Arc Review: Dial A for Aunites by Jesse Q. Sutanto

Title: Dial A for Aunties
Author: Jesse Q. Sutanto
Genre: Adult Contemporary / Romance / Mystery
Publication Date: April 27th, 2021
Publisher: Berkley

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for an earc to read in exchange for a review!

“A hilariously quirky novel that is equal parts murder mystery, rom-com, and a celebration of mothers and daughters as well as a deep dive into Chinese-Indonesian culture, by debut author Jesse Q. Sutanto.

1 (accidental) murder
2 thousand wedding guests
3 (maybe) cursed generations
4 meddling Asian aunties to the rescue!

When Meddelin Chan ends up accidentally killing her blind date, her meddlesome mother calls for her even more meddlesome aunties to help get rid of the body. Unfortunately, a dead body proves to be a lot more challenging to dispose of than one might anticipate, especially when it is accidentally shipped in a cake cooler to the over-the-top billionaire wedding Meddy, her Ma, and aunties are working, at an island resort on the California coastline. It’s the biggest job yet for their family wedding business—“Don’t leave your big day to chance, leave it to the Chans!”—and nothing, not even an unsavory corpse, will get in the way of her auntie’s perfect buttercream cake flowers.

But things go from inconvenient to downright torturous when Meddy’s great college love—and biggest heartbreak—makes a surprise appearance amid the wedding chaos. Is it possible to escape murder charges, charm her ex back into her life, and pull off a stunning wedding all in one weekend?” (Goodreads)

This book was definitely the most unique rom-com I have ever read by far.

Meddelin Chan has grown up knowing about a curse that ultimately leaves the women in her family menless. She stays close to home unlike her cousins and remains close to her family, which includes her aunts and her mother, and helps with their wedding business as a photographer.

The family in this book is one that I really liked. They were always there for her even if that means concealing a dead body, ha. Just like any other family, they also meddle especially her mom who tries to find her a husband. All of this played into the plot well and made for some funny moments. I also liked the author’s note about how the character’s resemble her family in ways.

I did mention funny moments and although I laughed a bit, there were also times that should have been funny but they just weren’t for me and I am sure this is just because of my own preference on what I find funny. My sense of humor is kind of bland and I do think other readers will like the quirkiness of the story more than me. But it’s not like I didn’t like it overall. I’m complicated. 🤷‍♀️😂

The romance is one that involves a second chance at love with the one who got away. There is a bit of development for it as there are past-tense chapters to explain what happened between them and why it didn’t work the first time. There isn’t too much development in the present-tense but I think this is due to the other plot points which I didn’t mind.

Overall, I liked this one and am looking forward to more books by this author.

DNF Review: The Roommate by Rosie Danan

Title: The Roommate
Author: Rosie Danan
Genre: Adult Contemporary / Romance
Publication Date: September 15th, 2020
Publisher: Berkley
Rating: DNF

House Rules:
Do your own dishes.
Knock before entering the bathroom.
Never look up your roommate online.

The Wheatons are infamous among the east coast elite for their lack of impulse control, except for their daughter Clara. She’s the consummate socialite: over-achieving, well-mannered, predictable. But every Wheaton has their weakness. When Clara’s childhood crush invites her to move cross-country, the offer is too much to resist. Unfortunately, it’s also too good to be true.

After a bait-and-switch, Clara finds herself sharing a lease with a charming stranger. Josh might be a bit too perceptive—not to mention handsome—for comfort, but there’s a good chance he and Clara could have survived sharing a summer sublet if she hadn’t looked him up on the Internet…

Once she learns how Josh has made a name for himself, Clara realizes living with him might make her the Wheaton’s most scandalous story yet. His professional prowess inspires her to take tackling the stigma against female desire into her own hands. They may not agree on much, but Josh and Clara both believe women deserve better sex. What they decide to do about it will change both of their lives, and if they’re lucky, they’ll help everyone else get lucky too.” (Goodreads)

This review will contain spoilers since it was a dnf and there are specific reasons as to why I didn’t like this one.

I read this as a buddy read with a friend from bookstagram and even though she reads steamier books than I do, we agreed that this book just didn’t work for the same reasons. We have been two for two with sharing the same opinions!

