Review | The Darkening by Sunya Mara

In this thrilling and epic YA fantasy debut the only hope for a city trapped in the eye of a cursed storm lies with the daughter of failed revolutionaries and a prince terrified of his throne.

Vesper Vale is the daughter of revolutionaries. Failed revolutionaries. When her mother was caught by the queen’s soldiers, they gave her a choice: death by the hangman’s axe, or death by the Storm that surrounds the city and curses anyone it touches. She chose the Storm. And when the queen’s soldiers—led by a paranoid prince—catch up to Vesper’s father after twelve years on the run, Vesper will do whatever it takes to save him from sharing that fate.

Even arm herself with her father’s book of dangerous experimental magic.

Even infiltrate the prince’s elite squad of soldier-sorcerers.

Even cheat her way into his cold heart.

But when Vesper learns that there’s more to the story of her mother’s death, she’ll have to make a choice if she wants to save her city: trust the devious prince with her family’s secrets, or follow her mother’s footsteps into the Storm.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

First and foremost, I cannot get over how beautiful the cover of this book is. That was definitely one of the first things that intrigued me about this book and I’m really glad I decided to give it a read.

I really liked the world itself and thought the idea of the storm around the city but I did wish there was a little more world building since I’m assuming this is going to be a series. I did find what world building there was to be really intriguing.

I found all of the characters to be developed well and fully fledged, a lot of them were pretty gray morally, but really well developed.

Overall I flew through this one pretty quickly, the writing style was easy to read and for the most part. There were some places where the pacing stumbled a bit, but they weren’t major hindrances to the overall read.

Happy reading!

Review | A Dash of Trouble by Anna Meriano

Leonora Logroño’s family owns the most beloved bakery in Rose Hill, Texas, spending their days conjuring delicious cookies and cakes for any occasion. And no occasion is more important than the annual Dia de los Muertos festival.

Leo hopes that this might be the year that she gets to help prepare for the big celebration—but, once again, she is told she’s too young. Sneaking out of school and down to the bakery, she discovers that her mother, aunt, and four older sisters have in fact been keeping a big secret: they’re brujas—witches of Mexican ancestry—who pour a little bit of sweet magic into everything that they bake.  

Leo knows that she has magical ability as well and is more determined than ever to join the family business—even if she can’t let her mama and hermanas know about it yet.

And when her best friend, Caroline, has a problem that needs solving, Leo has the perfect opportunity to try out her craft. It’s just one little spell, after all…what could possibly go wrong?

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Just from the description I knew this was going to be a cute read, but I was definitely pleasantly surprised at how deep it went into subjects such as family relationships. Leo is the youngest of five and is struggling with the fact that all of her older sisters seem to be included in family activities that she’s excluded from. She immediately picks up that there are secrets not being shared with her and thanks to the little voice of insecurity and anxiety inside of her, she’s worried that the reason she’s being excluded is that there’s something wrong with her or that she’s not good enough. The book is full of life lessons for someone her age, about following the rules, friendships and more. It was an adorable read and I definitely look forward to reading the rest of the series.

Happy reading!

Review | Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Inspiring Young Changemakers

The fifth volume of the best-selling Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls series, 100 Inspiring Young Changemakers, includes 100 stories of extraordinary young women who have made their mark on the world.

Readers will celebrate well-known activists Greta Thunberg and Mari Copeny and meet new names like inventors Riya Karumanchi, who developed a smart cane for the visually impaired, and Xóchitl Guadalupe Cruz López, who used recycled materials to build solar-powered water heaters for families who lacked hot water. Each story is told in a whimsical fairy tale style and is paired with a bold, full-page portrait drawn by a female or nonbinary artist. In addition to showcasing the stories of incredible young people, the book features the work of young authors, artists, and editors.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Another great entry to the Rebel Girls library! This installment follows the usual format, sharing stories about a number of inspiring figures. Previous installments have had a wide range of people from different times, so this volume it was refreshing to see that it was concentrating on figures who are contemporary figures. I think taking this route with this installment was smart, as these are figures closer in age to the intended audience and will help them possibly see themselves in the girls represented. As with the other books in this series the art was vibrant and brought each person to life on the page.

