ARC Review: A Rose by Any Other Name

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Publishing: November 1, 2021

Synopsis:

Juliet is the perfect daughter to her cold parents. She’s devoted to her magic studies, studious and serious, and she even spends her weekends at home.

If she’s a little lonely, well, that hardly matters.

Romeo writes poems, collects fancy pens, makes wine, and is, according to everyone who cares about him, a romantic disaster. He does his best to ignore their knowing looks and disregard their entirely-too-practical advice.

Juliet hates the upstart, uncivilized Montagues because they’re her family’s enemies. Romeo does his best not to think about the wretched and pompous Capulets because he doesn’t need that kind of negativity in his life.

But then one morning they wake up in each other’s bodies, and everything changes.

My Review:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Well, that was delightful!

I requested this, despite having read many Romeo and Juliet retellings in the past, because of the last line of the synopsis: “But then one morning they wake up in each other’s bodies, and everything changes.”

I read that, and I thought, “Huh. How unexpected. Must know more.” And now I know more, and I can tell you that this story is just as wonderful as the premise makes it sound.

Romeo and Juliet have VERY different voices. She’s studying to be a mage, he’s a poet. She’s calculating, he’s sensitive. This is made very clear in the beginning of the story when they first change bodies, which can be summed up thusly: Juliet wakes in Romeo’s body and begins scheming. Romeo wakes in Juliet’s body and begins screaming.

A lot of it unfolds similarly to the play, with obvious departures. Benvolio and Tybalt were an unexpected and enjoyable couple.

This story is very short, though certain sections feel overly long because they are more telling a series of events than showcasing Romeo and Juliet’s personalities. The novelty and amusing bits make up for it though.

*Thanks to NetGalley and SFWA for providing an e-arc for review.

ARC Review: The Perks of Loving a Wallflower by Erica Ridley

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Publishing Oct 26, 2021

Synopsis:

Fans of Bridgerton will love this Regency romp in which a proper Society miss recruits a very improper lady grifter in a quest for vengeance, only to find love instead.

As a master of disguise, Thomasina Wynchester can be a polite young lady—or a bawdy old man. Anything to solve the case. Her latest assignment unveils a top-secret military cipher covering up an enigma that goes back centuries. But when Tommy’s beautiful new client turns out to be the highborn lady she’s secretly smitten with, more than her mission is at stake . . .

Bluestocking Miss Philippa York doesn’t believe in love. Her cold heart didn’t pitter-patter when she was betrothed to a duke, nor did it break when he married someone else. All Philippa desires is to rescue her priceless manuscript and decode its clues to unmask a villain. She hates that she needs a man’s help—so she’s delighted to discover the clever, charming baron at her side is in fact a woman. Her cold heart . . . did it just pitter-patter?

My Review:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The most important point is that I absolutely ADORED this book. I was hoping Erica Ridley would get an f/f (or perhaps more properly sapphic f/nb) regency romance right and she definitely did. I absolutely cannot wait for the next Wynchester novel.

This novel was a joy and a delight to read. Having the Wynchester siblings AND an sapphic f/nb romance in one book — and genderfluid/nonbinary representation, demisexual representation, AND realistic body size representation all in the same main couple! — was more than I had ever hoped to see in a traditionally published romance. I felt seen. More than that, I felt loved.

I have always loved Erica Ridley’s gift for creating well-rounded characters that jump off the page and then giving them sweet romances where they overcome their own prejudices and doubts in order to enter into a partnership together. I would choose the Wynchesters over the Bridgertons any day. Not only are they a diverse bunch, but they each possess unique skills that they use as a team to (only slightly illegally) bring justice to those not normally served it.

I especially loved how Elizabeth was brought to life in this book. She is still a side character, but she has some delightful lines. In fact, half of my favorite quotes involve Elizabeth. I hope we see her story soon.

As for our main couple, Tommy is genderfluid / nonbinary, possessed of minimal curves, and a master of disguise. Philippa is a bluestocking who doesn’t believe she can love, possessed of lush curves (that Tommy is very obviously physically attracted to), and is stifled by her parents ambition. They each own their story and leap off the page, with a love story and life lessons I loved to root for.

I listened to the Duke Heist audiobook to remind myself of the characters before reading this, and I’m so glad I did because Moira Quirk’s narration was superb. I have now preordered this book as an audiobook.

