Cold Hearted by Serena Valentino

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

Book: Cold Hearted

Author: Serena Valentino

Book Series: Villains Book 8

Rating: 5/5

Recommended For…: Young adult readers, retelling, Disney retellings, Cinderella story

Genre: YA Retelling

Publication Date: July 6, 2021

Publisher: Disney Books

Pages: 294

Recommended Age: 13+ (death, emotional domestic abuse, emotional child abuse)

Explanation of CWs: There is a lot of death in this book with parents. A certain parent also contributes to a certain amount of emotional abuse to Lady Tremaine and there is emotional child abuse to Anastasia and Drizella and some to Cinderella.

Synopsis: It’s a familiar tale: A kind and beautiful young girl, reeling from loss. A doting father, frantic to bring a mother’s love back into his daughter’s life. And the selfish, cruel woman who insinuates herself into that family―a woman so unfeeling, so cold hearted, that when her new husband dies, she makes the girl a servant in her own home.

But who is that evil stepmother, that icy lady of the house? How did she become so closed off that, in the face of a child’s grief, she thought only to seek wealth and power for herself and her abhorrent daughters? Before that fateful ball, before the glass slipper and the prince, there was another story―a story of love and grief, of hope and of dreams dashed. It is the story of Lady Tremaine.

Even the coldest of villains are sometimes wives and mothers, women who loved and lost and hoped for something grander for their lives . . . once upon a dream.

Review: I really enjoyed this one! I absolutely love this series and while I’m not the best at reading them in order I do love that you CAN read them out of order. I love how the author made me sympathetic to Lady Tremaine and how well she crafted this revenge story. I also loved the character development and world building. The pacing was also spot on and I finished this one in one sitting!

My only criticism of the book is that I didn’t get that one satisfying death I wanted to see lol.

Verdict: Highly recommend!

NIGHTS IN THE SNOW GARDEN COVER REVEAL!

The poetry collection will be released November 30th 2021. Nights In the Snow Garden is a poetry collection that weaves through a nameless narrator’s tale of heartbreak and messages of encouragement as they sit in a garden of night where flowers bloom even in the coldest of seasons, looking to nature to help heal a wounded heart. Acting as a reference to let yourself flourish in your own time, no matter the weather. Inspired by the aesthetic of flowers, art, literature, and the beauty of changing seasons, we examine broken love, life purpose, and self-appreciation. Let yourself become a garden and watch your soul grow alongside nature. 

Walls by L.M. Elliott

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

Book: Walls

Author: L. M. Elliott

Book Series: Standalone

Rating: 4/5

Recommended For…: historical fiction, young adult

Genre: YA Historical Fiction

Publication Date: July 27, 2021

Publisher: Algonquin Children’s

Pages: 331

Recommended Age: 13+ (violence, mentions of war, gore, and “re-education”)

Synopsis: Drew is an army brat, a hotshot athlete poised to be his high school’s star pitcher, when he has to move for the sixth time in fifteen years—this time to West Berlin, where American soldiers like his dad hold an outpost of democracy against communist Russia in Hitler’s former capital. Meanwhile, in East Berlin, his cousin Matthias has grown up in the wreckage left by Allied bombing during World War II, on streets ruled by the Communist Party’s secret police.

From the opposing sides of the Cold War, Drew and Matthias begin to overcome the many ideological walls between them to become wary friends. They argue over the space race, capitalism, socialism, and even the American civil rights movement, and bond over rock ’n’ roll—music outlawed in Matthias’s part of the city. If Matthias is caught by the Stasi’s neighborhood spies with the records or books Drew has given him, he will be sent to a work camp for “re-education.” At the same time, Drew’s friendship with the East Berlin Jugend—who ardently spout communist dogma—raises suspicions about his family’s loyalty to America. As the political situation around them gets all the more dire, Drew and Matthias’s loyalty—to their sector, their countries, their families, and each other—will be tested in ways that will change their lives forever.

Set in the tumultuous year leading up to the surprise overnight raising of the Berlin Wall in August 1961, and punctuated with real-life photographs, headlines, and personalities of the time, Walls brings to vivid life the heroic and tragic choices of the Cold War.