Happy reading!

Review | Where We Come From by John Coy, Shannon Gibney, Sun Yung Shin and Diane Wilson

In this unique collaboration, four authors lyrically explore where they each come from–literally and metaphorically–as well as what unites all of us as humans.

Richly layered illustrations connect past and present, making for an accessible and visually striking look at history, family, and identity.

We come from stardust / our bodies made of ancient elements. / We come from single cells / evolving over billions of years. / We come from place, language, and spirit. / And each of us comes from story.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I loved the idea of this book, seeming like a long form poem, and am so glad that I picked it up. It really is an exploration of how we are impacted by not only our present lives, but the lives of who came before us and who we came from. Everything that our ancestors struggled through to get us where we are was represented in this book. The art that accompanies the words makes it even more poignant and truly brings the words to life.

Happy reading!

Blog Tour | For Butter Or Worse by Erin La Rosa | Review

An enemies-to-lovers mash-up of THE HATING GAME and THE GREAT BRITISH BAKE-OFF, in which two rival hosts of a massively popular cooking show have to fake a relationship to save their careers after an explosive on-air fallout, only to find their feelings for each other becoming real.

Their feelings are about to boil over…

Chef Nina Lyon dreams of cooking her way to culinary stardom and becoming a household name. She thought hosting The Next Cooking Champ! was her golden ticket, but she and her co-host/arch-nemesis Leo O’Donnell go together like water and oil and he undercuts her at every turn.

So when Nina unexpectedly quits the show–on live TV, no less–to focus on her restaurant, she doesn’t anticipate the he-devil himself showing up at her door begging her to come back. Nor does she expect the paparazzi to catch them in what looks like a passionate kiss, but is actually Leo tripping into her. When the fans go crazy over Nina and Leo’s “secret romance”, keeping the ruse going might be the only way to save both their careers. That is, if they don’t kill each other first…

Perfect for fans of THE HATING GAME and Netflix’s GREAT BRITISH BAKE-OFF (…if Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood were hot thirty-somethings), FOR BUTTER OR WORSE is the escapist enemies-to-lovers romance we all need right now.

Buy Links | The Ripped Bodice (signed copies!) | Bookshop.org | B&N | Amazon

Rating: 4 out of 5.

As soon as I saw the comparison to The Great British Bake Off I wanted to pick up this book. I have a fondness fo books that include food elements, so that right there had me hooked.

That being said, I actually enjoyed this book even more than I thought I would. Nina and Leo are both complex characters with a very complicated relationship. Because they are enemies they have a lot to work through and this book has a ton of different tropes at play from enemies to lovers to miscommunication, fake dating and more. I also appreciated the supporting characters such as Leo’s family, they brought an additional human element to the story.

Also, this story isn’t just a romance – there are a lot of real world issues that are tackled and presented not only in Leo and Nina’s relationship, but throughout the story itself. All in all it was a great read and I would definitely pick up more from the author.

ERIN LA ROSA is a writer living in Los Angeles. As a writer for BuzzFeed, she frequently writes about the perils and triumphs of being a redhead. Before BuzzFeed, Erin worked for the comedy websites Funny or Die and MadAtoms, as well as E!s Fashion Police, Wetpaint, and Ecorazzi. Erin has appeared on CNN, Headline News, Jimmy Kimmel, and The Today Show on behalf of BuzzFeed. She is the author of Womanskills and The Big Redhead Book.

Social Links | Author Website | IG | Twitter | Facebook | TikTok

Happy reading!

Review | Her Darkest Secret by Jessica R. Patch

When a cold-case serial killer returns, FBI special agent Fiona Kelly has one last chance to stop him before he claims the prize he’s always wanted—her.

