Sunday, April 30, 2023

April Wrap-up

Hello, all!

If anyone was curious how my goal of slowing down my reading was going, I read 46 books this month 😅


The Duke Heist- Erica Ridley; 3.5/5
Smoke Gets in Your Eyes & Other Lessons from the Crematory- Caitlin Doughty; No rating 
The Sea of Monsters- Rick Riordan; 3/5 (re-read)
Other Birds- Sarah Addison Allen; 2/5
The Bodyguard- Katherine Center; 3/5
Enter the Body- Joy McCullough; 2/5
A Witch's Guide to Fake Dating a Demon- Sarah Hawley; 2/5
Of Manners and Murder- Anastasia Hastings; 2/5
Star Wars: The High Republic- Path of Deceit- Tessa Gratton/Justina Ireland; 3.5/5


The Last Word- Katy Birchall; 2/5
Spy Family, Vol. 9- Tatsuya Endo; 3/5
A Most Agreeable Murder- Julia Seales; 2/5
The Last Heir to Blackwood Library- Hester Fox; 3.5/5
Magical Beatdown, Vol. 3- Jenn Woodall; 3/5
Meet Me at the Lake- Carley Fortune; 4/5
The Daydreams- Laura Hankin; 3/5
The Secret Service of Tea and Treason- India Holton; 4/5
Summer Reading- Jenn McKinlay; 3/5
Happy Place- Emily Henry; 3.5/5
Star Wars: Vader Down- Jason Aaron; 4/5


The Starless Crown- James Rollins; 2/5
The Moth Keeper- K. O'Neill; 3/5
Unfamiliar- Haley Newsome- 3/5
Jade City- Fonda Lee; 2.5/5
O Caledonia- Elspeth Barker; 3/5
Demon in the Wood- Leigh Bardugo; 3/5
Yona of the Dawn, Vols. 11-20- Mizuho Kusanagi; 4-5;5
Tress of the Emerald Sea- Brandon Sanderson; 4.5/5
Star Wars: The High Republic, Vol. 1: There is No Fear- Cavan Scott; 3/5
Star Wars: The High Republic, Vol. 2: The Heart of Drengir- Cavan Scott; 3/5
Star Wars: The High Republic, Vol. 3: Jedi's End- Cavan Scott; 3/5
Star Wars: The High Republic- Trail of Shadows- Daniel Jose Older; 3/5
Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir- Juan Frigeri; 4/5
Hotel of Secrets- Diana Biller; 5/5
Star Wars, Vol. 1: Skywalker Strikes- Jason Aaron; 4/5
Star Wars, Vol. 2: Showdown on the Smuggler's Moon- Jason Aaron; 4/5
Star Wars, Vol. 3: Rebel Jail- Jason Aaron; 4/5

Some favorites were: Hotel of Secrets, Tress of the Emerald Sea, and Meet Me at the Lake. Least favorites were: Jade City, The Starless Crown, and Enter the Body.

How was your reading month? What was your favorite/least favorite read?

Thursday, April 27, 2023

The Secret Service of Tea and Treason Review

 Hello, all!

You all know how much I love the Dangerous Damsels series by India Holton (you can see my review of the last book here), so needless to say, The Secret Service of Tea and Treason was one of my most anticipated releases for this year.

Pub Date: 4-18-23
Adult - Historical Fantasy

Alice Dearlove, also known as Agent A, is the top operative at a secret government organization known as the Agency of Undercover Note Takers, or A.U.N.T. Alice's job at A.U.N.T is to gather intelligence on everyone from witches and pirates to the boring beau monde. Her steely disposition, a compulsion for keeping things tidy, and her ability to flip a man twice her size over her head make her the perfect person for any job. So when a new assignment pops up to stop an assassination attempt on the Queen's life, Alice is eager to take it on.

