Wednesday, June 30, 2021

June Wrap-Up

Hello, all!

Even though I still read a decent amount this month, it definitely felt like my slowest yet, but that’s alright everyone needs a break occasionally! Let’s get into the books.


Near the Bone- Christina Henry; 3/5
For the Wolf- Hannah Whitten; 4/5
Mary Jane- Jessica Anya Blau; 5/5
Grace and Glory- Jennifer L. Armentrout; 2/5
Witches Steeped in Gold- Ciannon Smart; 3/5
The Deep- Rivers Solomon; 3/5
The Eye of the World- Robert Jordan; 4/5
Songs in Ursa Major- Emma Brodie; 4/5


The Beautiful Ones- Silvia Moreno-Garcia; 3/5
How Sweet It Is- Dylan Newton; 3/5
Lady Sunshine- Amy Mason Doan; 3/5
A Lady By Midnight- Tessa Dare; 3/5
Strange Gods- Alison Kimble; 3/5
Too Good to Be Real- Melonie Johnson; 3/5


Normal People- Sally Rooney; 2/5
The Silent Companions- Laura Purcell; 4/5
The Wallflower Wager- Tessa Dare; 5/5 (reread)
Foundryside- Robert Jackson Bennett; 4/5
Keeper of the Lost Cities- Shannon Messenger; 4/5
Very Sincerely Yours- Kerry Winfrey; 5/5
Before the Devil Breaks You- Libba Bray; 5/5
Heartstopper, Vol. 3- Alice Oseman; 4/5
Séance Tea Party- Reimena Yee; 3.5/5
The Sanatorium- Sarah Pearse; 4/5 

My favorites this month were; Mary Jane, Very Sincerely Yours, and Before the Devil Breaks You (I'm kicking myself for waiting so long to pick the rest of this series up!). Least favorites were Normal People, Grace and Glory, and Too Good to Be Real.

Let me know how your reading month went. What was your favorite/least favorite?

Monday, June 28, 2021

Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag

Hello, all!

I did this tag last year and thought it was such a fun way to look back at my reading, so of course, I had to do it again!

1. Best book you’ve read so far in 2021. 

There's been so many good ones, but I'll go with A Court of Silver Flames- Sarah J. Maas.

2. Best sequel you've read so far in 2021. 

Technically, it's the third in a series, but Act Your Age, Eve Brown- Talia Hibbert.

3. New release you haven't read yet, but want to. 

Songs in Ursa Major- Emma Brodie.

4. Most anticipated release for the second half of the year. 

Again, so many! But I'll go with: Under the Whispering Door- T.J. Klune, Kingdom of the Cursed- Kerri Maniscalco and Well Matched- Jen DeLuca.

5. Biggest disappointment. 

A Lady's Formula for Love- Elizabeth Everett and Normal People- Sally Rooney.

6. Biggest surprise. 

It Happened One Summer- Tessa Bailey. I sometimes find Bailey's writing to be very cringy, but I was so taken by this from the moment I started!

7. Favorite new author. (Debut or new to you) 

India Holton.

8. Newest fictional crush. 

Alex from People We Meet on Vacation or Teddy from Second First Impressions.

9. Newest favorite character. 

Cecilia from The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels- India Holton. A sassy lady rogue with a magical flying house? Say no more.

10. Book that made you cry. 

The Nightingale- Kristin Hannah.

11. Book that made you happy. 

84, Charing Cross Road- Helene Hanff.

12. Most beautiful book you've bought so far this year (or received) 

Either The Witch's Heart- Genevieve Gornichec or Ariadne- Jennifer Saint.

13. What books do you need to read by the end of the year?

I say it all the time but The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan, but I've actually just finished the first one!

Here are the questions if anyone wants to do this as well!

1. Best book you’ve read so far in 2021. 
2. Best sequel you've read so far in 2021. 
3. New release you haven't read yet, but want to. 
4. Most anticipated release for the second half of the year. 
5. Biggest disappointment. 
6. Biggest surprise. 
7. Favorite new author. (Debut or new to you) 
8. Newest fictional crush. 
9. Newest favorite character. 
10. Book that made you cry. 
11. Book that made you happy. 
12. Most beautiful book you've bought so far this year (or received) 
13. What books do you need to read by the end of the year?

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Mini Thoughts

Hello, all!

