The Merciless Ones by Namina Forna

Disclaimer: I received this e-arc from the publisher! Thanks! All opinions my own.

Book: The Merciless Ones

Author: Namina Forna

Book Series: Deathless Book 2

Rating: 4/5

Diversity: Black main character and MC, trans and non-binary characters, gay characters, lesbian characters, bisexual characters, mobility aid character

Recommended For…: young adult readers, fantasy, feminism

Publication Date: May 31, 2022

Genre: YA Fantasy

Age Relevance: 16+ (Racism, Death, Gore, Violence, Religion, Religious Trauma, Romance, Sexual Assault, Rape, Xenophobia, Abuse, Misogyny, PTSD, toxic masculinity, torture, homophobia, abelism, grief, anxiety attacks, panic attacks)

Explanation of Above: There are themes of racism, colorism, xenophobia, homophobia, abelism, and misogyny mentioned and shown in this book and it’s a theme of the series on overcoming those institutions. There is a lot of death and gore, including lots of blood, and violence with weapons. There is some romance in this book. Religion and religious trauma are mentioned and shown throughout the read. Sexual assault and rape are mentioned in the book. Abuse, PTSD, and toxic masculinity are also mentioned and shown in this book. There are showings of the MC having anxiety and panic attacks. There is some torture shown in the book. There is also grief shown in the book.

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Pages: 432

Synopsis: It’s been six months since Deka has freed the goddesses and discovered who she really is. There are now wars waging across the kingdom. Otereans now think jatu are traitors to the nation. Deka is called a monster.

But the real battle has only just begun and Deka must lead the charge. Deka is tasked with freeing the rest of the goddesses. Only as she begins to free them, she begins to see a strange symbol everywhere in places of worship and worn on armor. There’s something unnatural about that symbol; just looking at it makes Deka lose her senses. Even worse, it seems to repel her powers. She can’t command or communicate with the new deathshrieks. In fact, she can’t even understand them when they speak.

Deka knows freeing the goddesses is just the beginning. She can tell whatever dark force out is powerful and there is something sinister out there threatening the kingdom connected to that symbol–something merciless–that her army will need to stop before humanity crumbles. But Deka’s powers are only getting stronger…and her strongest weapon could be herself.

Review: For the most part I liked this book. It was a good sequel to the first one and the action picked up immediately where we left off in the first book. Overall, I loved the feel of it and the book makes me want to reread them both immediately after finishing them. I also enjoyed the discussion about gender identity and sexuality. There’s also so much representation in this book! The character development was good, the world building was well done, and overall I enjoyed this book.

However, I did have a few issues with the read. The book immediately jumped into the plot of this book and it took me a hot second to remember what all was going on. The book had a lot of romance in it and there were so many people who were just paired off immediately. It was quick and wasn’t well developed in my opinion. The pacing was also a mess. It was incredibly fast paced the entire time and it was hard to keep up in some spots. While I liked the book, I just wanted it to be a bit more slowed down and have some more detail.

Verdict: It was good, just a bit too fast for me.

Beauty and the Basharam

“We’re teaming up with ColoredPages and PenguinTeen to give away 5 (FIVE) finished copies of Beauty and the Besharam by Lillie Vale! Follow the link in the bio to enter this US ONLY giveaway! You must be 18 years or older, or have parental permission to share your address if you win.”

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Disclaimer: I received this e-arc and finished copy from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: Beauty and the Besharam

Author: Lillie Vale

Book Series: Standalone

Rating: 5/5

Diversity: While some of the characters have stated sexuality in the book, some of it is not mentioned. This is the rep that the author specifies is in the book: Bisexual Demiromantic Indian American character, Black Sanegalese lesbian character, Sapphic character, Indian American character, Mexican American trans gay character, Lebanese American character, Korean American character, Bisexual Indian American MC, Korean American anxiety disorder LI

Recommended For…: young adult readers, contemporary, romance, retellings, Beauty and the Beast, LGBT

Publication Date: May 24, 2022

Genre: YA Contemporary Romance

Age Relevance: 14+ (language, underage alcohol consumption, cheating, sexism, sexual content, panic attack, anxiety, romance, death, grief)

Explanation of Above: There is a couple of curse words sprinkled throughout the book, but nothing a child won’t hear at school. There is underage alcohol consumption mentioned as well as sexual content mentioned. Cheating is slightly shown, but it’s more of caught in the aftermath so it’s not explicative. There is one panic attack scene shown and anxiety is mentioned in the book. Death is also mentioned and there is grieving shown in the book. There is also a fair bit of kissing scenes, but nothing beyond intense kisses and hand holding.

Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers

Pages: 389

Synopsis: Seventeen-year-old, high-achieving Kavya Joshi has always been told she’s a little too ambitious, a little too mouthy, and overall just a little too much. In one word: besharam.

So, when her nemesis, Ian Jun, witnesses Kavya’s very public breakup with her loser boyfriend on the last day of junior year, she decides to lay low and spend the summer doing what she loves best–working part time playing princess roles for childrens’ birthday parties. But her plan is shot when she’s cast as Ariel instead of her beloved Belle, and learns that Ian will be her Prince Eric for the summer. [Cue the combative banter.]

Exhausted by Kavya and Ian’s years-long feud, their friends hatch a plan to end their rivalry by convincing them to participate in a series of challenges throughout the summer. Kavya is only too eager to finally be declared the winner. But as the competition heats up, so too does the romantic tension, until it escalates from a simmer to a full-on burn.

Review: I really liked this book overall! It’s a very loose Beauty and the Beast retelling, but with our MC being the “beastie” character. The book has some great pop culture moments, including their love for Sailor Moon and mentions of Percy Jackson. Props to the author for not mentioning books that shouldn’t be mentioned, especially in a book that’s very LGBT+ friendly with a trans character in it. The book has a grumpy (she)/sunshine (him) romance and I love all the little mentions about bookstagram and bookstagramming and ARCs. The book reads very much like your typical YA Contemporary Books, but I feel like the charm of this read is that the book is so much more than just a romance. The main point of the book is that the MC has a drive for competition, but being too competitive leads to a lot of her issues at home and with her friends. Seeing the character realize and rectify that was really well done. The character development was great. The world building was good. And I honestly read this in almost one sitting because it was just that captivating of a read.

The only issue I had with the book is that I think the sexualities of the characters could have been better stated. Some of it was great and well done, but others I only found out about from the author’s note on Goodreads. I would have liked to see that incorporated a bit more, but overall I thought it was an awesomely well done and inclusive book.

Verdict: I love it! Highly recommend!

Deep in Providence by Riss M. Neilson

Disclaimer: I received this e-arc and finished copy from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: Deep in Providence

Author: Riss M. Neilson

Book Series: Deep in Providence Book 1

Rating: 5/5

Diversity: Filipino Bisexual MC, Black characters, Caribbean characters, Black MC, Puerto Rican Lesbian Character, Hispanic Anxiety Disorder MC, Domincian Queer character, various people of color

Recommended For…: young adult readers, paranormal, contemporary, LGBT, magical realism, fantasy

Publication Date: May 31, 2022

Genre: YA Contemporary Paranormal

Age Relevance: 16+ (parental death, death, grief, gore, language, neglect, abandonment, parentification, drugs, drug abuse, alcohol consumption, overdose, rehab, therapy, anxiety, religion, religious trauma, deportation, abortion, pregnancy, miscarriage, fatphobia, sexual content, sexual harassment, sexual assault)

Explanation of Above: The book revolves around a character’s impactful death and there is also mention of parental death and a lot of grief throughout the read. There is very mild cursing. There is a character who is neglected and abandoned, there is also parentification involved. Drugs, drug abuse, alcohol consumption, overdose, and rehab are all shown in the book. There are also some therapy scenes and some shows of anxiety disorder. Religion and religious trauma are frequently shown and mentioned in the book. Deportation is mentioned and its impact is shown. There are scenes of pregnancy, mentions and talks about abortion, and a miscarriage scene and mentions. There is some small fatphobia in the book with a character’s nickname in relation to how they look. There is sexual content in the book, one scene with sexual assault, and a small amount of some sexual harassment. There is also a very brief mention of rape but it is very vague.

Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.

Pages: 456

Synopsis: For best friends Miliani, Inez, Natalie and Jasmine, Providence, Rhode Island has a magic of its own. From the bodegas and late-night food trucks on Broad Street to The Hill that watches over the city, every corner of Providence glows with memories of them practicing spells, mixing up potions and doing séances with the help of the magic Miliani’s Filipino grandfather taught her.

But when Jasmine is killed by a drunk driver, the world they have always known is left haunted by grief…and Jasmine’s lingering spirit. Determined to bring her back, the surviving friends band together, testing the limits of their magic and everything they know about life, death, and each other.

And as their plan to resurrect Jasmine grows darker and more demanding than they imagined, their separate lives begin to splinter the bonds they depend on, revealing buried secrets that threaten the people they care about most. Miliani, Inez and Natalie will have to rely on more than just their mystical abilities to find the light.

Thrilling and absorbing, Deep in Providence is a story of profound yearning, and what happens when three teen girls are finally given the power to go after what they want.

Review: I really liked this book! It was completely not what I expected but it was so beautifully well written and so amazing. I loved the use of the multi-POV and I loved how it was fantasy like but not overtly fantasy. The book examined the aftermath of a death, but also examined karma in what happened to the characters after they started casting more and more powerful spells. The book had well done writing, great character development, and amazing world building. I can’t wait for book 2!

The only issues I had with the book is that it was a bit slower paced than I normally like book, but the writing more than made up for that. The book also had a moment where a character is in a clinic and they’re talking about the 6-week embryo’s “heartbeat”. There isn’t a heartbeat at that stage; it’s more like the electrical components of what will be a heart. The heart is far from fully formed at this stage and this does not translate to the viability of a heart. While the heart does start to form at this stage and it’s one of the first organs to develop and four clearly defined chambers, the heart does not have fully formed muscle tissue until the 20th week as stated by medicinenet website. While the book is very much not telling people to not get an abortion (it very much did the opposite), I just wish that this was better stated by the ultrasound technician just due to today’s day and age.

Verdict: It’s a great read! Highly recommend!

