Arc Review: We Were Kings by Court Stevens

Title: We Were Kings
Author: Court Stevens
Genre: YA Contemporary / Mystery / Thriller
Publication Date: February 1st, 2022
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

“Twenty years ago, eighteen-year-old Francis Quick was convicted of murdering her best friend Cora King and sentenced to death. Now the highly debated Accelerated Death Penalty Act passes and gives Frankie thirty final days to live. From the Kings’ own family rises up the one who will challenge the woefully inadequate evidence and potential innocence of Francis Quick.

The at-first reluctant and soon-fiery Nyla and her sidekick (and handsome country island boy), Sam Stack, bring Frankie’s case to the international stage through her YouTube channel Death Daze. They step into fame and a hometown battle that someone’s still willing to kill over. The senator? The philanthropist? The pawn shop owner? Nyla’s own mother?

Best advice: Don’t go to family dinner with the Kings. More people will leave the dining room in body bags than on their own two feet. And as for Francis Quick, she’s a gem . . . even if she’s guilty.” (Goodreads)

It’s been a minute since I’ve been invested in a YA Mystery / Thriller as much as I was when it came to this book right here! Seriously, it was so good and when I wasn’t reading about it I was thinking about it. I mean, I did finish this in one day and probably two sittings within that day. If I could wipe my brain and read this book again, I would.

The book is told from one perspective and it comes from Nyla Wagner. She is aware of the murder of Cora King as her mom visits Frankie Quick, the one found guilty of it, in prison for the past twenty years but doesn’t realize how close it actually hits. I liked Nyla and that no matter the danger she was ready to defend Frankie more than anyone has ever tried to in the past. You could say this is stupid on her part since she gets death threats and so on but she was determined to find evidence and prove her innocent especially because Frankie didn’t have time with the accelerated death penalty act. She did play with fire a lot when it came to the Kings because that family is something else!

I was intrigued by a lot of the other characters as well since it felt like they were all hiding something. This made it easy to question anyone and everyone. There were certain lies that were told by a couple to keep Nyla safe but it goes to show that even good intentions have their consequences. If I had to pick a favorite character besides Nyla, I would go with Cassandra King. She was sassy and didn’t care about starting drama in the family and got a kick out of it, ha.

My only complaint in this entire book would be relationship development between Nyla and Sam. It moved rather quickly from flirting to having feelings for each other in a short amount of time. I do get it though since they are teens. Since it is a smaller part of the book it was easy to overlook and it’s not like I didn’t like them together. It just felt sudden.

When it comes to the plot, I honestly can’t say much! It would give a lot away and this is one of those books where you should go in blind like I did. I was smiling, shocked, and even crying throughout this book. It was a wild roller coaster ride and I wouldn’t have it any other way when it comes to books like this. I will say that it does talk about suicide so just be aware of that if it triggers you in any way. The plot also covers other topics like the death penalty, drug abuse/addiction, and another important one but it would veer into spoiler zone! I liked how these topics were discussed especially the death penalty because it has been a topic in the political world for many years.

The setting was cool for me since a lot of it was in Kentucky and surrounding states that I have been to as well as live near. It’s always fun to pick up a book that mentions actual towns or cities that you know!

Overall, this was a really great read and one that I absolutely enjoyed. It had my heart pumping in anticipation as to what would happen next and if Nyla would have enough time to stop the execution. If you are a fan of YA Mystery/Thrillers I would give this one a try! I don’t think you will be disappointed.


First Lines Friday (10/1/21)

Hello Lovely Readers!

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

“I decided that Orion needed to die after the second time he saved my life. I hadn’t really cared much about him before then one way or another, but I had limits.”


The book is….


Here is another book I read and enjoyed with great lines! So, I am sharing it here with you. I can’t wait to read the sequel after the cliffhanger from this one!

Have you read this book? Do you want to read it?

Find me on Instagram / Goodreads

-Joanna TheGeekishBrunette (1)

Top Ten Tuesday: Books Guaranteed to Put a Smile On Your Face (9/5/21)

Hello Bookworms!