Pub Date: 6-29-21
Adult - Contemporary

To Sir, With Love- Lauren Layne: Gracie Cooper has spent her entire life holding out hope for that fairy tale ending. After her father passes away, Gracie puts all her dreams on hold to take over the family business. Unfortunately, a small champagne shop in Manhattan isn’t all that profitable and Gracie finds herself struggling to make ends meet. When a giant corporation proposes a buyout, Gracie knows she should take it, but she can’t bring herself to throw away her father’s dream to the frustratingly handsome Sebastian Andrews. Not wanting to admit to her family how overwhelmed she truly is, Gracie turns to “Sir”-- the faceless mystery man she met on a blind dating app. Despite never meeting or even seeing one another, Grace and Sir connect on so many levels and the flirty messages they’re constantly trading have Gracie falling hard and fast. But what happens when they finally meet and it turns out Sir has been closer to Gracie than she thought?

The moment I saw this was compared to You’ve Got Mail, I was sold. It had all the charm I was hoping for and then some. Gracie had such a vivacious whimsy to her that I thought was so infectious and I admired her positive outlook on life. Sebastian came across as this gruff broody guy, but you could tell he had a soft squishy side underneath. I think they complemented each other really well, and their chemistry felt very natural. I loved seeing their relationship blossom both through anonymous messages and in real life. The side characters also brought such a nice dynamic to the story. They were all so quirky and supportive of Gracie. If you’re looking for an unbelievable sweet less steamy romance to binge in one sitting, pick this up.

Rating: 4/5

Pub Date: 5-4-21
YA - Historical Fiction

Luck of the Titanic- Stacey Lee: Seventeen-year-old Valora Luck has two goals: to reunite with her twin brother Jamie, who works on the newly built ship the Titanic, and for them to go to New York to become acrobats in the circus. Thanks to her quick thinking, Val manages to stow away on the ship and talks herself into first-class accommodations, and sets off to find her brother. When the twins are reunited, Val soon learns that Jamie isn't as keen on the life she's purposing. Not only are her plans thrown for a loop and her ruse starting to crumble around her, but a disastrous accident causes the unsinkable ship to start plunging into the cold North Atlantic waters, and Val and her companions find themselves fighting to survive.

Lee has this beautiful way of writing historical fiction that fully transports you to whatever period that I admire. Everyone knows about the events of the Titanic, so it's hard to find a fresh take on it, but somehow Lee delivers. I also enjoyed how Lee weaved together accounts from actual Chinese passengers of the Titanic because it made it more emotional. My favorite part of this was the characters. Val was interesting to follow. She was so headstrong, and a little stubborn, in her desire to reunite with her brother and start a new life in America. I also liked her relationship between Jamie and the other laborers. The only issue I had with this was the pacing. Some bits felt dragged out, especially around the middle, and I found myself losing interest until we finally got to the sinking. While I wasn't fully invested, this was still a beautifully written story and worth the read if you're a historical fiction or Titanic fan.

Rating: 3/5

Pub Date: 3-6-18
Adult - Horror

The Silent Companions- Laura Purcell: When Elsie married the dashing Rupert Bainbridge, she believed her life had finally taken a turn for the better. But only a short time later, Elsie is left widowed with a baby on the way and carted off to Rupert's family estate in a small village full of resentful townsfolk who want nothing to do with any Bainbridge. The only company Elsie has is Rupert's timid cousin Sarah and a small household staff of subpar servants. While exploring the house, Elsie and Sarah come across a locked room, and when they finally pry the door open they're met with an unnerving sight. For inside the room is a wooden figure, known as a silent companion, and it bears an eerie resemblance to Elsie. Believing it all to be a strange coincidence, Elsie shrugs off the figure but when strange occurrences start happening and more silent companions are found lurking about, Elsie can't help but feel like something sinister is living in her house.

This was so creepy and I was here for every bit of it! There was that typical slow-burn uneasiness you usually get from Gothic horrors, and sometimes I can get a bit bored waiting for something to happen, but Purcell kept me on edge the entire time. This jumps between two different points in time: in 1865 you follow Elsie who's in an institution retelling the events at Bainbridge house, and then also in 1635 you follow her late husband's family at the estate and you learn how the silent companions came to be in their possession. Each facet of the story was fascinating and even with jumping back and forth, everything flowed so well and you were able to get a full picture of what occurred. Knowing that Elsie was in an institution, I was immediately under the impression that maybe she wouldn't be the most reliable narrator because who knows how much of what she's recounting is fact or not, but she was so compelling and you end up feeling so sorry for her by the end. If you're looking for something that'll keep you in suspense and jumping at the slightest sounds while also solidifying the fact that dolls are the worst, pick this up.