Apple Book Tag

Hey bookies! Today I’m doing the Apple Book Tag. This was created by Josh with Literary Gladiators (linky link)

GRANNY SMITH: AN OVERBEARINGLY SWEET BOOK OR CHARACTER

Mini is so sweet =)
FUJI: A BOOK ABOUT A MOUNTAIN

RED DELICIOUS: A BOOK THAT WOULD BE PERFECT IF IT WAS ONLY JUDGED BY ITS COVER

I was so disappointed in this

GOLDEN YELLOW: A BOOK WITH YELLOW ON THE COVER

MCINTOSH: A WRITER THAT HAS INFLUENCED OR WOULD INFLUENCE YOUR WRITING
Nicole Lambert, a close friend and writer
HONEYCRISP: A BOOK YOU HAVE READ THAT IS IN GREAT DEMAND
BALDWIN: A WRITER YOU FEEL NEEDS RECOGNITION
C.E. Clayton
EMPIRE: A BOOK ABOUT OR SET IN NEW YORK
GALA: A BOOK THAT FITS UNDER MANY GENRES
AMBROSIA: A LONG BOOK THAT WAS EASY TO FOLLOW
Anything over 350 is long to me lol
JAZZ: A BOOK WRITTEN IN OR AFTER 2010 THAT DEMONSTRATES FRESHNESS AND ORIGINALITY
MUTSU: A BIG BOOK THAT YOU INDULGED

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE APPLE?

Honeycrisp!

APPLE TREE: WHO DO YOU TAG?

You!

Never Coming Home by Hannah Mary McKinnon Spotlight

NEVER COMING HOME

Author: Hannah Mary McKinnon

ISBN: 9780778386100

Publication Date: May 24, 2022

Publisher: MIRA Books

Buy Links: 

BookShop.org

Harlequin 

Barnes & Noble

Amazon

Books-A-Million

Powell’s 

Social Links:

Author Website

Twitter: @HannahMMcKinnon

Instagram: @hannahmarymckinnon

Facebook: @HannahMaryMcKinnon

Goodreads

Author Bio: 

Hannah Mary McKinnon was born in the UK, grew up in Switzerland and moved to Canada in 2010. After a successful career in recruitment, she quit the corporate world in favor of writing, and is now the author of The Neighbors, Her Secret Son, Sister Dear and You Will Remember Me. She lives in Oakville, Ontario, with her husband and three sons, and is delighted by her twenty-second commute.

Book Summary:

Gone Girl meets Fargo in this deliciously sinister suspense novel about a man who plots his wife’s murder to cash in on her inheritance, only to have his brilliant plan turned around on him.

First comes love, then comes murder

Set to inherit his in-laws’ significant fortune, which would help him care for his ailing father, Lucas Forester decides to help things along by ordering a hit on his wife. (Michelle’s not exactly the most lovable person, anyway.) Everything is going according to his meticulous plan, until he receives a potentially recent photograph of Michelle. Frantic that his plan is being foiled, Lucas must find out if she’s alive, and silence her forever before she can expose him.

Excerpt

1

SUNDAY

The steady noise from the antique French carriage clock on the mantelpiece had somehow amplified itself, a rhythmic tick-tick, tick-tick, which usually went unnoticed. After I’d been sitting in the same position and holding my ailing mother-in-law’s hand for almost an hour, the incessant clicking had long wormed its way deep into my brain where it grated on my nerves, stirring up fantasies of hammers, bent copper coils, and shattered glass.

Nora looked considerably worse than when I’d visited her earlier this week. She was propped up in bed, surrounded by a multitude of pillows. She’d lost more weight, something her pre-illness slender physique couldn’t afford. Her bones jutted out like rocks on a cliff, turning a kiss on the cheek into an extreme sport in which you might lose an eye. The ghostly hue on her face resembled the kids who’d come dressed up as ghouls for Halloween a few days ago, emphasizing the dark circles that had transformed her eyes into mini sinkholes. It wasn’t clear how much time she had left. I was no medical professional, but we could all tell it wouldn’t be long. When she’d shared her doctor’s diagnosis with me barely three weeks ago, they’d estimated around two months, but at the rate of Nora’s decline, it wouldn’t have come as a surprise if it turned out to be a matter of days.

Ovarian cancer. As a thirty-two-year-old Englishman who wasn’t yet half Nora’s age I’d had no idea it was dubbed the silent killer but now understood why. Despite the considerable wealth and social notoriety Nora enjoyed in the upscale and picturesque town of Chelmswood on the outskirts of Boston, by the time she’d seen someone because of a bad back and they’d worked out what was going on, her vital organs were under siege. The disease was a formidable opponent, the stealthiest of snipers, destroying her from the inside out before she had any indication something was wrong.

A shame, truly, because Nora was the only one in the Ward family I actually liked. I wouldn’t have sat here this long with my arse going numb for my father-in-law’s benefit, that’s for sure. Given half the chance I’d have smothered him with a pillow while the nurse wasn’t looking. But not Nora. She was kindhearted, gentle. The type of person who quietly gave time and money to multiple causes and charities without expecting a single accolade in return. Sometimes I imagined my mother would’ve been like Nora, had she survived, and fleetingly wondered what might have become of me if she hadn’t died so young, if I’d have grown up to be a good person.

I gradually pulled my hand away from Nora’s and reached for my phone, decided on playing a game or two of backgammon until she woke up. The app had thrashed me the last three rounds and I was due, but Nora’s fingers twitched before I made my first move. I studied her brow, which seemed furrowed in pain even as she slept. Not for the first time I hoped the Grim Reaper would stake his or her claim sooner rather than later. If I were death, I’d be swift, efficient, and merciful, not prescribe a drawn-out, painful process during which body, mind, or both, wasted away. People shouldn’t be made to suffer as they died. Not all of them, anyway.

“Lucas?”

I jumped as Diane, Nora’s nurse and my neighbor, put a hand on my shoulder. She’d only left the room for a couple of minutes but always wore those soft-soled shoes when she worked, which meant I never heard her coming until she was next to me. Kind of sneaky, when I thought about it, and I decided I wouldn’t sit with my back to the door again.

As she walked past, the air filled with the distinctive medicinal scent of hand sanitizer and antiseptic. I hated that smell. Too many bad memories I couldn’t shake. Diane set a glass of water on the bedside table, checked Nora’s vitals, and turned around. Hands on hips, she peered down at me from her six-foot frame, her tight dark curls bouncing alongside her jawbone like a set of tiny corkscrews.

“You can go home now. I’ll take the evening from here.” Regardless of her amicable delivery, there was no mistaking the instruction, but she still added, “Get some rest. God knows you look like you need it.”

“Thanks a lot,” I replied with mock indignation. “You sure know how to flatter a guy.”

Diane cocked her head to one side, folded her arms, and gave me another long stare, which to anyone else would’ve been intimidating. “How long since you slept? I mean properly.”

I waved a hand. “It’s only seven o’clock.”

“Yeah, I guess given the circumstances I wouldn’t want to be home alone, either.”

I looked away. “That’s not what this is about. I’ll wait until Nora wakes up again. I want to say goodbye. You know, in case she…” My voice cracked a little on the last word and I feigned a cough as I pressed the heels of my palms over my eyes.

“She won’t,” Diane whispered. “Not tonight. Trust me. She’s not ready to go.”

I knew Diane had worked in hospice for two decades and had seen more than her fair share of people taking their last breaths. If she said Nora wouldn’t die tonight, then Nora would still be here in the morning.

“I’ll leave in a bit. After she wakes up.”

Diane let out a resigned sigh and sat down in the chair on the opposite side of the bed. A comfortable silence settled between us despite the fact we didn’t know each other very well. I’d first met Diane and her wife Karina, who were both in their forties, when they’d struck up a conversation with me and my wife Michelle as we’d moved into our house on the other side of Chelmswood almost three years prior. Something about garbage days and recycling rules, I think. The mundane discussion could’ve led to a multitude of drinks, shared meals, and the swapping of embarrassing childhood stories, except we were all what Michelle had called busy professionals with (quote) hectic work schedules that make forging new friendships difficult. My Captain Subtext translated her comment as can’t be bothered and, consequently, the four of us had never made the transition from neighbors to close friends.

Aside from the occasional holiday party invitation or looking after each other’s places whenever we were away—picking up the mail, watering the plants, that kind of thing—we only saw each other in passing. Nevertheless, Karina regularly left a Welcome Back note on our kitchen counter along with flowers from their garden and a bottle of wine. Not one to be outdone on anything, Michelle reciprocated, except she’d always chosen more elaborate bouquets and fancier booze. My wife’s silent little pissing contests, which I’d pretended to be too dense to notice, had irked me to hell and back, but when Nora fell ill and Diane had been assigned as one of her nurses, I’d been relieved it was someone I knew and trusted.

“I’m sorry this is happening to you,” Diane said, rescuing me from the spousal memories. “It’s not fair. I mean, it’s never fair, obviously, but on top of what you’re going through with Michelle. I can’t imagine. It’s so awful…”

I acknowledged the rest of the words she left hanging in the air with a nod. There was nothing left to say about my wife’s situation we hadn’t already discussed, rediscussed, dissected, reconstructed, and pulled apart all over again. We’d not solved the mystery of her whereabouts or found more clues. Nothing new, helpful or hopeful, anyway. We never would.

Silence descended upon us again, the gaudy carriage clock ticking away, reviving the images of me with hammer in hand until the doorbell masked the sound.

“I’ll go,” Diane muttered, and before I had the chance to stand, she left the room and pulled the door shut. I couldn’t help wondering if her swift departure was because she needed to escape from me, the man who’d used her supportive shoulder almost daily for the past month. I decided to tone it down a little. Nobody wanted to be around an overdramatic, constant crybaby regardless of their circumstances.

I listened for voices but couldn’t hear any despite my leaning toward the door and craning my neck. I couldn’t risk moving in case Nora woke up. Her body was failing, but her mind remained sharp as a box of tacks. She’d wonder what I was up to if she saw my ear pressed against the mahogany panel. Solid mahogany. The best money could buy thanks to the Ward family’s three-generations-old construction empire. No cheap building materials in this house, as my father-in-law had pointed out when he’d first given me the tour of the six bedrooms, four reception rooms, indoor and outdoor kitchens (never mind the abhorrent freezing Boston winters), and what could only be described as grounds because yard implied it was manageable with a push-along mower.

“Only the best for my family,” Gideon had said in his characteristic rumbly, pompous way as he’d knocked back another glass of Laphroaig, the broad East Coast accent he worked hard to hide making more of a reappearance with each gluttonous glug. “No MDF, vinyl or laminate garbage, thank you. That’s not what I’m about. Not at all.”

