could use something different from my fantasy books. This totally reminded me of the movie “What a Girl Wants” with Colin Firth and Amanda Bynes! Do you remember it? American girl finds out her dad is like a wealthy guy in England and she goes to meet him? Anyway here’s what I thought about Tokyo Ever After:

+ It’s a fun trope – girl finds out she’s actually daughter of the Crown Prince of Japan! So she goes to finally meet him and learn about royalty life and try to get know her dad.

+ The setting of Japan and learning Japanese culture is wonderful. I love the mentions of the royal family, the food, different cities like Tokyo and Kyoto – Izumi gets a whirlwind introduction to her homeland plus learning princess duties on top of that. Mind you she’s only there for 2 weeks – so a lot happens.

+ Another fun trope in the book: princess falling for her bodyguard. Swoon! I thought their romance was so sweet as he starts off grumpy and she’s new to the country. They get to know each other more because of close proximity, but it moves fast and we get some stolen kisses and even a scandal in the story.

+~ Izumi is a teenager and when she leaves American to visit Japan, she tries to figure where she belongs. She doesn’t feel American enough in America, and doesn’t feel Japanese enough in Japan. So she really does her best, trying to figure those things and I think she does great. She has a great group of girlfriends who is always keeping her grounded.

~+ It’s a book definitely that will appeal to teens. Don’t know if it will appeal to older readers but I enjoyed it a lot, and I’m way older.

~ Whirlwind romance in two weeks means it’s insta-love but I don’t mind it. Just noting it for those who don’t like insta-love.

Tropes: girl learns she is a princess, princess falls for bodyguard, girl tries fitting in

Spice Level:

Why you should read it:

  • lots of enjoyable tropes
  • light-hearted, fluffy story – reminds me of the movie “What a Girl Wants” or “Princess Diaries” but with Japanese culture
  • cute insta-love story

Why you might not want to read it:

  • insta-love
  • more appealing for teens

My Thoughts:

I thought this story was entertaining and fun. I love the trope where the girl finds out she’s a princess! There are other fun tropes in this book as well. I’ll definitely read the next book!

Book Links:

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

That Dark Infinity by. Kate Pentecost | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

Title: That Dark Infinity

Author: Kate Pentecost

Format: hard cover (own)

Pages: 384

Publication Date: 10/18/21

Categories: Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure, Lite Horror, Paranormal

By night, the Ankou is a legendary, permanently young mercenary. By day, a witch’s curse leaves him no more than bones. Caught in an unending cycle of death and resurrection, the Ankou wants only to find the death that has been prophesied for him, especially once he begins to rot while he’s still alive….

After the kingdom of Kaer-Ise is sacked, Flora, loyal handmaiden to the princess, is assaulted and left for dead. As the sole survivor of the massacre, Flora wants desperately to find the princess she served. When the Ankou agrees to help her find the princess, and to train her in exchange for her help in breaking his curse, she accepts. But how can she kill an immortal? Especially one whom she is slowly growing to understand—and maybe even to love?

Together, they will solve mysteries, battle monsters, break curses, and race not only against time, but against fate itself.

Content Warning: gory scenes, death, rape, assault, violence

I’ve had this one on my shelf for half the year and wanted to read it during spooky season. Here’s what I thought:

+ My favorite thing about this book was the creative world-building. There are monsters, different kingdoms, an awkward but efficient monster slayer, automatons and even a tiny bit of romance.

+ The characters are great! We have the Ankou, Lazarus, who is cursed to be a monster slayer. I loved how awkward he was outside of monster slaying. Flora has gone through so much – she lost her best friend, her position as a ladies maid and her innocence in one violent event. The friendship she builds with Lazarus is careful – I love how he gives her space and the friendship grows into something more but it’s never the focus of the story. And then there is Antonais who is a lightning mage and helps them on their quest to break Lazarus curse. He is a fun character who is into everything science and engineering.

+ I loved the darkness of the story. I don’t feel like the story itself was dark in a scary way, it just had dark themes but I felt like the writing was light-hearted and lyrical. Lazarus turns into a skeleton every night, which is kinda awesome. A lot of the descriptions got gory but never in a spooky way – hence why I dubbed it lite horror. I also loved all the action of fighting different monsters on their quest, that was fun.

~ Pacing was a bit off at times. For example, Lazarus is going to train Flora to fight and I swear it took one page of training and she was deemed proficient (yes time goes by…but quickly!). Also…there was modern day humor to the dialogue and the characters which was kind of strange but I went with it!

~ Also, Lazarus wants to break his curse, and Flora wants to know what happened to her best friend Beth and if she escaped the massacre. Flora’s goal kind of gets pushed aside – maybe because their goals were intertwined but I felt like we could have gotten more of Flora’s thoughts. She suffered through a lot. I just felt like she forgot she was looking for Beth at times. Maybe I just needed more of her perspective.

~+ There isn’t much to the romance – it’s barely there which is a good thing if you are there for the quest and action scenes. The romance happens basically at the ending and I did love how they went from companions to friends to lovers. It’s very sweet when you think about it.

