The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea by. Axie Oh | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

Title: The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea

Author: Axie Oh

Format: ebook (borrowed)

Pages: 336

Publication Date: 2/22/22

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Categories: Romance, Korean Mythology, Fantasy, Young Adult

Deadly storms have ravaged Mina’s homeland for generations. Floods sweep away entire villages, while bloody wars are waged over the few remaining resources. Her people believe the Sea God, once their protector, now curses them with death and despair. In an attempt to appease him, each year a beautiful maiden is thrown into the sea to serve as the Sea God’s bride, in the hopes that one day the “true bride” will be chosen and end the suffering.

Many believe that Shim Cheong, the most beautiful girl in the village—and the beloved of Mina’s older brother Joon—may be the legendary true bride. But on the night Cheong is to be sacrificed, Joon follows Cheong out to sea, even knowing that to interfere is a death sentence. To save her brother, Mina throws herself into the water in Cheong’s stead.

Swept away to the Spirit Realm, a magical city of lesser gods and mythical beasts, Mina seeks out the Sea God, only to find him caught in an enchanted sleep. With the help of a mysterious young man named Shin—as well as a motley crew of demons, gods and spirits—Mina sets out to wake the Sea God and bring an end to the killer storms once and for all.

But she doesn’t have much time: A human cannot live long in the land of the spirits. And there are those who would do anything to keep the Sea God from waking…

Content Warning: depression

All I knew of this book was it was based on mythology and the cover had to be one of the most beautiful cover’s I’ve seen this year. I finally got to read this and let me tell you, this pulled so hard at my heart strings. 🥺 Here’s what worked and didn’t work for me:

+ I read somewhere that this story has inspirations from Spirited Away, one of my favorite movies and I found this out after reading the book. But sure enough during my reading of this book I thought it reminded me of that movie, and there was even a line in the book where she wrote “spirited away”. The characters and world-building definitely had that same feel of Spirited Away where spirits, ghosts and Gods walk the world.

+ I love Mina and how she got into her predicament because she loved her brother so much. Let me tell you, all the family references in this book pulled at my heart, I even almost teared up at the end! But it was happy tears I wanted to cry. Mina as a character fights for her loved ones and doesn’t let the word “no” stop her. She is determined to break the curse of the Sea God to save the people she loves. She has a beautiful heart.

+ The characters are great especially Shin and my other favorite Namgi! And because Mina is basically in the underworld, she runs into people who have passed. It’s part of the reason I wanted to cry at the end of the book.

+ The writing is beautiful and the story itself is filled with little myths here and there that Mina is remembers or tells. There is a romance and it starts off as an enemies to lovers situation until Mina unveils the secret of the Sea God. I love how it unfolded and how sweet the ending is.

~ I did have to get acquainted with this world in the first few chapters. I like that we jump right away into the story without any background but once she is is in the Spirit Realm, I feel as disoriented as Mina so I felt like her, I had to get my bearings. Once I do, the story sweeps me away. The conflict of the story, doesn’t have a big impact, there is a battle but it’s resolved quickly.

~ Even though we meet Shin in the beginning I started to suspect some things about him and I was right, which isn’t a bad thing – it made me look forward to see how the book would end.

Tropes: soul mates, mythology retelling, chosen one

Why you should read it:

  • it’s an enchanting, magical story about Mina who has a big heart
  • the romance between Mina and Lord Shin starts off as enemies but it’s a sweet ending for them
  • this story is about choices, consequences, family, friendship, loneliness and just caring for one another

Why you might not want to read it:

  • might read too young for some people – it’s a light fantasy not high fantasy
  • slow beginning

My Thoughts:

I wasn’t sure what to think in the beginning of the story but by the end, I was in love with it. I love Mina’s heart and Shin’s protectiveness even though at first he comes off as hostile. I love the Spirit Realm (it has Spirited Away vibes), and the fun side characters. This one made me want to cry with all the talk about family – it really is a beautiful story with a gorgeous book cover to match.

📚 ~ Yolanda

Other books I’ve read and reviewed by this author:

XOXO by. Axie Oh

Quotes from the Book:

You claim the gods should love and care for humans. I disagree. I don’t think love can be bought or earned or even prayed for. It must be freely given.”

~Axie Oh, The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea

My love for you is endless. Deep and endless, like the sea.”

~Axie Oh, The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea

Sometimes you don’t find family in your own blood, but elsewhere.”

~Axie Oh, The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea

I wish I could bear some of your burden for you. Holding you now, I can feel how heavy it is.”