*Thanks to NetGalley, Erica Ridley, and Forever (Grand Central Publishing) for providing an e-arc for review.


Favorite Quotes

And… what was wrong with Philippa’s breathing? Was her bosom heaving? Was this a heaving bosom?


“Everyone extorts everyone else all the time, darling”
“Do they?” Philippa said doubtfully.
Her mother pursed her lips. “That’s what a society is. A group of people with agreed-upon methods of social extortion. ‘Do this, or suffer the consequences.’ We call it ‘proper comportment’ so that it sounds nice.


“Tiglet is a homing kitten,” Tommy reminded him. “If she sets him down, he’ll run back to Islington.”


“Graham is out gathering intelligence, and Elizabeth… is off shopping for rapiers.”


“We call those ‘words.’ Extremely adept practitioners can advance all the way to ‘conversation.’


“I guess everyone has a weakness,” Elizabeth said with a sigh. “Mine is uncontrollable bloodlust.”


“Huzzah,” said Elizabeth. “Contravene patriarchal coverture’ is exactly the sort of evening activity I was looking forward to. I’m going to need a bigger sword stick.”


“…but being splendid at something does not mean a body is obliged to do it.”


Any sign.” Elizabeth patted the handle of her sword stick. “Blink if you want mayhem.”
Philippa blinked in surprise.
“Perfect.” Elizabeth unsheathed her sword. “I’ll attack first.”


Philippa was not afraid to be Philippa. She wore more lace on her person than most people owned in their entire wardrobe. Philippa was the bluestockingest ringleader of the bluestockingest reading circle in existence. Philippa was proud to be Philippa.


“We are all saving the day,” Tommy said firmly. “The Wynchesters are a family of knights of various colors and genders who save the day together as a team.”


Tommy grinned. “Elizabeth has even woken herself up giggling maniacally.”
“Not maniacally,” Elizabeth said from across the table. “Giggling with cold calculation.”


This was truly the worst library Philippa had ever seen.

ARC Review: The Burglar’s Ball (Jane Austen Investigates #2) by Julia Golding

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Publishing Oct 22, 2021

Synopsis:

Nancy Drew. Enola Holmes. Sally Lockhart. Move over girls, it’s Jane’s time!

Join young budding detective Jane Austen in her second investigation to uncover a devious diamond thief at the glitziest, most scandalous ball of the year! Inspired by Sense and Sensibility.

*
‘No one who had ever seen Jane Austen in her infancy would suppose her to be born to solve crimes. From her early love of sugar plums, and cleverness in hiding her expeditions into the pantry, her mother declared her far more likely to commit them. However, as Jane would counter, there was no better person to identify the culprit than the thief turned thief-catcher.’

When the headmistress invites her past favourite pupil to attend their end of term ball, Cassandra brings her younger sister, Jane, along too. Cassandra plunges into the feverish excitement of preparing for the biggest event of the year – the dresses, the dances and the boys expected from the neighbouring school.

Feeling rather excluded, sharp-witted Jane unearths the reason for the fuss – the headteacher wants to impress a rich family returned from India as the school is at risk of going bankrupt. Jane also befriends the dancing master’s assistant, a former slave, called Brandon, who is as quick to notice things as she. At the ball, a diamond necklace is stolen from a locked room and they are propelled into a race to uncover the burglar and save Brandon from gaol.

With the ever-present Austen spirit, Jane with notebook in hand, boldly overcomes the obstacles to finding the truth.

Perfect for readers aged 9-109, and for fans of Katherine Woodfine and Lucy Worsley.

My Review:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This was just as charming and engaging as the first. It’s so easy to fall into Jane’s world, and she’s such a plucky, determined heroine that her books are a delight.

This one brought back some familiar faces from the first adventure, as well as introducing many new ones. I love the way the mystery played out, giving just enough hints while still leaving me guessing.

I especially love the way Jane is forced to confront some uncomfortable truths about the East India Company’s activities in India, racism, slavery, animal treatment in circuses, etc. They’re handled well and don’t take over the lightness of the storyline while still maintaining an appropriate seriousness.

I look forward to the next Jane Austen Investigates adventure!

*Thanks to NetGalley and Lion Fiction for providing an e-arc for review.

