eARC Review – Ever Cursed

Title: Ever Cursed

Author: Corey Ann Haydu

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Publication date: July 28th, 2020

304 pages

4.5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Damsel meets A Heart in a Body in the World in this incisive and lyrical feminist fairy tale about a princess determined to save her sisters from a curse, even if it means allying herself with the very witch who cast it.

The Princesses of Ever are beloved by the kingdom and their father, the King. They are cherished, admired.

Cursed.

Jane, Alice, Nora, Grace, and Eden carry the burden of being punished for a crime they did not commit, or even know about. They are each cursed to be Without one essential thing—the ability to eat, sleep, love, remember, or hope. And their mother, the Queen, is imprisoned, frozen in time in an unbreakable glass box.

But when Eden’s curse sets in on her thirteenth birthday, the princesses are given the opportunity to break the curse, preventing it from becoming a True Spell and dooming the princesses for life. To do this, they must confront the one who cast the spell—Reagan, a young witch who might not be the villain they thought—as well as the wickedness plaguing their own kingdom…and family.

Told through the eyes of Reagan and Jane—the witch and the bewitched—this insightful twist of a fairy tale explores power in a patriarchal kingdom not unlike our own.

Review

**Thank you to Simon Pulse, Netgalley, and Corey Ann Haydu for an early copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

TW: sexual assault, eating disorders, insomnia, gaslighting

Ever Cursed is a fairytale style story of witches and royals. Don’t be fooled though, there are seriously dark themes in this book, on’s that need to be discussed and addressed. Several years ago a witch named Reagan cast the Spell of Without on the Princesses of Ever. Each one lost something that day – can’t eat, can’t sleep, can’t love, can’t hope, and can’t remember. The Queen was trapped in a glass box. The princesses must find a way to reverse the spell, or it will stay forever. In an unlikely twist, Reagan begins to help the princesses gather what is needed to reverse the spell. But will it be enough?

This story is told through alternating POV’s of Princess Jane, the oldest Princess, and Reagan. I thought Ever Curse was so well done, I finished it in just a few hours and just couldn’t put it down. Firstly, I loved the writing style. Ever Cursed is written in a fairy tale format so it seems very whimsical and fairy-like, but the tone of the book is very serious and tackles matter such as sexual assault, sexism, and conquering fears. It is a hard line to walk, but Haydu does it very well.

The characters aren’t exactly redeemable. If you’re looking for a book about perfect people, you won’t find it here. Everyone has made mistakes or done terrible things, but I think this story is more about fixing wrongs than being perfect. The character growth is real and Princess Jane comes to realize some terrible truths about her father, the King, and Reagan learns the real consequences of actions and magic.

I felt like the ending could have been stronger and had a better message it. The whole book ramped up to a pretty serious ending but it felt like it wasn’t given enough attention. For that reason, but overall rating was pulled down but I still very much enjoyed this books.

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – Keep My Heart in San Francisco

Title: Keep My Heart in San Francisco

Author: Amelia Diane Coombs

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Publication date: July 14th, 2020

400 pages

3/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Sparks fly when two ex-best-friends team up to save a family business in this swoon-worthy and witty debut perfect for fans of Jenn Bennett and Sarah Dessen.

Caroline “Chuck” Wilson has big plans for spring break—hit up estate sales to score vintage fashion finds and tour the fashion school she dreams of attending. But her dad wrecks those plans when he asks her to spend vacation working the counter at Bigmouth’s Bowl, her family’s failing bowling alley. Making things astronomically worse, Chuck finds out her dad is way behind on back rent—meaning they might be losing Bigmouth’s, the only thing keeping Chuck’s family in San Francisco.

And the one person other than Chuck who wants to do anything about it? Beckett Porter, her annoyingly attractive ex-best friend.

So when Beckett propositions Chuck with a plan to make serious cash infiltrating the Bay Area action bowling scene, she accepts. But she can’t shake the nagging feeling that she’s acting irrational—too much like her mother for comfort. Plus, despite her best efforts to keep things strictly business, Beckett’s charm is winning her back over…in ways that go beyond friendship.

If Chuck fails, Bigmouth’s Bowl and their San Francisco legacy are gone forever. But if she succeeds, she might just get everything she ever wanted.

