Rebel Rose by Emma Theriault

Disclaimer: I received the e-arc of this book from the publisher. Thanks! I also bought my own copy. Support your authors! All opinions are my own.

Book: Rebel Rose

Author: Emma Theriault

Book Series: The Queen’s Council Book 1

Rating: 4.5/5

Diversity: Lesbian side character, gay side character

Recommended For…: retelling fans, fantasy fans, historical fiction fans, ya readers

Publication Date: November 10, 2020

Genre: YA Retelling Historical Ficiton Fantasy

Recommended Age: 16+ (romance, gore, violence, revolution, PTSD symptoms)

Publisher: Disney Hyperion

Pages: 352

Synopsis: Happily ever after is only the beginning as Belle takes on the responsibility of becoming queen and learns to balance duty, love, and sacrifice, all while navigating dark political intrigue—and a touch of magic.

It’s 1789 and France is on the brink of revolution. Belle has finally broken the Enchantress’s curse, restoring the Beast to his human form and bringing life back to their castle in the province of Aveyon. But in Paris, the fires of change are burning, and it’s only a matter of time before the rebellion arrives on their doorstep.

Not so very long ago, Belle dreamed of leaving her provincial home for a life of adventure. But now she finds herself living in a palace, torn between her past as a commoner, and her future as royalty. While Belle grapples with her newfound position, there are those who would do anything to keep her from power.

When she stumbles across a magic mirror that holds a dire warning, Belle wants nothing more than to ignore the mysterious voice calling her to accept a crown she never desired. But violent factions of the revolution may already be lurking within her own castle, and doing nothing would endanger everything she holds dear. With the fate of her country, her love, and her life at stake, Belle must decide if she is ready to embrace her own strength–and the magic that ties her to so many female rulers before her–to become the queen she is meant to be.

Review: this was a really good book and a really interesting historical take on the Disney princesses. I really like the historical aspects and from what I could see and what I know of that time., I believe that it is mostly accurate. I felt like the character development was pretty well done as well as the overall plot of the book. The book kept me hooked and I pretty much read it in one sitting.

However, I did have some issues with the book. I feel like the book was really slow paced and that the action portions of the book were here and there. The book is also weirdly written in that a lot of things are repeated that I felt were unnecessarily repeated. I also didn’t like that Adam’s name was changed to Lio in this book. I like the little explanation that they gave for why, but his name is Adam and I don’t know why the author went with that. I also felt like the world building could have been a little bit better. 

Verdict: It was good!

Be Dazzled by Ryan La Sala

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

Book: Be Dazzled

Author: Ryan La Sala

Book Series: Standalone

Rating: 5/5

Diversity: Gay MC, m/m relationship

Recommended For…: contemporary readers, ya readers, LGBT+

Publication Date: January 5, 2021

Genre: YA Contemporary

Recommended Age: 16+ (language, drug usage, alcohol mention, sexual content, and slight gore for cosplay)

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Pages: 336

Synopsis: Who’s ready to sparkle??

Project Runway goes to Comic Con in an epic queer love story about creativity, passion, and finding the courage to be your most authentic self.

Raffy has a passion for bedazzling. Not just bedazzling, but sewing, stitching, draping, pattern making–for creation. He’s always chosen his art over everything–and everyone–else and is determined to make his mark at this year’s biggest cosplay competition. If he can wow there, it could lead to sponsorship, then art school, and finally earning real respect for his work. There’s only one small problem… Raffy’s ex-boyfriend, Luca, is his main competition.

Raffy tried to make it work with Luca. They almost made the perfect team last year after serendipitously meeting in the rhinestone aisle at the local craft store–or at least Raffy thought they did. But Luca’s insecurities and Raffy’s insistence on crafting perfection caused their relationship to crash and burn. Now, Raffy is after the perfect comeback, one that Luca can’t ruin.

But when Raffy is forced to partner with Luca on his most ambitious build yet, he’ll have to juggle unresolved feelings for the boy who broke his heart, and his own intense self-doubt, to get everything he’s ever wanted: choosing his art, his way.

