ARCs · Book Reviews

Strange Gods by Alison Kimble Review

Spooky arrives at a wilderness boot camp for troubled teens with two suitcases and an ultimatum: either she keeps her head down over the summer or she won’t be allowed home at the end of it. All she wants to do is survive the pyros, bullies, and power-tripping counselors, get through senior year, and start her life somewhere new. She’ll do just about anything to protect that future.

But when an encounter with another camper goes awry and ends with Spooky hiding in the woods, something else finds her. Something ancient and powerful has sent out feelers, hoping to catch a human alone. For its purposes, one human is as good as any other. Even a delinquent teen will do.

If Spooky wants to survive to see any kind of future, she will have to figure out how to gain leverage over a god. And as if the one wasn’t bad enough, a pantheon of dark entities are lining up between her and the life she’s always wanted…

For fantasy fans, comes one girl’s journey through dark worlds of magic, gods, and monsters.

* I received this book from the author in return for an honest review! Thanks to Alison Kimble for the opportunity! *

Strange Gods is a quirky and weird YA fantasy/Sci-Fi novel about a “delinquent” teen named Spooky on a quest to save Earth from destruction at the hands of, you guessed it, strange Gods. And strange they are. Alison Kimble’s writing style was easy to read with its youthful voice and had some truly clever moments, but overall I found this book to be kind of boring. It follows a traditional fantasy quest format, with new obstacles added throughout, but the action seemed to get a little convoluted in the strangeness of the characters and the world. The ideas here have the potential to be incredibly interesting and different, but they sometimes got lost on the surface level and there was a lightness to the storytelling that felt mismatched to the oftentimes gruesome and bizarre events and descriptions. As a whole, while there were some great elements in this novel, it never gripped me enough to get seriously invested in the characters or the story.


TBT: Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares

Hello my friends! I’ve decided to start a new monthly feature: Throwback Thursday, where I re-read old favorites and give my updated thoughts and opinions. My last series was Twilight, and now I have moved onto The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares! I was actually pretty nervous about this reread because The Sisterhood has such a special place in my heart and I was really scared that it wouldn’t hold up to my memories. I also haven’t read this since I was in 7th grade and I am very used to the movie now.

Omg so much nostalgia is hitting me right now.

This book is bringing me BACK. I moved in 7th grade, and I remember reading this book with my best friend from my old school the first time she came to visit. This book and these characters took over my life and was one of the first truly influential YA books that I read. It makes my heart happy to be revisiting it.

Wow, the movie changed a lot.

I remember being really upset with some of the changes they made when the movie first came out, but now it seems so normal to me, and I’m finding myself weirded out by the actual details from the book. Lena’s story was ENTIRELY different- so different that it almost felt new to me reading it again.

Bridget was my favorite… now I’m concerned for her.

I used to LOVE and idolize Bridget. I still love her, but looking at her with my adult eyes, my heart hurts for her. She acts so irrationally and there were a lot of moments that I used to think were so bold and fabulous, that now I think are crazy and worrying.

Also Eric is actually kinda creepy….

This one hurts me. I used to think this storyline was SOOO HOT and dangerous. Now, it seems really creepy to me. Their age difference isn’t that big, but something about their interactions and dynamic really irked me. Part of it is seeing Bridget’s behavior in a new light too, I think. The movie does a really good job of making their relationship and connection seem stronger and less skeevy.

I surprisingly was really drawn to Tibby and Bailey’s story.

Tibby was always my least favorite of the four, I think because she was the one I had the hardest time relating to as a teen. This reread, she was actually my favorite storyline. Bailey is the best- so much wisdom and their friendship was beautiful.

Lena and Kostos don’t actually have much interaction in this book.

They have very few real moments together. Lena was always my second favorite after Bridget, but to be honest I kinda found her story to be a little slow this time. I still love her character, but I understand now why they made the changes they did for the movie.

This book is so beautiful.

There are some truly magical moments in this book. They deal with real and deep issues and emotions that still affected me as an adult. Their friendship is beautiful and I can see why these books were so popular.

I really loved my reread of this book and being back with some of my all time favorite characters and I am very excited to get to book 2 which used to be my favorite one.

I would love for people to join me and chat about their thoughts rereading this series as well ❤

ARCs · Book Reviews

ARC Review: Small Favors by Erin A. Craig

Ellerie Downing lives in the quiet town of Amity Falls in the Blackspire Mountain range–five narrow peaks stretching into the sky like a grasping hand, bordered by a nearly impenetrable forest from which the early townsfolk fought off the devils in the woods. To this day, visitors are few and rare. But when a supply party goes missing, some worry that the monsters that once stalked the region have returned.