Rating: 4/5

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Blog Tour: Lady Sunshine Review

Hello, all!

Big thanks to the publisher for having me as part of the blog tour for Lady Sunshine by Amy Mason Doan!

Pub Date: 6-29-21
Adult - Historical Fiction

It's the summer of 1979 and everything that Jackie Pierce knows is about to change. After her father remarries, Jackie is sent to stay with her musician uncle and family at his huge estate on the Californian coast called The Sandcastle. The first few days Jackie mostly keeps to herself, despite being surrounded by musicians, artists, and other free spirits who call the compound home, until she and her cousin Willa strike up a fast friendship. The pair are quickly attached at the hip and spend all their moments at the beach or getting lost in the woods surrounding the house. Until one night, tragedy strikes and Willa disappears without a trace.

Twenty years have passed, and Jackie finds herself once again back at The Sandcastle but this time now as its owner. Jackie has no desire to keep the estate and intends to clean it up to sell it, but her plans are put on hold when she finds out her estranged aunt had agreed to let a group of musicians record an anniversary tribute album to her late uncle. With the estate once again full of music and people, Jackie can't help but be transported back to that fateful summer and all the memories that come with it. When Jackie stumbles upon clues that prove there's more to Willa's disappearance, she must face dark secrets she's spent years burying if she hopes to uncover what truly happened.

This had a lot going for it. Stunning cover? Check. Beachy, 1970's setting? Check. Family mystery to unravel? Check. Yet I still found this lacking a bit. I think Doan's writing was atmospheric and easy to fall into (I read the entire thing in almost one sitting) and did a nice job transporting you to both periods. This is told in two different timelines, and while that can get a little jumbled if not done well, that wasn't the case here. Everything flowed well and I liked following Jackie both as a teen in the '79 and an adult in '99. I was very into discovering what happened to her cousin Willa, but I will say it was easy to figure out and I knew where the plot was going halfway through. Because I knew how the mystery was going to play out, the ending didn't have as much of an impact on me, but I still enjoyed how Doan wrapped it up. This isn't one where I felt any strong connection to the characters or storyline, but it's still entertaining enough and would be a good beach read.

Rating: 3/5

Friday, June 18, 2021

5 Fandom Friday: Favorite Musicals

Hello,  all!

I almost went really controversial on this by including Grease 2 (the acting was terrible but the songs were on point), but I decided to keep it tame. I also left off a few more popular musicals (like Hamilton) because I feel like some are just a given that everyone loves them.

1. Newsies: I watched the heck out of this movie when I was growing up. The songs are so catchy and my childhood crush will forever be Spot Conlon.

2. Across the Universe: I mentioned my love for this musical a few months back, but it’s just so good.

3. Mamma Mia!: I will never apologize for my undying love for ABBA.

4. Moulin Rouge!: Ugh, the songs! The costumes! Everything is so good.

5. The Rocky Horror Picture Show: I vividly remember seeing this movie when I was about 5-years-old (waaaay too young but, hey, my Uncle was babysitting) and falling head over heels for it. It’s just so fun.

Let me know some of your picks! Oh, and also-- I've switched over to a new subscription service, so if you want to enter your email in on the sidebar to stay up-to-date on all my posts, I'd appreciate it!

Thursday, June 17, 2021

The Maidens Review

Hello, all!

I think I might be the only one who hasn't read The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides but I've heard nothing but good things, so when I saw his newest release, The Maidens, on Netgalley, I jumped at the chance to read it. 

Pub Date: 6-15-21
Adult - Thriller

Mariana Andros has suffered a lot of loss in her life, from her parents, her sister, and most recently her husband. The only family she has left is her niece Zoe, who's away at college in Cambridge. When Mariana gets a panicked call from Zoe late one night, Mariana rushes to her side. When Mariana arrives at Cambridge, she finds police investigating the body of a young girl, who turns out to be Zoe's best friend, found with multiple stab wounds. Being back at Cambridge stirs up a lot of memories for Mariana, who was a student here when she met her late husband. She knows she has to be strong for her niece, so she's intent to push all her emotions to the side, but she can't help feeling as if something sinister is lurking on campus.