Review: I really like this book. I thought that the concept would be a bit tropey, but I am so glad that I was wrong. The two main characters were not at all enemies to lovers or vengeful x or anything like that, they felt like real people in the book. They had their tips and everything but the whole book didn’t dwell on those little tips, but rather their relationship as a whole. I thought that the characters were wonderfully well developed and the world building was amazing. I really liked the concept of the book and that it takes place during conventions and with cosplay, something that I don’t see a lot in books. I also thought that the book was wonderfully well written and the audiobook narrator did a fantastic job of bringing the characters to life.

the only thing that I really had an issue with was the way that the story was told. I really did like how the story was told for the most part, and that the book is told in this back and forth between the now and the then. But the story got a little bit metal towards the end, and I wish that the author took the last two chapters of the then and combine them into one big chapter and then left the last two chapters of the now complete. But the book is very poetic in that sense because while you’re seeing the relationship fall apart in the then you are seeing it come back together in the now and there’s something that’s just epically poetic about this and I am so happy that I got to listen to this book. I highly recommend this book if you’re interested in cosplay or if you’re looking for those one of the million best ya romance contemporary books.

Verdict: Highly recommend!

For Better or Cursed by Kate Williams

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

Book: For Better or Cursed

Author: Kate Williams

Book Series: The Babysitters Coven Book 2

Diversity: f/f relationships

Rating: 5/5

Recommended For…: December 15, 2020

Publication Date:

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Pages: 384

Recommended Age: 16+ (Gore, Violence, Animal violence/near starvation)

Synopsis: Adventures in Babysitting meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer in this funny, action-packed sequel about a coven of witchy babysitters who realize their calling to protect the innocent and save the world from an onslaught of evil.

Esme Pearl’s life used to be all about bumming rides and babysitting. Sure, it wasn’t glamorous, but it was predictable. All that changed when Cassandra Heaven came to town, and they discovered their complicated, and connected, legacy: Esme and Cassandra are Sitters, supernaturally-gifted teens armed with an ever-changing grimoire of Sitter witchcraft to help them protect the innocent and keep evil demons at bay. You know, the typical teenage stuff.
But just as Esme is starting to adjust to–and maybe even like–her new normal, life lobs another glitter bomb her way. The Synod–the Sitterhood’s governing circle–has called a Summit, a once-in-a-generation gathering that promises training, education, and whole lot of ice-breakers.
Esme should be excited–a Summit might mean she can finally get the answers she desperately wants–but she can’t shake a building sense of panic. Especially since Cassandra’s not acting like herself; Esme’s dad is MIA; Pig is out of dog food; Janis is scared to be alone; and there’s a guy who seems too good to be true, again. Worst of all, it soon becomes clear, there’s no one watching the kids. It’s obvious the Summit is a haute mess, but will it be a deadly one, too?

Review: Oh my word I fell in love with this sequel! While the first book is still a bit better in my opinion I really enjoyed this sequel. I felt that the world building was very well done and the character development of the main characters and our side characters were also very well done. The plot of this book is much more intriguing then the first book and I am interested to see where this goes. I think this has an excellent shot of being one of my favorite series in most recent years. I love all of the little callbacks to babysitters and horror films and I love just basically everything about this book.

The only thing that I could really fault the book for is that it did take a little bit for me to remember the events of book one. but I do say that the author did well with presenting the material in a more relatable way than just a big info dump at the very beginning. but in getting that information it did take a little bit and I was confused through the first couple of chapters.

Verdict: Highly recommend!

Into The Heartless Wood by Joanna Ruth Meyer

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

Book: Into The Heartless Wood

Author: Joanna Ruth Meyer

Book Series: Standalone

Rating: 2/5

Recommended For…: fantasy lovers, retelling readers, ya readers

Publication Date: January 12, 2021

Genre: YA Retelling

Recommended Age: can’t recommend, DNFed

Publisher: Page Street Kids

Pages: 368

Synopsis: The forest is a dangerous place, where siren song lures men and women to their deaths. For centuries, a witch has harvested souls to feed the heartless tree, using its power to grow her domain.

