Review: Cinderella Is Dead by Kalynn Bayron

Cinderella Is DeadCinderella Is Dead by Kalynn Bayron
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Cinderella Is Dead is set in a stark-Fantasy world, 200-years after the legendary Cinderella’s happily ever after with Prince Charming.

We follow 16-year old, Sophia, who on the eve of her first Ball, can think only of how she wants to be with her girlfriend, Erin, forever after, not with some man, or boy, she doesn’t even know.

Even though it’s risky, Sophia pleads with Erin to run away with her. Erin refuses. In their society it is treacherous to be different; to want something different for their lives. Erin is scared to be caught, to put herself and her family at risk.

Within the kingdom, all young ladies of a certain age are required to attend the King’s Annual Ball, where they are paraded around in the hopes of being selected to be a man’s wife. They are given a limited number of chances. If not selected, it’s sort of unclear what becomes of them, but many forfeited girls are never heard from again.

The girls are chosen for completely superficial reasons, so it’s important to look your best; to be seen, but not heard.

On the night of their Ball, one of Sophia and Erin’s friends isn’t as prepared as she should be. The King reacts harshly and the poor girl’s fate is sealed.

After witnessing the King’s cruelty, and the citizens impotence in the face of such evil, Sophia can’t stand it anymore. She makes up her mind that she needs to get away. Feeling she has no other option, refusing to bow to these ridiculous traditions, Sophia runs.

Now a wanted criminal, on her own for the first time, outside the grip of the kingdom, Sophia begins to learn more about the kingdom’s history and finds that the lore the society is based upon is nothing but a bag of lies.

Together with her new friend, Constance, Sophia vows to return to the kingdom and dismantle the hurtful, unfair and savage system. It may not be easy though, as the King’s power stems for a formidable and unusual place.

While this started strong for me, with an intriguing premise and set-up, the further I got into the story, the more it lost my interest.

By the end, I was ready to move on. I still think this is a solid idea and build-up, however the final execution just didn’t match my tastes.

As the story opens, I was intrigued by the system and I still find that interesting. I also like how Bayron framed the society around the legend of Cinderella. It was a clever plot device for setting the stage for some serious examination of a patriarchal society.

I also really enjoyed and appreciated how well the dystopian tone blended with the fantastical backdrop. That was nicely done.

I think where this started to lose me was the melodramatic interactions between Sophia and Constance. I didn’t like Constance at all. I was disturbed at how quickly Sophia shoved aside her once-proclaimed super powerful feelings for Erin the second she met Constance.

That didn’t feel genuine. It kind of turned me off to both characters. I also didn’t vibe with how quickly and easily the girls seemed to be able to overpower, or influence, others. This was especially evident in the final scenes, although I don’t want to say too much here because, spoilers.

Overall, I think this was creative and had a very solid set-up. The ideas explored were interesting and I loved the use of the actual fairy tale to set up the basis for the functioning of this system.

Even though the execution of this didn’t quite blow me away, I am still definitely looking forward to reading more from this author!!

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Review: Jackal by Erin E. Adams

JackalJackal by Erin E. Adams
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

Even though she is returning to her hometown of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, as a successful adult, Liz Rocher is still filled with trepidation. Her memories of her time there fill her with anxiety.

Growing up a bit of an outcast, the one person she could always rely on was her best friend, Mel. Now Mel is getting married and has asked Liz to be part of her special day.

Mel and Liz have remained close over the years and Liz is even the godmother to Mel’s daughter, Caroline. When it comes to visits though, it’s always them going to see Liz in the city; same with Liz’s Mom.

It’s her turn to show up this time, so she does. It feels strange to be back; doesn’t seem like a lot has changed. Her Mom is certainly full of the critiques straight away.

At the wedding, Liz is discomforted by the woodsy venue. The local woods, the subject of dark legends and a frequent player in Liz’s nightmares, are part of her worst memories from Johnstown.

In spite of the location, Liz is enjoying spending quality time with Caroline. It’s sort of on her to keep an eye on the girl while Mel and her new husband entertain at the reception.

