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 Book Blog, Book Reviews

e-ARC Review: The Holloway Girls – Susan Bishop Crispell

Rating: 3/5 🌟🌟🌟

Genre: Young Adult Romance, Fantasy, Magic

Review:

Being a Holloway Girl means your kiss is literally magic. One kiss and good luck knocks on your door. Each Holloway girl gets one kissing season. But there are rules to follow. Break one of those rules and who knows what peril will befall you?

Remy’s older sister, Maggie, had her kissing season and now it’s Remy’s turn. She hopes and dreams of an amazing, successful season. Alas, her luck runs out with her choice for her first kiss, which starts a mess that spirals her life down the drain.

The story started out well, though I can’t imagine kissing anyone just to bestow luck. I did like Remy’s outlook on that, on being more selective than Maggie, on choices that actually meant something. I loved all the baked goods and the new characters were quite charming. I loved the intensity and pull between Remy and the new boy.

That said, the book dragged a bit at times, and the ending was kind of anticlimactic for me. I wanted the people who’d wronged Remy and her family to actually get their comeuppance and wished Remy had a stronger character. But all in all, it was a nice story.

I was going to review the book a day before the release date but decided to wait a few days because of my 3-star review. Thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Stay tuned.

∼Lyn

Synopsis:
When your kiss is good luck, the wrong kiss could change everything…
During the kissing season, one kiss from Remy or her older sister Maggie will give the boy—or girl—good luck. Or so it has been for all the Holloway girls before. But this year, Remy’s first season, she doesn’t follow the rules, dooming the boy she kisses to bad luck that almost kills him and leaving Remy with a cursed kissing season.
Now Remy is adamant about keeping her lips to herself. But the new boy in town is making it hard to keep her promise. Especially because he seems to really want to get to know her, and isn’t just using her for the Holloway luck. But before she can even think about kissing someone else, she’ll have to find a way to fix the curse, or else her family’s legacy will be tainted forever.

 

Posted in Book Blog, Book Reviews

Book Review: Nightwork – Nora Roberts

Rating: 5/5 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Genre: Contemporary Romance, Intrigue

Review:

As a die-hard fan, I’m always on the lookout for new book releases of Nora Roberts and though lately there have been more misses than hits, Nightwork did not disappoint. From the get-go, I loved Harry Booth. He snuck in my heart and stayed there.

I empathized so much with him, over the huge responsibility he shouldered, what he took upon himself to try to pay the bills and take care of his mother. How can you fault him his choices?

I loved how the author portrayed him from a child to a teen to a young man, and as an adult. Harry Booth already had the maturity of an adult at a very young age but you could see the difference in age and experience as we followed his journey into adulthood.

The period of his life when he first met Miranda had me chuckling over how she baffled him. He needed that upheaval in his life. I can go on and on over how much I loved this book and it will still not be enough.

This story right here, is why I love Nora Roberts’ books so much. Her ability to craft a poignant story, with compelling characters, vivid descriptions, dashes of dark humor here and there, a deep abiding love, passion, intrigue, and an apt ending leaves me in awe.

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

Stay tuned.

∼Lyn

Synopsis:
Harry Booth started stealing at nine to keep a roof over his ailing mother’s head, slipping into luxurious, empty homes at night to find items he could trade for precious cash. When his mother finally succumbed to cancer, he left Chicago—but kept up his nightwork.
Wandering from the Outer Banks to Savannah to New Orleans, he dons new identities and stays careful, observant, distant. He can’t afford to attract attention—or get attached. Still, he can’t help letting his guard down when he meets Miranda Emerson. But the powerful bond between them cannot last—because not all thieves follow Harry’s code of honor. Some pay others to take risks so they can hoard more treasures. Some are driven by a desire to own people the way they own paintings and jewels. And after Harry takes a lucrative job commissioned by Carter LaPorte, LaPorte sees a tool he can use, and decides he wants to own Harry.
The man is a predator more frightening than the alligators that haunt the bayou—and when he strongarms Harry into robbing a Baltimore museum, Harry abandons Miranda—cruelly, with no explanation—and disappears. But no matter what name he uses or where he goes, LaPorte casts a shadow over Harry’s life. To truly free himself, he must face down his enemy once and for all. Only then can he hope to possess something more valuable than anything he has ever stolen…

