Author: Harley LaRoux
Series: Souls Trilogy
Series #: 1
Genre: paranormal, fantasy, dark romance, erotica
Age Group: adult
ARC?: no

Leon

I earned my reputation among magicians for a reason: one wrong move and you’re dead. Killer, they called me, and killing is what I’m best at.

Except her.

The one I was supposed to take, the one I should have killed – I didn’t.

The cult that once controlled me wants her, and I’m not about to lose my new toy to them.

Rae

I’ve always believed in the supernatural. Hunting for ghosts is my passion, but summoning a demon was never part of the plan. Monsters are roaming the woods, and something ancient – something evil – is waking up and calling my name.

I don’t know who I can trust, or how deep this darkness goes.

All I know is my one shot at survival is the demon stalking me, and he doesn’t just want my body – he wants my soul


Review

Her Soul To Take is a great steamy paranormal romance, and was quite well written. This was another Lauren recommendation, and I’m so glad that I picked it up. It was a fairly quick read overall, and was on KU which made me happy. I originally gave this three stars, but on further thinking I think it’s between a three and four stars for me.

I have always loved paranormal romances and this one was a good one too! It involves summoning a demon and a woman. I really liked Rae as a character. I found her strong and endearing. And sometimes a bit in denial. But I just loved that she felt so empowered. She knows what she wants which is a nice change of pace from some characters who don’t.

Leon was a great demon. I loved his relationship with Rae and the world at large. He was a great character because he was a demon but not necessarily evil, which is a juxtaposition to the humans who are evil. I liked that take on it very much.

The banter between Leon and Rae is great, they have an undeniable chemistry and snark with each other. There are several parts that made me laugh out loud. And this book is SUPER steamy. But it also has a bit of a dark tone to it, so be sure you look at the trigger warnings before you read it.

There are a few side characters who are really awesome as well, and I enjoyed all their introductions in this book. I assume they will be in the later books?

The writing was really good. I found myself becoming absorbed in this world and drawn into it. Laroux crafted a world that is so good. But it is also highly atmospheric. You could get lost in this book. It felt so real – and I liked that about it.

I loved the plot – I was on the edge of my seat wondering what was going to happen next, and if our leading couple would emerge triumphant. Sometimes you’re not sure with these dark romances…anyways, the plot was great. As I mentioned earlier the juxtaposition between good and evil in this book was creative, and I felt drove home the point that what you think is true is not always necessarily true.

I would recommend this book to those who like paranormal romances and are looking for something a little different and well written! 

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Author: Tanya Byrne
Series: n/a
Series #: n/a
Genre: paranormal/supernatural
Age Group: young adult
ARC?: no

Ash Persaud is about to become a reaper in the afterlife, but she is determined to see her first love Poppy Morgan again, the only thing that separates them is death.

Car headlights.

The last thing Ash hears is the snap of breaking glass as the windscreen hits her and breaks into a million pieces like stars.

But she made it, she’s still here. Or is she?

This New Year’s Eve, Ash is gets an RSVP from the afterlife she can’t decline: to join a clan of fierce girl reapers who take the souls of the city’s dead to await their fate.

But Ash can’t forget her first love, Poppy, and she will do anything to see her again… even if it means they only get a few more days together. Dead or alive…

NOT EVEN DEATH CAN TEAR THEM APART. 


Review

First off, I am prefacing this with I got this book in Fairyloot’s August 2021 box – Lovestruck. Mind you, I haven’t enjoyed YA contemporary in some time. It just hasn’t hit me in the right way that it does for others. Not that it isn’t good, a lot of it is, but generally isn’t for me. Saying that, I felt obligated to read this book as it came in my box. I hadn’t heard of this (but now that I’ve read it, I’m seeing it everywhere!) so I went into this with pretty much no knowledge of anything. That is totally on me. Word to the wise: read book summaries before starting books.

The reason I say that is this book was definitely something I probably shouldn’t have read given my mental health. My mental health isn’t the best recently and between my severe depression, my anxiety and everything else, this isn’t a book I would have read had I looked at the summary. I don’t regret reading the book, because it was fantastic, and I am going to recommend it to people everywhere. However, it needs to have a caveat that the subject matter it does deal with is really dark and is best suited to people who are equipped to deal with it.

