The Nature of Witches by Rachel Griffin

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I’m a huge weather nerd – so this book was a must-read for me!

Thank you Sourcebooks Fire for my gifted ebook in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: For centuries, witches have maintained the climate, their power from the sun peaking in the season of their birth. But now their control is faltering as the atmosphere becomes more erratic. All hope lies with Clara, an Everwitch whose rare magic is tied to every season. In Autumn, Clara wants nothing to do with her power. It’s wild and volatile, and the price of her magic―losing the ones she loves―is too high, despite the need to control the increasingly dangerous weather. In Winter, the world is on the precipice of disaster. Fires burn, storms rage, and Clara accepts that she’s the only one who can make a difference. In Spring, she falls for Sang, the witch training her. As her magic grows, so do her feelings, until she’s terrified Sang will be the next one she loses. In Summer, Clara must choose between her power and her happiness, her duty and the people she loves… before she loses Sang, her magic, and thrusts the world into chaos.

I thought this was such a unique story; I loved it! This is a contemporary young adult fiction book with a touch of magic and fantasy that was so well done! I think it helps that I’m a science geek and environmentalist by trade. I was just utterly engulfed in the story and it had the cutest touch of romance. This is a perfect read for any time of the year!

5/5 Stars

How To Mars by David Ebenbach

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After recently reading Project Hail Mary and absolutely falling in love with space books all over again, I wanted to try my hand at reading some more.

Thank you Tachyon Publishing for my gifted ebook in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: For the six lucky scientists selected by the Destination Mars! corporation, a one-way ticket to Mars—in exchange for a lifetime of research—was an absolute no-brainer. The incredible opportunity was clearly worth even the most absurdly tedious screening process. Perhaps worth following the strange protocols in a nonsensical handbook written by an eccentric billionaire. Possibly even worth their constant surveillance, the video of which is carefully edited into a ratings-bonanza back on Earth. But it turns out that after a while even scientists can get bored of science. Tempers begin to fray; unsanctioned affairs blossom. When perfectly good equipment begins to fail, the Marsonauts are faced with a possibility that their training just cannot explain.

Woops – this was nothing like I thought it would be. It’s drama-filled and focuses way more on that than anything else. If you like reality TV shows and want to dabble in the world of science fiction, then maybe this book is for you. The cover art is pretty awesome though!

2/5 Stars

Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon

There’s something about reading a young adult fiction book in the summer that just completely captivates me. This one is no exception!

Thank you Delacorte Press for my gifted ebook in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: Evie Thomas doesn’t believe in love anymore. Especially after the strangest thing occurs one otherwise ordinary afternoon: She witnesses a couple kiss and is overcome with a vision of how their romance began . . . and how it will end. After all, even the greatest love stories end with a broken heart, eventually. As Evie tries to understand why this is happening, she finds herself at La Brea Dance studio, learning to waltz, fox-trot, and tango with a boy named X. X is everything that Evie is not: adventurous, passionate, daring. His philosophy is to say yes to everything–including entering a ballroom dance competition with a girl he’s only just met. Falling for X is definitely not what Evie had in mind. If her visions of heartbreak have taught her anything, it’s that no one escapes love unscathed. But as she and X dance around and toward each other, Evie is forced to question all she thought she knew about life and love. In the end, is love worth the risk?

THIS BOOK. ALL THE FEELS. I jumped into this one without having read the synopsis, and I think that made this book all the better. You’ll laugh, cry, swoon, and cheer throughout the whole book. It’s utterly beautiful and I wish more books were like this. I feel like Nicola is the Sarah Dessen of this generation! Also, be sure to read the Author’s Note at the end – it’s a tear jerker, but also wonderfully beautiful.

5/5 Stars

The Abduction of Pretty Penny by Leonard Goldberg

Have you watched the Enola Holmes movie on Netflix yet? I fell in love with it and wanted to dive into the world of Sherlock Holmes books as soon as possible!