The sight of a goose feather at a murder scene modeled after a children’s poem is enough to make FBI special agent Fiona Kelly’s blood turn to ice. Almost two decades ago, a feather was left with her sister’s body—and with every subsequent victim of the Nursery Rhyme Killer. Now he’s back. Only this time, his latest gruesome murder is a message to the only one who ever got away: Fiona.

Finding “Rhyme” is an obsession that’s fueled Fiona’s career—and destroyed her marriage to fellow FBI agent Asa Kodiak. Now Fiona and Asa have to put their past tensions aside and work together one last time. But Rhyme is watching, and catching this killer may force Fiona to reveal her biggest, darkest secret…the one only he knows.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I hadn’t read from this author before, but the premise of the story had me hooked from the beginning. Right from the get go the story is intense and constantly driving forward as Asa and Fiona have to work together to try and catch the killer. There weren’t any characters which felt unneeded, everyone was very integral to the story. I was not expecting how dark the story would go, but couldn’t put it down. I obviously don’t want to say too much about the specifics of the story as I don’t want to spoil anything, but if you enjoy shows etc. that focus on serial killers then this would be up your alley. A compelling story/mystery/hunt for a killer along with fully developed characters that drove the story made this one an excellent read. I will definitely be picking up more from this author in the future!

Thank you again to the publisher for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for any honest review.

Happy reading!

Blog Tour | The Lost and Found Girl by Maisey Yates | Review

The small Oregon town of Pear Blossom welcomes the return of its prodigal daughter Ruby McKee. Found abandoned as a baby by the McKee family, Ruby is the unofficial town mascot, but when she and her adoptive sisters start investigating the true circumstances around her discovery, it soon becomes clear that this small town is hiding the biggest, and darkest, of secrets. A raw, powerful exploration of the lengths people go to protect their loved ones, for fans of Lori Wilde and Carolyn Brown.

Ruby McKee is a miracle.

It’s a miracle she survived, abandoned as a newborn baby. A miracle that she was found by the McKee sisters. Her discovery allowed the community of Pear Blossom, Oregon, broken by a devastating crime, to heal. Since then, Ruby has lived a charmed life. But she can’t let go of the need to know why she was abandoned, and she’s tired of not having answers.

Dahlia McKee knows it’s not right to resent Ruby for being special. But uncovering the truth about sister Ruby’s origins could allow Dahlia to carve her own place in Pear Blossom history… if she’s brave enough to follow her heart.

Widowed sister Lydia McKee doesn’t have time for Ruby’s what if’s – when Lydia’s right now is so, so hard. Her husband’s best friend Chase might be offering to share some of the load, but can Lydia ever trust her instincts around him?

Marianne Martin is glad that her youngest sister is back in town, but balancing Ruby’s crusade with the way her own life is imploding is turning into a bigger chore than she imagined. Especially when Ruby starts overturning secrets about the past that Marianne has spent a lifetime trying to pretend don’t exist.

And when the truth about Ruby’s miraculous origins, and the crime from long ago, turn out to be connected in ways no one could have expected, will the McKee sisters band together, or fall apart?

Buy Links | BookShop.org | Harlequin  | Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Books-A-Million | Powell’s

I’ve enjoyed the books I’ve read previously from Maisey Yates, so I was excited to pick this one up. I loved the setting, especially since it’s very similar to my neck of the woods. I did really like the individual personalities and situations of the three sisters, and the look at their past relationships as well as how their current relationships are being shaped through their experiences with each other. I also really enjoyed the mystery element that kept the story going and made it a read that flew by. Maisey Yates’ writing is easy to read and flows wonderfully, which also keeps the story moving at a great pace. All in all this was a read I really enjoyed.

Maisey Yates is a New York Times bestselling author of over one hundred romance novels. Whether she’s writing strong, hard working cowboys, dissolute princes or multigenerational family stories, she loves getting lost in fictional worlds. An avid knitter with a dangerous yarn addiction and an aversion to housework, Maisey lives with her husband and three kids in rural Oregon. Check out her website, maiseyyates.com or find her on Facebook.

