Author: Foz Meadows
Series:
Series #:
Genre: fantasy, romance, queer
Age Group: adult
ARC?: yes

Velasin vin Aaro never planned to marry at all, let alone a girl from neighboring Tithena. When an ugly confrontation reveals his preference for men, Vel fears he’s ruined the diplomatic union before it can even begin. But while his family is ready to disown him, the Tithenai envoy has a different solution: for Vel to marry his former intended’s brother instead.

Caethari Aeduria always knew he might end up in a political marriage, but his sudden betrothal to a man from Ralia, where such relationships are forbidden, comes as a shock.

With an unknown faction willing to kill to end their new alliance, Vel and Cae have no choice but to trust each other. Survival is one thing, but love—as both will learn—is quite another.

Byzantine politics, lush sexual energy, and a queer love story that is by turns sweet and sultry. A Strange and Stubborn Endurance is an exploration of gender, identity, and self-worth. It is a book that will live in your heart long after you turn the last page.


Review

WOW. What do I even say about this book? I don’t think it is at all possible to encompass how much I loved this book. I could not put it down. I may or may not have spilled enchiladas on my arc as I was reading it…

This is my first book by Meadow’s but I’m going to have to go back and find more of their work. Because it was stupendous. I mean, it was two things I love:

a) queer and

b) fantasy!

I mean…what could be better?

Enemies-friends-romance trope? Check.

Super inclusive? Check.

Witty banter? Check.

Great dialogue? Check.

Interesting supporting characters? Check.

Interesting plot? Check.

This book checks off all my wants and needs in a book. A Strange and Stubborn Endurance will not leave my brain. I can’t do anything but think about it. It is my new obsession. I just LOVED the characters in this book. I mean ughhhh. I cannot even think because this book just was amazing.

You know how hard it is to write a review and list everything a book has done that you loved? Yeah, that’s me right now. I need like thirty special editions of this book. SERIOUSLY.

Vel was the best.** I loved reading his POV. Cae was amazing too. Just, Vel I felt for him. I wanted to keep him safe. Hug him. Vel and Cae’s relationship? It was one of the best developed romances that I have ever had the pleasure of reading. Meadows did a great job on that, and the balance she maintained between the romance and the plot? Excellent.

The plot was much more political intrigue and action than I expected. But it worked so well.

As mentioned this book is inclusive, and while one country feels very much like ours, the other is very open and accepting and normalizes being queer. We have relationships of all types, of all genders and it is incorporated seamlessly. There is also disability representation – one of the characters is mute! And the others learn sign language to communicate with him.

If you are looking for a queer fantasy? This is it. A huge round of applause for Foz Meadows because this book is going to be in the top of my top books of the year. I kinda want a sequel? Can I get a sequel? I mean I feel that the world building in this was such that there is so much to explore.

I will say that there are some content warnings to be aware of:

These include: rape, attempted rape, violence, gore, punishment, homophobia, suicide, suicidal ideation

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Author: Alice Oseman
Series: n/a
Series #: n/a
Genre: romance, LGBTQ+
Age Group: young adult
ARC?: no

This is the funny, honest, messy, completely relatable story of Georgia, who doesn’t understand why she can’t crush and kiss and make out like her friends do. She’s surrounded by the narrative that dating + sex = love. It’s not until she gets to college that she discovers the A range of the LGBTQIA+ spectrum — coming to understand herself as asexual/aromantic. Disrupting the narrative that she’s been told since birth isn’t easy — there are many mistakes along the way to inviting people into a newly found articulation of an always-known part of your identity. But Georgia’s determined to get her life right, with the help of (and despite the major drama of) her friends. 


Review

First off, this is the first novel by Alice Oseman I’ve read. I’ve been reading her Heartstopper for years now. This book called to me because it had ace rep, and I’ve yet to find a book that does ace rep right. Or the learning about themselves right. Especially since so many of them are set in high school, and I didn’t find that relatable at all. This one did.

I’m ace – and I used to say biromantic. But after this book it has me questioning my own identity – am I actually aro too? 