Obviously if you know me, I don’t like steamy books. Call me a prude. I do! But, it’s just not what interests me. I want to see the relationship blossom and give me all the giddy feelings. If you like steam, that’s fine. I’m not knocking on anyone’s likes. The problem with this one is that there was no connection before it all started happening. They were still feeling each other out as roommates and all of a sudden it was just, “Let’s get to it!”.

The guys in this book are also one dimensional. They can be dillweeds for the most part and just didn’t have me feeling any way towards them besides yuck.

Another reason for not liking this book was that the main guy lead, Josh, is a porn star. If you are into that, cool. For me as a reader, I just don’t see how the relationship can work out especially if that is the only thing he has going for him. Clara also learns about his job through her aunt which is kind of weird.

The one thing I did like was that Clara was finding out who she was when she leaves her family behind and moves to a different state. She may have had the wrong ideas for moving but at least she was making a name for herself.

Overall, I am just not the right reader for this book. It did sound interesting but it was more about everything else than it was at them being roommates and it felt that it was just steamy and everything else was just thrown in around that.

Arc Review: Southern Sun, Northern Star (Glass Alliance #3) by Joanna Hathaway

Title: Southern Sun, Northern Star (Glass Alliance #3)
Author: Joanna Hathaway
Genre: YA Fantasy / Historical Fiction
Publication Date: April 20th, 2021
Publisher: Tor Teen
Rating: 5 Stars

Thank you so much to the publisher and netgalley for an earc to read in exchange for a review!

Battles, revolution, and romance collide in Joanna Hathaway’s stunning, World Wars-inspired Southern Sun, Northern Star

Reeling from the tragedy that beset her family, Princess Aurelia has joined the resistance in Havenspur, spying on the Northern leaders who were once her allies and determined to stop her uncle’s machinations for war. Meanwhile, her beloved pilot Athan leads his squadron into battle as the Safire wage a losing war abroad and combat growing unrest back home.

When Athan is sent on leave to Havenspur following the death of a comrade, the pair reunite and rekindle their romance until Aurelia uncovers one of Athan’s secrets, a secret that could save countless lives. But exposing it to the right people will cost her Athan’s trust, and this time, their shared memories of love might not be enough to stop the fateful path of destruction that threatens all they’ve fought to defend.

As history unfolds around them, every move they make drives them one step closer to either recreating their parents’ shadowed past or redeeming the alliance that could bring peace.

The breathtaking finale to a legendary series. Part war drama, part romance, Southern Sun, Northern Star is the epic conclusion to the Glass Alliance series.” (Goodreads)

I am not even sure where to start with this review. I have many thoughts and I went through a whirlwind of feelings but I will do my best to type it out and hopefully it makes sense.

In the beginning, there is a prologue and I wasn’t sure how it fit into it all but it does show us the tragedy of war and that is quite fitting for this entire book.

As with the other books, there are two point-of-views: Athan and Aurelia. There is also a surprise one (besides the prologue) that is found much later in the book. I enjoyed being back in Athan’s and Aurelia’s mind. This time it was much different as war has really changed them both, especially Aurelia.

Aurelia aka Ali has seen and been through a lot through the course of the books. I have felt for her so many times but it was hard at times to like her in this one. She did a lot of things that didn’t fit who she was but it also made sense as war changes everyone. She had good intentions, but sometimes good intentions lead to bad results.

Athan is the same old pilot we know and love. He is out there doing his job and I loved reading about the plane fight scenes even if they were brutal at times. Thinking about it now, I would say that he has grown and in a good way. As with Aurelia, he wanted what was best for his people. He did have good intentions as well and again, some led to bad results. It’s easy to see the similarities between them, but at the same time he knew where his loyalty was. I couldn’t always say the same for Aurelia.

The romance between them wasn’t as big as the other two books but it worked well for the plot as it focuses more on their jobs and being away from each other. Aurelia doesn’t always make it easy on Athan to love her but he still sticks by her no matter what. I will say that he is very dedicated because I definitely wouldn’t have been so understanding in a few of the situations. I still can’t deny their love though. It’s one of my favorites.

With war comes violence and tragic losses. I’m trying not to cry just writing this out, ha. I was worried who would head to the grave and I definitely felt the losses. I cried for one and it wasn’t even for the one I was most upset about! This is a very brutal book and it will tug at your heartstrings.

When it came to the pacing, there was a few slow moments but it wasn’t hard to continue on because I needed to know what would happen next.

The ending was not what I expected and had me in tears. Don’t worry it was for a good reason!

