eARC Review – Coral

Title: Coral

Author: Sara Ella

Publisher: Thomas Nelson Publishing

Publication date: November 12th, 2019

384 pages

3.75/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

There is more than one way to drown.

Coral has always been different, standing out from her mermaid sisters in a society where blending in is key. Worse yet, she fears she has been afflicted with the dreaded Disease, said to be carried by humans—emotions. Can she face the darkness long enough to surface in the light?

Above the sea, Brooke has nothing left to give. Depression and anxiety have left her feeling isolated. Forgotten. The only thing she can rely on is the numbness she finds within the cool and comforting ocean waves. If only she weren’t stuck at Fathoms—a new group therapy home that promises a second chance at life. But what’s the point of living if her soul is destined to bleed?

Merrick may be San Francisco’s golden boy, but he wants nothing more than to escape his controlling father. When his younger sister’s suicide attempt sends Merrick to his breaking point, escape becomes the only option. If he can find their mom, everything will be made right again—right?

When their worlds collide, all three will do whatever it takes to survive, and Coral might even catch a prince in the process. But what—and who—must they leave behind for life to finally begin?

Taking a new twist on Hans Christian Andersen’s beloved—yet tragic—fairy tale, Coral explores mental health from multiple perspectives, questioning what it means to be human in a world where humanity often seems lost.

Review

**Thank you to Thomas Nelson Publishing, Sara Ella, and Netgalley for providing me this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

First off, I want to give a GIANT trigger warning for this book. Depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, and suicidality are all major themes in this book and can be hard for some to read. Please be mindful of your mental health while reading this book, and please seek help if you are in need. A great part of this book is that Sara Ella begins the book with a long trigger warning, which is so helpful.

Coral loosely follows the original The Little Mermaid fairy tale. There are three points of view in this book: Coral, a mermaid princess who feels out of place within her family. Human emotion is considered a “Disease” in the mer-world and her eldest sister falls to the Disease after falling in love with a human prince. Merrick is a troubled young man who’s world falls to pieces when his 10 year old sister attempts suicide. He sets of on a journey to help her in the only way he can think of. Lastly, we have Brooke, a young woman who has entered treatment for depression and suicidal ideation. Her story is that of redemption and regaining mental health stability in a world she doesn’t feel she belongs. All three separate stories become forever entwined after mutual loss and love.

There is a lot to unpack in this novel. As someone who’s professional background (outside of reviewing books!) is in Clinical Psychology, I feel qualified to say that Sara Ella provided a realistic and haunting explanation of the affect of depression and suicidal ideation on the self and the family unit. There are a lot of bad examples of mental health and those who suffer from the disease in the media in society, but I see Sara Ella working to dispel the presumptions and biases and applaud her.

One thing I will say is that the timing and pacing of this book seem off. There was a point where I was very confused about the timeline, and I recognize this is due to trying to keep the big reveal from being realized too soon, but this makes the book more confusing than necessary. It’s a good twist, but not worth the initial confusion. Also, the ending didn’t seem to wrap up the story as much as I wanted. I felt disappointed in the lack of clear ending and I feel some ends are still loose.

Overall, Sara Ella has woven a story of life, love, and struggling with internal demons – something we can all relate to whether we want to admit it or not. It starts a conversation about healing and recovery from illness, but also continues the conversation about those who succumb to the disease and move on from this life. Again, please be aware of your own mental health when reading this book.

Happy reading, bookish friends! 🙂

eBook Review – Into the Hourglass

Title: Into the Hourglass (The Evermore Chronicles #2)

Author: Emily R. King

Publisher: Skyscape

Publication date: August 20th, 2019

286 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

In the second book in The Evermore Chronicles by Emily R. King, Everley Donovan plunges into the roiling waves of a strange new world to hunt a wicked prince who cheated time.

Everley Donovan’s mission: retrieve the hallowed sword of Avelyn stolen by the wicked Prince Killian, who slayed her family and left her for dead. Should she fail, the seven worlds will come to an end, as could time itself. And no one treasures time more than Everley, whose lifesaving clock heart cannot beat forever. She has set sail with a rogue crew for the otherworlds, where the key to dethroning the prince lies deep within the Land Under the Wave.