Sometime between dessert, dancing and dodging awkward conversations, Liz loses site of Caroline. She begins searching, asking everyone if they have seen the little girl, but no one has. Starting to panic, Liz enters the edge of the woods. She’s scared.

After finding a frightening bit of evidence, Liz comes to the conclusion that Caroline is gone. She needs help. A full search party is assembled.

Liz is devastated. How could this happen? The incident is reminiscent of another horrible night back when Liz was in high school. A night when another girl went missing in the woods from a party; Keisha Woodson.

Even though she had only planned to stay in town for a couple of days, Liz can’t leave now. She has to stay until Caroline is found. Whatever the outcome, she needs to help. She needs to be here.

In an effort to help find the girl, Liz begins asking around regarding Keisha’s disappearance. Perhaps the two cases are related. What she finds is that Keisha wasn’t the first. She also finds a very distinct pattern, all black girls, missing from the woods, directly around the summer solstice.

Will Liz be able to figure out who, or what, is taking the girls, and find Caroline before it’s too late?

Jackal impressed me. It’s hard to define, it’s quite unique. I would describe it as a thoughtful work of Dark Fiction with heavy Social Horror components. The writing style has a stream of consciousness quality to it, that honestly, I’m not normally crazy about, but it really fit here.

It’s not a super straight-forward story, it does require some effort on the part of the Reader, but I feel like for those who are willing to put in some energy, it will leave a mark.

Liz was a well-developed character. It took time to get to know her, but it would be hard not to feel for her and her experiences. I also felt like her character growth was paced well throughout.

The overall tone reminded me of The Other Black Girl, in that the entire build-up of the story is laced with a certain uneasiness; like you know something sinister is going on just beyond your line of sight.

I love that feeling. The ominous feeling of the developing mystery and the building of tension as the conclusion approaches.

It did sort of lose me a bit towards the end. I’m still a little confused on a couple of things and maybe in those instances would have preferred a more definitive outcome. However, this is 100% personal preference.

I would absolutely recommend this to anyone who enjoys Social Horror, or Dark Fiction in general. The topics explored, the over-arching mystery and compelling main character, all combine to make Jackal a stirring debut.

Thank you to the publisher, Bantam, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I’m really looking forward to reading more from Erin E. Adams!

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Review: The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo

The Ghost BrideThe Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve had my eye on this gorgeous book for a very long time. After recently reading through some glowing reviews from friends, I decided not to put it off any longer. Proving that sometimes I do make good choices. It’s rare, but it happens.

One of my favorite aspects of this ended up being the striking atmosphere. It was such a good fit as we transition from a spooky October into a still spooky, yet more cozy November…

Set in the 19th-century port town of Malacca, in colonial Malaya, this story follows 17-year old, Li Lan, who lives with her father and loving nursemaid, Amah.

Li Lan’s family was once well-off, but due to her father’s persistent opium addiction, they now find themselves virtually bankrupt.

Li Lan is at the point in her life when most young women her age are getting married. Due to their status, however, Li Lan finds herself without many prospects.

When her father first presents her with the idea of becoming a ghost bride for the wealthy Lim family, he says it lightly, sort of in passing; like he wasn’t really considering it.

The local practice of ghost brides are said to calm restless spirits of those who have passed on. The Lim’s son, Lim Tian Ching, has recently died under mysterious circumstances and his mother seems set on finding him a ghost bride.

Even though Li Lan would be set for life, having a lavish place to live, never wanting for anything, she’s not into it. Tying herself to a dead man for the duration of her life, no thank you. She wants more, maybe even love.

When she gets invited to the Lim home for a visit however, she does accept. There’s no reason to be rude. Plus, she’s genuinely curious about the family.

It is a very interesting visit. She’s mesmerized by their lifestyle and the characters fluttering around their lush estate. After the visit, the haunting of Li Lan begins.

In her dreams, Li Lan is visited by the dead Lim Tian Ching, whose spirit makes her incredibly uncomfortable for a host of different reasons. The nightly interactions begin to wear heavily upon her.

