Book Review

Book Review: Together We Burn by Isabel Ibañez

Rating: ★★★☆
Audience: YA Fantasy Romance
Length: 368 pages
Author: Isabel Ibañez
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Release Date: May 31st, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads


Eighteen-year-old Zarela Zalvidar is a talented flamenco dancer and daughter of the most famous Dragonador in Hispalia. People come for miles to see her father fight in their arena, which will one day be hers.

But disaster strikes during their five hundredth anniversary show, and in the carnage, Zarela’s father is horribly injured. Facing punishment from the Dragon Guild, Zarela must keep the arena—her ancestral home and inheritance —safe from their greedy hands. She has no choice but to take her father’s place as the next Dragonador. When the infuriatingly handsome dragon hunter, Arturo Díaz de Montserrat, withholds his help, she refuses to take no for an answer.

But even if he agrees, there’s someone out to ruin the Zalvidar family, and Zarela will have to do whatever it takes in order to prevent the Dragon Guild from taking away her birthright.

An ancient city plagued by dragons. A flamenco dancer determined to save her ancestral home. A dragon hunter refusing to teach her his ways. They don’t want each other, but they need each other, and without him her world will burn.


I was really on my way to super enjoying this. I LOVED the setting and cultural aspects. Easily one of my favorite parts of this book. I felt the world come alive with the language, food and cityscape descriptions. There was great writing involved in much of that and the audiobook helped create that tenfold.

Zarela was a main character who I liked as a YA heroine lead. She truly was just trying to do her best in a rough situation. I liked her tenacity to hold on to her family’s legacy and the willingness to learn new things and make tough choices to see everything through. The romance between her and Arturo had the best kind of banter. A bit of enemies to lovers that grew into something more. I do think the steam went a bit past YA levels, but it was still relatively low overall.

What threw me was the villain. I can get behind a lot of background antagonist stories. This one was fine, I’ve seen it before, but what got me was his obsession with claiming Zarela? I don’t want to spoil so I can’t really say much more, it just didn’t click for me.

I’d say this is a pretty solid fantasy for a standalone (which are hard for me to be pleased by). A fast paced read that covers a lot. I can’t believe I almost forgot to mention there’s DRAGONS and flamenco dancing. Lots of incredible things, just a few meh.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Fantasy Romance
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: brief/vague open door
  • Violence: high
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: loss of parents, kidnapping, animal death and cruelty, murder, misogyny, grief/loss depiction

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: Into the Churn by Hayley Reese Chow

Rating: ★★★★★
Audience: YA Sci-Fi
Length: 367 pages
Author: Hayley Reese Chow
Publisher: Whimsical Publishing
Release Date: April 4th, 2023
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads


Earth was tame. Belethea is not.

Seventeen-year-old Ezren Hart interns in her mother’s terraforming lab, studying Belethea’s deadly storms with the dream of giving her backwater planet open teal skies. But when budget cuts threaten to shut down her mother’s lab, Ezren enters Belethea’s Race Royale, the system’s deadliest and most lucrative race. To win, she’ll have to run, drive, and fight her way across Belethea’s barren landscape while navigating its savage and volatile storms. With her planet’s future, and her family’s, on the line, she can’t afford to lose. But first, she’ll have to convince her handsome royale partner that their planet is worth saving.

Foster Sterling is a jaded ex-prodigy royaler still reeling from his partner’s death in a training accident. When Ezren Hart comes charging into his life, her passion reminds him of what he once loved about racing and his dream of returning pride to their planet. Still, no matter how fast they go, they can’t outrun the mysterious string of deadly accidents following them like a curse. As Foster falls harder for Ezren, he races to piece the clues together. But with time running out and their survival on the line, he’ll have to decide if their dreams are worth their lives.

Perfect for fans of underdog heroes, slow-burn romance, and high-stakes sci-fi, INTO THE CHURN races across a new planet of savage storms and dazzling tech. Fall in love with Ezren and Foster as they battle side-by-side to save their scrappy world on a ruthless interplanetary stage where appearances are everything, speed means survival, and the only thing deadlier than the storms are the other racers.

Thank you to Whimsical Publishing for the eARC.


I just wholeheartedly enjoyed this book. It was a fantastic young adult read and as a standalone I thought it encompassed everything needed to close off story lines and feel satisfied by the book as a whole.

The romance was SO DANG SWEET. A super low angst, unlikely partners to friends to lovers. I loved all of the tender forehead and temple kisses. The encouragement Foster and Ezren gave each other to keep going and the way they took care of each other. They were a partnership you wanted to cheer for and cheer for them I did!

And it was absolutely filled will ALL the action. Brutal storms and intense physical matches that sped the pace and my heartrate. I kind of love race themed books because you never know quite who’s going to actually win and how that plays into the story itself. I liked the mystery aspects within the sub-plots that brought this entire book together. Everything was well balanced and I continually wanted to pick this up and see what happened next.

Easily recommend. Fits perfectly into the YA category as well (i.e. appropriate for the actual age group). Wonderful characters, high action, adorable romance and an all around great read.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Sci-Fi
  • Language: a little, light
  • Romance: kisses
  • Violence: med-high
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: near death experiences, loss of life, physical altercations, blood depiction, major weather systems

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Book Review

Monthly Reading Wrap-Up: January 2023

ALL THE BOOKS. I had a SUPER great reading month (mostly because I reread all of Mary E. Pearson’s books and they are top level). And I ALMOST made it through the month without a two star (but End of Story gets to hold that prize).