 

Posted in Book Blog, Book Reviews

Book Review: Book of Night – Holly Black

Rating: 2/5 🌟🌟

Genre: Fantasy, Adult

Review:

An unbeatable thief in a world of shadows and secrets, how can you pass over a book like that? The answer is you can’t. From the book cover to the back, Holly Black’s new adult novel, Book of Night, is designed to entice and sink its claws deep into you so you can’t escape.

Charlie Hall isn’t your typical character, rather she’s an unlikely one, with a history of mistakes and bad decisions under her belt, but she did the best with what life handed to her. It’s all we can do, isn’t it? Play the cards we’re dealt.

Vince, another unlikely hero, the mirrored surface of a lake. Among the myriad characters in this book, he fast became my favorite. I wanted to know more about him and his story. How he and Charlie met, what happened to make him end up where he did.

I enjoyed the concept of the shadows and the power they held. This story had a lot of potential but I felt like the back-story kind of detracted from the main story. At times, there were too many details about the past and other characters that could have been shortened. In her young adult novels, Holly’s Black’s writing is compact, tight, and captivating. But the writing in Book of Night was kind of flat.

Despite that, I would have loved the story if not for the ending. The ending left me feeling cheated – like I’d been put through the wringer for nothing with no prize at the end. I mean, this is supposed to be a standalone but feels like the first in a new series? I don’t like when a book is advertised as being standalone but ends up being a series. It feels kind of underhanded. That said, I enjoyed the potential of this story.

I actually bought the eBook and finished it on May 13, Friday night, only to find that the publisher sent me the ARC by post, which I received today, on May 15, Sunday.

I thank the publisher, Tor Books, for the ARC in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Stay tuned.

∼Lyn

Synopsis:
Holly Black makes her adult debut with Book of Night, a modern dark fantasy of shadowy thieves and secret societies.
In Charlie Hall’s world, shadows can be altered, for entertainment and cosmetic preferences—but also to increase power and influence. You can alter someone’s feelings—and memories—but manipulating shadows has a cost, with the potential to take hours or days from your life. Your shadow holds all the parts of you that you want to keep hidden—a second self, standing just to your left, walking behind you into lit rooms. And sometimes, it has a life of its own.
Charlie is a low-level con artist, working as a bartender while trying to distance herself from the powerful and dangerous underground world of shadow trading. She gets by doing odd jobs for her patrons and the naive new money in her town at the edge of the Berkshires. But when a terrible figure from her past returns, Charlie’s present life is thrown into chaos, and her future seems at best, unclear—and at worst, non-existent. Determined to survive, Charlie throws herself into a maelstrom of secrets and murder, setting her against a cast of doppelgängers, mercurial billionaires, shadow thieves, and her own sister—all desperate to control the magic of the shadows.

 

Posted in Book Blog, Book Reviews

Book Review: Gallant – V.E. Schwab

Rating: 4/5 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Gothic, Horror

Review:

Gallant wasn’t what I was expecting but that is not to say it was a disappointment. Far from it. In fact, from the first page, I was so invested in Olivia I needed to know what was going to happen next, and how her life would unfold.

I enjoyed the side characters a lot and I empathized so much with Matthew. I understood him, his frustration, his feeling of imprisonment caused by duty and obligation, the burden of responsibility, the grief of loss, the pain and guilt. I liked Olivia but Matthew was my favorite.

And is it weird that I found the Master of the House enigmatic? Creepy as he was, I was also fascinated by him. The ending wasn’t what I wanted but I can say that it was apt.

The measure of a good book, for me, will always be the author’s writing – masterful, interlocking words that bring to life the story so vividly in my mind that it allows me to live vicariously through the character. That is the best compliment I can give for Gallant.