It’s in the houses you build for others, I’d thought as I’d grunted an inaudible reply he no doubt mistook for agreement because people rarely contradicted him. As I raised my glass of scotch, I didn’t mention the council flats I grew up in on what Gideon dismissed as the lesser side of the pond, or the multiple times Dad and I had been kicked out of our dingy digs because he couldn’t pay the rent, and we’d ended up on the streets. My childhood had been vastly different to my wife’s, and I imagined the pleasure I’d find in watching Gideon’s eyes bulge as I described the squalor I’d lived in, and he realized my background was worlds away from the shiny and elitist version I’d led everyone to believe was the truth. I pictured myself laughing as he understood his perfect daughter had married so far beneath her, she may as well have pulled me up from the dirt like a carrot, and not the expensive organic kind.

Of course, I hadn’t told him anything. I’d taken another swig of the scotch I loathed, but otherwise kept my mouth shut. As satisfying as it would’ve been, my father-in-law knowing the truth about my background had never been part of my long-term agenda. In any case, and despite Gideon’s efforts, things were working to plan. Better than. The smug bastard was dead.

And he wasn’t the only one.

Excerpted from Never Coming Home by Hannah Mary McKinnon. Copyright © 2022 by Hannah Mary McKinnon. Published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.

Primal Animals by Julia Lynn Rubin

Disclaimer: I received this e-arc from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: Primal Animals

Author: Julia Lynn Rubin

Book Series: Standalone

Rating: 3/5

Diversity: Queen characters, Trans character, Bisexual MC, Adopted character

Recommended For…: young adult readers, thriller, mystery, LGBT, horror, summer camp

Publication Date: May 24, 2022

Genre: YA Thriller Mystery

Age Relevance: 17+ (religion, religious trauma, sexual harassment, sexual assault, medical gaslighting, anxiety, parental death, child abuse, kidnapping, transphobia, homophobia, sexism, underage alcohol consumption, drug use, language, gore, violence, death, murder, romance, animal death, animal gore)

Explanation of Above: Religion and religious trauma are mentioned briefly in this book. There are mentions of sexual harassment and one mention of a sexual assault. The book shows some medical gaslighting, anxiety, and mentions parental death. There are also some scenes of child abuse via emotional abuse and one slight mention and scene of physical abuse. Kidnapping is shown once in the book. There are mentions of transphobia and homophobia in passing of what’s going on in Texas. There is also sexism shown in the book, as well as a LOT of underage alcohol consumption and some drug use mentioned. There is some cursing in this book, as well as vomit and blood gore and a lot of violence shown and mentioned. There is death and murder in this book. There is some very slight romance in this book. There is also a lot of animal death and gore in the book, occurring to moths, foals, deer, cockroaches, and flies. The animal gore in this book is extreme and I highly advise those sensitive to it do not read this book or go into it warned.

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Pages: 304

Synopsis: Protect the girls

Arlee Gold is anxious about spending the summer at the college prep Camp Rockaway—the same camp her mother attended years ago, which her mother insists will help give Arlee a “fresh start” and will “change her life.” Little does Arlee know that, once she steps foot on the manicured grounds, this will prove to be true in horrifying ways.

Even though the girls in her cabin are awesome—and she’s developing a major crush on the girl who sleeps in the bunk above her—the other campers seem to be wary of Arlee, unwilling to talk to her or be near her, which only ramps up her paranoia. When she’s tapped to join a strange secret society, Arlee thinks this will be her shot at fitting in…until her new “sisters” ask her to do the unthinkable, putting her life, and the life of her new crush, in perilous danger.

Review: I felt like this was a good book. I immediately connected with the main character because of our shared fear of bugs and I liked the idea of the secret society. I thought the book did good in the world building and I liked the premise of it. I also liked the overall feel of the book. It did well to be a thriller and keep a mystery atmosphere rather than a horror one that sometimes thriller books fall into.

However, I didn’t like the book that well. I thought the book had a lot of characters at the beginning and that made it really hard to keep everyone sorted out. The book had a lot of twists and turns and a lot of them weren’t well plotted out. The character development wasn’t there and I just felt like the book could have been better if more expanded and more explained. It just felt like everything was way too rushed.

Verdict: It was ok, just not for me.

Book Info:

Primal Animals by Julia Lynn Rubin

Genre: Young Adult Horror

Publishing Date: May 24, 2022

Synopsis:

Protect the girls

Arlee Gold is anxious about spending the summer at the college prep Camp Rockaway—the same camp her mother attended years ago, which her mother insists will help give Arlee a “fresh start” and will “change her life.” Little does Arlee know that, once she steps foot on the manicured grounds, this will prove to be true in horrifying ways.
Even though the girls in her cabin are awesome—and she’s developing a major crush on the girl who sleeps in the bunk above her—the other campers seem to be wary of Arlee, unwilling to talk to her or be near her, which only ramps up her paranoia. When she’s tapped to join a strange secret society, Arlee thinks this will be her shot at fitting in…until her new “sisters” ask her to do the unthinkable, putting her life, and the life of her new crush, in perilous danger. 

Content Warning: Blood, gore, mentions of Sexual harassment/assault

Book Links:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/58724958-primal-animals

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1250757290/ref=x_gr_w_bb_sin?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_bb_sin_ca-20&linkCode=as2&camp=15121&creative=330641

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/primal-animals-julia-lynn-rubin/1139985579?ean=9781250757296

Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/Primal-Animals-Julia-Lynn-Rubin/9781250757296?ref=grid-view&qid=1646931159558&sr=1-1

Indigo: https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/primal-animals-a-novel/9781250757296-item.html?ikwid=primal+animals&ikwsec=Home&ikwidx=0#algoliaQueryId=5bf2193da2f53ae3912a84b6652a5ec7 IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781250757296

About the Author:

Julia Lynn Rubin lives the writer’s life in Brooklyn, where she finished an MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults at The New School in 2017. For three years she served as a writing mentor for Girls Write Now, New York City’s premiere writing program for high school girls, and she continues to facilitate pre-K literacy programs throughout Brooklyn at libraries and family shelters.Julia has been writing books, poems, and stories since first grade, and loves reading about everything from film analysis (she’s a film nerd) to psychology and philosophy. Her short stories have appeared in publications such as the North American ReviewSierra Nevada Review, and The Lascaux Review, and she has written for a variety of online publications, including BuzzFeedThe Content StrategistFatherly, and Wetpaint Entertainment.

Julia is passionate about realism and diversity in teen literature. She hopes to one day own a French bulldog, pug, Boston terrier, or perhaps a mix of all three. She loves indie films, drag shows, and spending as much time as possible at the beach.​

She is represented by Lauren Spieller of Triada US Literary Agency

Author Links:

Website: https://www.julialynnrubin.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/julialynnrubin

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/swissbeauty/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17071577.Julia_Lynn_Rubin

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/julialynnrubin/?fref=ts

Tour Schedule:https://tbrandbeyondtours.com/2022/04/07/tour-schedule-primal-animals-by-julia-lynn-rubin/

Summer’s Edge by Dana Mele

Disclaimer: I received this arc and e-arc from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: Summer’s Edge

Author: Dana Mele

Book Series: Standalone

Rating: 3.5/5

Diversity: Queer character and MC

Recommended For…: young adult readers, thriller, mystery, LGBT, paranormal, horror

Publication Date: May 31, 2022

Genre: YA Thriller Mystery

Age Relevance: 14+ (language, death, grief, involuntary committal, underage alcohol consumption, arson, murder, romance, animal death, animal gore, PTSD, suicidal ideation, sexual content, gore, drowning, violence, drugging)

Explanation of Above: The book contains some slight cursing and shows of death, arson, murder, drowning, and drugging. There is some slight blood gore and violence with fights. There is grief, PTSD, and involuntary committal shown and mentioned in the book. There is a lot of underage alcohol consumption. There is slight romance and slight mention of suicidal ideation. There is one scene that shows an animal death and blood animal gore, both to a rabbit.

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

Pages: 325

Synopsis: Emily Joiner was once part of an inseparable group—she was a sister, a best friend, a lover, and a rival. Summers without Emily were unthinkable. Until the fire burned the lake house to ashes with her inside.

A year later, it’s in Emily’s honor that Chelsea and her four friends decide to return. The house awaits them, meticulously rebuilt. Only, Chelsea is haunted by ghostly visions. Loner Ryan stirs up old hurts and forces golden boy Chase to play peacemaker. Which has perfect hostess Kennedy on edge as eerie events culminate in a stunning accusation: Emily’s death wasn’t an accident. And all the clues needed to find the person responsible are right here.

As old betrayals rise to the surface, Chelsea and her friends have one night to unravel a mystery spanning three summers before a killer among them exacts their revenge.

Review: For the most part the book was pretty thrilling. The book reminded me a lot of Until Dawn and I Know What You Did Last Summer, but with a more horrific twist. The book had a lot of good twists and turns and for the most part it had a great premise. The world building was fairly well done and the book is definitely one that will keep you intrigued throughout.

However, I felt like the character development was very poor. The book didn’t explain everyone’s motives well and they just weren’t well formed. I also thought the book was confusing, which I think can be a good plot device, but wasn’t well executed in this book. While I know now about this friend group, in the beginning there are just too many things off about the group and it can deter readers from continuing the book. I think if the twist was shown earlier in the novel and then played with a bit more, than it wouldn’t have been so off-putting in the beginning. The book also had a great deal of an info dump at the end and I didn’t like that. I think if the flashbacks were scattered more throughout the book then it would have worked better.

Verdict: It was ok.

BOOK INFORMATION

TITLE:  Summer’s Edge

AUTHOR: Dana Mele

PUBLISHER: Simon & Schuster
RELEASE DATE: May 31, 2022

GENRES: YA Thriller/Mystery
BUY LINKS:

Barnes & Noble: 

Amazon: 

Bookshop: 

SYNOPSIS:

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Author’s website:  

Author’s instagram: ihttps://www.instagram.com/danammele/

Author’s twitter:  N/A

GIVEAWAY INFORMATION

For bloggers:

There is one (1) copy of Summer’s Edge available. Please attach the following link to your post for your followers to enter:  

For bookstagrammers:There is one (1) copy of Summer’s Edge available. Please attach the following link to your post or place it in your bio for your followers to enter: 

One Hundred Percent Me by Renee Macalino Rutledge

Disclaimer: I received this finished copy from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: One Hundred Percent Me

Author: Renee Macalino Rutledge

Book Series: Standalone

Rating: 5/5

Diversity: Puerto Rican Filipino MC, Asian Latino side character, Indian Kenyan side character, Mexican side character

Recommended For…: children, babies, picture book, multiculturalism, diversity, ancestry

Publication Date: May 3, 2022

Genre: Children’s Picture Book

Age Relevance: 0+

Explanation of Above: While the book does talk about themes of multiculturalism that might not be understood by babies, it’s still a great book with tons of pictures to show them and have them grow up knowing the story. Perfect for 4-8 year olds learning to read as well!

