Arc Review: The Tragedy of Dane Riley by Kat Spears

Title: The Tragedy of Dane Riley
Author: Kat Spears
Genre: YA Contemporary / Retelling/ Mental Health
Publication Date: June 22nd, 2021
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Rating: ⭐⭐

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

“Dane Riley’s grasp on reality is slipping, and he’s not sure that he cares. While his mother has moved on after his father’s death, Dane desperately misses the man who made Dane feel okay to be himself. He can’t stand his mother’s boyfriend, or the boyfriend’s son, whose favorite pastime is tormenting Dane. Then there’s the girl next door: Dane can’t quite define their relationship, and he doesn’t know if he’s got the courage to leave the friend zone.

An emotional novel about mental health, and dealing with grief and growing up, The Tragedy of Dane Riley is the story of a teenager looking to make sense of his feelings in the wake of tragedy, and finding the strength he needs to make life worth living.” (Goodreads)

As someone who enjoys Shakespeare I was looking forward to getting my hands on a copy of this book. Hamlet is also one of my favorite plays too. When it came to a retelling standpoint, I liked where the author went with it. It’s always interesting to see how someone takes something old and makes it new, especially when it comes to the contemporary genre. My issue lies with the characters and why this book ended up being okay for me.

Dane is dealing with grief when it comes to the loss of his father. It’s understandable why he made the choices he made. Even though I understand that teens smoke, whether its vaping/smoking or weed, it’s just not something I could or can relate to. I never did those things as a teen and I’m just not a fan of seeing teens in books doing those things or even drinking. He also looked at all of the flaws of Eric but it didn’t seem like he noticed his own. Since the point-of-view comes from a male there were things talked about that also weren’t relatable.

I did like the plot does start with the rocky relationship he has with his mother. It shows how grief is dealt with differently depending on the person. There is a happy ending between them so that was nice to see.

Overall, this was okay but ultimately not a book for me and that most likely has to do with my age.

First Lines Friday (6/18/21)

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!

A short stranger will come into your life this year.
“That’s specific.” I wave the paper at my mother, who’s sitting across the table from me in our favorite Chinese haunt.”


The book is….


Another book that has been siting on my shelf for awhile now! I really like the cover and I can’t wait to read it as I do enjoy this author’s writing.

Have you read this book?

Find me on Instagram / Goodreads

-Joanna TheGeekishBrunette (1)

WWW Wednesday (6/16/21)

Hello, My Lovely Bookworms!

This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and is now hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words.

It consists of answering these three questions:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

I started The Cruelest Mercy (The Kinder Poison #2) by Natalie Mae last night and got through 35%! It’s so good so far and I honestly can’t decide if I am Team Jet or Team Kasta. Jet is a sweetheart but there is something mysterious about Kasta, haha.

I am still listening to Made in Korea by Sarah Suk. It’s honestly taking me not a lot of time to get to 61% because I find myself wanting to keep going. I love the characters and the plot is fun!

  • The Donut Trap by Julie Tieu (arc) ⭐⭐
  • Bright Ruined Things (arc) ⭐⭐

My next audiobook will be They Wish They Were Us by Jessica Goodman. I meant to read this last year but never got to it. Since she is writing another book I felt like now is the time get it done!

I am down to 7 arcs and I can see the finish line! The next one I will pick up is Stalking Shadows by Cyla Panin. I haven’t seen anything about it yet so I am very curious!


What is your current read? Are you loving it? Have you read or want to read any that I have listed? Let me know in the comments!

Find me on Instagram / Goodreads

-Joanna TheGeekishBrunette (1)

Top Ten Tuesday: Books On My Summer 2021 TBR

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 On My Summer 2021 TBR. There are a lot of books I would like to get to but I am honestly just trying to focus on my arcs right now. I have 8 left so I will share those and then add two books that are on my physical shelf at home!

1.) Luminous by Mara Rutherford

2.) Defy the Night by Brigid Kemmerer

3.) You’ve Reached Sam by Dustin Thao

4.) Within These Wicked Walls by Lauren Blackwood

5.) The Keeper of Night by Kylie Lee Baker

6.) Stalking Shadows by Cyla Panin

7.) Bright Ruined Things by Samantha Cohoe

8.) This May End Badly by Samantha Markum

9.) Not Another Love Song by Olivia Wildenstein

10.) The Princess Bride by William Goldman


Are any of these on your tbr? What’s a book you are looking to read this summer?

Let me know in the comments below!

Find me on Instagram / Goodreads

-Joanna TheGeekishBrunette (1)

Arc Review: The Box in the Woods (Truly Devious #4) by Maureen Johnson

Title: The Box in the Woods (Truly Devious #4)
Author: Maureen Johnson
Genre: YA Mystery / Thriller
Publication Date: June 15th, 2021
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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

After solving the case of Truly Devious, Stevie Bell investigates her first mystery outside of Ellingham Academy in this spine-chilling and hilarious stand-alone mystery from New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson.