But passage through these unknown seas—where horrors lurk and pirates rove—proves a treacherous gamble. The Land Under the Wave was not made for humans, particularly one with a fragile clock heart. Here, Everley’s tragic past resurfaces unsolved questions. Here, too, the prince has hidden secrets more precious than pearls, secrets that could fracture the future forevermore. Everley must take back her sword and break free from this watery world before her time runs out…or so will everyone else’s. 

Review

In the second installment of The Evermore Chronicles, Everley finds herself chasing after Killiam Markham to get her sword back. This quest brings her to the land of pirates, sirens, and fin people – along with some not so fun elves. Everley’s clock heart is beating slower and she’s struggling more to live with it. Each page is full of adventure.

Some things that didn’t change from book one – I still hate Markham and Harlow. They still suck as people and they can leave for all I need. I get why the story needs them but COME ON. On the better side, Jamison Callahan is still swoon worthy as he quite obviously falls in love with Everley, even though she believes she’s incapable of love without a physical heart. Lastly, the amount of interesting creatures and worlds that they get to explore. It ALMOST reminds me of the Pendragon series – but only because of the world jumping to catch the bad guys, and they never quite know what to expect from each world.

Some interesting new developments – the side characters are developed more and start to have their own plot lines and independent thoughts and actions. We learn more things about Markham’s motivations (don’t care – still hate him) but it adds to his backstory.

Overall, I generally dislike middle books more than the first and third books. I actually think this book was better than Before the Broken Star, because they were really able to get into the plot and get the story going. It was a pleasant surprise for me because middle books are often just vehicles to set up for an ending – whereas King is able to keep the momentum going through this book, in my opinion.

Happy reading, bookish friends! 🙂

eBook Review – Before the Broken Star

Title: Before the Broken Star (The Evermore Chronicles #1)

Author: Emily R. King

Publisher: Skyscape

Publication date: May 1st, 2019

294 pages

3.5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

A fierce young female adventurer battles time itself to claim her destiny in a sweeping new fantasy saga from the author of the Hundredth Queen series.

Everley Donovan is living on borrowed time. The lone survivor of her family’s unexplained assassination, she was saved by an ingeniously crafted clockwork heart. But the time she was given won’t last forever. Now, every tick-tock reminds her how fragile her existence is and hastens her quest to expose Killian Markham, the navy admiral who shattered her world and left her for dead. But Everley’s hunt for justice will be a long and hard-won voyage.

Her journey takes her to a penal colony on a cursed isle, where she will be married off and charged to build the new world. It is here, and beyond, that hidden realms hide, treasures are unearthed, her family secrets are buried, and young love will test the strength of her makeshift heart. When Everley discovers Markham may not be who he seems, her pursuit for truth is bound to his redemption, her tragic history, and her astonishing destiny.

Review

Could you become a monster to destroy one?

Emily r. king, before the broken star

Everley is an apprentice to a clockmaker, who also happens to be her uncle. She seems like an ordinary girl from the outside, but in fact she has a clock heart that keeps her alive after her entire family was brutally murdered and she was run through the heart with a sword. She lives her life focused on revenge, revenge against Killian Markham, the Governor who killed her family and tried to kill her. When Markham walks into her uncle’s clock shop, the perfect opportunity presents itself.

Everley ends up getting arrested and sentenced to live on a new colony on an island far away in order to help populate it. The important part to this is the Markham is the governor of the island, so she hopes to be able to kill him quickly and get on with her life. She has no idea the whirlwind her life will turn into when she gets to Dagger Island. Especially when she is forcibly married to a sweet lieutenant on the ship ride to the island. Before the Broken Star follows Everley’s attempts to understand her past, while living with the reality of her future. She must keep her clock heart hidden otherwise she would be sentenced to death immediately for sorcery.

Before the Broken Star held my attention. I love when books grab me and don’t let go. I prefer to have to wrench myself away to go about the charade of life and adulthood. I followed Everley’s story with excitement, but I can’t say I love where the story ended up. I’m really a Happily Ever After lover, and this is not a trope adhered to in this book. Also, Killian Markham and his associate Harlow are terrible people and it bothers me. They are the definition of irredeemable. Everley continues to help Harlow even when she is completely awful to her! Bothered me for Everley’s sake. BUT Lieutenant Callahan makes up for it *swoon*.

In a universe of magical worlds filled with pixies, grindylow’s, Father Time’s influence, and portals to the other worlds, Before the Broken Star has great world building, writing, and characters. Evie is a bad-a woman and I am with her all the way.

