ARC Review: Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon

Instructions for Dancing

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I LOVED this book. Nicola Yoon hasn’t let me down yet, and this may be my favorite of her novels. Also, that cover is freaking gorgeous.

Evie loses all faith in love after her parents marriage ends and she goes as far as getting rid of all her formerly favorite romance novels. Fate intervenes, however, and she has to learn to find love again and to let herself love, even when she knows it may one day hurt.

The ballroom dancing she follows her fate to is wonderful (I say as someone who adores ballroom dancing movies) and teaches her a lot – as well as introducing her to X.

I cried buckets during the last 25% or so, which to me makes for an excellent romance.

It’s such a cute love story and has some really profound moments and takeaways and the dance instructor, FiFi, is hilarious with her bizarre insults. This would make an amazing movie. Someone get on that.

*Thanks to NetGalley and Random House Children’s for providing an e-arc for review.

ARC Review: A Chorus Rises by Bethany C. Morrow

A Chorus Rises (A Song Below Water, #2)

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This was such an interesting novel. For the first half, maybe, I couldn’t stand the main character, Naema. She was such a rich, entitled, privileged b*tch. Her previous interactions with Effie and Tavia certainly didn’t help. But… over the course of the novel she slowly expanded her worldview and started to change. Very slowly, and very reluctantly, but she soon became someone I could cheer on and be fully invested in. Because underneath all the awfulness, she cares. Deeply. And not, as it first appears, just for herself.

I questioned Bethany Morrow’s judgement in making Naema the protagonist of this follow-up novel, but I have to admit it was a genius move. I actually ended up liking this novel more than the first one. Its exploration of race and privilege and how they intersect was thorough, brutal, and enjoyable. I will definitely be reading her future novels.

The audiobook was excellent, and the narrator captured Naema’s voice perfectly from beginning to end. The other character voices were also excellent, and it was a joy to listen to.

*Thanks to NetGalley, MacMillan Tor-Forge, and MacMillan audio for providing an e-arc and audiobook arc for review.

ARC Review: One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston

One Last Stop

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I absolutely ADORED this book. Yes, the sapphic romance was wonderful, but also the characters! They’re all so well-rounded and interesting and exactly the sort of people you meet and live with in college. It reminded me of my college days. I wasn’t in New York, but it was all so, so familiar. I love them all and I didn’t want the story to end. I didn’t think Casey McQuiston could top their previous book but I think I might even love this one more.

It was so unapologetically queer, and seeing Jane react to the differences in 1977 New York and 2020 New York in how queer people could be and were reacted to – it was beautiful and heartbreaking.

I loved the mystery of Jane and her past and how all of it tied into August’s past. Just. So well-crafted.

I had the opportunity to listen to an advance copy of the audiobook and it was so well done. The narrator’s voice was perfect for the story, and she brought so much emotion to the characters and just brought it to life. I wanted to live inside the audiobook.

If you, like me, enjoy the found family trope then I highly recommend this book.

*Thanks to NetGalley, Macmillan Audio, and St. Martin’s Press for providing an e-arc and audio arc for review.

ARC Review: Curse of the Specter Queen by Jenny Elder Moke

Curse of the Specter Queen

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I LOVED this book. It started off with a bang and kept up the tension and edge-of-your-seat intensity through the end. I loved the treasure hunt, the clues, the mystery, the danger, and the restoring old books knowledge. I loved the characters – especially Sam, Bennett, and Joane.

Sam is the brains of the trio, Joane the daring one and Sam’s best friend, and Bennett the one who can rattle off book knowledge and who has a delicious we-both-love-each-other-but-we’re-too-embarrassed-to-admit-it relationship with Sam. They work so much better together than apart, and I absolutely cannot wait to read more of their adventures. Please, Jenny Elder Moke, if you’re listening — we NEED more of Sam, Bennett, and Joane.

I raced through this book in less than 24 hours and when I wasn’t reading it I was thinking about it. I really enjoyed Hood when it came out last year, but this was 1000 times better. I need more!

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

ARC Review: Bacchanal by Veronica G. Henry

Bacchanal

Rating: 1 out of 5.

I requested this because it looked fascinating and dark and spooky and it was…. not those things. Mostly, it was bland and boring. I didn’t care about the characters or what happened to them. I ended up skimming to see if it got better and it…. didn’t. The pacing was weird, with scenes that felt redundant. There were a lot of things I just didn’t understand. I agree with other reviewers: it felt like a first draft. It could be amazing – but it needs some work to get there.

*Thanks to NetGalley and 47 North for providing an e-arc for review.