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018.

Today’s prompt is Books Guaranteed to Put a Smile On Your Face. I’m going to assume that I am recommending you all books that would do that from the books that I have read that did it to me! If not, then I don’t know, haha! I’m just going to roll with it and go through my memory to remember some lovely books.

1.) Well Met Series by Jen DeLuca

2.) Moose Springs, Alaska Series by Sarah Morgenthaler

3.) The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

4.) XOXO by Axie Oh

5.) A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow by Laura Taylor McNamey

6.) Glimpsed by G.F. Miller

7.) The Traitor’s Kiss by Erin Beaty

8.) Made in Korea by Sarah Suk

9.) The Marriage Game by Sara Desai

10.) The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams

What’s a book or series has put a smile on your face and you would recommend to others? Any of these on your tbr or that you have read?

Let me know in the comments below!

Find me on Instagram / Goodreads

-Joanna TheGeekishBrunette (1)

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Wish I Could Read Again for the First Time (8/24/21)

Hello Bookworms!

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018.

Today’s prompt is Books I Wish I Could Read Again for the First Time. There are so many books I wish I could read again for the first time and I know that this list will be easy to make! I’m sure it could be longer than ten, haha. I may just include a series because why not!

1.) The Bone Charmer Duology by Breeana Shields
2.) Aurora Cycle trilogy by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman

3.) The Illuminae Files by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman
4.) The Grace Year by Kim Liggett
5.) The Winternight Trilogy by Katherine Arden

6.) House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig
7.) The Poppy War Trilogy by R.F. Kuang
8.) The Caraval Trilogy by Stephanie Garber

9.) The Traitor’s Circle Trilogy by Erin Beauty
10.) The Truly Devious series by Maureen Johnson

What’s a book or series you’d to like read again for the first time? Have you read any of these?

Let me know in the comments below!

Find me on Instagram / Goodreads

-Joanna TheGeekishBrunette (1)

May 2021 Monthly Wrap-Up

Hello Lovely Readers!

Here is another monthly wrap-up! I say this every time but each month goes by so quickly.

Nothing much has been going on besides being busy with errands here and there. Our new car is finally finished and we have our official license plate! It’s been a hot mess to deal with. Besides that, my mom had surgery and is doing well now. They are still working out her medication but at least she is up and moving and the pain has been better. I wish it was easier to visit my family but a 12 hour drive and a husband working third shift isn’t a great mix for a trip. Hopefully with him finishing school next year it will be a lot easier when he has a better job.

I have seen a lot of my husband’s family recently and it helps to see some family even if it isn’t my siblings and parents. My daughter has loved it! We hung out with my mother-in-laws chickens and my daughter had fun chasing them back to their coop when they would get on the porch, lol. I’ll have to get photos next time I’m there.

I am still playing World of Warcraft and a friend of ours has come back since he has more free time now. We’ve known him for like 5 years now and it’s nice to have him on Facebook so we always see what he is up to even if he isn’t playing.

Reading was really good and I managed to get through quite a lot of arcs and have read more than I have in the last couple of months. No complaints here!

This month I managed to read 24 books and listened to 7 audiobooks.

31 books in total!


My favorite book of the month was The Box in the Woods (Truly Devious #4) by Maureen Johnson! I’m so glad she wrote another book with these characters because I love them so much!

My least favorite was the book I dnfed. It was just rather boring and I couldn’t get into it no matter how hard I tried.

