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.

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Arc Review: Together We Burn by Isabel Ibañez

Title: Together We Burn
Author: Isabel Ibañez
Genre: YA Fantasy / Historical Fiction
Publication Date: May 31st, 2022
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

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

“Eighteen-year-old Zarela Zalvidar is a talented flamenco dancer and daughter of the most famous Dragonador in Hispalia. People come for miles to see him fight in their arena, which will one day be hers.

But disaster strikes during their five hundredth anniversary show, and in the carnage, Zarela’s father is horribly injured. Facing punishment from the Dragon Guild, Zarela must keep the arena—her ancestral home and inheritance —safe from their greedy hands. She has no choice but to take her father’s place as the next Dragonador. When the infuriatingly handsome dragon hunter, Arturo Díaz de Montserrat, withholds his help, she refuses to take no for an answer.

But even if he agrees, there’s someone out to ruin the Zalvidar family, and Zarela will have to do whatever it takes in order to prevent the Dragon Guild from taking away her birthright.” (Goodreads)

Since I had enjoyed this author’s first duology I wanted to give her latest book, a standalone, a try. Her books also have great covers and it’s really hard to not want to read them, haha. They just have a way of pulling you in! I’m not going to lie, this book didn’t intrigue as much as her others but there is still some unique qualities about this book that make it stand out from others.

The book is told from one point-of-view and it comes from Zarela Zalvidar. She comes from a long line of family who have owned an arena where Dragonadors show off their skills. Her father being a very famous one. Zarela has followed in her mother’s footsteps of dancing. She is very strong-willed, especially in the face of danger, and will stop at nothing to clear her family’s name.

It is always interesting to see what authors will do with dragons. They are such versatile creatures when it comes to writing, but you also want to make sure they are given a unique job that lets them stand out from the rest. Ibañez did just that. The dragons are a key component in the story and I liked seeing how dragonadors used them (although very sad) and what Zarela had up her sleeve when it came to them. I did like the added protestors who wanted to see dragons live as it mirrored our own world with protests of venues like SeaWorld and circuses.

There are other characters in the book but I don’t think they shined as much as Zarela. It felt like the others, say for maybe Arturo, were just not as well-developed and I don’t feel like I knew them enough to warrant any feelings when something were to happen. This is one of those issues I tend to have with standalones unfortunately. I also wasn’t much of a fan of the romance either. It felt a bit rushed but I can see the appeal for it and I am sure the two will have other readers fawning over them.

Even though the characters were a bit hit-or-miss, the plot really shines from the mystery to the dragons. It can be a bit slow in areas but it sure does pick up by the end.

My only other complaint is that I wish there would have been more world development. I wanted to see more from this city as well as those from other guilds.

Overall, this was a good and interesting read. It really gave new life to dragons which was refreshing to see.

Arc Review: This May End Badly by Samantha Markum

Title: This May End Badly
Author: Samantha Markum
Genre: YA Contemporary / Romance
Publication Date: April 12th, 2022
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

When a high stakes boarding school prank war leads to a fake dating scheme, two teens must decide if they are ready to take the ultimate risk — falling in love.

Pranking mastermind Doe and her motley band of Weston girls are determined to win the century-long war against Winfield Academy before the clock ticks down on their senior year. But when their headmistress announces that The Weston School will merge with its rival the following year, their longtime feud spirals into chaos.

To protect the school that has been her safe haven since her parents’ divorce, Doe puts together a plan to prove once and for all that Winfield boys and Weston girls just don’t mix, starting with a direct hit at Three, Winfield’s boy king and her nemesis. In a desperate move to win, Doe strikes a bargain with Three’s cousin, Wells: If he fake dates her to get under Three’s skin, she’ll help him get back his rightful family heirloom from Three.

As the pranks escalate, so do her feelings for her fake boyfriend, and Doe spins lie after lie to keep up her end of the deal. But when a teacher long suspected of inappropriate behavior messes with a younger Weston girl, Doe has to decide what’s more important: winning a rivalry, or joining forces to protect something far more critical than a prank war legacy.

This May End Badly is a story about friendship, falling in love, and crossing pretty much every line presented to you—and how to atone when you do.” (Goodreads)

This was kind of a mixed bag for me. From the blurb I guess I was expecting a bit more from the romance and rivalry and although the characters were relatable I also didn’t connect with them fully but understood some of their actions.