Overall, I loved this book! It’s hard to put into words what I feel for it. As the finale for a trilogy, it’s hard to say goodbye to the characters and the journey they have taken to get here. I have loved each book dearly. I know these books will remain on my shelf for many, many years and I also know I will revisit them one day down the road.

Book Review: Tin (Fairies of Oz #1) by Candace Robinson and Amber R. Duell

Title: Tin (Fairies of Oz #1)
Authors: Candace Robinson and Amber R. Duell
Genre: Adult Fantasy / Romance / Retelling
Publication Date: December 9th, 2020
Publisher: Indie Published
Rating: 2 Stars

(Found on Kindle Unlimited)

“Tin is the most famous fae in Oz for all the wrong reasons. Cursed with a stone heart, he is the perfect assassin: ruthless, efficient, and merciless with thousands of kills to his name. When his old friend, Lion, offers him a small fortune to deliver Dorothy to the South for his lover to wear the girl’s head as her own, Tin doesn’t hesitate to accept the unsavory deal.

Dorothy Gale lost everything—her family to illness, her dog to age, and now her farm to foreclosure. The entire town thought she was crazy for believing in a faerie world called Oz, but even after ten years have passed, she can’t help knowing she was right. So when an emerald green portal opens in her wheat field, she jumps at the opportunity to return to the only place she ever felt like she belonged.

Tin wasn’t expecting a grown woman to step through the portal, just as Dorothy wasn’t expecting Tin to have his stone heart back, but Oz holds more unexpected things than either could have imagined. Magic has hidden dangerous lies behind glamour, trapped innocents in curses, and left the land of Oz in turmoil—none more so than the South. As Tin and Dorothy travel together for the second time in a decade, their lives begin to make sense again. Soon, they must decide who to give their loyalties to before Lion takes Dorothy’s head and Tin’s cursed heart is forever doomed.” (Goodreads)

I haven’t been doing much with my Kindle Unlimited TBR and I really need to get on it!

This was a book I added last year for the main reason that it involved fae/fairies. Stories about them always sound so intriguing. I just can’t help myself. Sadly, this one fell short in a lot of ways but it was at least an interesting take on the classic The Wizard of Oz.

The book is split into two point-of-views: Dorothy and Tin. The first chapter comes from Tin’s perspective and we are drawn into this crazy world that isn’t anything like the classic as it is much darker. Dorothy’s friends aren’t who she left behind and they definitely have their own agendas.

Even though I was intrigued by the beginning, the rest of the book just didn’t grasp my attention. There is romance blooming between Tin and Dorothy but it just didn’t work for me and needed more development. This could be due to the fact that the book is very short in the first place. It doesn’t leave much development for anything. Another reason why I never felt for the characters either.

There are some interesting plot twists here and there but it still just wasn’t enough.

Overall, this was okay. It is a unique retelling and I am sure others will like but I am just not the right reader for it.

E-Arc Review: The Kindred Spirits Supper Club by Amy E. Reichert

Title: The Kindred Spirits Supper Club
Author: Amy E. Reichert
Genre: Adult Contemporary / Romance / Paranormal
Publication Date: April 20th, 2021
Publisher: Berkley
Rating: 3 stars

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for an earc to read in exchange for a review!

“Jobless and forced home to Wisconsin, journalist Sabrina Monroe can tolerate reunions with frenemies and kisses from old boyfriends, but not the literal ghosts that greet her in this heartwarming tale of the power of love and connection from acclaimed author Amy E. Reichert.

For Sabrina Monroe, moving back home to the Wisconsin Dells–the self-described Waterpark Capital of the World–means returning to the Monroe family curse: the women in her family can see spirits who come to them for help with unfinished business. But Sabrina’s always redirected the needy spirits to her mom, who’s much better suited for the job. The one exception has always been Molly, a bubbly rom-com loving ghost, who stuck by Sabrina’s side all through her lonely childhood.

Her personal life starts looking up when Ray, the new local restaurateur, invites Sabrina to his supper club, where he flirts with her over his famous Brandy Old-Fashioneds. He’s charming and handsome, but Sabrina tells herself she doesn’t have time for romance–she needs to focus on finding a job. Except the longer she’s in the Dells, the harder it is to resist her feelings for Ray. Who can turn down a cute guy with a fondness for rescue dogs and an obsession with perfecting his fried cheese curds recipe?