~Axie Oh, The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea

Our Crooked Hearts by. Melissa Albert | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: Our Crooked Hearts

Author: Melissa Albert

Format: ebook (borrowed)

Pages: 339

Publication Date: 6/28/22

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Categories: Young Adult, Witchcraft, Urban Fantasy, Mystery, Contemporary, YA Thriller


Seventeen-year-old Ivy’s summer break kicks off with an accident, a punishment, and a mystery: a stranger whose appearance in the middle of the road, in the middle of the night, heralds a string of increasingly unsettling events. As the days pass, Ivy grapples with eerie offerings, corroded memories, and a secret she’s always known—that there’s more to her mother than meets the eye.


Dana has always been perceptive. And the summer she turns sixteen, with the help of her best friend and an ambitious older girl, her gifts bloom into a heady fling with the supernatural, set in a city of magical possibilities and secret mystics. As the trio’s aspirations darken, they find themselves speeding toward a violent breaking point.

Years after it began, Ivy and Dana’s shared story will come down to a reckoning among a daughter, a mother, and the dark forces they never should’ve messed with.

Content Warning: violence, blood, animal death

I went into this one expecting nothing and thoroughly enjoyed it! I’ve read Melissa Albert’s Hazel Wood series and honestly thought her books were not for me. I was curious about this one because it was about witchcraft and with the way she writes, I thought maybe…just maybe, this would be better than The Hazel Wood. Here’s what I thought did and didn’t work for me:

+ The witchcraft is dark and sinister, just how I like it. At first we follow Ivy, who’s a teenager who comes upon a strange girl in the woods. After that the story sucks you into the mystery of the girl, and Ivy’s mom’s secretive past. It’s one of those stories where I don’t know where it leads but it takes you on a twisty, dark journey until all the secrets are revealed. One of the best things about this story is how it unfolds.

+ The story is told between Dana’s past and Ivy’s present and I think it was well done and I was interested in both timelines. It merges together in the climax of the story. The writing is lyrical and dark, and I especially liked when we are in Dana’s past which is set in the 1990’s. I could visually see it all (since I grew up in that time).

+ There are some choices that Dana makes that affects Ivy and it’s something as mother and daughter that puts a wedge between them. Even now as I think about it all, I wonder if Dana could have done something else different to keep her daughter safe from her past.

+ There is a tiny bit of romance, but it’s not a main focus of the book.

~ The beginning may seem a little slow because it’s building the story of the past and it is also part mystery on Ivy’s part.

~ The book is atmospheric but if you aren’t into lyrical prose, this might not be your thing. I’m on the fence with her writing but I feel like for this type of book – where it’s creepy, mysterious and edgy too – it works. Witchcraft and Melissa Albert goes well together! It gave me flashbacks of the movie The Craft – especially when Dana is telling her story because her story is set the 90’s.

Tropes: family secrets, best friends for life

Why you should read it:

  • there is witchcraft and I love how twisty this story is
  • Dana and Ivy’s mother daughter relationship is strained – but you have to find out why
  • atmospheric, creepy, thrilling and so dark

Why you might not want to read it:

  • a little slow to get into only because it is a mystery but it picks up once the pieces fall into place
  • lyrical prose

My Thoughts:

I didn’t know what to expect with this one but I enjoyed it a lot! I was craving a good, spooky witchy book and this had all those elements and more. I was really invested in how Dana and Ivy’s story intertwined and how the consequences of Dana’s past would surface. If you like dark, witchy books with a few twists, you might enjoy this one! I hope the author writes more books like this one!

📚 ~ Yolanda

Other books I’ve reviewed from this Author:

The Hazel Wood by. Melissa Albert – 3.5 STARS

The Night Country (The Hazel Wood, #2) by. Melissa Albert – 2.5 STARS

Quotes From the Book:

He’d had all these ideas about who I was—that’s one of the perils of being quiet, people invent personalities for you—”

~Melissa Albert, Our Crooked Hearts

A mother can be a paring knife, a chisel. She can shape and destroy. I never really thought I would become one.”

~Melissa Albert, Our Crooked Hearts

magic was a thing with teeth, and a history as old as the world.”

~Melissa Albert, Our Crooked Hearts

BLOG TOUR} Mrs. England by. Stacey Halls | ARC Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: Mrs. England

Author: Stacey Halls

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 320

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

Publication Date: 4/12/22

Publisher: MIRA

Categories: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Gothic

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

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

Simmering with slow-burning menace,  Mrs. England  is a portrait of an Edwardian marriage, an enthralling tale of men and women, power and control, courage, truth and the very darkest deception. 

West Yorkshire, 1904. When recently graduated Ruby May takes a nanny position looking after the children of Charles and Lilian England, a wealthy couple from a powerful dynasty of mill owners, she hopes it will be the fresh start she needs. But as she adapts to life at the isolated Hardcastle House, it becomes clear something is not quite right about the beautiful, mysterious Mrs. England.