Publisher: Bloom Books for Young Readers

Pages: 32

Synopsis: It can be confusing to be a child of mixed race. As the little girl moves through daily life in the big city, she hears some people say she looks more like her Puerto Rican dad, while others claim she takes after her Filipina mom. Should she favor one identity over the other? No! In fact, honoring every facet of her identity equally becomes the main character’s favorite affirmation. This beautifully illustrated book about celebrating differences, claiming our belonging, and acknowledging our heritage encourages all readers to embrace the fact that we are all 100% ourselves.

Review: I really loved this adorable book! It did so good to talk about multiculturalism and ancestry in an easy-to-understand way for children. I’d love to see more books talk about multiculturalism and normalize it more in children’s books. I also loved that the book featured so much diversity in it and it really offered a great chance for a multitude of children to see themselves in the book. The illustrations were adorable as well and this is a highly recommended book from me.

Verdict: I highly recommend this one for you and your little ones!

May Book Box Guesses

Beacon Book Box

Merida goes on an all-new, life-changing adventure in this original YA novel set several years after the close of Brave!

What if you had one year to save everything you loved?

ONE PRINCESS. Merida of DunBroch needs a change. She loves her family—jovial King Fergus, proper Queen Elinor, the mischievous triplets— and her peaceful kingdom. But she’s frustrated by its sluggishness; each day, the same. Merida longs for adventure, purpose, challenge – maybe even, someday, love.

TWO GODS. But the fiery Princess never expects her disquiet to manifest by way of Feradach, an uncanny supernatural being tasked with rooting out rot and stagnation, who appears in DunBroch on Christmas Eve with the intent to demolish the realm – and everyone within. Only the intervention of the Cailleach, an ancient entity of creation, gives Merida a shred of hope: convince her family to change within the year – or suffer the eternal consequences.

THREE VOYAGES. Under the watchful eyes of the gods, Merida leads a series of epic journeys to kingdoms near and far in an attempt to inspire revolution within her family. But in her efforts to save those she loves from ruin, has Merida lost sight of the Clan member grown most stagnant of all – herself?

FOUR SEASONS TO SAVE DUNBROCH – OR SEE IT DESTROYED, FOREVER.

Belle Book Box

An epic, three-book saga of forbidden love coming 2017.

It was a hot summer day when I met him on the construction site next to my parents’ house. Under the sweat and dirt, Manning Sutter was as handsome as the sun was bright. He was older, darker, experienced. I wore a smiley-face t-shirt and had never even been kissed. Yet we saw something in each other that would link us in ways that couldn’t be broken…no matter how hard we tried.

I loved Manning before I knew the meaning of the word. I was too young, he said. I would wait. Through all the carefully-chosen words hiding what we knew to be true, through his struggle to keep me innocent, and through infinitely-starry nights—I would wait. But I’d learn that life isn’t always fair. That no matter how much you achieve, none of it matters if you suffer the heartbreak that comes with falling for someone you can never have. Because even though I saw Manning first, that didn’t matter. My older sister saw him next.

Details:

Belle + Jessica Hawkins

Belle will be offering two options to complete the Something in the Way series!
Option one: Includes books 2, 3, and 4 in the series—Somebody Else’s Sky, Move the Stars and Lake & Manning.
Option two: The complete set, books 1-4.

Boxes will be available on the website – http://www.bellebookbox.com. Availability will last as long as we have stock.

Stock is limited.

Book one—Something in the Way—is not a reprint, therefore availability for the complete set option is limited to what we have as far as extras equal in stock.

Boxes will begin to ship as early as next week.

Book Box Club

Kurara has never known any other life than being a servant on board the Midori, but when her party trick of making paper come to life turns out to be a power treasured across the empire, she joins a skyship and its motley crew to become a Crafter. Taught by the gruff but wise Himura, Kurara learns to hunt shikigami – wild paper spirits who are sought after by the Princess.

But are these creatures just powerful slaves for the Crafters and the empire, or are they beings with their own souls – and yet another thing to be subjugated by the powerful Emperor and his Princess?

Book Gizmo Special Edition Boxes

Book Hooked Box

In the realm of Awara, where gods, monsters, and humans exist side by side, Miuko is an ordinary girl resigned to a safe, if uneventful, existence as an innkeeper’s daughter. But when Miuko is cursed and begins to transform into a demon with a deadly touch, she embarks on a quest to reverse the curse and return to her normal life. Aided by a thieving magpie spirit and continuously thwarted by a demon prince, Miuko must outfox tricksters, escape demon hunters, and negotiate with feral gods if she wants to make it home again. But with her transformation comes power and freedom she never even dreamed of, and she’ll have to decide if saving her soul is worth trying to cram herself back into an ordinary life that no longer fits her… and perhaps never did.

The Bookish Box Adult

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 doppelgangers, mercurial billionaires, shadow thieves, and her own sister—all desperate to control the magic of the shadows.

The Bookish Box Darkly

*more info coming soon*

The Bookish Box YA

Eighteen-year-old Zarela Zalvidar is a talented flamenco dancer and daughter of the most famous Dragonador in Hispalia. People come for miles to see her father fight in their arena, which will one day be hers.

But disaster strikes during their five hundredth anniversary show, and in the carnage, Zarela’s father is horribly injured. Facing punishment from the Dragon Guild, Zarela must keep the arena—her ancestral home and inheritance —safe from their greedy hands. She has no choice but to take her father’s place as the next Dragonador. When the infuriatingly handsome dragon hunter, Arturo Díaz de Montserrat, withholds his help, she refuses to take no for an answer.

But even if he agrees, there’s someone out to ruin the Zalvidar family, and Zarela will have to do whatever it takes in order to prevent the Dragon Guild from taking away her birthright.

The Bookish Box Special Edition Box

In this thrilling conclusion to These Hollow Vows—the sexy, action-packed fantasy by New York Times best-selling author Lexi Ryan that started it all—Brie finds herself caught between two princes and two destinies while the future of the fae realm hangs in the balance.

After Abriella’s sister was sold to the fae, she thought life couldn’t get any worse. But when she suddenly finds herself caught in a web of lies of her own making ­- loving two princes and trusting neither – things are not quite as clear as she once thought.

As civil war wages in the Court of Darkness, Brie finds herself unable to choose a side. How can she know where she stands when she doesn’t even know herself anymore? In this darkly romantic thrill ride, the more Faerie is torn apart from the inside, the clearer it becomes that prophecies don’t lie and Brie has a role to play in the fate of this magical realm – whether she likes it or not.

Details:

We’re so excited to finally announce all the details about our Exclusive Luxe Edition of These Twisted Bonds! ❤️ We absolutely LOVED These Hollow Vows, it was one of our FAVORITE reads last year!

Each Preorder WILL INCLUDE:
🥀 These Twisted Bonds by Lexi Ryan
🥀 NEW separate ‘These Hollow Vows’ dust jacket, featuring new reversible artwork and a new customization to the original cover! (please note: the new dust jacket will fit the original Bookish Box edition of These Hollow Vows)

EXCLUSIVE EDITION DETAILS:
🗡 Signed by the author
🗡 Exclusive Customization of Dust Jacket
🗡 Reversible Dust Jacket @felixgreen83
🗡 Exclusive End Papers @felixgreen83
🗡 Stenciled Edges @felixgreen83
🗡 Hardcover Stamp @justinebookish
🗡 Page Overlay Art

EARLY SUBSCRIBER ACCESS: May 20th @ 10AM PT (also anyone who received our exclusive edition of These Hollow Vows will have early access, even if you are no longer subscribed)
GENERAL PUBLIC ACCESS: May 23rd @ 10AM PT

This preorder will be $38 (US shipping included) and  are anticipated to ship late August!

We will be revealing the cover before the early access pre-order sale! Stay tuned for that, we can’t wait for you to see how beautiful they are!

A sharpened blade cannot save a kingdom, and a dragon can only burn a throne…

Lorelei did what she was supposed to do. Cut the King’s throat, liberate a kingdom, and then fade into the darkness once more. But this time, she can’t leave. The rebellion wants to use her as a figurehead in their mad plan to steal a kingdom from a bloodline, and Lore has other more pressing matters at hand.

The King survived, and within his clutches are the last dragon eggs in all of Umbra. Her loyalty to the dragon bids her to go on yet another adventure and return the eggs to their would-be father. All for on purpose and one purpose alone. Lore desires to see the kingdom flourish under the hands of magical creatures. She longs to see the time of man come to an end.

Humans had ruled for a time and they had failed. Now, she had to fix what they had broken.

But too many people stand between her and this new plan. A rebellion and their elf leader who has no fear of blood. A friend who lied for months. Many other creatures stand in her path, hoping to get close to the half elf who saved Umbra. And last, the dragon who turns her inside out with a single glance. The same dragon who killed her mother.

Details:

We are so excited to once again collaborate with author Emma Hamm for Bright Heart, the second book in The Dragon of Umbra Series! Our gorgeous hardcover edition will match Fire Heart (book one), which was featured in our January 2022 adult box.

Details about our Luxe Exclusive Edition of Bright Heart include:
🔥 Customized tip-in page signed by author Emma Hamm, designed by @lovelittlenikki
🔥 Exclusive foiled cover
🔥 Reversible foiled dust jacket designed by @lovelittlenikki
🔥 Foiled Hard case stamp designed by @ideallyinspiredreviews and @lovelittlenikki
🔥 Stenciled sprayed edges
🔥 Exclusive end pages designed by @lovelittlenikki

We’re also happy to announce that there will be very limited quantities of book 1 available for purchase for those looking to have a matching set! Please note, this is not a reprint.
The list price for Bright Heart will be $38, and $76 for Fire Heart & Bright Heart set, while supplies last. All preorders are expected to ship in July/August.

Save the date(s)!:
❤️ Bright Heart will go on sale on May 13th at 10AM PT to those who received the January 2022 adult box. *Sales limited to one copy per person. Fire Heart will not be available during this sale.

❤️ Early access for all other active monthly box subscribers will be on Monday, May 16th at 10AM PT, and should any quantities remain, public access will begin on Tuesday, May 17th at 10AM PT.

REMINDER: If you’re an active box subscriber (or previously purchased the January adult box): No passwords will be required to purchase! All you’ll need is to be logged into your account *associated with your January Adult subscription on our shop website once sales begin on the date(s) listed above!

Caffeine and Legends

Not sure what the book is yet!

May’s box features a new release hardcover, and we can guarantee signed bookplates for anyone who is subscribed or pre-orders by April 15th. The story is immersive, fast paced, and complicated in the best of ways with an unforgettable main character. If you’re a fan of Circe or The Bear and the Nightingale, you’ll really enjoy this one!