As fall turns to winter, more strange activities plague the town. They point to a tribe of devilish and mystical creatures who promise to fulfill the residents’ deepest desires, however grand and impossible, for just a small favor. But their true intentions are much more sinister, and Ellerie finds herself in a race against time before all of Amity Falls, her family, and the boy she loves go up in flames.

Release: July 27th, 2021

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

You guys. I am so surprised by how much I loved this book. It was definitely out of my comfort zone with the ultra-spooky vibe, but I dug it, even if I was afraid to read it before bed. I was obsessed with the setting- the old-fashioned, conservative, Children of the Corn-esque isolated community created the perfect atmosphere for this story and it really drew me in. Ellerie was a terrific narrator and I loved seeing this world through her eyes and how deeply she cared for her family and how she dealt with the chaos. The romance was a welcome relief from the horrors happening in the town, and Whitaker was an interesting and mysterious love interest. This book was a simmering, sinister ride, and I was honestly pleasantly shocked by the grit and darkness- especially towards the end. Some of the secrets were predictable, but the story definitely took a turn that I was not expecting. That ending stays with me, and I’m still not quite sure how I feel about its ambiguity, but I also kind of love that. I’m not usually one for scary stories, but I’ll gladly let this one haunt me.

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: Isoldesse by Kimberly Grymes

Friendships are tested, new alliances are made, and the truth of one woman’s actions from over a millennia ago are revealed.

Kenna and Meegan are college students dealing with upcoming finals, needy parents, boy drama, and what to do with their lives after they graduate in a few weeks. What they weren’t expecting was for Kenna to receive a powerful stone necklace that ultimately changes their plans for a relaxing summer.

Strange things begin to happen to Kenna, like being the only one who can see and talk to the mysterious old woman with a golden aura. Or how in her dreams, a man with vibrant orange eyes keeps appearing who may or may not be real. Though, not all of Kenna’s mysterious encounters are pleasant as she’s haunted by massive beings carrying long swords and wearing armor covered in black scales.

Besides solving the mystery of where the stone necklace came from, Kenna, Meegan, and their friends are taken to another world for a routine evolutionary assessment. The assessment gets sabotaged and causes more chaos for Kenna and her friends, especially for Meegan who is forced to open up and reveal her true identity and the magic she hides.

There’s one name that Kenna, Meegan, the Sendarians, and the monsters who’ve been hunting Meegan and her family for over a century all have in common…

*Release Date: March 2nd, 2021*

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

This book was interesting and different. Let me just start off by saying that this cover is absolutely STUNNING and definitely drew me to reading this. The concept of this book is amazing and it has a super in-depth world that I really would like to see more of. The story is told in several POVs that show us different aspects of the plot that weave together, but it is only sometimes effective. I love the use of that narrative style here, but there were too many POVs for me and it made it a bit confusing to follow, especially because the world is so vast and layered with new information for the reader. There were several moments as it was piecing together that were very exciting and cool, but I think some editing could have been done in narrowing the storytellers down, while telling the same story, and creating a stronger narrative. I also had trouble connecting to the characters. I understood the idea of them, but never felt like they were dimensional, real people. They also seemed too young in the way they spoke and acted for me to believe these were almost college graduates. I really loved the concept and thought the plot was clever and unique-there were a few twists in there that worked incredibly well- but in general, this book just did not grab me enough.

ARCs · Book Reviews

ARC Review: Influence by Sara Shepard and Lilia Buckingham

After a video she makes goes viral, everyone knows Delilah Rollins. And now that she’s in LA, Delilah’s standing on the edge of something incredible. Everything is going to change. She has no idea how much.

Jasmine Walters-Diaz grew up in the spotlight. A child star turned media darling, the posts of her in her classic Lulu C. rainbow skirt practically break the Internet. But if the world knew who Jasmine really was, her perfect life? Canceled.

Fiona Jacobs is so funny–the kind of girl for whom a crowd parts–no wonder she’s always smiling! But on the inside? The girl’s a hot mess. And when someone comes out of the shadows with a secret from her past, it’s one that won’t just embarrass Fiona: it will ruin her.

Who wouldn’t want to be Scarlet Leigh? Just look at her Instagram. Scarlet isn’t just styled to perfection: she is perfection. Scarlet has a gorgeous, famous boyfriend named Jack and there’s a whole fanbase about their ship. To everyone watching online, their lives seem perfect . . . but are they really? The sun is hot in California . . . and someone’s going to get burned.