Distant and withdrawn, Lilian shows little interest in her children or charming husband and is far from the angel of the house Ruby was expecting.

As the warm, vivacious Charles welcomes Ruby into the family, a series of strange events forces her to question everything she thought she knew. Ostracized by the servants and increasingly uneasy, Ruby must face her own demons in order to prevent history from repeating itself. After all, there’s no such thing as the perfect family—she should know.

This captivating new feminist novel from Sunday Times bestselling author Stacey Halls  is her third work of fiction and proves her one of the most exciting and compelling new storytellers of our time. 

Content Warning: Abuse, Manipulation, Misogyny

I read this in one sitting and my favorite part of the book has to be the setting and all the details the author gave us about West Yorkshire, England. I could totally imagine the pollution in the air due to the industrial jobs around at that time. I don’t know how anyone could breathe well there! I love how remote location of Hardcastle House, it really added mystery and a creepy undertone, giving the feeling that something wasn’t right in the town…or in the family. But what it is – we don’t find out until later. Ruby’s position as nanny/nurse was very well detailed also. She was a very fleshed out character and through her eyes we see the ongoings within the England household where something is amiss but we don’t fully know the extent until the end.

I thought the story did a good job of making me suspicious of everyone around Ruby, except for the kids, who are amazing kids with different personalities. I was as attached to them as Ruby were. Ruby was indeed a good nanny to her charges. Mrs. England was so mystery, aloof and inattentive towards her children, seeming afraid of her husband and just absolutely unhappy – but is she a danger to herself like Mr. England tells Ruby?

The writing is fantastic and kept me hooked into the story.

The things that didn’t quite work for me was I felt like nothing much happened in the story until the very end. I found the writing and the household dynamic interesting enough that it held my interest but in the end, I felt like it was missing something. I wish there was more suspense. Also there were some interesting feelings Ruby was feeling for a man in the town who was already engaged to one of the maids at the house – not sure where it was going with that storyline but it went nowhere.

Why you should read it:

  • you like historical fiction with some mystery that involved a dysfunctional marriage and a nanny
  • good writing
  • great setting details

Why you might not want to read it:

  • for me it fell a little flat, needs more suspense

My Thoughts:

I read this in one sitting because I found the writing to be wonderful plus it gave me some suspenseful vibes but I feel like it fell short and had to much more potential to surprise me. I love the setting and characters but I wish more of the action happened earlier in the book instead of at the end of the story. I look forward to reading more from this author.

📚 ~ Yolanda

About the Author:

Stacey Halls grew up in Rossendale, Lancashire. She studied journalism at the University of Central Lancashire and has written for publications including the Guardian, Stylist, Psychologies, the Independent, the Sun and Fabulous. Both of her first two novels, The Familiars and The Lost Orphan, were Sunday Times bestsellers, Mrs England is her third novel.

Author Website | Twitter: @stacey_halls | Instagram:@staceyhallsauthor | Goodreads

BLOG TOUR} A Forgery of Roses by. Jessica S. Olson | ARC Review

Welcome to the blog tour for A Forgery of Roses by. Jessica S. Olson!

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: A Forgery of Roses

Author: Jessica S. Olson

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 368

Buy HERE: Amazon | B & N | Books a Million | IndieBound | | Apple Books | Google Play

Publication Date: 3/29/22

Publisher: Inkyard Press

Categories: Young Adult, Romance, Thriller, Gothic Fantasy, Horror, Murder Mystery

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!

From the author of Sing Me Forgotten comes a lush new fantasy novel with an art-based magic system, romance, and murder…

Myra has a gift many would kidnap, blackmail, and worse to control: she’s a portrait artist whose paintings alter people’s bodies. Guarding that secret is the only way to keep her younger sister safe now that their parents are gone. But one frigid night, the governor’s wife discovers the truth and threatens to expose Myra if she does not complete a special portrait that would resurrect the governor’s dead son.

Once she arrives at the legendary stone mansion, however, it becomes clear the boy’s death was no accident. A killer stalks these halls–one disturbingly obsessed with portrait magic. Desperate to get out of the manor as quickly as possible, Myra turns to the governor’s older son for help completing the painting before the secret she spent her life concealing makes her the killer’s next victim.

Content Warning: Gore, Violence, Kidnapping

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book, but I enjoyed what I read a lot.