This book is all about friendship, family and romance. The book starts off with an absolutely compelling relationship between mother and daughter, Ash who is our main character. Starting this book was very feel-good. You also get a great friendship story with Ash as well. Her blooming romance with Poppy is unbearably sweet (in a good way) that makes you smile. So does her relationship with her mother, father and sister. It just felt so real the way it was depicted. It felt natural, and Byrne did an excellent job fleshing out those relationships.

Of course the second half of the book is where it all went sideways. Ash (AND THIS IS IN THE BOOK DESCRITPION AND I MISSED IT) DIES. Literally…just dies. I was traumatized when I read that part. I 100% had tears streaming down my face and I couldn’t breathe. I just fell apart. I don’t cry all that often at books (except maybe Song of Achilles, the other book that ripped my heart out) but this one made me cry. And part of that is because of how well developed all the relationships in this book were!

The second half of the book is all about Ash becoming a reaper and making “friends” with the other reapers and her missing her old life. Trauma number two happens in the second half of the book as well, but that’s a spoiler.

[spoiler]Poppy dies too. I also cried when Ash goes back to her house and sees her family through the window…and just that whole moment was so powerful I ended up sobbing again[/spoiler]

I will admit that I didn’t enjoy the second half of the book as much as the first half. I felt part of the second half could have been slightly reduced as that section felt a bit repetitive to me. This is why I gave it 4 stars instead of 5.

The ending of the book was happy? Bittersweet?? I really don’t know how to label the ending of the book because by that point I was in shock and in tears and I was barely functioning at 10pm. So yes, I liked the ending, I will say that. It felt like a mostly natural conclusion to the story. I just still don’t know how to feel about it overall. I did really like it though.

[spoiler]I mean they both died and went off into the sunset together so…you know…I guess that’s happy? But bittersweet because they both died?[/spoiler]

This was a great sapphic love story for a YA audience, albeit it was sad.

warnings: death (a lot of it), accidents, casual racism, homophobia, death again, mental health,

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Author: Kass Morgan, Danielle Paige
Series: The Ravens
Series #: 1
Genre: fantasy, paranormal/supernatural
Age Group: young adult
ARC?: yes

Kappa Rho Nu isn’t your average sorority. Their parties are notorious. Their fundraisers are known for being Westerly College’s most elaborate affairs. But beneath the veil of Greek life and prestige, the sisters of Kappu Rho Nu share a secret: they’re a coven of witches. For Vivi Deveraux, being one of Kappa Rho Nu’s Ravens means getting a chance to redefine herself. For Scarlett Winters, a bonafide Raven and daughter of a legacy Raven, pledge this year means living up to her mother’s impossible expectations of becoming Kappa Rho Nu’s next president. Scarlett knows she’d be the perfect candidate — that is, if she didn’t have one human-sized skeleton in her closet…. When Vivi and Scarlett are paired as big and little for initiation, they find themselves sinking into the sinister world of blood oaths and betrayals.


Review

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


I was really excited for a book about witches set in college. I feel like there is a dearth of books in the world set in college, so when I requested this I was extremely excited. I was hoping for something that I would love, and while I didn’t end up loving it, I did end up liking it. I felt that overall, this was a generally good book, but I also felt that there was some confusion for me in regards to certain parts. Or perhaps I just missed those moments and things were explained.

Things I liked: the dual POV worked for me. I like that we were seeing two different sides of the story, but I found both characters a little unbearable, but in that sense, they were relatable. I was curious to see how things would intersect in this book, and I think one of my main issues was, was that the book in some ways felt all over the place. I did not enjoy that fact. And because of that, the pacing itself was a little annoying. There were parts that I think were supposed to work together, but just didn’t fit. I’ll be honest, that is where I struggled the most: the plot.

I think that there was so much trying to be accomplished including trying to give enough background, that the important bits weren’t explained. I am more than happy to suspend disbelief, but this one just didn’t work for me in that way.

I did like the writing in this book a lot. I think it was a well written book, and I love the overall concept, and even the small plotlines. It just alternated between being not enough and too much at some points. But all this is just personal preference for me, to be honest.

