Posted in ARC Reviews, Book Blog, 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 Blog, 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 Blog, 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 Blog, 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 Blog, 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 Blog, 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

Posted in ARC Reviews, Book Blog, Book Reviews

ARC Review: Mara the Space Traveler – An Leysen

Rating: 3/5 🌟🌟🌟

Genre: Children’s Fiction

Review:

I love illustrations and I enjoy children’s books a lot. So when I saw this book with the beautiful cover, of course I was enchanted. Mara the Space Traveler is about a little girl with a rich imagination and dreams of being an astronaut.

The drawings were stunning and beautiful. I lingered on each page, enjoying the illustrations which were very vivid and colorful and would easily grab the attention of any child. Continue reading “ARC Review: Mara the Space Traveler – An Leysen”

Posted in ARC Reviews, Book Blog, Book Reviews, Netgalley

ARC Book Review: Hideaway – Nora Roberts

Rating: 5/5 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Genre: Contemporary Romance, Suspense

Review:

Hideaway is the story of Cate Sullivan, the prodigy of a famous Hollywood family. She is kidnapped as a child and that trauma, with its underlying hurtful revelations, ripples throughout her life, re-shaping it from what could have to what can be, disrupting her set path, affecting not just her but her entire family and that of Dillon Cooper’s and forcing her to turn into a new direction.

I have to say upfront, I couldn’t believe it when I was lucky enough to get approved for the ARC of this book. Nora Roberts is my favorite author in the world. Her books saved my life, shaped my future and I can’t thank her enough for her stories. So I was over the moon when I got the ARC. My first ever Nora Roberts ARC! I was both excited and terrified to read Hideaway. The excited part is easy to understand but dread because, what if I hated the book? Or what if the story didn’t speak to me? My principles wouldn’t allow me to give a less than honest opinion. I can’t in good faith ever fake a positive review when I don’t like the book. But thankfully, my fears turned out to be groundless. Continue reading “ARC Book Review: Hideaway – Nora Roberts”