The magic in this story is quite unique. Myra can alter or heal someone through her paintings. She paints the person on canvas and then infuses it with her magic. It does come with consequences though, she will feel the pain the person is going through. She is what they call a Prodigy and although her magic can heal, it is forbidden in her town to have such powers. With both her parents gone she is a caretaker and mother to her thirteen year old sister, who is very ill. I love her relationship with her sister, the love between them is so beautiful. They don’t have the money for good care and though Myra can heal injuries, she cannot heal a disease in someone. But when the governor’s son dies, his wife wants Myra to bring him back to life…but can she?

The story unfolds as a murder mystery and it comes with a few twists which was really nice! I love the scary tone of the story, the creepy house the governor and his family lives in, the story of the 5th floor being haunted, and grotesque paintings on the wall. Whoever painted those was sorely unwell, but who did them?

There is some romance in the story as well. Myra and August (the governor’s oldest son) befriend one another and try to solve the mystery of his brother’s death. August is an interesting character who suffers from anxiety and his father, who is a hard man, has no patience for it. I was happy to see his growth and also fight for his right to feel safe in the space he’s made for himself. There were times Myra would tell him how to overcome his struggles and he really stands up to her, explaining how she can’t expect him to change overnight. It’s easier said and done when it’s not something she herself struggling with. He definitely had some fight in him even when he was afraid of his family’s reaction.

Why you should read it:

  • it’s a story filled with mystery, romance, danger, and magic
  • there’s a good twist in the story
  • Myra’s unique magic skills

Why you might not want to read it:

  • not into gothic fantasy

My Thoughts:

This story was a real treat and I enjoyed the unique magic, anxiety rep, the romance, the creepy and thrilling parts of the story, and the twist at the end. I haven’t read a book by this author before, but I’m looking forward to reading more from her.

📚 ~ Yolanda

About the Author:

Jessica S. Olson claims New Hampshire as her home but has somehow found herself in Texas, where she spends most of her time singing praises to the inventor of the air conditioner. When she’s not hiding from the heat, she’s corralling her four wild—but adorable—children, dreaming up stories about kissing and murder and magic, and eating peanut butter by the spoonful straight from the jar. She earned a bachelor’s in English with minors in editing and French, which essentially means she spent all of her university time reading and eating French pastries. She is the author of Sing Me Forgotten (2021) and A Forgery of Roses (2022).

Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Love From Scratch by. Kaitlyn Hill | ARC Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

Title: Love From Scratch

Author: Allison Saft

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 368

Publication Date: 4/05/22

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Categories: Young Adult, Romance, Food, Rivalry, Contemporary

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

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

This summer, Reese Camden is trading sweet tea and Southern hospitality for cold brew and crisp coastal air. She’s landed her dream marketing internship at Friends of Flavor, a wildly popular cooking channel in Seattle. The only problem? Benny Beneventi, the relentlessly charming, backwards-baseball-cap-wearing culinary intern–and her main competition for the fall job.

Reese’s plan to keep work a No Feelings Zone crumbles like a day-old muffin when she and Benny are thrown together for a video shoot that goes viral, making them the internet’s newest ship. Audiences are hungry for more, and their bosses at Friends of Flavor are happy to deliver. Soon Reese and Benny are in an all-out food war, churning homemade ice cream, twisting soft pretzels, breaking eggs in an omelet showdown–while hundreds of thousands of viewers watch. 

Reese can’t deny the chemistry between her and Benny. But the more their rivalry heats up, the harder it is to keep love on the back burner… 

Content Warning: Sexism, Cyber-Bullying

All you rom-com foodies will enjoy this book! First the book cover already gives you a glimpse of what is going to come in the story. Two interns out of high school are competing for a spot on a food network. They are randomly thrown together for an amateur series but the big suits of the company want to make it competitive. Reese is from Kentucky, she’s a southern belle with food knowledge that she learned in her grandma’s kitchen. Whereas Benny is almost a cooking pro since his family owns a restaurant.

The banter between them is the cutest and you can feel the chemistry! Also – there are so many food puns. I liked how they have chemistry on screen and yet are rivals and also friends. I mean how can Reese resist Benny when he’s so good-looking, charming and can cook!

The challenges between them come because of the food network throwing them into a competition for the internship. They both have their reasons for wanting it but we see how Reese gets treated because she’s female in comparison to Benny. The story touches on sexism in the industry and of course the cyberbullying/trolling that comes with fame from something that goes viral. The men/bosses around Reese give her inappropriate looks and say things they shouldn’t and of course the online comments are the worst. The fans of the show peg Reese as a girl who’s bitchy, ugly, someone sleeping her way to the top and it really gets her down but I’m glad it doesn’t totally destroy her. She has her best friends on standby and they are her biggest cheerleaders.

Miscommunication comes between Reese and Benny so the conflict isn’t major but this is a very cute, light hearted rom-com so I think it works for the tone of the story. Also these two characters haven’t exactly had hard lives, they are just two regular teens out of high school trying to decide what the next step will be and hope they succeed.