Social Links | Author Website: http://www.maiseyyates.com/ | Facebook: Maisey Yates |
Twitter: @maiseyyates | Instagram: @MaiseyYates

Happy reading!

Review | So You Want to be a Viking? by Georgia Amson-Bradshaw

Kate, Eddie, and Angus are dazzled by pictures of Viking warriors’ deadly axes and blingy swords in their library books. But when they’re transported back in time to Scandinavia in 991 CE, they must figure out if they have what it takes to become Vikings themselves.

A big, burly Viking called Bjorn initiates the kids in the ways of wielding a battle ax, plundering and looting, and soon they learn all sorts of other tricks as well, including how to get shipshape and navigate the seven seas with just a stone, how to recite rude poems, and how to scare enemies into submission before a battle even begins. Hervor, the haunted shield-maiden, is also on hand to share her tips on how to take off with a handsome ransom and how to make it into Valhalla in the afterlife.

So You Want to Be a Viking? features the field’s latest scholarship and is illustrated throughout with zany illustrations by Japanese cartoonist Takayo Akiyama. Any kid who’s ever daydreamed about being a fierce Norse warrior will love this interactive guide.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I got this book in an Owlcrate box and have wanted to at least give it a read through since it looked like a fun book for a middle grade audience. The art style is quirky and fun as you go through the book, learning little tidbits about Viking life and beliefs. It’s got a lot of good information that is written in a way that is easily digestible and was a fun read overall. I would definitely recommend it for its intended age group and then they would find the illustrations engaging and the text intriguing.

Happy reading!

Review | Come Fly With Me: Poetry From A to Z by Shayna Bresnik

In this whimsical book, you will find a treasure chest of twenty-six poems—one for each letter of the alphabet—that illustrate everything about growing up, from the buoyancy of balloons to the nobility of knights.

Much of Come Fly With Me was written and shared by Shayna Bresnick at the age of ten. As a teen, she decided to write about more of life’s adventures and release the entire collection for readers of all ages to enjoy. Come fly through these pages and join her as she explores our world, one special piece at a time.

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated to cancer research and children’s mental health programs.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This collection of poetry was absolutely adorable and whimsical. I enjoyed the concept of a poem for each letter of the alphabet and found each poem to be varied and fun, but what really made the collection special was the artwork that accompanied each poem. Each image correlated to the poems themselves and give the collection it’s wonderful whimsy. While the poems were simple and to the point, they were a joy to read and very fun in nature.

Happy reading!

Review | Lightfall: Shadow of the Bird

In the second installment of the award-winning, critically acclaimed Lightfall series, Bea and Cad continue their quest to stop Kest, the mythic bird who stole the sun. Perfect for middle grade fans of Amulet and Avatar the Last AirbenderLightfall: Shadow of the Bird is another breathtaking journey into the magical world of Irpa, where epic battles and powerful creatures abound.

After a battle that nearly cost them their lives, Bea and Cad awaken in the hidden settlement of the Arsai, mysterious creatures who can glimpse into the future. The Arsai’s vision paints a dire picture for their planet, as the bird Kest Ke Belenus–now awoken from a restless slumber–threatens to destroy all the Lights of Irpa. Desperate for a solution, Bea and Cad seek out the help of a water spirit known as Lorgon, whose ancient wisdom may help them find a way to take down Kest and save Irpa from utter destruction.

But when their time with Lorgon presents more questions than answers, Bea and Cad must decide what’s more important . . . stopping Kest or uncovering the truth.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I was excited to see that the next volume in this series was out and had to grab it as quickly as I could. It was nice to return to the world I enjoyed in the last volume and to continue the story. I will say that in this one I didn’t love Cad as a character as much, he seemed so singularly focused that in most cases he was blinded by his one goal. I did enjoy the route of the story itself and the further information we are given about the world and what has happened in the past. I’m excited to see what happens going forward!

Happy reading!