Unfortunately for loner Alice, this isn't a single-person mission. Much to her annoyance, Alice is paired with Daniel Bixby, a.k.a Agent B, a.k.a her professional rival. The pair's mission is to infiltrate a pirate house party and recover a dangerous weapon, which sounds easy enough, but there's a catch: they also have to pretend to be married. The stoic agents are determined to fulfill every aspect of their mission to the best of their abilities, and if that means doing all the things married couples do--holding hands, quoting literature in times of passion, and foiling dastardly plans--then so be it.

Holton is one of those authors whose work gets better and better with each book. I'm obsessed with the way she crafts stories. I'm convinced the word "romp" was created just for her books. You know you're in for a wild, bonkers ride whenever you pick one up, and I can't get enough. I've loved the whole series, and this latest installment was no exception. I thought the spy angle was so fun, and I loved the new spin on the fake dating/marriage trope. Alice and Daniel were everything to me. The banter! The chemistry! The pining! It was all too good. Watching them navigate their relationship while trying to complete their mission was so entertaining. This book is chock full of hilarious hijinks, emotional moments, flying houses, undercover maids, and pirates playing rooftop tennis with grenades; I mean, what more could you want? I'm sad to see this series end, but I'm thrilled to see what Holton comes out with next.

Rating: 4/5

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Mini Thoughts

Hello, all!

Pub Date: 4-25-23
Adult - Historical Romance

A Rogue's Rules for Seduction- Eva Leigh: Dominic Kilburn and Lady Willa Ransom were once engaged to be married, but their relationship fizzled when Dominic left Willa at the altar. Not wanting anyone to know how hurt she was, Willa fled to the Continent, but now she's back after a year of traveling and is ready to move on with her life. Willa agrees to attend a summer house party on a remote Scottish isle with her two brothers and their wives, but to her surprise, they also invited Dom. It's clear to everyone in attendance that the pair still care deeply for one another but are too stubborn to work things out. The more Willa and Dom try to ignore the other, the more they can't seem to stay away. But when Dom finally reveals why he left Willa, will she be able to put aside her fears and open her heart to him once more?

I've been obsessed with this series since the first book, and I've been dying to read Willa and Dom's story. Let me tell you, Leigh did not disappoint. It's probably the best second-chance romance I've ever read, and the fact that it also used the forced proximity trope was just the icing on the cake. The tension between Willa and Dom was so palpable, and it was explosive once they came together. (Seriously, the steaminess of this book is next level.) I love all these characters, so it was fun seeing Willa's brothers and their wives pushing her and Dom together. All of Leigh's signature wit and banter shines in here. My only slight issue was that I thought the first half was a little slow, but everything ramped up by the end. Even though I'm sad to see this series wrap up, I'm so excited to see what Leigh comes up with next.

Rating: 4.5/5

*Big thanks to the publisher for the copy!

Pub Date: 2-8-22
Adult - Sci-Fi/Horror

Dead Silence- S.A. Barnes: Claire Kovalik and her crew are one job away from being obsolete. For their last mission together, they've been sent out to the most remote part of space to check on the communication beacons. It's a routine inspection, but the crew discovers something odd. They pick up a distress signal and decide to investigate. To their shock, they're met with the Aurora, a famous luxury space-liner that went missing on its maiden voyage twenty years earlier. A discovery of this magnitude would set Claire and her crew up for life, but once they step on board, it's clear that something is very wrong. The passengers all seem to have died in violent ways, there are words written in blood on the walls, and Claire and the rest soon start hearing whispers and seeing things that can't be explained. If they hope to get to the bottom of what happened on the Aurora, the crew must fight to hold on to their sanity or meet the same deadly fate.

I don't often read a lot of sci-fi. It's more a genre I'd rather watch than read, but after skimming the synopsis, I knew I had to pick it up. I mean, it's described as Titanic meets The Shining. How could you pass that up? Right off the bat, I loved how eerie it was. I liked the creeping tension that builds and builds throughout. It was so unsettling, and there were a few times I felt uneasy reading it. It's told in the present and flashbacks, and you start to get the impression that maybe Claire isn't the most reliable narrator. She has a troubled past, so there are times you're not sure if you can trust what she's saying. Due to this, there were times it made the story feel all over the place, but it was still engaging. I was a little disappointed with the reveal of what caused all the destruction of the ship and passengers because I wanted something a little more paranormal, but it was still good, and I'd recommend it if you're looking for a creepy sci-fi read.