Georgia was a relatable character for me. Like her, I was into the idea of romance/love/sex – but not necessarily featuring me. It was interesting that that was incorporated into the book because I felt that in my bones. I was like yes, this is me. Then the aspects of “friends” or family questioning if just because you haven’t experienced something yet, how do you know if you don’t want it? Georgia says she feels it, which I do too. For me, her realization that there was a sexuality beyond LGBT was important. I didn’t discover ace until college. It wasn’t even on my radar. But once I learned about it and researched it, like Georgia, I couldn’t believe it was true…that I could be this. Wasn’t there something wrong with me? I loved that Sunil was there to support Georgia; I loved that he helped her and wasn’t condescending. 

This book also brings up the important topic of denying ace and aro people space in queer spaces. Sunil’s passion about it was important to me. The thought of never belonging is terrifying. 

I also appreciated how Oseman worked in friendship. Because friendships are so important, and I loved that Georgia realized her friendships could be just as satisfying as romance. For anyone that should be important. 

I enjoyed Oseman’s relatable writing and the book flowed well for me. The chapters were short and self-contained which made the pace of the book go by quickly. 

I loved all the characters in this book. I wanted to cuddle them all and tell them I loved them. I wish more books depicted being ace like this. 

And as I mentioned in the beginning of the review, it’s made me rethink who I am now…and how variable being ace/aro is. 

Loveless was a wonderful book and I would absolutely recommend it to everyone. 

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Author: Tara Sim
Series: The Dark Gods
Series #: 1
Genre: fantasy, dark fantasy
Age Group: adult
ARC?: yes

The Four Realms—Life, Death, Light, and Darkness—all converge on the city of dusk. For each realm there is a god, and for each god there is an heir.

But the gods have withdrawn their favor from the once vibrant and thriving city. And without it, all the realms are dying.

Unwilling to stand by and watch the destruction, the four heirs—Risha, a necromancer struggling to keep the peace; Angelica, an elementalist with her eyes set on the throne; Taesia, a shadow-wielding rogue with rebellion in her heart; and Nik, a soldier who struggles to see the light— will sacrifice everything to save the city.

But their defiance will cost them dearly.


Review

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for an e-arc in exchange for an honest review.

I love a good epic/high fantasy, and the description of this book sounded so good. And like something that I would really enjoy. As anyone knows, adult fantasy often comes with a lot of worldbuilding. It’s got the time for it, and the need for it. From the first moment we are thrown into a vibrant world, wherein not too much is explained. In this you sort of must figure things out for yourself. However, it also feels a bit on the YA side?

Compared to other fantasy books the beginning of this was quite intense, and it was the setup of the characters and their future. We dove right on it. However, once we get past the beginning the pace of the book slows down. And I felt a lot of it wasn’t necessary to be honest.

We have multiple POV characters (which I thought overall was done well), and I felt that the characters were all individualistic which is nice. They all had personalities even if I didn’t always like them. Characters don’t have to be likeable after all. I enjoyed the family relationships some of the characters had as well, such as Dante and Taesia.

The one thing I wished is that she had stuck with the same POVs throughout the entire book, and not added or dropped any at random parts. It was a lot of POVs and it did work; because it was bringing together what was to happen at the end.

We get to about 35% and the pace does pick up a little bit. We start to see more of the plot come together (and then some of the plot fall apart…and not be picked up at all the rest of the book). But the overall plot was solid, and it was quite epic.

I found certain aspects of the book frustrating. (The parts with Dante, because he and Taesia are pretty much my favorite characters).

I think this is a good start to the series, I’m still not totally sure what to make of it. Like, I liked it. I did! But at the same time I didn’t like it, and I cannot put my finger on what that dividing line is.

Yes, the ending was epic. But some of the buildup just wasn’t there for me the way I wanted it to.

I really enjoyed the writing in this book; I think it was superb, and I think Sim is a great storyteller. I just don’t know if I just wasn’t vibing with this book…or something else. Either way, I think this is a series I may or may not continue. And as I mentioned previously, this book reads more YA than adult. 

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Author: Casey McQuiston
Series: n/a
Series #: n/a
Genre: romance, LGBTQ+
Age Group: adult
ARC?: yers

For cynical twenty-three-year-old August, moving to New York City is supposed to prove her right: that things like magic and cinematic love stories don’t exist, and the only smart way to go through life is alone. She can’t imagine how waiting tables at a 24-hour pancake diner and moving in with too many weird roommates could possibly change that. And there’s certainly no chance of her subway commute being anything more than a daily trudge through boredom and electrical failures.

But then, there’s this gorgeous girl on the train.