When the Dells starts to feel like home for the first time and with Ray in her corner, Sabrina begins to realize that she can make a difference and help others wherever she is.” (Goodreads)

What drew me to this book was the setting. As a girl who grew up in Minnesota, I remember driving to The Dells for some family time usually during fall break. I’ve even rode on the ducks before which is also referenced in the book. It was fun and brought back memories. There is also mentions of cheese curds and I am a sucker for those!

As far as uniqueness goes, this book has it! I’ve never read a romance where there is paranormal added for more flare. It was interesting and I liked getting to know the main ghost, Molly.

Sabrina Monroe is a little down in her dumps and it doesn’t get much better when she has to deal with people from her past. She even has to work for one of the worst ones. It’s easy to understand her feelings because a lot of the things she had to deal with would be too much for anyone. Even though I understood most of her actions, I still didn’t fully connect with her but it didn’t stop me from liking what I read.

When it comes to the romance, I thought it was cute at first. Ray wanted to get her attention so badly and he would do anything for it, especially agree to be her fake boyfriend. To be honest, I didn’t think the plot needed that and it just came off as too much since it didn’t play a really huge role. I did however like that he was always there for her in her times of need, especially after a hard day. Although, sometimes she would get mad at him for the smallest things and it kind of irked me.

I did like a lot of the plot but at times it felt too full and then would get really dramatic real fast. It just wasn’t always my cup of tea.

Overall, I liked this one for the most part. I would still recommend it if you are looking for a lighter romance with quirky vibes.

Arc Review: Pastel Pink (Zadok #1) by Nikki Minty

Title: Pastel Pink (Zadok #1)
Author: Nikki Minty
Genre: YA Fantasy / Sci-fi
Publication Date: April 15th, 2021
Publisher: Self-Published
Rating: 2 stars

Thank you to BooksGoSocial and Netgalley for an earc to read in exchange for a review!

“From one ending comes a new beginning…
Ruby was murdered on Earth eighteen years ago and reincarnated on Zadok as a Pastel Zeek named Harlow. To be born at the bottom of her race’s caste colour system to a middle-class family of Magentas has made Harlow a source of conflict amongst the ruling Purples, and a source of derision from all three colours.
When Harlow is attacked by a fuegor on Zadok, the effects of its slow reacting venom triggers an unforeseen phenomenon, and due to the strong connection she had with her former twin sister Jade, her human spirit is unexpectedly drawn back to Earth.
Now living a double life, she has plunged into a world of intrigue on both planets.

On earth, she watches on in horror as Jade reconnects with Lucas, the man who murdered her and got away with it. And to complicate things further, she’s being pursued by Alex, the ghost of Lucas’ twin. On Zadok, she becomes embroiled with Jax, the son of the Commanding family. He’s determined to bring about change to the colony’s colour system, but it’ll come at a cost.

As Harlow mixes with the political intrigue of the Zeeks, will she become a victim of those trying to rigidly maintain the status quo or will she usher in a revolution?
And will ghost Ruby resist the temptation of the handsome Alex or pursue an impossible relationship that could have dire consequences on both planets?” (Goodreads)

I always like to try indie books because sometimes they really surprise me and I find new authors to enjoy. I was looking forward to this one after seeing it as a “read now” on Netgalley. Plus, the cover is just so pretty! I really like the colors and it’s eye-catching.

For the first 18%, I was enjoying what I was reading. The writing was good and there were different plot points that kept me engaged. Nothing really stood out to me until the colors of the characters skins became more of an issue and different distinctions shot up red flags.

I did run these things by others to make sure I wasn’t jumping to conclusions and others saw the same issues I did. As someone mentioned, this could have not been beta read and since the author is from Australia that may also be a reason. I’m not sure but let’s just get into the discussion.

In the second chapter, we are introduced to Harlow who is a Pastel. In her region of the planet there is a construct for the different colors of skin. The top is Purple, middle is Magenta, and Pastel is at the bottom. Each one has a different job/task based on their color. Pastels are seen as weak and useless. Sometimes they are born blind or lose their sight.

Again nothing occurred to me until a Purple, the commander’s son, started talking about how these people shouldn’t be segregated as right now they are separated by the different colors. He wants to change it while others, his mother included, do not want to. This just seemed oddly similar to our own history in America. Another thing that added to this point is when there is a comic and words in illustrations that say, “No Pastels Allowed.”.