I think overall, the book was good. It wouldn’t have three stars if it wasn’t. I think there was a twist at the end, that I had guessed, but it didn’t really make the book worse. In the end, I think that the idea of putting a coven of witches as a sorority was a fabulous idea, and using that as a launching point. I think it brings up a lot of commentary about Greek Life, especially how Greek Life is depicted. And this book managed to show a bit of both sides of it.

Overall, I liked the book, and I will be curious to see where this series goes.

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Author: Jo Spurrier
Series: Tales of the Blackbone Witches
Series #: 1
Genre: fantasy, paranormal
Age Group: young adult
ARC?: yes

A dead witch. A bitter curse. A battle of magic.

Some people knit socks by the fire at night. Gyssha Blackbone made monsters.

But the old witch is dead now, and somehow it’s Elodie’s job to clean up the mess.

When she was hired at Black Oak Cottage, Elodie had no idea she’d find herself working for a witch; and her acid-tongued new mistress, Aleida, was not expecting a housemaid to turn up on her doorstep.

Gyssha’s final curse left Aleida practically dead on her feet, and now, with huge monsters roaming the woods, a demonic tree lurking in the orchard and an angry warlock demanding repayment of a debt, Aleida needs Elodie’s help, whether she likes it or not.

And no matter what the old witch throws at her, to Elodie it’s still better than going back home.


Review

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

I’d been seeing this book around, and WITCHES so of course I had to request it on NetGalley, because, why not? I think that this book was good, and I am struggling to put my thoughts into words in regards to how I felt about the book. I definitely liked parts of it, and then there were parts I wasn’t as wild about. When it worked, it really worked, but then it fell flat at other times. I really struggled with how to rate this book because I am still unsure of what the rating should be. So I did a good middle rating of a three. I feel it encapsulates much of my feelings on the matter.

First off, Elodie. I liked her from the beginning. I think that she was crafted to be a nuanced character, but at times that fell short. It felt as if she was supposed to be the underdog you were cheering for, and she was, but at times I struggled to care about some of the things that happened after she left home. I did care to a point, but what happened I think is that parts of the book dragged out too much, or didn’t flesh her out enough that I was left in this weird state of…caring but not caring.

Aleida was a good character, and I found her balance to Elodie wonderful. I think that had it just been about one of them individually I would not have enjoyed the story at all. I like that she was somewhat a foil to Elodie. But unfortunately, much of what I liked about this book wasn’t expounded upon. There were also characters thrown in that you kind of wondered why? And when it was revealed it was a bit of an “oh!” moment. So I liked how that was interwoven with the book.

My biggest gripe is definitely the combination of the pacing and the plot. Both felt very disjointed to me, and at times I was wondering when the end of the book was. This is not a good thing – you should not be wondering when the end of the book is coming up. It should not be a race to finish it. And yet, at points during this book, I felt it was far too long and drawn out. There were certainly parts I really liked.

I enjoyed parts of the magic system…but overall I just didn’t feel like the book flowed to me, or worked for me. There was nothing bad about the writing, in fact it was easy to read, but I wasn’t invested in the story the way I would like to be.

As I like to say, I didn’t click with it as much as I wanted to.

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Author: Kerri Maniscalco
Series: Kingdom of the Wicked
Series #: 1
Genre: fantasy, historical fiction
Age Group: new adult/young adult
ARC?: yes

Emilia and her twin sister Victoria are streghe – witches who live secretly among humans, avoiding notice and persecution. One night, Victoria misses dinner service at the family’s renowned Sicilian restaurant. Emilia soon finds the body of her beloved twin…desecrated beyond belief. Devastated, Emilia sets out to discover who did this, and to seek vengeance at any cost—even if it means using dark magic that’s been long forbidden.

Then Emilia meets Wrath, the outlier among the seven demon brethren, always choosing duty over pleasure. He’s been tasked by his master with investigating a series of women’s murders on the island. When Emilia and Wrath’s fates collide, it’s clear this disturbing mystery will take a bewitching turn…


Review

Thank you to NetGalley and Jimmy Patterson Presents for an e-arc in exchange for an honest review.