Jane. Dazzling, charming, mysterious, impossible Jane. Jane with her rough edges and swoopy hair and soft smile, showing up in a leather jacket to save August’s day when she needed it most. August’s subway crush becomes the best part of her day, but pretty soon, she discovers there’s one big problem: Jane doesn’t just look like an old school punk rocker. She’s literally displaced in time from the 1970s, and August is going to have to use everything she tried to leave in her own past to help her. Maybe it’s time to start believing in some things, after all.


Review

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

It took me some time to evaluate how I felt about this book. When I read Red, White and Royal Blue it was at the right time, right place. I can’t articulate what resonated about it with me. I had hoped that One Last Stop would follow in those footsteps. This book also encompassed things I liked – more so than RWRB, so why did I like this one less than RWRB? My only conclusion is that I felt RWRB had more heart than OLS did. For me, personally at least. I really wanted to be like 10000/5 stars, but unfortunately, for me, that isn’t the case.

Let me make it very clear this book is still fabulous and a lot of people will love it but I think overall it had some issues because I feel RWRB was a lot to beat. Now that I’ve said that, there are some things that this book does that RWRB did as well, and did splendidly. As always, there is a lot of diversity in this series. It feels like McQuiston is really trying to reach the largest audience and most diverse one. So points for that. I think that they accomplish this very well. We’ve got Asian characters, Black characters, trans characters, queer characters and I do believe August is fat, so fat characters as well.

Pacing

I think my biggest issue with this book is the pacing. The pacing was driving me up the wall. I love a good slow paced character driven book. And this I think was supposed to be that. Unfortunately, some of it was a bit repetitive and boring at points. Usually you’re supposed to see character progression and we don’t really get that until the very end. I really think the pacing of this book is what made me love it a little bit less.

Characters

I did enjoy the characters. I like that August feels real. She was relatable to me in many ways, and I think she was the perfect character for the story to focus on and around. We get to see her POV more than anyone else’s and it is her story that drives the book. But as I said previously, at times it feels like the pacing doesn’t work and we’re not getting any progression which doesn’t help August’s character at all. I know August is supposed to be bi, and as a bi person and fat, I love her for it. I just wish…I’m not sure what else I wanted from her. But I feel that it is missing something for me.

The side characters were lovely too. I like how they all interacted and their stories that we get briefly. I especially liked how it all came together in the end. I’m not sure I could pick a favorite side character.

I very much enjoyed the relationship between Jane and August. I think the romance was well developed and absolutely adorable. As a note for people, this book does have explicit steamy scenes. So…yes. 😏

Moving on…

Plot

The plot. Granted, I only half read the description. Saw the author the cover, heard f/f meet cute essentially and was sold. I did not realize how much of a supernatural or paranormal element there was going to be in here. That was a lovely surprise because I love those elements in any story. I like how it was introduced too. I think that was so well done, that if you hadn’t know it had a supernatural element your jaw would drop. Mine did.

I think the only downside also is that it feels like there was so much going on in this book. Lots of little subplots supposed to be connecting to the next, and while I generally felt it was well done, I did feel that at points it was almost too much trying to juggle.

Last Thoughts

But overall, I think this book was absolutely amazing, and people are going to LOVE it. This is a sweet paranormal rom-com meet cute book, and it is going to appeal to a lot of people.

CW: mentions of death, anxiety, homophobia, racism, and blood.

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Author: Emily Victoria
Series: n/a
Series #: n/a
Genre: science fiction, lgbtq+
Age Group: young adult
ARC?: no

Orphaned and forced to serve her country’s ruling group of scribes, Karis wants nothing more than to find her brother, long ago shipped away. But family bonds don’t matter to the Scriptorium, whose sole focus is unlocking the magic of an ancient automaton army.

In her search for her brother, Karis does the seemingly impossible—she awakens a hidden automaton. Intelligent, with a conscience of his own, Alix has no idea why he was made. Or why his father—their nation’s greatest traitor—once tried to destroy the automatons.

Suddenly, the Scriptorium isn’t just trying to control Karis; it’s hunting her. Together with Alix, Karis must find her brother…and the secret that’s held her country in its power for centuries.


Review

Oh dear.

No one more than me is disappointed by this rating. This was one of my highly anticipated reads this month. I was desperate for a book that featured an ace character, and this one was ace and aro. As someone who is ace, I am always excited for books that have that type of rep. But overall, unfortunately, this book did not work for me on many levels. This review will be a bit briefer than I would like because in the end I did not have a whole lot to say about this book.