ARC Review: Little Thieves by Margaret Owen

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Publishing Oct. 19, 2021

Synopsis:

Once upon a time, there was a horrible girl…

Vanja Schmidt knows that no gift is freely given, not even a mother’s love–and she’s on the hook for one hell of a debt. Vanja, the adopted goddaughter of Death and Fortune, was Princess Gisele’s dutiful servant up until a year ago. That was when Vanja’s otherworldly mothers demanded a terrible price for their care, and Vanja decided to steal her future back… by stealing Gisele’s life for herself.

The real Gisele is left a penniless nobody while Vanja uses an enchanted string of pearls to take her place. Now, Vanja leads a lonely but lucrative double life as princess and jewel thief, charming nobility while emptying their coffers to fund her great escape. Then, one heist away from freedom, Vanja crosses the wrong god and is cursed to an untimely end: turning into jewels, stone by stone, for her greed.

Vanja has just two weeks to figure out how to break her curse and make her getaway. And with a feral guardian half-god, Gisele’s sinister fiancé, and an overeager junior detective on Vanja’s tail, she’ll have to pull the biggest grift yet to save her own life.

Margaret Owen, author of The Merciful Crow series, crafts a delightfully irreverent retelling of “The Goose Girl” about stolen lives, thorny truths, and the wicked girls at the heart of both.


My Review:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This book was SO GOOD. I love how it took a somewhat-obscure-but-still-familiar fairytale plot and turned it on its head so many times it was hardly recognizable by the end. Everything about it was so unique and fascinating, and I absolutely adored the characters.

Vanja is a force to be reckoned with, and her dry commentary was a joy to read. I highlighted SO MANY passages, especially the ones that contrasted the vaguely medieval Germany fairytale setting with some very modern phrasings.

Emeric, too, was a delight, especially when he and Vanja forgot to be annoyed at each other while sharing the joy of a chase/investigation and their own cleverness.

Ragne was wonderfully baffled at human customs, frequently disdaining them, and Gisele grew on me by the end, and I hope we get many more of this foursome’s adventures.

I loved the taste we get of Death and Fortune and I hope they, too, will show up in future adventures. The villains (minor and major) were quite dastardly and it was so nice to see them get their comeuppance.

The writing is utterly gorgeous, with plenty of Margaret Owen’s signature unexpected phrases that are devastating in their simple truth.

This is a story I know I will be revisiting.

*Thanks to NetGalley and Hodder & Stoughton for providing an e-arc for review.


Favorite Quotes

The piper she’s interrupting looks both delighted and furious, and I have to agree with her earlier assessment: Her archnemesis is unreasonably handsome.


I am not going to smile at him. I refuse on principle. (The principle is: I’ve already met my emotional availability quota for the day.)


“Sorry–sorry–I’m not looking–” Emeric starts to back out of the room, spots the nachtmahr, and proceeds to visibly cycle through both fight and flight instincts at a speed heretofore unobserved in the common man.


(It might not surprise you to know the two most popular urns are copper and coal. Maybe that says something about human nature, but I also think it says something about personal budgeting. Buying good luck? In this economy?)


I want him to stay like this. Close to me, touching my face feather-light, like I am something precious, I am worth taking care. Like I deserve to live without wounds, not despite them. I want this moment trapped in amber, so I can hold it tight when I need it most.


There’s a shimmering, intoxicating kind of thrill to it, this game between us. I am his puzzle and he is my lock, and it’s an arms race to solve the other first. But somewhere in all the knots and twists and trapdoors, he turned to an arsonist, leaving his embers in my veins, smoke on my tongue, a fire burning softly in my heart. And it will not die easy.


I cannot believe I’m attracted to a human civics primer.


You would think the most formidable thing in Castle Reigenbach wouldn’t be a reedy law library incarnate, but in that moment — he is, because I believe him.


It’s not a challenge; it’s a quiet, immovable fact. For all my schemes and facades and artifice, I am not prepared in the slightest for the simple, devastating intimacy of being believed.


I don’t know what’s worse: that he’s slipped into my heart like a knife, or that I like the feel of him there.


I’m at a loss for words. Probably because I’m having an extraordinary and overwhelming number of feelings right now, and chief among them is outrage that I am this attracted to a personified pocket ledger.


The oak door gives a surly rattle, creaking open with absolutely no regard for the heart attack I’m having.
“You’re coming in, ja?” croaks the withered turnip of a doorman, before muttering something about frisky teenagers.