Favorite Books

  • Eloise and the Grump Next Door
  • Tress of the Emerald Sea
  • Divine Rivals
  • Dragonfire
  • Whispers of You
  • The Love Wager
  • Speechless
  • Dance of Thieves & Vow of Thieves
  • Wildheart
  • The Remnant Chronicles
  • Merritt and Her Childhood Crush
  • The Buy-In

Least Favorite

  • The Realm of Oblivion
  • End of Story
  • The Rebels of Gold (Loom Saga #3) by Elise Kova
  • The Sisters of Sea View (On Devonshire Shores #1) by Julie Klassen
  • [ALC] Eloise and the Grump Next Door (Oakley Island Romcom #1) by Emma St. Clair and Jenny Proctor
  • Tress of the Emerald Sea (The Cosmere) by Brandon Sanderson
  • Angels of the Resistance by Noelle Salazar
  • The Earl’s Hideaway, No Ladies Allowed (Romance of Rank #2) by Esther Hatch
  • The Mobster’s Daughter by Rachel Scott McDaniel
  • A Fire Endless (Elements of Cadence #2) by Rebecca Ross
  • Stellarlune (Keeper of the Lost Cities #9) by Shannon Messenger
  • [ARC] Divine Rivals (Iris at the Front #1) by Rebecca Ross
  • A Deal with the Devil (The Devils #1) by Elizabeth O’Roark
  • The Stolen Heir (The Stolen Heir Duology #1) by Holly Black
  • Dragonfire (The Starchaser Saga #6) by Renee Dugan
  • [ARC/ALC] Whispers of You (The Lost & Found #1) by Catherine Cowles
  • [ARC] The Love Wager (Mr. Wrong Number #2) by Lynn Painter
  • The Fires of Heaven (The Wheel of Time #5) by Robert Jordan
  • [Novella] Move It or Lose It (Love Mishaps #3) by Gracie Ruth Mitchell
  • Speechless by Lindsey Lanza
  • Highly Suspicious and Unfairly Cute by Talia Hibbert
  • [Non-Fiction] Flight of Gold by Kevin A. McGregor
  • [Reread] Dance of Thieves (Dance of Thieves #1) by Mary E. Pearson
  • Wildheart (The Starchaser Saga #7) by Renee Dugan
  • [Reread] The Kiss of Deception (The Remnant Chronicles #1) by Mary E. Pearson
  • [ARC] Stars and Smoke (Stars and Smoke #1) by Marie Lu
  • [ARC] This Dark Alliance (The Curse of the Blessed #1) by Renee Dugan
  • Unseelie by Ivelisse Housman
  • [Reread] Vow of Thieves (Dance of Thieves #2) by Mary E. Pearson
  • [Reread]The Heart of Betrayal (The Remnant Chronicles #2) by Mary E. Pearson
  • The Chemistry of Love by Sariah Wilson
  • [ARC] The Cuban Heiress by Chanel Cleeton
  • The Realm of Oblivion by Marae Good
  • [Reread] The Beauty of Darkness (The Remnant Chronicles #3) by Mary E. Pearson
  • What I Did for a Duke (Pennyroyal Green #5) by Julie Anne Long
  • [ARC] Merritt and Her Childhood Crush (Oakley Island Romcom #2) by Emma St. Clair and Jenny Proctor
  • [Gifted/ARC] A Match in the Making (The Matchmakers #1) by Jen Turano
  • [Reread/ALC] The Buy-In (Graham Brothers #1) by Emma St. Clair
  • [Gifted/ARC] End of Story by Kylie Scott
  • Maidens of Candlelight and Lotuses (The Zheninghai Chronicles #0) by Anastasis Blythe
  • To Catch a Suitor (Dalton Family #2) by Sarah Adams
  • [Gifted] Hearts of Steel (The Blackstone Legacy #3) by Elizabeth Camden
  • House of Pounding Hearts (The Kingdom of Crows #2) by Olivia Wildenstein
  • Regrets Only by Kieran Scott

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Book Review

Book Review: The Dragon’s Promise (Six Crimson Cranes #2) by Elizabeth Lim

Rating: ★★★☆
Audience: YA Fantasy
Length: 482 pages
Author: Elizabeth Lim
Publisher: Knopf Books
Release Date: August 30th, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads


A journey to the kingdom of dragons, a star-crossed love, and a cursed pearl with the power to mend the world or break it…

Princess Shiori made a deathbed promise to return the dragon’s pearl to its rightful owner, but keeping that promise is more dangerous than she ever imagined.

She must journey to the kingdom of dragons, navigate political intrigue among humans and dragons alike, fend off thieves who covet the pearl for themselves and will go to any lengths to get it, all while cultivating the appearance of a perfect princess to dissuade those who would see her burned at the stake for the magic that runs in her blood.

The pearl itself is no ordinary cargo; it thrums with malevolent power, jumping to Shiori’s aid one minute, and betraying her the next—threatening to shatter her family and sever the thread of fate that binds her to her true love, Takkan. It will take every ounce of strength Shiori can muster to defend the life and the love she’s fought so hard to win.


I was hoping that this would be an ending I could fully fall in love with, and while there were some good moments…it also was missing some stuff too.

I really liked the father/daughter relationship. I love seeing a good parental relationship. Also, the BROTHERS. I could read a novella spin off about each one of them and be content with everything. I love their dynamic and the love they clearly show for one another.

The romance could have had a heavier hand. I don’t think the love triangle should have even been used. It just made me sad for one of the characters rather than being satisfied with how things wrapped up.

I was confused by the book defeating the bad guy with 80+ pages left? Things got stagnant at that point and then the ending was a bit lackluster. I felt like it was reminiscent of Daughter of the Moon Goddess but in a lesser manner.

I think I’ll go the library route next time for her books. I always seem to LOVE the first one and then the second is a bit meh.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Fantasy
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: kisses
  • Violence: mild
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: loss of loved ones, battle scenes, demon attacks, physical and magical altercations

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