Happy reading, bookish friends! 🙂

eARC Review – Ivory

Title: Ivory (Manhattan Ten #1)

Author: Lola Dodge

Publisher: Ink Monster LLC

Publication date: October 22nd, 2019

132 pages

3.5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

An ice princess. A jaguar shifter.

She’s a flight attendant who wants nothing to do with super heroes. Hiding her ice powers. Hiding from her family. Hiding is a full-time job, but Ivory can only suppress her inner warrior if she wants to keep the normal life she’s built from nothing.

He’s a career hero and a member of the legendary Manhattan Ten. Tall, dark, and shifter, the concrete jungle is his playground. Jag takes nothing seriously until Ivory tempts his inner predator.

Can he melt the stone-cold goddess?

It’s love at first fight in the first volume of the Manhattan Ten Series.

Review

**Thank you to Ink Monster, LLC, Netgalley, and Lola Dodge for a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

Ivory is the first in the Manhattan Ten series, that is currently being re-released after being published several years ago. Ivory used to be the second in the series, but has been moved to first. Ivory is a novella length superhero story around Ivory, and ice princess, and Jag, a shape shifter that turns into a jaguar. Ivory is working as a flight attendant when she is forced to defend herself and reveal her powers when attacked by an anti-super human. In this world, those with super powers are considered celebrities, but not everyone agrees. Jag witnesses the attacks and brings her into the Manhattan Ten fold, much to her chagrin. Ivory doesn’t want to be apart of a superhero group, she just wants to stay unnoticed.

Ivory is very short and readable, I finished it in one go. There isn’t much character development being a novella, but with more books in the series revolving around the Manhattan Ten I imagine we will learn more over the series. There is some explicit adult content, so if you don’t like reading explicit content this book may not be for you. There is also a fun, love at first sight theme for Ivory and Jag (even though she tried to ignore it!

Overall, this book was a 3.5 star read for me. I would be interested in reading more books in this series to learn more about the Manhattan Ten. The world reminds me of an adult version of The Incredibles.

Happy reading, bookish friends!

eARC Review – The Weaver

Title: The Weaver (The Weaver Trilogy #1)

Author: Heather Kindt

Publisher: The Parliament House

Publication date: August 7th, 2019

238 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Most writers choose the endings to their stories . . . most writers are not Weavers.

Laney Holden is a freshman at Madison College whose life goes from normal to paranormal in a matter of seconds. When the antagonist in the book she’s writing shoves her down the stairs at the subway station, she learns she is a Weaver. Weavers bridge the narrow gap between fantasy and reality, bringing their words to life.

Laney soon meets William whom she also suspects is a character from her book—one she’s had a mad crush on since her pen hit the paper. But he’s in danger as her antagonist reveals a whole different ending planned for Laney’s book that involves killing William. Laney must use her writing to save the people closest to her by weaving the most difficult words she will ever write.

THE WEAVER is the first installment of The Weaver trilogy. It is an NA paranormal romance set in a small town on the north shore of Boston. It will leave you wanting more.

Review

**Thank you to The Parliament House, Netgalley, and Heather Kindt for providing me an ebook copy of this book in exchange for an honest review**

The Weaver starts a new trilogy that will be similar to the Inkheart series, but for a bit of an older crowd. The MC Laney is in college writing her novel about a couple in eighteenth century America. When the villain from her book attempts to rob and murder her, she starts to think there is more to her story than meets the eye. In comes the love interest of the main character in her book as a fellow student – and she can’t help but fall for him. She falls into the world of Weaving, the gift few people have to bring their stories to life. However, this is very dangerous as the characters who come to life look to change their endings, by any means necessary.

I think The Weaver was a decent book that managed to be different enough from Inkheart to keep it interesting. Laney as the main character and storyteller was good, but some of the other characters leave much to be desired. Her middle school crush, Jason, who can’t decide if he loves her or not comes off as very flaky and rude – he also doesn’t seem to have enough impact on the story (outside of one major event). It’s almost like his character was superfluous. There were other plot points I felt like could have been rounded out, like the group of Weavers she meets to try and figure out what is happening. They just pop into the story and are never talked about again until the end.

Outside of these issues, I really enjoyed reading The Weaver and would like to see how the story continues to unfold. The ending was surprising, with a twist that I did not see coming – which always adds into any book’s appeal for me. I want to know what Laney does after that ending and how her story will continue.

