Me (Moth) (2021)

by Amber McBride
ASIN/ISBN: 9781250780362
Publication: August 17, 2021

After losing her family in an accident, Moth switches schools to live with her Aunt Jack. It isn’t until she meets Sani that she finally feels seen and heard because he’s going through similar issues of his own, feeling alone and as though no one understands him. They decide to go on a road trip to better understand their heritage.

Written in verse, I was wrapped in the emotions and the images the book evoked. Not a single word is wasted or used to merely fill empty space. It forced me to feel every word. The words reached out and calmed my restlessness but also wound themselves deeper into the crevices of my thoughts as they pushed me to examine my present by embracing my own ancestral heritage alongside Moth and Sani.

My heart hurt. It hurt for Moth, for her survivor’s guilt, for believing her will to live was so great and she was too greedy to leave enough for the rest of her family to also survive. It hurt for Sani, for all he endured and was still currently enduring, for feeling like it was his fault, as though he was able to control the actions of those around him.

Me (Moth) is about self-acceptance, learning from the past and where we come from to understand who we are today. It’s about trying to find where home is and learning what it means to live again when it feels like those we love are all gone. But, even in death, those who love us never truly abandon us. As ancestors, they continue to guide us.

Me (Moth) is so many things, including one of my best reads this year.

Malice (2021)

by Heather Walter
ASN/ISBN: 9781984818652
Publication: April 13, 2021

**I received a copy of the book through NetGalley. I voluntarily read and reviewed it. All opinions are my own.**

Malice is a retelling of Sleeping Beauty. Princess Aurora is still Princess Aurora but she is more than just a girl destined to be pricked by a needle. Aurora wants to be become Queen and has ambitious plans for her future reign. Until then, she is forced to keep searching for true love’s kiss to break the curse. The resident villain, on the other hand, isn’t so much a villain. Alyce is forced to work as a Grace. In Briar, Grace are blessed by fae with abilities such as wisdom or making people beautiful but she is different. Known as the Dark Grace, people fear Alyce yet they use her services for elixirs and hexes to put worts onto a face or ensure a competitor fails. All Alcye has ever wanted is to be accepted, but no one seems able to do that.

The book centers on Alyce’s development and her growth. Prominent in the story is her inability to trust, which is a double-edged sword. She wants to trust people, but she also second guesses the motives of everyone around her, even those she could trust. Of course, her suspicions are warranted because she’s always been forced to exist on the outskirts of society, which also contributes to low self-esteem and self-loathing.

While the story excels with characterization, the plot is on the slow side. Nothing much happens for pages except Alyce trying to figure out who she is and the fighting among the Grace. Every so often, I wondered when something might actually happen to push the story forward. Despite this, I was undeterred from finishing the book because I enjoyed Walter’s writing.

Walter takes the fairy tale and gives depth to the world and the characters inhabiting it. The story is rich in detail, especially in its world building. The bulk of information from the history of Briar to the magical system is largely concentrated at the beginning of the novel, feeling very much at times like an information dump, but it’s so fascinating that I didn’t mind. I’m looking forward to learning more about the lands and the inhabitants, both past and present, in the next book.

Overall, the book is maleficent magnificent. I found myself sympathizing with Alyce, although I was also often frustrated with her decisions. Fans of fairy tale retellings, especially those that enjoy origin stories, will enjoy reading Malice, but it may not be for those who like a faster paced novel. If readers can overcome the pacing, the ending will certainly be rewarding–it was so good.

My One Night (2021)

by Carrie Ann Ryan
ASIN/ISBN: 9781950443116
Publication: April 13, 2021
Series: On My Own #1

**Jump to Review**

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A one-night stand is supposed to end once the sun rises. Only it doesn’t always work out that way.

I never expected this.
I didn’t want to go to another fraternity party, but when my friend pulls me in, I somehow find myself hiding in a corner with…him.
Dillon Connolly.
The smirking, so-called good guy with the shadows in his eyes.
A single glance, a sweet smile, and I let myself have one night of giving in.

I never expected her.
Elise Hoover haunts my dreams more than I care to admit. I never thought I stood a chance—until she said yes. 
When a single night turns to two, I know I’m in over my head, but somehow, she makes me believe I can have anything.
Until the sun rises, and my past along with it.
I know I don’t deserve her, but now I have to fight to keep her…or save her from myself.


