Arc Review: The Drowned Woods by Emily Lloyd-Jones

Title: The Drowned Woods
Author: Emily Lloyd-Jones
Genre: YA Fantasy / Retelling / Mythology
Publication Date: August 16th, 2022
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for a complimentary earc to review! All opinions are my own.

“Once upon a time, the kingdoms of Wales were rife with magic and conflict, and eighteen-year-old Mererid “Mer” is well-acquainted with both. She is the last living water diviner and has spent years running from the prince who bound her into his service. Under the prince’s orders, she located the wells of his enemies, and he poisoned them without her knowledge, causing hundreds of deaths. After discovering what he had done, Mer went to great lengths to disappear from his reach. Then Mer’s old handler returns with a proposition: use her powers to bring down the very prince that abused them both. The best way to do that is to destroy the magical well that keeps the prince’s lands safe. With a motley crew of allies, including a fae-cursed young man, the lady of thieves, and a corgi that may or may not be a spy, Mer may finally be able to steal precious freedom and peace for herself. After all, a person with a knife is one thing…but a person with a cause can topple kingdoms.” (Goodreads)

I enjoyed The Bone Houses and couldn’t wait to start the author’s latest book. The blurb mentioned a lot of cool aspects that could be found within the book and I was definitely more sold than before. Although I did like a lot of the book, there were things that were just bland and or didn’t grasp my attention as much as I had wanted.

The book is told from multiple point-of-views and I don’t know if it was worth it to have. I did like the past scenes that gave more information on the characters, but it meant less time with the main character Mer. I also wouldn’t saying that knowing more about them actually made me care about them. They kind of had their knack and that was that. When plot twists happened to the characters I can’t say that I felt any emotion towards them. I’m not saying they are bad characters because at times they were funny, but they didn’t keep me motivated.

The author does like animal sidekicks and there is one in this book who is a corgi. I like corgis but frankly, I thought the dead goat was better.

The prologue really pulls you in and is beautifully written. You feel for Mer and her situation and you want to know if she will ever get free from it all. I did like her for the most part but there wasn’t anything that made her stand out compared to other characters in the same genre. The prologue sets up nicely but there was pacing issues for me throughout the rest of the book. Nothing with the heist really happens until a bit after the halfway mark. There is more time talking about a past relationship than the relationship that is mentioned in the epilogue so I’m not really sure why it was mentioned since it felt insignificant. I could probably say that about other plot points as well.

Even though I had issues with the book, I still thought it was a good and quick read. It may not be memorable to me but it wasn’t terrible even if it may sound like that is how I felt, haha.

Overall, it was fine but just not entirely what I was expecting.

Arc Review: Falling For Korea by Piper Jean

Title: Falling For Korea
Author: Piper Jean
Genre: YA Contemporary / Romance
Publication Date: June 27th, 2022
Publisher: Vaniker Press LLC
Rating:

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for a complimentary earc to review! All opinions are my own.

“California teen Sydney Moore doesn’t know why she’s been shipped off to spend her senior year in Korea with the wealthy godparents she barely knows. What was her mom thinking? The Kims are never even home. And their son, the guy that’s supposed to help Sydney adjust to school at the elite Daeshim Academy, is totally MIA. As soon as Sydney can scrape together enough for a ticket, she’s flying home.

Korean chaebol Kim Chul knows his parents care more about company shares than they do about him. So why did they dump some American girl in his lap senior year? They must have an angle; they always do. The best way to end their schemes is to send her packing.

Chul’s game plan changes when his rival, Gun, starts hanging around. Sydney thinks he’s a nice guy, but Chul knows Gun has a dark secret. Determined to protect Sydney, Chul decides she needs a boyfriend—fast. And who better than him? But there’s a problem: Sydney already saved his contact as Loser.

Things get complicated when Sydney’s mom cuts off contact. As Sydney begins to uncover the devastating reason she was sent away, she’s even more determined to get home. But leaving isn’t so easy, especially when you’ve already started to fall for Korea.” (Goodreads)

Let’s just keep this short and to the point.

