ARCs · Book Reviews

Daughter of Lies and Ruin by Jo Spurrier Review

If they didn’t want to get turned into beasts and used to fuel a ritual, they shouldn’t have attacked a witch. That’s all there is to it.

There’s something strange brewing in this tinder-dry forest – a girl with a sword and a secret, a troupe of vicious bandits vanished without a trace, beasts that don’t belong and a witch with a macabre plan.

Elodie hasn’t been learning witchcraft for long, but she knows enough to be worried, and the fact that her mentor Aleida wants to pack up and leave in short order isn’t helping to settle her nerves.

Elodie just hopes to get everyone out of this mess unharmed, but it’s looking more unlikely with every passing hour. And when the strange witch’s ire falls on her, Aleida’s wrath sparks a fire that threatens to scorch the earth itself

*I am an affiliate of and any purchases made through my links will help independent bookstores and earn me a small commission*

* I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review! *

I really enjoyed the first book in this series, A Curse of Ash and Embers and was excited to be back in the world of the Blackbone Witches. I absolutely love our two main characters, Aleida and Elodie, and how magic works in this universe. In this book, Elodie is continuing her training as a witch when they’re attacked by bandits on the road, setting in motion a series of troubling and exciting events. Although I didn’t like the plot of this one as much as the first, it was still fun and full of action. It sort of felt like a transition book, setting up a bigger story arc for later in the series. I liked the new characters that were introduced, especially getting to see another type of witch. The ending was very cinematic and exhilarating, and while it wrapped up nicely, the story still has room to build and expand. I would definitely read on in this series and am looking forward to the next book!

ARCs · Book Reviews

Where It All Lands by Jennie Wexler Review

Stevie Rosenstein has never made a true friend. Never fallen in love. Moved from city to city by her father’s unrelenting job, it’s too hard to care for someone. Trust in anything. The pain of leaving always hurts too much. But she’ll soon learn to trust, to love.


Drew and Shane have been best friends through everything. The painful death of Shane’s dad. The bitter separation of Drew’s parents. Through sleepaway camps and family heartache, basketball games and immeasurable loss, they’ve always been there for each other.

When Stevie meets Drew and Shane, life should go on as normal.

But a simple coin toss alters the course of their year in profound and unexpected ways.

Told in dual timelines, debut author Jennie Wexler delivers a heartbreaking and hopeful novel about missed opportunities, second chances, and all the paths that lead us to where we are.

Published on July 6th, 2021

*I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review*

Where It All Lands is a story about two best friends who fall for the same girl. A classic, right? Well, this book has a unique twist. At the start, the boys both want to ask Stevie on a date, but being best friends, they don’t want to step on the other’s toes, so they decide to flip a coin to determine who asks her out. The proceeding story is told in two parallel timelines, showing us the results of each side of the coin toss. I loved this format and found it to be very well crafted. The little things that remained the same or differed in each one were almost as compelling as the big differences and I honestly had a hard time deciding which timeline I liked better. I loved both Drew and Shane, and their friendship, and getting to read from both of their perspectives gave us so many different layers and discoveries about their characters. Stevie was the constant throughout both timelines and seeing how her relationships with both boys altered her in different ways was fascinating. There was a depth to all of these characters that impressed me and gave the book a serious yet youthful tone. It really makes you think about life’s choices and how seemingly little ones can make a big difference, leading your life down a new path. This book packed an emotional punch that I was not expecting but fully appreciated. I came in anticipating a teen love triangle romance but came out with a really beautiful and thought-provoking story.

ARCs · Book Reviews

The Nature of Witches by Rachel Griffin Review

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.

Practical Magic meets Twister in this debut contemporary fantasy standalone about heartbreaking power, the terror of our collapsing atmosphere, and the ways we unknowingly change our fate.

*I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review!*

Elemental magic has always fascinated me and in The Nature of Witches, it was given a unique twist, making it an enjoyable read. The story centers around the idea of self-love and acceptance, and the prose was beautifully written and had some extremely poignant moments. That being said, it did get a little slow in parts.