Stay tuned.

∼Lyn 

Synopsis:
Everything casts a shadow. Even the world we live in. And as with every shadow, there is a place where it must touch. A seam, where the shadow meets its source.
Olivia Prior has grown up in Merilance School for girls, and all she has of her past is her mother’s journal—which seems to unravel into madness. Then, a letter invites Olivia to come home—to Gallant. Yet when Olivia arrives, no one is expecting her. But Olivia is not about to leave the first place that feels like home, it doesn’t matter if her cousin Matthew is hostile or if she sees half-formed ghouls haunting the hallways.
Olivia knows that Gallant is hiding secrets, and she is determined to uncover them. When she crosses a ruined wall at just the right moment, Olivia finds herself in a place that is Gallant—but not. The manor is crumbling, the ghouls are solid, and a mysterious figure rules over all. Now Olivia sees what has unraveled generations of her family, and where her father may have come from.
Olivia has always wanted to belong somewhere, but will she take her place as a Prior, protecting our world against the Master of the House? Or will she take her place beside him?
Posted in Book Blog, Book Reviews, Netgalley

Book Review: Namesake (Fable #2) – Adrienne Young

Rating: 4/5 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Review:

I remember when I finished the book, Fable and I was in pins and needles after that cliffhanger. I needed Namesake. I was dying to know what happened next. However, when I did get my hands on Namesake, I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to read it. I’m glad I waited to read it, otherwise, I might not have enjoyed it as much as I did now. In fact, I almost missed my stop one afternoon because I was so engrossed in reading, lol.

I started Namesake on Tuesday and every day I anticipated when I’d be able to continue reading it. The first few chapters were a bit slow but as the story progressed and I got in deeper and deeper, I enjoyed the intrigue and plot twists.

I saw a softer side of Fable that I found at odds with her character in the first book – I mean, I wanted her to be stronger, fiercer. Alternatively, I liked the darker side to West though I didn’t agree with some of his decisions. I enjoyed the emergence of the new characters who added value to the story as a whole.

Overall, in this duology I loved the originality of the concept of gems found in the seas, gem sages, and the dredgers. The plot twists were excellent and I loved that climactic conclusion to the story. Bloody fantastic! The ending was another satisfactory conclusion. The one thing I admired the most was how the author’s writing drew you in with a vividity that left you breathless.

Stay tuned.

∼Lyn

Synopsis:
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.
With the Marigold ship free of her father, Fable and the rest of the crew were set to start over. That freedom is short-lived when Fable becomes a pawn in a notorious thug’s scheme. In order to get to her intended destination, she must help him to secure a partnership with Holland, a powerful gem trader who is more than she seems.
As Fable descends deeper into a world of betrayal and deception, she learns that the secrets her mother took to her grave are now putting the people Fable cares about in danger. If Fable is going to save them, then she must risk everything—including the boy she loves and the home she has finally found.

 

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 Book Blog, Book Reviews

eARC Review: The Tangleroot Palace – Marjorie M. Liu

Rating: 5/5 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Genre: Fantasy, Horror, PNR

Release Date: 05 Apr 2022

Review:

I came across this book on NetGalley and the title – “The Tangleroot Palace” was the first thing to intrigue me. I’m so glad I requested it and was lucky enough to get approved for it. From the first page, the author’s words caught my attention and held it, refusing to let go.

The Tangleroot Palace is a collection of 7 short stories and usually, for this type of novel, I’d review the book as a whole. But there was such depth and individuality to each story that it’s only fair to review each one.

1 – Sympathy For The Bones
This was such a creepy little story and bloody fantastic in its creepiness about fairness and justice and the difference between helping someone out of the kindness of your heart and helping only to keep someone beholden to you. A lesson the young girl forced into apprenticeship to a Blair-type witch learned in time to save as much of her soul as she could. Is there forgiveness and redemption for acts committed when you had no other choice to try to save your soul? I want to think so, at least for this young girl who should have had people to love and care for her.