Thank you Minotaur Books for my gifted copy in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: Joanna and the Watsons are called in by the Whitechapel Playhouse to find Pretty Penny, a lovely, young actress who has gone missing without reason or notice. While on their search, the trio is asked by Scotland Yard to join in the hunt for a vicious murderer whose method resembles that of Jack The Ripper. It soon becomes clear that The Ripper has reemerged after a 28-year absence and is once again murdering young prostitutes in Whitechapel. Following a line of subtle clues, Joanna quickly reasons that Pretty Penny has been taken capture by the killer. But as Joanna moves closer to learning his true identity, the killer sends her a letter indicating her young son Johnny will be the next victim to die. Time is running out, and Joanna has no choice but to devise a most dangerous plan which will bring her face-to-face with the killer. It is the only chance to protect her son and rescue Pretty Penny, and save both from an agonizing death.

This is book number 5 in the series, and I definitely need to go back and read the others. I hadn’t heard about this series, mostly because I hadn’t dabbled into the world of Sherlock Holmes, but it’s wonderful! You can easily read this as a stand-alone novel, so if you haven’t read any of the previous books, you are fine to dive right in. I actually really enjoyed the historical context scattered throughout the book. Of course, since this is book number 5, the character development is a little flat. That is to be expected, but I was wanting a little bit more. The ending didn’t take my breath away, but I still had a fun time reading this and want to read more!

4/5 Stars

Anne of Manhattan by Brina Starler

Coming back today with another classic modern re-telling!

Thank you William Morrow Books for my gifted copy in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: After an idyllic girlhood in Avonlea, Long Island, Anne has packed up her trunk, said goodbye to her foster parents, Marilla and Matthew, and moved to the isle of Manhattan for grad school. Together with her best friend, Diana Barry, she’s ready to take on the world and find her voice as a writer.When her long-time archrival Gilbert Blythe shows up at Redmond College for their final year, Anne gets the shock of her life. Gil has been in California for the last five years—since he kissed her during a beach bonfire, and she ghosted him. Now the handsome brunette is flashing his dimples at her like he hasn’t a care in the world and she isn’t buying it. Paired with the same professor for their thesis, the two former competitors come to a grudging peace that turns into something so much deeper…and sexier than either intended. But when Gil seemingly betrays her to get ahead, Anne realizes she was right all along—she should never have trusted Gilbert Blythe. While Gil must prove to Anne that they’re meant to be together, she must come to terms with her old fears if she wants a happily-ever-after with the boy she’s always (secretly) loved.

Are you an Anne of Green Gables fan? I have a feeling those that really love the classic may not be a fan of this one. Anne in the original novel is very innocent and down to earth. In this novel, she’s more hardworking and found in a more romantic relationship. The writing is really well done. It’s a fun summer read nonetheless!

4/5 Stars

Once Upon A Con Series by Ashley Poston

I’m totally a geek and not afraid to shout it from the rooftops. I mean, my blog name may just be a dead giveaway at that! This series has been on my wish list for forever as a series I wanted to read, and now I’ve finally got the chance to!

Thank you Quirk Books for my gifted copy of the series in exchange for my honest review.

I will be sharing my thoughts on all three books in the series in this post so I will break it down by each one. I’m sharing in celebration of Ashley’s latest installment in the series, “Bookish and the Beast” that was most recently released! I’ll start from the beginning…

Synopsis: Part romance, part love letter to nerd culture, and all totally adorbs, Geekerella is a fairy tale for anyone who believes in the magic of fandom. Geek girl Elle Wittimer lives and breathes Starfield, the classic sci-fi series she grew up watching with her late father. So when she sees a cosplay contest for a new Starfield movie, she has to enter. The prize? An invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball, and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. With savings from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck (and her dad’s old costume), Elle’s determined to win…unless her stepsisters get there first. Teen actor Darien Freeman used to live for cons—before he was famous. Now they’re nothing but autographs and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Carmindor is all he’s ever wanted, but the Starfield fandom has written him off as just another dumb heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, Darien feels more and more like a fake—until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise. 