*insert screaming*

This was one of my most anticipated reads of the fall. Imagine this: me biting my fingernails anxiously waiting to see if I’d be approved and then SHRIEKING when I was! Happy days!

Was it as good as I thought it was going to be?

Well?

IT WAS BETTER. This was witches done right. This was demons done right. This was the whole package of evil goodness that I love and is my cup of tea. It was also…pretty much in my wheelhouse of everything I could ever want in a book? Like, this book was magnificent and I am obsessed with it now. I need ALL the merch and good stuff that comes along with it.

Emilia was such a great character and I loved every moment we spent with her. It was a journey from beginning to end – and I definitely did not want this book to end. In fact I was screaming when I got to the end of the book and going “I NEED THE SEQUEL” because HOLY COW was that book just…no words. I feel like I had brain dribbling out of my ears by the end of it.

Things I really liked in the book were Maniscalco’s writing. I loved it in SJTR series, and it was just as good here. I became immediately invested in the book and was over the mood with how everything was written. The pacing was fantastic too, I just kept tearing through the book because I could not stop reading it. It definitely had me on the edge of my seat.

One thing that I enjoyed was the familial relationships in this book. I enjoyed reading about how Emilia interacted with her family and her world and how they came together. I especially loved her relationship with her grandmother. It felt so warm and happy, and it brought about good feelings. It just also, worked.

I also am still laughing about her and Wrath and that relationship. I don’t even know if I’d call it enemies to lovers or enemies to friends or enemies to enemies? All I know is that I enjoyed watching how their relationship progressed and changed and how they went about doing things. Suffice to say, I am invested to see what happens next. Maniscalco has always been good at crafting romantic relationships, and this one feels like it is going to be a slow burn all the way through. I think it is a curious one as well.

What else did I love? Pretty much everything. I loved EVERYTHING. I am so…unable to form a coherent thought about this book because I just loved it so much. It was atmospheric, it was well written, it was beautiful and enchanting, and I love Emilia as a character SO SO much and I am just so excited for the next book in the series.

Things I am excited for: hopefully expansion on the magic system? I definitely want more of it, and I am insanely curious about it. Also more about the princes? Yes please. More more more more is pretty much the one continuous thought I have at the moment.

I am just over the moon happy with this book and I cannot wait to reread it!

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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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Author: Tracy Wolff
Series: Crave
Series #: 1
Genre: paranormal/supernatural
Age Group: young adult
ARC?: no

My whole world changed when I stepped inside the academy. Nothing is right about this place or the other students in it. Here I am, a mere mortal among gods…or monsters. I still can’t decide which of these warring factions I belong to, if I belong at all. I only know the one thing that unites them is their hatred of me.

Then there’s Jaxon Vega. A vampire with deadly secrets who hasn’t felt anything for a hundred years. But there’s something about him that calls to me, something broken in him that somehow fits with what’s broken in me.

Which could spell death for us all.

Because Jaxon walled himself off for a reason. And now someone wants to wake a sleeping monster, and I’m wondering if I was brought here intentionally—as the bait. 


Review

I went into the book with almost no expectations because none of my friends had read it or said a thing about it one way or the other. No preconceived notions here! And in a way, I’m really glad I did, because I think that this book is good and I very much enjoyed every moment of it. I was laughing through a good portion of it.


Be aware, this book does have clichés. It does have tropes. But it works, and it works fabulously. It was amazing, and light hearted (mostly) good fun that I needed. I didn’t know I needed this book until I read it.

Wolff’s writing is delightful. It’s animated and amusing and well worked. The world felt so vivid and wonderful. I liked the dialogue and the way that the characters were written. It all just came together for me. I felt that Wolff’s writing really helped elevate this book to another level. If it had just been one or the other of certain items, the book wouldn’t have worked as well as it did.

The pacing of this book was good! I think that I was a little afraid things would be drawn out, and that I would be rolling my eyes throughout the whole book. Instead, I was more amused than anything else. Therefore the pacing of learning what is going on at the school, the romance, the mystery, the friendship all combined together to make the pacing work. I never once felt bored during this book, and the pacing was good enough that I didn’t mind when we diverged a little bit here and there. Instead, it kept me on my toes wondering what was going to happen next.