She even goes as far as visiting a medium to try to find a way to free herself of his spirit. In short, she’s given a potion of sorts to try to help and after taking too much, Li Lan slips into a coma.

Y’all, I am really simplifying this here, but you get the gist. Through her condition, Li Lan is transported to the parallel world of the Chinese afterlife, where vengeful spirits, ghost cities and monstrous establishments abound.

There she meets Er Lang, a sort of spiritual guide, and they help her upon her journey. The more ensnared Li Lan becomes in this world, the greater the risk becomes that she will never be able to return to the mortal realm. It’s a race against the clock.

I adored the menacing, magical tone of this. I loved the infusion of Chinese folklore. It’s so interesting to read about and learn about. I have read a couple of other novels tackling similar concepts and always end up really enjoying the imagery of the dark underworld.

I did end up listening to the audiobook and I would absolutely recommend that format. It is actually narrated by the author and is completely mesmerizing.

I love when an author narrates their own story. If done right, it can just breath such energy and authenticity into it. Only they know exactly how their words should be read and wow, Yangsze Choo could be the best I’ve ever heard!!!

I know I am probably forgetting a million things that I wanted to say about this one. The goodness of it all has just zapped thoughts straight out of my brain.

Overall, I found this story to be beautifully-lyrical, fantastical and compelling. I’m so glad that I finally made time for it. I am definitely planning to read more from Yangsze Choo; looking forward to it. I’m a fan!

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Review: White Horse by Erika T. Wurth

White HorseWhite Horse by Erika T. Wurth
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


**A NOVEMBER 2022 BOOK OF THE MONTH SELECTION**

Kari James has a bit of a dark past. There’s her missing mother, her father, who suffered a brain injury in an accident and is unable to care for himself, as well as a best friend lost to their lifestyle choices.

Now in her 30s, living back in her hometown of Denver, Colorado, Kari works, takes care of her Dad and in her downtime, enjoys reading, or having a few beers at the White Horse, her favorite local watering hole.

Kari’s cousin, Debby, is her closest friend. The person she can count on the most. The two spend quite a bit of time together, but would probably be together even more if it wasn’t for Debby’s overbearing husband.

One night while Kari is drinking at the White Horse, Debby arrives. As they chat, Debby presents her with a bracelet that she found while doing some cleaning. It used to belong to Kari’s Mom.

As soon as Kari lays hands on the antique, traditionally-engraved bracelet, she feels a unique energy course through her. This is something powerful.

Kari begins being plagued by dreams and visions, of her mother, of her past, of something dark and dangerous lurking just outside her vision. She’s haunted.

Kari, not unlike myself, has always been a fan of just keeping the past buried. Some events are too painful to dwell upon; they’re best dealt with if they’re not.

Kari had always been told her mother left them. Now she’s not as sure that was the case. She begins to dig. She feels compelled to finally find the truth. Is her mother still alive, is she dead?

Kari’s also sort of forced to deal with her own past, life choices and the loss of her best friend, Jamie. Kari needs to overcome her own guilt, in addition to her grief, in order to move forward with her life.

White Horse is a beautifully-told story. I loved the dark and gritty tone of it all. I could picture everything Kari was experiencing, but it was like watching a Horror movie where the setting is always kind of dark. Where you feel like you are squinting because you’re trying so hard not to miss what’s happening.

I also really enjoyed the themes explored. It was layered, emotional, powerful, and the Indigenous lore and concepts involved in the story were fantastic.

There’s quite a bit of mystery surrounding Kari’s family and early-life. I liked how Wurth gradually revealed the truth. It was done slowly, but in a way that kept me interested from the very start.

The pace and tension continues to build as you learn more. By the end, I was so freaking invested. I had to know the truth!

There were some things that I wasn’t crazy about, but not many. For example, Debby’s husband’s presence occasionally kicked me out of the story, he was so terrible.

Also, some aspects did become a little muddled for me personally, particularly surrounding the focus on The Shining. I think I get it, but I’m not a hundred on it. I may need to read it again to clear up some things.