Rating: 3/5

Pub Date: 2-14-23
Adult - Fantasy

The Last Tale of the Flower Bride- Roshani Chokshi: Indigo Maxwell-Casteñada has always believed in fairy tales. She's lived her life waiting for the moment she'd be swept away to another world. She thinks she's found her storybook love when she meets her Bridegroom, a scholar of myths and legends. But their relationship has a catch. He must never pry into Indigo's past. When Indigo learns that her aunt is dying, the pair return to her childhood home, and it gets more difficult for the bridegroom to keep his promise. For within the walls of the house lurks a secret of another girl lost to time and memory, and it's been silent too long.

I didn't know what to expect going into this, but I was instantly swept away. The prose was so enchanting and like you were in some fairy tale fever dream. I liked how it was told in alternating POVs, as it helped to flesh the story out. In one, we're following the bridegroom as he's trying to unravel the mystery of his wife, and in the other, we're following Azure, Indigo's childhood best friend who disappeared. Both perspectives are important to the story, and I loved seeing the events unfold through their eyes. I did figure out one part of the twist at the end, but I still liked seeing how it all came together. If you like the whimsy of a fairy tale and the darkness of a psychological thriller, I highly recommend checking this one out.

Rating: 4/5

Saturday, April 22, 2023

Library Haul

Hello, all!

Before we get into the books, last week I went to a tulip farm and it was so pretty! If you're from Long Island, I definitely recommend checking out Waterdrinker Farms. They have so many fun seasonal festivals. I'm not sure how long the tulips last for, but it's worth the trip!

Ok, now onto the main event. You'll notice a Star Wars theme for this haul, and that's because I've decided to challenge myself to read all the books/graphic novels that are currently in the canon timeline. I've read a decent chunk in the past, but now I've decided to read it all! I was going to go in chronological order, but I decided to forgo that and went with what my library had available.

(Massive thank you to Kristin for sharing her incredible Star Wars spreadsheet with me!)

1. Of Manners and Murder- Anastasia Hastings
2. Hotel of Secrets- Diana Biller
3. Padawan- Kiersten White
4. Star Wars: The High Republic, Vol. 1:  There is No Fear
5. Star Wars: The High Republic, Vol. 2: The Heart of Drengir
6. Star Wars: Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir
7. Star Wars, Vol. 1: Skywalker Strikes
8. Star Wars, Vol. 2: Showdown on the Smuggler's Moon
9. Star Wars, Vol. 3: Rebel Jail
10. Master & Apprentice- Claudia Gray

Thursday, April 20, 2023

Mini Thoughts

Hello, all!

Pub Date: 3-28-23
Adult - Horror

A House with Good Bones- T. Kingfisher: As an archaeoentomologist, Sam Montgomery spends most of her time digging up bugs, but when her latest job gets postponed, she has nowhere to go but back home to her mother's house. Sam's looking forward to relaxing, watching cozy mystery shows, and drinking boxed wine with her mom. But when she arrives at the sleepy cul-de-sac, it doesn't take long for Sam to realize something is off. The brightly colored walls are now a drab ecru, vultures have taken up sentry by the mailbox, and her mom seems even jumpier than usual. Soon, Sam starts to experience strange hallucinations and, worst of all, uncovers a jar of teeth buried in the backyard. Determined to figure out what's happening to her home, Sam starts looking into her family's past, but some secrets should stay buried.

