Book Review

ARC Book Review: Where the Lost Wander by Amy Harmon

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Historical fiction romance
Length: 348 pages
Author: Amy Harmon
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Release Date: April 28th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

In this epic and haunting love story set on the Oregon Trail, a family and their unlikely protector find their way through peril, uncertainty, and loss.

The Overland Trail, 1853: Naomi May never expected to be widowed at twenty. Eager to leave her grief behind, she sets off with her family for a life out West. On the trail, she forms an instant connection with John Lowry, a half-Pawnee man straddling two worlds and a stranger in both.

But life in a wagon train is fraught with hardship, fear, and death. Even as John and Naomi are drawn to each other, the trials of the journey and their disparate pasts work to keep them apart. John’s heritage gains them safe passage through hostile territory only to come between them as they seek to build a life together.

When a horrific tragedy strikes, decimating Naomi’s family and separating her from John, the promises they made are all they have left. Ripped apart, they can’t turn back, they can’t go on, and they can’t let go. Both will have to make terrible sacrifices to find each other, save each other, and eventually…make peace with who they are.

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for an eARC. All opinions are my own!

LOVE ON THE TRAIL.

I am in awe of Harmon’s writing and how amazing this love story was. And on the Oregon Trail! What a unique setting y’all. I was incredibly impressed with the flow and build of this book. The writing is beautiful and well-paced. I am reminded with each of her books how much I love this author.

This romance comes off a bit more fast paced than I typically love, but the historical setting and writing really made me fall in love with Naomi and John as they fell in love. Naomi is strong, brave and a widow at 20. Her singular goal is helping her family cross the nation to a hopefully brighter future in California. I enjoyed her personality and mindset. She knew exactly what she wanted and made those wishes known. John was stoic and quiet. The perfect contrast to Naomi. He was searching for a place to belong and found his home with her.

While this is mostly a romance I was enthralled by everything else happening around them. My heart continually leaped and panicked throughout this book because Harmon doesn’t shy away from history. She has clearly well researched this time period to bring this story to life. Naomi and John (+Naomi’s family) definitely do not have it easy and it was hard to pull out all the good things that did happen to them. This was a hard read, especially when you stop to appreciate all the travelers and Native Americans went through as their world began to change through exploration.

It’s difficult to fully express my love for Harmon’s writing and her ability to weave together an ending that always makes me tear up. There’s learning moments, powerful connections, undeniable bonds and a faith in the characters that you can deeply feel. Where the Lost Wander isn’t a sugarcoated romantic tale. It’s raw, poignant, and utterly wonderful in all of its lows and its highs.

I also took a chance to read the Author’s Note at the end and loved it as well. I like to read these (especially for historical fiction) to see what artistic choices the author chose as well as what inspired the story. This one in particular was inspired by some of Harmon’s husband’s ancestors. It really brought home how deeply she felt for these characters (some being based on real people) and how much she wanted to write a story involving them.

Overall audience notes:

  • Historical fiction romance
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: kisses, make outs, a few very little detail fade out scenes
  • Violence: physical, guns, arrows
  • Trigger warnings: some racist remarks about Native Americans, sexual assault, rape (ch. 17 – a few paragraphs with little detail)

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: Ruthless Gods (Something Dark and Holy #2) by Emily A. Duncan

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Young adult fantasy
Length: 544 pages
Author: Emily A. Duncan
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Expected Release Date: April 7th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Darkness never works alone…

Nadya doesn’t trust her magic anymore. Serefin is fighting off a voice in his head that doesn’t belong to him. Malachiasz is at war with who–and what–he’s become.

As their group is continually torn apart, the girl, the prince, and the monster find their fates irrevocably intertwined. They’re pieces on a board, being orchestrated by someone… or something. The voices that Serefin hears in the darkness, the ones that Nadya believes are her gods, the ones that Malachiasz is desperate to meet—those voices want a stake in the world, and they refuse to stay quiet any longer.

In her dramatic follow-up to Wicked Saints, the first book in her Something Dark and Holy trilogy, Emily A. Duncan paints a Gothic, icy world where shadows whisper, and no one is who they seem, with a shocking ending that will leave you breathless.

Thank you to the publisher, Wednesday Books, and Netgalley for the e-ARC. All opinions are my own.

TRUE TO ITS NATURE.

I should first acknowledge, will I read this third book? YES. While Ruthless Gods let me down a bit (and was way too long), there is still enough in here for me to need a conclusion to this wicked tale.