In this book, different types of magic are associated with each of the four seasons, and a witch’s power is tied to the season they were born in. The witches’ purpose is to maintain the Earth’s atmosphere, but with the lack of care to the planet, it is in trouble. I absolutely loved this concept. It is so creative and was justified beautifully in the world-building.

The protagonist, Clara, has the mysterious tie to all four seasons and unlike the other witches whose powers weaken during their off-season, Clara’s magic never loses strength. However; what Clara does lack, is the control of her own power, which attacks anyone she has ever loved. Clara was an easy character to empathize with, and the juxtaposition of being the most powerful witch who is terrified of her own abilities made for an interesting arc. 

From the start to finish we get to feel a lot of Clara’s emotional turmoil, but there were times when it seemed to get a bit repetitive, ultimately falling flat. I think there was room for more action to continue the momentum of the story and Clara’s journey.

In the end, I enjoyed how the author wrapped things up, however it felt surface level due to the lack of detail and clarity. The ending left me puzzled, questioning how or why it worked out the way it did, considering what had already been established earlier in the book. 

Overall, I think The Nature of Witches was a creative and lovely story, and I look forward to seeing what else the author writes.

ARCs · Book Reviews

ARC Review: Better Together by Christine Riccio

Freaky Friday meets The Parent Trap in New York Times bestselling author Christine Riccio’s Better Together, a sparkling and heartfelt story about sisters, second chances, finding romance, and finding yourself.

Jamie’s an aspiring standup comic in Los Angeles with a growing case of stage anxiety.

Siri’s a stunning ballerina from New Jersey nursing a career-changing injury.

They’ve both signed up for the same session at an off the grid Re-Discover Yourself Retreat in Colorado. When they run into each other, their worlds turn upside down.

Jamie and Siri are sisters, torn apart at a young age by their parent’s volatile divorce. They’ve grown up living completely separate lives: Jamie with their Dad and Siri with their Mom. Now, reunited after over a decade apart, they hatch a plot to switch places. It’s time they get to know and confront each of their estranged parents.

With an accidental assist from some fortuitous magic, Jamie arrives in New Jersey, looking to all the world like Siri, and Siri steps off her flight sporting a Jamie glamour.

The sisters unexpectedly find themselves stuck living in each other’s shoes. Soon Siri’s crushing on Jamie’s best friend Dawn. Jamie’s falling for the handsome New Yorker she keeps running into, Zarar. Alongside a parade of hijinks and budding romance, both girls work to navigate their broken family life and the stresses of impending adulthood.

Released: June 1st, 2021

*I received a copy of this book return for an honest review. Thanks to Wednesday Books for the opportunity!*

I liked Again, but Better, so I was looking forward to Riccio’s next book. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite live up to my expectations. Better Together was a NA, bittersweet, mash-up of The Parent Trap and Freaky Friday. It focuses on two sisters, Jamie and Siri, who were separated in their parent’s nasty divorce and haven’t seen each other in years. When they re-meet at a wellness retreat calamity ensues. I loved the concept of this book, but I thought the overall execution of the plot left a little to be desired. The first half was slow going, and it started out with some pretty unlikable characters- Jamie was obnoxious and Siri was in the midst of a nervous breakdown. The second half definitely picked up, and both Siri and Jamie went through personal transformations, but plot-wise not a lot happened, and it felt like very little of the action actually acted as a catalyst for their changes. By the end, I genuinely enjoyed Siri as a character, and I was rooting for Jamie to be better and work through her issues. I thought both love interests were endearing, and felt the connections between them, but I wish they would have dealt more with their parents. Wasn’t that the whole point of them switching places? My favorite thing about this book was that it really showed the complexities of dealing with deep trauma and how much personal effort it takes to work through it. Though there was a definite sense of resolution, none of the problems magically went away by the end, which I appreciated because it was realistic and 100% human. Overall, there were moments in this book that I really liked, but as a whole it was just kinda meh.

ARCs · Book Reviews

ARC Review: Spells Trouble by P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast

Hunter and Mercy Goode are twin witches, direct descendants of the founder of their town of Goodeville. As their ancestors have done before them, it is now time for the twins to learn what it means to be Gatekeepers–the protectors of the Gates to different underworlds, ancient portals between their world and realms where mythology rules and nightmares come to life.