On My Own Series
(click for Goodreads Links)

Prequel: Out now
#2: June 8
#3: Sept 7
#4: Dec 7

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Carrie Ann RyanCarrie Ann Ryan is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of contemporary, paranormal, and young adult romance. Her works include the Montgomery Ink, Redwood Pack, Fractured Connections, and Elements of Five series, which have sold over 3.0 million books worldwide. She started writing while in graduate school for her advanced degree in chemistry and hasn’t stopped since. Carrie Ann has written over seventy-five novels and novellas with more in the works. When she’s not losing herself in her emotional and action-packed worlds, she’s reading as much as she can while wrangling her clowder of cats who have more followers than she does.

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REVIEW

**I was provided a copy of the book by Give Me Books as part of the promotional campaign. I voluntarily read and reviewed it. All opinions are my own.**

Like the first book I read by Ryan, I was excited to read it because the book description was interesting. There are positive aspects to the novel, but I couldn’t enjoy it as much as I wanted. Unfortunately, I don’t think I click very well with Ryan’s writing style, which is more a preference on my part.

The aspect I enjoyed the most was the strength of familial bonds, at least for Dillon’s family. The love the brothers had for one another was apparent and they took care of each other–Dillon never had to go it alone even if he felt like he needed to. It was nice to see he had a strong support system. Elise’s parents, on the other hand, were overbearing. I didn’t care for them very much about them when I was introduced to them. Families can be complicated, and we see just how much as the story moves forward.

I wasn’t really invested in Dillon and Elise’s relationship. The foundation for their relationship is a trope I enjoy but it never quite formed into a solid relationship for me. While it may have started as a one night stand, it eventually led to something more, but I didn’t feel a connection between them. I was told there was a connection and Elise and Dillon both voiced it but I never felt like they actually loved each other. Conversations between Elise and Dillon and even those with their friends often felt formal, sometimes even a bit stilted, and I think this added to me not being able to connect with their relationship as much as I would have liked.

While I may not have connected with the leads, those looking for new adult reads about young love and the angst that comes with it may enjoy the novel.

**Thank you to the author for providing print copy**

Mercurial (2021)

by Naomi Hughes
ASN/ISBN: 9781736394304
Publication: March 16, 2021

**I was received a copy of the book through NetGalley. I voluntarily read and reviewed it. All opinions are my own.**

Tal, his sister Nyx, and Elodie/The Destroyer are the main characters, and chapters are told in the third person from each of their perspectives. Tal questions his faith when his visions reveal that he will save The Destroyer and the kingdom but his oath to protect her has only led to more blood on his hands. Determined to free her brother from his oath, Nyx is intent on killing The Destroyer. The Destroyer has killed many innocent people to protect her sister’s reign. When she loses her memories and powers, she transforms into someone different from The Destroyer everyone knows but is she still worth saving?

  • Mercurial is reminiscent of classic medieval fantasy novels, but also felt surprisingly fresh. It has a unique magic system, which particularly stood out to me. Blood that is infused with metal determines an individual’s powers. For instance, those with silver in their blood have the ability to foresee the future whereas those with copper have healing powers. Being born with metal-infused blood also makes one prone to a rust disease.
  • Hughes mentions in her acknowledgments that she wrote Mercurial during a time in which she was trying to “renavigate [her] own faith.” The exploration of religion is integral to the plot with Tal’s struggle with his decisions and their consequences as the platform for this analysis. Rather than view it as inherently good or bad, it is a more analytical approach, questioning such things as what it means to adhere to one’s faith or the interpretation of religious texts.
  • My favorite books are those with strong female protagonists, so while Tal is interesting, I liked how the book had both Nyx and Elodie. I was mostly invested in Elodie, who ultimately became my favorite character. When The Destroyer lost her powers and became Elodie, I felt helpless and vulnerable alongside her. Hughes did a wonderful job with Elodie’s arc, asking whether redemption is possible for someone who has committed so many atrocities.
  • Other than the twist already detailed in the description, I was never quite sure about what to expect next. At times I thought I knew where the book was going, but it would veer in a different direction. It kept me riveted, trying to guess what would happen next. I had a difficult time suppressing the urge to flip to the end.

Mercurial‘s exploration of faith, redemption, and the power of love felt relatively new when compared to all the books I’d been reading. The plot was well-developed, and Tal, Nyx, and Elodie were rounded characters. I hadn’t heard much about the novel before finding it on NetGalley and am thankful I was provided the opportunity to read it. I look forward to reading more from Hughes.

