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!

Book Review – Stealing Home

Title: Stealing Home

Author: Becky Wallace

Publisher: Page Street Kids

Publication date: July 9th, 2019

320 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Fight for your dreams, even if it means breaking a few rules.

Seventeen-year-old Ryan Russell has life perfectly planned. If she keeps up her hard work, one day she’ll take over the family business: owning the Buckley Beavers, a minor league baseball team, and become one of the only female General Managers in the sport.

But when the newest member of the Beavers, child-phenom Sawyer Campbell, shows up, Ryan’s carefully laid plans are thrown a major curveball. Sawyer is far more charming than the arrogant jocks she usually manages, his ambition rivals her own workaholic nature—and he’s completely out of bounds. Fraternizing is against every rule in the Beaver’s handbook.

Then Ryan’s divorced parents butt heads over the future of the Beavers, and her mom plans to sell her shares to a business group known for relocating teams. If this happens, Ryan’s dreams of becoming GM disappear. In a bid to save her future, she partners with Sawyer to use his star power to draw in sponsors who will keep the team in Buckley. But the more time she spends with him, the more impossible it becomes to play by the Beaver’s rules, and she can’t afford a strikeout on the path to her dreams.

Full count with two outs, Ryan’s one pitch away from losing the whole ball game.

Review

Stealing Home follows main character’s Ryan and Sawyer as they mutually fight for the futures they’ve been working towards their whole lives. Ryan wants nothing more than to be the General Manager of her dad’s minor league baseball team, The Buckley Beavers. She puts all of her spare time and effort into the team. Sawyer is trying to make it big in the MLB to help keep his family’s watermelon farm afloat. When Sawyer is drafted and sent to the Beavers, they have a chance to help each other out, or cause each other to fail in their dreams.

I thought Stealing Home was super cute. I’m a baseball fanatic, have been my whole life, so I adore reading baseball related books. Sawyer and Ryan were so cute together, even when they were trying not to be. They are both stubborn and motivated individuals, which is why they work so well together. The romance is very PG, with some long, lingering glances and heated exchanges.

The supporting characters are the reason I docked this book a star. Ryan’s mom and dad are not great characters (although they get SOME redemption at the end). I really felt bad for Ryan having to deal with them as people. Also, I felt like it was kind of ridiculous that she was 17 and doing all of the grunt work for her dad – like she didn’t have a life. I know it was her choice, but what dad does that?

Overall, this was a very cute, contemporary, sports novel. I enjoyed reading it and read it all in one day. It was fairly light and easy to read. Fans of Jenn Bennett and Brigid Kemmerer should check this one out!

Happy reading, bookish friends! 🙂

Book Review – The Wren Hunt

Title: The Wren Hunt (The Wren Hunt #1)

Author: Mary Watson

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens

Publication date: February 8th, 2018

432 pages

3/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Every Christmas, Wren is chased through the woods near her isolated village by her family’s enemies—the Judges—and there’s nothing that she can do to stop it. Once her people, the Augurs, controlled a powerful magic. But now that power lies with the Judges, who are set on destroying her kind for good.

In a desperate bid to save her family, Wren takes a dangerous undercover assignment—as an intern to an influential Judge named Cassa Harkness. Cassa has spent her life researching a transformative spell, which could bring the war between the factions to its absolute end. Caught in a web of deceit, Wren must decide whether or not to gamble on the spell and seal the Augurs’ fate.

Review

There would be consequences, I knew that. There were always consequences, usually teeny tiny consequences that you hardly noticed. But the small things added up over time, until eventually they formed one big thing that could crush you beneath its weight.

Mary watson, the wren hunt

The Wren Hunt is the start of a duology following Wren, a young augur about to take an internship wit a house of judges, in order to try and steal a map from them. Set in Ireland, The Wren Hunt posits two gifted groups; judges and augurs. Judges are able to commune with nature and augurs have different abilities centered around understanding patterns and being able to manipulate the world around them. The two sides are constantly at war, and the judges are winning. Wren must tip the scales back into the augurs favor before it is too late, or does the universe have a different plan in store for her?

Whew, this book was A LOT. I spent most of it very confused, and am actually still pretty confused. The book starts of with Wren being chased through the woods by a group of young judges, which apparently happens every year. Apparently the only reason this occurs is because her name is Wren and they must hunt the Wren. Seriously, already it started off weird. Also, I feel like I never got a good explanation for why this happened EVERY YEAR on the same day. But I digress. The events of the book are confusing.

