Posted in ARC Reviews, Book Reviews, Netgalley

e-ARC Review: Mysteries of Thorn Manor (Sorcery of Thorns #1.5) – Margaret Rogerson

Rating: 5/5 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Publication Date: January 17, 2023

Review:

Welcome back to the world of Sorcery of Thorns, where grimoires talk back and magic runs rampant. The cover of Sorcery of Thorns was an exceptional one and Mysteries of Thorn Manor follows that trend with another fantastic cover. I can’t wait to add this one to my collection and that should tell you right away how much I enjoyed this book.

Mysteries of Thorn Manor is a tasty little morsel of a book that was a delight to read. It picks up after the events of Sorcery of Thorns and I loved that we got to see Elisabeth and Nathaniel’s relationship evolve along with the chaos of magical mishaps.

I had a lot of fun reading it and found myself laughing out loud at some of the delightful scenes. This book was in equal measures packed with magic, humor, insight, deep emotions, and perhaps a glimpse into the making of the next book? 😉

Book Dragons, make sure you grab this book tomorrow when it’s published. It’s so worth it and I can guarantee you’ll have a blast reading it.

Thanks to Simon & Schuster Canada for the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Stay tuned.

∼Lyn

Synopsis:
In this sequel novella to Sorcery of Thorns, Elisabeth, Nathaniel, and Silas must unravel the magical trap keeping them inside Thorn Manor in time for their Midwinter Ball!
Elisabeth Scrivener is finally settling into her new life with sorcerer Nathaniel Thorn. Now that their demon companion Silas has returned, so has scrutiny from nosy reporters hungry for gossip about the city’s most powerful sorcerer and the librarian who stole his heart. But something strange is afoot at Thorn Manor: the estate’s wards, which are meant to keep their home safe, are acting up and forcibly trapping the Manor’s occupants inside. Surely it must be a coincidence that this happened just as Nathaniel and Elisabeth started getting closer to one another…
With no access to the outside world, Elisabeth, Nathaniel, and Silas – along with their new maid Mercy – will have to work together to discover the source of the magic behind the malfunctioning wards before they’re due to host the city’s Midwinter Ball. Not an easy task when the house is filled with unexpected secrets, and all Elisabeth can think about is kissing Nathaniel in peace. But when it becomes clear that the house, influenced by the magic of Nathaniel’s ancestors, requires a price for its obedience, Elisabeth and Nathaniel will have to lean on their connection like never before to set things right.
Posted in ARC Reviews, Book Reviews, Netgalley

e-ARC Review: The Rom-Com Agenda – Jayne Denker

Rating: 4/5 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Genre: Contemporary Romance, Rom-Com

Publication Date: January 10, 2023

Review:

As you all know, along with my love for all things fantasy and paranormal romance, I have a soft spot for rom-coms. When I came across The Rom-Com Agenda, of course, I had to try it out. I had no idea what I was getting into when I started to read this book and I am so glad I chose to read it!

This book was full of vibrant characters and I don’t mean just the main characters. The Rom-Com Agenda has a superb cast who leave you laughing like a loon and endear themselves to your heart so they become part of you. You love them more and more as you get to know them.

The plotline is a predictable one but the writing is fun and witty with equal amounts of emotional depth. Let me put it this way – if you enjoyed the movie, Love Actually, you will love this book. It’s such a feel-good story, it leaves you with a smile and a warmth long after you finish it.

Book Dragons, you’re in for a barrel of laughs and a whole world of sweetness with this one.

Thanks to St. Martin’s Press for the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Stay tuned.

∼Lyn

Synopsis:
Vibrantly funny, endearingly sweet, and a love letter to all things rom com, Jayne Denker’s The Rom Com Agenda is a story of two people finding love right when they least expect it.
You know how the story’s supposed to go…but love makes its own plans.
STEP 1: Find yourself
Leah Keegan is used to being alone, especially after taking care of her sick foster mother for the past year. But now there’s nothing keeping her in the sweet town of Willow Cove. It’s time to move on. Again.
STEP 2: Win back the one who got away
Eli Masterson thought he and Victoria were meant to be together until she decided to jet off to Rome for a year. Eli is determined to win her back. But how?
STEP 3: Become a romantic hero
Changing Eli’s physical appearance is easy, but to turn Eli into the sophisticated-yet-vulnerable ideal man, his girl pals force him to watch classic rom-coms. And take notes.
STEP 4: Fall in love?
Inadvertently drawn into the makeover scheme, Leah ends up being Eli’s guide through the wild world of meet-cutes and grand gestures. Even though she believes Eli doesn’t need to change a thing about himself. Even though she just might be falling for Eli . . . and Eli falling for her.