I will add, as many of you know, I am not a huge sci-fi fan. It takes a lot for me to like sci-fi, and this book was touted not so much sci-fi but adventure. I still got a lot of sci-fi aspects; but I didn’t feel it fit the adventure aspect too much.

Plot


The plot was mediocre. From the very beginning I struggled to get into the plot. In fact this book would have probably worked better as a series or benefitted from more world building. It felt lackluster on all fronts. And parts of it dragged out. I get it was supposed to be relevant to the plot, but I felt like nothing happened at all in this book. I know I skimmed parts and still knew what was going on in the book. I want a good and well formed plot and I just felt that this book did not give me that. Karis and Alix were supposed to be bringing down the head guy, evil incarnate, and it just did not work. I’m not sure why. Pirates do not make an adventure on their own.

Pacing

Part of the issue was definitely the pacing. The pacing was just…what? Honestly I get getting bored while reading. The pace was slow. But slow with nothing happened. Honestly, if I hadn’t wanted to like this book so much this would have likely been a DNF for me. In fact it practically is since I skipped around hoping to see the pace pick up: it does not. This is really unfortunate overall.

Characters

I didn’t connect with the characters. They felt flat to me. I didn’t really find them compelling. And I wanted to relate to Karis. But I just couldn’t. Neither her nor Alix whose POVs we had did I relate to. I will commend the author for, as I said, including ace and aro rep. I think that was the most interesting aspect of the book. I can barely remember any of the characters, they all just kind of…meshed.

There was no romance to be had which was a nice change, and I wish the book worked because we need more teen/YA books with no romance for those who aren’t into romance or don’t always want to read it. So I think that was well done. Not once do we really see romance. We see lots of friendships which is good. Unfortunately as I said previously I felt everything was underbaked.

Writing

I will say the writing was good. Victoria is a good writer, and I didn’t think the writing felt childish, but it felt easy to read, although the slow paced did mess with my head in regards to that. While the writing was good, I felt the dialogue lacked and that just ties in with the overarching issues I had with this book.

Last Thoughts

Suffice to say, I really wanted to like this book and it just did not work for me in any way, shape or form. Which happens. Not every book is going to be perfect. That’s why I gave this book two stars, for the writing and the rep that it included.

I hope that others enjoy this book far more than I did!

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Author: Aiden Thomas
Series: n/a
Series #: n/a
Genre: paranormal/supernatural, LGBTQ+
Age Group: young adult
ARC?: yes

Yadriel has summoned a ghost, and now he can’t get rid of him.

When his traditional Latinx family has problems accepting his gender, Yadriel becomes determined to prove himself a real brujo. With the help of his cousin and best friend Maritza, he performs the ritual himself, and then sets out to find the ghost of his murdered cousin and set it free.

However, the ghost he summons is actually Julian Diaz, the school’s resident bad boy, and Julian is not about to go quietly into death. He’s determined to find out what happened and tie up some loose ends before he leaves. Left with no choice, Yadriel agrees to help Julian, so that they can both get what they want. But the longer Yadriel spends with Julian, the less he wants to let him leave. 


Review

Thank you to Swoon Reads and NetGalley for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

First off there were a whole bunch of things I loved about this book. We get Yadriel who is an amazing character. He has such a sweetness to him that I adore and you really want all the best for him. Julian too is a great character. One thing I felt is I liked the characters more individually than I did together. One of my issues was the romance just didn’t work for me completely. There isn’t one thing I could put my finger on. But I loved them each on their own and felt it worked really well. Not to say the romance want cute, it was. I like insta romances but I felt that this one kind of fell a bit flat compared to all the other moving parts in this book. I suppose I wanted more of it? Just a minor thing I would have liked.

I think the world building is stunning! There is so much to love about it. I really enjoyed getting to know the different aspects of the world and how magic was explained. I loved those portions and I love how culture was worked in through the book. It all felt very cohesive and just…I loved it. I loved every minute of when we were getting Yadrial being a brujo I loved how he dealt with the issues of culture and being trans. It all worked so well within the novel and was done brilliantly. This is one of the best parts of the book!