2 – The Briar and The Rose
Stuck in your own body, helpless to do anything but watch and scream inside. And the desperation of one who would do anything to release that imprisoned soul. It was heartbreaking to see the struggle and the pain. I wanted more details on the conclusion but it was an apt ending so it didn’t disappoint.

3 – The Light and The Fury
There’s nothing pretty about war – no dignity, no honor. One woman alone, longing for peace but burdened with saving her people. Another intriguing plot-line, centering around crystal skulls, which can be fascinating but personally, I find kind of creepy at the same time.

4 – The Last Dignity of Man
I found this one to be a heartbreaking story despite the creepy element – the hopeless, never-ending search for a cherished wish and the desperate struggle to find a way to get past the heartbreak of knowing that wish would never come true. The ending hit me totally out of the blue, I did not see that coming but it stayed with me for a long time.

5 – Where The Heart Lives
Oh, this is definitely one of my favorites in this collection. I have a soft spot for paranormal romance and I loved the main characters. You couldn’t help but love Lucy and Barnabus. And the romance between them was intense yet sweet at the same time.

6 – After The Blood
Ah, this collection wouldn’t be complete without at least one vampire story with an apocalyptic bend to it, and tragedy and heartbreak. I loved Amanda and you can’t help but empathize with her and Henry, our tortured vampire.

7 – The Tangleroot Palace
One last story to round off the collection and leave you with smiles. I loved Salinda and Mickel and the plot-line was predictable but not without its charm.

For a collection of short stories, the 7 stories did not feel like short stories. They left a hell of an impact on me and with a wish for more. The author’s writing was a pleasure to read and I am definitely getting The Tangleroot Palace in hardback for my collection.

A big thanks to NetGalley & Titan Books for the eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Stay tuned.

∼Lyn

Synopsis:
New York Times bestseller and Hugo, British Fantasy, Romantic Times, and Eisner award-winning author of the graphic novel, Monstress, Marjorie Liu leads you deep into the heart of the tangled woods. In her long-awaited debut story collection, dark, lush, and spellbinding short fiction you will find unexpected detours, dangerous magic, and even more dangerous women.
Briar, bodyguard for a body-stealing sorceress, discovers her love for Rose, whose true soul emerges only once a week. An apprentice witch seeks her freedom through betrayal, the bones of the innocent, and a meticulously-plotted spell. In a world powered by crystal skulls, a warrior returns to save China from invasion by her jealous ex. A princess runs away from an arranged marriage, finding family in a strange troupe of traveling actors at the border of the kingdom’s deep, dark woods.
Concluding with a gorgeous full-length novella, Marjorie Liu’s first short fiction collection is an unflinching sojourn into her thorny tales of love, revenge, and new beginnings.
Posted in Book Blog, Book Reviews

Book Review: Vespertine – Margaret Rogerson

Rating: 3/5 🌟🌟🌟

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy, Paranormal, Magic, Ghosts

Review:

I’ve been a big fan of Margaret Rogerson since I read A Sorcery of Thorns and An Enchantment of Ravens. So I was super excited for Vespertine. I buddy-read it with my bestie and the first three-quarters of the book were pretty terrific.

I have to admit I didn’t connect with Artemisia at first – she seemed insignificant, almost like a minor character. But I found myself invested in her and ended up loving her. The thing is. the author did a fantastic job of eking out little bits of her that kept you wanting to know more. I also loved the way the author disclosed vital revelations at significant times that made a huge impact on the main characters and the story as a whole.

The revenant was fascinating and I loved the snarky interactions between it and Artemisia. I definitely want to know more about it. Another character I loved a lot – the white raven – he was such a funny little tyke. The plot-line was pretty great with surprising friendships though the character that I think is supposed to be the main love interest was kind of disappointing.

The ending unfortunately tanked for me. It felt unfinished. I get that Vespertine is the first in a new series but the ending didn’t have the impact of a cliffhanger which would have been epic. I hope the second book won’t disappoint.