The coffee, tea, drinking chocolate, and bonus items are all curated to match an element or one of the gods from the book.

The Clover Crate

Meet Celaena Sardothien.

Beautiful. Deadly. Destined for greatness.

In a land without magic, where the king rules with an iron hand, Celaena, an assassin, is summoned to the castle. She comes not to kill the king, but to win her freedom. If she defeats twenty-three killers, thieves, and warriors in a competition, she is released from prison to serve as the king’s champion.

The Crown Prince will provoke her. The Captain of the Guard will protect her. But something evil dwells in the castle of glass—and it’s there to kill. When her competitors start dying one by one, Celaena’s fight for freedom becomes a fight for survival, and a desperate quest to root out the evil before it destroys her world.

Details:

⚔️ “Spirit That Could Not Be Broken” ⚔️
We have all the need-to-know info on our Throne of Glass Officially Licensed Box right here!

⬇️ ⬇️ ⬇️ ⬇️ ⬇️

⚔️ Preorders go live on Thursday, May 19, 2022, @2 PM EST/7 PM BST.
⚔️ You can purchase through our website (link in bio).
⚔️ Box price will be $49/37£/43€ + shipping.
⚔️ International shipping to most countries 🌎
⚔️ Shipping will begin approximately five weeks from order.
⚔️ Box will include five items, two of which are “big” items.
One of the “big” items will be an Aelin Mug illustrated by the wonderfully talented @Morgana0Anagrom!
Rowan has also been illustrated by @Morgana0Anagrom swipe to see him in all his glory! We are keeping Aelin a secret for now 🤫.
⚔️ Books are not included as this is a merchandise-only box.⚔️

Dark and Shimmer

see June’s post

Enchanted Fandoms Book Box

A beauty from our time. A fae beast from the future. A curse only she can break… if he lets her close to his heart.

Rush is a Fae Guardian, a wolf-shifter whose enhanced abilities have made him a ruthless protector of Elphyne. His job is to protect the realm from the human enemy, and to ensure the sins of the past never come to pass again lest magic die forever. Well… it was his job until half a century ago when he allowed one night of weakness to distract him from his job. His punishment was a curse worse than death. Now a ghost, he spends his lonely time longing to be part of the living, once again protecting them from monsters… until one washes up on the shores of his lake.

Clarke is beautiful, feisty, fierce, and she’s the only person who can see him.

If he hands her over to the Order, she’s his ticket to having his curse removed, but the more he learns about this human, the more he realizes maybe she’s not the monster he’s trained to believe. In fact, she’s capable of inciting passion he’d never dreamed possible again, but Clarke has a message from the past… sins are already repeating. This time, if they don’t stop the coming evil, it won’t just be magic that dies. It will be everything.

The Witcher meets Beauty and the Beast in this gripping, heart-stopping new epic fantasy romance featuring a band of brothers, shifters, fae protectors and their strong willed women from our time. If you love your books full of page turning action, intrigue, and romantic tension then this book is for you. For fans of Kristen Ashley’s Fantastical series or Sarah J Maas’s adult fantasy romance.

More in the Fae Guardians Series

The Longing of Lone Wolves
The Solace of Sharp Claws
The Dreams of Broken Kings 

Enchanted Fandoms Drinking Vessel

Who’s your favorite book boyfriend??

We are excited to announce May’s Drinking Vessel box will be having us one step closer to our Book Boyfriends.

This vessel will be a stemless insulated wine tumbler. There is also no fandom related to this vessel. Which everyone will be able to enjoy it. 

Erin Decker Creative

Going on break

Fable Crate

I’m not entirely sure on this one so here’s my best guess:

Eighteen-year-old Zarela Zalvidar is a talented flamenco dancer and daughter of the most famous Dragonador in Hispalia. People come for miles to see her father fight in their arena, which will one day be hers.

But disaster strikes during their five hundredth anniversary show, and in the carnage, Zarela’s father is horribly injured. Facing punishment from the Dragon Guild, Zarela must keep the arena—her ancestral home and inheritance —safe from their greedy hands. She has no choice but to take her father’s place as the next Dragonador. When the infuriatingly handsome dragon hunter, Arturo Díaz de Montserrat, withholds his help, she refuses to take no for an answer.

But even if he agrees, there’s someone out to ruin the Zalvidar family, and Zarela will have to do whatever it takes in order to prevent the Dragon Guild from taking away her birthright.

Fable Nights

Faecrate

Book:

Music runs in Sofi’s blood.

Her father is a Musik, one of only five musicians in the country licensed to compose and perform original songs. In the kingdom of Aell, where winter is endless and magic is accessible to all, there are strict anti-magic laws ensuring music remains the last untouched art.

Sofi has spent her entire life training to inherit her father’s title. But on the day of the auditions, she is presented with unexpected competition in the form of Lara, a girl who has never before played the lute. Yet somehow, to Sofi’s horror, Lara puts on a performance that thoroughly enchants the judges.

Almost like magic.

The same day Lara wins the title of Musik, Sofi’s father dies, and a grieving Sofi sets out to prove Lara is using illegal magic in her performances. But the more time she spends with Lara, the more Sofi begins to doubt everything she knows about her family, her music, and the girl she thought was her enemy.

As Sofi works to reclaim her rightful place as a Musik, she is forced to face the dark secrets of her past and the magic she was trained to avoid—all while trying not to fall for the girl who stole her future.

E-Book:

With my brother’s death came the crown and all the trappings that accompany it. Now, my father–the most dangerous man in Magaelor–seeks to control my future.

But fate has other plans.

Thrown into mer-filled waters, I’m dragged into the rival kingdom of Berovia. Surrounded by those who murdered my brother and wished my entire family dead, I must find my way back to my kingdom. There, a marriage between myself and the dark fae prince could bring peace to a century’s old division between the fae and sorcerers. But dark revelations and deadly lies threaten to destroy my destiny. I must make the choice between my duty, family, and heart before it’s too late.

Will I allow myself to become the Queen of everything? Or be reduced to a cautionary tale as the princess of nothing?

The Fate of Crowns is a YA epic fantasy adventure about a sheltered princess who travels between magical kingdoms, discovering a world different to what she’d believed.

Get book one now. The anticipated sequel, The Princess of Nothing, releases February 2nd 2021.

Fairyloot Adult

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 doppelgangers, mercurial billionaires, shadow thieves, and her own sister—all desperate to control the magic of the shadows.

With sharp angles and prose, and a sinister bent, Holly Black is a master of shadow and story stitching. Remember while you read, light isn’t playing tricks in Book of Night, the people are.

Fairyloot YA

Loulie al-Nazari is the Midnight Merchant: a criminal who, with the help of her jinn bodyguard, hunts and sells illegal magic. When she saves the life of a cowardly prince, she draws the attention of his powerful father, the sultan, who blackmails her into finding an ancient lamp that has the power to revive the barren land—at the cost of sacrificing all jinn.

With no choice but to obey or be executed, Loulie journeys with the sultan’s oldest son to find the artifact. Aided by her bodyguard, who has secrets of his own, they must survive ghoul attacks, outwit a vengeful jinn queen, and confront a malicious killer from Loulie’s past. And, in a world where story is reality and illusion is truth, Loulie will discover that everything—her enemy, her magic, even her own past—is not what it seems, and she must decide who she will become in this new reality.

Fairyloot Special Editions

Sent on a mission to retrieve an ancient hidden map—the key to a legendary treasure trove—seventeen-year-old pirate captain Alosa deliberately allows herself to be captured by her enemies, giving her the perfect opportunity to search their ship.

More than a match for the ruthless pirate crew, Alosa has only one thing standing between her and the map: her captor, the unexpectedly clever and unfairly attractive first mate, Riden. But not to worry, for Alosa has a few tricks up her sleeve, and no lone pirate can stop the Daughter of the Pirate King.

Details:

We are so thrilled to present to you… THE DAUGHTER OF THE PIRATE KING EXCLUSIVE SET, brought to you in collaboration with @pushkin_press and @tricialevenseller!

The Daughter of the Pirate King is one of our favourite duologies and we are so thrilled to be able to share these Exclusive Editions with you!

What is so special about this set?
✨ HARDCOVER EDITIONS: Both books will be exclusively printed in hardback with covers by @micaelaalcainodesign
✨ FOIL ON THE HARDCOVER: Exclusive foil designs on the front of the hardbacks by @micaelaalcainodesign
✨ DIGITALLY SPRAYED EDGES: Digitally sprayed fore edge that line up to create an image, with a solid sprayed top and bottom edge
✨ CUSTOM ENDPAPERS: Each book will have character art endpapers on the front and back illustrated by @lilith_saur – this will be a surprise!
✨ BONUS CONTENT: Daughter of the Pirate King features a chapter from Ridens POV
✨ AUTHOR Q&A: Daughter of the Siren Queen will include a Q&A from the author
✨ SIGNED BY THE AUTHOR: Both books will be signed by Tricia Levenseller

This is NOT part of our normal monthly subscriptions and if you wish to order a set, they will be available in the Fairy Trove (we ship to most countries worldwide). The Daughter of the Pirate King Exclusive Set will be available for £47 GBP / $62 USD + shipping and is expected to ship around October/November.

Early Access emails will be sent to active subscribers on May 10th at 1pm BST, and if we have sets remaining, they will be available to the public on May 11th at 1pm BST from the Fairy Trove.

Ever since she was cursed by a faerie, Theodora Ettings has had no sense of fear or embarrassment – a condition which makes her prone to accidental scandal. Dora hopes to be a quiet, sensible wallflower during the London Season – but when the strange, handsome and utterly uncouth Lord Sorcier discovers her condition, she is instead drawn into dangerous and peculiar faerie affairs.

If Dora’s reputation can survive both her curse and her sudden connection with the least-liked man in all of high society, then she may yet reclaim her normal place in the world. . . but the longer Dora spends with Elias Wilder, the more she begins to suspect that one may indeed fall in love, even with only half a soul.

Details:

We are thrilled to present to you the FairyLoot Exclusive Edition of ‘Half A Soul’ by Olivia Atwater, brought to you in collaboration with @orbitbooks_uk!

Regency scandals, faerie curses and unexpected romances – this whimsical tale had us utterly enchanted! This heart warming romance and cosy fantasy is perfect for fans of Howl’s Moving Castle, Pride and Prejudice and anything fae. 😍

What is special about this edition?
✨ Exclusive cover with foil details
✨ Foil on the hardcover
✨ Sprayed edges
✨ Signed by Olivia Atwater

It will be available for £20.99 GBP / $27.99 USD + shipping from the Fairy Trove (we ship to many countries worldwide). On May 5th at 1pm BST, we will send out a private Early Access link to all active subscribers. If we have stock remaining, these will be available in the Fairy Trove to the public on May 6th at 1pm BST. The book is expected to ship in August/September.

