Book Review

Book Review: Castles in Their Bones (Castles in Their Bones #1) by Laura Sebastian

Rating: ★★★★
Audience: YA Fantasy + Romance
Length: 514 pages
Author: Laura Sebastian
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: February 1st, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

A spellbinding story of three princesses and the destiny they were born for: seduction, conquest, and the crown. Immerse yourself in the first book in a new fantasy trilogy from the author of the New York Times bestselling Ash Princess series.

Empress Margaraux has had plans for her daughters since the day they were born. Princesses Sophronia, Daphne, and Beatriz will be queens. And now, age sixteen, they each must leave their homeland and marry their princes.

Beautiful, smart, and demure, the triplets appear to be the perfect brides—because Margaraux knows there is one common truth: everyone underestimates a girl. Which is a grave mistake. Sophronia, Daphne, and Beatriz are no innocents. They have been trained since birth in the arts of deception, seduction, and violence with a singular goal—to bring down monarchies— and their marriages are merely the first stage of their mother’s grand vision: to one day reign over the entire continent of Vesteria.

The princesses have spent their lives preparing, and now they are ready, each with her own secret skill, and each with a single wish, pulled from the stars. Only, the stars have their own plans—and their mother hasn’t told them all of hers.

Life abroad is a test. Will their loyalties stay true? Or will they learn that they can’t trust anyone—not even each other? 

THAT ENDING SAVED THIS.

Let me start off with some audio comments. This is one of those few times where I’m going to say: skip the audio. All of the main characters (and their love interests around the same age) sounded closer to 10-12 year-olds than 17/18. I struggled with that (didn’t affect my overall rating though).

A lot of this was intriguing! The magic system is kind of cool with the stardust components and how stars actually fall from the sky?? Wild and I love it. I also love a good sister story and these three push and pull each other, but they clearly care for one another. It’s a heavy political fantasy and at times that did drag the plot.

I definitely needed some better world building initially. I was very much confused as to who was where and what that separate nation was like for almost half the book. A friend sent me the map/family tree and that helped tremendously.

The ending saved this book for me. It was fast paced, full of action, and I am still SHOCKED at some of the final scenes. Was it true?! I have questions and I will be seeking answers in book two.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Fantasy + Romance
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: make-outs
  • Violence: mild blood/gore
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: sexual harassment, poison, loss of loved ones, executions

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: The Ballad of Never After (Once Upon a Broken Heart #2) by Stephanie Garber

Rating: ★★★★☆
Audience: YA Fantasy Romance
Length: 416 pages
Author: Stephanie Garber
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Release Date: September 13th, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

The fiercely-anticipated sequel to the #1 New York Times bestseller Once Upon a Broken Heart, starring Evangeline Fox and the Prince of Hearts on a new journey of magic, mystery, and heartbreak.

Not every love is meant to be.

After Jacks, the Prince of Hearts, betrays her, Evangeline Fox swears she’ll never trust him again. Now that she’s discovered her own magic, Evangeline believes she can use it to restore the chance at happily ever after that Jacks stole away.

But when a new terrifying curse is revealed, Evangeline finds herself entering into a tenuous partnership with the Prince of Hearts again. Only this time, the rules have changed. Jacks isn’t the only force Evangeline needs to be wary of. In fact, he might be the only one she can trust, despite her desire to despise him.

Instead of a love spell wreaking havoc on Evangeline’s life, a murderous spell has been cast. To break it, Evangeline and Jacks will have to do battle with old friends, new foes, and a magic that plays with heads and hearts. Evangeline has always trusted her heart, but this time she’s not sure she can.

Thank you to Macmillan Audio for my early audio copy!

DEVASTATION.

The way I gasped at a particular scene near the end. Holy wow. Gotta give it up to Stephanie Garber. I wasn’t super on board with this series after the first book (but still enjoyed). I took a bit more convincing here and then realized just how attached I had become to these characters.

Jacks and Evangeline have great snarky banter. I love the give and take and that they got a lot more softer moments here. There’s an intense and undeniable pull between them that I can’t wait to learn more about. I think Jacks is too much of a hidden character, even after two books. I want a few more layers peeled back on him so we can get the raw intensity of his past that I know is coming. Evangeline bothered me a whole lot less too and I think it’s kind of fun to be apart of her mindset as she handles all of the fates and prophecies.

Things occasionally felt bogged down by the tangents of story telling. Gratefully they did actually connect back into the main plot so I didn’t feel lost for long. The audio was fantastic! I loved the narrator and it made for a great listen.

