Book Review

ARC Book Review: This Vicious Grace (The Last Finestra #1) by Emily Thiede

Rating: ★★★★
Audience: NA Fantasy Romance
Length: 448 pages
Author: Emily Thiede
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Release Date: June 28th, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Three weddings. Three funerals. Alessa’s gift from the gods is supposed to magnify a partner’s magic, not kill every suitor she touches.

Now, with only weeks left until a hungry swarm of demons devours everything on her island home, Alessa is running out of time to find a partner and stop the invasion. When a powerful priest convinces the faithful that killing Alessa is the island’s only hope, her own soldiers try to assassinate her.

Desperate to survive, Alessa hires Dante, a cynical outcast marked as a killer, to become her personal bodyguard. But as rebellion explodes outside the gates, Dante’s dark secrets may be the biggest betrayal. He holds the key to her survival and her heart, but is he the one person who can help her master her gift or destroy her once and for all?

Emily Thiede’s exciting fantasy debut, This Vicious Grace, will keep readers turning the pages until the devastating conclusion and leave them primed for more!

Thank you to Wednesday Books and Netgalley for an eARC.

THAT WAS SOMETHING.

I feel perplexed by my thoughts on this one.

We’ll start here. On one hand, I had a hard time putting this down. The writing was great and captivating. Easy to follow and fly through. I LOVED the banter between the love interests Alessa and Dante. And hello, a bodyguard romance? YUP. You read that right. The build-up was sweet and I liked how they got to know each other and connected on multiple levels.

I also did liked this cast of characters. Everyone had different personalities and nobody blended into the background. I would have loved even more background on Alessa’s new group of friends to solidify those relationships even more.

On the other hand, I wouldn’t call this a strong fantasy. It leans heavily to the romance (which is fine for me), but not hard enough into the world building and magic system. Things were laid out well, yet as I was finishing the book I realized some aspects just didn’t make sense? It’s hard to explain, but as a devout fantasy lover there were things missing for me.

Definitely still interested in the second book. I think that has a lot of potential and I would looooove to see where this romance can go. Can’t wait!

Overall audience notes:

  • YA/NA Fantasy Romance
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: vague open door
  • Violence: physical and magical altercations, creature attacks
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: attempted murder, near death experiences, kidnapping, imprisonment, mentions of past child abuse, thoughts of suicide (and others trying to convince the MC to commit suicide)

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: This May End Badly by Samantha Markum

Rating: ★★★★
Audience: YA Contemporary Romance
Length: 384 pages
Author: Samantha Markum
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Release Date: April 12th, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Pranking mastermind Doe and her motley band of Weston girls are determined to win the century-long war against Winfield Academy before the clock ticks down on their senior year. But when their headmistress announces that The Weston School will merge with its rival the following year, their longtime feud spirals into chaos.

To protect the school that has been her safe haven since her parents’ divorce, Doe puts together a plan to prove once and for all that Winfield boys and Weston girls just don’t mix, starting with a direct hit at Three, Winfield’s boy king and her nemesis. In a desperate move to win, Doe strikes a bargain with Three’s cousin, Wells: If he fake dates her to get under Three’s skin, she’ll help him get back his rightful family heirloom from Three.

As the pranks escalate, so do her feelings for her fake boyfriend, and Doe spins lie after lie to keep up her end of the deal. But when a teacher long suspected of inappropriate behavior messes with a younger Weston girl, Doe has to decide what’s more important: winning a rivalry, or joining forces to protect something far more critical than a prank war legacy.

This May End Badly is a story about friendship, falling in love, and crossing pretty much every line presented to you—and how to atone when you do.

Thank you to Wednesday Books and Netgalley for an eARC.

WORKED FOR ME!

Love a great young adult contemporary with some romance. This is definitely one of those reads!

The romance was so sweet!! I loved the fake dating (of course) and how clearly smitten these two were from the beginning, even if Doe didn’t realize it yet. Occasionally she was too concerned about the reasons they were fake dating, but that played into her character growth by the end. I adored Wells and Doe. I thought they were authentically teens, making some poor decisions and learning how to apologize and accept help. Doe was a wonderfully strong main character and one of the best parts of this book.

Some serious themes were also handled (see trigger warnings). While it didn’t seem to fit the original plot of the story, it did work to bring these two schools together. I think it could have benefitted from a bit more flow, but I love a good teamwork moment and This May End Badly accomplished that.

I liked the prank wars and competing schools. I adored Doe’s entire group of friends and all of the coming of age growth and conversations throughout. A really superb young adult novel you should check out too!

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Contemporary Romance
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: one fade to black + light innuendo
  • Violence: some pranks that cause minor harm
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: sexual harassment, grooming by a teacher

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: A Far Wilder Magic by Alison Saft

Rating: ★★★
Audience: YA Fantasy Romance
Length: 384 pages
Author: Alison Saft
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Release Date: March 8th, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

When Margaret Welty spots the legendary hala, the last living mythical creature, she knows the Halfmoon Hunt will soon follow. Whoever is able to kill the hala will earn fame and riches, and unlock an ancient magical secret. If Margaret wins the hunt, it may finally bring her mother home. While Margaret is the best sharpshooter in town, only teams of two can register, and she needs an alchemist.