Review: For the most part I enjoyed this book. I loved seeing the photographs and it helped me visualize the story better. The characters were well developed and the pacing was well done. I also loved the world building and combined with the pictures this is one of those books I’d love to see high schoolers read.

The only thing I really had issue with is the plot of the book. It took me awhile to connect with the characters, but when I did I consumed the book.

Verdict: It was good!

Cool for the Summer by Dahlia Adler

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

Book: Cool for the Summer

Author: Dahlie Adler

Book Series: Standalone

Diversity: Russian heritage MC, Jewish side character, Black male character, Aroace side character, F/f romance, Syrian Jewish bisexual love interest, Non binary pan character mentioned, Questioning/Queer MC

Rating: 5/5

Recommended For…: contemporary, young adult readers, romance, song titled books

Genre: YA Contemporary

Publication Date: May 11, 2021

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Pages: 272

Recommended Age: 16+ (Language, Small HP reference, Underage alcohol consumption, Sex, Mentions of Masturbating, Romance, Making a joke out of sexual coercion)

Explanation of CWs: The small HP reference is fairly early in the novel with just the mention of a specific yellow house shirt. There was none other in the book. There is frequent swearing and underage alcohol consumption in this book. Sex is mentioned and there are 2 sex scenes in this book. There was also one unfavorable joke about how a side character would have sex with her professor when she went to college which gives me creep vibes because that’s a misuse of power on the part of the professor and can be seen as sexual misconduct and coercion.

Synopsis: Lara’s had eyes for exactly one person throughout her three years of high school: Chase Harding. He’s tall, strong, sweet, a football star, and frankly, stupid hot. Oh, and he’s talking to her now. On purpose and everything. Maybe…flirting, even? No, wait, he’s definitely flirting, which is pretty much the sum of everything Lara’s wanted out of life.

Except she’s haunted by a memory. A memory of a confusing, romantic, strangely perfect summer spent with a girl named Jasmine. A memory that becomes a confusing, disorienting present when Jasmine herself walks through the front doors of the school to see Lara and Chase chatting it up in front of the lockers.

Lara has everything she ever wanted: a tight-knit group of friends, a job that borders on cool, and Chase, the boy of her literal dreams. But if she’s finally got the guy, why can’t she stop thinking about the girl?

Review: I really enjoyed this book! It’s so well written and I love how the story takes place between two timelines (then and now). I thought the characters were well developed and the world building was well done. I also loved the story. It’s so cute and tropey but it’s the right amount of trope. I guess I’m a sucker for the miscommunication trope now. I also really loved the diversity of this book and I loved how the message of the book wasn’t labeling or finding a specific label, just to love who you love.

I did have issue with the amount of characters. I think that it was a lot to remember and the two male love interest of the main character and another major character in the book have very similar names. I kept getting confused with the similar friends names too (Keisha / Kiki is one). Also, this is a great book to read in one sitting, but if you leave it or go to sleep like I did, it’s hard to get back into.

Verdict: Highly recommend!

My Contrary Mary by The Lady Janies

Disclaimer: I received an early access audiobook from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: My Contrary Mary

Author: Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows

Book Series: Mary Book 1

Rating: 5/5

Diversity: Sapphic romance with one of the MCs, Ace side character

Recommended For…: historical fiction, young adult readers, The Lady Janies lovers

Publication Date: June 22, 2021

Genre: YA Historical Fiction

Recommended Age: 13+ (some violence, some language, death, misogyny)

Explanation of CWs: There is some slight violence in this book and the book does have the occasional curse. The book also has some death involved with the plot and because it’s from the Renaissance Period there are some misogynistic views on our MCs and the side characters which reduce them, even a powerful queen, to just a womb on legs. This is quickly thwarted by the kickass MCs though.

Publisher: HarperTeen

Pages: 512

Synopsis: Welcome to Renaissance France, a place of poison and plots, of beauties and beasts, of mice and . . . queens?⠀

Mary is the queen of Scotland and the jewel of the French court. Except when she’s a mouse. Yes, reader, Mary is an Eðian (shapeshifter) in a kingdom where Verities rule. It’s a secret that could cost her a head—or a tail.⠀

Luckily, Mary has a confidant in her betrothed, Francis. But after the king meets a suspicious end, things at the gilded court take a treacherous turn. Thrust onto the throne, Mary and Francis are forced to navigate a viper’s nest of conspiracies, traps, and treason. And if Mary’s secret is revealed, heads are bound to roll.