Amateur sleuth Stevie Bell needs a good murder. After catching a killer at her high school, she’s back at home for a normal (that means boring) summer.

But then she gets a message from the owner of Sunny Pines, formerly known as Camp Wonder Falls—the site of the notorious unsolved case, the Box in the Woods Murders. Back in 1978, four camp counselors were killed in the woods outside of the town of Barlow Corners, their bodies left in a gruesome display. The new owner offers Stevie an invitation: Come to the camp and help him work on a true crime podcast about the case.

Stevie agrees, as long as she can bring along her friends from Ellingham Academy. Nothing sounds better than a summer spent together, investigating old murders.

But something evil still lurks in Barlow Corners. When Stevie opens the lid on this long-dormant case, she gets much more than she bargained for. The Box in the Woods will make room for more victims. This time, Stevie may not make it out alive.” (Goodreads)

When I found out about this book at the beginning of the year I was so ecstatic that Stevie would have another adventure solving a mystery. Truly Devious was the first YA Mystery I read and it’s what got me out of a reading slump as well as started my love for mysteries! Maureen Johnson never disappoints and this one hooked me right from the beginning.

As with the previous books, there are two timelines as well as two-point-of-views. In the present timeline the point-of-view corresponds with Stevie Bell. The real life Sherlock who is obsessed with murder. The past timeline has a few different point-of-views as well as something else but it’s a secret and it ties everything in.

Stevie is still the same ‘ol Stevie and she is accompanied by Janelle and Nate. I have always enjoyed Nate as he is hilarious and really gives us the comedic relief. I would say that he is more present than Janelle at times but she is still always there for Stevie which I love. And of course, David does make appearances and I’m not going to lie I actually liked him a lot in this book.

Since the mystery wraps up by the end the book is pretty quick paced and I was devouring it. It was hard to set it down once the timeline changed because the chapter would leave off on a cliffhanger and I had to know what would happen next. I may have stayed up past the time I usually go to bed because I kept saying, “just one more chapter!”. I also thought I would be murdered in my sleep but that is neither here nor there, haha. I’m a chicken!

There are a lot of suspenseful moments. I also kept trying to figure out who it could be and every time I had an idea along came another plot twist! I really wasn’t expecting the reveal as well as the why. It was intense and definitely unique.

Overall, this was another fantastic book from this author! It was just what I needed and left me wanting more. I really do hope that there will be more books because I love these characters and I never want it to end.

Goodreads Monday: Made In Korea by Sarah Suk

Hello Readers!

Goodreads Monday is hosted by Lauren’s Page Turners. To participate, choose a random book from your TBR and show it off.

Title: Made in Korea
Author: Sarah Suk
Genre: YA Contemporary / Romance
Publication Date: May 18th, 2021
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Frankly in Love meets Shark Tank in this feel-good romantic comedy about two entrepreneurial Korean American teens who butt heads—and maybe fall in love—while running competing Korean beauty businesses at their high school.

There’s nothing Valerie Kwon loves more than making a good sale. Together with her cousin Charlie, they run V&C K-BEAUTY, their school’s most successful student-run enterprise. With each sale, Valerie gets closer to taking her beloved and adventurous halmeoni to her dream city, Paris.

Enter the new kid in class, Wes Jung, who is determined to pursue music after graduation despite his parents’ major disapproval. When his classmates clamor to buy the K-pop branded beauty products his mom gave him to “make new friends,” he sees an opportunity—one that may be the key to help him pay for the music school tuition he knows his parents won’t cover…

What he doesn’t realize, though, is that he is now V&C K-BEAUTY’s biggest competitor.

Stakes are high as Valerie and Wes try to outsell each other, make the most money, and take the throne for the best business in school—all while trying to resist the undeniable spark that’s crackling between them. From hiring spies to all-or-nothing bets, the competition is much more than either of them bargained for.

But one thing is clear: only one Korean business can come out on top.” (Goodreads)

I’m so glad my audiobook came in from the library for this one! I started it this morning and am really enjoying it so far! The plot is definitely unique when it comes to businesses in school.

Does this one sound like something you would read?

Find me on Instagram / Goodreads

-Joanna TheGeekishBrunette (1)

Arc Review: Broken Web (Shamanborn #2) by Lori M. Lee

Title: Broken Web (Shamanborn #2)
Author: Lori M. Lee
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publication Date: June 15th, 2021
Publisher: Page Street
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Thank you so much to the publisher for sending me an arc to read and review!

The sequel to the hotly-anticipated Forest of Souls, an epic and immersive tale of destiny and sisterhood. Perfect for fans of Susan Dennard, Sarah J. Maas, and Netflix’s The Witcher!