This book wasn’t for me. I had hoped to get a sweet contemporary with heartfelt issues but all I got was a lot of drama. Drama that didn’t even make sense. It was just used to keep the plot going because there wasn’t much going for the characters. They felt flat and I couldn’t care what happened to them.

The romance is very quick and it falls under the lines of, “No one can have her but me.” He was already possessive and he hadn’t even spent much time with her.

Overall, I did not like it. It wasn’t my cup of tea but it may be yours, especially you like heavily dramatic books.

Audiobook Review: Bronze Drum by Phong Nguyen

Title: Bronze Drum
Author: Phong Nguyen
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Publication Date: August 9th, 2022
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for a complimentary earc! All opinions are my own.

“Gather around, children of Chu Dien, and be brave.
For even to listen to the story of the Trung Sisters is,
in these troubled times, a dangerous act.

In 40 CE, in the Au Lac region of ancient Vietnam, two daughters of a Vietnamese Lord fill their days training, studying, and trying to stay true to Vietnamese traditions. While Trung Trac is disciplined and wise, always excelling in her duty, Trung Nhi is fierce and free spirited, more concerned with spending time in the gardens and with lovers.

But these sister’s lives—and the lives of their people—are shadowed by the oppressive rule of the Han Chinese. They are forced to adopt Confucian teachings, secure marriages, and pay ever‑increasing taxes. As the peoples’ frustration boils over, the country comes ever closer to the edge of war.” (Goodreads)

This isn’t my usual read since it is historical fiction with no fantasy aspects, but I am glad I went out of my comfort zone because I enjoyed this audiobook and thought about it when I didn’t have it on.

The book is told from third person narrative and mostly follows the two daughters of a Vietnamese Lord. Trung Trac and Trung Nhi are very different from one another but when they are not arguing with each other they really work well together through each of their strengths and weaknesses. Their lives are not always easy when they are younger as they are told what they can and cannot do. Through that, they find themselves on a path of war to free them from the constraints that the Han Chinese bind them with.

This was a heartbreaking read and one that I felt invested in. I couldn’t help but feel for the sisters as they lose freedom and even people as their story progresses. The other women in this book are just as powerful as well even if they don’t get as much page time. They were strengthened together and took down those who were thought to be stronger. Many of the Han Chinese didn’t believe in these women’s strength and found out firsthand what they could do, even while pregnant for one!

I had never heard of these sisters before but through this book I am keen on looking up more about them because I do find them to be quite fascinating.

The audiobook was well done and I enjoyed the narrator. I feel that if I had read this book it may have been on the dryer side, especially at the beginning of the book when everything is being laid out. If you are like me in this way then definitely go for the audiobook.

Overall, this was an enjoyable and powerful read. I’m glad I gave it a chance.

Book Review: Ebonwilde (Bloodleaf #3) by Crystal Smith

Title: Ebonwilde (Bloodleaf #3)
Author: Crystal Smith
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publication Date: April 12th, 2022
Publisher: HMH Books For Young Readers
Rating: ⭐⭐

“Welcome to Ebonwilde. Come and find me.

Aurelia’s last words haunted Zan. Left with the task of finding and reviving Princess Aurelia, Zan sets off on his own adventure to find her and return the gift she sacrificed for him—her life. But not all is what it seems, and Ebonwilde is more dangerous than anyone can predict.” (Goodreads)

This will be a short review.

I guess I should have just stopped after book one. I really loved that one, a lot. The second book was okay but confusing and this one was just like that. There were a lot of point-of-views and it felt very confusing. I wasn’t a fan of the dual timeline either, which is usually something I enjoy. With so much packed into one book, it was just a lot.

I found myself skimming because I just wasn’t invested.

Overall, I just didn’t enjoy this one. I wish that I had ended up liking the rest of the series but it just wasn’t for me.