When Owen Merrick is lured into the witch’s wood, one of her tree-siren daughters, Seren, saves his life instead of ending it. Every night, he climbs over the garden wall to see her, and every night her longing to become human deepens. But a shift in the stars foretells a dangerous curse, and Seren’s quest to become human will lead them into an ancient war raging between the witch and the king who is trying to stop her.

Review: I DNFed at 16% in. While the story seemed pretty good, it was really confusing to read. The writing was kind of all over the place. The writing also feels so middle grade when it’s adult and I feel like it’s luring kids into reading stuff above what they might be comfortable doing. The character development and world building was also hit and miss.

Verdict: It was a weird book.

The Lost Wonderland Diaries by J. Scott Savage

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

Book: The Lost Wonderland Diaries

Author: J. Scott Savage

Book Series: Standalone for now, but I can see where sequels can come into play

Rating: 5/5

Recommended For…: mg readers, fantasy lovers, retelling fans

Publication Date: September 8, 2020

Genre: MG Fantasy

Recommended Age: 10+ (slight violence, some scary moments)

Publisher: Shadow Mountain

Pages: 352

Synopsis: Lewis Carroll, author of the classic book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, secretly recorded the true story of his actual travels to Wonderland in four journals which have been lost to the world . . . until now.

Celia and Tyrus discover the legendary Lost Diaries of Wonderland and fall into a portal that pulls them into the same fantasy world as the White Rabbit and the Mad Hatter. However, Wonderland has vastly changed. Some of the characters that Tyrus remembers from the book have been transformed into angry monsters.

Helped by the Cheshire Cat and a new character, Sylvan, a young rabbit, Celia and Tyrus desperately work to solve puzzles and riddles, looking for a way out of Wonderland. But the danger increases when the Queen of Hearts begins hunting them, believing the two young visitors hold the key to opening multiple portals to multiple worlds, and she will stop at nothing to capture them.

Will the crazed creatures of Wonderland escape into the real world? Can Celia and Tyrus stop them and save both worlds? Or will they be trapped in Wonderland forever?

Review: I thought this was an amazing take on the Wonderland adventures we all know by heart. I really enjoy Alice in Wonderland retellings and side stories and this one fit all the criteria: crazy characters, wonderous settings, mystery, and imagination. The character development was well done and the world building was absolutely amazing! I also was hooked on the story from beginning to end.

The only part I didn’t like was that the book was a bit too slow for me in the beginning and in some spots, but it would be perfect for your Wonderland loving child.

Verdict: Highly recommend!

Fractured by Shay Siegel

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

Book: Fractured

Author: Shay Siegel

Book Series: Standalone

Rating: 3/5

Recommended For…: contemporary readers

Publication Date: October 27, 2020

Genre: YA Contemporary

Recommended Age: 17+ (attempted rape, sexual assault, self harm, depression, toxic masculinity, upsetting female representation)

Publisher: Indie Published

Pages: 290

Synopsis: Mason Vance is the guy everybody wants to be, and he knows it. He’s the best high school quarterback in New York, a shoo-in for a football scholarship at any school he chooses, and he’s expected to land in the NFL one day. That is, until a broken wrist leaves him fearing whether he’ll ever play again.

Desperate to save his damaged ego, Mason sets his sights on Lace. No cheerleader or homecoming queen like his usual type, she’s too wrapped in her own misery to fall for his pickup lines. Even though she tries to shut him out, she’s surprised to find he’s there for her when no one else is. Slowly, she lets him into the sad workings of her mind and less-than-perfect life, and Mason finds himself caring about Lace more than he’d ever thought possible. That’s why neither of them sees his huge mistake coming—one that instantly fractures everything between them.

Will Mason confront the ugliest side of himself, and in the process see who he’s capable of becoming, or will he fall back into the life he knew before Lace and his injury?

Review: Overall, I thought the book was ok. The book covered a lot of hard topics and while it did so in a pretty good manner, it is still a bit of a difficult read. The book had some good character development with some of the side characters and the world building was good as well.