I think my main issues were the pacing and writing. The pacing is where I struggled intensely because I felt there were portions I just didn’t love. The pacing felt a little less cohesive than I would have liked, and it made some sections a bit awkward for my personal tastes. And while the writing is good, I did think it could have been a bit better. Those are both me things though! In the long run I think the writing was good, and that while I didn’t like portions of the pacing it didn’t take away that much from the book. Which is why it is a solid 4 star rating from me!

The plot of this book (and the bad guy) was pretty obvious, but that really didn’t bother me at all. It’s not a bad thing to have guessed the plot and it didn’t take away from the overall enjoyable reading experience. The plot was well done and I think it tied in well with many of the issues presented in the book. We have both action plot and character plot pushing the story forward.

Overall, I felt that this was an excellent book and one that I will definitely being recommending to everyone! I think this is going to be one of those enduring books that people will want to continually go back to and enjoy immensely.

Also be sure to check out some of the #OwnVoices reviews as well – they’ll have insight into the culture as well as the trans experience that I don’t have!

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Author: Melissa Bashardoust
Series: n/a
Series #: n/a
Genre: fantasy, LGBTQ+
Age Group: young adult
ARC?: no

There was and there was not, as all stories begin, a princess cursed to be poisonous to the touch. But for Soraya, who has lived her life hidden away, apart from her family, safe only in her gardens, it’s not just a story.

As the day of her twin brother’s wedding approaches, Soraya must decide if she’s willing to step outside of the shadows for the first time. Below in the dungeon is a demon who holds knowledge that she craves, the answer to her freedom. And above is a young man who isn’t afraid of her, whose eyes linger not with fear, but with an understanding of who she is beneath the poison.

Soraya thought she knew her place in the world, but when her choices lead to consequences she never imagined, she begins to question who she is and who she is becoming…human or demon. Princess or monster.


Review

Sometimes I agree with hype surrounding books, and other times I don’t. I had seen so many good reviews for this book. I wanted an ARC of it at YALLFEST but didn’t receive one. I almost bought this book. I am in a way, glad I didn’t. I sadly got into the hype for this book, and while I didn’t love the authors other book, I figured I might like this one. Suffice to say, I didn’t enjoy this book nearly as much as others did. In fact, I can put my finger on some reasons it didn’t work for me, but generally I was left feeling unsatisfied after I read the book.

The biggest thing was the romance. I felt it could have had so much potential, but instead it felt quite underdeveloped. It also just didn’t work for me. I love Soraya, but felt that her romance did not work in this book. I wanted so much more out of it, but instead it just felt awkward to me. There were some great moments. In the end, I wanted MORE of what we were getting rather than less.

Soraya was one of my favorite parts of this book. She was such a great character that had nuance. She was such a lovely character to root for, and you can’t help but love her, even if she does make mistakes. There is something comforting in a heroine that is allowed to make them and isn’t perfect. And the story of the duality? I thought that tied in really well with the overarching theme of the book. And that’s the thing, there were so many moments of Soraya being relatable or fun to cheer on, and then there were moments I was just confused by the choices the author made.

I wasn’t overwhelmed by the plot. I felt it was rather typical, but there is nothing inherently wrong with that. I think the combination of the plot, pacing (lack of) and the underdeveloped romance was what got me thinking this was 3.5 stars versus four. I just didn’t think the pacing worked halfway through. It felt weird to me, and not like it matched up at all.

However, the writing was beautiful and luxurious. I love her writing so much. I think it was fantastic and it is one of the reasons why I kept reading, because it didn’t feel like a hardship with that writing. Another thing I really liked was the world building. I think it was spectacularly done, and I really could feel the world around me. But it just felt like neither of those things were enough to push it to the four star rating for me.

I’m not quite sure what else to say about this book, because while I enjoyed it, I didn’t like it as much as others have!

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Author: Leah Johnson
Series: n/a
Series #: n/a
Genre: romance, LGBTQ+
Age Group: young adult
ARC?: no

Liz Lighty has always believed she’s too black, too poor, too awkward to shine in her small, rich, prom-obsessed midwestern town. But it’s okay — Liz has a plan that will get her out of Campbell, Indiana, forever: attend the uber-elite Pennington College, play in their world-famous orchestra, and become a doctor.

But when the financial aid she was counting on unexpectedly falls through, Liz’s plans come crashing down . . . until she’s reminded of her school’s scholarship for prom king and queen. There’s nothing Liz wants to do less than endure a gauntlet of social media trolls, catty competitors, and humiliating public events, but despite her devastating fear of the spotlight she’s willing to do whatever it takes to get to Pennington.