When their mother becomes the first victim in a string of murders, the devastated sisters vow to avenge her death. But it will take more than magic to rein in the ancient mythological monsters who’ve infected their peaceful town.

Now Hunter and Mercy must come together and accept their destiny or risk being separated for good.

Release Date: May 25th, 2021

* I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review! Thanks to Wednesday Books for the opportunity! *

Spells Trouble was a solid witchy novel. I absolutely loved the way magic worked in this book, and as someone who has done a good amount of homework looking into witchcraft and its history, this book seemed very realistic and well researched in its magical theory. The concept of the five gates to different underworlds was a really cool idea, and the history behind them helped highlight the gravity of the plot. It was a fast-paced and quick read, but I wish it would have gone a little deeper in detail to give it some “wow” moments. The characters and their relationships were nuanced and interesting, especially the twins, Hunter and Mercy, and their sister dynamic was layered well and fluctuated a lot as the story progressed. I also appreciated their supportive friendships with Jax and Emily, and Mercy’s conflicting, and somewhat drama-filled, relationship with her boyfriend, Kirk. The ending climax, along with the cliffhanger epilogue, was exciting and set up the next book very nicely. Overall, this book was an enjoyable read, and while it lacked a wow factor for me, I would like to continue on in the series and see what else is in store.

ARCs · Book Reviews

ARC Review: Sunkissed by Kasie West

A lighthearted and swoony contemporary YA romance by fan-favorite author Kasie West about a girl who finds that a summer spent at a family resort isn’t as bad as she imagined…and that falling in love is filled with heartache, laughter, and surprises!

After being betrayed by her best friend, Avery is hoping for a picture-perfect summer. Too bad her parents have dragged her and her sister to a remote family camp for the entire summer. And that’s not even the worst part. Avery also has to deal with no internet, a cute but off-limits staff member, and an always-in-her-face sister.

But what starts as a disaster turns into a whirlwind summer romance as Avery embarks on an unexpected journey to figure out what she truly wants and who she wants to be.

Release Date: May 4th, 2021

*I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review. Thanks to Random House Children’s and Delacorte Press for the opportunity!*

Sunkissed is the perfect summer read. I’ve read a couple of Kasie West books before, but this one was my favorite. It was witty, sweet, and full of butterfly-inducing moments. I loved every single character in this book. They were all so fully fleshed out, even the really minor ones, and it made it feel real and allowed me to connect to the story more deeply. Avery was a delightful and relatable narrator and I was so invested in her journey of self-discovery and her budding romance. Brooks was super hot and their banter was swoon-worthy. I also loved seeing the relationship and dynamic between Avery and her sister, Lauren. The plot was cute and paced very well, and who doesn’t love a summer resort setting? Music also played a big part in this book, which I strongly related to. It can be hard to convey the qualities of music in writing, but I thought that this was done beautifully. I devoured this book so quickly, and think that anyone looking for a well-written summer rom-com will as well.

ARCs · Book Reviews

ARC Review: Slingshot by Mercedes Helnwein

Grace Welles had resigned herself to the particular loneliness of being fifteen and stuck at a third-tier boarding school in the swamps of Florida, when she accidentally saves the new kid in her class from being beat up. With a single aim of a slingshot, the monotonous mathematics of her life are obliterated forever…because now there is this boy she never asked for. Wade Scholfield.

With Wade, Grace discovers a new way to exist. School rules are optional, life is bizarrely perfect, and conversations about wormholes can lead to make-out sessions that disrupt any logical stream of thoughts.

So why does Grace crush Wade’s heart into a million tiny pieces? And what are her options when she finally realizes that 1. The universe doesn’t revolve around her, and 2. Wade has been hiding a dark secret. Is Grace the only person unhinged enough to save him?

Acidly funny and compulsively readable, Mercedes Helnwein’s debut novel Slingshot is a story about two people finding each other and then screwing it all up. See also: soulmate, friendship, stupidity, sex, bad poetry, and all the indignities of being in love for the first time.