ARC Review: Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating by Adiba Jaigirdar

Hani and Ishu's Guide to Fake Dating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I loved Adiba Jaigirdar’s first book and was eagerly anticipating this one – and it did not disappoint. Hani and Ishu are very real characters and I sympathized with both of them and their opposite approaches to friendship. The fake-dating-turned-real feelings was sweet and very relatable. Their home lives, while very different, were also very believable. Aisling and Dierdre were completely awful. And I loved Nik — she’s such a good sister and I would love to read more about her life. I was completely sucked into the story and finished it in a day. Highly recommend.

*Thanks to NetGalley and Hachette Children’s Group for providing an e-arc for review.

ARC Review: How to Find a Princess by Alyssa Cole

How to Find a Princess (Runaway Royals, #2)

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I LOVED this book so much. It’s definitely one of my favorite Alyssa Cole novels, which are always fantastic. As always the story was layered and thoughtful and dealt with some serious stuff, while still being a completely swoony romance novel.

Makeda Hicks tries so hard to be useful and nice that she ends up pushing people away by giving too much It’s lovely to see her learn to give only what she can and needs to, and learn to take things for herself too.

Beznaria Chetchevaliere is a chaos agent extraordinaire and watching her in action is both hilarious and awe-inspiring. Her creative solutions to problems may be wacky, but they work.

I loved the moment when Makeda realizes that Benzaria’s entire family are chaos agents and I dearly hope we get more of the Chetchevalieres in future books. And the cargo ship crew – they were awesome as well. I’m definitely hoping for more of them in the next book.

The fake-marriage and only-one-bed tropes were used so well here, and I absolutely loved the twist at the end — caught me totally off guard. Just excellently played.

I’m recommending this book to everyone who loves Alyssa Cole’s works and everyone who loves romance but hasn’t read any of hers yet. Seriously, what are you waiting for? This is an excellent book to start with. It ties into the previous royal romances, but you don’t have to have read them to understand this one.

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

ARC Review: Honeycomb by Joanne M. Harris

Honeycomb

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This is a gorgeous collection of seemingly unrelated original fairy tales that gradually twist around one another to eventually reveal that they are much more connected than they at first seem. They celebrate stories, who tells them and how they are told, reminding me in some ways a lot of the Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern. If you liked that book, I suspect you will like this one.

The magic and writing are lush and mysterious, the concept of the Silken Folk (fae) and the insect world being the same thing was fascinating and strange, just as a fairy tale should be. I loved the journey, watching the Lacewing King and those around him learn and grow and change through the power of stories.

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

ARC Review: The Blacktongue Thief by Christopher Buehlman – audiobook and ebook

The Blacktongue Thief by Christopher Buehlman

Rating: 1 out of 5.

All right so let’s start with the fact that this book is very much extremely not for me. So how did I end up with an arc, you ask? Well. I was suckered into thinking I would like it by reading all the rave reviews by authors I like. I kept reading that it was epic fantasy. I love epic fantasy. I even almost preordered the audiobook. I’m glad I didn’t.

But. My main issue is probably this: I cannot stand the main character. He is, as another reviewer put it, an ‘aggressively straight male.’ The humor is bawdy and crass and crude and frequently about bodily functions. I couldn’t get beyond this. It is also made abundantly clear that the story is not your typical epic fantasy, but with a heavy shading of dark grimdark horror, gore, etc. Definitely not my thing.

I also had the opportunity to review an advance copy of the audiobook. It’s read by the author and while he has a decent voice, his accent made it frequently difficult for me to understand what he was saying. It was also difficult to distinguish between characters because they all had very similar voices/accents.

I gave it up pretty quicly but I’m confident from the tone of the story and from the other reviews that the things I had problems with continue throughout.

If you like the things I had issues with and this sounds like your kind of story? Read it. You’ll probably love it. There are certainly plenty of rave reviews to that effect.

*Thanks to NetGalley, Macmillan Audio, and Macmillan-Tor Forge for providing an e-arc and audiobook arc for review.

ARC Review: It Goes Like This by Miel Moreland

It Goes Like This by Miel Moreland

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I wasn’t sure about this book at first, because it juggles four POVs and jumps around in the timeline over a 4 year period. However. Once I got immersed in it I freaking LOVED it.

Each of the four former members of teen pop sensation Moonlight Overthrow juggles their ambitions and needs with the rekindling of their friendship as they prepare for a benefit concert for their hometown. Each is well-rounded and fleshed out, and each is sympathetic while also having flaws.

It’s Eva and Celeste’s love story, but it’s also Eva and Celeste and Gina and Steph’s love story, and it’s the love story of the fans for Moonlight Overthrow, and Moonlight Overthrow for its fans, and just this explosion of queer love and music love that warmed my heart. I loved every minute of reading it and I hated to see it end.

Can you be a fan of a fictional band? Because, uh, I think I’m a fan of Moonlight Overthrow, and I’m so sad that I can’t be a part of that fandom because it… doesn’t actually exist?

Until the moon crashes into the sea, indeed.

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

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