Why you should read it:

  • you love a foodie romance story, lots of food puns
  • light hearted, cute and sweet romance
  • Benny and Reese’s banter and chemistry

Why you might not want to read it:

  • not into food and romance

My Thoughts:

This was a cute read and if you love food and romance, you will definitely enjoy Love From Scratch.

📚 ~ Yolanda

What We Harvest by. Ann Fraistat | ARC Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: What We Harvest

Author: Ann Fraistat

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 336

Publication Date: 3/22/22

Publisher: Delcorte

Categories: Young Adult, Romance, Alchemy, Thriller, Fantasy, Horror, Contemporary

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

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

For fans of Wilder Girls comes a nightmarish debut guaranteed to keep you up through the night, about an idyllic small town poisoned by its past, and one girl who must fight the strange disease that’s slowly claiming everyone she loves.

Wren owes everything she has to her home, Hollow’s End, a centuries-old, picture perfect American town. Tourists travel miles to marvel at its miracle crops, including the shimmering, iridescent wheat of Wren’s family farm. Until five months ago.

That’s when the quicksilver mercury blight first surfaced, poisoning the farms of Hollow’s End one by one. It began by consuming the crops–thick, silver sludge bleeding from the earth. Next were the animals. Infected livestock and wild creatures alike staggered off into the woods by day—only to return at night, their eyes, fogged white, leering from the trees.

Then, the blight came for the neighbors.

Wren is among the last locals standing. And the blight has finally come for her, too. Now, the only one she can turn to is the last person she wants to call: her ex, Derek. They haven’t spoken in months, but Wren and Derek still have one thing in common—Hollow’s End means everything to them. Only there’s much they don’t know about their hometown and its renowned miracle crops. And they’re about to discover that miracles aren’t free.

Their ancestors have an awful lot to pay for, and Wren and Derek are the only ones left to settle old debts.

Content Warning: Gore, Violence

You can kind of tell from the cover of this book that something sinister is going to be happening in this book.

Wren lives in a special town, where four founding families have situated themselves over a few generations and grow their miraculous crops and animals. Wren doesn’t know how it came to be her family grew rainbow wheat but she is next to inherit the farm except that now the farms are ruined with Blight. But this blight isn’t ordinary – it doesn’t only kill crops, it turns people and animals into zombie like creatures. So it’s a race against time before Wren can figure out not to get infected, turn into one of the Blighted, and save the farm – her family’s legacy.

This story is creepy, especially because the Blighted come out once the sun goes down. It has a lot of action too which was fun! There is even romance between Wren and boy next door or boy from one of the other founding families – her best friend since childhood, Derek. But they have broken up and now they have to rely on each other to stay safe and also to save their loved ones. There is also a f/f relationship with Derek’s sister Claudette and her girlfriend, Angie.

I liked the reveal of how the families got their source of magic to keep their farms growing the way they did. It’s horrific but I love that Wren does everything she can to undo it. The conclusion wraps everything up pretty good except for the parts where we don’t know what the government learned about the blight and what they will do with the information.

There were some parts that frustrated me about the book, like when Wren kept getting people hurt. That was partly Derek’s fault too but I was getting annoyed with her decision making. I mean I get she was half zombie at that point and couldn’t quite control herself though haha. I’m just glad things worked out!

Why you should read it:

  • story is creepy, thrilling and filled with action – I liked the reveal and conclusion
  • a quick, engaging read with just a few horror/gory scenes
  • zombies

Why you might not want to read it:

  • you are not into lite horror and gore or zombies

My Thoughts:

This is a gripping read and I was engrossed with seeing how everything played out with Wren and the blight on the farms. The tone was perfectly creepy, especially when the sun went down. If you like books like Small Favors and Burn Our Bodies Down, stories that take place on farms – you will enjoy this one!

📚 ~ Yolanda

Monday’s Not Coming by. Tiffany D. Jackson | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

Title: Monday’s Not Coming

Author: Tiffany D. Jackson

Format: eBook (Kindle Unlimited)

Pages: 448

Publication Date: 5/22/18

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Categories: Coming of Age, Young Adult, Teen, Abuse, Mental Health, Dyslexia, Mystery

Monday Charles is missing, and only Claudia seems to notice. Claudia and Monday have always been inseparable—more sisters than friends. So when Monday doesn’t turn up for the first day of school, Claudia’s worried. When she doesn’t show for the second day, or second week, Claudia knows that something is wrong. Monday wouldn’t just leave her to endure tests and bullies alone. Not after last year’s rumors and not with her grades on the line. Now Claudia needs her best—and only—friend more than ever. But Monday’s mother refuses to give Claudia a straight answer, and Monday’s sister April is even less help.