Review: As my first book into The Lady Janies universe I am absolutely floored at how great this book is! I immediately loved this book from the first chapter. The book is well done, it’s funny, and it’s the right kind of historical fiction for me. It doesn’t take history too seriously and really shows that those of the past were just like us. I really liked the character and how well done they were. I also really liked the world building and the pacing was on par as well. The book’s plot was well written and I was immediately invested in this read. I also thought the romance was well done.

The only issue I really had with this book is that the ending leaves me wanting more and the finale was a bit too quick in my opinion.

Verdict: Highly recommend!

Book Adaptation Tag

Hey Bookies! This is the Book Adaptation Tag! This was created by Mia @ M and Em Reads and Marifer @ Maf’s Crazy Book Life.

  1. What is the last book adaptation movie you saw?
    The Darkest Minds I think.
The Darkest Minds (The Darkest Minds, #1)
  1. What book movie are you most excited for?
    Uglies but I’ll be waiting awhile…
Uglies (Uglies, #1)
  1. Which upcoming book movie will you definitely NOT see?
    There’s not a lot but #1 forever and always will always be 50 Shades
Fifty Shades of Grey (Fifty Shades, #1)
  1. Which book movie would you NEVER watch again?
    The Girl on the Train. Bad. Just bad.
The Girl on the Train
  1. Is there a movie you saw that made you want to read the book, if you hadn’t yet?
    I watched Wandavision and wanted to instantly read the comics
Scarlet Witch, Vol. 1: Witches' Road
  1. Conversely, is there a movie that made you never want to read the book?
    City of Bones 😂. I promise I’ll give it a try!
City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments, #1)
  1. Name an adaptation that has almost nothing to do with the book it’s supposedly based on.
    Eragon… Just no.
Eragon (The Inheritance Cycle, #1)
  1. Have you ever left the theater during a movie adaptation because it was so bad?
    Not yet
Black Chairs in Front of White Projector Screen
  1. Do you prefer to watch the movie first or read the book first?
    Read the book first but sometimes I can’t.
  1. How do you feel about movie adaptations that age characters up? (ex. characters that are in middle-school, but in the movies they’re all 18)
    It changes the story entirely. Take it for what it is or leave it.
Chicago Theatre
  1. Do you get angry when the actors don’t look like you thought the characters looked?
    No not really
Red Chairs in Dark Room
  1. Is there a movie you liked better than its book?
    Miss Peregrine’s.
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children, #1)
  1. Name a book that you would love to see as a movie.
    Uglies..please 🥺
Uglies (Uglies, #1)

Angel of Mercy Promo Tour

She had her entire life planned until the Great War began and everything changed.

April 1914.  Barrie, Ontario.  Hettie Steward is feisty, educated, ambitious and stubborn.  Her fiancé, Geoffrey Bartlette, the love of her life since childhood, has been a patient man.  He waited while she attended nursing school and worked a year, but now it is time to wed.  While Hettie is thrilled to be starting her life with Geoffrey, she laments that marriage means sacrificing her beloved nursing career, and domestic life brings her nothing but drudgery and boredom.

When the Great War begins a few months into their marriage, Geoffrey enlists and persuades Hettie to join the Canadian Army Nursing Service and follow him overseas.  After all, everyone says the war will be short, and it will be their opportunity to have a proper honeymoon.  Returning to work is exactly what Hettie was craving, and she eager accepts.

The war, however, does not end quickly.  Soon tragedy strikes, proving true the old adage “be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.”  Geoffrey is killed at the Second Battle of Ypres, and Hettie is faced with a choice.  Return home or stay in Europe and continue nursing?  Moreover, will she discover the person she is meant to be now that her life has been steered onto a new path?

Angel of Mercy is the first in a trilogy following Hettie and her family as they navigate the challenges and heartbreak World War 1 brings. Each novel is a standalone story. 