If you read Twilight you will probably recognize some parts of this plot. If not, you’ll still be fine. In fact, I found I loved this book so much. There are a lot of pop culture moments interspersed in this book that left me laughing and amused. You will feel smarter than our delightful main character, Grace. I think the point of it was to draw out her slowly figuring out what was going on, but it is quite obvious from the beginning. I had pretty much guessed the entire plot, but you know, what? I didn’t hate it. I liked the story that was being woven. I loved every part of the plot and the ENDING. The ending blew me away and WOW.

Grace was probably “stupid” to us. Mostly because it was quite obvious in the text what was happening. And all the ten million clues that were dropped. Yet, she wasn’t unlikeable. She was a bit endearing because you wanted her to figure out what was going on.


Also the back and forth between her and Jaxon was priceless. It was amusing to me. Add onto that there wasn’t a love triangle per se was so nice and quite different than I’m used to in some books.


Macy was adorable, and Jaxon’s crew were funny. Overall, I enjoyed all the characters and got a laugh or two out of their interactions.

I very much enjoyed all the supernatural creatures in this book. I liked how it was developed and at a boarding school. It worked in all sorts of ways.

Final Thoughts

I feel that there was a lot of tongue in cheek moments. I definitely laughed and grinned my way through this book. I got lost in the book and I had the most amazing time reading it. I cannot wait for the sequel.

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Author: Hannah Abigail Clarke
Series: n/a
Series #: n/a
Genre: paranormal, fantasy, LGBTQ+, romance
Age Group: young adult
ARC?: yes

Skulking near the bottom of West High’s social pyramid, Sideways Pike lurks under the bleachers doing magic tricks for Coke bottles. As a witch, lesbian, and lifelong outsider, she’s had a hard time making friends. But when the three most popular girls pay her $40 to cast a spell at their Halloween party, Sideways gets swept into a new clique. The unholy trinity are dangerous angels, sugar-coated rattlesnakes, and now–unbelievably–Sideways’ best friends.

Together, the four bond to form a ferocious and powerful coven. They plan parties, cast curses on dudebros, try to find Sideways a girlfriend, and elude the fundamentalist witch hunters hellbent on stealing their magic. But for Sideways, the hardest part is the whole ‘having friends’ thing. Who knew that balancing human interaction with supernatural peril could be so complicated?

Rich with the urgency of feral youth, The Scapegracers explores growing up and complex female friendship with all the rage of a teenage girl. It subverts the trope of competitive mean girls and instead portrays a mercilessly supportive clique of diverse and vivid characters. It is an atmospheric, voice-driven novel of the occult, and the first of a three-book series.


Review

Thank you to NetGalley for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This had witches and it had lesbians. It also had good female friendships. These are all things that I love in books. There was a ton of queer rep, even if just briefly mentioned, in this book. Unfortunately, it didn’t all come together for me in a way that made me love the book.

The Writing
I think one of the things I had the hardest time with was the writing. It wasn’t bad writing, but its style wasn’t for me. The best way I can describe the writing is jagged. There were sentences that weren’t sentences, and sometimes they didn’t make sense.

The Pacing
The pacing, like the writing, just didn’t work for me. The pacing felt all over the place. This book felt like it was supposed to be character driven, and yet, I think that the pacing of it was less that and more of an action oriented book. I don’t know. Something just didn’t sit well, the scenes didn’t mesh for me. I felt lost.

The Plot
See, I loved the plot. I think the plot was one of my favorite parts of this book. I think had the characters been fleshed out more, more time spent on certain aspects of the plot and character development, this could have easily been a three or four star read for me. Instead, we get a plot that I loved. The whole idea of it was great, and yet, it felt so little time was spent on it. So little that sometimes I forgot what the book was about! And I think that this also may have been character driven, but again, I think, sadly, the book fell down on that.

The Characters
I liked the characters, don’t get me wrong. I just felt that they were underdeveloped and as far as character development goes I felt that there was very little. When I did love were the relationships they had with each other. I think the friendship was written very well, and I enjoyed that aspect of it. But I felt they could have all used some more individual development as well. I will mention that these are flawed characters, and they are great because of that.