The more Mariana learns of the investigation, the more she can't help but believing that the culprit is Edward Fosca, a popular professor of Greek tragedy. Handsome and charismatic, Professor Fosca is beloved by the staff and all his students, particularly a group of girls referred to as the Maidens that he tutors. Mariana can't explain why, but she feels an uneasiness toward Fosca, especially after watching him give a lecture on the rites of Persephone, the goddess of the Underworld. After another body turns up, Mariana becomes determined to prove Fosca's guilt, but her obsession soon spirals out of control and threatens not only her credibility but her relationships with those closest to her. But are the lengths Mariana is willing to go to catch a killer worth her life?

Being that this was the first book I've read by this author, I wasn't sure what to expect, but I ended up enjoying it. I knew there was a lot of hype surrounding this and it was well deserved. I was engaged and intrigued right from the start. A lot of that had to do with the bits of Greek mythology that were woven in which were very interesting. Mariana was a compelling character to follow but most of the things she did would never fly in an actual investigation, so there are times you have to suspend your disbelief. What I always look for in thrillers is an element of surprise, and this had that in spades. There were so many characters that had a motive and you could visualize as the killer, but I was completely blindsided by the actual murderer. I was a bit shocked because it felt like it came out of left-field which had me second-guessing every interaction between them and Mariana desperate to see what I was missing. This may have been a slower burn mystery, but well worth it.

Rating: 4/5

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Blog Tour: The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels Review

Hello, all!

One of my most anticipated releases this year was The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels by India Holton, so I'm thrilled to be part of the blog tour. Big thanks to Berkley for having me!

Pub Date: 6-15-21
Adult - Historical Fantasy/Romance

Cecilia Bassingwaite is the ideal prim and proper Victorian lady. She just so happens to also be a pirate and a thief. After a traumatic incident in her childhood, Cecilia was taken in by her overly cautious aunt where she was raised by the Wisteria Society, a league of powerful women crime masters. Here, Cecilia learned from the best when it comes to the arts of blackmailing, using magic to fly their houses around looting unsuspecting people, weaponry, and of course, etiquette. You know you’ve made it in the Society when someone tries to assassinate you, so Cecilia is overjoyed when she learns someone has put a hit out on her. She just wasn’t expecting to like her would-be assassin.

Ned Lightbourne is a man of many names and many talents. Sometimes he’s a secret service agent for the Crown, other times he’s working for the dastardly Captain Morvath who wishes nothing more than to rid England of its free-thinking women. But his most recent job is by far his hardest: trying not to fall for the woman he’s been ordered to kill. The moment Ned looked at Cecilia he knew he was a goner, so when Morvath kidnaps the ladies of the Wisteria Society, he offers her his services. Naturally, Cecilia isn’t one to trust a man paid to kill her, but she knows there’s no other choice if she wishes to save her family and friends. And, if along the way, she’s able to rub her abilities in the faces of all who have underestimated her and prove that she’s just as much of a scoundrel as the rest of them, well, that’ll just be a bonus.

When I finished the first chapter, I thought, ‘Oh this is going to be funny.’ By the time I finished the second, I thought, ‘Oh, I need to harass everyone I know to read this.’ This is hands down one of my favorite reads of the year. Holton’s writing is razor-sharp, hilarious, and incredibly clever. One of my favorite protagonists is Deanna Raybourn’s Veronica Speedwell, and Cecilia reminded me so much of her. Both are fiercely independent, take-no-prisoners, no-holds-barred characters who approach anyone trying to kill them with a “Yeah, good luck” type of attitude that I live for. I loved the way she and Ned bounced off one another and their constant volleying of verbal jabs had me smiling the whole time. Everything about this, from the world itself to the feisty women brandishing a knife in one hand and a teacup in the other, was so enjoyable. This was such a fun creative mix of action, adventure, and fantasy and I’m dying to see where the series goes from here.

Rating: 5/5

Friday, June 11, 2021

5 Fandom Friday: Favorite Musical Moments in Cinema

Hello, all!

There were so many good picks for this prompt, I honestly had such a hard time narrowing them down, but here's what I came up with.

1. "Day-O" Beetlejuice: It was a toss-up between this and “Shake Senora”, but this one won out simply because this song will be stuck in my head for days after watching this scene.