The Dead Life by Matthew Sprosty

Disclaimer: I received this ebook from the author. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: The Dead Life

Author: Matthew Sprosty

Book Series: Standalone

Rating: 3/5

Recommended For…: comedy reads, horror reads

Publication Date: May 15, 2021

Genre: Comedy Horror

Recommended Age: Can’t recommend, DNFed

Publisher: Atmosphere Press

Pages: 280

Synopsis: A sixteen-year-old girl wakes up in somebody’s front yard, and cannot remember a single thing. All she knows is that she was abandoned, has a bite wound on her shoulder, and a hankering hunger for meat.

Why would someone bite her? Who bit her? Are they still out there? Will they come back to finish their meal?

And really, honestly, most importantly- who is she?

THE DEAD LIFE is a humorous horror novel that will have you laughing out loud one moment and grossed out the next. Witty and gruesome, follow a teenager as she begins to understand her new life, temper her appetite, and solve the crime of who infected her with a deadly virus.

Review: I had to DNF this book at 43%. The book is good and funny, but I just wasn’t connecting with the book. It was a cool take on zombie novels, but it’s just unfortunately not for me at this time. I do want to try this book out again in the future though and have added it to my Amazon wishlist.

Verdict: It’s good, just not for me.

Fatal Conceit by John Ritter

Disclaimer: I received this ebook from the author. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: Fatal Conceit

Author: John Ritter

Book Series: Standalone

Rating: 3/5

Recommended For…: thriller, mystery, PI thriller

Publication Date: February 12, 2021

Genre: Thriller

Recommended Age: can’t recommend, DNFed

Publisher: TouchPoint Press

Pages: 310

Synopsis: A new PI joins an eminent list, bursting with humor, pugnacity, and a leaky moral code, bent on one-upping San Francisco’s finest while wooing a prosecutor-turned-lover. A talented investigator, Beaupre muddles through his own hubris and missteps, leaving a trail of bodies and recrimination. Booted from the police force—for knocking a skinhead comatose and allegedly battering a girlfriend—he radiates confidence spiked with arrogance. Hired to find the killer in a moldy double murder, he sniffs out a drug trail, misreads a string of homicides, and not until he and a computer hacker sidekick track down a fugitive in Asia does the scope of a vast criminal conspiracy reveal itself.

Review: I had to DNF this book at around 32%. The book is good, but around that point the writing started to get stale for me and the book was too predictable up to that point. The book is also well paced and has decent character development, but it was just too predictable for me and I didn’t really feel any interest to read the book after that point.

Verdict: It’s good, just not for me.

I Play One on TV by Alan Orloff

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

Book: I Play One On TV

Author: Alan Orloff

Book Series: Standalone

Diversity: 1 f/f relationship but very briefly mentioned

Rating: 5/5

Recommended For…: young adult readers, thriller, mystery, murder mystery, drama kids

Genre: YA Thriller/Mystery

Publication Date: July 19, 2021

Publisher: Down and Out Books

Pages: 288

Recommended Age: 14+ (Stalking TW, Kidnapped TW, violence, slight gore)

Explanation of CWs: MC is stalked by a character and is slightly kidnapped at one point.

Synopsis:All’s great for sixteen-year-old actor Dalton Black as he portrays a teen killer on a crime reenactment show. That is, until he realizes someone is stalking him. When that someone turns out to be Homer Lee Varney, the man convicted of the murder, things take a dark turn, and Dalton is afraid for his life. What does Varney want? Some sort of twisted revenge? Or something even worse?

Can Dalton and his drama friends discover the truth, before they become the killer’s next victims? Stay tuned to find out!

Review: Overall, I really liked this thriller mystery read. The premise of it drew me in immediately and I’m a sucker for true crime lol. I loved the world building and the plot. I also thought the writing was well done.

The only issues I had with the book is that I felt like the characters weren’t developed enough and that the action around the book was a bit too quick. I would have loved it if the book opened up with the murder and really explained the context of what I was reading. I also think that there was definitely enough in the book to continue for another 50-100 pages easily.

Verdict: it was good!