Doe is the main character and only one that has a point-of-view in the book. Her life is a bit messy when it comes to friends and the rivalry between schools. The book does a great job of showing how a person can take something and let it consume them while other parts of their life like relationships get burned because of it. Although it was hard for me to connect with her I could still see why she would make certain choices even if she was being selfish in the process. We all do that at some point but Doe’s journey also shows what it’s like to reevaluate and grow as well.

Wells was a good guy and I do kind of wish he had his own point-of-view because of the rivalry even though he wasn’t big on it. There are many side characters and some shine more than others. It was good to see the friendships that Doe had be a big part of the book. The Three was interesting and definitely gave us the petty drama we needed.

The romance between Doe and Wells was good but it also didn’t have me rooting for them or anything. I think that a lot of the other plot points overshadowed the development between them. I did think the fake dating was interesting touch though and I’m glad that it worked out by the end.

(Trigger Warning: Sexual Assault)

The one major thing I didn’t like about the book was the plot point that involved sexual assault by a teacher/advisor. I actually wasn’t expecting this when starting the book because it just seemed like a fun read. However, in the beginning this specific teacher, Tully, is mentioned and then doesn’t reappear until later to start the big climax of the book where both schools students come together to get him fired. I really don’t think that this specific plot point was needed and the book could have focused on the other aspects a bit more like the romance. The students also didn’t go to the authorities or headmaster right away in fear that they wouldn’t be believed. I know that things like this do happen and I feel like accusations like this are taken more seriously now than a few years ago. I don’t really agree with how the students went about it but it is what it is. Like I said, it’s not a very big plot point.

Overall, this was a good book for the most part. I can see a lot of teens being able to relate to the characters and enjoying the humor the book has to offer.

Arc Review: Daughter by Kate McLaughlin

Title: Daughter
Author: Kate McLaughlin
Genre: YA Mystery / Thriller / Contemporary
Publication Date: March 8th, 2022
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Thanks to the publisher for an earc to review! All opinions are my own.

“Scarlet’s life is pretty average. Overly protective mom. Great friends. Cute boy she’s interested in. And a father she’s never known – until she does.

When the FBI show up at Scarlet’s door, she is shocked to learn her father is infamous serial killer Jeffrey Robert Lake. And now, he’s dying and will only give the names and locations of his remaining victims to the one person, the daughter he hasn’t seen since she was a baby.

Scarlet’s mother has tried to protect her from Lake’s horrifying legacy, but there’s no way they can escape the media firestorm that erupts when they come out of hiding. Or the people who blame Scarlet for her father’s choices. When trying to do the right thing puts her life in danger, Scarlet is faced with a choice – go back into hiding or make the world see her as more than a monster’s daughter.

Kate McLaughlin’s Daughter is a novel about trying right deadly choices that were never yours to begin with.” (Goodreads)

I remember really enjoying this author’s book called What Unbreakable Looks Like and am so glad that the publisher sent me an email with early access to her latest! One thing that strikes me about her books are the topics that she decides to write about. They are harsh and can at times be hard to read because of it. It may not be for everyone and with certain topics I like to know beforehand what I am getting myself into when it comes to reading. So, here are the content warnings for this book: the usual when it comes to talk of serial killers, mentioning of necrophilia, and mentioning of rape.

The one thing that intrigued me before starting this book was how the blurb mentioned that the main character was the daughter of a serial killer. I have never read a book with that as a plot. Usually we get everything that is happening as it happens with a confession at the end. What about the aftermath of the events? What about the families that have been torn apart? What about the family who has to live their life in fear of someone retaliating against them for the crimes of someone they knew? This book deals with all of that and tries to start the narrative of bringing more light to the victims instead of the killer.

Scarlet Murphy is your typical teen who parties with her friends and tries to make it through life while having an overbearing parent. I can definitely see teens relating to her on that level. She deals with anxiety and although it was minor I at least liked that it was mentioned. Her relationship with her mom can be strained at times like any parental relationship and obviously fuel is added to the fire when she finds out who her father is. I think that a lot of Scarlet’s actions would be what any teen would do in a tough situation. She seeks parties and friends to help cope with the bad which is the meetings with her father. It definitely takes guts to try to take him on even when he is on his death bed.