You know exactly what you're in for when you pick up a book by Kingfisher. It's going to be a little dark and a lot weird, and this one was no exception. I love how she can make you laugh and gross you out all at the same time. While I found this one entertaining, it wasn't my favorite of hers. I thought the plot took a lot of time to develop. The beginning felt slow, and nothing really happened until the last 80 pages or so, and then it wrapped up pretty quickly. The characters were fine, but it did seem like Sam's personality only consisted of bugs and boxed wine. It was still a fun read, and if you're looking to ease into the horror genre, I'd recommend checking out any of Kingfisher's books.

Rating: 3.5/5

Pub Date: 3-14-23
YA - Fantasy

Flowerheart- Catherine Bakewell: Clara has always dreamt of becoming a witch, but her magic has a mind of its own. No matter how hard she tries, Clara has never gotten a firm grasp on her magic, causing it to lash out at inopportune moments. Wild as it is, her magic has never been dangerous-- until now. Distraught after learning she'd never become a full-fledged witch, Clara's touch accidentally curses her father, causing poisonous flowers to bloom inside him. The only way to heal him is with powerful magic, so Clara turns to her estranged childhood best friend, Xavier, for help. Knowing she'll do whatever it takes to save her father, Xavier asks for a steep price in return: Clara's magic. As Clara struggles to heal her father, she discovers Xavier is hiding a dark secret that affects the entire queendom, and only her power is strong enough to stop it.

When it comes to fantasy stand alones, I find they're either hit or miss, and this one sadly fell into the latter category. It didn't feel fully developed. I never got a sense of who the characters were, the world itself, or even how the magic worked. There's all this talk about curses and dark magic, yet nothing about the story felt tense or suspenseful. The stakes are very low throughout this to the point where it was almost boring at times. It's also marketed as a romance, but there's no chemistry between Clara and Xavier. The talk surrounding mental health was interesting but could've been explored more. Overall, it was whimsical, but I wanted more substance.

Rating: 2/5

Pub Date: 1-17-23
Adult - Mystery

Everyone in My Family Has Killed Someone- Benjamin Stevenson: Ernest "Ern" Cunningham doesn't have the best relationship with his family. The tension was always there, but it boiled over after Ern testified against his brother in a murder case and had him sent to prison. Now three years later, his brother is being released, and his family has all decided to meet at a resort to celebrate. But when they arrive, a mysterious stranger is found dead on the slope, and the Cunninghams are the prime suspects. You see, everyone in Ernest's family has killed before, and it's up to Ernest to find out which one did it.

Like most, I was drawn in by the title of this book. You can't look at it and not want to know more about it. The cover design also gave me Clue vibes, which was even more of a reason to pick it up. Unfortunately, I was disappointed. I didn't like the narrative style. It's very tongue-in-cheek, and all the breaking of the fourth wall kept taking me out of the story. I'm usually all for a book with dark humor, but it didn't work for me here. There were also so many moments that felt way too farfetched. I'll give it props for being entertaining, but overall, it was a bit meh.

Rating: 2/5

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

April OwlCrate Review

Hello, all!

The theme for this month was "Relics & Ruins."

First up was the latest pin from their Treasured Tomes collection. This one is inspired by Sorcery of Thorns, and we all know how much I love that book.

Next was a hinged wallet inspired by White London from A Darker Shade of Magic. I'm not sure if I'll get any use out of this, but I like the design.

Then we had the first in a new collection featuring doorways from books. This one is obviously inspired by LOTR. I'm excited to see what others they'll be doing.

Next up was this bookmark embroidery kit inspired by The Buried and the Bound. I like the idea of these crafty items, but I never have the patience to actually do them.

Not going to lie, this last item took me forever to figure out what it was. They're goblet stones inspired by Game of Thrones that you chill in the freezer and they keep your drinks cold. Cool idea, but I'm not going to use them.

This months book is Silver in the Bone by Alexandra Bracken. This Arthurian-inspired fantasy follows Tamsin, who is trying to find a way to break the curse that binds her brother and endangers them both. She teams up with a rival and they set out on a quest through magical dangers and deadly secrets to search for a ring that will save them both.