The only thing that makes it halfway bearable is the new girl in school, Mack. She’s smart, funny, and just as much of an outsider as Liz. But Mack is also in the running for queen. Will falling for the competition keep Liz from her dreams . . . or make them come true?


Review

I’ve been excitedly waiting to get my hands on a copy of this book, so I was so pleased when I did. I’d heard nothing but good things about it, and they were all true. It definitely lived up to my expectations and it was truly a delightful story. There is something to be said for a book that gives you so much and does it well! I felt that this book hit all the right marks and is a four star read. It is one I have already suggested that my library buy. So, what are the things I enjoyed about it?

Well, I generally hate prom oriented books. They’re not my favorite in the world. But I liked how prom was tackled in this one. I thought it was well done and delightfully created. I think using prom as a theme for the book was a great choice because it is so relevant to many teens around the US and elsewhere. Or any dance. There is nothing quite like prom. So first off, this book made me enjoy a book with a prom theme!

Second, I liked Liz. Liz is a fantastically relatable character in many respects, and will be more so for people who identify with her. While I didn’t face any of the same challenges she did (nor did I get as good grades!) she feels like the way a normal teen these days would act, or would be. She just flew off the page and felt vibrant and alive. It was wonderful to see Liz and her growth and her strength. She’s an amazing character and I think a great role model for girls.

What else was great? The friendships in this book. The rise and fall or the fall and rise and all the aspects therein. I felt Liz had good, complicated relationships with her friends. I think so many books either put the main character into one of two camps: popular with friends or unpopular with no friends. This book seems to strike a balance between that without feeling odd. It felt rather natural, including the issues people do have with friendships. I did think the friendship drama in this was a little odd – especially in regards to Gabi, but in the end, I think it worked out.

I think the romance was absolutely adorable in this one. I don’t want to give too much away. I know communication issues are pretty typical teen, but I didn’t love the way that happened in this book. I think that was one of the biggest issues for me. I don’t want to give too much away about the romance in this book, suffice to say it was adorable.

I loved the writing in this book! I think it was well written and easy to read. I blew through it in under three hours and just soaked it up. It felt like one of those feel good summer reads that leaves you sighing after and just enjoying. I love those type of books!

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Author: Isabel Sterling
Series: These Witches Don’t Burn
Series #: 2
Genre: paranormal, LGBTQ+
Age Group: young adult
ARC?: no

Hannah Walsh just wants a normal life. It’s her senior year, so she should be focusing on classes, hanging out with her best friend, and flirting with her new girlfriend, Morgan. But it turns out surviving a murderous Witch Hunter doesn’t exactly qualify as a summer vacation, and now the rest of the Hunters seem more intent on destroying her magic than ever.

When Hannah learns the Hunters have gone nationwide, armed with a serum capable of taking out entire covens at once, she’s desperate to help. Now, with witches across the country losing the most important thing they have—their power—Hannah could be their best shot at finally defeating the Hunters. After all, she’s one of the only witches to escape a Hunter with her magic intact.

Or so everyone believes. Because as good as she is at faking it, doing even the smallest bit of magic leaves her in agony. The only person who can bring her comfort, who can make her power flourish, is Morgan. But Morgan’s magic is on the line, too, and if Hannah can’t figure out how to save her—and the rest of the Witches—she’ll lose everything she’s ever known. And as the Hunters get dangerously close to their final target, will all the Witches in Salem be enough to stop an enemy determined to destroy magic for good?


Review

This sequel! I am finally reading it! And I am so excited because I LOVED the first book! Much like the first book this was a four star read for me. There were a lot of things about this book I enjoyed! In some ways I liked parts of this better than the first book, and parts of the first book better than this one. It is so hard not to compare them because I feel like they both follow a similar formula that really works for this series overall. There was nothing overly negative that I have to say about this book.

Writing
Sterling’s writing is just so lovely. I really enjoy reading her books because I get really into the writing and the flow and the style. I think there is something so lovely about it. I even enjoy the dialogue between the characters. I find Sterling’s prose admirable and delightful. I have no complaints regarding the writing of this book. In fact, I found the dialogue to be quite strong as it felt very natural to me.