The desperation and darkness that leaked from these pages was astounding. This isn’t some cute fairytale y’all. This will hurt your soul most of the time and leave you questioning if a happy ending is ever possible. And honestly, I’M NOT SURE THAT IT IS. The scope of what someone is willing to do for love of country, and person pushed boundaries that left me reeling by the end. I was pulled in from the beginning, the middle definitely dragged on way too long, and then the ending gave me a interesting enough conclusion that I know I want more. This was a big case of book two syndrome.

This was reallllll creepy and realllll bloody. Every time Malachiasz showed his truly monstrous self I cringed because the mental picture is WEIRD Y’ALL. My boy Malachiasz was *almost* everything I needed him to be. I felt we were missing a chunk of his personality that didn’t come out until the very end. I wanted more heavily wicked banter and more intriguing moments with Nadya. I love this wicked cinnamon roll though and wonder what he’s planning next, because I know it’ll destroy my soul.

Serefin and Kacper. Saw it coming. LOVE IT. And that is about the only tiny moment of happiness Serefin saw this entire book (I told y’all, nothing good happens in Ruthless Gods). His continual battle with a god was intriguing, but here is my real gripe from the whole book; There were way too many visions and flashbacks. They often confused me because the segue into them was abrupt to the story.

My complaint from Wicked Saints was that Nadya wasn’t nefarious enough. She did up her ante in this installment!! YAY. I loved seeing her wield some dark magic and fight her demons. What I didn’t love was how wishy-washy she was about her relationship with Malachiasz. I get that it’s supposed to be this push and pull because he’s wicked, cool. BUT FOR REAL. I had a hard time getting on board with how often Nadya was flip-flopping and using pages to be a bit melodramatic about it all. I think some COMMUNICATION would solve most of these issues, it’s not even a matter of who’s wicked enough, it’s a matter of flat out talking to someone.

While I did enjoy the writing, some scene changes and chapter turnover was not in any sort of flow. It felt like small scenes were being jumped over and I was being tossed into the *next big thing* when I would have liked a bit more movement between scenes. I really loved the last 100 pages and am very curious about the last book. How the gods will play a role, what will happen between the countries, who is going to betray who last, SO MANY QUESTIONS. It’ll be a showstopper I’m sure.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Language: very little, in the second half of the book
  • Romance: a few kisses/make-outs, one almost scene that has a little heat
  • Violence: everything is bloody and gory y’all; murder, knives, magic, monsters, it’s all here
  • Trigger warnings: alcoholism, self-mutilation through cutting (for use of blood magic), self-mutilation through removing an eye

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: The Maiden Ship (The Maiden Ship #1) by Micheline Ryckman

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Fantasy
Length: 348 pages
Author: Micheline Ryckman
Publisher: Self-published/Whimsical Publishing
Release Date: February 7th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Dain Alloway was only nine years old when he began a new life with his father, sailing aboard The Maiden. Eight years later, the aristocratic city-boy turned merchant-sailor feels like he lives with one foot on land, and one foot in the sea. Life floats smoothly by until the night he wakes to find a mysterious woman in his cabin.

The events that unfold after her appearance transform Dain’s world. Now, hunted by empty-faced demons, he finds himself thrown into a dangerous web of intrigue and magic. As the crisis grows, the young sailor discovers powerful gifts buried deep within, talents that might shift the tide of a centuries-old war. Whether or not he’s ready, Dain will have to risk it all for the salvation and freedom of those he loves.

Thank you to the author for a copy of the book in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own!

I WANT TO BE ON THE MAIDEN SHIP.

I really enjoyed this fantasy tale. It has whimsy, mystery, romance, and so much more. For a first book in a series it definitely kept me intrigued and interested in where this story goes next.

These characters were all amazing and so well thought out. I felt that by the end I had a good grasp of everyone and love them all. I liked the unique personalities and quirks that each one came with. One of my favorites was definitely Dain, the main POV. He was adorable, yet strong and had to go through some growing pains that really added to his arc. I think the next book will only add to his demeanor as he truly steps into the Captain position.

I’m also entirely obsessed with Mo. And Toff. And Sable. And Lydia. And Tars. And Casper. And Ileana. SEE. I JUST CAN’T CHOOSE. But really, Ileana’s background and story line have me totally enthralled. I love that her story is truly just beginning and that with the the help of The Maiden Ship, I’ll hopefully get to see a happily ever after.

The romance between Dain and Sable was sweet. I looooved the banter between them and how Dain blushed a thousand times over every time he saw Sable. They radiated passion and a true connection. They better be endgame because I am here for it.

There’s a great world set-up that combines memories of the past with the present to leave an unknown future that I NEED answers for. I felt the premise was unique and I looooove books that involve the sea. I find it only enhances everything as the ship travels from one location to the next. The expansion of this world and its politics and magic system (through the series) are only going to make it even better.