I'm loving the design for this book. It goes so well with the medieval vibe, and I'm excited to hopefully pick this up soon. Let me know what you thought of this months box!

Thursday, April 13, 2023

To Swoon and To Spar Review

Hello, all!

If you've been following me for awhile, you'd know that one of my favorite historical romance series is the Regency Vows by Martha Waters (you can find my review for the last book here.) So big thanks to the publisher for the copy of the latest installment, To Swoon and To Spar.  

Pub Date: 4-11-23
Adult - Historical Romance

Viscount Penvale has had only one goal in mind for most of his adult years: buying back his ancestral home, Trethwick Abbey, from his estranged uncle. When his uncle finally agrees to sell, Penvale is excited but wary since the deal comes with a catch-- Penvale must marry his uncle's ward. When Penvale and Jane Spencer meet, it's clear they couldn't be more different, but Jane will do anything to stay at Trethwick Abbey, so she agrees to wed Penvale in name only.

When the newlyweds arrive back at their estate, Jane concocts a plan to stage hauntings around the manor hoping that Penvale will be so frightened he'll run back to London, leaving her at Trethwick Abbey to do as she pleases. But it seems Penvale is made of sterner stuff than Jane was anticipating, and the more time they spend investigating these so-called hauntings, the more real feelings start to grow.

As mentioned, I love this series a lot, so I hate to say that this was a bit of a letdown. It had such a fun premise-- who doesn't love a bit of Gothic flare and a supposed ghost haunting a manor on the moors? It was mainly the characters that didn't work for me. I liked Penvale right away and thought he had that dry sense of humor that I'm always a fan of. But it was Jane that ruined it for me. She was constantly described as shy, but instead of endearing me to her, she spent the whole book being defensive and downright rude. Normally, I like a bit of a prickly character, but she took it too far. Her plan of faking a haunting so she could live alone was also a little bananas. Had the chemistry between her and Penvale been better, I could've overlooked it, but even that was shaky. I still think Waters' writing is charming and entertaining, but unfortunately, this is my least favorite in the series.

Rating: 3/5

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Heir of Uncertain Magic Review (Whimbrel House, #2)

Hello, all!

One of my favorite books so far this year has been Keeper of Enchanted Rooms by Charlie N. Holmberg (review here), so I was pumped to have gotten an early copy of the sequel, Heir of Uncertain Magic.

Pub Date: 4-11-23
Adult - Historical Fantasy

Everything the occupants at Whimbrel House thought they knew gets flipped on its head after a run-in with a madman magician. Merritt Fernsby is left grappling with a power he never knew he had, Hulda Larkin is questioning her place at BIKER after being manipulated by her closest friend, and Owein now finds himself in the body of a dog instead of haunting the walls. They will each have to learn their new place in the world while, once again, facing a dangerous threat.

After the disappearance of Hulda's boss/friend, Myra Haigh, Hulda finds herself up for the now-vacant position of BIKER's director. Competing against her is a rival from their London branch, who seems curious about Whimbrel House and who Hulda believes can twist the emotions of those around them. With everything crumbling down and the target's on their backs, Merritt and Hulda will have to pull out all the stops if they hope to get through the chaos unscathed.

I had high hopes going into this one, and I'm happy to report it delivered everything I wanted and more. My favorite thing about this series is the characters. I love the little family they've formed and how they all look out for and care for one another so much. We got more development with Merritt and Hulda's relationship, which gave me a toothache with how sweet it was. I adore them together. I also loved following Owein and getting to see inside his head. He tugs on my heartstrings; I never want anything bad to happen to him. As for the plot, I thought the mystery was done well, and it was interesting learning about new sects of the magic system. Holmberg has a knack for writing well-paced, entertaining stories with just the right balance of whimsy and darkness, and I'll be crossing my fingers hoping for more of this series.

Rating: 5/5

Saturday, April 8, 2023

Library Haul

Hello, all!

Once again, all my holds came in at the same time (except for one which has been 'in transit' for about a week 😒) so let's see what I picked up!

