Book Review

ARC Book Review: Saint (The World of the Narrows #0) by Adrienne Young

Rating: ★★★★
Audience: YA Fantasy
Length: 336 pages
Author: Adrienne Young
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Release Date: November 29th, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

New York Times bestselling author Adrienne Young returns to the world of The Narrows with Saint, a captivating prequel to Fable and Namesake.

As a boy, Elias learned the hard way what happens when you don’t heed the old tales.

Nine years after his lack of superstition got his father killed, he’s grown into a young man of piety, with a deep reverence for the hallowed sea and her fickle favor. As stories of the fisherman’s son who has managed to escape the most deadly of storms spreads from port to port, his devotion to the myths and creeds has given him the reputation of the luckiest bastard to sail the Narrows.

Now, he’s mere days away from getting everything his father ever dreamed for him: a ship of his own, a crew, and a license that names him as one of the first Narrows-born traders. But when a young dredger from the Unnamed Sea with more than one secret crosses his path, Elias’ faith will be tested like never before. The greater the pull he feels toward her, the farther he drifts from the things he’s spent the last three years working for.

He is dangerously close to repeating his mistakes and he’s seen first hand how vicious the jealous sea can be. If he’s going to survive her retribution, he will have to decide which he wants more, the love of the girl who could change their shifting world, or the sacred beliefs that earned him the name that he’s known for―Saint.

Thank you to MacMillan Audio for an ALC.

SOLID PREQUEL.

I know a lot of us are hit/miss on prequel books after the fact the original books are already out. This would be a case of me saying, if you enjoyed Fable / Namesake I think you’ll enjoy Saint too.

I loved getting much of Saint’s background. The heated intensity that is Saint is something else and seeing it with a romantic edge was *chef’s kiss*. It’s a super fast, read in a day, kind of story that gives you a great peek at the fated meeting of Saint and Isolde. It was great getting both points of view because I really wanted some background on Isolde as well. The attraction between them was undeniable and that instantaneous connection worked perfectly here.

The timeline didn’t end where I thought it would (forever wishing Adrienne Young books were a bit longer), but I guess it ended well enough? We all know what happens so I do understand [after the fact] why it closed here, buuut would have loved a bit more in a few different areas.

Audiobook wise: PERFECT. No complaints. Both narrators did an amazing job of reading at the same pace so I was able to keep the speed at the same for the rotating chapters. I felt like it only enhanced my reading experience and would recommend this avenue easy.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Fantasy
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: kisses
  • Violence: medium
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: physical altercations, loss of loved ones, loss of life

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: Long Story Short by Serena Kaylor

Rating: ★★★★★
Audience: YA Contemporary Romance
Length: 336 pages
Author: Serena Kaylor
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Release Date: July 26th, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Growing up homeschooled in Berkeley, California, Beatrice Quinn is a statistical genius who has dreamed her whole life of discovering new mathematical challenges at a school like Oxford University. She always thought the hardest part would be getting in, not convincing her parents to let her go. But while math has always made sense to Beatrice, making friends is a problem she hasn’t been able to solve, so her parents are worried about sending her halfway across the world. The compromise: the Connecticut Shakespearean Summer Academy and a detailed list of teenage milestones to check off. She has six weeks to show her parents she can pull off the role of “normal” teenager and won’t spend the rest of her life hiding in a library.

Unfortunately, hearts and hormones don’t follow any rules, and there is no equation for teenage interactions. When she’s adopted by a group of eclectic theater kids, and immediately makes an enemy of the popular—and, annoyingly gorgeous—British son of the camp founders, she realizes that relationships are trickier than calculus. With her future on the line, this girl genius stumbles through illicit parties, double dog dares, and more than your fair share of Shakespeare. But before the final curtain falls, will Beatrice realize that there’s more to life than she can find in the pages of a book?

In this sparkling debut from Serena Kaylor, Long Story Short is a YA rom-com about a homeschooled math genius who finds herself out of her element at a theater summer camp and learns that life—and love—can’t be lived by the (text)book.

Thank you to the publisher for an eARC.

ABSOLUTELY LOVED.

I had a few friends rave about this book so I was sufficiently hyped by the time I picked it up, and it did not disappoint. LST was incredible and I’m in awe at this debut.

I resonated with Beatrice so much. I love that she was a socially awkward heroine, who knew what she wanted, but needed a few more steps to get there. I appreciated that true support from her parents and how walking into the summer camp beautiful friendships grew. I LOVED the friendships and how supportive they were. And also how they showed making mistakes and apologizing. There’s room for growth in a safe space. Beatrice changed leaps and bounds, and yet still remained at her core, herself. The anxiety rep was one of my favorites too. I liked the approach to it and the openness of speaking to a therapist as well. The combination made for the best kind of read.

The romance (because we know I’m a sucker for romance) was perrrrrfect. The angsty hate to love vibes were off the charts. The banter and swoony moments, and gosh dang THE HANDS TOUCHING. A small hand touch moment IS THE BEST DANG THING. I don’t know how many times I started chanting, kiss kiss kiss. I was on the edge of my seat with Beatrice and Nik and it was everything I love in a YA romance.

This setting took me by surprise too. I’m hit/miss on summer camp books. Clearly this was a HIT. I was even enjoying all of the Shakespeare stuff too! And that Shakespeare line battle? GOLD. I think I could probably go on forever about my new found love for this book (and author). Read it. Read it. Read it.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Contemporary romance
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: kisses
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: underage alcohol consumption, panic attack (on page), depictions of anxiety

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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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