As you can tell, the first book in the series is a retelling of Cinderella, and I’m totally here for it! Even if you’ve seen or read Cinderella, this retelling captivates you just as much as if it was your first time hearing the story. Not only is it an ode to a beloved classic, but it’s a coming-of-age story for those who are just coming into their true identities. As I am now comforted in my nerdy loves, I wish I had a book like this when I was in high school. I loved it.

5/5 Stars

Synopsis: Imogen Lovelace is an ordinary fangirl on an impossible mission: save her favorite character, Princess Amara, from being killed off from her favorite franchise, Starfield. The problem is, Jessica Stone—the actress who plays Princess Amara—wants nothing more than to leave the intense scrutiny of the fandom behind. If this year’s ExcelsiCon isn’t her last, she’ll consider her career derailed. When a case of mistaken identity throws look-a-likes Imogen and Jess together, they quickly become enemies. But when the script for the Starfield sequel leaks, and all signs point to Jess, she and Imogen must trade places to find the person responsible. That’s easier said than done when the girls step into each other’s shoes and discover new romantic possibilities, as well as the other side of intense fandom. As these “princesses” race to find the script-leaker, they must rescue themselves from their own expectations, and redefine what it means to live happily ever after.

The second installment in the series is a retelling of The Prince and the Pauper, a story that isn’t talked about much these days. I think that may have been a flaw in my reading for this one. Since I watch Cinderella all the time with my four year old daughter, Geekerella hit home to me a little more than this one. On the other hand, I did love that this is a story that isn’t overdone so it made it really unique. I didn’t fall in love with the characters as much as I did in Geekerella, but I just fell in love with the way Ashley tells her stories even more reading this next book in the series.

4/5 Stars

Synopsis: Rosie Thorne is feeling stuck—on her college application essays, in her small town, and on that mysterious General Sond cosplayer she met at ExcelsiCon. Most of all, she’s stuck in her grief over her mother’s death. Her only solace was her late mother’s library of rare Starfield novels, but even that disappeared when they sold it to pay off hospital bills. On the other hand, Vance Reigns has been Hollywood royalty for as long as he can remember—with all the privilege and scrutiny that entails. When a tabloid scandal catches up to him, he’s forced to hide out somewhere the paparazzi would never expect to find him: Small Town USA. At least there’s a library in the house. Too bad he doesn’t read. When Rosie and Vance’s paths collide and a rare book is accidentally destroyed, Rosie finds herself working to repay the debt. And while most Starfield superfans would jump at the chance to work in close proximity to the Vance Reigns, Rosie has discovered something about Vance: he’s a jerk, and she can’t stand him. The feeling is mutual. But as Vance and Rosie begrudgingly get to know each other, their careful masks come off—and they may just find that there’s more risk in shutting each other out than in opening their hearts.

This is a retelling of, you guessed it, Beauty in the Beast. I was totally hoping that she would choose this story for one of the books in the series because, why not?! I absolutely loved the characters in this book. I think these were my favorite characters in the whole series! The romance is innocent and adorable and I almost wanted a whole series spin-off on just this book.

5/5 Stars

In all, this is an adorable series to pick up whether you are a geek, love classic fairy-tales, or just love awesome young adult writing! Ashley even has some short stories that are just as adorable and super fun to read: Once a Princess and Once at Midnight. This is a perfect series to start off your summer reading!

The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo

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As I have mentioned previously on my blog before, “The Great Gatsby” has official entered public domain as of this year, meaning re-tellings are now up for the taking. I was so thrilled to be able to take an early look at this one before it’s public release today. It’s especially a great book to start with celebrating Pride Month with!

Thank you Tordotcom for my gifted ebook in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: Immigrant. Socialite. Magician. Jordan Baker grows up in the most rarefied circles of 1920s American society—she has money, education, a killer golf handicap, and invitations to some of the most exclusive parties of the Jazz Age. She’s also queer, Asian, adopted, and treated as an exotic attraction by her peers, while the most important doors remain closed to her. But the world is full of wonders: infernal pacts and dazzling illusions, lost ghosts and elemental mysteries. In all paper is fire, and Jordan can burn the cut paper heart out of a man. She just has to learn how. Nghi Vo’s debut novel The Chosen and the Beautiful reinvents this classic of the American canon as a coming-of-age story full of magic, mystery, and glittering excess, and introduces a major new literary voice.