I’m of course, very much curious where this series is going to continue onwards to. There’s plenty left open and I adore Garber’s writing and her passion for love conquers all mentality. I’m going to be sitting in a puddle of anxiety until I get my hands on the next book.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Fantasy Romance
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: make-outs
  • Violence: med/high
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: physical altercations, near death experiences, kidnapping, magical weaponry
Book Review

Book Review: Anatomy: A Love Story by Dana Schwartz

Rating: ★★★
Audience: YA Gothic Romance
Length: 352 pages
Author: Dana Schwartz
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Release Date: January 18th, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

A gothic tale full of mystery and romance about a willful female surgeon, a resurrection man who sells bodies for a living, and the buried secrets they must uncover together.

Edinburgh, 1817.

Hazel Sinnett is a lady who wants to be a surgeon more than she wants to marry.

Jack Currer is a resurrection man who’s just trying to survive in a city where it’s too easy to die.

When the two of them have a chance encounter outside the Edinburgh Anatomist’s Society, Hazel thinks nothing of it at first. But after she gets kicked out of renowned surgeon Dr. Beecham’s lectures for being the wrong gender, she realizes that her new acquaintance might be more helpful than she first thought. Because Hazel has made a deal with Dr. Beecham: if she can pass the medical examination on her own, the university will allow her to enroll. Without official lessons, though, Hazel will need more than just her books – she’ll need bodies to study, corpses to dissect.

Lucky that she’s made the acquaintance of someone who digs them up for a living, then.

But Jack has his own problems: strange men have been seen skulking around cemeteries, his friends are disappearing off the streets. Hazel and Jack work together to uncover the secrets buried not just in unmarked graves, but in the very heart of Edinburgh society. 

NOT A FAN OF THE ENDING.

I love a good gory and darker YA book. This gave all of those vibes and more. [It is gruesome, please check warnings!]. Great atmosphere and I liked the writing style.

Hazel was a pretty solid YA heroine too. I liked her tenacity and that she refused to give up on her dream of becoming a doctor. Hazel might have taken some unorthodox routes to get there, but hey! I liked her and I’m cool with it.

The love story aspects didn’t really happen until the halfway point? For a smaller book that’s really hard to accomplish well and I thought it was lacking. I wasn’t as invested in the romance as I wanted to be. Hazel and Jack had some sweet moments, but I needed more.

Aaaaand that ending. Throwing in some fantasy aspects all of a sudden had me tilting my head. Seemed like an easy way to fix some of the remaining plot issues and attempt to tie everything up in a neat bow. It didn’t all come together the way I hoped.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Gothic Romance
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: make-outs
  • Violence: extremely blood/gore
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: grave robbing (with use of the bodies in medical fields), kidnapping, organ harvesting, body dissection (with detail)

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Book Review

Book Review: Kisses and Croissants by Anne-Sophie Jouhanneau

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Contemporary Romance
Length: 320 pages
Author: Anne-Sophie Jouhanneau
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: April 6th, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Seventeen-year-old Mia, an American girl at an elite summer ballet program, has six weeks to achieve her dreams: to snag an audition with one of the world’s best ballet companies. But there’s more to Paris than ballet—especially when a charming French boy, Louis, wants to be her tour guide—and the pair discover the city has a few mysteries up its sleeve.

In the vein of romances like Love and Gelato, this is the perfect summer adventure for anyone looking to get swept away in the City of Love.

TAKE ME TO PARIS.

This was such a sweet YA read! I loved seeing parts of Paris and truly felt transported there. The writing was perfect for this and I was swept away into this story of following passions and having a summer romance.

Speaking of the romance, it was adorable. Louis and Mia were super cute and I would easily watch this movie. Louis was kind and this contrast to Mia that I loved. They both learned things from each other throughout the book and there was a realistic conflict and resolution that I am always here for.

A big focus was Mia and her ballet school. I LOVE books about dancing and this was no different. She went through some self discovery and was able to stand up in her own way. I really wish I could have watched the actual ballet scenes including Swan Lake (another point for this needing to be a movie!!).

The ending took me for a loop, but I ultimately thought it made both characters stronger and confirmed a lot of emotions and desires. There was such hope and light for it all that it gave me plenty of warm fuzzies. Definitely reminiscent of Anna and the French Kiss vibes (but, a whole different story!).

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Contemporary Romance
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: kisses
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: car accident resulting in injury/hospitalization, alcohol consumption

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