Release Date: April 27th, 2021

*I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review! Thanks to Wednesday Books for the opportunity!*

I am torn with how I feel about this book. Slingshot is a grittier YA rom-com. It was a super easy read, full of wit and complicated situations, and it does a great job of exploring teenage emotions and experiences. I just don’t know if I liked Gracie. She is super sarcastic and tough with a mouth like a sailor. Her inner monologues could be really funny, and I loved that I could see through this tough front she put up to the world into her softer insides. Teenage emotions are intense and sometimes their reactions are irrational- I totally feel that and can relate. However; Gracie took this to a new level. So much so, that I found it hard to empathize with her and found some of her actions appalling. With all that said, even though I didn’t really like her, she intrigued me and I was definitely drawn into her story. She goes through a lot in this book from heartbreak, to losing her virginity, to learning how to be a friend, to discovering what love is, to dealing with family drama, to peer pressure, bad advice, and popularity, all while trying to figure out who she wants to be. Her relationship with Wade, who is awesome, was very sweet and they had fantastic banter. Seeing the passionate intensity of these two teenagers discovering first love together was endearing, and I loved seeing the effects it had on Gracie’s life. Slingshot surprised me in a bunch of different ways, and it left me with a strong bitter-sweet feeling that still kind of lingers days later.

ARCs · Book Reviews

ARC Review: These Feathered Flames by Alexandra Overy

Three Dark Crowns meets Wicked Saints in this queer #ownvoices retelling of “The Firebird,” a Russian folktale, by debut author Alexandra Overy.

When twin heirs are born in Tourin, their fates are decided at a young age. While Izaveta remained at court to learn the skills she’d need as the future queen, Asya was taken away to train with her aunt, the mysterious Firebird, who ensured magic remained balanced in the realm.

But before Asya’s training is completed, the ancient power blooms inside her, which can mean only one thing: the queen is dead, and a new ruler must be crowned.

As the princesses come to understand everything their roles entail, they’ll discover who they can trust, who they can love—and who killed their mother.

Release Date: April 20th, 2021

*I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review! Thanks to Inkyard Press for the opportunity*

I was excited about this book. The cover is gorgeous, the concept is really cool, and I had been seeing some good reviews for it. Unfortunately, it fell flat for me. The twin main characters, Izaveta and Asya, were separated in childhood to train for their destined roles as the Queen and the Firebird. The story begins when they each have to step into their roles suddenly and earlier than expected. The twins had contrasting personalities which made for an interesting dichotomy in the storytelling and their character development, but I had trouble connecting with them. The story centers around the complicated relationship between the sisters, and other than being told that they used to be inseparable, I didn’t feel their bond. All of the relationships lacked chemistry and depth that would have made me really care about them. The Russian-inspired world seemed cool, especially the system of magic and balance, but I felt like we only scratched the surface with all the aspects in the world-building, and having a deeper understanding would have enriched the story a lot. Because of these things, even though I thought the plot was interesting, I wasn’t as invested in it as I wanted to be. It felt a little dry in parts and there were moments when it felt like I was just reading the same thing again with no forward movement. The ending, plot-wise, was stellar and I did not see the twists coming, but since I wasn’t entirely invested in the relationships, it didn’t pack as much of a punch as it should have. It leaves on a cliffhanger and sets us up nicely for the second part of the duology, but I don’t know if I will go on to read the next book. I can definitely see people enjoying this book, but it just wasn’t enough for me.

ARCs · Book Reviews

ARC Review: Malice by Heather Walter

A princess isn’t supposed to fall for an evil sorceress. But in this darkly magical retelling of “Sleeping Beauty,” true love is more than a simple fairy tale.

Once upon a time, there was a wicked fairy who, in an act of vengeance, cursed a line of princesses to die. A curse that could only be broken by true love’s kiss.

You’ve heard this before, haven’t you? The handsome prince. The happily-ever-after.

Utter nonsense.

Let me tell you, no one in Briar actually cares about what happens to its princesses. Not the way they care about their jewels and elaborate parties and charm-granting elixirs. I thought I didn’t care, either.

Until I met her.