As Claudia digs deeper into her friend’s disappearance, she discovers that no one seems to remember the last time they saw Monday. How can a teenage girl just vanish without anyone noticing that she’s gone? 

Content Warning: Sexual Harassment, Abuse, Bullying, Homophobia

I love Tiffany D. Jackson’s writing. This is the third book I’ve read from her and I just love how her writing flows and how her stories are mysterious, thrillers with some horror, and yet infused with stories about friendship, community, abuse, growing up/coming of age, and family. The setting of the story is in the city of Washington D.C., and we get a good sense of the community and the difference of where Claudia lives in her own home and where Monday lives in a public housing. The girls both go to a charter school to get a better education.

Claudia is only in the 8th grade and on the verge of going to high school. As the new school year starts her best friend Monday has not shown up to school at all and she is worried. She doesn’t know why anyone else isn’t worried but she knows something is wrong. We see through Claudia’s memories how close she and Monday is, like sisters! Then we really see how important Monday is to Claudia as the story goes on. Claudia is going through so many changes, like dealing with boys, being bullied at school, pressure to do good in school – but without Monday that’s difficult. All she wants is to know what happened to Monday.

Claudia and Monday are as close as sisters, or so Claudia thinks from all their time spent together. You could really feel their bond in the story just through Claudia’s memories. Monday is vibrant, smart, talented and beautiful. Claudia also has another friend in the story, Michael, who is someone she knows from church and I liked how he stayed by her side through it all.

The mystery about Monday intensifies when Claudia doesn’t let up her search for her best friends and we find out some pretty horrific things about what went down in Monday’s house. It’s chilling because we know these things do happen, and heartbreaking because I wish children in these situations had a better chance at life.

The one thing that didn’t work for me in this story was the chapter titles which made some parts confusing. There is a major twist to the story and I think that’s why the chapter titles are worded the way it is but it was confusing. The confusing timelines are in line with Claudia’s mental state when she finds out what happens to Monday and I can sympathize with her mental breakdown.

Also Claudia and Monday are meeting boys in this story even though they are only 8th grade – now this seems young, but to me it’s realistic.

Why you should read it:

  • the story is inspired by real events – important read
  • Claudia and Monday’s friendship
  • Claudia’s journey without Monday

Why you might not want to read it:

  • the chapter titles are so confusing because the timeline jumps around

My Thoughts:

Despite the confusing chapter titles, I love this author’s work! This was a heartbreaking read because you do get an idea of what happened to Monday – but just how and why it happens is just so sad. It’s an important read not just because we find out what happens to Monday but Claudia’s personal journey also is rife with challenges that she overcomes. In a tragic story there is hope through Claudia who never stops to find her friend Monday. I look forward to reading more from this author!

📚 ~ Yolanda

A Far Wilder Magic by. Allison Saft | ARC Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: A Far Wilder Magic

Author: Allison Saft

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 384

Publication Date: 3/08/22

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Categories: Young Adult, Romance, Magical Realism, Fantasy

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

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

When Margaret Welty spots the legendary hala, the last living mythical creature, she knows the Halfmoon Hunt will soon follow. Whoever is able to kill the hala will earn fame and riches, and unlock an ancient magical secret. If Margaret wins the hunt, it may finally bring her mother home. While Margaret is the best sharpshooter in town, only teams of two can register, and she needs an alchemist.

Weston Winters isn’t an alchemist–yet. Fired from every apprenticeship he’s landed, his last chance hinges on Master Welty taking him in. But when Wes arrives at Welty Manor, he finds only Margaret and her bloodhound Trouble. Margaret begrudgingly allows him to stay, but on one condition: he must join the hunt with her.

Although they make an unlikely team, Wes is in awe of the girl who has endured alone on the outskirts of a town that doesn’t want her, in this creaking house of ghosts and sorrow. And even though Wes disrupts every aspect of her life, Margaret is drawn to him. He, too, knows what it’s like to be an outsider. As the hunt looms closer and tensions rise, Margaret and Wes uncover dark magic that could be the key to winning the hunt – if they survive that long. 

In A Far Wilder Magic, Allison Saft has written an achingly tender love story set against a deadly hunt in an atmospheric, rich fantasy world that will sweep you away. 

Content Warning: Death of Animals, Prejudice, Discrimination, Parental Neglect

This was a very interesting book and one that I didn’t think I was going to like but it actually grew on me!

Now I usually start off with what I liked but with this one, I’ll do the opposite. I couldn’t get into the beginning of this story for some reason. We meet Wes who wants badly to be an alchemist, to then become a politician. I didn’t understand why he needed to be an alchemist to be a politician – and then we meet Margaret who is the daughter of the woman he’s trying to apprentice for.