Review

**Thank you to Simon Pulse, Netgalley, and Amelia Diane Coombs for an early book copy in exchange for an honest review**

Caroline “Chuck” Wilson loves San Francisco – she would do anything to stay living there. When her father’s bowling alley, Bigmouth Bowl, starts to go under, Chuck thinks she can help out. Her ex-best friend, turned new best friend, Beckett suggests they participate in illegal bowling gambling by hustling bowlers under the table at lanes across San Fran. While she’s bowling her heart out to stay, she’s giving her heart away to someone who broke her trust a long time ago. Will she be able to save her family’s bowling alley?

A main focus of this book is Chuck’s struggles with her mental health, and the potential of turning out like her mom – who killed herself when Chuck was young. Her mother had bipolar disorder, and Chuck has already experience several depressive episodes. Every decision she makes, she wonders if it’s a decision that should be made or one she made impulsively – which would denote the manic side of bipolar. Due to the afterword, the reader knows this is an Own Voices novel, and I cannot speak on the mental health portrayal in this book as it’s likely very personal for the author.

The other main plots are the bowling and the romance. As someone who has been bowling for over 20 years, I have to say that there are several bowling inaccuracies in this manuscript, which could potentially be cleaned up in edits or with further research. However, the romance felt very flat and unconvincing to me. I’m all for friends to lovers and hate to love tropes but Beckett as a character was very one dimensional and I didn’t buy the romance. The date scene was good and unique, but it all fell flat for me.

Overall KMHISF was a decent Young Adult rom com with the unique twist of bowling. It wasn’t my favorite, but I guarantee there are many people who will read it and love it.

Happy reading, folks!

Book Review – Sky Without Stars

Title: Sky Without Stars (System Divine #1)

Authors: Jessica Brody & Joanne Rendell

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Publication date: March 26th, 2019

582 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

A thief. An officer. A guardian. 

Three strangers. One shared destiny . . .

When the Last Days came, the planet of Laterre promised hope. But five hundred years later, it’s now a place where an extravagant elite class reigns supreme; where the clouds hide the stars and the poor starve in the streets; where a rebel group, long thought dead, is resurfacing.

Whispers of revolution have begun—a revolution that hinges on three unlikely heroes…

Chatine is a street-savvy thief who will do anything to escape the brutal Regime, including spying on Marcellus, the grandson of the most powerful man on the planet.

Marcellus is an officer—and the son of a traitor. Groomed to command by his legendary grandfather, Marcellus begins to doubt the government he’s vowed to serve when he discovers a cryptic message that only one person, a girl named Alouette, can read.

Alouette is living in an underground refuge, where she guards and protects the last surviving library on the planet. But a shocking murder will bring Alouette to the surface for the first time in twelve years…and plunge Laterre into chaos.

All three have roles to play in a dangerous game of revolution—and together they will shape the future of a planet.

Power, romance, and destiny collide in this sweeping reimagining of Victor Hugo’s masterpiece Les Misérables.

Review

This book is a chunker y’all. I picked Sky Without Stars up on a Barnes and Noble sale awhile back because this cover is gorgeous. I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of the next book, Between Burning Worlds, through Netgalley so it was time to dive into this world!

First off, I’ve recently become super into classics re-imagined in space. I’ve only read a few, but I’ve really enjoyed the ones I’ve read, even though I always thought the sci-fi genre was low on my list. Sky Without Stars is basically Les Mis in space, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The characters were interesting, while also having fatal flaws, which was a really good balance.

First off, the characters. I am here for them all (with a special shout-out to my girl, Chatine, who just can’t seem to get her shit together). I like how you get the story told in alternating POV’s – it goes back and forth between the three main characters; Chatine, Marcellus, and Alouette. They each have a distinct voice, which I think was very well done. I appreciate the differences between these three characters, and how you just know they will all be interconnected by the end somehow.

The plot was great. I really enjoyed the retelling aspect. There were parts that were a throwback to my high school History classes learning about the French Revolution (hey there guillotine) that really showed the class issues that were happening at the time. Humans are broken into three social classes; First Estate (royalty and nobles), Second Estate (middle class), and Third Estate (lower class and workers). You can really see how terribly the Third Estate is treated, and can totally understand why riots and rebellions are breaking out.