Tropes: quest, monster slayer, girl who overcomes trauma, found family

Spice Level:

Why you should read it:

  • there is a quest and lots of actions scenes battling monsters
  • Lazarus is the most reluctant monster slayer but he’s so good at it and he’s funny and awkward at times. Love him!
  • great world building, creative and unique

Why you might not want to read it:

  • pacing is a bit off at times – at times rushed, maybe because it’s a standalone?

My Thoughts:

This was the perfect read for spooky season! The story is about a monster slayer who basically hates his job but is so good at it – he wants the curse to be over. Then there is Flora who has been seriously traumatized by a horrific event and has lost everything but she gains back strength, and love. There is a quest, lots of adventure and monster slaying and a happy ending. Only thing that threw me off at times was the pacing but overall and enjoyable story!

Book Links:

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

The Dead Romantics by. Ashley Poston | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

Title: The Dead Romantics

Author: Ashley Poston

Format: ebook (borrowed)

Pages: 368

Publication Date: 6/28/22

Categories: Romance, Paranormal, Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Women’s Fiction

Florence Day is the ghostwriter for one of the most prolific romance authors in the industry, and she has a problem—after a terrible breakup, she no longer believes in love. It’s as good as dead.

When her new editor, a too-handsome mountain of a man, won’t give her an extension on her book deadline, Florence prepares to kiss her career goodbye. But then she gets a phone call she never wanted to receive, and she must return home for the first time in a decade to help her family bury her beloved father.

For ten years, she’s run from the town that never understood her, and even though she misses the sound of a warm Southern night and her eccentric, loving family and their funeral parlor, she can’t bring herself to stay. Even with her father gone, it feels like nothing in this town has changed. And she hates it.

Until she finds a ghost standing at the funeral parlor’s front door, just as broad and infuriatingly handsome as ever, and he’s just as confused about why he’s there as she is.

Romance is most certainly dead… but so is her new editor, and his unfinished business will have her second-guessing everything she’s ever known about love stories.

A disillusioned millennial ghostwriter who, quite literally, has some ghosts of her own, has to find her way back home in this sparkling adult debut from national bestselling author Ashley Poston.

Content Warning: death, grief

I went into this one without expectations! I saw the book cover on my Overdrive online library selections and thought the synopsis was intriguing so I borrowed it without reading any reviews on in. I was so pleasantly surprised and touched. Here is what did and didn’t work for me:

+ A ghostwriter who can see ghost and falls for someone who is a ghost?! I love the idea and the story. Florence is a young woman, nursing a broken heart. It’s made it impossible for her to continue writing the romance novel she is working on and on top of that her beloved father dies. So it’s not only a romance, it’s a story about Florence trying to figure out heartbreak, grief and what love really is. It’s a beautiful story.

+ Her family is one of my newest favorite fictional families. They own a funeral home and even though Florence doesn’t totally get along with her younger sister, you can tell the bonds between this loving family is tight even when their father dies. I also love the people from her home town and her best friend in New York. We get both the small town romance and big city one too in this one book.

+ The romance between Florence and Ben is so cute and honestly I did figure out how things were going to end up but I was going to be so upset if it wasn’t that way. I love how they get to know one another – realistic? No, but that’s why I love how this is a paranormal romance. The two of them melted my heart.

+ Florence and her family are grieving but I so love how they celebrate her father’s life. Did I cry in a few spots? Definitely did.

~ My only issue with the story was the beginning where I thought I was getting a straight romance and then the story took a left turn with the death of Florence’s father and the whole situation with Ben which I won’t spoil. But the story smoothed out right after that.

Tropes: seeing ghosts, small town and big city romance, editor/writer romance

Spice Level: 🌶

Why you should read it:

  • heartwarming story about family, grief, heartbreak and love
  • a ghostwriter falling in love with a ghost
  • the Day family is my new favorite fictional family

Why you might not want to read it:

  • beginning of the story was just a little bit jarring with the romance and sudden death but it worked out after that

My Thoughts:

I loved this one. I was all for the ghostwriting and ghost-seeing! It was unexpected and I went in with no expectations and maybe because my trauma with grief, I resonated with stories about grief. But even though there is death and loss in this book, I love that it still was a story about celebrating life, love, and those who have gone but linger. A wonderful story that melted my heart and made me shed a few tears as well.

Book Links:

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Love was putting up with someone for fifty years so you’d have someone to bury you when you died. I would know; my family was in the business of death.”

~ Ashley Poston, The Dead Romantics

He was a bullet journal guy, and I was a sticky note kind of girl.”

~ Ashley Poston, The Dead Romantics

Love was a high for a moment that left you hollow when it left, and you spent the rest of your life chasing that feeling.”

~ Ashley Poston, The Dead Romantics

Grief was the exact opposite. It was full and heavy and drowning because it wasn’t the absence of everything you lost—it was the culmination of it all, your love, your happiness, your bittersweets, wound tight like a knotted ball of yarn.”

~ Ashley Poston, The Dead Romantics

It’s never easy. It’s also never really goodbye—and trust me, we’re in the business of goodbyes. The people who pass through here live on in you and me and everyone they touched. There is no happy ending, there’s just . . . happily living. As best you can.

~ Ashley Poston, The Dead Romantics