Stay tuned.

∼Lyn

Synopsis:
The dead of Loraille do not rest.
Artemisia is training to be a Gray Sister, a nun who cleanses the bodies of the deceased so that their souls can pass on; otherwise, they will rise as spirits with a ravenous hunger for the living. She would rather deal with the dead than the living, who trade whispers about her scarred hands and troubled past.
When her convent is attacked by possessed soldiers, Artemisia defends it by awakening an ancient spirit bound to a saint’s relic. It is a revenant, a malevolent being that threatens to possess her the moment she drops her guard. Wielding its extraordinary power almost consumes her—but death has come to Loraille, and only a vespertine, a priestess trained to wield a high relic, has any chance of stopping it. With all knowledge of vespertines lost to time, Artemisia turns to the last remaining expert for help: the revenant itself.
As she unravels a sinister mystery of saints, secrets, and dark magic, her bond with the revenant grows. And when a hidden evil begins to surface, she discovers that facing this enemy might require her to betray everything she has been taught to believe—if the revenant doesn’t betray her first.

 

Posted in Book Blog, Book Reviews

Book Review: 10 Blind Dates (Messina Family #1) – Ashley Elston

Rating: 5/5 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary

Review:

10 Blind Dates is one of the books from my backlist that I finally got around to reading. Doesn’t the title itself intrigue you?

Blind dates are already anxiety-ridden experiences, and family being how they are – some relatives good, some bad, and some just plain mental, but in a cool way – now imagine being set up by those family members. These blind dates definitely promise to be interesting, if not unforgettable.

I started 10 Blind Dates without any idea what I was in for and don’t worry, not in a bad way. I think I read the first few pages without much enthusiasm but the second I met Sophie’s Nonna and the cousins and the rest of the extended family, I was hooked. Those first few pages made me think Sophie was a studious, average 16yo. But there was so much more to her and as I read on, I came to know her better and I gotta say the now-ex boyfriend, Griffin was an idiot to want a break from her.

I loved Sophie’s Nonna and the cousins! Charlie and Olivia and the rest of the family were such a hoot. They made me laugh so much with all their antics that it was hard to put down the book. Sophie got through some epiphanies and we all know how epiphanies can hurt like hell.

The author’s writing style was a pleasure to read and if you know me, you know I don’t say that about a lot of authors. What I loved most about this book was the sense of family and friendship. The tight-knit connection you can make with the good apples in your family. And that last date? It was the best ever.

That ending scene with Nonna was both touching and fantastic. One thing I can say about Nonna is she does things with panache. I can’t help but hope that when I’m her age I have even an ounce of her style.

This book left me in smiles long after I finished it. Actually, I read the ebook and ended up buying the hardback edition because I know I’m definitely reading this one again.

Readers, I do hope you give this one a try. Stay tuned.

∼Lyn 

Synopsis:
Sophie wants one thing for Christmas-a little freedom from her overprotective parents. So when they decide to spend Christmas in South Louisiana with her very pregnant older sister, Sophie is looking forward to some much needed private (read: make-out) time with her long-term boyfriend, Griffin. Except it turns out that Griffin wants a little freedom from their relationship. Cue devastation.
Heartbroken, Sophie flees to her grandparents’ house, where the rest of her boisterous extended family is gathered for the holiday. That’s when her nonna devises a (not so) brilliant plan: Over the next ten days, Sophie will be set up on ten different blind dates by different family members. Like her sweet cousin Sara, who sets her up with a hot guy at an exclusive underground party. Or her crazy aunt Patrice, who signs Sophie up for a lead role in a living nativity. With a boy who barely reaches her shoulder. And a screaming baby.
When Griffin turns up unexpectedly and begs for a second chance, Sophie feels more confused than ever. Because maybe, just maybe, she’s started to have feelings for someone else . . . Someone who is definitely not available.
This is going to be the worst Christmas break ever… or is it?