Overall audience notes:

  • Fantasy
  • Language: none
  • Romance: flirting, kisses
  • Violence: creature attacks, magic, physical, swords

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Book Review

ARC Book Review and Blog Tour!: Tweet Cute by Emma Lord

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult contemporary
Length: 368 pages
Author: Emma Lord
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Release Date: January 21st, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

A fresh, irresistible rom-com from debut author Emma Lord about the chances we take, the paths life can lead us on, and how love can be found in the opposite place you expected.

Meet Pepper, swim team captain, chronic overachiever, and all-around perfectionist. Her family may be falling apart, but their massive fast-food chain is booming ― mainly thanks to Pepper, who is barely managing to juggle real life while secretly running Big League Burger’s massive Twitter account.

Enter Jack, class clown and constant thorn in Pepper’s side. When he isn’t trying to duck out of his obscenely popular twin’s shadow, he’s busy working in his family’s deli. His relationship with the business that holds his future might be love/hate, but when Big League Burger steals his grandma’s iconic grilled cheese recipe, he’ll do whatever it takes to take them down, one tweet at a time.

All’s fair in love and cheese ― that is, until Pepper and Jack’s spat turns into a viral Twitter war. Little do they know, while they’re publicly duking it out with snarky memes and retweet battles, they’re also falling for each other in real life ― on an anonymous chat app Jack built.

As their relationship deepens and their online shenanigans escalate ― people on the internet are shipping them?? ― their battle gets more and more personal, until even these two rivals can’t ignore they were destined for the most unexpected, awkward, all-the-feels romance that neither of them expected.

Thank you to Wednesday Books for the digital copy and for the opportunity to be apart of the blog tour! All opinions are my own.

SO CUTE & CHARMING Y’ALL.

This is the first book I’ve read that comes out in 2020! And it was great. Love when that happens. This is such a simply sweet high school rom-com. Lets break it down.

Okay, Pepper and Jack? PRECIOUS. From the synopsis I assumed that the drama of their budding relationship would resonate from the Twitter war and was surprised (in a good way) when it went in another direction. I thought this created a lot less of a mess and was very well done. Pepper was a great MC, but the real star to me was Jack. I LOVE THAT LITTLE CINNAMON ROLL. The poor guy just wanted to be appreciated for him (don’t we all?). I love that Pepper always knew who he was (and never mistook him for his twin). They had great banter and amazing chemistry through Twitter, texting and being together in general. It was a great slow-forming (I wouldn’t say burn, only because this book isn’t sexual at all in nature – it’s a very YA romance, which is another great bonus point) romance that had me cheering by the time I finally got my kiss scene. I was loving all of the fluff these two were giving.

I am so here for Pepper being a baker y’all. As one myself, it really solidified my connection with her. I love how willing she was to help others and tried to genuinely be kind in situations where I would understand her flipping out. Pepper had to deal with a lot on all fronts; school, mom, friends, etc. and handled better than I probably would have.

Pepper’s Mom though? Ugh. I knew she was up to something and had surmised what her “reasoning” would be and was not impressed (not with the writing or anything, just in how this character acted). If anyone needed to grow up it was her. I didn’t like the way she treated Pepper and was over her acting like a child by the end. I’m glad she did have some resolution and started acting like an actual adult.

The writing was pretty solid, I felt at times there were a lot of repetitive phrasing. So much so that I’m noting it here because of how often it occurred. I liked the New York setting and thought it was a great quirk that Pepper was afraid to go outside of her bubble to further places in Manhattan (because that would SO BE ME). I haven’t read a book with Twitter and burger/grilled cheese restaurants at the fore front. This made me love it more because I felt it was a newer look for young adult contemporary. And for someone that doesn’t even have a Twitter account, I didn’t mind one bit.

This was a great debut book and I’m excited to see what Emma Lord has in store next. If this is any indication, it will be another hit. Definitely check this one out! It’s as cute as it sounds.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult contemporary
  • Language: some language throughout
  • Romance: a few kisses
  • Trigger warnings: cyber-bullying

Author Bio:

Emma Lord is a digital media editor and writer living in New York City, where she spends whatever time she isn’t writing either running or belting show tunes in community theater. She graduated from the University of Virginia with a major in psychology and a minor in how to tilt your computer screen so nobody will notice you updating your fan fiction from the back row. She was raised on glitter, grilled cheese, and a whole lot of love. Her sun sign is Hufflepuff, but she is a Gryffindor rising. TWEET CUTE is her debut novel. You can find her geeking out online at @dilemmalord on Twitter.

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