1-5. Yona of the Dawn, Vols. 11-15- Mizuho Kusanagi
6. Unfamiliar- Haley Newsome
7. One for My Enemy- Olivie Blake
8. The Moth Keeper- K. O'Neill
9. The Demon in the Wood- Leigh Bardugo and Dani Pendergast

Friday, April 7, 2023

Mini Thoughts

Hello, all!

Pub Date: 4-11-23
Adult - Contemporary

If Only You- Chloe Liese: Ziggy Bergman is through with being overlooked. As the youngest player on the National Soccer team and the baby of her family, she's gotten used to being underestimated, but Ziggy has finally decided to take the matter into her own hands. She wants to be recognized for her talents and strengths, so she decides to reinvent herself, and she has the perfect person in mind to help her. Sebastian Gauthier has a reputation for being the bad boy of hockey, and his career is suffering for it. When Ziggy approaches him with the wild idea of rehabbing both their personas by pretending to be friends, he reluctantly agrees. But the more time Sebastian spends around Ziggy, the more he can't help feeling like he does want to change so he can be worthy of her for real.

I adore this series, and I've always had a soft spot for Ziggy, so I've been eagerly awaiting her book. I love a friends-to-lovers trope, and who doesn't love a bad-boy-falls-for-the-good-girl trope? I was sold from the get-go. Ziggy and Sebastian's relationship was adorable. I loved watching them bicker. They brought out the best in one another, which was so sweet. I loved seeing Ziggy become more confident and sure of herself, and Sebastian learns to be tender and vulnerable. As always, I love how much representation there was. Both our main characters are queer, one has autism, and the other has celiac disease. No matter who or what you are, you can always feel seen in Liese's books. If you enjoy more of a slow-burn romance, I'd recommend picking this one up.

Rating: 4/5

*Big thanks to the publisher for the copy!

Pub Date: 7-12-22
Adult - Historical Fiction

Groupies- Sarah Priscus: It's 1977, and until now, Faun Novak has lived a pretty sheltered life. When her strict mother passes away leaving her alone, Faun decides to pack up her little belongings and move across the country to LA. Here she reconnects with her best friend, Josie, who is now an up-and-coming model and dating the frontman of one of the hottest rock bands on the strip. Faun is immediately swept away by the sex, drugs, and rock and roll lifestyle and joins Josie and the band's pack of groupies, documenting everything on her Polaroid as she goes. It doesn't take long before Faun becomes too reckless and realizes that everything that glitters isn't always gold.

Do you remember in the early 2000's MTV tried to be edgy with shows like Undressed but ended up being pretty cheesy instead? That was this book. I wanted the grit and grime of the 1970s rock scene, but what I got was a watered-down PBS version. Sure, it had all the sex and drugs you'd expect, but it was all so tame. It was unbuttered toast. There was little to no plot. Not one of the characters was likable, and they all began to blur together because none stood out. It's not even that long of a book, but it was such a chore to get through because it was that boring. If you're looking for a book about the music/groupie scene during this time, others do it way better.

Rating: 2/5

Pub Date: 8-2-22
Adult - Contemporary

Just Another Love Song- Kerry Winfrey: When Sandy Macintosh was in high school, she thought the whole world was at her fingertips. She was going to leave her small town, go to art school, and marry her high school sweetheart, Hank Tillman. Unfortunately, her plans fell through, and Sandy stayed in their hometown while Hank went off to pursue his music dreams. They promised to stay together, but then that plan fell through also. Now, fifteen years later, Sandy runs a successful greenhouse and is content(ish) still living in the same small town. But then Hank comes back, a famous alt-country singer with a son in tow. Sandy always believed she was over Hank and their relationship, but seeing him again after so many years, has her rethinking everything. When the pair get thrown together to work on the town's annual street fair, Sandy thinks it's the perfect opportunity to get the second chance she's always dreamed of.