Audiobook Review: The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander

Title: The Book of Three (The Chronicles of Prydain #1)
Author: Lloyd Alexander
Genre: Middle Grade / Fantasy
Publication Date: March 12th, 1964
Publisher: Varies
Rating: ⭐⭐

“Taran wanted to be a hero, and looking after a pig wasn’t exactly heroic, even though Hen Wen was an oracular pig. But the day that Hen Wen vanished, Taran was led into an enchanting and perilous world. With his band of followers, he confronted the Horned King and his terrible Cauldron-Born. These were the forces of evil, and only Hen Wen knew the secret of keeping the kingdom of Prydain safe from them. But who would find her first?” (Goodreads)

I picked this one up for two reasons. 1.) It is a very short audiobook 2.) I own The Black Cauldron with the cool movie cover. I figured it was time to start the series. Unfortunately, it was rather dull and I kind of just wanted it to be over with.

The book is told from a third person narrative. It follows the journey of Taran, a pig, and banishing evil. I can understand why there are those who have said it has similarities to Lord of the Rings. I would say that it is just a watered down version for kids. I’m sure that my younger self would have enjoyed this one a lot and I can see my daughter reading it in the future.

In no way is this a bad book per say, it just didn’t work for me and that’s fine. The writing was nice but the characters just didn’t have the depth I like.

Overall, it wasn’t for me and that’s fine. The narration of the audiobook was good though.

Arc Review: Just Another Love Song by Kerry Winfrey

Title: Just Another Love Song
Author: Kerry Winfrey
Genre: Adult Contemporary / Romance
Publication Date: August 2nd, 2022
Publisher: Berkley
Rating: ⭐⭐

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for a complimentary earc to review! All opinions are my own.

“Two high school sweethearts get a second chance at their perfect ending in this charming new romance by Kerry Winfrey, author of Very Sincerely Yours.

Once upon a time, Sandy Macintosh thought she would have her happily ever after with her high school sweetheart, Hank Tillman. Sandy wanted to be an artist, Hank was the only boy in town who seemed destined for bigger things, and they both had dreams to escape town together. But when Sandy’s plans fell through, she stayed in their small town in Ohio while Hank went off to Boston to follow his dreams to be a musician, with the promise to stay together. Only that plan fell through, too.

Fifteen years later, Sandy runs a successful greenhouse while helping her parents with their bed and breakfast. Everything is perfect…until Hank rolls back into town, now a famous alt-country singer with a son in tow. She’s happy with the life she’s built by herself, but seeing Hank makes her think about what might have been. There aren’t enough cliché love songs in the world to convince Sandy to give Hank another chance, but when the two of them get thrown together to help organize the town’s annual street fair, she wonders if there could be a new beginning for them or if what they had is just a tired old song of the past.” (Goodreads)

I was looking forward to this one as I very much enjoy country music and haven’t read many books where it is included. The blurb also sounded quite sweet with the second-chance romance and I couldn’t say no to that. Although there were some aspects I did enjoy about this book, it was all bogged down with the way the story is told and I just couldn’t feel anything for the characters or the plot.

The book is told from a dual timeline all being told by Sandy. She happens to run into her ex-boyfriend from high school and she still can’t help but feel some way towards him after so many years apart. I’m not going to lie, her name made me think of the movie Grease, especially because her friend does hair haha. I did think that her reactions to life, staying in the same place your whole life, was valid and can’t definitely understand why she envies those who has move on.

The second timeline mostly deals with interactions between her and Hank. It’s basically scenes that help draw a picture of what their relationship started as to the present timeline. Although I would usually like something like this, it just didn’t work for me. I felt it was more telling than showing and it never gave me a connection to their relationship. Sure, their were sweet moments, but not enough to convince me that their relationship was the bees knees. I think that the dual timeline kind of took away from the present and I would have liked them talking about what happened in the past to have been in the present. Also, Hank just felt too perfect. Not my thing.

I was here for all of the classic country songs though!

Overall, this was okay but not what I expected from the blurb and I just wasn’t feeling the dual timeline.

Arc Review: The Stars Between Us by Cristin Terrill

Title: The Stars Between Us
Author: Cristin Terrill
Genre: YA Sci-fi / Romance
Publication Date: August 2nd, 2022
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Rating: ⭐⭐

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for a complimentary earc to review! All opinions are my own.