Stories with alchemy are a hit of miss for me. I am either interested in the concept of alchemy or not. In this case…I was not interested in it at all. The world this story is set in is very different though. This story is set in what seems like the early 1900’s maybe, and in this town there is a mythical fox creature, the hala, which is on the loose and killing livestock and hurting people. There is a hunting event taking place to hunt the hala, in order to join you need an alchemist and a sharpshooter. Religion is prevalent in the story, it seems like the Wes is Sumic and Sumic people are similar to Catholics and Margaret is Yu’adir which is similar to being Jewish. So there are issues of discrimination, anti-immigration and anti-semitism that Margaret and Wes face in the story.

Wes is an alchemist or trying to be a good one but he needs to train. He wants to train with Margaret’s mom who is basically not around. Instead he gets chosen to be Margaret’s partner in the hunt. Margaret is left alone to fend for herself while her mother does research for alchemy – all her mom is interested in is alchemy. All Margaret wants is her mother’s love. Wes and Margaret don’t start off on the right foot. Margaret is closed off and independent and sees through Wes and his charming self. Wes is a flirt and does so every chance he gets but eventually Margaret gets under his skin and something grows between them.

The thing I enjoyed most about this book was Margaret and Wes’ personal journeys. Margaret comes to the realization that her mom really isn’t a good mom. But Margaret had to come to that conclusion on her own. As for Wes, he has his own problems to deal with – he is ambitious but has a big family relying on him. I love how though he has his problems with his family, there is so much love and support there. I thought they made a good couple, she’s strong and he’s open and charming. They are both pretty determined people. I thought their romance story was sweet and that’s what really got me into the story.

The story of hunting the hala was interesting because it’s a mythical creature and we get to see how alchemy is used and we also get to see how Wes and Margaret are treated in this town. Overall, I don’t know if the magical realism totally worked for me, I think I wanted more details in the world-building.

Why you should read it:

  • you enjoy magical realism
  • there is a love story
  • there is alchemy and a mythical creature

Why you might not want to read it:

  • not into alchemy or magical realism

My Thoughts:

Best thing about this story for me was the romance and the personal growth for both Margaret and Wes. If you love stories with alchemy and magical realism then you will definitely enjoy this one. If you are not then you might have some trouble getting into this story like I did in the beginning.

📚 ~ Yolanda

Blade of Secrets by. Tricia Levenseller | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

Title: Blade of Secrets

Author: Tricia Levenseller

Format: Hardcover (borrowed)

Pages: 336

Publication Date: 5/4/21

Categories: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult

Eighteen-year-old Ziva prefers metal to people. She spends her days tucked away in her forge, safe from society and the anxiety it causes her, using her magical gift to craft unique weapons imbued with power.

Then Ziva receives a commission from a powerful warlord, and the result is a sword capable of stealing its victims’ secrets. A sword that can cut far deeper than the length of its blade. A sword with the strength to topple kingdoms. When Ziva learns of the warlord’s intentions to use the weapon to enslave all the world under her rule, she takes her sister and flees.

Joined by a distractingly handsome mercenary and a young scholar with extensive knowledge of the world’s known magics, Ziva and her sister set out on a quest to keep the sword safe until they can find a worthy wielder or a way to destroy it entirely.

A teenage blacksmith with social anxiety accepts a commission from the wrong person and is forced to go on the run to protect the world from the most powerful magical sword she’s ever made.

Content Warning: Anxiety, Violence

I finally got my hands on this book and I think my expectations were too high. It turned out to be an enjoyable book regardless of my expectations though.

What I love the most about this story is the group of four traveling companions: Ziva, her sister Temra, Petrik the scholar and a mercenary named Kellyn. Ziva is a magical blacksmith – she has the power to infuse weapons with magic, which I love. I love characters who have a trade or craft skill. Temra is her younger sister and assistant, who is also a sword fighter. Petrik has lived mostly in a library so he has no fighting skills, but he wants to know about Ziva’s magic. Kellyn is confident with his sword skills and looks. Put them all together and we have an engaging group that bring humor to this story. I really love them.

Now Ziva isn’t only a blacksmith, but she has anxiety. We see her struggle in social events, or just even talking to new people. She second guesses herself in this situations, which is the opposite when she is working alone on a blade. Her anxiety is relatable. Having Temra by her side as her sister and assistant helps her a lot, and she can’t imagine a world without her.

The romance between Ziva and Kellyn is a slow burn because of her anxiety, which is great because it fits her character.