Overall, I really enjoyed my time with this story; investigating the long-held family secrets within this one Urban Indigenous family. I listened to the audiobook and would definitely recommend that format. It was well-done and just a great story to sit and listen to.

The texture of the grief, the guilt, I felt it. I connected with Kari. Wurth did a great job developing her character. I am definitely looking forward to reading more from this author.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Macmillan Audio, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I am going to remember this one for a long time.

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Review: The Empress of Time (The Keeper of the Night #2) by Kylie Lee Baker

The Empress of Time (The Keeper of Night, #2)The Empress of Time by Kylie Lee Baker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Empress of Time is the conclusion to Kylie Lee Baker’s The Keeper of the Night duology. This story follows Ren Scarborough, who is half-British Reaper, half-Japanese Shinigami.

In the first book, Ren and her half-brother, Neven, fled London for Japan, where Ren hoped to learn more about her mother and her Shinigami roots.

Once there, Ren was given a difficult quest by the Goddess of Death. She needed to find and eliminate three dangerous Yokai demons.

Along with her brother and a new friend, Hiro, Ren’s quest kept me glued to the pages. Death work is difficult business. It’s fast-paced with extremely high-stakes. Over the course of the first novel, I became easily attached to this group of characters.

Additionally, the first book had a fairly earth-shattering conclusion, so I have been anxiously awaiting this second installment.

In The Empress of Time, Ren has now been ruling the Japanese Underworld as the Goddess of Death for the past decade. She is no longer the same conflicted girl who fled the streets of London all those years ago.

Now Ren has received startling news that her past has come back to haunt her though. There are British Reapers approaching the shores of Japan. They’re here for Ren, for vengeance.

Ren seeks help and is again sent out on what seems to be an impossible quest. This time she must find and retrieve a magical sword said to have been missing for thousands of years.

With Hiro gone, Ren is joined this time around by the moon god Tsukuyomi, Hiro’s brother, on her mission. Together the two race throughout the country trying to find the object they seek before time runs out for Ren.

As mentioned above, I have been really excited to get this second book. It was just as intriguing as the first one. I was a little surprised by the huge time jump, however. I was sort of anticipating this would pick up right where the first book left off, but that wasn’t the case.

It did take me a little bit to come to terms with that.

As with the first book, Kylie Lee Baker really succeeds with the dark, beautiful imagery she is able to conjure up with this. And when I say dark, I mean it.

There’s a lot of death, mutilation, even the occasional consumption of body parts. It gets bloody, dangerous and gruesome, but we love to see that in a Fantasy.

I loved the inclusion of so many elements from Japanese folklore and myth. The world is well-constructed and worked really well over the course of this story.

Another thing I really enjoyed about this was how Baker kept the themes from the first book alive. For example, in the first book there’s a big focus on Ren’s heritage and her inner conflict over being half-British Reaper and half-Japanese Shinigami.

For Ren, she never felt like she belonged in London and she was in fact treated like an outsider by the other Reapers.

In this book, even though Ren has found a bit more peace with who she is, she still doesn’t feel like she has a true place she belongs. Particularly at the start of this.

So, bringing the Reapers to Japan and now having the Shinigami battle on her behalf, it was like the two sides of her being having an external conflict, instead of just the inner one from the first book. I am most likely explaining this terribly, but I found it really interesting.

This story was still about Ren searching for the place she truly belonged, but the playing field and the actors were so much larger in scope than in the first book. There has been a great evolution to Ren’s character, but she is still a character in deep need of finding greater meaning for herself.

With that in mind, I loved how this concluded. The final little section was the icing on the cake. A conclusion that seems fitting for the life that Ren lived.

I definitely recommend this to fans of Dark Fantasy, Japanese-Inspired Fantasy and classic quest tales. Kylie Lee Baker really knows how to wrap it up. This was a beautiful finale for this lush story.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Inkyard Press and Dreamscape Media, for providing me with copies to read and review.

I had a lot of fun with this duology and definitely look forward to reading more from this author in the future!

