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ARC Review: Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan


Publishing Date: January 11, 2022


A captivating debut fantasy inspired by the legend of Chang’e, the Chinese moon goddess, in which a young woman’s quest to free her mother pits her against the most powerful immortal in the realm.

Growing up on the moon, Xingyin is accustomed to solitude, unaware that she is being hidden from the feared Celestial Emperor who exiled her mother for stealing his elixir of immortality. But when Xingyin’s magic flares and her existence is discovered, she is forced to flee her home, leaving her mother behind.

Alone, powerless, and afraid, she makes her way to the Celestial Kingdom, a land of wonder and secrets. Disguising her identity, she seizes an opportunity to learn alongside the emperor’s son, mastering archery and magic, even as passion flames between her and the prince.

To save her mother, Xingyin embarks on a perilous quest, confronting legendary creatures and vicious enemies across the earth and skies. But when treachery looms and forbidden magic threatens the kingdom, she must challenge the ruthless Celestial Emperor for her dream—striking a dangerous bargain in which she is torn between losing all she loves or plunging the realm into chaos.

Daughter of the Moon Goddess begins an enchanting, romantic duology which weaves ancient Chinese mythology into a sweeping adventure of immortals and magic—where love vies with honor, dreams are fraught with betrayal, and hope emerges triumphant.

Carter’s CC

My Review:

Rating: 2 out of 5.

This was a disappointment. I liked it at first, was interested in the story, and though I wasn’t 100% sold on the writing style it was at least well-written, even if it was rather passive. But then after about 30% it just… dragged. And dragged. As I kept reading I lost more and more interest in the story and the characters, until I was actively avoiding picking it up. Then when I did bring myself to pick it up I very quickly put it down again. I ended up DNFing at 55% which was disappointing but it was starting to send me into a bit of a slump.

The descriptions and mythology were beautiful, though there were rather too many descriptions and there was no urgency to the story — it definitely meandered. The thing that bothered me the most, and probably a large part of why I didn’t like it, was the two love interests for the main character. The romances were forced, unbelievable, and bland, and the love triangle was just unconvincing. I would have preferred both as friendships as that would have made more sense. The main character also has a definite “all the boys fall in love with me” thing going on.

I can definitely recommend it to people who enjoyed Elizabeth Lim’s books (Spin the Dawn, Six Crimson Cranes) although at 512 pages it’s rather longer than those. And maybe that’s my main problem with it — it’s just too long. In style and content of story it has quite a few similarities to Elizabeth Lim’s work. It also reminds me of Marissa Meyer’s Gilded — though that may be because I found them both too long.

So if you enjoyed Gilded, Spin the Dawn, or Six Crimson Cranes, give this one a try.

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

ARC Review: Beautiful Little Fools by Jillian Cantor


Publishing Date: February 1, 2022


USA Today bestselling author Jillian Cantor reimagines and expands on the literary classic The Great Gatsby in this atmospheric historical novel with echoes of Big Little Lies, told in three women’s alternating voices.

On a sultry August day in 1922, Jay Gatsby is shot dead in his West Egg swimming pool. To the police, it appears to be an open-and-shut case of murder/suicide when the body of George Wilson, a local mechanic, is found in the woods nearby.

Then a diamond hairpin is discovered in the bushes by the pool, and three women fall under suspicion. Each holds a key that can unlock the truth to the mysterious life and death of this enigmatic millionaire.

Daisy Buchanan once thought she might marry Gatsby—before her family was torn apart by an unspeakable tragedy that sent her into the arms of the philandering Tom Buchanan.

Jordan Baker, Daisy’s best friend, guards a secret that derailed her promising golf career and threatens to ruin her friendship with Daisy as well.

Catherine McCoy, a suffragette, fights for women’s freedom and independence, and especially for her sister, Myrtle Wilson, who’s trapped in a terrible marriage.

Their stories unfold in the years leading up to that fateful summer of 1922, when all three of their lives are on the brink of unraveling. Each woman is pulled deeper into Jay Gatsby’s romantic obsession, with devastating consequences for all of them.

Jillian Cantor revisits the glittering Jazz Age world of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, retelling this timeless American classic from the women’s perspective. Beautiful Little Fools is a quintessential tale of money and power, marriage and friendship, love and desire, and ultimately the murder of a man tormented by the past and driven by a destructive longing that can never be fulfilled.