“There’s always been a mystery to Vika Hale’s life. Ever since she was a child, she’s had an unknown benefactor providing for her and her family, making sure that Vika and her sister received the best education they could. Now, Vika longs for a bigger life than one as a poor barmaid on a struggling planet, but those dreams feel out of reach. Until one day Vika learns that her benefactor was a billionaire magnate who recently died under suspicious circumstances, and Vika has shockingly been included in his will. Invited to live on a glittering neighboring planet, Vika steps into a world she can hardly believe is real.

The only blight on Vika’s lavish new life is the constant presence of Sky Foster, a mysterious young man from Vika’s past who works for her benefactors. She doesn’t like or trust Sky, but when she narrowly escapes an explosion and realizes someone is targeting the will’s heirs, Vika knows Sky is the only one who can help her discover the identity of the bomber before she becomes their next victim. As Vika and Sky delve into the truth of the attacks, they uncover a web of secrets, murder, and an underground rebellion who may hold the answers they’ve been looking for. But Sky isn’t who he seems to be, and Vika may not escape this new life unscathed.” (Goodreads)

There is a lot I wish I could say about this one but sadly it just didn’t click for me. I at least still like the cover!

The book is told in third-person but it mainly follows Vika Hale. I can’t say that I liked her much. She was very bratty and called others out for their infatuation with money but quickly became elitist it seemed when circumstances changed in her favor. I thought she was rude to one character in particular and didn’t really make sense as to why. It’s not like he ever did anything to her to warrant it. The other characters were okay but none felt like they really had any development.

The one good thing about this book is that it is very easy to read and is not bogged down but an extravagant plot in space. There is no info dumping or anything to be aware of. Personally, I needed more from the characters, the plot, and the world-building. It felt too simplistic for my taste and left something to be desired. It also felt very slow in the beginning as well which usually is a turn off for me. I was hoping it would pick up a bit and it does but still not enough for me to love it.

Overall, it was okay. I did need more from it and that’s sadly why I didn’t love it.

Arc Review: No Way Home by Jody Feldman

Title: No Way Home
Author: Jody Feldman
Genre: YA Mystery / Thriller
Publication Date: August 2nd, 2022
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Rating:

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for a complimentary earc to review! All opinions are my own.

“Tess Alessandro is living a dream: she was selected for an incredible summer exchange program in Rome, where she’ll take in the beautiful sights and sounds and tastes of Italy. Her Italian counterpart, Sofia, will stay with Tess’s family while she’s away. Sure, her host parents barely speak English, but they seem cool enough.

Until one night, when Tess discovers them on a video chat with their daughter, who is brandishing a knife over Tess’s sleeping parents. They tell Tess she needs to do exactly as they tell her, or her parents will die. Without her passport, credit cards or phone, Tess is forced to commit a series of crimes that add up to a shocking plan…and unless she finds a way to outwit these criminals, she—and her parents—will end up dead.” (Goodreads)

I was looking forward to this one since the blurb sounded really interesting and nothing like I have read before. Although it had the unique aspect going for it, I just didn’t like anything about it. It felt very rushed and I didn’t find myself connecting with the characters.

The book is told from one point-of-view and it comes from Tess. She is on her way to Rome for a summer exchange program. I didn’t really care either way what happened to her or her family. It felt so out there and the writing style just wasn’t for me either. So with those two things, it was just hard to connect to anything in the book.

I’m not even sure what else to say about it, lol. I guess I will just leave it at that!

Arc Review: The Fixer Upper by Lauren Forsythe

Title: The Fixer Upper
Author: Lauren Forsythe
Genre: Adult Contemporary / Romance
Publication Date: August 2nd, 2022
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Rating: ⭐⭐

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for a complimentary earc to review! All opinions are my own.