Weston Winters isn’t an alchemist–yet. Fired from every apprenticeship he’s landed, his last chance hinges on Master Welty taking him in. But when Wes arrives at Welty Manor, he finds only Margaret and her bloodhound Trouble. Margaret begrudgingly allows him to stay, but on one condition: he must join the hunt with her.

Although they make an unlikely team, Wes is in awe of the girl who has endured alone on the outskirts of a town that doesn’t want her, in this creaking house of ghosts and sorrow. And even though Wes disrupts every aspect of her life, Margaret is drawn to him. He, too, knows what it’s like to be an outsider. As the hunt looms closer and tensions rise, Margaret and Wes uncover dark magic that could be the key to winning the hunt – if they survive that long.

In A Far Wilder Magic, Allison Saft has written an achingly tender love story set against a deadly hunt in an atmospheric, rich fantasy world that will sweep you away.

Thank you the the publisher and Netgalley for an eARC.

A BIT CONFUSING.

Oh the plight of a standalone fantasy.

I really enjoyed Down Comes the Night and have been excited to pick this one up and I’m kind of bummed it let me down.

What I struggled with most was the world building and magic system. It was obnoxiously convoluted for a standalone. Info dumping for some things and not broad enough explanations for others left me utterly directionless. Even by the end I was still a bit mixed on the religions, world system and more.

In the mix of things I did like was the romance. Wes and Margaret grew on me over the book. That sweet sense of first love and finding some who gets you and supports you. They were also solid as main characters. I love character growth and both exhibited plenty by the end. I enjoyed their banter and quiet moments.

Still not quite sure what the deal was with hunting the fox? It was a unique plot I’ll give it that, but I found myself skimming far more than I wanted. Great characterization and movement, but slow and enigmatic plot.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Fantasy Romance
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: one vague and brief open door
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: discrimination, prejudice, breaking and entering, hunting (of animals), physical altercations, animal mauling, neglectful parents, depictions of grief

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: Edgewood by Kristen Ciccarelli

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: NA Fantasy Romance
Length: 400 pages
Author: Kristen Ciccarelli
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Release Date: March 1st, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

No matter how far she runs, the forest of Edgewood always comes for Emeline Lark. The scent of damp earth curls into her nose when she sings and moss creeps across the stage. It’s as if the woods of her childhood, shrouded in folklore and tall tales, are trying to reclaim her. But Emeline has no patience for silly superstitions.

When her grandfather disappears, leaving only a mysterious orb in his wake, the stories Emeline has always scoffed at suddenly seem less foolish. She enters the forest she has spent years trying to escape, only to have Hawthorne Fell, a handsome and brooding tithe collector, try to dissuade her from searching.

Refusing to be deterred, Emeline finds herself drawn to the court of the fabled Wood King himself. She makes a deal—her voice for her grandfather’s freedom. Little does she know, she’s stumbled into the middle of a curse much bigger than herself, one that threatens the existence of this eerie world she’s trapped in, along with the devastating boy who feels so familiar.

With the help of Hawthorne—an enemy turned reluctant ally who she grows closer to each day—Emeline sets out to not only save her grandfather’s life, but to right past wrongs, and in the process, discover her true voice.

Haunting and romantic, Kristen Ciccarelli’s Edgewood is an exciting novel from a bold, unforgettable voice in fantasy.

Thank you to Wednesday Books and Netgalley for an eARC.

MELODIC & HAUNTING.

Well if the cover isn’t already drawing you in, let me tell you, this was a GREAT standalone fantasy. They’re often hit or misses. This was a hit. Happy I read it. Couldn’t get enough of it.

I really liked the main character, Emeline. She had limits, yet didn’t let that stop her. She used her strengths and her heart to make the decisions and I never found myself wanting to roll my eyes at her choices. I love a heroine who grows and comes into her own over the course of a book.

The romance with Emeline and Hawthorne enchanted me way more than I was expecting. I like a long haul, yet this quick paced romance got me good. I liked the reveals, the quiet, tender moments and the clear passion emanating from their bond across time.

A well thought out plot that touches on some tough subjects (see trigger/content warnings). Reading the author’s note at the end brought the novel into an even better light. I like the way things were handled and the acknowledgement of how tough getting older and coping with those changes can be. While at the initial moment, I didn’t love the ending, the further I thought about it (and now writing this review), I see the connection. I see the intention of the author in this choice and really think it fits for the book.

This isn’t a full fantasy, it’s got a dash of urban nature to it. I love a good urban fantasy + fae though so no complaints here. I love all of the music components and everything else this book offered. I had a hard time putting it down.

Overall audience notes:

  • NA Fantasy Romance
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: brief/vague open door (2ish scenes)
  • Violence: physical altercations, weaponry, creature attacks
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: a grandparent with dementia, loss of memory without consent, kidnapping

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