There was also a passage that talked about how the men wear their hair and that they would have dreadlocks or cornrows. She also made sure to mention that Zavier, a Pastel, had a tangled mess instead of the other two hairstyles. Both of those hairstyles are usually linked to the black community. Later on in the book, the author describes a character of being, “…tall powerful physique of a female basketball player from the human world–only curvier, sexier.” Before that she mentioned that this character has muscular thighs. If I remember correctly, this character was a Purple so she was at the top.

On this planet there are also other groups of people living, one being the vallon. They are described as having red skin. A few passages about them did remind me of Native Americans. One of those reasonings being the color of their skin and they are also mentioned as riding horses, raiding colonies, and stealing young pastel girls. They also come from the desert and Harlow described them as being jealous of her colony having all the best resources.

There are other passages that made me feel uneasy about the chosen color system for these characters but I don’t want this review to be too long. I will say that at least there was talk about being one race and wanting unity but it still left a bad taste. I’m just not sure what the intentions behind it all were.

As for the rest of the book, I did like the writing. There is violence in this book and it does start off with it. It’s definitely what kept me interested in reading. The two timelines come from Harlow and her as Ruby’s ghost. There is also two point-of-views. All of this can be overwhelming at times as it doesn’t leave too much room for explaining the world-building better as we are thrown from one place to the next.

When it came to the world-building, I was a bit confused. On the planet that Harlow lives there is modern conveniences like a hospital and café but they also do jobs as hunters and gatherers. They even trade for supplies. They also don’t live in modern homes as their dwelling place is in caverns. I’m not really sure exactly how all of this goes together and I just had a really hard time trying to imagine it all in my head.

Another thing about the world-building is that animals, or monsters as I’m not sure, were never described and neither was some of the different words used by the people. One phrase being, “…the deeper the pigment, the bigger the whingers.” This was used to describe those complaining at the café. This could also be seen as another point to the above when it comes to race.

The only other thing I want to mention is the character of Alex. I liked him at the beginning but by the end I hated him. He was literally giving his brother a free pass when it came to murder and wanting to murder other people because of his childhood. It just wasn’t good.

Overall, this started out strong but quickly took a turn that left me feeling uncomfortable with the color system of this book. Although there were a few interesting plot points, I can’t say that I would recommend this book or that I will be continuing on with this series.

Audiobook Review: Nyxia Unleashed (The Nyxia Triad #2) by Scott Reintgen

Title: Nyxia Unleashed (The Nyxia Triad #2)
Author: Scott Reintgen
Genre: YA Sci-fi
Publication Date: July 17th, 2018
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
Rating: 3.5 stars

Getting to Eden brought Emmett and his crewmates one step closer to their promised fortune. But surviving Eden may be the biggest reward of all.

Emmett Atwater thought Babel’s game sounded easy. Get points. Get paid. Go home. But it didn’t take long for him to learn that Babel’s competition was full of broken promises, none darker or more damaging than the last one.

Now Emmett and the rest of the Genesis survivors must rally and forge their own path through a new world. Their mission from Babel is simple: extract nyxia, the most valuable material in the universe, and play nice with the indigenous Adamite population.

But Emmett and the others quickly realize they are caught between two powerful forces—Babel and the Adamites—with clashing desires. Will the Genesis team make it out alive before it’s too late?” (Goodreads)

After liking the first book (although not a lot), I decided to continue on to the second as the cliffhanger of the last chapter had me intrigued about the continuation of the plot. As I mentioned previously in my review for the first, there isn’t anything groundbreaking about the plot when it comes to YA Sci-fi. I feel like its very surface level and even though the plot twists can be a bit shocking, everything else still remains quite average.

The sequel begins where the first book leaves off. Emmett is caught between a rock and a hard place due to the last situation he found himself in but he is still holding on to the promises of Babel.

I still haven’t fully connected to any of the characters but do understand the struggles of their family life or even what is to come. There is a lot of danger and they are risking a lot. There is a couple relationships that have formed but honestly, there isn’t much development to them so it’s hard to feel anything for it.

The setting is different as they are no longer on a ship but now they are on the planet. It was interesting to see the interactions between the teens and those born on the planet. There is information shared about the Adamite population here and there but I feel like there could have been more. Since it is also the planet where Babel mines the Nyxia I wish there would have been more information about it too. There has been talk about it’s abilities but not enough to ever fully grasp what it is exactly. It can be dangerous though and does cause an issue for the teen group.