 

Posted in ARC Reviews, Book Reviews

Book Review: Katzenjammer – Francesca Zappia

Rating: 4/5 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Genre: Horror, Young Adult, Mental Health, Mystery

Review:

There was something heartbreaking about this story even from the first page. A shroud of gloom hanging over me, following behind like a shadow. A melancholy that stayed with me throughout the whole book. It takes exceptional writing to be able to project that solemnity through words and I think Francesca Zappia achieved that because this was a difficult story to write.

I could tell going in that Cat’s life wasn’t going to be easy, that there had to be a reason she couldn’t remember why she was trapped in school, why she and the other students were slowly transforming. There was an underlying symbolism between Cat’s lost memories to the horror in school, and things slowly come to light as you read on. How you can live the span of a lifetime in a heartbeat, how senseless cruelty can break you, how your mind shapes your world to shield you against hard truths.

I’m a person who firmly believes that the traumas you go through don’t give you the right to lash out at others and I don’t say that lightly, because I know what it’s like to be belittled, cut down to pieces until you’re nothing. But I also know that there are always consequences to every action, ripples and cracks that spread to break a person when you’re not strong enough to hold at bay the tsunami of water crashing to drown you.

I know many people won’t like this book. The events in this book are not easy or just, and a lot of people would hate the ending, but it was always going to end that way, and the author stayed true to the truths she was trying to convey.

Terrible truths that shape our reality and the world we live in. There are three sides to every story – yours, theirs and the unvarnished, unbiased truth. A lot of people won’t get that. This wasn’t a happy story but one that was necessary and needed to be told, one which took courage to write.

Thanks to HarperCollins Canada for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Stay tuned.

∼Lyn

Synopsis: Cat lives in her high school. She never leaves, and for a long time her school has provided her with everything she needs. But now things are changing. The hallways contract and expand along with the school’s breathing, and the showers in the bathroom run a bloody red. Cat’s best friend is slowly turning into cardboard, and instead of a face, Cat has a cat mask made of her own hardened flesh. Cat doesn’t remember why she is trapped in her school or why half of them–Cat included–are slowly transforming. Escaping has always been the one impossibility in her school’s upside-down world. But to save herself from the eventual self-destruction all the students face, Cat must find the way out. And to do that, she’ll have to remember what put her there in the first place. Includes interior illustrations from the author.

 

Posted in ARC Reviews, Book Reviews, Netgalley

Book Review: The Choice (The Dragon Heart Legacy #3) – Nora Roberts

Rating: 2/5 🌟🌟

Genre: Paranormal Romance, Fantasy

Review:

Welcome back to the world of Talamh, the world of the Fey, of magick & Sidhe & dragons – to the final conclusion of Breen’s destiny.  I wanted this last book to be epic but sadly it fell short of my hopes & expectations. I remember how disappointed I was with the first book, and how nice it was when the second book got better. I wanted so much to love The Choice but though I liked parts of it, sadly I just couldn’t love it.

The romance between the main characters was downplayed – mostly the emotional impact was lukewarm and that just tanked it for me. As for the plot, too much detail was given to everyday things and for the last book in a trilogy, it made the story even less dynamic.

The ‘how’ behind some of the magic was not revealed for at least two key turning points for Keegan and it felt like this was overlooked when it was so vital. I felt cheated because Nora Roberts always gets this right.

The ending felt rushed and again had that lukewarm feel to it that left me feeling disappointed.

The parts that I liked a lot were the LGBTQ element of it – Marco and Brian were my favorite couple – the trolls, and the dragons. Oh, there was one scene that was so heartbreaking it had me in tears.

What makes me feel sad is that this trilogy had the potential of being dynamic & epic but though NR’s writing was rich enough for the descriptions – the rich emotions that I’ve always loved in her storytelling were missing and I was left with a feeling of despondency at the end of it.

However, this series has some good scenes and is worth a read.