However, the story was really bad. The book is from the viewpoint of the main character and while I understand why the author wrote the story in such a degrading manner, it’s still really concerning for me that most of the time Mason doesn’t change his stance on his positions. I also don’t believe that the main character, who supposed to be a high schooler, doesn’t know what sexual assault is or what rape is. This isn’t something you teach a 16 year old. This isn’t something you teach 16 year olds. This is something you teach small children. Mason also had a pity party through most of the book. I feel like he was sad about himself having sexually assaulted women more than he should have been sad for the women he sexually assaulted. I don’t feel like he learned that doing those actions leaves real victims with everlasting scars. Overall, the book left me feeling kinda icky but I can see the message the author meant to leave behind.

Verdict: It’s okay for me, but please don’t read if you have triggers with any listed above.

Heaven’s Silhouette by Melissa Lynn Herold

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author for a tour. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: Heaven’s Silhouette

Author: Melissa Lynn Herold

Book Series: Iyarri Chronicles Book 1

Rating: 3/5

Recommended For…: fantasy readers

Publication Date: September 17, 2019

Genre: Fantasy

Recommended Age: 18+ (romance, violence, gore, sexual content)

Publisher: Wise Ink Creative Publishing

Pages: 400

Synopsis: When I was little, other children called me a monster. A painting proved them right.

A lifetime of cruel taunts and heartbreak has taught Aurelia to hide, to not get too close to anyone. A painter and gallery docent, her only solace is in the art that can’t stare back. When a new piece arrives, depicting an angelic figure who shares the physical features she’s always thought of as monstrous, Aurelia searches for the artist, determined to get the answers her mother has long refused to provide.

But she isn’t the only one searching. There are others who want the artist—and the truth—silenced. Aurelia is attacked by figures from the painting, fierce warriors with wings and sharpened blades. Shaken and bloody, she manages to escape with her life but finds herself hunted by the Iyarri, who are anything but angels. As she comes to terms with her connection to them, Aurelia is drawn deeper into the heart of a millennia-old struggle. If she’s not careful, the consequences will tear her body, her heart, and the Iyarri in two.

Review: For the most part this was an ok book. It has a gorgeous cover and the book has an interesting premise. The character development is fairly well sound, the author did well on those throughout the novel, and the world building was fantastic and well crafted.

The major issues I had with the book is that it’s drifted too far from realism. The story is so confusing and unreliable that I don’t even know if I’m understanding it fully. You’re supposed to believe in one thing, but then the book keeps saying the opposite. The pacing is also so slow throughout the book.

Verdict: It’s good, but not normally my cup of tea, but still good!

The Remaking by Clay McLeod Chapman

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

Book: The Remaking

Author: Clay McLeod Chapman

Book Series: Standalone

Rating: 1/5

Recommended For…: horror fans

Publication Date: September 15, 2020

Genre: Horror

Recommended Age: Can’t recommend, DNFed

Publisher: Quirk Books

Pages: 305

Synopsis: Ella Louise has lived in the woods surrounding Pilot’s Creek, Virginia, for nearly a decade. Publicly, she and her daughter Jessica are shunned by their upper-crust family and the Pilot’s Creek residents. Privately, desperate townspeople visit her apothecary for a cure to what ails them—until Ella Louise is blamed for the death of a prominent customer. Accused of witchcraft, both mother and daughter are burned at the stake in the middle of the night. Ella Louise’s burial site is never found, but the little girl has the most famous grave in the South: a steel-reinforced coffin surrounded by a fence of interconnected white crosses.

Their story will take the shape of an urban legend as it’s told around a campfire by a man forever marked by his boyhood encounters with Jessica. Decades later, a boy at that campfire will cast Amber Pendleton as Jessica in a ’70s horror movie inspired by the Witch Girl of Pilot’s Creek. Amber’s experiences on that set and its meta-remake in the ’90s will ripple through pop culture, ruining her life and career after she becomes the target of a witch hunt. Amber’s best chance to break the cycle of horror comes when a true-crime investigator tracks her down to interview her for his popular podcast. But will this final act of storytelling redeem her—or will it bring the story full circle, ready to be told once again? And again. And again…

Review: Had to DNF at 204 pages. It’s an ok book but I became quickly bored with it after the shift from Amber to adulthood. The scariness toned down significantly and it left me with repeating dialogue and slow pacing. The book has different paving throughout it and not well developed characters. The world is also not adequately developed and it’s just not for me.