The Soulless has woken from his centuries-long imprisonment. Now, he lurks in the Dead Wood recovering his strength, while Sirscha and her allies journey east to the shaman empire of Nuvalyn. Everyone believes she is a soulguide—a savior—but Sirscha knows the truth. She’s a monster, a soulrender like the Soulless, and if anyone discovers the truth, she’ll be executed.

But there’s nothing Sirscha won’t risk to stop the shaman responsible for the rot that’s killing her best friend. While the Soulless is formidable, like all shamans, his magic must be channeled through a familiar. If Sirscha can discover what—or who—that is, she might be able to cut him off from his power.

With Queen Meilyr bent on destroying the magical kingdoms, Sirscha finds herself caught between a war brewing in the east and the Soulless waiting in the west. She should be trying to unite what peoples she can to face their common enemies, but instead, her hunt for clues about the Soulless leads to a grim discovery, forcing Sirscha to question who her enemies really are.” (Goodreads)

Forest of Souls (Shamanborn #1): Book Review

As someone who liked the first book but felt like it lacked something to really pull me in, this sequel did the trick! This sequel is filled with political intrigue, more lore, lots of action, and learning that good and evil isn’t always black and white. It packs a punch!

Sirscha is still coming to terms with her magical ability of soulrendering and not trying to lose control. Her friend, familiar, and basically a sister Saengo really tries to keep it in check and be the conscious she needs at times. Although their relationship has been left unaffected by the change of Saengo’s soul, it’s easy to understand why the Soulless would want to tear the bond between them. If she doesn’t have the good angel on her shoulder to keep her in check then what would happen to Sirscha? Manipulation is a powerful thing especially if it comes from someone who has been where you are and is “trying to help”. I do think that some of what was talked about when it comes to their friendship will definitely be tested in the third book. Sirscha doesn’t always listen to her gut though and some things tend to go wrong. I feel like this is just human nature as we want to believe that those around us truly want to help. It’s easy to understand her actions and why she makes the choices she does.

Since I’ve mentioned the Soulless I guess I’ll talk about him next, haha. Even though I am not one to be drawn to the “bad guy”, there is something about him that I find intriguing. I like that even though he is far away from Sirscha for most of the book he is still around her in her dreams. He adds a lot to the history of the empire. I’m still not entirely sure what his overall motive is but I like where the plot is going with him and I can’t wait to see what else he has up his sleeve.

Other characters from the first book are still present as well along with new faces too. I still like Theyen and really hope he survives because it would just be too sad of a day if he doesn’t.

Politics is a big topic in the book and because of that it is hard to decide who can really be trusted. There are some that are obviously trustworthy as they have kept Sirscha’s abilities a secret but there are still those that there isn’t enough information on or who have been acting quite suspicious. All of the mistrust does make for some shocking plot twists though!

Overall, I enjoyed the sequel. It had a lot of shocking moments that kept me intrigued throughout and it’s going to be hard to have to wait for the third book. There is just too much at stake and now I’ll just be speculating until then, haha.

Weekly Update (6/13/21)

Hello Lovely Bookworms!

This week was another good week for reading and it wasn’t bad with the adult stuff either!

I would say that this week has been pretty laid back. There hasn’t been much going on besides the usual. My mom had her birthday on Thursday so my daughter and I called to sing. I wish we could have spent it with her but I’m glad phones exist.

My husband is halfway through his summer classes and doing really well. I’m glad we still have time to spend together too. We take a family walk mostly everyday but it’s been brutal with the heat lately, haha.

I’ve enjoyed most books I have read but there have been some that I’ve just felt meh/fine about. The life of a reader!

I hope you have had a great weekend so far! ❤

  • Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead (audiobook) ⭐⭐⭐
  • For the Wolf by Hannah Whitten ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • A Spot of Trouble by Teri Wilson (arc) ⭐✨
  • Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Those Not-So-Sweet Boys Vol. 2 by Yoko Nogiri (manga) ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Could You Escape the Paris Catacombs? by Matt Doeden ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina by Zoraida Córdova (arc) ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean ⭐⭐⭐
  • The Splendor by Breeana Shields (arc) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • She Who Rides the Storm by Caitlin Sangster (arc) ⭐⭐⭐
  • Frostbite (Vampire Academy #2) by Richelle Mead (audiobook) ⭐⭐
  • The Donut Trap by Julie Tieu (arc)
  • Made in Korea by Sarah Suk (audiobook)

How was your week? Did you do anything fun over the weekend? Read anything good this week? Let me know in the comments!