  • Fae Captive (Tangled Fae #2) by Sarah K.L. Wilson
  • Fae Nightmare (Tangled Fae #3) by Sarah K.L. Wilson 
  • The Burning God (The Poppy War #3) by R.F. Kuang
  • The Box in the Woods (Truly Devious #4) by Maureen Johnson (arc) 
  • Isn’t It Bromantic? (Bromance Book Club #4) by Lyssa Kay Adams (arc)
  • Sunny Song Will Never Be Famous by Suzanne Park (arc)
  • The Forest of Stolen Girls by June Hur
  • Broken Web (Shamanborn #2) by Lori M. Lee (arc)
  • The Road Trip by Beth O’Leary (arc)
  • Beastly Bones (Jackaby #2) by William Ritter (audiobook) 
  • Battle Royal by Lucky Parker (arc)
  • The Dire King (Jackaby #4) by William Ritter (audiobook)
  • Luck of the Titanic by Stacy Lee (arc)
  • Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones (audiobook) 
  • Tell Me When You Feel Something by Vicki Grant (arc)
  • Red Wolf by Rachel Vincent (arc) 
  • Sisters of the Snake by Sasha Nanua & Sarena Nanua (arc) 3.5 stars
  • Incendiary (Hollow Crown #1) by Zoraida Córdova (audiobook) 3.5 stars
  • Forest of Souls (Shamanborn #1) by Lori M. Lee (reread)
  • Daughter of Sparta by Claire M. Andrews (arc) 
  • Redemptor (Raybearer #2) by Jordan Ifueko (arc)
  • Shipped by Meredith Tate
  • Jackaby (Jackaby #1) by William Ritter (audiobook) 3.5 stars
  • Illusionary (Hollow Crown #2) by Zoraida Córdova
  • Forestborn by Elayne Audrey Becker (arc)
  • Ghostly Echoes (Jackaby #3) by William Ritter (audiobook)
  • The Tragedy of Dane Riley by Kat Spears (arc)
  • Castle in the Air (Howl’s Moving Castle #2) by Diana Wynne Jones (audiobook)
  • You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle 
  • The Endless Skies by Shannon Price (arc)
  • Twice Shy by Sarah Hogle
  • The Emperor’s Blade by Brian Staveley
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How many books did you read in April? Did you have a favorite?

Find me on Instagram / Goodreads

-Joanna TheGeekishBrunette (1)

Arc Review: Cast in Firelight by Dana Swift

Title: Cast in Firelight
Author: Dana Swift
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publication Date: November 17th, 2020
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for an e-copy to review! All opinions are my own.

The first book in an epic, heart-pounding fantasy duology about two royal heirs betrothed to be married, but whose loyalties are torn, and a ruthless enemy who threatens their world, perfect for fans of Sabaa Tahir, Hafsah Faizal, and Renée Ahdieh.

Adraa is the royal heir of Belwar, a talented witch on the cusp of taking her royal ceremony test, and a girl who just wants to prove her worth to her people.

Jatin is the royal heir to Naupure, a competitive wizard who’s mastered all nine colors of magic, and a boy anxious to return home for the first time since he was a child.

Together, their arranged marriage will unite two of Wickery’s most powerful kingdoms. But after years of rivalry from afar, Adraa and Jatin only agree on one thing: their reunion will be anything but sweet.

Only, destiny has other plans and with the criminal underbelly of Belwar suddenly making a move for control, their paths cross…and neither realizes who the other is, adopting separate secret identities instead.

Between dodging deathly spells and keeping their true selves hidden, the pair must learn to put their trust in the other if either is to uncover the real threat. Now Wickery’s fate is in the hands of rivals..? Fiancées..? Partners..? Whatever they are, it’s complicated and bound for greatness or destruction.” (Goodreads)

I’ve been afraid to start this one because I didn’t want the hype to let me down. Plus, the cover is amazing and I want to be able to stare at it’s beauty while it sits on my shelf. It did have it’s rocky moments but the pay off was worth it!

The book has two point-of-views: Adraa and Jatin. We are introduced to them from a young age and of their first encounter. It’s one that is awkward because of the arranged marriage that has been discussed between them. I can only recall one book I have read where it dealt with arranged marriage and it was good but this one was a bit different when it came to the characters feelings.

Adraa is courageous, strong, and doesn’t want anyone to view her as less because of her gender. From the first encounter she had with Jatin I knew I’d like her, haha. It was literally something I would do and can recall doing something similar in elementary school.