As for the story, I enjoyed the world-building and getting to know the kingdom of Ghadra but it’s not as detailed as I wanted. We meet a warlord who is power hungry and wants to take down the current rulers but we haven’t met the rulers yet. I’m hoping in the sequel we get more. Ziva and her friends go on a journey across Ghadra to run from this warlord and hide the blade so there is a lot of action in the book that keep the story moving. At times I thought the story felt like a light fantasy, maybe because the characters are so funny together, but then the fight scenes would have Kellyn cutting someone clear in half, making Ziva queasy. Even her sister gets pretty hurt…yet the story lacked intensity to me.

Why you should read it:

  • fun cast of characters
  • Ziva is a great anxiety rep, I could definitely relate
  • slow burn romances

Why you might not want to read it:

  • I just wanted the story to have a little bit more intensity but that’s a personal preference

My Thoughts:

I really enjoyed this story about Ziva and her sister and new found friends as they try to do the right thing and keep their kingdom safe. There is action, humor, romance, friendship and so much room for this story to grow. I’m looking forward to the sequel.

📚 ~ Yolanda

Quotes from the Book:

“I hate feeling as though I don’t fit right in my own skin. As though the anxiety takes up too much space, pushing me aside.”

Blade of Secrets by. Tricia Levenseller

“I am more than my fear and weaknesses, but so much of the time, they’re all I can think about.” 

Blade of Secrets by. Tricia Levenseller

“As for not liking people, that’s fine. I don’t really like people, either. Maybe we could not like people together.” 

Blade of Secrets by. Tricia Levenseller

Edgewood by. Kristen Ciccarelli | ARC Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

Title: Edgewood

Author: Kristen Ciccarelli

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 400

Publication Date: 3/01/22

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Categories: Young Adult, Contemporary 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 Wednesday Books for giving me a chance to read this eARC in exchange for an honest review!

No matter how far she runs, the forest of Edgewood always comes for Emeline Lark. The scent of damp earth curls into her nose when she sings and moss creeps across the stage. It’s as if the woods of her childhood, shrouded in folklore and tall tales, are trying to reclaim her. But Emeline has no patience for silly superstitions.

When her grandfather disappears, leaving only a mysterious orb in his wake, the stories Emeline has always scoffed at suddenly seem less foolish. She enters the forest she has spent years trying to escape, only to have Hawthorne Fell, a handsome and brooding tithe collector, try to dissuade her from searching.

Refusing to be deterred, Emeline finds herself drawn to the court of the fabled Wood King himself. She makes a deal—her voice for her grandfather’s freedom. Little does she know, she’s stumbled into the middle of a curse much bigger than herself, one that threatens the existence of this eerie world she’s trapped in, along with the devastating boy who feels so familiar.

With the help of Hawthorne—an enemy turned reluctant ally who she grows closer to each day—Emeline sets out to not only save her grandfather’s life, but to right past wrongs, and in the process, discover her true voice.

Haunting and romantic, Kristen Ciccarelli’s Edgewood is an exciting novel from a bold, unforgettable voice in fantasy.

Content Warning: Dementia, Alzheimer’s

This was an interesting story and at first I wasn’t sure it was working for me. It’s about a girl who’s a musician but she comes from a place called Edgewood where everyone knows the woods are enchanted – she grew up with stories about the forest, even neighbors had visited the court of the Wood King so this is very much contemporary fantasy.

As a character, Emeline is a musician and independent. She is on her own trying to make a big splash in the music world. She seems to have issues with guys, always having a new boyfriend to push away whatever memories or feelings she feels like she is running from. Her grandfather is her only living family and he has Alzheimer’s. When he is tithed to the Wood King, Emeline goes to rescue him but bargains with the Wood King herself.

My favorite part of this story though was how it unraveled and the romance between her and Hawthorne Fell. It at first starts off as an enemies to lovers romance but then we dig deeper and find out the truth of what happened and it comes full circle. The reveal at the end was magical and unexpected.

World-building wise I thought it was pretty good but lacking on details of the faerie court, which I generally look forward to because I love the Fae. But it’s a standalone book so I can understand why it wasn’t so detailed.

The beginning was slow as we get to know Emeline and her musical ambitions but it definitely picks up when she returns to Edgewood to rescue her grandfather.

Why you should read it:

  • contemporary fantasy with a forest that takes you into the world of the Wood King
  • Emeline and Hawthorne’s love story
  • love how music and memory was entwined with the story

Why you might not want to read it:

  • slow beginning

My Thoughts:

This story grew on me and I couldn’t put it down even though I was doubting how I felt about it at the start of the book. But by the end I was captured by the romance story of Emeline and Hawthorne and how it was revealed.

📚 ~ Yolanda