Thanks to Little, Brown Book Group UK, Piatkus & NetGalley for the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

∼Lyn

Synopsis:
The conclusion of the epic trilogy from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Awakening and The Becoming.
Talamh is a land of green hills, high mountains, deep forests, and seas, where magicks thrive. But portals allow for passage in and out–and ultimately, each must choose their place, and choose between good and evil, war and peace, life and death…
Breen Siobhan Kelly grew up in the world of Man and was once unaware of her true nature. Now she is in Talamh, trying to heal after a terrible battle and heartbreaking losses. Her grandfather, the dark god Odran, has been defeated in his attempt to rule over Talamh, and over Breen–for now.
With the enemy cast out and the portal sealed, this is a time to rest and to prepare. Breen spreads her wings and realizes a power she’s never experienced before. It’s also a time for celebrations–of her first Christmas in both Talamh and Ireland, of solstice and weddings and births–and daring to find joy again in the wake of sorrow. She rededicates herself to writing her stories, and when his duties as taoiseach permit, she is together with Keegan, who has trained her as a warrior and whom she has grown to love.
It’s Keegan who’s at her side when the enemy’s witches, traitorous and power-mad, appear to her in her sleep, practicing black magick, sacrificing the innocent, and plotting a brutal destruction for Breen. And soon, united with him and with all of Talamh, she will seek out those in desperate need of rescue, and confront the darkness with every weapon she has: her sword, her magicks–and her courage…

 

Posted in ARC Reviews, Book Reviews

e-ARC Review: The Silence That Binds Us – Joanna Ho

Rating: 5/5 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Genre: Young Adult, Mental Health, Asian, Racism

Release Date: 14 June 2022

Review:

First of all, that cover is absolutely apt for this book. It was what drew me to it. I have anxiety and depression and sometimes it feels like I’m drowning and the surface feels too far away. This cover emphasized that and resonated with me.

Maybelline’s brother was the perfect one, who had his life all figured out, who he wanted to be, where he wanted to go to college whereas Maybelline can’t seem to get her mother’s approval for even one achievement. Then the unthinkable happens and Danny takes his own life, leaving May and her family reeling in the aftermath.

The author’s writing was exceptional. She did a remarkable job emphasizing and showing difficult issues such as mental health and racism. I liked that she didn’t just focus on Asian but Black people and the ignorance of others over the prejudice they have to endure.

Best of all, you could see May’s character growth as she fell down and picked herself back up, how she learned to see the world as it was and not how she wanted it to be. And you couldn’t help but love Tiya, Marc, Hugh, and Celeste.

The emotions in the story surged through and had a huge impact on me. The grief and the guilt, the sibling love between May and Danny, the friendships, that glimmer of hope at the end. And there were scenes that ripped your heart out and left you in tears.

The fact that the author could pull these powerful emotions in me says it all. This is by no means an easy story, with powerful scenes that will change you forever. And that is exactly why you need to read it.

Thanks to HarperCollins Canada for the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Stay tuned.

∼Lyn

Synopsis:
Maybelline Chen isn’t the Chinese Taiwanese American daughter her mother expects her to be. May prefers hoodies over dresses and wants to become a writer. When asked, her mom can’t come up with one specific reason for why she’s proud of her only daughter. May’s beloved brother, Danny, on the other hand, has just been admitted to Princeton. But Danny secretly struggles with depression, and when he dies by suicide, May’s world is shattered.
In the aftermath, racist accusations are hurled against May’s parents for putting too much “pressure” on him. May’s father tells her to keep her head down. Instead, May challenges these ugly stereotypes through her writing. Yet the consequences of speaking out run much deeper than anyone could foresee. Who gets to tell our stories, and who gets silenced? It’s up to May to take back the narrative.

 

Posted in ARC Reviews, Book Reviews, Netgalley

eARC Review: Shadow Fallen (Dream-Hunters #6) – Sherrilyn Kenyon

Rating: 4/5 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Genre: PNR, Fantasy

Review:

I’ve been a faithful fan of the Dark Hunter series by Sherrilyn Kenyon since back when the books were still being released. 16 years later and I’m amazed at the evolution of the Dark Hunters and Dream Hunters and the connections between all the stories and characters.

Meet our tortured hero, Valteri – deemed terrifying and unlovable and a horrible demon – because of, guess what? The color of his eyes! People can be so cruel. The one thing I’ve always admired about Sherrilyn Kenyon’s stories is her ability to show the worst of humankind. And the best of it.

Stuck in a predicament not of her own choosing, Ariel still saw Valteri for who he truly was. I loved that about her. She didn’t let the prejudice and bigotry of other people stop her from seeing Valteri’s good heart.

And of course we can’t forget all the hidden nuclear secrets, appearance of some favorite characters, a surprising cameo and a satisfying end. The pacing was a bit slower than usual but overall it was a nice addition to both the Dark Hunter and Dream Hunter series.

A big thanks to NetGalley & Macmillan-Tor/Forge for the eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Stay tuned.