Although she is new to the spotlight, her mother and family who she has never met are not. We get to read about dealing with the press and those who are obsessed with killers. Sometimes the incidents can be very intense! This is seen in our own society. There are websites dedicated to serial killers, women who want to marry them, and people who just want to know what it would be like to be them. The fascination of serial killers isn’t a new thing. I do think that with podcasts and YouTube it has become even more widespread than it was years back. I’ve often found myself intrigued by certain killers but obviously not on an unnatural level. It has always bothered me how killers get all of the spotlight, even on their deathbed, while their victims never get near enough. It’s honestly sad. It is one thing that I wish would change about the news or social media. I do like that the author feels the same and Scarlet does try to change the narrative.

I would say that my favorite part of the book was the meetings with her father. The author does a good job of painting him the way that many see Ted Bundy. He was charismatic but also calculated with his behavior. There aren’t very many meetings between them and although I would have liked to see more, I can understand the balance between them and the rest of the story. There has to be some relief to the tense moments.

The book has an interesting beginning and it does become slow as it builds up Scarlet and her life before it changes but I was still hooked and found myself at 56% in one sitting. If it wasn’t for sleep calling my name I would have stayed up to finish.

Overall, this was another fantastic book by this author! I’m so glad I was able to read it ahead of publication so I can share my thoughts. I hope some of you decide to pick it up because I want to talk about with another person, haha.

Arc Review: A Far Wilder Magic by Allison Saft

Title: A Far Wilder Magic
Author: Allison Saft
Genre: YA Fantasy / Romance
Publication Date: March 8th, 2022
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

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

“When Margaret Welty spots the legendary hala, the last living mythical creature, she knows the Halfmoon Hunt will soon follow. Whoever is able to kill the hala will earn fame and riches, and unlock an ancient magical secret. If Margaret wins the hunt, it may finally bring her mother home. While Margaret is the best sharpshooter in town, only teams of two can register, and she needs an alchemist.

Weston Winters isn’t an alchemist–yet. Fired from every apprenticeship he’s landed, his last chance hinges on Master Welty taking him in. But when Wes arrives at Welty Manor, he finds only Margaret and her bloodhound Trouble. Margaret begrudgingly allows him to stay, but on one condition: he must join the hunt with her.

Although they make an unlikely team, Wes is in awe of the girl who has endured alone on the outskirts of a town that doesn’t want her, in this creaking house of ghosts and sorrow. And even though Wes disrupts every aspect of her life, Margaret is drawn to him. He, too, knows what it’s like to be an outsider. As the hunt looms closer and tensions rise, Margaret and Wes uncover dark magic that could be the key to winning the hunt – if they survive tht long. In A Far Wilder Magic, Allison Saft has written an achingly tender love story set against a deadly hunt in an atmospheric, rich fantasy world that will sweep you away.” (Goodreads)

So, I’ve actually not read a book by this author before although I have seen her debut novel floating around the bookish world quite a lot! I’m not sure why I hadn’t picked it up yet but I believe it is on my ever-growing tbr, haha. For this specific book, the blurb and the cover pulled me in. The cover is breathtaking! Although there were things I liked about the book, it still didn’t grab me like I wanted it to. I don’t think there is anything wrong with the book and so with that said, take this review as you like!

The book is told from two point-of-views: Margaret (Maggie) and Weston (Wes). They both had an interesting point-of-view and I can’t say I liked one over the other. Maggie is a pretty bitter character and even though that is the case I didn’t dislike her because of it. Sometimes bitterness can be a bit much but it really worked well for this story as it wasn’t overbearing and she had valid reasons for being the way that she was.

Wes has his own issues to deal with and because of that I feel like they are both bitter and hide their resentment, more so him than her, for how things have went with their families. I do appreciate Wes’s family though. His sisters were great and their interactions over the phone was hilarious.

There is romance between them but it is a slow-burning one which is always nice to see. They have to work through a bit before it happens but I think that’s what makes it so sweet.

One thing I struggled with when it came to the book was the time period. At times it felt much older than it was until you realize they have phones and taxis. I guess because of the hunt I was just not expecting those things to pop up and it kind of threw me for a loop.

Another thing was just the lack of connection. I understood the characters but my feelings for them was just surface level. I also didn’t fully connect with the story either and maybe it was just my mood at the time. It’s not that it wasn’t good but it was one that also didn’t keep my attention for long.

Overall, this was good. I do wish I would have enjoyed it more but I feel like it’s just a me thing. I know others will enjoy this and it will definitely make a perfect read for the fall.