Find me on Instagram / Goodreads

-Joanna TheGeekishBrunette (1)

Arc Review: Tell Me When You Feel Something by Vicki Grant

Title: Tell Me When You Feel Something
Author: Vicki Grant
Genre: YA Mystery / Thriller
Publication Date: June 15th, 2021
Publisher: Penguin Teen
Rating: ⭐⭐✨

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

The perfect after-school job turns deadly for teens working as simulated patients at the local med school. Everyone has something to hide and no one is safe in this contemporary YA thriller that exposes the dark reality of #MeToo in the world of medicine, for fans of Karen McManus and Holly Jackson.

It seemed like a cool part-time program — being a simulated patient for med school students to practice on. But now vivacious, charismatic Viv lies in a very real coma. Cellphone footage just leads to more questions. What really happened? Other kids suspect it was not an intentional overdose — but each has a reason why they can’t tell the truth.

Through intertwining and conflicting narratives, a twisted story unfolds of trust betrayed as we sift through the seemingly innocent events leading up to the tragic night. Perhaps simulated patients aren’t the only people pretending to be something they’re not . . .” (Goodreads)

I’m always down to read a YA Mystery / Thriller. Even if they are labeled as “YA”, they can still be quite heart pounding! I also don’t read it too often but when I do, I am hoping to get hooked. Unfortunately for this one, it just felt like your average mystery / thriller.

The book does have multiple point-of-views as the girl, Viv, everyone is talking about is in a coma. Some of the point-of-views were more interesting than others. Since it does switch often it is hard to fully connect with the other characters as the plot is based around Viv.

When it came to Viv, she has a lot going on in her life. She is dealing with divorced parents, one remarrying, and everything else that comes with being a teen. She turns to alcohol to help numb the pain which is sad that she felt like she didn’t have anyone there for her besides the substance.

Besides the multiple point-of-views, there are also police interviews and emails that correlate with the case. I always like seeing this format because it helps to engage more with the plot.

The plot felt very average and didn’t leave me feeling like it brought anything new to the genre. After a bit it was easy to figure out where the story was going and who did it. I at least was surprised by one thing.

There is definitely need for content warnings so here they are: sexual assault, talk of child pornography, substance abuse

Overall, this was just okay. I felt like the plot could have been developed a bit better and the minor characters could have been less flat.

Arc Review: Sisters of the Snake (Ria & Rani #1) by Sasha Nanua & Sarena Nanua

Title: Sisters of the Snake (Ria & Rani #1)
Author: Sasha Nanua & Sarena Nanua
Genre: YA Fantasy / Own Voice / Retelling
Publication Date: June 15th, 2021
Publisher: HarperTeen
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐✨

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

“A lost princess. A dark puppet master. And a race against time—before all is lost.

Princess Rani longs for a chance to escape her gilded cage and prove herself. Ria is a street urchin, stealing just to keep herself alive.

When these two lives collide, everything turns on its head: because Ria and Rani, orphan and royal, are unmistakably identical.

A deal is struck to switch places—but danger lurks in both worlds, and to save their home, thief and princess must work together. Or watch it all fall into ruin.

Deadly magic, hidden temples, and dark prophecies: Sisters of the Snake is an action-packed, immersive fantasy that will thrill fans of The Crown’s Game and The Tiger at Midnight.” (Goodreads)

I love reading about new and diverse worlds when it comes to the fantasy genre. Sometimes worlds can feel like they blend together, especially because of plot points, but this was a fun and intriguing read.

I’m not sure if anyone is talking about this but there is hints of a retelling as the girls decide to trade places for awhile which made me think of The Prince and the Pauper, although this would be considered a genderbend. To be honest, I love stories where two characters switch places and so this added a lot of flare to the story as Ria and Rani both have different personalities and come from different lives as well, one being a princess and the other a thief.

The book is told in dual point-of-view so the reader can understand what is going on when it comes to Ria and Rani as they are both on different missions and in different places. I liked seeing how each one overcame their fears to be stronger while also growing their bond and making new friends along the way.

There is a bit of romance and although it blossomed rather quickly, I didn’t dislike it. I think it’s because I did like the characters and the conversations they had together.

The magic is cool and one particular part of it deals with snakes. I’ve only read one other book with snake magic and I am here for it. I may hate snakes but I do like reading about them and Shima really stole the show for me. There is mention of other magical abilities, some are used, but it isn’t a lot. There is explanations to it all so it doesn’t feel useless when it comes to the plot. I am looking forward from more of it.

Now to what I didn’t like. Although the worldbuilding, especially the magic, is intriguing and left me wanting to read, it was easy to see plot holes and some things just resolved rather quickly. This is one of those books where you kind of have to throw logic out the window, but at least the view is nice. It was a bit harder to like the parts where things resolved quickly but since there is going to be a sequel I won’t be too harsh since there is more to the story.

Overall, this was a good read. I liked the worldbuilding and the lore so far that has been told as well as the characters. I will be looking forward to the sequel.