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Review: Well, That Was Unexpected by Jesse Q. Sutanto

Well, That Was UnexpectedWell, That Was Unexpected by Jesse Q. Sutanto
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿงก๐Ÿ’›โค๏ธ๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿงก๐Ÿ’›โค๏ธ๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿงก๐Ÿ’›โค๏ธ๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿงก๐Ÿ’›โค๏ธ๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿงก๐Ÿ’›โค๏ธ๐Ÿ’œ

After Sharlot Citra’s mother walks in on her clumsily exploring her sexuality, her mother freaks out. Things are going to change around here!

After George Clooney Tanuwijaya’s father walks in on him clumsily exploring his sexuality, his father freaks out. Things are going to change around here!

For Sharlot, this change includes leaving her life in California behind, getting dragged onto an international flight, and flying to her mother’s native Indonesia where they will remain for the rest of the Summer.

For George, the change isn’t quite as shocking to the system. As a member of one of the wealthiest and most prominent families in Indonesia, George isn’t going anywhere, but he will have his family meddling a lot more into his social life.

Unbeknownst to both teens, Sharlot’s mom and George’s dad have begun quests to find appropriate romantic partners for their children. They cannot sit by and let their teens deviant behaviors progress any further.

Thus, they do what any good parent would do and they both begin cat-fishing potential love interests via social media.

And that’s how Sharlot and George ultimately end up on the most uncomfortable date ever, in one of the most beautiful coffee shops ever, struggling to live up to whatever ridiculous things their parents invented about them.

For example, Sharlot’s fake hobbies include cooking strong bone broth and hopefully one day being a good wife, while George’s hobbies include math and someday taking over the family empire.

As the teens are forced to continue the charade for a number of different reasons, they begin to get to know one other on their own terms.

Will they like what they find? And if so, how will they ever clear the air about the truth behind their meeting in the first place? What other terrible things could go wrong?!

With these two families, literally anything and everything.

Y’all, I loved this with my whole heart and soul. I was so invested in these characters. Sharlot and George have to be two of my favorite characters ever.

Well, That Was Unexpected got unexpectedly under my skin. While the humor kept me giggling throughout, certain emotional aspects got me deep in my feels. It was everything I wanted and more.

I knew going into this that Sutanto’s sense of humor meshes really well with my own. I love how realistically she writes her characters thoughts, which are always so darn on point and witty.

This story is told via alternating perspectives from Sharlot and George. It was so fun seeing both of their sides to this unbelievable situation they found themselves in. I also liked being able to see both of their thoughts involving the evolution of their feelings towards one another.

100% satisfying start-to-finish!!

This is definitely my favorite Romantic Comedy of the year and in fact, is one of my favorites ever.

I would fall on a sword for it. I would shout from a rooftop for it. I would fly to Jakarta to defend its honor…and might as well get some delicious coffee whilst I’m there… ๐Ÿ˜‹โ˜•๏ธ

Thank you so much to the publisher, Delacorte Press, for providing me a copy to read and review.

I am a Jesse Q. Sutanto stan and this novel is the perfect example as to why. I can’t wait to pick up whatever she serves up next!!

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Review: Love Radio by Ebony LaDelle

Love RadioLove Radio by Ebony LaDelle
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Love Radio is a hard-hitting, heart-warming, YA-Romance following two teens in Detroit approaching the end of their high school years.

Prince Jones, our male lead, has an Uncle who is a popular radio-DJ. Prince, being raised with his Uncle as a strong influence in his life, loves all things music. He also loves helping people.

So, when his Uncle offers him a segment on his popular hip-hop show, Love Radio, Prince graciously accepts. His mission, to give romantic advice to those seeking it. He is dishing advice and good music. It’s perfect.

Dani Ford, our female lead, dreams of moving to NYC and going to college to become a writer. She has always dreamed of becoming a writer. The only thing standing in her way at this point is the dreaded college essay.

You would think that would be an easy task for an aspiring author, but Dani had something happen to her a while back, a traumatic event, that has ended up having an lasting impact on many different facets of her life.