Lastly, I thought the Bastille adaptation was genius. A horrible prison built on an orbiting moon where people are sent to mine in hazardous conditions? LOVE IT (the concept, not the actual thing obvi). I thought it added a level of pressure to the story, because no one wants to be sent there. Also, a nod to the actual Bastille in France. It’s like a combination of Azkaban and the mines in the Ash Princess series.

As you can see, I can go on about this book for awhile. Some criticisms include the length, I don’t feel like it needed to be this long to get the point across, and the weird love triangle. I don’t mind love triangles, but this one was just strange. I don’t actually ship any of the budding relationships at this point, but we’ll see what the next book brings!

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – Between Burning Worlds

Title: Between Burning Worlds (System Divine #2)

Authors: Jessica Brody & Joanne Rendell

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Publication date: March 24th, 2020

688 pages

4.5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Les Misérables meets The Lunar Chronicles in the out-of-this-world sequel to Sky Without Stars that’s an “explosion of emotion, intrigue, romance, and revolution” (Stephanie Garber, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Caraval series).

A thief.
An officer.
A guardian. 
All from different backgrounds, but sharing one same destiny…

The planet Laterre is in turmoil. A new militant revolutionary group has emerged calling themselves “The Red Scar” and claiming responsibility for a spate of recent bombings. The infamous rebels known as the Vangarde believe that in order to bring about a peaceful revolution, their charismatic leader, Citizen Rousseau must be freed from prison right away. Otherwise the bloodshed will only escalate.

Soon Marcellus, Chatine, and Alouette all find themselves pulled into battle with extreme consequences.

Marcellus is determined to uncover his corrupt grandfather’s plan to seize Laterre—even if that means joining the Vangarde.

Aloutte, trying to unearth the truth about her past, becomes a captive of Marcellus’s grandfather, the general.

Chatine, who is serving time on Bastille, hopes to escape the brutal and horrifying reality of the prison moon.

But the failed attempt to break Citizen Rousseau out of prison launches Aloutte, Chatine, and Marecellus into the middle of a dangerous war for control of Laterre. And in the midst of it all is the legend of a secret and dangerous weapon that could mean complete and absolute power to any that wields it.

Review

**Thank you to Netgalley, Simon Pulse, and Jessica Brody & Joanne Rendell for a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

Sequel to Sky Without Stars, Between Burning Worlds picks up pretty much where Sky left off. Our main characters have themselves in whole heaps of trouble, and their ingenuity is the only thing that could possible save them. Without giving too much away; Chatine, Marcellus, and Alouette are separated and on their own paths to start the book. Each trying to find out more about themselves, in different ways. But what they find won’t always be fulfilling or satisfying…

I found Between Burning Worlds to be a satisfying middle book. I don’t think it fell victim so much to the middle book syndrome. The world and plot was pretty much built in Sky, so Between Burning Worlds just continued the action. I liked the new characters who were added to bring extra suspense and drama. However, Chatine is still my favorite character and always will be.

The writing is very good in this book. I love the twists and turns and how you can never tell what really is true and what is just a smoke screen. I love a book that keeps me guessing until the end. Speaking of the end, the CLIFFHANGER y’all. I must know what happens…

Between Burning Worlds continues the Les Mis adaptation of Sky Without Stars. If you loved Les Mis and enjoy science fiction books set in space, this series will be for you.

Happy reading, folks!

eARC – Girls with Razor Hearts

Title: Girls with Razor Hearts (Girls with Sharp Sticks #2)

Author: Suzanne Young

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Publication date: March 17th, 2020

400 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

It’s time to fight back in this second novel in a thrilling, subversive near future series from New York Times bestselling author Suzanne Young about a girls-only private high school that is far more than it appears to be.

Make me a girl with a razor heart…

It’s been weeks since Mena and the other girls of Innovations Academy escaped their elite boarding school. Although traumatized by the violence and experimentations that occurred there, Mena quickly discovers that the outside world can be just as unwelcoming and cruel. With no one else to turn to, the girls only have each other—and the revenge-fueled desire to shut down the corporation that imprisoned them.