Jatin is strong in his powers but I don’t think he tries to show off. He is just genuinely him. This could be because he doesn’t feel like he has to prove anything. Even though he has his own PoV, I don’t think his development was as strong but where as Adraa sees him as cocky, we get to see the softer side of him.

From the beginning, I wasn’t sure where the relationship would go. Will they put their competitive nature aside to get along? Will one of them find someone else and call it off? What actually happened, I was not expecting!


Mistaken identity is a glorious trope and I was here for it. One figures it out more quickly than the other but I’m glad there wasn’t a long and drawn out fight because of it. They realized their feelings outside of the arrangement and found love where they least expected it to be. You could say that the relationship moves rather quickly and Jatin was smitten from the beginning but I still enjoyed it all.

End of Spoilers!

The plot has magic, gods/goddesses, and cage fighting (those were some of my favorite scenes!). Books about goods/goddess always get on my tbr because I love mythology but I am also hesitant to start them because they can be hit or miss. Even though they don’t play a huge role until closer to the end, I liked what we got and I am hoping for more in the next book. The author also does a good job of creating a magic system that is exciting to read about. In ways it reminds me of Avatar: The Last Airbender but some of the people are able to control more than one type.

The pacing can be a bit slow at times but once it ramps up, it’s worth it. The last big cliffhanger had me hooked and I am so ready for the next book. Some of the smaller plot twists were easy to see coming but it didn’t stop me from immersing myself in this book.

Overall, I enjoyed this book! Although it started off a bit slow, this book took me by surprise and the author creates an intriguing world full of magic and a romance you can’t help but swoon over.

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Books of 2020 (12/28/20)

Hello, Lovely Bookworms!

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018.

Today’s prompt is Favorite Books of 2020! I am really excited about this one because if this wasn’t a prompt I was going to do my own post. I can already tell you what my number one is going to be! Besides that one and number two, they are in no particular order!

1.) The Kinder Poison by Natalie Mae

2.) A Sky Beyond the Storm (An Ember in the Ashes #4) by Sabaa Tahir

3.) Mistletoe and Mr. Right (Moose Springs, Alaska #2) by Sarah Morgenthaler

4.) A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson

5.) The Bone Charmer by Breeana Shields

6.) Amelia Unabridged by Ashley Schumacher

7.) Into the Heartless Wood by Joanna Ruth Meyer

8.) Aurora Burning (The Aurora Cycle #2) by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

9.) Fae Hunter by Sarah K.L. Wilson

10.) Brother’s Keeper by Julie Lee


I seriously can’t say enough good things about these books! Some do come out early in 2021 but I had to put them on this list because I did read them in 2020, haha. I think I cried when I read half of these too. So that means they are extra special!

What was one of your favorite books of 2020?

Find me on Instagram / Goodreads

-Joanna TheGeekishBrunette (1)

Book Review: A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson


40916679._SY475_Title: A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder
Author: Holly Jackson
Genre: YA Mystery / Thriller
Publication Date: February 4th, 2020
Publisher: Delacorte Press

synopsis header
The case is closed. Five years ago, schoolgirl Andie Bell was murdered by Sal Singh. The police know he did it. Everyone in town knows he did it.

But having grown up in the same small town that was consumed by the murder, Pippa Fitz-Amobi isn’t so sure. When she chooses the case as the topic for her final year project, she starts to uncover secrets that someone in town desperately wants to stay hidden. And if the real killer is still out there, how far will they go to keep Pip from the truth? ” (Goodreads)

Honestly, I have no idea why it has taken me so long to read this book. I remember seeing it on NetGalley last year and then realizing it was for the UK so off to Book Depository I went to buy that copy, ha! I have had it sitting on my shelf for a year and in that time it has come out in the US. Dang. Clearly I have a “book buying but not reading them” problem.

Anyways, this was such an exciting and thrilling ride! So thrilling that I got scared reading from different parts and even though it was past my bedtime I still stayed up to finish it because how was I going to fall asleep anyways?