There is always a lot of talk surrounding Babel and what their motives are. It’s not that I don’t care about their hidden agenda but the company just feels like so many others in sci-fi writing. It’s hard to be intrigued by it. I do like that they include a different point-of-view other than Emmett to help explain things a bit more.

Overall, it was good and a tad bit better than the first. It may sound like it’s not my thing but it isn’t bad, haha.

Book Review: Tiger Unbound by Evangeline Rain

Title: Tiger Unbound
Author: Evangeline Rain
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction / Romance
Publication Date: June 13th, 2020
Publisher: Indie Published
Rating: 2 stars

(Found on Kindle Unlimited)

“An action-packed romance set in ancient China.

The Zhao Kingdom was about to be invaded by the approaching army of the Wei Kingdom.

Rather than suffer the insult of a defeat, the King of Zhao chose to hang himself. Princess Zhao Xuan woke up to find that she was the only one left out of her family’s suicide plans. Refusing to abandon her people, the headstrong princess decided to pick up the mantle and meet Prince Wei Xing in the battlefield.

A duel for the fate of her kingdom.

An unexpected proposal.

A strained marriage to the prince of the enemy kingdom.

Could love help the unconventional princess survive the oppressive social structures which she had rebelled against her whole life?

Warning: This book depicts scenes of suicide and violence.” (Goodreads)

I saw the cover on Kindle Unlimited and immediately added it to my tbr. The blurb also had my attention too.

When I started reading it, it reminded me of Mulan and how she became a soldier. Xuan does it for different reasons but still resembles Mulan in the way she carries herself and what she likes to do.

Even though this had the makings for a great story, it fell short for a couple reasons.

The first reason it fell short was that the romance and start of the relationship happens very quickly. There is not enough time to get to know Xuan or the prince. He also seems too good to be true and I just didn’t like him that much.

The second reason is that the plot moves so quickly because it is a short book. I wish the author would have made the book longer so that there would have been more from the characters, romance, and world-building.

Overall, it was okay. I just needed more from it.

Audiobook Review: Nyxia (The Nyxia Triad #1) by Scott Reintgen

Title: Nyxia (The Nyxia Triad #2)
Author: Scott Reintgen
Genre: YA Sci-fi
Publication Date: September 12th, 2017
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
Rating: 3 stars

“What would you be willing to risk for a lifetime of fortune?

Emmett Atwater isn’t just leaving Detroit; he’s leaving Earth. Why the Babel Corporation recruited him is a mystery, but the number of zeroes on their contract has him boarding their lightship and hoping to return to Earth with enough money to take care of his family.


Before long, Emmett discovers that he is one of ten recruits, all of whom have troubled pasts and are a long way from home. Now each recruit must earn the right to travel down to the planet of Eden—a planet that Babel has kept hidden—where they will mine a substance called Nyxia that has quietly become the most valuable material in the universe.

But Babel’s ship is full of secrets. And Emmett will face the ultimate choice: win the fortune at any cost, or find a way to fight that won’t forever compromise what it means to be human.” (Goodreads)

I haven’t read a sci-fi book in awhile and since this trilogy has been on my shelf for quite some time and the library had the audiobook readily available, I figured why not!

I have only read one other book by this author and it was a middle grade so I can’t really say much other than I do like his writing regardless of age catergory.

This isn’t a groundbreaking sci-fi that brings new elements to the table but it did have its good moments that kept me from being bored as I listened, Although, it did take a bit to actually get through the audiobook, haha. Not really the fault of the book but just me not wanting to listen to anything.

The book starts off with us being introduced to Emmett. There is a bit of backstory for him and as the plot continues more comes up about it as well as Babel who is in charge of the venture into space. Emmett comes from a poor family and his mother has cancer. It is one reason he is doing this competition so that she can have the best healthcare as well as money for their needs. It’s very admiring to want to do something so risky for others.

Not only does Emmett come from a tragic background, so does the other contestants. Each one either has a family member with cancer or come from a family with nothing. It sets up the stage for them all wanting to win no matter what the cost is. Some will really do anything to stay in.

My favorite character has to be Bilal. He is so nice and genuine about his actions. I love that he doesn’t let the competition go to his head and even forgives when I know I wouldn’t have.