If you were a fan of the Inkheart series, go check out The Weaver, a new fantasy novel where your imagination quite literally comes to life, and tries to kill you!

Happy reading, bookish friends! 🙂

eARC Review – A Midnight Clear

Title: A Midnight Clear

Authors: Sam Hooker, Seven Jane, Alcy Leyva, Laura Morrison, Dalena Storm, Cassondra Windwalker

Publisher: Black Spot Books

Publication date: November 5th, 2019

3/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Six stories of not-so-merry Yuletide whimsy from the authors of Black Spot Books. A woman so cold she hardens to ice on a winter’s eve. Risen from his grave before his time, a winter god alters the balance between seasons. A wolf’s holiday season is interrupted by a strange curse. From a murder at the Stanley Hotel to demons of Christmas past, present, and future, and a mad elf and Santa’s Candy Court, the authors of Black Spot Books share their love for winter holidays in this collection of dark winter tales, destined to chill your bones and warm your heart for the Yuletide season.

Review

**Thank you to Black Spot Books, the authors, and Netgalley for providing an ebook copy of this book in exchange for an honest review**

Written in the format of six short stories, all with a holiday theme or twist, A Midnight Clear brings six authors who reimagine the holiday season – sometimes in less than ideal ways. From Santa’s elves to Satan’s demons, human like wolves to a religious Solstice dilemma, A Midnight Clear questions what would happen if some of our fairy tales and traditions were turned upside down.

A Midnight Clear was a quick and easy read, likely because it was split into short stories. I certainly had my favorite of the stories and one’s I did not like as much – but I won’t bias you, dear reader, towards or against any. The writing in all short stories is well done, and the plots do make you think twice about the holiday season and what it all means. There was go cohesiveness to all the stories as well, which allowed the book to flow well through them.

As we move into the holiday season, anyone who likes to read holiday or Christmas inspired works should pick this up for a quick read.

Happy reading, bookish friends! 🙂

eARC Review – Gravemaidens

Title: Gravemaidens (Gravemaidens #1)

Author: Kelly Coon

Publisher: Delacorte Press (Random House Children’s)

Publication date: October 29th, 2019

416 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

The start of a fierce fantasy duology about three maidens who are chosen for their land’s greatest honor…and one girl determined to save her sister from the grave. 

In the walled city-state of Alu, Kammani wants nothing more than to become the accomplished healer her father used to be before her family was cast out of their privileged life in shame. 

When Alu’s ruler falls deathly ill, Kammani’s beautiful little sister, Nanaea, is chosen as one of three sacred maidens to join him in the afterlife. It’s an honor. A tradition. And Nanaea believes it is her chance to live an even grander life than the one that was stolen from her. 

But Kammani sees the selection for what it really is—a death sentence.

Desperate to save her sister, Kammani schemes her way into the palace to heal the ruler. There she discovers more danger lurking in the sand-stone corridors than she could have ever imagined and that her own life—and heart—are at stake. But Kammani will stop at nothing to dig up the palace’s buried secrets even if it means sacrificing everything…including herself.

Review

**Thank you to Delacorte Press, Netgalley, and Kelly Coon for providing me an ebook copy of Gravemaidens in exchange for an honest review**

Gravemaidens is the first in a new duology about Kammani, a young woman who is trying to hold her family together after their fall from nobility, her mother’s death, and her father’s subsequent drinking problem. She is holding it all together until her sister, Nanaea is chosen to be a Sacred Maiden, one of three beautiful, young women who are chosen to follow their ruler’s path to the afterlife. Kammani seems to be the only person who does not see dying with the Lugal as a high honor, and is trying to save Nanaea’s life… whether she wants it or not.

What she comes to find out is that she has bigger problems that trying to save her sister. Her city-state of Alu is in danger as an unknown person is trying to kill the Lugal and take over as ruler. Only she can stop, but when she becomes the next target, she must fend for herself and decide who to trust.

Kammani is a STRONG, female character. I love her, and felt for her through the entire book. Nanaea did not deserve her, and frankly her character was wildly irritating and bratty. She is the reason this book dropped a star in my review. All other characters has redeeming qualities and were well described, but I can’t get over how badly Nanaea’s character sucks.

Kelly Coon has created a captivating world and a strong, female character to live in it. I look forward to reading the sequel when it releases in 2020.

Happy reading, bookish friends! 🙂