Release Date: January 5th, 2021

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

I used to be obsessed with the Pretty Little Liars series, so I have been looking forward to Sara Shepard’s new book with Lilia Buckingham for a while. Influence is a fast-paced, drama-filled, mystery set in the crazy world of influencers in California. The storylines were plotted well and it seemed to follow the Pretty Little Liars formula closely, including an almost “A” like character in Scarlet Leigh. It was an effective choice for this plot and these characters, if not entirely fresh. There were a lot of twists and red herrings that made it exciting and fun to read, and I never knew what was coming next. I really liked the characters, Jasmine and the mysterious Scarlet especially, and what I appreciated was that even though they were dealing with some pretty adult subject matter, they still seemed like teenagers. It has a little bit of everything with a great mix of drama, romance, family, sexuality, and coming of age, all while navigating the chaotic life of social media and fame. The world of influencers is a fascinating and wild subject in itself and though I know it is very real, it almost feels hard to believe. This book is a solid standalone, but there is definitely enough of an open door to write another one, and I know I would like to see more of these characters.

Top Ten Tuesday

Top 10 Tuesday: Books I Hope Santa Brings

Hello everyone! I hope everyone had a lovely Winter Solstice last night and is having a great holiday season! I think most bookworms have books on their holiday wish lists, and I am no exception. This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted at That Artsy Reader Girl, is Books I Hope Santa Brings.

Which books are you hoping to receive this year? Have you read any of my picks? Let me know in the comments!

ARCs · Book Reviews

ARC Review: Warmaidens (Gravemaidens #2) by Kelly Coon

Just a few moons after escaping the tomb in Alu, Kammani and the other runaway maidens have found refuge in the city-state of Manzazu. There, Kammani has become a respected healer, especially among the warriors she’s brought back from the brink of death. Now that the nightmares of Alu are fading, she can finally decide whether or not to take Dagan’s hand in marriage.

But when an assassin murders a healer he believes is Kammani and attempts to kill the displaced queen of Alu, the maidens realize they’ve been found.

Hungry for revenge, Manzazu’s queen wants to strike back at Alu with her fiercest weapons—her scorpion warrior maidens—but Kammani knows that war harms more than it heals. To save the innocents and any chance of a future with Dagan, Kammani must take down Alu’s ruler before their lives burn up in the flames of war.

Release Date: December 15th, 2020

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

I absolutely loved Gravemaidens and could not wait to get my hands on the sequel and get back to the world of Alu. I adore Kelly Coon’s writing. Her plots, characters, and style suck me in immediately, and don’t want to let go. Right from the start, we’re plunged back into action and we’re off and running. Warmaidens was full of non-stop action and intrigue which made it a super quick and easy read. I love these characters and seeing them fight through the turmoil, and this book has a lot of it, was gripping and heartbreaking. Kammani’s struggles with her values as a healer and needing to go against them to save more lives created such a fantastic inner conflict. Her relationship with Dagan was sweet and lovely, especially when surrounded by the way women are viewed in their society. I think Coon did a great job creating strong, badass female characters in a world that is made to be against them. While Kammani is a fantastic heroine, Iltani stole the show in this book. I was drawn to her ferocity and spirit, but she was a complicated and nuanced character which added so much depth to her actions. Uruku is a despicable villain which made it easy to root for his demise. This book has some pretty dark moments. All of the battle scenes were incredibly cinematic and the ending climax was epic. While the overall concept wasn’t as unique as the first book, I thoroughly enjoyed this conclusion to the duology and will be eagerly awaiting another book by Kelly Coon.

Monthly Wrap-Ups

November 2020 Wrap-Up

Hello everyone! The holiday season is in full swing and I am getting into the spirit! I am super behind on my reading goals for the year, but I’m still chugging along and trying to get as many books in as I can. I’m really looking forward to finishing out this crazy year with some good reads, family time, and lots of hot coa coa 🙂

Books Read:

Chasing Lucky by Jenn Bennett ★★★★

Lair of Dreams by Libby Bray ★★★★★

Our Bloody Pearl by D.N. Bryn ★★★★

The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes ★★★★

Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare ★★★★

Favorite Book of the Month

Currently Reading

Challenge Updates

Goodreads Challenge: 65 of 100 – Still 25 books behind schedule… oh well.

Classics Club Challenge: 10 of 50 – I have not been actively trying to do this challenge and I know I need to be better.

Beat the Backlist: 32 of 50 – I read one more. I’ve still been focusing on ARCs and new releases for the most part.

November Reviews

• Kingdom of Sea and Stone (Crown of Coral and Pearl #2) by Mara Rutherford • Chasing Lucky by Jenn Bennett • Our Bloody Pearl by D.N. Bryn


November Posts

• Top 10 Tuesday: Non-Bookish Hobbies • Cleaning Up My TBR: Down the TBR Hole #29 • Top 10 Tuesday: Book Titles That Would Make Great Song Titles • Top 10 Tuesday: Characters I’d Name a Pet After •