If you like a book where the characters are likable and have redeeming qualities, this book will not fulfill that desire. Even the seemingly great characters end up being terrible, and the MC is no better. I spent most of the book internally yelling at Wren for her actions, and frankly I did the same for most of the supporting characters as well. In a war between augurs and judges, no one plays fair.

I will say, this book had a magnificent plot twist towards the end that I DID NOT see coming in the slightest. I felt more convinced after that that The Wren Hunt was worth my time reading. I picked it up because I was approved for the sequel, The Wickerlight, on Netgalley and I really do NOT like to DNF books. The twist was able to move this book into a solid 3 star book for me.

Lastly, the cover is gorgeous. Simple. Classic. Fitting. The Wickerlight cover matches in style, if not color. I am a fan of a good, simple cover sometimes. YA books lately have been KILLING it with these amazing, colorful, detailed covers – but sometimes I appreciate sleek and simple. The romance is okay – I’d classify it as a slow burn, lovers to enemies romance trope which is not even in my top five of romance tropes. But hey, if you like those, check this book out!

Overall, a mid range book for me. The writing is beautiful and mysterious (which leads it to be confusing), and I enjoyed that it was set in Ireland.

Happy reading, bookish friends! 🙂

Book Review – Spin the Dawn

Title: Spin the Dawn (The Blood of Stars #1)

Author: Elizabeth Lim

Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers

Publication date: July 9th, 2019

392 pages

4.5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Project Runway meets Mulan in this sweeping YA fantasy about a young girl who poses as a boy to compete for the role of imperial tailor and embarks on an impossible journey to sew three magic dresses, from the sun, the moon, and the stars.

Maia Tamarin dreams of becoming the greatest tailor in the land, but as a girl, the best she can hope for is to marry well. When a royal messenger summons her ailing father, once a tailor of renown, to court, Maia poses as a boy and takes his place. She knows her life is forfeit if her secret is discovered, but she’ll take that risk to achieve her dream and save her family from ruin. There’s just one catch: Maia is one of twelve tailors vying for the job.

Backstabbing and lies run rampant as the tailors compete in challenges to prove their artistry and skill. Maia’s task is further complicated when she draws the attention of the court magician, Edan, whose piercing eyes seem to see straight through her disguise.

And nothing could have prepared her for the final challenge: to sew three magic gowns for the emperor’s reluctant bride-to-be, from the laughter of the sun, the tears of the moon, and the blood of stars. With this impossible task before her, she embarks on a journey to the far reaches of the kingdom, seeking the sun, the moon, and the stars, and finding more than she ever could have imagined.

Steeped in Chinese culture, sizzling with forbidden romance, and shimmering with magic, this young adult fantasy is pitch-perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas or Renée Ahdieh.

Review

“Seize the wind,” I whispered. “Don’t become the kite that never flies.”

Elizabeth lim, spin the dawn

Spin the Dawn follows Maia, the only daughter of a renowned tailor. Her three brothers did not have her talent for tailoring, but women are not allowed to have jobs or run a shop, so she would never be able to fulfill her dream. After her mother dies, her father falls into a great depression and she must keep the shop alive by completing all the work. Her brothers are drafted into the army and she is left alone to run the family. When two of her brothers die at war and the third comes back unable to walk, she knows something must be done. A Crown messenger shows up at the door requiring her father to enter a competition to be the new future Queen’s personal tailor, but he is in no shape to go. Ala Mulan, Maia knows what she must do – she must go in her father’s place and win the competition, or die trying.

Y’all, Mulan was always my favorite Disney movie. It was the first that portrayed Princesses and women as anything but helpless, waiting for a man to come save them. I also used to be obsessed with Project Runway during the early seasons. So when I saw this book billed as Mulan meets Project Runway, I knew I needed to read it – and it did not disappoint. Shoutout to Owlcrate for knowing I needed this and including it in a monthly box.

Maia goes through such a journey during this book to find herself and her worth. She is sent on an impossible quest with a man that will try her every nerve, but also soften every edge. She will give up anything to save her family and those she loves, even if it is from herself. I loved her character.

One thing I will note about this book is that I felt the love story happened too quickly. The trope was enemies to lovers, but the transition went wayyy to quickly in my opinion. I felt it was rushed and really didn’t need to be.

I cannot wait for the sequel, Unravel the Dusk, to be released. I must know what happened to my baby Maia after that ending!!

Happy reading, bookish friends! 🙂