Some similarities I have notices is the use of Babel or Eden in different sci-fi/dystopian books. I did see a question answered in why the author chose to use them and it brought more clarity and it also made me think a bit more as he said there is also the topic of mercy found within the book. Which there is a lot of examples for that, especially from Emmett.

The competition between the characters can be cutthroat and dangerous. There are instances were some of them get hurt quite badly and at times it does go into detail about the injuries they suffered. It’s not too graphic but it is there.

I can’t say I was blown away by the action in the book as it felt few and far between but does pick up more by the end. The ending is pretty intense and has me left with a lot of questions and wanting answers about Babel and even some of the other contestants. It’s hard to really know who to trust.

Overall, I did like this one even if it felt like other ya sci-fi books. The mystery of Babel and the planet they are leaving to still have me curious enough to continue on with book two. Hopefully things will pick up a bit.

Arc Review: The Prison Healer by Lynette Noni

Title: The Prison Healer
Author: Lynette Noni
Genre: YA Fantasy / Dark
Publication Date: April 13th, 2021
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for an earc to read in exchange for a review.

“Seventeen-year-old Kiva Meridan has spent the last ten years fighting for survival in the notorious death prison, Zalindov, working as the prison healer.

When the Rebel Queen is captured, Kiva is charged with keeping the terminally ill woman alive long enough for her to undergo the Trial by Ordeal: a series of elemental challenges against the torments of air, fire, water, and earth, assigned to only the most dangerous of criminals.

Then a coded message from Kiva’s family arrives, containing a single order: “Don’t let her die. We are coming.” Aware that the Trials will kill the sickly queen, Kiva risks her own life to volunteer in her place. If she succeeds, both she and the queen will be granted their freedom.

But no one has ever survived.

With an incurable plague sweeping Zalindov, a mysterious new inmate fighting for Kiva’s heart, and a prison rebellion brewing, Kiva can’t escape the terrible feeling that her trials have only just begun.” (Goodreads)

I had to sit on my feelings for awhile before writing this review.

There were a few things I liked about this book, but there were also many things that didn’t sit well with me. I have read dark fantasy before but this had so many triggers that honestly it left me not wanting to read it which made the book take longer to get through. Triggers contained in this book are Self-Harm, Child Abuse, Rape/Sexual Assault, Drug Abuse, and a good dose of violence.

Some of the triggers listed above are either quickly mentioned (self-harm/child abuse) or are continuous (rape/sexual assault being one). I feel like there was just too much going on with most of the triggers being there for shock value as some are just glossed over. I just don’t see the point in adding such topics if they aren’t going to be used in a meaningful way. If that makes sense.

Now, I have read fantasy before with hard topics but there was always light moments of laughter or cute romantic scenes to help break up the bad. If you are looking for that in here, keep looking.

Some may find the romance to be to their liking but there really isn’t much going on with it until way later into the book. There also isn’t too many scenes between them besides him being concerned for her. I still felt nothing. I liked the guy in the beginning but from other comments about this book, I just expected more from it.

As for the characters, it’s easy to feel bad for them. This setting is harsh. Kiva has lived in the prison for ten years. It’s definitely not a place I would want to be. Besides feeling bad, it was hard to connect with her in any other way or any of the other characters. I just felt the development for them lacked because there is a lot of hidden identities. Because of that, you don’t get to know the real them.

When it comes to the setting, you can see parallels from our own prison system. You can also see parallels to Auschwitz. I had seen a couple comments about it and went in trying to see if there were similarities. I then went to my husband and gave him phrases from the book (without telling him they were in a book) and he automatically thought if Nazis. I’m still thinking about how I feel about this so do with the information as you will.

The plot is filled with a lot of tropes and it can make the book very average. If I didn’t figure out the plot twist, I wasn’t surprised by it. The magic system is hardly talked about or even used. I didn’t learn much about the rebels until later on.At times the book is predictable and the pacing can be slow, especially the beginning.

I did like the writing style. I liked the past tense scenes to help tie everything in. There were times I did like the characters, especially Naari. The ending was pretty interesting and kind of makes me want to pick up the next book but honestly who knows if I will. I’m still deciding. The overall problem is that there was just too much bogging all of these things down.

Overall, it was okay. Maybe I am not the right reader for this book. I can’t say I would recommend this book due to all the triggers.