One cool thing about this book is the format. The main character Pippa is doing a school project based on this murder that happened five years ago. Since it’s a project, every chapter has interview styled pages, notebook pages, and diagrams. These really added to the whole project thing and took the book to a whole new level. It reminded me of Sadie in that way.

I like reading mystery/thrillers because it’s more about the plot than the characters. I don’t have to feel a connection towards them and it’s fine. I did feel bad for certain characters though because some of the things they went through were rough.

The plot was everything I wanted and more! I really wasn’t sure how this would play out but the plot twists were so intriguing that when I would reach one it would make the book too hard to put down. There are so many things going on and so many connections between the characters that it’s hard to ever pin point the murderer. I had no idea who it was/how it happened and was very surprised when the truth came out. Looking back on it now I should have known, ha!

Overall, this was a really good book. I have been looking for a new YA Mystery / Thriller author and I will most definitely be checking out her other books that will be part of a series with this one. I already ordered the second book on Book Depository! Ha.

-Joanna TheGeekishBrunette (1)


March 2020 Wrap-Up


Hello Lovely Readers!

March is now gone and it is that time again for another wrap-up! Who knew this month would be so crazy with the virus.

This month I managed to read 29 books and 1 graphic novel.


I honestly enjoyed every 5 star read but if I had to pick a favorite it would be The Bone Thief by Breeana Shields.

My least favorite would most likely be Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackery. I just didn’t get it, haha.


5 Stars:

  • Fae Captive by Sarah K.L. Wilson
  • The Bone Thief by Breeana Shields (arc)
  • The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas
  • City of Light, City of Poison by Holly Tucker
  • Yona of the Dawn Vol. 22 by Mizuho Kusanagi
  • To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
  • The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

4 Stars:

  • The Library of Lost Things by Laura Taylor Namey
  • The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis
  • The Demon Prince of Momochi House Vol. 15 by Aya Shouoto
  • The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna (arc)
  • Windwitch by Susan Dennerd
  • Beauty by Robin McKinley
  • Immortal Fire by Annette Marie
  • Every Reason We Shouldn’t by Sara Fujimura
  • Bone Crier’s Moon by Kathryn Purdie
  • Hollow City by Ransom Riggs

3 Stars:

  • Don’t Go Stealing My Heart by Kelly Siskind (arc)
  • Shielded by KayLynn Flanders (arc)
  • P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han
  • Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han
  • Stars Above by Marissa Meyer
  • A Web of Air by Philip Reeve
  • Gotham High by Melissa de la Cruz (arc)
  • Scrivener’s Moon by Philip Reeve
  • Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
  • The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
  • By the Book by Amanda Sellet

2 Stars:

  • The Ranger of Marzanna by Jon Skovron (arc)
  • Fairest by Marissa Meyer
  • Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackery
  • Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh


How many books did you read in February? What was your favorite read? Let me know in the comments!

Find me on Instagram / Goodreads

-Joanna TheGeekishBrunette (1)

Top Ten Tuesday: The Last Ten Books That Gave Me a Book Hangover


Hello, Lovely Bookworms!

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018.

Today’s prompt is The Last Ten Books That Gave Me a Book Hangover. This one might be difficult to do! I’ll have to go back and look at my list of books, haha.


1.) The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James

2.) The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

3.) Love Me, Love Me Not Vol. 1 by Io Sakisaka

4.) Not Your Idol Vol. 1 by Aoi Makino

5.) Storm from the East by Joanna Hathaway

6.) The Bone Charmer by Breeana Shields

7.) Fae Hunter by Sarah K.L. Wilson

8.) This Cruel Design by Emily Suvada

9.) Hunted by Meagan Spooner

10.) The Traitor’s Kingdom by Erin Beaty


I loved all of these and would highly recommend them!

Are any of these on your tbr?

Find me on Instagram / Goodreads

-Joanna TheGeekishBrunette (1)