Dani has started to withdraw a bit from her peers, a fact her loving parents definitely recognize, yet they’ve been unable to get Dani to open up to them about what’s going on.

When Dani and Prince meet, he’s smitten. He’s actually been noticing her for a while, but has never had the courage to speak to her, but how can he give out serious love advice if he can’t even follow it himself.

While their first real encounter isn’t perfect, the two definitely make an impression on one another.

From there, we follow the two as they get to know one another and Prince vows to win Dani’s heart over just three dates. The Reader gets a front row seat not just to the exquisitely-adorable dates, but also to what’s going on behind the scenes in both Prince and Dani’s home lives.

Will the self-proclaimed teen love doctor be able to get the girl, or is all his love talk just hot air?

I absolutely adored this story. From the very start I was enamored with these two characters. Both of them were very well-developed and likable. It was so easy to get behind them and cheer them on.

For me, one of the highlights was all the incredible heart-felt details that LaDelle put into both of their backstories. Both Prince and Dani were very committed to their families and the scenes involving their family members were indeed some of my favorites.

And even though there are a lot of heavy-hitting topics explored, there was also a lot of fun and humor in this as well. The banter between Dani and Prince, as they got more comfortable with one another, had me laughing out loud and, at times, blushing a little.

I loved how mature these two characters were. Even though they were teens, that didn’t mean they couldn’t have their heads on straight. They both had goals, and in spite of outside influences, they both were steadily working towards achieving the things they wanted.

Additionally, I liked how they learned to support each other and help one another work through their difficulties.

I did listen to the audiobook and one thousand percent recommend that format. The narration was so spot on. The narrators absolutely brought these characters to life.

I went through it over the course of this story, feeling pretty much every emotion under the sun. I learned from these characters and was inspired by them. It melted my heart.

Overall, as you can tell, I loved this. It had so many strengths as a story and I feel like it is so underrated at this point. I really hope more people discover this wonderful book and give it a go.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I cannot wait to read more from Ebony LaDelle!!!

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Review: Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi

Emergency ContactEmergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I picked up Emergency Contact as Book #6 for my TBR-Haul Project. I hauled it all the way back in July of 2018 and then for some reason never picked it up.

My initial attraction, and frankly the reason I bought it, was for the cover. I mean, look at her! She’s stunning. I was also hearing great buzz for it at the time though.

In spite of the fact that it’s been collecting dust all that time, I have never really lost interest in the story. After picking it up, I’m disappointed in myself for neglecting it for so long!

This story is set in Austin, Texas and follows two main characters, Penny and Sam.

Penny is just entering her first year of college. With dreams of being a writer, she’s looking forward to getting to Austin and leaving her small town life behind.

Penny was raised by a single mom, who she loves so much, but has a complicated relationship with. Penny’s mom was young when she had her and sometimes, to Penny, it feels more like she is the parent than the child.

Sam is in his early-20s and he is in a major rut. After a break-up, he’s stuck secretly living at the coffee shop in which he works.

He dreams of becoming a filmmaker, but those dreams are on hold at the moment, as he just tries to struggle through day-to-day life. Being newly sober is the icing on the cake, but he does his best to make it work.

When Sam and Penny meet through Penny’s new college roommate Jude, it’s silently like a gut punch for them both, but they don’t make a real connection until later.

A chance encounter finds them alone and the serious experience they go through together that night creates a bond that they keep all to themselves.

From that point forward, they remain in daily contact via text messages and an all-consuming relationship blooms through that remote form of interaction.

As they continue to get to know one another, feelings and emotions begin to grow, but will the two be able to take it from the screen to IRL?

The audiobook format of this story swept me away. We have two narrators, one for Penny and one for Sam and they truly brought this narrative to life. I genuinely felt like I was listening to Penny and Sam tell their stories.

I absolutely adored both of these characters. Penny especially. The way she thought and viewed the world, it was so natural and relatable. I loved her sense of humor or sort of snarky attitude towards life.