We hope you are as excited as we are about this stunning edition!

In the sequel to Realm Breaker, a divided world must rally, an unstoppable enemy must be defeated, and the fate of the world rests on a blade’s edge.

Andry, a former squire, continues to fight for hope amid blood and chaos.

Dom, a grieving immortal, strives to fulfill a broken oath.

Sorasa, an outcast assassin, faces her past when it returns with sharpened teeth.

Valtik, an old sorceress, summons a mighty power.

And Corayne, a pirate’s daughter with an ancient magic in her blood, steps closer to becoming the hero she’s destined to be.

Together they must assemble an army to face Queen Erida and Taristan’s wicked forces. But something deadly waits in the shadows, something that might consume the world before there’s any hope for victory.

Details:

We are so thrilled to announce our FairyLoot exclusive edition of Blade Breaker by #1 NYT Bestseller @victoriaaveyard in collaboration with @orionbooks!

This is the gripping sequel to the incredible Realm Breaker which was available from the Fairy Trove last year! This exclusive matching hardcover edition will come with SPRAYED EDGES, FOIL EMBOSSING ON THE HARDCOVER and will be SIGNED BY THE AUTHOR.

This beautiful edition will be priced at £19.99 GBP / $25.99 USD + shipping from the UK and US Fairy Trove, which ship to most countries worldwide.

On May 30th at 1pm BST, we will send out a private Early Access link to everyone that ordered Realm Breaker. We will then send out an Early Access email to all active subscribers at 2pm BST, and if we have any stock remaining, these will be available in the Fairy Trove to the general public on May 31st at 1pm BST. The books are expected to ship in July/August.

What do you think? Are you as excited for this sequel as we are?

Graphic by official FairyLoot designer @blanca.design 🖤

Feminist Book Club Box

Aja Barber wants change.

In the ‘learning’ first half of the book, she will expose you to the endemic injustices in our consumer industries and the uncomfortable history of the textile industry; one which brokered slavery, racism and today’s wealth inequality. And how these oppressive systems have bled into the fashion industry and its lack of diversity and equality. She will also reveal how we spend our money and whose pockets it goes into and whose it doesn’t (clue: the people who do the actual work) and will tell her story of how she came to learn the truth.

In the second ‘unlearning’ half of the book, she will help you to understand the uncomfortable truth behind why you consume the way you do. She asks you to confront the sense of lack you have, the feeling that you are never quite enough and the reasons why you fill the aching void with consumption rather than compassion. And she makes you challenge this power disparity, and take back ownership of it. The less you buy into the consumer culture the more power you have.

CONSUMED will teach you how to be a citizen not a consumer.

Fox and Wit Adult Lit & Tunes

The Secret Witch of Kriegspiel (The Kriegspiel Witches Book 2)

She thought she could trust him. Then he forced her to marry him—and he won’t even tell her why…

Ana didn’t want any part of the long-standing tradition of priests marrying untamed witches. David, a provost at the legendary University of Kriegspiel, was supposed to be her unlikely ally. Her friend. Then for reasons he concealed, he trapped her at the altar. Shrouded in mystery, their arranged marriage will pull Ana down a dark path of discovery.

Now enemies, Ana must gain David’s permission to become the first witch student at the esteemed university. David makes efforts to win his wife’s affection, but Ana has a few surprises of her own. Can enemies become lovers, or are the secrets that separate them too great?

Content Warning: This book is naughty. The steam is plentiful and consensual. True to life, some foul language is used. Secret Witch is written as a standalone fantasy romance set in a magical Gaslamp/Victorian setting, featuring forced proximity, arranged marriage, mature characters, and a grumpy/sunshine trope. It shares a universe with the Street Witch Series and can be read in any order.

Fox and Wit YA Mini Book Parcel

The Ghosts of Rose Hill

Sent to stay with her aunt in Prague and witness the humble life of an artist, Ilana Lopez—a biracial Jewish girl—finds herself torn between her dream of becoming a violinist and her immigrant parents’ desire for her to pursue a more stable career.

When she discovers a forgotten Jewish cemetery behind her aunt’s cottage, she meets the ghost of a kindhearted boy named Benjamin, who died over a century ago. As Ilana restores Benjamin’s grave, he introduces her to the enchanted side of Prague, where ghosts walk the streets and their kisses have warmth.

But Benjamin isn’t the only one interested in Ilana. Rudolph Wassermann, a man with no shadow, has become fascinated with her and the music she plays. He offers to share his magic, so Ilana can be with Benjamin and pursue her passion for violin. But after Ilana discovers the truth about Wassermann and how Benjamin became bound to the city, she resolves to save the boy she loves, even if it means losing him—forever.

Fox and Wit Special Edition Box:

Her vengeance. His vision.

Ari lost everything she once loved when the Five Guilds’ resistance fell to the Dragon King. Now, she uses her unparalleled gift for clockwork machinery in tandem with notoriously unscrupulous morals to contribute to a thriving underground organ market. There isn’t a place on Loom that is secure from the engineer turned thief, and her magical talents are sold to the highest bidder as long as the job defies their Dragon oppressors.

Cvareh would do anything to see his sister usurp the Dragon King and sit on the throne. His family’s house has endured the shame of being the lowest rung in the Dragons’ society for far too long. The Alchemist Guild, down on Loom, may just hold the key to putting his kin in power, if Cvareh can get to them before the Dragon King’s assassins.

When Ari stumbles upon a wounded Cvareh, she sees an opportunity to slaughter an enemy and make a profit off his corpse. But the Dragon sees an opportunity to navigate Loom with the best person to get him where he wants to go.

He offers her the one thing Ari can’t refuse: A wish of her greatest desire, if she brings him to the Alchemists of Loom.

Details:

Details about our Loom Saga exclusive box set!
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These hardbacks will come with an exclusive redesigned dust jacket by @daludna and artwork printed directly onto the hardcover designed by @riddleandravens.
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This set will include The Alchemist of Loom, The Dragons of Nova, and The Rebels of Gold.
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We’ll do teaser reveals along the way.
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The set will be $105 plus shipping for US buyers.
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At the moment, we cannot guarantee if these will be available to EU/UK buyers on our Etsy website given Etsy’s fee increases. If we decide to list these on Etsy they will be a different price.
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Presale for subscribers from April 21st through May 8th.
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May subs are open until April 20th. You can start a subscription now and will have access. (Waitlist link in bio.)
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Email subscribers will receive access on May 9th. Sign up for our email list for access.
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General public will be May 11th
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We don’t have an exact ship date at the moment. For those who follow Elise, you may know that these were pulled from publication and moved under her own imprint, which requires a great deal of work. We estimate these to ship late October or early November but please note this date can shift a bit.

Goldsboro Sci-Fi and Fantasy Fellowship

On the other side of the Shadowpass, rebellion is brewing and refugees have begun to trickle into the city at the edge of the world. Looming high on the cliff is The Nest, a fortress full of mages who offer protection, but also embody everything the rebellion is fighting against: a strict hierarchy based on magic abilities, and the oppression of the Kher community.

When Isha arrives as a refugee, she attempts to fit in amongst the other mages, but her Kher tattoo brands her as an outcast. She can’t remember her past or why she has the tattoo. All she knows is that she survived. She doesn’t intend to give up now.

Tatters, who wears the golden collar of a slave, knows that this rebellion is different from past skirmishes. He was once one of the rebels, fought beside them, and technically, they still own him. He plans to stay in the shadows, until Isha appears in his tavern. He’s never seen a human with a tattoo, and the markings look eerily familiar. Despite his fear of being discovered, Tatters decides to help her.

As the rebellion carves a path of destruction towards the city, The Collarbound follows an unlikely friendship between a man trying to escape his past and a woman trying to uncover hers, until their secrets threaten to tear them apart.

A tale that questions fate and finds strength in not-belonging, The Collarbound hooks from the opening pages and will appeal to fans of magical, brink-of-war settings, like that of The Poppy War, and lyrical, character-driven writing, as found in A Darker Shade of Magic. 

Illumicrate

Book of Night

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 doppelgangers, mercurial billionaires, shadow thieves, and her own sister—all desperate to control the magic of the shadows.

With sharp angles and prose, and a sinister bent, Holly Black is a master of shadow and story stitching. Remember while you read, light isn’t playing tricks in Book of Night, the people are.

Illumicate Afterlight

New York Times bestselling author and National Book Award finalist Akwaeke Emezi (they/them) reimagines the love story in this fresh and seductive novel about a young woman seeking joy while healing from loss.

Feyi Adekola wants to learn how to be alive again.

It’s been five years since the accident that killed the love of her life and she’s almost a new person now—an artist with her own studio, and sharing a brownstone apartment with her ride-or-die best friend, Joy, who insists it’s time for Feyi to ease back into the dating scene. Feyi isn’t ready for anything serious, but a steamy encounter at a rooftop party cascades into a whirlwind summer she could have never imagined: a luxury trip to a tropical island, decadent meals in the glamorous home of a celebrity chef, and a major curator who wants to launch her art career.

She’s even started dating the perfect guy, but their new relationship might be sabotaged before it has a chance by the dangerous thrill Feyi feels every time she locks eyes with the one person in the house who is most definitely off-limits. This new life she asked for just got a lot more complicated, and Feyi must begin her search for real answers. Who is she ready to become? Can she release her past and honor her grief while still embracing her future? And, of course, there’s the biggest question of all—how far is she willing to go for a second chance at love?

Akwaeke Emezi’s vivid and passionate writing takes us deep into a world of possibility and healing, and the constant bravery of choosing love against all odds.

Illumicrate Special Edition Box:

Blending fantasy and science fiction, N. E. Davenport’s fast-paced, action-packed debut kicks off a duology of loyalty and rebellion, in which a young Black woman must survive deadly trials in a racist and misogynistic society to become an elite warrior.

It’s all about blood.

The blood spilled between the Republic of Mareen and the armies of the Blood Emperor long ago. The blood gifts of Mareen’s deadliest enemies. The blood that runs through the elite War Houses of Mareen, the rulers of the Tribunal dedicated to keeping the republic alive.

The blood of the former Legatus, Verne Amari, murdered.

For his granddaughter, Ikenna, the only thing steady in her life was the man who had saved Mareen. The man who had trained her in secret, not just in martial skills, but in harnessing the blood gift that coursed through her.