Arc Review: Full Flight by Ashley Schumacher

Title: Full Flight
Author: Ashley Schumacher
Genre: YA Contemporary / Romance
Publication Date: February 22nd, 2022
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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

A heartbreaking novel about finding your first love and what happens when it’s over too soon.

Everyone else in the tiny town of Enfield, Texas calls fall football season, but for the forty-three members of the Fighting Enfield Marching Band, it’s contest season. And for new saxophonist Anna James, it’s her first chance to prove herself as the great musician she’s trying hard to be.

When she’s assigned a duet with mellophone player Weston Ryan, the boy her small-minded town thinks of as nothing but trouble, she’s equal parts thrilled and intimidated. But as he helps her with the duet, and she sees the smile he seems to save just for her, she can’t help but feel like she’s helping him with something too.

After her strict parents find out she’s been secretly seeing him and keep them apart, together they learn what it truly means to fight for something they love. With the marching contest nearing, and the two falling hard for one another, the unthinkable happens, and Anna is left grappling for a way forward without Weston.

Ashley Schumacher’s Full Flight is about how first love shapes us—even after it’s gone.” (Goodreads)

Holy Cow! This author did it again with another great book that had me sobbing and basically never wanting to pick up another book from the hangover I have received! I don’t even know how I will make it through this review, haha.

The book is told from dual point-of-views: Weston and Anna. They both have grown up differently and because of that they view the world through a specific lens. Weston is still learning to deal with divorced parents and what it means for relationships when it comes to his own. Anna is dealing with feeling alone and never knowing if she is good enough. Although I haven’t had to deal with divorced parents myself, my husband has and I could see him relating to Weston. I do feel for Anna and her insecurities because I have been there as well.

They live in a small town where everyone knows everyone and this does cause problems for them. Their insecurities can cause the problems to be even bigger but I liked seeing how the two managed to deal with what they faced. They didn’t always pick the best choices but the moments they had together because of it was the cherry on top. I lived for those moments.

The book also deals with music but more importantly high school band. I was never in band but did have friends who were. I can’t say much on the topic but as an outsider it was easy to understand everything especially the pressure these two faced while trying to stay on top. Anna wasn’t always in band like her friends because she comes from a family that didn’t always have money to spare. She didn’t want to burden her parents and she kept that weight on her shoulders. This is a really important topic and one that I would love to see more in books. Parents don’t realize how money talks can affect their kids and the kids in turn make it a priority for them to not be a burden. I definitely felt for Anna.

There are great side characters as well like Ratio. Everyone needs a friend like him to help push us out of our fears and self-doubt! And even though sibling bonds weren’t too big in the book, I really appreciated Jenny going to bat for her sister. It was sweet.

The romance you could say is friends-to-lovers and that usually isn’t my cup of tea but I enjoyed seeing how their relationship progressed through the book. Just like with any relationship there are ups and downs. They did everything to hold on to their first love and I loved every bit of it.

I’m going to keep this review spoiler-free so I’m just going to say have tissues ready.

Overall this was a heartachingly beautiful book! It talks about many great topics that I feel like teens and even adults can relate to on some level. I love how this author just hits you in the feels with everything she writes. If you haven’t read either of her books yet, please do!

Arc Review: Edgewood by Kristen Ciccarelli

Title: Edgewood
Author: Kristen Ciccarelli
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publication Date: January 18th, 2022
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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

“No matter how far she runs, the forest of Edgewood always comes for Emeline Lark. The scent of damp earth curls into her nose when she sings and moss creeps across the stage. It’s as if the woods of her childhood, shrouded in folklore and tall tales, are trying to reclaim her. But Emeline has no patience for silly superstitions.

When she learns her grandfather disappeared from his nursing home, leaving only a milky orb in his wake, the stories Emeline has always scoffed at suddenly seem less foolish. After searching for him almost everywhere, Emeline finally succumbs to the call of Edgewood, entering the forest she has spent years trying to escape.

Emeline finds herself in the court of the fabled Wood King himself. She makes a deal—her voice for her grandfather’s freedom. Little does she know, she’s stumbled into the middle of a curse much bigger than herself, one that threatens the existence of a life she has worked so hard to forget.