The girls enroll in Stoneridge Prep, a private school with suspect connections to Innovations, to identify the son of an investor and take down the corporation from the inside. But with pressure from Leandra, who revealed herself to be a double-agent, and Winston Weeks, an academy investor gone rogue, Mena wonders if she and her friends are simply trading one form of control for another. Not to mention the woman who is quite literally invading Mena’s thoughts—a woman with extreme ideas that both frighten and intrigue Mena.

And as the girls fight for freedom from their past—and freedom for the girls still at Innovations—they must also face new questions about their existence…and what it means to be girls with razor hearts.

Review

**Thank you to Netgalley, Simon Pulse, and Suzanne Young for providing a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

The sequel to Girls with Sharp Sticks, Girls with Razor Hearts picks up right where GWSS leaves off. I enjoy this in sequels because you don’t miss some possibly pertinent information that authors have to catch you up on later. GWRH continues the dark exaggeration of our current society (and it’s really not THAT much of an exaggeration) in regards to women’s rights. The content can be disturbing and triggering, but so powerful and well written.

Suzanne Young has fantastic flow with her writing and continuing to keep the story on track. Attention is given to the right parts and I didn’t feel like there were parts that deserved to be expanded on further. There were some plot twists, but seeing as it’s a middle book in a trilogy, there weren’t as many as the first and what I imagine the third will have in store. There was some info dumping and predictable parts, but I mostly still feel like I have no idea who the “bad guys” are or what the endgame is – which makes it worth reading the third book and will keep me invested in the story.

I have to say that I hope those who pick up this series are ready for the disturbing and violent writing and events in these books. I can’t give the book more stars because the topic does have a negative effect on me. I think it’s so important, but hard to read at times due to the content. So please know your triggers before diving into this series.

Happy reading folks!

eARC Review – When We Were Magic

Title: When We Were Magic

Author: Sarah Gailey

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Publication date: March 3rd, 2020

352 pages

5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

A moving, darkly funny novel about six teens whose magic goes wildly awry from Magic for Liars author Sarah Gailey, who Chuck Wendig calls an “author to watch.” 

Keeping your magic a secret is hard. Being in love with your best friend is harder.

Alexis has always been able to rely on two things: her best friends, and the magic powers they all share. Their secret is what brought them together, and their love for each other is unshakeable—even when that love is complicated. Complicated by problems like jealousy, or insecurity, or lust. Or love.

That unshakeable, complicated love is one of the only things that doesn’t change on prom night.

When accidental magic goes sideways and a boy winds up dead, Alexis and her friends come together to try to right a terrible wrong. Their first attempt fails—and their second attempt fails even harder. Left with the remains of their failed spells and more consequences than anyone could have predicted, each of them must find a way to live with their part of the story.

Review

**Thank you to Netgalley, Simon Pulse, and Sarah Gailey for a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

Okay. I’m gonna be honest. I was not prepared for the first chapter of this book. Now, this will not be a spoiler, because again, this is just the first chapter. So the MC, Alexis, was trying to hook up with a guy at the after party of Prom. In the process, she made his penis explode. EXPLODE. And it killed it him. So she calls in her best friends, who are mostly UNFAZED. THEN, Alexis announces she made it explode with MAGIC.

And that is literally just the first chapter. I don’t remember the last time that I was so intrigued by the start of a book! And it just got so much better after that. I loved everything about When We Were Magic. The friendship between the MC’s, the magic, the plot, the diversity… everything.

Let’s start with the characters. Each has their own personality and they are a tight group of friends. They all are magical and work together to try and figure their magic out. Also, I love that the magic system is so free flowing, without real known rules. Most fantasy novels have a magic system that is known whereas the character in When We Were Magic found each other casually and have to experiment to learn what they can do. There is no magic school, or teachers, or book of spells to learn from which means they have to be independent.

The plot moved along SO WELL. Information was provided at just the right moment to keep you in suspense while also making it interesting. It flowed well and the writing was great. I loved the romance, and the fact that there was queer witches is something I am HERE FOR. The ending was not what I expected and that’s okay.

Seriously, y’all go put this book on your TBR because it will not disappoint.

Happy reading, folks!