Who trained her to keep that a secret.

But now there are too many secrets, and with her grandfather assassinated, Ikenna knows two things: that only someone on the Tribunal could have ordered his death, and that only a Praetorian Guard could have carried out that order.

Bent on revenge as much as discovering the truth, Ikenna pledges herself to the Praetorian Trials–a brutal initiation that only a quarter of the aspirants survive. She subjects herself to the racism directed against her half-Khanaian heritage and the misogyny of a society that cherishes progeny over prodigy, all while hiding a power that–if found out–would subject her to execution…or worse. Ikenna is willing to risk it all because she needs to find out who murdered her grandfather…and then she needs to kill them.

Mareen has been at peace for a long time…

Ikenna joining the Praetorians is about to change all that.

Magic and technology converge in the first part of this stunning debut duology, where loyalty to oneself–and one’s blood–is more important than anything.

Details:

We’re so happy to announce our newest debut box for The Blood Trials by N.E. Davenport (@nia.davenport)! We were blown away by this gritty, action-packed debut! Ikenna’s quest for vengeance whilst trying to survive the deadly trials makes for a thrilling ride that we could not put down.

We’re thrilled to be bringing you this book in an exclusive b format hardback of the UK paperback, with exclusive sprayed edges! As well as the book you will receive a signed bookplate, author letter and pin designed by @stacey.mcevoy.caunt!

The box is on sale now, priced at £18 + shipping & VAT if applicable. It will be shipping in May!

A whip-smart debut that follows the adventures of an entirely unconventional heroine who throws herself into the London Season to find a wealthy husband. But the last thing she expects is to find love…

Kitty Talbot needs a fortune. Or rather, she needs a husband who has a fortune. Left with her father’s massive debts, she has only twelve weeks to save her family from ruin.

Kitty has never been one to back down from a challenge, so she leaves home and heads toward the most dangerous battleground in all of England: the London season.

Kitty may be neither accomplished nor especially genteel—but she is utterly single-minded; imbued with cunning and ingenuity, she knows that risk is just part of the game.

The only thing she doesn’t anticipate is Lord Radcliffe. The worldly Radcliffe sees Kitty for the mercenary fortune-hunter that she really is and is determined to scotch her plans at all costs, until their parrying takes a completely different turn…

This is a frothy pleasure, full of brilliant repartee and enticing wit—one that readers will find an irresistible delight.

Details:

We’re thrilled to announce, in collaboration with HarperCollins UK, our Illumicrate Exclusive edition of A Lady’s Guide to Fortune-Hunting by Sophie Irwin (@sophie.irwin)! We loved the witty banter and fresh approach to historical enemies to lovers romance!

Our exclusive edition is a naked hardback with a redesigned cover, stunning foil details, diecut (cut out) to the front cover, digitally printed edges and foiled endpapers! It is also signed by the author! The team over at @harpercollinsuk have done a phenomenal job with this one, and we are so happy with the way this turned out, it has to be one of the most stunning books we’ve ever had!

A Lady’s Guide to Fortune-Hunting is priced at £22 + shipping & VAT if applicable and will be shipping at the end of May. General sale is Thursday 5th May at 4PM BST. We will be holding a presale for our active subscribers, details of when this is will be emailed out later today.

Sent to a boarding school in Ancelstierre as a young child, Sabriel has had little experience with the random power of Free Magic or the Dead who refuse to stay dead in the Old Kingdom. But during her final semester, her father, the Abhorsen, goes missing, and Sabriel knows she must enter the Old Kingdom to find him.

With Sabriel, the first installment in the Abhorsen series, Garth Nix exploded onto the fantasy scene as a rising star, in a novel that takes readers to a world where the line between the living and the dead isn’t always clear—and sometimes disappears altogether.

Details:

We’re so pleased to finally be bringing you the rescheduled sale date for Sabriel, our first Daphne Press book!

The sale will now take place on Monday 30th May at 4PM BST. This will be a general sale, there will be no presale for active subscribers. There will be a guide for best practice on our website that we recommend you refer to to avoid any frustration or disappointment on the day of the sale, should the book sell quickly.

This edition is limited to 2,000 signed and numbered copies, is priced at £75 + shipping & VAT, and will be shipping in the second half of June.

The book is bound with an all new, exclusive wraparound cover, illustrated by the talented @tommyarnoldart! It includes a foreword from the author and 25th anniversary bonus content, including the short story ‘One Wyverley Summer.’ Each book is housed in a leather textured slipcase (faux) with a gold foil charter symbol on both sides, and signed on a full colour page featuring the original Sabriel cover art by Leo & Diane Dillon. It has a ribbon marker and coloured endpapers featuring Sabriel’s bells art by Gavin Reece.

Paper details: The interior pages are College Text FSC paper (acid free) and the hardback case is Masterblank Blanco paper (acid free).

The Librarian Box

Wren Greenrock has always known that one day she would steal her sister’s place in the palace. Trained from birth to return to the place of her parents’ murder and usurp the only survivor, she will do anything to rise to power and protect the community of witches she loves. Or she would, if only a certain palace guard wasn’t quite so distractingly attractive, and if her reckless magic didn’t have a habit of causing trouble…

Princess Rose Valhart knows that with power comes responsibility. Marriage into a brutal kingdom awaits, and she will not let a small matter like waking up in the middle of the desert in the company of an extremely impertinent (and handsome) kidnapper get in the way of her royal duty. But life outside the palace walls is wilder and more beautiful than she ever imagined, and the witches she has long feared might turn out to be the family she never knew she was missing.

Two sisters separated at birth and raised into entirely different worlds are about to get to know each other’s lives a whole lot better. But as coronation day looms closer and they each strive to claim their birthright, the sinister Kingsbreath, Willem Rathborne, becomes increasingly determined that neither will succeed. Who will ultimately rise to power and wear the crown?

Nerdy Book Box

205Z: Time and Salvation (Lost Children of Andromeda, #1)

2052 is humanity’s last year on Earth. Catastrophic disasters are tearing away at our world’s infrastructure. Time is scarce. Freedom is delicate. The privileged few will be saved… The unlucky will be left behind. Allister Adams is a genetically advanced Evolutionary, and besides that, he’s like most of the Omega Generation-unlucky, forgotten-waiting aimlessly for the Apocalypse Countdown clock of days, hours, and minutes to finally hit zero.

Until the clock strikes Day 215.

Allister unknowingly charges into a conflict older than he is-a cold war for salvation between two rival organizations: a government-sanctioned task force of Evolutionaries and a group of radical, stateless Evolutionaries, both in violent pursuit of the one thing that promises humanity’s survival.

As Allister goes head-to-head with Evolutionaries on both sides, he must unravel the mysteries surrounding their key to survival, and master his power to retrieve it before the destruction they’re trying to stop arrives.

Our journey begins with… The Arrival…

No Shelf Control Book Box

Alien. What does it mean to be an alien? A fantasy? The unknown? The hidden?

Savannah Shaw never knew how intertwined her life is with that one simple word.

Relocating to the secluded village, Silver Valley—situated between looming mountains and endless forest on a small island—Savannah begins to realise just how mysteriously alien her life is.

In Silver Valley, the villagers don’t go into the forest.
Why?

Yet a stranger begins to follow her from the trees, never leaving her shadow, making her question the world around her. So in search for answers, Savannah Shaw follows him deeper and deeper into the forest…

It may just be the the worst decision she has ever made.

And now the fate of everything hangs in the balance of Savannah Shaw.

Novellous

Quarterly box – check June’s post for the next box

NovelTea Chest

When ancient magic tests a newfound love, a dark fate beckons . . .

Magic has been banished in the land of Syhl Shallow for as long as best friends Jax and Callyn can remember. They once loved the stories of the powerful magesmiths and mythical scravers who could conjure fire or control ice, but now they’ve learned that magic only leads to danger: magic is what killed Callyn’s parents, leaving her alone to raise her younger sister. Magic never helped Jax, whose leg was crushed in an accident that his father has been punishing him for ever since. Magic won’t save either of them when the tax collector comes calling, threatening to take their homes if they can’t pay what they owe.

Meanwhile, Jax and Callyn are astonished to learn magic has returned to Syhl Shallow — in the form of a magesmith who’s now married to their queen. Now, the people of Syhl Shallow are expected to allow dangerous magic in their midst, and no one is happy about it.

When a stranger rides into town offering Jax and Callyn silver in exchange for holding secret messages for an anti-magic faction, the choice is obvious — even if it means they may be aiding in a plot to destroy their new king. It’s a risk they’re both willing to take. That is, until another visitor arrives: handsome Lord Tycho, the King’s Courier, the man who’s been tasked with discovering who’s conspiring against the throne.

Suddenly, Jax and Callyn find themselves embroiled in a world of shifting alliances, dangerous flirtations, and ancient magic . . . where even the deepest loyalties will be tested.

Obsidian Moon Crate

Quarterly box – see June’s post for the next box!

Once Upon A Book Club Box Adult

In this beautiful, grounded, and darkly magical modern-day reimagining ofJ. M. Barrie’s classic, to save her daughter’s life one woman must take on the infamous Peter Pan–who is not the innocent adventurer the fairy tales make him out to be . . .

Life is looking up for Holly Darling, granddaughter of Wendy–yes, that Wendy. She’s running a successful skincare company; her son, Jack, is happy and healthy; and the tragedy of her past is well behind her . . . until she gets a call that her daughter, Eden, who has been in a coma for nearly a decade, has gone missing from the estate where she’s been long tucked away. And, worst of all, Holly knows who must be responsible: Peter Pan, who is not only very real, but more dangerous than anyone could imagine.

Eden’s disappearance is a disaster for more reasons than one. She has a rare condition that causes her to age rapidly–ironic, considering her father is the boy who will never grow up–which also makes her blood incredibly valuable. It’s a secret that Holly is desperate to protect, especially from Eden’s half-brother, Jack, who knows nothing about his sister or the crucial role she plays in his life. Holly has no one to turn to–her mother is the only other person in the world who knows that Peter is more than a story, but she refuses to accept that he is not the hero she’s always imagined. Desperate, Holly enlists the help of Christopher Cooke, a notorious ex-soldier, in the hopes of rescuing Eden before it’s too late . . . or she may lose both her children.

Darling Girl brings all the magic of the classic Peter Pan story to the present, while also exploring the dark underpinnings of fairy tales, grief, aging, sacrifice, motherhood, and just how far we will go to protect those we love.