Pacing
The pacing I think is where this and the first book got me. Pacing that works for one person does not necessarily work for another person. In this case, I found the pacing in this book to not be top notch. I had some issues in the middle of the book where I heaved a huge sigh and went, “huh”. Like, everything else I liked, but I felt certain aspects were drawn out a bit much for me, and I struggled with that, because there was so much to love. Yet, I struggled through the middle of the book (again). I felt some parts were they more concise would work a lot better for the overall flow and pacing of the book.

Plot
The plot in this continues the plot from the previous with the Hunters trying to destroy the Witches. Hannah is determined to take a more crucial role in the hunting of the Hunters, but her magic isn’t totally healed yet. I loved the plot because like the first book I felt there were a lot of good underlying messages throughout the book that helped solidify the plot for me. Hannah had some great plot moments in the book, and the plot moved forward and I didn’t feel that the subplots (generally) detracted from the overall plot. While there is an action-oriented plot, I do feel that much of the plot is centered around Hannah and her self-image and her character arc.

Characters
Sterling does an amazing job with character arcs. Hannah’s is particularly good. I am impressed by it, because you can see her maturing as a person but at the same time lapsing as she struggles with herself. Much like the writing I found those parts natural and worked well within the context of the book. I still really enjoyed her friendship with Gemma, I think it is so crucial to have a good friendship. Not to mention Hannah and Morgan’s relationship is stellar. I really think Sterling did a great job on depicting it. I loved the moments between them, because they were so sweet. I also like that they talked things over. Overall, just loved all the relationships and friendships in this book!

This book is a great conclusion, and I am very impressed with it overall. I highly recommend it if you like witches, character driven books and sapphic relationships!

And a very cool last thing – mine is a signed copy! 🙂

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Author: Erica Waters
Series: n/a
Series #: n/a
Genre: horror, paranormal, LGBTQ+
Age Group: young adult
ARC?: yes

If I could have a fiddle made of Daddy’s bones, I’d play it. I’d learn all the secrets he kept.

Shady Grove inherited her father’s ability to call ghosts from the grave with his fiddle, but she also knows the fiddle’s tunes bring nothing but trouble and darkness.

But when her brother is accused of murder, she can’t let the dead keep their secrets.

In order to clear his name, she’s going to have to make those ghosts sing.


Review

Thank you to the author for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

Do you like atmospheric books? Do you like music? Folk music? Blues? Do you like queer characters? Bi characters? Do you like paranormal books? Books with ghosts? Creepy books? If you answer was yes to any of the above questions, then this book should be on your radar. This book had all of those things, and I highly suggest you check it out if that appeals to you. It certainly appealed to me, and I really enjoyed the book. I think it was absolutely well done from beginning to end. There is little more I love than an atmospheric book that can draw me in!

The Writing
Part of what worked so well for the book is Waters’ writing. Waters has a way of invoking images into your mind, and mind you, I’m one of those readers that has a tough time seeing pictures in my head. Yet somehow, I felt like I was seeing pictures. I felt that I was there, that I could hear the music, sense the unease…there was something entirely provoking about the writing and it is very difficult to put my finger on how to explain it. Suffice to say, I think the writing was powerful. I enjoyed the descriptions and the dialogue both.

The Pacing
The pacing of the book was fabulous for the most part. I felt there were a couple of moments in the entire book that I didn’t quite get, but generally I felt the pacing was nice. If you’re looking for fast paced, this isn’t it. No, this is a gorgeous slow build of a book. You’re lured in and seduced as you get more and more into the book. It very much feels like you’re holding your breath waiting to see what is going to happen next…and at the same time you’re not sure you want to know!

The Plot
The plot of this book really worked for me. I like a good ghost story, and a plot that revolves around a main character solving a mystery to do with ghosts. I felt that this catered to me in so many ways. I felt like this book was perfect in the plot aspect. I never lost interest, no, instead I was curious. I was constantly guessing at what was the right answer. I loved that. The plot is hard to talk about without giving too much away, and this book is a great experience.

The Characters
We have a bi character! A bi character who I thought was done SO WELL. I cannot emphasize that enough. There were multiple relationship issues in this book, but I felt that they were dealt with in a respectful manner, and I loved how it turned out. Every character came off the page and felt vibrant and alive. I really enjoyed that about this book. The characters were ones that you felt a vested interest in. And you wanted them to “win”.

Overall
An amazing book, and one I would recommend, especially during the summer months if you’re looking for a book with a creepy vibe!

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