My Review:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This was hauntingly beautiful. It was so sad and desperate and hopeless, watching Daisy and Jordan and Catherine’s lives crashing down around them. I couldn’t look away.

The structure was brilliant, getting each of the women’s perspective as their lives slowly intertwined and tangled around one another. Adding brief interjections from the detective trying to solve the case of Gatsby’s murder was brilliant as well, heightening the tension as the lies mounted up.

I’ve always thought the Great Gatsby was a beautiful and tragic story, but getting Jay’s story through Nick wasn’t nearly so tragic as this. Nick’s perspective was that of an outsider looking in at a gin-soaked world of parties. Daisy and Jordan and Catherine had so much more depth to them, because women, even rich women, had so much less power than the men.

I was riveted the entire time I read, drawn in to the darkly glittering world, but drawn in the most because of Daisy and Jordan and Catherine’s humanity. They felt so real, so alive, so timeless.

I was bracing myself the entire time, waiting for the final crash at the end, but Jillian Cantor managed to infuse it with just a touch of hope and made me love it all the more for how unexpected it was.

This is a story I will be reading again and recommending to all my friends.

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

Favorite Quotes:

Daisy sounded petulant, but oddly, it was the first time it had ever occurred to me that there might be a difference between the two, that it might be impossible to be both good and happy.


That was life, wasn’t it? Everything you could never believe happening to you, happening just like that, right before your very eyes.


I’d been feeling this way for a few weeks now, since we’d moved here from France. Weary and restless at the same time. It was hard to breathe and even harder to remember to smile.


It made me soften toward him a little, as I felt the way inside that his face looked: angry and disappointed and a little bit sad.


Myrtle? It felt funny to know she had a name, that she was a real, living breathing woman who desired something unattainable too. Just like the rest of us. Golf. Daisy. Tom and the west.


Of course, Nick agreed. Nick agreed to everything that summer. If you looked up agreeable in Merriam-Webster’s I was pretty sure you’d see Nick’s photograph.


And the way her face turned in that moment, it hit me that she would someday grow to be a woman. I wanted more for her than to be a fool. I never wanted men to treat Pammy the way they treated me. I wanted her to be brave and bold, and fearless and independent.


“She’s a little you, isn’t she Daisy?” he said.

His words burned my face, my heart. Pammy had to be better. I wanted so much better for her. I had to make sure she was better.


They were all the same, weren’t they? They all wanted nothing more than to ruin me. It was utterly exhausting to be a woman.


“I don’t want a safe life,” I told him, much to his chagrin. “I want a good life. I want a meaningful life.”


And maybe that was the last and biggest lie of all. That what I would do next with my life would be good enough to make up for what I had done.


ARC DNF Review: Pride & Prejudice (a Retelling) by Laura Wood


Publishing Date: January 6, 2022


Bestselling and YA Book Prize shortlisted author Laura Wood brings Elizabeth and Darcy’s romance to life once more in a stunning and truly accessible retelling of Austen’s beloved classic.

Witty, intelligent Elizabeth Bennet has no desire for a marriage of convenience. And when she meets the handsome, wealthy Mr Darcy, her opinion of him is quickly set: he is aloof, selfish and proud – the last man in the world she would ever marry.

Until their paths cross again, and again, and the pair begin to realise that first impressions can be flawed… But as Elizabeth and Darcy become entangled in a dance through the strict hierarchies of society, will there be space for true love to bloom?

My Review:

Rating: 1 out of 5.

This was disappointing. I saw that it was a Pride and Prejudice retelling and requested immediately as I adore P&P. However, it turns out the “retelling” is just a straight copy of Pride and Prejudice with some of the wording changed to make it more modern. And it’s not even very good writing.

We have such sentences as: “No!” Lizzy yelped. “I mean…” she stuttered.

That’s just… I can’t read one of my favorite novels rewritten like that. I read and skimmed the first third, skimmed farther in case the quality improved, and then gave up.

If I had read this before reading the original, I might not have enjoyed P&P much, and that would have been a travesty.

*Thanks to NetGalley and Barrington Stoke Teen for providing an e-arc for review.

ARC Review: A Rose by Any Other Name

Book Cover

Publishing: November 1, 2021


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: Within These Wicked Walls by Lauren Blackwood

Book Cover


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.