“Ever since she can remember, Aly has been fixing everything around her: her parents’ marriage, her colleagues’ work problems, and her friends’ love lives. After a chance meeting with an ex who has gone from a living in his parents’ basement to a married project manager in three years, she realizes she’s been fixing her boyfriends, too…

So, Aly decides to put her talents to good use and, alongside two work friends, sets up The Fixer Upper, an exclusive, underground service for women who are tired of unpaid emotional labor. Using little tricks and tips, Aly and her friends get the men to do the work themselves – to get out of the job they hate, sign up for that growth seminar, to do more parenting. Before long, a high-profile Instagram star hires them to fix-up her app developer boyfriend. There’s just one catch – he’s also Aly’s childhood best friend and first love. As Aly tackles her biggest “fixer upper” yet, she’ll have to come to terms with their complicated history and figure out how much to change someone she’d always thought was perfect as he is…” (Goodreads)

I was excited to have finally picked this one up. The blurb sounded like a funny rom-com and I have been in the mood for that. Sadly, this one just didn’t work out for me as I had hoped. It was more or less about the character growing and not really all that much about romance.

The book is told from one perspective and it comes from Aly. Each boyfriend she has left has moved on to become successful. Her friends from work have this idea to change the world through her gift and come up with a business. Obviously things don’t go as planned and issues arise when they take on their biggest client.

I honestly felt nothing for the characters besides maybe annoyance every now and again. Although Aly grows and understands that maybe she needs to put the same effort into her own life as she wants for others, but she just goes about it so wrong and kind of screws people over in the process. I also felt like their meddling was quickly forgiven or just pushed to the side when concerns arose. It just didn’t sit well for me.

I guess you could say there is a hint of romance since there is a love interest but again, the way it went about was just off since he was seeing someone else. Nothing exclusively happened between him and Aly but emotionally there was some investment.

The book did have it’s moments with being humorous but sadly it couldn’t save the book for me.

Overall, this was an okay read. It wasn’t for me but I am sure it will find its people that enjoy it more than me.

Book Review: All Downhill With You by Julie Olivia

Title: All Downhill With You
Author: Julie Olivia
Genre: Adult Contemporary / Romance
Publication Date: May 26th, 2022
Publisher: Self Published / Kindle Unlimited
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

“The moment we meet, it’s all downhill.

My job is providing happiness and smiles at Honeywood Fun Park, and Emory Dawson is the frown our park didn’t ask for.

When our star roller coaster malfunctions with me on board, the manufacturer’s heir and lead engineer, Emory, vows to renovate the attraction. So instead of having a fun summer season as Marketing Manager for Honeywood, I’m now saddled with playing host.

Wonderful.

Emory is the opposite of a good time. He’s the grump that won’t stop grumping, and our arguments escalate quicker than my heart rate after a roller coaster’s fall.

He knows I can see right through his broody gaze and big ideas. Repairing the coaster? More like overhauling his own company’s reputation, regardless of whether it helps our local theme park.

But when our firm handshakes start lingering too long, or when his muscled thighs rest against mine under the table, I’m thrown for a loop.

Most roller coasters are fun, but I’d like to get off this emotional one, please.” (Goodreads)

I don’t usually find books on Kindle Unlimited that I like so props to this one for getting my attention and keeping it throughout!

The book is told from two point-of-views and they come from Lorelei and Emory. They definitely start off on the wrong foot since one is suing the other and working together isn’t always rainbow and sunshine. I liked the banter between and the sudden urge to get closer to one another. Nothing like the heat of an argument bring people together! Their love for rollercoasters is shown throughout the book and we get a sense of who they are through their interactions with family as well.

Their are plenty of side characters too! I did like Lorelei’s friend group and reminded me of others I have read before. They are also some of her coworkers so we see two different relationships from them. I like that they push her and also want to get the juicy gossip about Emory. Who wouldn’t?

The setting was a fun one and mostly takes place at an amusement park. It isn’t a busy one and Emory definitely makes his feelings clear that it is rundown, but Lorelei loves the park and will do anything to keep it around. I have only read one another book with this setting and it’s a setting that I keep enjoying.

I would say that as the relationship matures it becomes one of my least favorite things. It starts off slow but then moves rather quickly into the hanky panky. I do get why it happens as it also adds more drama into the plot but it’s just not my thing. I know others will find enjoyment out of it so don’t let this part sway you!

Overall, this was cute and I did like reading it. It does say that it’s the first in the series so I am looking forward to getting to know other characters better.