2. “Bohemian Rhapsody” Wayne’s World: Never has a scene fully encompassed what it was like driving with my friends when we in high school than this one.

3. “Tiny Dancer” Almost Famous: This will forever be one of my favorite scenes in any movie.

4. “Johnny B. Goode” Back to the Future: Michael J. Fox’s ridiculous lip synching and guitar playing will always be top notch.

5. “You Don’t Own Me” The First Wives Club: Oh, to be Bette Midler, Diana Keaton, and Goldie Hawn sashaying down the streets of NYC in an all-white outfit.

Let me know your picks!

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Used Books Haul

Hello, all!

I got fully vaccinated at the beginning of May, so I celebrated with a little trip to Virginia. Me and two friends went to visit another friend (the three of them had been vaccinated long before me) and we had such a lovely time just relaxing and hanging out, but the highlight for me was McKay Used Books. What a mecca of used books it was! I honestly blacked out from excitement the moment I stepped through the doors, so much so that I actually bought two of the same book without even realizing it until I came back home.

The store was decently sized (it took up most of a shopping center) and I didn't even get to check out all they had since by the time I hit up the horror, fantasy, and romance sections, it was almost two hours later and my cart was already overflowing. So, obviously, now I have another reason to go back and visit more!

Here's what I picked up- let me know if you're read any of them!

1. Firestarter- Stephen King
2. Rose Madder- Stephen King
3. The Drawing of the Three- Stephen King
4. Chasing Cassandra- Lisa Kleypas
5. Suddenly You- Lisa Kleypas
6. Mine Till Midnight- Lisa Kleypas
7. Love in the Afternoon- Lisa Kleypas
8. The Secret- Julie Garwood
9. Daughter of the Night- Elaine Bergstrom
10. The Path of Daggers- Robert Jordan
11. A Crown of Swords- Robert Jordan
12. Ship of Magic - Robin Hobb
13. Mad Ship- Robin Hobb
14. Ship of Destiny- Robin Hobb
15. Fool's Errand- Robin Hobb
16. Crossroads of Twilight- Robert Jordan
17. Winter's Heart- Robert Jordan
18. A Feast for Crows- George R.R. Martin
19. A Storm of Swords-George R.R. Martin
20. A Clash of Kings- George R.R. Martin
21. A Game of Thrones- George R.R. Martin
22. The Stand- Stephen King

If anyone knows of any good used books stores on Long Island/NYC, please let me know! 

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

We Can't Keep Meeting Like This Review

Hello, all!

I read Today Tonight Tomorrow by Rachel Lynn Solomon last year and really enjoyed it (review here), so I was excited when the publisher reached out about her newest release, We Can't Keep Meeting Like This. Big thank you to them for the copy!

Pub Date: 6-8-21
YA - Contemporary

For someone who doesn't believe in love, Quinn Berkowitz spends a lot of time planning other people's special days. Ever since she was young, she's helped out at her family's wedding planning business doing everything from venue walk-throughs to playing the harp at the reception. Quinn finds it hard to muster the same amount of passion for the job as the rest of her family, but the one bright spot in all the wedding frenzy has always been Tarek Mansour. Quinn and Tarek's families have been in business together for years. The Berkowitz's plan the event, and the Mansour's provide the delicious catering. Quinn could always count on their playful banter to get her through, but after confessing her feelings to him last summer and getting no response, she'd rather crawl into a hole than see him again.

After going out on a limb and being shut down, Quinn has spent the past year convincing herself that it never could have worked between them in the first place. Tarek is a hopeless romantic who loves a grand gesture, and just the thought of being in a relationship sends Quinn into an anxiety spiral. But when the pair run into each other at the first wedding of the summer, all the feelings Quinn has been repressing come bubbling back up to the surface. As they spend more time together and begin opening up more, Quinn slowly starts to realize just how many feelings and experiences she's closed herself off to, and maybe the grandest gesture one can make is to finally let go and let yourself fall.

I always enjoy Solomon's writing style and how easy it is, but I couldn't help feeling as if something was missing from this one. There were many aspects of this I enjoyed, namely the mental health representation. Solomon always broaches these topics with care and in a way that feels very true. I love the way she normalizes mental health and drives home the fact that if you do suffer from a mental illness that there's nothing to be ashamed about. Both Quinn and Tarek are dealing with their issues, and I loved the way they supported each other and lifted one another. Even though I wasn't fully invested in their relationship, I thought they made a cute couple. My main issue with this was the communication. No one was being upfront about their feelings, whether it was between Quinn and Tarek or Quinn and her family, and it was just so frustrating. I just wanted to reach inside and shake them all. So, while I didn't fully mesh with this, I do still think it would be a good read to pick up especially for the summertime.