I’ve been sitting on this review for quite some time. I’ve had such a hard time writing it! I have many feelings about this book. First off, it’s absolutely beautifully written. The prose is breathtaking. On the other hand, I thought this was extremely close to the original story. While yes, it’s a retelling, it had elements that made it unique in it’s own way that I wanted WAY more of. The fantasy/magical touches to this book were minimal and I think a touch more would’ve put this book on a whole other level for me. If you aren’t a Great Gatsby fan, this may be a hard pass for you. If you want to read a story written like a dream, you’ll want to pick this up right away.

3/5 Stars

The Library of the Dead by T L Huchu

I have to admit, the cover of this book attracted me right away. The premise completely won me over! Let’s dive right in to see how it turned out…

Thank you Tor Books for my gifted copy in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: When a child goes missing in Edinburgh’s darkest streets, young Ropa investigates. She’ll need to call on Zimbabwean magic as well as her Scottish pragmatism to hunt down clues. But as shadows lengthen, will the hunter become the hunted? Ropa dropped out of school to become a ghostalker. Now she speaks to Edinburgh’s dead, carrying messages to the living. A girl’s gotta earn a living, and it seems harmless enough. Until, that is, the dead whisper that someone’s bewitching children–leaving them husks, empty of joy and life. It’s on Ropa’s patch, so she feels honor-bound to investigate. But what she learns will change her world. She’ll dice with death (not part of her life plan…), discovering an occult library and a taste for hidden magic. She’ll also experience dark times. For Edinburgh hides a wealth of secrets, and Ropa’s gonna hunt them all down.

I freaking love it! Advertised as The Sixth Sense meets Stranger Things and it’s totally on point. Ropa would be a PERFECT fit to the Stranger Things gang. She takes no heat from nobody – she’s as tough as they come and I loved her character so much! I absolutely loved the dystopian gothic vibes throughout. This is a series opener and I cannot wait for the next installment!

5/5 Stars

The Happiness Thief by Nicole Bokat

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Today’s review is a blog tour stop for Nicole’s book “The Happiness Thief”.

Thank you She Writes Press and TLC Book Tours for my gifted ebook in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: Forty-one-year-old Natalie Greene lost her mom and her childhood memories in a car crash two decades ago. What remains is a haunting feeling that she was responsible for her mother’s death. After her husband leaves for another woman, Natalie accompanies her famous stepsister, Isabel Walker (aka “The Happiness Guru”) on a retreat to the Cayman Islands. There, a late-night collision triggers Natalie’s long-buried trauma and a heightened sense of guilt. Upon returning home to Boston, Natalie tries to settle back into her life as a food photographer and single mother to a teenage daughter―but then, one day, an anonymous email arrives about the Cayman accident that suggests foul play. In her search for the truth, Natalie must deal with a mix of fear, confusion, and suspects. With the help of Isabel and an attractive journalist, she uncovers a trail of deceit that begins on that deserted Caribbean road, circles back home, and ends in the most unexpected of places.

This is a bit of a slow burn. It wasn’t a bad read, just a little hard for me to want to stay connected. The character development is done really well, especially with their dramatic past. I feel like I would’ve enjoyed this more as a movie than as a book. There is a lot of flashbacks, and I don’t feel like the transition between the two timelines was as smooth as it could be. This would be a perfect beach summer read if you are into family dramas with a hint of suspense.

3/5 Stars

Tell Me When You Feel Something by Vicki Grant

With summer coming up, I’m getting my young adult fiction vibes. I LOVE reading young adult novels in the summer time. I mean, yes, I love reading them at all times, but there’s something just so addicting about a good YA summer book!

Thank you Penguin Teen for my gifted ebook in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: 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 . . .

I really wanted to like this one so much! I thought it was such a cool premise, but there were way too many characters and such short snippets of what truly happened. If there were two points of view with more in-depth details, this would be so much better. It was tough to stick this one out all the way through. There also should be multiple trigger warnings for this one.

2/5 Stars