∼Lyn

Synopsis:
For centuries, Ariel has fought the forces of evil. Her task was to protect the souls of innocent mortals when they die. Captured by a powerful sorceress, she is transformed into a human who has no memory of her real life or calling.
And is plunked into the middle of the Norman invasion of England.
Cursed the moment he was born with a “demonic deformity,” Valteri wants nothing of this earth except to depart it and will do his duty to his king until then. When a strange noblewoman is brought before him, Valteri realizes he has met her before…in his dreams. When others come for her, bringing with them preternatural predators, he is faced with a destiny he had no idea was waiting. One he wants no part of.
The truth is that Valteri isn’t just a knight of William the Conqueror. He is the son of one of the deadliest powers in existence, and if he doesn’t restore Ariel to her place, she is not the only one who will be in peril. The world itself hangs in the balance, and he is the necessary key to hold back the powers of evil. But only if he can find a way to work with the woman who stands for everything in the universe he hates.

 

Posted in ARC Reviews, Book Reviews, Netgalley

ARC Review: Fable (Fable #1) by Adrienne Young

Rating: 5/5 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Pub Date: 01 Sep 2020

Review:

One fateful night leaves Fable without a mother and abandoned on an island where she has to fend for herself until the day she finds passage off it with the help of a young trader, West. And so begins the start of unlikely alliances as they strive to navigate peril and keep their head above water.

Fable’s story, how she had to strive to live, to survive, broke my heart. I felt so much pain for this young girl, left to fend alone, having to stay on guard all the time. I wanted to hug her and make her life better. Give her food, shelter, protect her. The author wove such a heartbreaking character with a core of steel that you couldn’t help but feel for her.

As for West? He was an enigma, layers and layers of complications and secrets. I wanted to know everything about him, and finding those answers, getting to know him better – drew me in deeper. The ending chapters? Oh, I tipped over the edge and fell for him.

The side-characters, the crew of the Marigold—each one with their unique voices, charmed and endeared me to their plights. As secrets are revealed and pacts made, this story grabs you and hooks you in to the last page.

The world-building and descriptions were excellent. The author’s writing was a pleasure to read and the cliffhanger left me in high anticipation for more. This was my first book by Adrienne Young, and I have to say she completely won me over. I cannot wait to read the next book.

*Thanks to the publisher, St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.⁣

Synopsis: 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.
Posted in ARC Reviews, Book Reviews, Edelweiss

ARC Review: Once in a Blue Moon (Blessings, Georgia #10) – Sharon Sala

Rating: 3/5 🌟🌟🌟

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Release Date: 25 August 2020

Review:

After a tumultuous marriage and acrimonious divorce, Cathy fled her ex-husband to try to find a peaceful life for herself. That’s where the small town of Blessings and the super-cute, super-nice rancher, Duke Talbot come in. As the newcomer in Blessings, Cathy is reluctant to make new ties. When Duke comes to the rescue after Cathy has a bad fall, it pushes her into instant ties with the town denizens, filling her life with new possibilities and new chances.

I liked Cathy. Her decisions left me in awe. To leave everything behind, venture out in the unknown without knowing what you’ll encounter takes a lot of courage and I admired her for it. She was a good fit for Duke, a man who shouldered responsibility and strove to do what was right. Duke was so endearing, he charmed me straight away. I loved his relationship with his brother, Jake and sister-in-law, Hope.

My only complaint with this story is that it veered away too much from the romance between Cathy and Duke to focus instead on the lives of the townspeople. I would have enjoyed the story more if the focus had been on Cathy and Duke. I did love the addition of little 8-year-old Melvin Lee though, which enhanced Cathy and Duke’s relationship. He was a sweet little tyke and his manner of speaking was so cute you couldn’t help but love him and feel for his situation.

It’s been a long time since I last read a Sharon Sala book but I still enjoy her writing and the dashes of humor always leave me smiling. This book is part of a series but can also be read as stand-alone.

*Thanks to Edelweiss and the publisher, Sourcebooks Casablanca for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis: Sharon Sala’s Blessings, GA series immerses the reader in a world where bad things may happen, but good people always come out ahead. Supremely satisfying, Sala’s contemporary romances bring out the best in people! Rancher Duke Talbot meets Cathy Terry in Blessings by chance. She’s new to town, and so grateful to be there—Blessings feels like a safe haven. As their relationship grows and Cathy sees Duke’s feelings for her are real, she confesses she’s on the run from an abusive ex-husband. Now she’s fallen in love with Blessings and with Duke, and Cathy doesn’t want to run anymore.
Posted in ARC Reviews, Book Reviews, Netgalley

ARC Review: The Siren and the Deep Blue Sea (Embraced by Magic #2) by Kerrelyn Sparks

Rating: 4/5 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Genre: Paranormal Romance, Rom-Com

Release Date: 25 Aug 2020

Review:

When two months go by without word from the shape-shifter spy, Brody, no one seems perturbed—except for Maeve, the youngest of the five embraced sisters who always had a special bond with him. Maeve goes in search of him, unaware that this course of action will lead Brody and her into a world of peril and painful secrets.