Princess Aurora. The last heir to Briar’s throne. Kind. Gracious. The future queen her realm needs. One who isn’t bothered that I am Alyce, the Dark Grace, abhorred and feared for the mysterious dark magic that runs in my veins. Humiliated and shamed by the same nobles who pay me to bottle hexes and then brand me a monster. Aurora says I should be proud of my gifts. That she . . . cares for me. Even though it was a power like mine that was responsible for her curse.

But with less than a year until that curse will kill her, any future I might see with Aurora is swiftly disintegrating—and she can’t stand to kiss yet another insipid prince. I want to help her. If my power began her curse, perhaps it’s what can lift it. Perhaps, together, we could forge a new world.

Nonsense again.

Because we all know how this story ends, don’t we? Aurora is the beautiful princess. And I—

I am the villain. 

Release Date: April 13th, 2021

*I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review! Thank you to Random House Publishing Group and Del Ray for the opportunity!*

I loved this book. This retelling of Sleeping Beauty was so clever and it twisted the story the perfect amount, where it was recognizable but still entirely fresh. The world-building was fantastic and I loved the history, the concept of the Graces, the magic systems, and the politics of the Kingdom of Briar. Alyce was a complicated and morally gray heroine, which was unique and an exciting thing to experience as a reader. I had so much empathy for her and it was fascinating to see someone who clearly had a good heart fight with her natural-born magic, which is powered by mal-intent, as well as the horrible way society has treated her for her entire life. Princess Aurora was totally loveable and their relationship broke my heart with its sweetness. The entire book is filled with a cast of complex and morally gray characters, creating some pretty great twists and turns in the plot. The ending left me in shock- it was so not what I expected to happen and I loved every second of it. This is one of my favorite fairy tale re-imaginings that I have read. I highly recommend it and am excited to see what else Heather Walter has up her sleeve.

ARCs · Book Reviews

Perfect On Paper by Sophie Gonzales ARC Review

In Perfect on Paper, Leah on the Offbeat meets To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before: a bisexual girl who gives anonymous love advice to her classmates is hired by the hot guy to help him get his ex back

Her advice, spot on. Her love life, way off.

Darcy Phillips:
• Can give you the solution to any of your relationship woes―for a fee.
• Uses her power for good. Most of the time.
• Really cannot stand Alexander Brougham.
• Has maybe not the best judgement when it comes to her best friend, Brooke…who is in love with someone else.
• Does not appreciate being blackmailed.

However, when Brougham catches her in the act of collecting letters from locker 89―out of which she’s been running her questionably legal, anonymous relationship advice service―that’s exactly what happens. In exchange for keeping her secret, Darcy begrudgingly agrees to become his personal dating coach―at a generous hourly rate, at least. The goal? To help him win his ex-girlfriend back.

Darcy has a good reason to keep her identity secret. If word gets out that she’s behind the locker, some things she’s not proud of will come to light, and there’s a good chance Brooke will never speak to her again.

Okay, so all she has to do is help an entitled, bratty, (annoyingly hot) guy win over a girl who’s already fallen for him once? What could go wrong?

Released March 9th, 2021

*I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review! Thanks to Wednesday Books for the opportunity! *

Perfect On Paper has been one of my most anticipated releases this year because I absolutely adored Only Mostly Devastated. First of all, I just love Sophie Gonzales. I love her witty writing style, I love her characters, and I love the stories she chooses to tell, but what I love most about her books is the way she captures the complexities of human emotion and relationships. Her characters are so dimensional and their emotions are complicated- which makes them relatable and truthful. It is so easy to connect to them, even when they are going through something you personally have never experienced. This book explores all types of relationships from romantic connections to friendships to families, and shows how these characters learn and grow from their mistakes and experiences. It has a ton of different kinds of LGBTQ+ representation, none of which felt contrived, and I so appreciate that all of the characters were multi-faceted individuals who both fully embraced and yet were not entirely defined by their sexual/gender identities. The bi-rep in this book is especially amazing, and really explores the intricacies of what it means to be bi-sexual. All of this is wrapped up in a super cute rom-com that is both hilarious and poignant with a fun plot and a sweet romance. What more could you need?