Rating: 3/5

Friday, June 4, 2021

5 Fandom Friday: Top Music Soundtracks

Hello, all!

It’s been a while since I did a 5 Fandom Friday, so what better way to ease back into them than with some tunes? A soundtrack can really make or break a film for me, so here are a few of my favorites.

1. Captain Marvel: I’m a sucker for a ‘90s jam and this just had so many good ones.

2. Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 1: You could really pick any GOTG for this, but I had to go with the one that started it all. I also can’t listen to “Come and Get Your Love” without picturing Quill dancing around.

3. Dirty Dancing: This is my mom’s favorite movie so I watched it a ton growing up, and I still can’t help but dancing every time I hear the soundtrack.

4. Empire Records: Do I need to reiterate how much I just really like ‘90s music? Also, Rex Manning? I mean, c’mon.

5. Sister Act: My roommate and I constantly sing the songs from this and Sister Act 2 and put the movie on whenever we need a little pick-me-up or we need some inspiration.

Let me know some of your favorite soundtracks!

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Daughter of Sparta Review

Hello, all!

I'm here to sing the praises of yet another Greek mythology retelling! As I've mentioned, I've been diving deep into my myths this year, so big thank you to the publisher for a copy of Daughter of Sparta by Claire M. Andrews!

Pub Date: 6-8-21
YA - Fantasy

Daphne has spent the last seventeen years of her life proving to those around her that she has what it takes to be named a warrior. All she has ever wanted was to be accepted by the brash Spartans who took her and her brothers in, but because she's an orphan and a woman, she's never been taken seriously. But after an unexpected run-in with the goddess Artemis-- who's holding her brother's life captive-- Daphne will finally get her chance, but if she fails her brother's life is forfeit.

Nine magical items have been stolen from Olympus, throwing the gods into chaos. If Daphne doesn't track down and return them to their rightful place, the gods will lose their magic, plunging the mortal world into disarray. With the help of Apollo and other heroes along the way, Daphne must journey through Greece testing her will against all sorts of challenges, from the bloody labyrinth of the Minotaur to trading riddles with the Sphinx. As her quest progresses, Daphne is plagued with dreams of a mysterious shadow woman and visions of her past. Daphne has always known she was meant for more, and if anyone could save Olympus, why not her?

I will eat up any Greek mythology retelling, so I was very much looking forward to this. While I did enjoy it, I didn't end up loving it as much as I'd hoped. I think a lot of that had to do with the pacing of the plot. It pretty much just went: fight scene, travel scene, fight scene. It was very cyclical, and despite all the action, it made it feel almost stagnant. I would've liked to have seen a little bit more depth and emotional connection. I also had the same issue with the characters. Daphne was great and I admired how strong and fierce she was, but I wanted a bit more vulnerability. There were moments when she sort of let her guard down, but they were few and far between. She and Apollo's relationship was said to be enemies-to-lovers, but I didn't buy that either. The whole romance aspect was pretty non-existent except for one or two subtle mentions. While this may not have fully lived up to my expectations, there were still a lot of bits I enjoyed and I'm interested to see where the story goes from here.

Rating: 3.5/5

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Mini Thoughts

Hello, all!

Big thanks to Netgalley and Sourcebooks for these copies!

Pub Date: 6-1-21
Adult - Historical Fiction

Malibu Rising- Taylor Jenkins Reid: The Riva siblings--Nina, Jay, Hud, and Kit-- are known for many things (modeling, surfing, being the offspring of the famous singer, Mick Riva), but mostly for their annual end-of-summer party. This is the one night of the year where everyone can let loose and forget their inhibitions. It's usually a highlight for all the siblings, but each has a reason for dreading the night: Nina has just been left by her husband for another woman; Jay is holding out hope his dream woman will arrive; Hud is harboring a secret that will change his and Jay's relationship forever, and Kit has invited a very unwelcome guest. Over twelve hours, the alcohol will flow, secrets will come to light, and the bonds of the family will be stretched to their limit, and come morning, everything the Riva's thought they knew will go up in flames.