His voice echoes over the Gottenmarkt, which looks like someone sucker punched the treasury, and it spewed all over the plaza. (Adalbrecht. Adalbrecht was the one doing the punching.)


Above her floats Truth, who has taken the form of a wheel of eyes today. (As one does.)


Justice looks down, and while a skull can’t frown, she is absolutely nailing the same feeling.


(This is where I have to admit I’m impressed he’s coming up with the rhymes on the fly. Not bad for, you know, a horse.)

ARC Review: Within These Wicked Walls by Lauren Blackwood

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Synopsis:

What the heart desires, the house destroys…

Andromeda is a debtera—an exorcist hired to cleanse households of the Evil Eye. When a handsome young heir named Magnus Rochester reaches out to hire her, Andromeda quickly realizes this is a job like no other, with horrifying manifestations at every turn, and that Magnus is hiding far more than she has been trained for. Death is the most likely outcome if she stays, but leaving Magnus to live out his curse alone isn’t an option. Evil may roam the castle’s halls, but so does a burning desire.

Kiersten White meets Tomi Adeyemi in this Ethiopian-inspired debut fantasy retelling of Jane Eyre.

My Review:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This was such an interesting story! It definitely captured the spirit of Jane Eyre but it did it while telling a wholly original horror story steeped in Ethiopian culture, food, dress, and custom.

The worldbuilding at first seemed limited by the claustrophobic setting of the story, but upon consideration the details present throughout made it incredibly thorough and transporting. I loved the harsh desert setting, the unnatural chill of the fantastically creepy house, the enigmatic Magnus, the magic of the debtera and Evil Eye.

Andromeda is practical and blunt, used to living with her difficult guardian and then on the streets. Magnus is spoiled and petulant and lazy, but also endearing and sweet. The mystery of the very creepy mansion had me enthralled.

The other characters faded into the background somewhat, but I greatly appreciated Jesper and Saba by the end.

The one thing I wasn’t convinced by was Andromeda and Magnus’ romance. It was abrupt and melodramatic, and I would have liked it to be more drawn out so they could settle more comfortably into their relationship. The ups and downs gave me whiplash and sometimes I felt like I had missed something while reading.

Overall, an excellent and immersive read that transported me fully to another place. Definitely recommend.

*Thanks to NetGalley and Wednesday Books for providing an e-arc for review.

ARC Review: Intolerable by Darcy Burke

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Synopsis:

Every three years, like clockwork, Ruark Hannigan, Earl of Wexford loses his heart. Alas, he promised his father he wouldn’t marry until the age of thirty so that he’d be certain in his choice. When his best friend’s sister needs him to pose as a potential suitor to garner attention on the Marriage Mart, he’s the perfect candidate—if only he hadn’t kissed her in secret.

Lady Cassandra Westbrook can’t forget the incident between her and Wexford, and she’s having a devil of a time focusing on finding a husband. The fact that her father intimidates every gentleman has made her quest intolerable, and her two brothers who could help are proving completely worthless. But if she doesn’t settle on someone, her father will arrange an “acceptable” marriage by the end of the Season.

Finally, Cassandra has a chance at courtship, but, frustratingly, it’s not with the impulsive and irresistible Irishman her father detests and she desires. However, when Ruark sees the woman he passionately wants—despite his better judgment—swept into the arms of another man, the prospect of losing her becomes intolerable.

My Review:

Rating: 2 out of 5.

I… can’t believe I finished this. I liked the characters well enough, but I think most of my interest was from the first book in this series which I really liked. This one just felt… dull. The plot was incredibly thin and the conflict and angst were laughable. I feel like this one should have been a short story, not a full novel. There just wasn’t enough substance. Also some of the characters – like Cassandra’s father – had weird personality flip-flops. The writing was nowhere near the quality of the first in the series and I found myself reading around the words to get to the tidbits of story that were actually interesting. The final flaw, and what cemented the rating for me, was that once I turned the last page I could hardly remember the characters’ names or the plot.

*Thanks to NetGalley and Zealous Quill Press for providing an e-arc for review.

ARC Review: City of Shattered Light by Claire Winn

Book Cover

Synopsis:

As darkness closes in on the city of shattered light, an heiress and an outlaw must decide whether to fend for themselves or fight for each other.