Side-note – Although this appears to be book 2 in a new series, it’s actually a continuation of the series before it called, Embraced. But all the books in these two series can also be read as stand-alones as the author’s segue is easy to follow.

I have to say upfront, I loved the plot-line of this story. So many secrets and conflicts had me turning the page and unwilling to stop reading. Kerrelyn Sparks crafted a compelling story with dashes of humor that made it a boatload of fun to read. I only read one book in this series but the author’s segue was easy to follow and her writing style a pleasure to read.

The main characters each had complicated back-stories and secrets hiding in their pasts, waiting to blow in their faces. The romance was in equal parts sizzling & funny. The side-characters were hilarious, making me laugh out loud numerous times from their witty comments.

After I finished How To Love Your Elf, I thought for sure Kerrelyn Sparks couldn’t possibly top it but I was wrong. The Siren And The Deep Blue Sea was a delightful read with side-characters that left me grinning and satisfactory resolutions to all the stories in the Embraced and Embraced by Magic series.

*Thanks to the publisher, Kensington Books and NetGalley for the ARC.

Posted in ARC Reviews, AudioBook Reviews, Book Reviews, Graphic Novel Reviews, Kdrama Reviews, Manga Reviews, Movie Reviews

How To Review 101

Hola, Book Dragons. Today I’m playing Yoda to your Luke Skywalker. Okay, okay, I don’t claim to be a Jedi Master expert at reviewing but I do have a basic blueprint for review of different categories of media, which I use to plan a review. It’s come to my rescue even when I got stuck with reviewer writer’s block. I’m sharing my secrets with you guys today. 😉

Books
As a die-hard bibliophile, books are my favorite things in the world. So many times, they’ve helped me cope with depression, unhappiness and so many bad things that dragged me down. But I digress. This is my list of how I review books:
1 – Book Cover
2 – Main Characters and Side-Characters
3 – Plot-Line/Story
4 – World-building/Descriptions
5 – Author’s writing
Book covers are work of arts and I think they deserve recognition too, don’t you? So when doing a review, I do an analysis of Story development, Plotline/Storyline, Character growth, Writing Style and World-building, depending on their relevance to the story.

Graphic Novels/Comic Books/Mangas
Graphic Novels and Mangas are so much fun and they are fast reads. If you haven’t read them before, you really should give them a try.
1 – Book Cover
2 – Quality of drawings
3 – Storyline
4 – Dialogues
Graphic novels and mangas are more of a visual medium rather than imagining the scenes in your head like with the written word, so the quality of drawings is a deal breaker for me. Witty dialogues are the icing on the cake, but if the illustrations are poorly-done, they ruin a good story.

AudioBooks
Audiobooks are a recent venture for me. I prefer the written word but audiobooks have their own charm. Especially when you’re stuck with chores (which I hate).
1 – Narrators
2 – Main Characters
3 – Plot-Line/Story
4 – World-building/Descriptions
For audiobooks, narrators are the deal-breaker for me. Their voice and narrating style are what make the choice for me if I want to listen to the book or not. A good narrator can make me enjoy even the most boring story but if I don’t like the narrator, it can ruin the story for me. In cases like that, I usually give the story a second chance by reading it.

Movies/TV Shows/Kdramas
Like books, I’m pretty eclectic in my choice of movies, TV shows and Kdramas. I enjoy action where things blow up, superheroes, special effects, romance, comedies. 
1 – Storyline
2 – Characters
3 – Dialogues
4 – Action
5 – Special Effects
For Kdramas, I need my element of comedy in them and rom-coms are the best kinds.

Music
1 – Melody
2 – Lyrics
Do I need to elaborate this one? 😉 A good song can reach inside you with its melody, its lyrics and shake your heart.

Like your choice of books, your review is also subjective. Your emotions are your own, and your reviews reflect how something you read, watch and listen to will affect you. That said, the one rule of thumb I always try to stick to, is NO SPOILERS. There’s nothing like a spoiler to ruin an amazing experience for someone else.

Oh, I also try to take notes when I read or listen to audiobooks. It helps me get my thoughts in line for my review.

Well, guys, this my review process. It’s not a comprehensive list and not all the points in each list will be relevant for a review.

What about you, what’s your review process?

∼Lyn