With the help of a handsome and brooding tithe collector, a surly blacksmith, and a lost childhood friend, Emeline sets out to not only save her grandfather’s life, but to right past wrongs, and in the process, discover her true voice.” (Goodreads)

This is a very unique book compared to all of the ones I would say are similar that I have read. It’s fun to see where an author’s imagination takes them when it comes to woods and those lurking in the shadows of it. Ciccarelli writes a beautifully enchanting but dark book about grief, loss, sacrifice, and learning about yourself in the process.

Emeline’s life revolves around music but when she sings the woods come for her. This was an intriguing concept and I loved how we are introduced to her and it. She uses music to remember certain memories but it also is so much more to her. She is nineteen years old and the only family she knows is her Pa (Grandpa). Emeline has a lot she struggles with but she does try to remain strong. Sometimes she can be reckless with her choices but isn’t that how we are? We make mistakes and don’t always think through our choices. This is one of the messages in the book that I loved.

When it came to her Pa, I could relate to her quite well. You can tell they have a great bond but because of his memory going bad it’s hard to see him forget things including who she is. Before my grandma passed I watched this happen to her. She couldn’t remember me or my family besides my dad every once and awhile. It was the hardest thing I have had to deal with. I think the book discussed this well and it did have me in tears a couple of times.

There is a bit of romance but it wasn’t a favorite for me. A lot of the relationship is done off pages or through past memories and so I never felt a whole lot when it came to it. I didn’t dislike it and I do think others will enjoy it more than me.

Within the plot there are a lot of good messages that can be found. Sacrifice is a big one and not just from one character but most of them have to choose eventually. Emeline also confronts who she is and what she wants out of her music career. She has to decide if staying true to herself outweighs the money and fame. There are a lot of tough choices to made but I liked seeing the outcome of them.

There are plot twists and a few surprised me quite a bit! Some clues are thrown out here and there for others and some I guessed before the reveal but I still liked them.

Spoiler Warning / Trigger Warning

There is a part that discusses being locked up and held against your will by someone. This can be traumatic for certain people as the relationship was a very toxic one and manipulation was used. Just a forewarning.

End of Spoiler/Trigger Warning

Overall, this was an enjoyable read. It was relatable in many ways and had a lot of good messages.

Arc Review: Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves by Meg Long

Title: Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves
Author: Meg Long
Genre: YA Sci-fi / Dystopian / Fantasy
Publication Date: January 11th, 2022
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

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

“After angering a local gangster, seventeen-year-old Sena Korhosen must flee with his prize fighting wolf, Iska, in tow. A team of scientists offer to pay her way off her frozen planet on one condition: she gets them to the finish line of the planet’s infamous sled race. Though Sena always swore she’d never race after it claimed both her mothers’ lives, it’s now her only option. But the tundra is a treacherous place, and as the race unfolds and their lives are threatened at every turn, Sena starts to question her own abilities. She must discover whether she’s strong enough to survive the wild – whether she and Iska together are strong enough to get them all out alive.” (Goodreads)

I’ve been dying to read this book and although it has unique qualities to it, I still found myself not meshing as well with it as I would have hoped. The cover is still gorgeous though! Probably one of my favorites I have seen for the new year.

The book is told from one perspective and it comes from Sena. She is a thief and takes care of herself as she has no family to fall back on. She isn’t a boring character in the slightest but I still didn’t connect with her either. I think the disconnect started with the slow start of the book and how every chance someone or Sena gets they bring up her dead mothers. I’m all for tragic backgrounds but I don’t want it to become the main character’s whole personality and why practically everyone on the planet hates her. It makes sense as to why found family exists in this book because Sena can’t really be picky.

There are some minor characters that do shine through as well as some that fall through the cracks. A couple were mentioned in the beginning and I thought one in particular would have a decent sized role but to my surprise he got dropped.

When starting this book I also didn’t realize, or maybe forgot, that it would have sci-fi/dystopian aspects to it. Sci-fi is a genre I have a love/hate relationship with. I have read books from the genre I have loved and have read some I hated. I think my issue for this book in particular is that although what was mentioned about genetic engineering and climate was interesting I still felt like I was missing information and would have liked to know how it all got started, more about the corpo commandos, and more about the other planets.

I did like the last half of the book more because it’s truly where the action starts when it comes to the racing. There are quite a few plot twists to go along with it and I only saw one coming so I would say that those are good odds. The icy planet setting is a unique one as I have only read a couple books with a similar one but plots have been very different. I also liked the wolves and would say Iska was my favorite part of the book. You can’t go wrong with animal companionship!

Overall, this was good but still missed the mark for me in some ways.

