Book Review

Book Review: The Song of the Marked (Shadows and Crowns #1) by S.M. Gaither

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Fantasy
Length: 512 pages
Author: S.M. Gaither
Publisher: Self Published
Release Date: September 17th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads


An ancient evil is stirring. The old gods are growing restless. Can she stop the coming storm?

A Devastating Sickness

For decades, the Kethran Empire has been plagued by a strange illness that leaches the very life and soul from its victims.

The Girl Who Survived

Casia is one of the Fade-Marked—one of the few people who caught this sickness and lived. Why she lived is a mystery even to her and the outcast crew of mercenaries she calls her family. It also makes her an intriguing target for the young, enigmatic king-emperor, who claims he wants to work alongside her to find a cure.

Unfortunately, working alongside him also means working with the handsome but infuriating captain of one of the most prestigious branches of the Kethran Army.

A Soldier With No Past

This infuriating Captain Elander also has secrets: A past that Cas can’t seem to uncover, a powerful but strange brand of magic, and a deep distrust of the very monarch that he’s sworn to serve. She feels oddly drawn to him in spite of these things…

But can she really trust him?

The Fate of an Empire

As the bodies pile up and strange monsters begin to wreak havoc throughout the realms, Cas and Elander will have to work together to protect their world whether they trust one another or not. Because one thing is clear: Something ancient and evil is stirring in the shadows of Kethra.

And the empire will not survive its full unleashing.

But how can they save a world where nothing and no one is what they seem to be— including Cas herself?


I’m always looking for a fantasy series to dive into, and this one is it. It was SO DANG GOOD. And the audio book was fantastic. Highly recommend that avenue if you’re interested. I flew through this fast. The pacing was well intentioned and never felt like a drag. I love the high stakes action and the plot itself. Gimme book two ASAP.

Of course, one of my favorite aspects is the enemies to lovers trope. It’s heated and tangled. Left me begging for them to actually kiss and then contemplating what I was supposed to do with AN ENDING LIKE THAT. It’s going to be a long haul and I am here for it.

I love a strong female main character and Cas IS THAT WOMAN. She takes charge, occasionally runs off into danger, but is fiercely loyal and is just looking for answers to save her loved ones. Cas got in on the action and drove this book forward with her stubborn tenacity. Can’t get enough of her. There’s been some mention of Throne of Glass vibes and I can definitely see that here (in a great way).

The ending left me reeling and I am not coping well waiting for the next book. I’m excited to continue this series because that first book was a hidden gem.

Overall audience notes:

  • Fantasy + Romance
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: brief open door
  • Violence: physical and magical altercations, creature attacks
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: blood/gore depiction, loss of loved ones, a wasting sickness

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Book Review

Book Review: Dial A for Aunties (Aunties #1) by Jesse Q. Sutanto

Rating: ☆☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Contemporary romance + Mystery
Length: 300 pages
Author: Jesse Q. Sutanto
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: April 27th, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads


What happens when you mix 1 (accidental) murder with 2 thousand wedding guests, and then toss in a possible curse on 3 generations of an immigrant Chinese-Indonesian family?

You get 4 meddling Asian aunties coming to the rescue!

When Meddelin Chan ends up accidentally killing her blind date, her meddlesome mother calls for her even more meddlesome aunties to help get rid of the body. Unfortunately, a dead body proves to be a lot more challenging to dispose of than one might anticipate, especially when it is inadvertently shipped in a cake cooler to the over-the-top billionaire wedding Meddy, her Ma, and aunties are working at an island resort on the California coastline. It’s the biggest job yet for the family wedding business—”Don’t leave your big day to chance, leave it to the Chans!”—and nothing, not even an unsavory corpse, will get in the way of her auntie’s perfect buttercream flowers.

But things go from inconvenient to downright torturous when Meddy’s great college love—and biggest heartbreak—makes a surprise appearance amid the wedding chaos. Is it possible to escape murder charges, charm her ex back into her life, and pull off a stunning wedding all in one weekend?


That’s how great this book was. I couldn’t put it down. I found reasons to keep listening to my audio copy because I had to know what would happen next.

This was absolutely hilarious. I haven’t laughed this much while reading in awhile. It was fantastic. I adored all of the Aunties and the hijinks they got up too. I loved the main character, Meddy. I wanted to be her friend and her inner monologue was spot on. This group of women were wonderful. All of the family dynamics with great support and hilarity. I just loved everyone so much.

The romance was cute! I didn’t like how it initially started (with a forced miscommunication) but otherwise the reconnection had me swooning. Nathan was a sweet dreamboat who wasn’t letting Meddy walk away again.