Sam was such a sweetie, who although he had been let down by many people in his life, still managed not to be jaded and just had the kindest heart.

In addition to loving them individually, I loved the chemistry and banter between these two. From the very first moment they met, I knew we were bound to have something special here. Watching their relationship grow through a less traditional medium than face-to-face interaction made it that much more enjoyable.

There was a certain level of pining that came with it that I’m not sure we would have experienced otherwise.

Both of these characters were dealing with different and very serious life issues involving family, past traumas and self-confidence. Watching them work through those things, and help each other work through those things, was believable and ultimately left me feeling hopeful.

I was surprised by how connected I felt to these characters as the story progressed. I haven’t really been picking up a lot of Contemporary stories recently and this one revamped my interest in these types of topics and narratives.

I am definitely planning to read more of Mary H.K. Choi’s work. If it is half as great as this, I have a lot of stellar reading ahead from this author!

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Review: All Her Little Secrets by Wanda M. Morris

All Her Little SecretsAll Her Little Secrets by Wanda M. Morris
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

I loved my time reading All Her Little Secrets. Ellice Littlejohn was an interesting main character and I really meshed well with Morris’s writing style.

I listened to the audiobook and was completely swept up into the story. It was really well done with the narration just fitting to the story perfectly.

Wanda Morris has a second book releasing in October of this year, Anywhere You Run and it is loosely connected to this novel.

The main character of the new novel, I believe, is a side character in this novel and I’m looking forward to learning more of her backstory.

If you are looking for an engaging and thoughtful Legal Thriller to keep you at the edge of your seat, you should absolutely give All Her Little Secrets a try.

IMO, Wanda M. Morris is one to watch. This was an impressive debut. I selfishly hope Morris, a corporate attorney, has quit her day job, because writing is her jam!!

((although I am more than confident she’s a phenomenal attorney as well…))

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Review: Bright We Burn (The Conqueror’s Saga #3) by Kiersten White

Bright We Burn (The Conqueror's Saga #3)Bright We Burn by Kiersten White
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Bright We Burn is the third and final book in Kiersten White’s sweeping YA-series, The Conqueror’s Saga.

I bought this entire trilogy back in 2018 and she has stood quietly, yet beautifully, on my shelves, unread, for all these years. I picked up the first book on a whim, And I Darken, last month when I started my TBR-Haul Project.

The goal of this self-created project is simply to get me to read some of the backlist titles that I own. And I Darken was the first book of the project and I’m so glad it was.

I had such a successful reading experience with that book and consequently binged the rest of the series.

I found the world White created over the course of this series completely immersive. I was transported to the Ottoman Empire era and I found it to be such a refreshing, captivating, mysterious, yet brutal, setting.

The characters, particularly our main characters Lada, Radu and Mehmed, were each so fleshed out and distinct. Over the course of the series I became so attached to them and invested in their lives. I was like a helicopter mom circling them; especially Lada.

Lada was my favorite character. I loved her strength and determination. I felt like White wrote her really well. It was easy to understand her motivations and as hard as she was, you could tell that it was because she was essentially traumatized from her childhood.

She pushed everyone away, only keeping her country in her heart, that way no one could break it. I felt for her. Additionally, she’s a complete and total badass.

After returning to her home country, Lada uses a thousand stakes to send a message to her rivals. This one would never go down without a fight.

Radu grew so much in this one as well. It took a lot to get him to this place, but I think he finally is able to gain some sort of peace, or at least understanding, in his life that was satisfying to see.

He was a sweet baby bird that I want to protect throughout this beginning of this series. In this book, it didn’t feel as much like that. He really came into his own and although not a perfect situation, we love to see the growth.

Overall, White sent me on a tremendous journey with these characters. I seriously haven’t been this emotional at the close of a series in a long, long time. We’re talking actually tears, folks.

Kiersten White has destroyed me. I may never fully recover.

I’ve now read 9-books from this author and I’ll tell you, she’s a heavy hitter in my book.

I will continue to pick up anything she writes and I recommend you do too!

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