Verdict: Not for me and needs more work.

Warmaidens by Kelly Coon

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

Book: Warmaidens

Author: Kelly Coon

Book Series: Gravemaidens Book 2

Rating: 4/5

Recommended For…: fantasy lovers, romance lovers, ya readers

Publication Date: December 15, 2020

Genre: YA Fantasy

Recommended Age: 16+  (violence, gore, romance, ptsd, animal violence, attempted rape)

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Pages: 384

Synopsis: Just a few moons after escaping the tomb in Alu, Kammani and the other runaway maidens have found refuge in the city-state of Manzazu. There, Kammani has become a respected healer, especially among the warriors she’s brought back from the brink of death. Now that the nightmares of Alu are fading, she can finally decide whether or not to take Dagan’s hand in marriage.

But when an assassin murders a healer he believes is Kammani and attempts to kill the displaced queen of Alu, the maidens realize they’ve been found.

Hungry for revenge, Manzazu’s queen wants to strike back at Alu with her fiercest weapons—her scorpion warrior maidens—but Kammani knows that war harms more than it heals. To save the innocents and any chance of a future with Dagan, Kammani must take down Alu’s ruler before their lives burn up in the flames of war.

Review: For the most part this was a well done book. The world building is amazing and the character development is awesome. The pacing is pretty on key and the story is very interesting and hooked me from the beginning.

There were a few things I didn’t like as much in this book. The book takes place 9 months after the events in the first book but fails to reintroduce characters you might have forgotten. The language, while immersive, also takes a bit to get used to and there’s no directory in the book to help with words used. The main character is also one who, throughout the majority of the series, wanted to be childless but then in the end gave a hint that she did want kids in the future. I think that’s kind of a sad blow to women who don’t want to kids and takes away a character that they could have looked up to.

Verdict: I loved this book, but it could have been a little better.

Lore by Alexandra Bracken

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

Book: Lore

Author: Alexandra Bracken

Book Series: Standalone

Rating: 1/5

Diversity: one gay side character by the time I DNFed

Recommended For…: Greek Mythology lovers

Publication Date: January 5, 2021

Genre: YA Fantasy

Recommended Age: can’t recommend, DNFed

Publisher: Hyperion

Pages: 480

Synopsis: Every seven years, the Agon begins. As punishment for a past rebellion, nine Greek gods are forced to walk the earth as mortals, hunted by the descendants of ancient bloodlines, all eager to kill a god and seize their divine power and immortality.
Long ago, Lore Perseous fled that brutal world in the wake of her family’s sadistic murder by a rival line, turning her back on the hunt’s promises of eternal glory. For years she’s pushed away any thought of revenge against the man–now a god–responsible for their deaths.

Yet as the next hunt dawns over New York City, two participants seek out her help: Castor, a childhood friend of Lore believed long dead, and a gravely wounded Athena, among the last of the original gods.

The goddess offers an alliance against their mutual enemy and, at last, a way for Lore to leave the Agon behind forever. But Lore’s decision to bind her fate to Athena’s and rejoin the hunt will come at a deadly cost–and still may not be enough to stop the rise of a new god with the power to bring humanity to its knees.

Review: I DNFed this read at 134 pages. I really like the concept of it, but Alexandra Bracken basically drops you into the middle of a story and 134 pages in and I’m still so lost and confused about what’s going on. The characters aren’t developed, the book expects you to know the backstory and to have read the blurb before you read it, the timeline and world building are disastrous, and the whole thing is just so cluttered. If you didn’t have any knowledge of Greek Gods you’d be utterly confused throughout the book and even with my basic knowledge I’m still very lost. The author didn’t take the time to set up anything in the book, we hit the ground running from page 1. I feel like I’m reading the rough draft of this book while I’m actually reading the first edition. I think this would have been a good sequel book, but as a first it’s bad and underdeveloped.

Verdict: I wish it was just a little bit better in the beginning and helped bring you into the world.