As heiress to a powerful tech empire, seventeen-year-old Asa Almeida strives to prove she’s more than her manipulative father’s shadow. But when he uploads her rebellious sister’s mind to an experimental brain, Asa will do anything to save her sister from reprogramming—including fleeing her predetermined future with her sister’s digitized mind in tow. With a bounty on her head and a rogue A.I. hunting her, Asa’s getaway ship crash-lands in the worst possible place: the neon-drenched outlaw paradise, Requiem.

Gun-slinging smuggler Riven Hawthorne is determined to claw her way up Requiem’s underworld hierarchy. A runaway rich girl is exactly the bounty Riven needs—until a nasty computer virus spreads in Asa’s wake, causing a citywide blackout and tech quarantine. To get the payout for Asa and save Requiem from the monster in its circuits, Riven must team up with her captive.

Riven breaks skulls the way Asa breaks circuits, but their opponent is unlike anything they’ve ever seen. The A.I. exploits the girls’ darkest memories and deepest secrets, threatening to shatter the fragile alliance they’re both depending on. As one of Requiem’s 154-hour nights grows darker, the girls must decide whether to fend for themselves or fight for each other before Riven’s city and Asa’s sister are snuffed out forever.

My Review:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This was a vivid cyberpunk heist novel and it was so much fun! The city/moon of Requiem was a vibrant world of neon and glitter, exhaust and cybernetics, and a constant thrumming bass line. The characters were scrappy and lovable as they fell into one scrape after another just trying to get ahead. Banshee was creepy and malicious as it stalked them through the city’s ever-present tech.

I wasn’t crazy about the love triangle as they’re really not my favorite things, but I’ll take a bisexual triangle if I must have one. I also loved how delightfully queer it all was. The ending left me wanting the next one asap, which was a bit of a surprise as I didn’t realize it was going to be a series. It wasn’t too bad of a cliffhanger though.

*Thanks to NetGalley and North Star Editions, Flux for providing an e-arc for review

Blog Tour and Giveaway for Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson

Welcome to my stop on the Vespertine book tour with Turn The Page Book Tours. (This blog tour is also posted on my Tumblr book, art, & fandom blog Whimsical Dragonette.)

Book Info:

TITLE: Vespertine
AUTHOR: Margaret Rogerson
PUBLISHER:
Margaret K. McElderry Books
RELEASE DATE:
October 5, 2021
GENRES: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal

Trigger warnings
[Self-harm, anxiety, disordered eating (minor), child neglect/abuse (past), trauma/PTSD (traumatic experiences in past). None of the abuse or trauma is sexual in nature. Very brief suicide mention in the epilogue, concerning a character from the past who never appears in the book.]

Synopsis:

The dead of Loraille do not rest.

Artemisia is training to be a Gray Sister, a nun who cleanses the bodies of the deceased so that their souls can pass on; otherwise, they will rise as spirits with a ravenous hunger for the living. She would rather deal with the dead than the living, who trade whispers about her scarred hands and troubled past.

When her convent is attacked by possessed soldiers, Artemisia defends it by awakening an ancient spirit bound to a saint’s relic. It is a revenant, a malevolent being that threatens to possess her the moment she drops her guard. Wielding its extraordinary power almost consumes her—but death has come to Loraille, and only a vespertine, a priestess trained to wield a high relic, has any chance of stopping it. With all knowledge of vespertines lost to time, Artemisia turns to the last remaining expert for help: the revenant itself.

As she unravels a sinister mystery of saints, secrets, and dark magic, her bond with the revenant grows. And when a hidden evil begins to surface, she discovers that facing this enemy might require her to betray everything she has been taught to believe—if the revenant doesn’t betray her first.

Author Bio:

Margaret Rogerson is the author of the New York Times bestsellers An Enchantment of Ravens and Sorcery of Thorns. She has a bachelor’s degree in cultural anthropology from Miami University. When not reading or writing she enjoys sketching, gaming, making pudding, and watching more documentaries than is socially acceptable (according to some). She lives near Cincinnati, Ohio, beside a garden full of hummingbirds and roses. Visit her at MargaretRogerson.com.