Once Upon A Book Club Box YA

For best friends Miliani, Inez, Natalie and Jasmine, Providence, Rhode Island has a magic of its own. From the bodegas and late-night food trucks on Broad Street to The Hill that watches over the city, every corner of Providence glows with memories of them practicing spells, mixing up potions and doing séances with the help of the magic Miliani’s Filipino grandfather taught her.

But when Jasmine is killed by a drunk driver, the world they have always known is left haunted by grief…and Jasmine’s lingering spirit. Determined to bring her back, the surviving friends band together, testing the limits of their magic and everything they know about life, death, and each other.

And as their plan to resurrect Jasmine grows darker and more demanding than they imagined, their separate lives begin to splinter the bonds they depend on, revealing buried secrets that threaten the people they care about most. Miliani, Inez and Natalie will have to rely on more than just their mystical abilities to find the light.

Pride Book Crate

Two boys. Two bands. Two worlds colliding.

Nate Hargraves – stage-shy singer-songwriter – is totally stoked for his cousin’s wedding in South Africa, an all-expenses-paid trip of a lifetime. Until he finds out his sleazeball ex-boyfriend is also on the guest list.

Jai Patel – hot-as-hell high school rock-god – has troubles too. His band’s lead singer has quit, just weeks before the gig that was meant to be their big break.

When Nate saves the day by agreeing to sing with Jai’s band, Jai volunteers to be Nate’s plus-one to the wedding, and the stage is set for a summer of music, self-discovery, and simmering romantic tension. What could possibly go wrong . . . ?

Rainbow Book Crate

Book:

Emmett Maguire wants to be country music’s biggest gay superstar – a far reach when you’re seventeen and living in Illinois. But for now, he’s happy to do the next best thing: Stay with his aunt in Jackson Hollow, Tennessee, for the summer and perform at the amusement park owned by his idol, country legend Wanda Jean Stubbs.

Luke Barnes hates country music. As the grandson of Verna Rose, the disgraced singer who had a famous falling out with Wanda Jean, Luke knows how much pain country music has brought his family. But when his mom’s medical bills start piling up, he takes a job at the last place he wants: a restaurant at Wanda World.

Neither boy is looking for romance, but sparks fly when they meet – and soon they’re inseparable. Until a long-lost secret about Verna and Wanda comes to light, threatening to unravel everything.

Will Emmett and Luke be able get past the truths they discover…or will their relationship go down in history as just another Sad Country Love Song?

E-Book:

Aspiring chef Luciano Jilani dreams of reopening his late mother’s restaurant, but as a takeaway delivery driver, he’s barely making ends meet.

Anse Meyer is a diplomat and an abysmal cook, relying on takeaway and frozen meals as he struggles with the demands of his ‘dream job’.

When they meet via the delivery app, it’s an awkward encounter with a handsome stranger. But then it happens again. And again.

Craving more, Luciano offers to teach Anse how to cook. As they make their way through Luciano’s mother’s recipes, fledging friendship blooms into a consuming romance.

But where their love is uncomplicated, their lives are not. When they’re pulled in different directions, Luciano and Anse must decide if their love is more than a delicious romance or worth risking everything they’ve achieved.

Book Club Book:

With nods to Bridget Jones and Pride and Prejudice, a charming #ownvoices queer rom-com debut about a free-spirited social media astrologer who agrees to fake a relationship with an uptight actuary until New Year’s Eve—with results not even the stars could predict!

After a disastrous blind date, Darcy Lowell is desperate to stop her well-meaning brother from playing matchmaker ever again. Love—and the inevitable heartbreak—is the last thing she wants. So she fibs and says her latest set up was a success. Darcy doesn’t expect her lie to bite her in the ass.

Elle Jones, one of the astrologers behind the popular Twitter account, Oh My Stars, dreams of finding her soul mate. But she knows it is most assuredly not Darcy… a no-nonsense stick-in-the-mud, who is way too analytical, punctual, and skeptical for someone as free-spirited as Elle. When Darcy’s brother—and Elle’s new business partner—expresses how happy he is that they hit it off, Elle is baffled. Was Darcy on the same date? Because… awkward.

When Darcy begs Elle to play along, she agrees to pretend they’re dating to save face. But with a few conditions: Darcy must help Elle navigate her own overbearing family over the holidays and their arrangement expires on New Year’s Eve. The last thing they expect is to develop real feelings during a fake relationship.

But maybe opposites can attract when true love is written in the stars?

Satisfiction Box

It was magic. In every world, it was a kind of magic.

“No maids, no funny talking, no fainting flowers.” Luli Wei is beautiful, talented, and desperate to be a star. Coming of age in pre-Code Hollywood, she knows how dangerous the movie business is and how limited the roles are for a Chinese American girl from Hungarian Hill—but she doesn’t care. She’d rather play a monster than a maid.

But in Luli’s world, the worst monsters in Hollywood are not the ones on screen. The studios want to own everything from her face to her name to the women she loves, and they run on a system of bargains made in blood and ancient magic, powered by the endless sacrifice of unlucky starlets like her. For those who do survive to earn their fame, success comes with a steep price. Luli is willing to do whatever it takes—even if that means becoming the monster herself.

Siren Queen offers up an enthralling exploration of an outsider achieving stardom on her own terms, in a fantastical Hollywood where the monsters are real and the magic of the silver screen illuminates every page.

The Big Book Box

See June’s post for the next box!

Unplugged Book Box Adult

Gracie Reed is doing just fine. Sure, she was fired by her overly “friendly” boss, and yes she still hasn’t gotten her mother into the nursing home of their dreams, but she’s healthy, she’s (somewhat) happy, and she’s (mostly) holding it all together.

But when a mysterious SUV pulls up beside her, revealing Chinese cinema’s golden couple Wei Fangli and Sam Yao, Gracie’s world is turned on its head. The famous actress has a proposition: due to their uncanny resemblance, Fangli wants Gracie to be her stand-in. The catch? Gracie will have to be escorted by Sam, the most attractive—and infuriating—man Gracie’s ever met.

If it means getting the money she needs for her mother, Gracie’s in. Soon Gracie moves into a world of luxury she never knew existed. But resisting Sam, and playing the role of an elegant movie star, proves more difficult than she ever imagined—especially when she learns the real reason Fangli so desperately needs her help. In the end all the lists in the world won’t be able to help Gracie keep up this elaborate ruse without losing herself…and her heart.

Unplugged Book Box YA

CATALYST
13 points
noun: a person or thing that precipitates an event or change

When Najwa Bakri walks into her first Scrabble competition since her best friend’s death, it’s with the intention to heal and move on with her life. Perhaps it wasn’t the best idea to choose the very same competition where said best friend, Trina Low, died. It might be even though Najwa’s trying to change, she’s not ready to give up Trina just yet.

But the same can’t be said for all the other competitors. With Trina, the Scrabble Queen herself, gone, the throne is empty, and her friends are eager to be the next reigning champion. All’s fair in love and Scrabble, but all bets are off when Trina’s formerly inactive Instagram starts posting again, with cryptic messages suggesting that maybe Trina’s death wasn’t as straightforward as everyone thought. And maybe someone at the competition had something to do with it.

As secrets are revealed and the true colors of her friends are shown, it’s up to Najwa to find out who’s behind these mysterious posts—not just to save Trina’s memory, but to save herself.

Unplugged Book Box Special Edition

Just weeks away from ditching DC for greener pastures, Solange Pereira is roped into helping her wedding planner cousin on a random couple’s big day. It’s an easy gig… until she stumbles upon a situation that convinces her the pair isn’t meant to be. What’s a true-blue romantic to do? Crash the wedding, of course. And ensure the unsuspecting groom doesn’t make the biggest mistake of his life.

Dean Chapman had his future all mapped out. He was about to check off “start a family” and on track to “make partner” when his modern day marriage of convenience went up in smoke. Then he learns he might not land an assignment that could be his ticket to a promotion unless he has a significant other and, in a moment of panic, Dean claims to be in love with the woman who crashed his wedding. Oops.

Now Dean has a whole new item on his to-do list: beg Solange to be his pretend girlfriend. Solange feels a tiny bit bad about ruining Dean’s wedding, so she agrees to play along. Yet as they fake-date their way around town, what started as a performance for Dean’s colleagues turns into a connection that neither he nor Solange can deny. Their entire romance is a sham… there’s no way these polar opposites could fall in love for real, right? 

The Science of Being Angry by Nicole Melleby

Disclaimer: I received this arc and finished copy from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: The Science of Being Angry

Author: Nicole Melleby

Book Series: Standalone

Rating: 5/5

Diversity: 2 moms, f/f romances, IVF and anonymous donor MC and siblings, Queer MC

Recommended For…: middle grade readers, contemporary, LGBT, mental health, family

Publication Date: May 10, 2022

Genre: MG Contemporary

Age Relevance: 9+ (violence, slight romance)

Explanation of Above: There is some light violence in this book, with our MC who pushes and shoves people. Sometimes stuff is thrown too. There is also a very slight romance.

Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers

Pages: 276

Synopsis: Eleven-year-old Joey is angry. All the time. And she doesn’t understand why. She has two loving moms, a supportive older half brother, and, as a triplet, she’s never without company. Her life is good. But sometimes she loses her temper and lashes out, like the time she threw a soccer ball—hard—at a boy in gym class and bruised his collarbone. Or when jealousy made her push her (former) best friend (and crush), Layla, a little bit too roughly.

After a meltdown at Joey’s apartment building leads to her family’s eviction, Joey is desperate to figure out why she’s so mad. A new unit in science class makes her wonder if the reason is genetics. Does she lose control because of something she inherited from the donor her mothers chose?

Review: I really REALLY loved this book. It was such a good book in showing how sometimes kids are angry because of genetics or things outside of the (very wrong) assumption that “they’re just bad kids”. The MC has good intentions, but sometimes she just gets mad because of things outside of her control. I loved that the root of the anger was discussed at the end and that the whole family apologized to each other for the way they all contributed to the MC’s anger. I especially loved how it showed the family having fights and showing that it was ok to fight or disagree sometimes with each other. The book also did so good in discussing ancestry and genetics, but also discussed how “non-traditional” families in several different forms. The explanation of IVF and the anonymous donor was very well done and very well explained for children to understand the basic concept. The book also did well to show how well this family in the book works, which sets the example for how families do and can look like. I also thought the romance was so sweet and adorable. The character development was well done, the world building was well done, the writing was amazing, and the book just draws you in and refuses to let you go. I highly suggest tissues when you read this.

The only issue I had with the book is that I wish the diagnosis was shared to the audience, but I did love that many different things were thrown out there and several coping mechanisms discussed so other kids who are also dealing with this could see their own mental health journey in this book.

Verdict: Highly recommend!