Arc Review: Within These Wicked Walls by Lauren Blackwood

Title: Within These Wicked Walls
Author: Lauren Blackwood
Genre: YA Fantasy / Gothic / Retelling
Publication Date: November 9th, 2021
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Rating: ⭐⭐

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

What the heart desires, the house destroys...

Kiersten White meets Tomi Adeyemi in this Ethiopian-inspired debut fantasy retelling of Jane Eyre.

Andromeda is a debtera—an exorcist hired to cleanse households of the Evil Eye. When a handsome young heir named Magnus Rochester reaches out to hire her, Andromeda quickly realizes this is a job like no other, with horrifying manifestations at every turn, and that Magnus is hiding far more than she has been trained for. Death is the most likely outcome if she stays, but leaving Magnus to live out his curse alone isn’t an option. Evil may roam the castle’s halls, but so does a burning desire.” (Goodreads)

I really wanted to like this one but it was really hard for me to be immersed by it.

In the beginning we are introduced to Andromeda who has been hired to exorcise a castle in the desert. She isn’t licensed like the others but has done well for herself when it comes to finding work. Andromeda does have an interesting background story but it does take awhile to learn any information about it or why she is no longer working for the one who taught her the trade. She does have issues when it comes to love and for that reason I feel like the relationship was quick but also never made sense to me. To me, she was just an average character.

Most characters have very minimal parts besides her instructor Jember. He was the most interesting and complex character out of the bunch.

The setting was intriguing and probably the best part of the book. It had it’s creepy moments. I will say that a lot of the worldbuilding felt meh and I don’t feel like I ever understood her job as a debtera that well since the magic behind it was never explained. Andromeda just did her work and that was that. I don’t even really understand the curse of the house either.

As for the retelling aspect, I tried reading Jane Eyre once and couldn’t get into it. I can’t compare the two but I would assume like most retellings the author added her own to it to make it unique from the original.

Overall, this was okay. I was just really expecting more but nothing really jumped out at me and it was hard to stay engaged.

Arc Review: You’ve Reached Sam by Dustin Thao

Title: You’ve Reached Sam
Author: Dustin Thao
Genre: YA Contemporary / Romance / Grief
Publication Date: November 2nd, 2021
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Rating: ⭐⭐✨

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

If I Stay meets Your Name in this heartfelt novel about love, loss, and what it means to say goodbye.

Seventeen-year-old Julie has her future all planned out—move out of her small town with her boyfriend Sam, attend college in the city, spend a summer in Japan. But then Sam dies. And everything changes.

Heartbroken, Julie skips his funeral, throws out his things, and tries everything to forget him and the tragic way he died. But a message Sam left behind in her yearbook forces back memories. Desperate to hear his voice one more time, Julie calls Sam’s cellphone just to listen to his voicemail.

And Sam picks up the phone.

In a miraculous turn of events, Julie’s been given a second chance at goodbye. The connection is temporary. But hearing Sam’s voice makes her fall for him all over again, and with each call it becomes harder to let him go. However, keeping her otherworldly calls with Sam a secret isn’t easy, especially when Julie witnesses the suffering Sam’s family is going through. Unable to stand by the sidelines and watch their shared loved ones in pain, Julie is torn between spilling the truth about her calls with Sam and risking their connection and losing him forever.” (Goodreads)

I’m not going to lie, I am pretty disappointed that I didn’t like it as much as I thought I would. The blurb sounds like such a fantastic book and I have actually been enjoying (if you can enjoy a book about grief, ha) books that center around grief as I deal with my own. My biggest issue for this one lies with the characters.

Julie is dealing with the loss of her boyfriend and it’s been rough when you blame yourself and seclude away from the outside world. I understand the guilt of feeling like something could have been different. I’ve been there numerous times. I understand her grief and wanting to be able to say one last goodbye and hear their voice once again. The problem is I couldn’t connect with her beyond that and felt she was a bit selfish when it came to her friends. I also didn’t totally feel for her story either. It’s easy to understand her actions but it wasn’t easy to feel the emotions I know I should have when it comes to a story about grief. I honestly don’t even know if this is making sense, heh.

The other characters were fine but again, there was just no emotional connection. There was nothing that left me wanting to continuously read.

Overall, it was okay/ fine. It’s another case of “it’s me, not you”. It’s written nicely and I know others will connect with it better than me. So maybe this will be an unpopular opinion.