Overall, the lesbian relationship had a spot in this, and I liked the development of it. It was creative, and I liked that there was a lot of queer rep outside that in this book.

The Worldbuilding
The magic was a bit underwhelming. It was sort of explained and sort of not. This book had an overall dark tone and atmosphere to it, which was great. It really did have atmosphere.

Overall

This was a 2.5 star book for me. It was almost a three, but I just couldn’t find a way to honestly give it that when I felt like skimming or skipping pages in the book. I think some people will love this book and eat it up, but I just didn’t enjoy it overall. It was an okay book.

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Author: Rainbow Rowell
Series: Simon Snow
Series #: 2
Genre: fantasy, romance, LGBTQ+
Age Group: young adult
ARC?: no

Description: The story is supposed to be over.

Simon Snow did everything he was supposed to do. He beat the villain. He won the war. He even fell in love. Now comes the good part, right? Now comes the happily ever after…

So why can’t Simon Snow get off the couch?

What he needs, according to his best friend, is a change of scenery. He just needs to see himself in a new light…

That’s how Simon and Penny and Baz end up in a vintage convertible, tearing across the American West.

They find trouble, of course. (Dragons, vampires, skunk-headed things with shotguns.) And they get lost. They get so lost, they start to wonder whether they ever knew where they were headed in the first place…

With Wayward Son, Rainbow Rowell has written a book for everyone who ever wondered what happened to the Chosen One after he saved the day. And a book for everyone who was ever more curious about the second kiss than the first. It’s another helping of sour cherry scones with an absolutely decadent amount of butter.

Come on, Simon Snow. Your hero’s journey might be over – but your life has just begun.


Review

Simon is depressed. His and Baz’s relationship isn’t great. Penny decides they need a change of scenery, hence a road trip. That road trip causes multiple problems, and when they run into a Normal who seems to know more about magic than what is good for him, things go topsy turvy.

Everything is a story, and Simon Snow’s is over.

I absolutely, definitely cannot do this book justice. Carry On got me through a tough time. And I am ridiculously in love with that book. I worried that I wouldn’t love the sequel as much. But honest to god, the sequel was just as good as the first but in different ways. I could spend hours screaming over this book. This book has made me so happy on so many levels. It was the perfect pick me up. It was honestly so good that it was ridiculous. I mean, Simon? Baz? Penny? ALL PERFECT. Plus, we have a fun new character as well.

I guess I should get to the nitty gritty of this book about why this is getting a five star rating from me. There are a few reasons why, and that is partly because of the relationships in this book and the absolute hilarity that it is. None of this should work. It really shouldn’t. I mean, the book sort of has a plot? But? Not until the end? It really shouldn’t work, but somehow because of how the book itself is framed it does. This is essentially “what happens after the end of the big battle”.

The plot starts off as a road trip. And this road trip is hilarious. I was laughing for a good 90% of the road trip scenes, especially the banter. Rowell has always been so good at doing banter. And the banter in this book was perfect. I loved every minute of it. And then when we get to the more serious aspects of the plot it really gets going and you’re going oh my god, how is this going to end in twenty pages? Yep. I was clinging to the book for dear life the last fifty or so pages. I was certainly caught up in the plot.

Also the characters? Still as loveable, if not a bit different than before. In many ways, this book was so well done because it delved into Simon and Baz’s relationship, and showed the imperfections. I loved that portion. Because sometimes after characters get together it falters, and when random adversaries to the relationship are thrown in, it seems horrible. But it worked in this book. But perhaps that is because we got to see multiple POVs.

And that is something that would normally bother me. We were spinning through, Simon, Baz, Penny, Agatha and Shep’s POVs in this book. It could have been dizzying, but it all seemed to flow seamlessly together. I always loved Simon, Baz and Penny. I loved them even more in this book. And I even really began to enjoy Agatha’s character as well. Plus, Shep was a fun new character.

Of course, Rowell’s writing was engaging as always. I was thrilled with it every minute. She has a way of making you love the characters so much.

This was an absolutely fantastic read and I can’t recommend it enough. It’s a light hearted, a fun, a silly read. But it is fabulous.

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