I really enjoy Winfrey's writing style. I can always count on it to be light and breezy. I always end up finishing her books in one sitting because I never want to put them down. I'm happy to report that this was no exception. I don't read many small-town romances, but whenever I do I remember how much I enjoy that trope. I love seeing all the townspeople in each other's businesses, especially when it comes to matchmaking. Sandy and Hank had such an adorable romance. It was sweet and heartwarming. Everything Sandy did when they were teens made so much sense in the grand scheme of things, so I understood why she broke it off when she did. I loved watching them rekindle the spark that was always present between them despite the years apart. It was also cute seeing her and Hank's son together. If you enjoy second-chance romances and a more light-hearted romance, I suggest checking it out.

Rating: 4/5

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

March OwlCrate Review

Hello, all!

The theme for March was "Let's Rewrite History", so let's get right into it.

First up was the next enamel pin in the Treasured Tomes collection. This one is based off Once Upon a Broken Heart series, and I'm in love with the design.

Then we had my favorite item: library card socks! I'm a sucker for a cute pair of socks, and I love anything having to do with the library (obviously), so these were perfect.

I love the look and aesthetic of these glass tumblers, but I wish this one was for a fandom I liked. It's inspired by The Infernal Devices, which is a series I've never read and don't really have a desire to, so I'm hoping OwlCrate will do more of these in the future for other series.

This box was full of useful items, and we love to see it! I have a few other book sleeves and I'm always down to add one more to the collection. This is double-sided and features quotes from Kingdom of the Wicked and Deathless.

The last item was this eternal pencil inspired by Babel. I'm so intrigued by this one. I've never heard of an eternal pencil before, but it apparently never needs to be sharpened and doesn't run out, so I can't wait to try it.

March's book was Midnight Strikes by Zeba Shahnaz. This follows seventeen-year-old Anaïs, a provincial girl, who must work with a roguish prince to stop an attack on the royal family and escape a nightmarish curse that forces them to relive the same night again and again.

Admittedly, I don't love time-loop stories, but I do love this edition. I love a naked hardcover, and the gilded edges and foiled end pages are so pretty. What do you think of this box? Lemme know!

Monday, April 3, 2023

Divine Rivals (Letters of Enchantment, #1) Review

Hello, all!

As you'll know, I fell in love with Rebecca Ross's Elements of Cadence duology last year, so I was super excited to get an ARC of her latest release, Divine Rivals. Big thanks to the publisher for the copy!

Pub Date: 4-4-23
YA - Historical Fantasy

Iris Winnow is a newbie reporter at the Oath Gazette, hoping to use her words to make a difference in the war effort. When two old gods awoke from slumber, plunging the world into war and chaos, Iris's brother went off to fight, leaving Iris and their mother behind. The only solace Iris finds is by writing letters to her brother and slipping them under her wardrobe. To her surprise, she receives a letter back, but it's not from her brother. Iris strikes up a tenuous friendship with this stranger, who unbeknownst to her is none other than her infuriatingly handsome rival from the Gazette, Roman Kitt.

After a tragic accident, Iris leaves Oath and signs up to become a war correspondent. Now instead of typing up classifieds, she'll be reporting from the front lines. She also hopes her new position will help her uncover what happened to her brother, whom she hasn't heard from in months. Soon, much to her annoyance, Iris is joined by Roman. The pair have always felt a connection between them--one Iris has always chalked up to trying to best the other-- but that connection grows into something more delicate the longer they're together. With the war creeping ever closer, Iris and Roman will have to hope their love is enough to face the wrath of the gods.

Ross has this incredible way of crafting stories that are hopeful and heartbreaking all at the same time. I loved following Iris and Roman and how they went from sort of rivals to something so much more. The connection they forged was tender, and seeing it blossom amongst such a dark background was beautiful. I also thought Ross did a nice job showcasing the realities of war and how it affects people. The only minor issue I had was that it took me a while to understand the lore of the world and these gods. Other than that, I thought this was great, and I'm looking forward to the next book.

Rating: 4/5