Following the larger plot was engaging and I thought everything wove together well. I liked the setting and how the romance worked out for the side characters too. There’s just a lot here to love and I will definitely be passing this around as a new highly recommend read.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary romance + Murder mystery
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: one brief open
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: accidental homicide, attempted sexual assault, racism, sexism, recreational drug use, nonconsensual drugging, on page car accident, catfishing

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Book Review

Book Review: Tunnel of Bones (Cassidy Blake #2) by Victoria Schwab

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Middle Grade Paranormal Horror
Length: 304 pages
Author: Victoria Schwab
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date: September 3rd, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads


Trouble is haunting Cassidy Blake . . . even more than usual.

She (plus her ghost best friend, Jacob, of course) are in Paris, where Cass’s parents are filming their TV show about the world’s most haunted cities. Sure, it’s fun eating croissants and seeing the Eiffel Tower, but there’s true ghostly danger lurking beneath Paris, in the creepy underground Catacombs.

When Cass accidentally awakens a frighteningly strong spirit, she must rely on her still-growing skills as a ghosthunter — and turn to friends both old and new to help her unravel a mystery. But time is running out, and the spirit is only growing stronger.

And if Cass fails, the force she’s unleashed could haunt the city forever.


These books are so fun! I love the light layer of spooky ghosts and that have definitely creepy moments, but also the friendships and growth in characters makes these even better.

I loved getting a deeper dive into Cassidy and Jacob’s friendship. I’ve had many a question about Jacob from the beginning and it was nice getting some of that information. They have some deep conflicts to encounter in future book(s) that my heart worries for, but also really can’t wait to read.

This setting was perfect for a paranormal read. I love that history is mixed into the plot. Learning about the Paris catacombs, getting a few ghosts stories, and much more. I was freaked out myself from even imagining being stuck in those tombs.

The ending left plenty open and has me wondering what the next book will hold in New Orleans. I love that these focus on friendship and solving mysteries. Cassidy and Jacob are such a pair.

Overall audience notes:

  • Middle grade paranormal contemporary mystery
  • Language: none
  • Violence: physical altercations, uncovering deathly pasts of ghosts

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: Instant Karma by Marissa Meyer

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: YA Contemporary Romance / Magical Realism
Length: 400 pages
Author: Marissa Meyer
Publisher: Feiwel &Friends
Release Date: November 3rd, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads


In this young adult contemporary romance, a girl is suddenly gifted with the ability to cast instant karma on those around her—both good and bad.

Chronic overachiever Prudence Daniels is always quick to cast judgment on the lazy, rude, and arrogant residents of her coastal town. Her dreams of karmic justice are fulfilled when, after a night out with her friends, she wakes up with the sudden ability to cast instant karma on those around her. Pru giddily makes use of the power, punishing everyone from public vandals to karaoke hecklers, but there is one person on whom her powers consistently backfire: Quint Erickson, her slacker of a lab partner and all-around mortal enemy. Soon, Pru begins to uncover truths about Quint, her peers, and even herself that reveal how thin the line is between virtue and vanity, generosity and greed . . . love and hate.

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for the audio book in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own!


Since I read this an audio book ARC, I wanted to mention my thoughts on the audio. I thought the narrator was great and found it to be easy listening. I kept it at 1.5x – 1.75x depending on what I was doing at the time while listening. Definitely would recommend reading it as an audio book if you enjoy that option!

I love Marissa Meyer’s books. I am a big fan of her fantasy books. Reading her first contemporary romance? ALL OVER IT.

This was a cute Beatles-inspired young adult romance. I loved the beach setting and marine ecology aspects. It felt relevant without being pushy and I learned a lot just from the setting alone. There was knowledge of rescuing, rehabilitating and releasing multiple marine animals and the center goes about achieving their ultimate goal of getting these animals back to the wild.

Prudence was our dear main character. Oh, how I struggled with her for 80% of the book. I kept expecting some more character growth from her, but felt it happened too close to the end. She leaned towards selfish and so completely single-mindedly focused that I wanted to jump in the book and tell her what she’s missing. With all of the damage done before getting to some evolution in her character it became a bit of a let down.

Quint was precious. And I’m genuinely amazed he was cool with Prudence being rude to him over and over again. I loved his interactions and banter. Quint had a great back story and was clearly devoted to helping the sea creatures in his care. I loved his nature and passion.

I did love their initial at last they kissed moment. It came at the right time and was sweet. I would have loved a longer ending with more of them because by the time I was really feeling it, the ending had arrived.

It’s overall a fun book and I’m happy that I read it. I love Meyer’s writing and will continue to read all the books by her. I’m also hoping for maybe more books with Pru’s brother, Jude (who I adored) and maybe even her friends? I thought there was some open options for more contemporaries in this world and I would love to read those too.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult contemporary romance
  • Language: very little and light
  • Romance: kisses
  • Violence: injured sea animals that washed ashore, someone breaking their leg from a fall

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