Author links:

My Review:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I loved this book. I mean, I expected to love this book, as I have loved each of Margaret Rogerson’s previous books, but this one was… different. It was gorgeously atmospheric and the characters and world sprang to life before my eyes. The main character struggled around people, displaying many of the traits one finds in autistic people. Many of the traits I’m quite familiar with.

Artemisia doesn’t know how to talk to people or act around them. Often, they respond to her overtures in fear or horror and she has come to hate being around people and to believe that she is incapable of befriending them.

Rathanael changes that. As she shares her consciousness with him, listening to his snarky remarks, she comes to trust him and eventually to trust a chosen few people who aren’t in her head. The experience of having him in her head changes both of them for the better and it was a delight to watch it happening.

The worldbuilding was fascinating — such a gray and miserable world of revenants and death somehow still hanging on to hope. I like where Margaret Rogerson chose to end the story — her endings can be abrupt, but this one felt right. There is still a lot of possibility left open for sequels (which I imagine there will be, as this is listed as book 1 on goodreads). Yet the main conflict was still resolved in a satisfactory way.

It wasn’t just the world that felt fully realized and fleshed out — the main characters did too. Even the recurring ones with hardly any speaking parts felt like real people that I would recognize if I passed them on the street. I’m not sure how Margaret Rogerson managed that — my vote is sorcery — but I am impressed by her craft all the same.

It’s proving a bit difficult to wrench my head away from that gray, shadowy world and back into the real world. My house is currently drenched in sunlight, which is particularly disorienting. I find myself wanting to jump back into the book and follow Artemisia and Rathanael into their next adventure.

Despite Margaret Rogerson’s comments about how she struggled with this book and how awkward she finds the writing, I thought it was beautiful. Honestly if the writing in this arc is what she considers stilted and clunky, I am even more in awe of her craft.

*Thanks to NetGalley, Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, and Turn the Page Tours for providing an e-arc for review.

Favorite Quotes:

“You treat that beast better than you do yourself,” it commented sourly, watching Priestbane nose through the pile.
“He’s a good horse. He carried me all day. He doesn’t deserve to suffer because of the things I ask him to do.”
“Have you ever considered that your body carries you?”


As far as I knew, I hadn’t been making any particular expression. She was likely referring to my normal one, which I supposed, in certain lighting, could look somewhat disturbed.


“So you don’t know whether you were a man or a woman in life.”
“No, and I don’t see why it matters. Humans are so tedious. Oh, you have dangly bits. Congratulations, you’re going to put on armor and swing a sword about. Oh, you’ve ended up with the other kind. Too bad — time to either have babies or become a nun.”


I longed for my life in Naimes, where the only new people I’d had to meet had been corpses.


“No, I haven’t been trying to possess you. Tempting though the prospect was, I wouldn’t have been able to do anything with your useless body aside from stumbling it around and smacking it deliriously into walls. Anything else?”


That was unsettling. My lack of contacts in Bonsaint aside, I couldn’t think of anyone who would claim me as a friend even under threat of torture.


I had been quiet, wondering whether having an evil spirit inhabiting my body might turn me into a halfway normal person.


She kept giving me pointed looks that I eventually realized were intended to communicate something to me, but I had no idea what, and the stare I sent back attempting to convey this made her blanch and flee to the other end of the hall.


“If there’s one thing I’ve learned about humans, it’s that your kind loves to gossip. Nuns are no exception, by the way. The ancient and terrible knowledge I harbor about Sister Prunelle’s bunions would make even you beg for mercy.”


“You’re mortal, nun. You aren’t perfect. In fact, for a human, you make remarkably few stupid decisions. Only rarely do I want to possess you and bash your brains out against a wall.”


Perhaps the decisions that shaped the course of history weren’t made in scenes worthy of stories and tapestries, but in ordinary places like these, driven by desperation and doubt.


“Yes,” the revenant said, after a long, ancient-feeling pause. “They were our friends.”
“Then does that mean we’re–“
“You had better not push it, nun. I can possess you whenever I want. I could do far worse than make you murder someone. I could make you try on hats.”


Giveaway Information:

Up for grabs on the book blog tour are two (2) copies of VESPERTINE by Margaret Rogerson, one a physical finished copy and one a digital copy. Open to USA only.

Giveaway starts: Monday, September 27, 2021

Giveaway ends: Saturday, October 9, 2021 at 12:00 a.m. CDT

Is Vespertine on your TBR?
Make sure to check out stops from the rest of the tour here!