Book Review – When Dimple Met Rishi

Title: When Dimple Met Rishi (Dimple and Rishi #1)

Author: Sandhya Menon

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Publication date: May 22nd, 2018

400 pages

3/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

Review

**Read via audiobook**

When Dimple Met Rishi tells the tale of… well… when Dimple met Rishi! Dimple just graduated from high school and is getting ready to attend Stanford and become a coder. But, all her mom wants is for her to find the Ideal Indian Husband and get married. That’s where Rishi comes in. Rishi wants nothing more than to get married and please his parents. Dimple and Rishi’s parents set it up so they meet at a web design summer program, but only Rishi knows this and Dimple is thrown for a loop. The book follows their story.

Okay, so this was a very generic YA contemporary book. Dimple is “not an ordinary girl”, which is a huge and sometimes annoying theme in YA. She’s kind of not a great character, and is frankly pretty selfish. Rishi deserves better, though I do believe Dimple starts to get better by the end of the book and realizes some of her nonsense is… nonsense.

The plot was about this web design camp… but we never actually get to hear about the camp?? They are there for 8 weeks and you hear about it only a few times in filler conversation. The book is more about where they are eating dinner and working on a talent show act that is inexplicably a part of a web design camp?? I have questions.

Throughout the book I just wanted to yell at Dimple and say, “You’re allowed to date and ALSO attend school to have a future and a career – it truly is possible to multitask! The two are not mutually exclusive!!” So much of the book wouldn’t be necessary if she understood this very simple concept.

Overall, it was good but nowhere near great. If the feeling ever strikes, I will give the companion novels a try – but I’m not thinking that will be any time soon. Rishi was the upside to this entire story because he was so pure of heart and wanted the best for everybody. I would read more about Rishi for sure.

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – Heart of Flames

Title: Heart of Flames (Crown of Feathers #2)

Author: Nicki Pau Preto

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Publication date: February 11th, 2020

640 pages

3.75/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Veronyka, Tristan, and Sev must stop the advancing empire from destroying the Phoenix Riders in this fiery sequel to Crown of Feathers, which #1 New York Times bestselling author Kendare Blake calls “absolutely unforgettable!”

You are a daughter of queens. 

The world is balanced on the edge of a knife, and war is almost certain between the empire and the Phoenix Riders.

Like Nefyra before you, your life will be a trial by fire. 

Veronyka finally got her wish to join the Riders, but while she’s supposed to be in training, all she really wants to do is fly out to defend the villages of Pyra from the advancing empire. Tristan has been promoted to Master Rider, but he has very different ideas about the best way to protect their people than his father, the commander. Sev has been sent to spy on the empire, but maintaining his cover may force him to fight on the wrong side of the war. And Veronyka’s sister, Val, is determined to regain the empire she lost—even if it means inciting the war herself.

Such is your inheritance. A name. A legacy. An empire in ruin. 

As tensions reach a boiling point, the characters all find themselves drawn together into a fight that will shape the course of the empire—and determine the future of the Phoenix Riders. Each must decide how far they’re willing to go—and what they’re willing to lose in the process.

I pray you are able to pass through the flames.

Review

**Thank you to Netgalley, Simon Pulse, and Nicki Pau Preto for an ebook copy of this book in exchange for an honest review**

Heart of Flames continues the story of Veronyka and her older sister Val. Veronyka is continuing to fight against Val and fight with the Phoenix Riders in the Eyrie. Her close relationship with Tristan is starting to bloom and Veronyka wants nothing more than to prove herself as a Phoenix Rider. When more of Val’s plans are revealed, and some details of Veronyka’s background are discovered, Veronyka must decide which side she fights for.

I loved Crown of Feathers. I believe Heart of Flames suffers from middle book syndrome, where so much of it is spent to set up the plot in the third book. Parts were long an tedious, ripe with historical information, names, and events that are just too much to remember and keep in. The plot limped along with some moments of action and intrigue, only to flip to a different POV and have the excitement fizzle.

There are so many POV’s that it is hard to keep track at times, and some events are told more than once through a different perspective. It’s a little much, and is confusing when being read in an ebook format. I wanted to be able to go back easily and reference past parts.

Honestly, I am still buying this book. I love the characters SO MUCH. I ship Veronyka and Tristan, Sev and Kade until the end of time. As much as I think this book paled in comparison to Crown of Feathers in terms of plot, we get to see SO MUCH character development from everyone involved. This was the part I loved most about Heart of Flames, and I’m eager to see what happens in the third installment.

Happy reading, folks! 🙂