I'm always so impressed with Reid's ability to completely transport you into her stories. I was fully invested right from the jump and couldn't put it down. This follows the Rivas in two different periods: in 1983, you follow the siblings in the hours up to, during, and after the events of their massive party, and then you also get flashes of their family history starting in the 1950s with their parents, Mick and June's, whirlwind romance. Both parts were cohesive and Reid did a great job of meshing them together in a way that never made the story feel disjointed. Nina and her siblings went through so much, and I loved how they were able to get closure, or at least as close to it, by the end. For the most part, I thought this was flawless, except for two little things. One was that I wished we didn't get as many POVs from guests at the party because it took me a little out of the story, and the other was that as the party got more out of control and destructive, my stress levels were skyrocketing. The latter is a testament to Reid's writing, though, and just proves my point that she makes you feel as if you're there watching the events unfold. Other than that, I thought this was so addicting and told the story of a family in such a heartbreaking and powerful way.

Rating: 4/5

Pub Date: 6-1-21
Adult - Fantasy

Wendy, Darling- A.C. Wise:
 When Wendy Darling was a child, she went on a journey to a magical place called Neverland. Along with her two younger brothers, they ran and jumped and played with an impish boy named Peter and his band of Lost Boys. There were no adults to enforce any rules, and Wendy felt free for the first time. But then Wendy did the unthinkable-- she grew up and everything turned upside down. After leaving Neverland, Wendy went from asylum patient to wife to mother, never once forgetting her time with Peter. A part of her always wished to return to that special place, but Neverland isn't as serene as she remembers. When Peter steals her daughter away, flashes of memories start to come back to Wendy of a darkness that lives at the center of the island. Now, Wendy must face the wickedness of Neverland and the sinister boy she'd once do anything for if she hopes to rescue her daughter from a dark fate.

I've always loved the story of Peter Pan, but this is not the idyllic Disney story we're all familiar with. Wise takes a story that most everyone knows and completely flips it on its head. It's a darker more malicious take on Neverland and it works so well. Peter is still this fun-loving boy, but there's an underlying predatory feeling to him that makes you feel very uneasy. The way he interacts with Wendy, her daughter, and especially the Lost Boys is almost unhinged in a way. I also thought the way Wise tied him to the darkness of the island was very clever. My favorite part of this though was Wendy. She went through so many hardships after coming back from Neverland, but she never let anyone break her spirit or make her second guess herself, it just made her resolve that much stronger. I liked seeing her come back to Neverland as an adult and confront her past while fighting for her daughter. There were bits of this that felt slow and dragged out, but overall, this was a fun one.

Rating: 3/5

Pub Date: 6-1-21
YA - Fantasy

The Nature of Witches- Rachel Griffin: For centuries, any witch born in a specific season has had power over that particular climate. But now, with the climate changing at a rapid pace and the atmosphere becoming more erratic, the only hope lies with Clara. As an Everwitch, Clara has the rare ability to harness the power of every season at any time, but it comes at a dangerous price. Whenever Clara taps into her power to a large degree, someone she loves dies, so while other witches revel in their powers, Clara resents hers. With the increase in dangerous weather, Clara has no choice but to push herself to the limits and try and control the volatile charge within her. Clara starts to train with Sang, whose steady, quiet presence has a way of calming and centering Clara. As the pair spend more time together, Clara starts to understand and discover facets of her magic she never even thought possible, but after a close encounter with Sang, she retreats into her reclusive self worried about hurting yet another person she cares about. With the summer eclipse fast approaching, Clara must decide whether to keep her magic despite all the heartache it caused her, or make the ultimate sacrifice of letting the eclipse strip her of her magic forever.

This initially caught my eye since it was described as being a mix between Practical Magic and Twister, so that intrigued me right off the bat. Griffin's writing was lush and (pardon the pun) atmospheric, and the way she weaved together all these different magical elements was such a joy to read. She made you feel for Clara and all the hardships she faced and you just wanted her to be happy. I loved seeing her and Sang train together and how he opened her up and made her vulnerable yet stronger at the same time. There were times I found her a bit bratty and hard-headed, but she ultimately grew on me by the end. Aside from the characters, my favorite aspect of this was the magic system. It was unlike anything I've ever come across before, and I liked how it was different for every season. There were a few bits in here that I thought could've been paced better, but overall, this was enjoyable.

Rating: 3.5/5