ARC Review: When Night Breaks by Janella Angeles

Book Cover

Synopsis:

The competition has come to a disastrous end, and Daron Demarco’s fall from grace is now front page news. But little matters to him beyond Kallia, the contestant he fell for who is now lost to this world and in the hands of a dangerous magician. Daron is willing to do whatever it takes to find her. Even if it means embarking on a dark and treacherous journey, risking more than just his life, with no promise of return.

After awaking in darkness, Kallia has never felt more lost. Especially with Jack by her side, the magician with who has the answers but cannot be trusted. Together, they must navigate a dazzling world where mirrors show memories and illusions shadow every corner, one ruled by a powerful game master who could all too easily destroy the world she left behind — and the boy she can’t seem to forget. With time running out, Kallia must embrace her role in a darker destiny, or lose everyone she loves, forever.

My Review:

Rating: 2 out of 5.

I was so disappointed in this book. I loved the first book — gave it 5 stars and actually reread it in preparation for this one and still loved it — and was really looking forward to this one, but it fell flat.

The editing was atrocious, and the writing not much better. I realize it was an arc, but it should have had *some* editing at that point. There was no reason for it to be littered with sentence fragments, missing words, jumbled phrases, and sentences that jammed together clauses that started with ‘while’ and followed with ‘though.’

It didn’t help that it was a mess of illusions and memories and not knowing what was going on. None of the characters knew, which of course left me with no idea at all. It was a confusing mess to wade through and by a quarter of the way through I was done. It didn’t help that I was just bored — there was nothing to keep me interested. The characters were unlikeable and the plot was… rather like staring down at a shattered mirror where every shard showed a piece of a different image.

edit: I went back to this to see if it would become more interesting and it did…. sort of. I read a bit and then began skimming and gave up again at 7o% . I still don’t care enough to read to the end. Things are too jumbled and confusing for it to come to a satisfactory ending.

*Thanks to NetGalley and Wednesday Books for providing an e-arc for review.

ARC Review: The Thing Lenny Loves Most About Baseball by Andrew Larsen

Book Cover

Synopsis:

Andrew Larsen evokes the eternal hope and joy of all true baseball fans — along with their love of facts — in this heartwarming story about a baseball-loving boy who doesn’t give up.Lenny can’t get enough of baseball. He loves to play. And he loves to pore over his Big Book of Baseball Facts. He wants to be in the big leagues someday, and, he figures, the more he knows, the better his chances. The only thing is, though he tries to keep his eye on the ball as it heads his way during a game, it somehow ends up by his feet. “You just need to practice,” his dad tells him. So they practice. And practice. Lenny doesn’t give up. And it pays off. Lenny makes a game-changing catch! Now he’s proven he can be great some of the time. Which, according to the facts, makes him just like the greatest Hall of Famers, right?In this endearing picture book, bestselling author Andrew Larsen celebrates the love of both the game of baseball and its countless facts — which for many fans go hand in hand. It offers a strong character-building portrait of perseverance and patience at work in skill development. It also underscores the importance of letting go of the idea of perfection. With energy and emotion in equal parts, Milan Pavlović’s illustrations capture Lenny’s (and baseball’s) highs and lows, and his loving supportive relationship with his father.

My Review:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I read this with my 7-year-old who is currently obsessed with baseball. Here are our thoughts:

7-year-old: I really enjoyed this book. I would give it a 4 or a 5 because it’s about baseball and I love baseball. My favorite parts where when they were playing baseball on the baseball field. I think Lenny must have been frustrated in some parts like when he missed the ball or it went over the fence.

me: This is such a cute and sweet book! And it has a great message. No matter whether you’re a baseball great or just starting out, sometimes you’ll miss the catch or strike out, and sometimes you’ll catch the ball or hit a home run. No one is perfect and to get better, you just have to keep practicing. These messages were also cleverly told through a story in a way that felt organic — not like when a book really hits you over the head with the message. The story was easy to get caught up in and the main character very relatable.

The illustrations were also clear and made it easy to follow the story. The images and moments chosen to illustrate the story were perfect and definitely added to the overall delivery.

My 7-year-old has asked to read this many times since we first read it. It’s definitely a hit with them.

*Thanks to NetGalley and Kids Can Press for providing an e-arc for review.