Make Up Break Up (2021)

by Lily Menon
ASIN/ISBN: 9781250761996
Publication: February 02, 2021

**I was provided a copy of the book by the publisher through NetGalley. I voluntarily read and reviewed it. All opinions are my own.**

Make Up Break Up is about rival app makers, Annika, who believes in the power of love and second chances even if she may never find love herself, and Hudson Craft, who likes having clean breaks. When Hudson and Break Up move their offices next door, Annika cannot help but be a lot miffed (and petty…hehehe) at their success, especially because she is adamant he stole her idea. But, her thoughts also often drift to their summer fling in Las Vegas.

Make Up Break Up brings girl power to the table with an optimistic Indian main character in the tech industry who is passionate about her business. I liked Annika’s idealistic view on love and relationships; it’s one I cannot help but support (okay, fine I largely subscribe to it myself…hahaha). As much as I liked her, she complained a lot about Hudson and Break Up…a lot. I wanted her to get to work and show him that her app was better–because it really is. What speaks better than blowing people away with your work? I admired that she sticks to her morals throughout the novel, but she can also be judgmental. I wasn’t a big fan of her disregard for what he thought was important and the sacrifices he was willing to make–but that’s probably me being picky since I share some of Hudson’s feelings on family. Also, Hudson is undeniably sexy as both rival and love interest. I was conflicted over some of the changes I saw in Hudson especially because I don’t know how reliable I found it, despite the hints being here and there all along.

The book is predictable, but I don’t mind predictability as long as it’s done well. The ride needs to be interesting, and for the most part, it is, especially with the chemistry-filled run-ins and showdowns between the leads. There was one thing that Hudson did which I thought pushed the boundaries a bit–it made me mad–and I don’t think it should have been easily forgiven. I might be making it sound worse than it is but I’m still bitter about it. I would have liked more petty antics, allowing it more of the rom-com vibe Menon was potentially going for. Overall, Make Up Break Up is a good choice to start the most romantic month with.

Meet Cute (2019)

by Helena Hunting
ASIN/ISBN: B07G73X7H2
Publication: April 9, 2019
Series: N/A


Kailyn is the fangirl in all of us…if we were lucky enough to have our famous crush literally fall over us and then be horrified when 1) we blurt out, “I love you,” 2) ask for an autograph, and 3) find out we share a class after this embarrassing debacle…er..meet cute, I mean. If only…right? In the present, Kailyn has successfully built her career as a trust lawyer and unexpectedly meets Dax (the aforementioned famous crush) again when he walks into her law firm seeking her help.

Sometimes there is a need for a book where it’s easy to see what’s coming, something that doesn’t pull any extra punches. Meet Cute was the right book for me at the right time. After reading so many books with “unexpected” surprises, I needed something fairly straight forward that would still provide me with zings and make me swoon. I didn’t realize that was what I needed until I started reading Meet Cute. Sometimes, things are exactly as they seem. The hero is really the hero. The villain is the villain. The butler really did do it. Kailyn is smart, doesn’t take any sh*t, and genuine in her willingness to help those who need her. Dax is a responsible and attentive individual doing what the best he can as his sister Emme’s guardian. Emme is a sweet kid trying to understand her new “normal.” All three have wonderful chemistry together. It’s easy to root for them for a happy ending.

In a time where the unexpected is expected, predictable novels like Meet Cute become the unexpected. It included many of my favorite tropes such as enemies-to-lovers, the cute kid, and a (former) idol falling in love with an average person. It’s a positive reflection on Hunting’s writing that she stirred my emotions and kept them aflutter by just greasing the wheel rather than creating something entirely different. I recommend this novel for anyone looking for a good romance without all the turbulence–it might get a bit bumpy but you’ll get to the other side just fine. It’s worth noting that I loved the epilogue–probably one of my favorites now. (I’m putting out a call for a meet cute and this particular epilogue IRL–ahem RM, ahem Jin)

Marilia, the Warlord (2020)

by Morgan Cole
ISBN: 9781676935117
Publication: February 29, 2020
Series: Chrysathamere Trilogy #1


**I was provided a copy of the book through NetGalley. I voluntarily read and reviewed it. All opinions are my own.**

Marilia, the Warlord is an amazing novel with a complex heroine who isn’t prone to being the nicest person or the most humble.  Readers of fantasy who are used to the chosen one trope with a likeable character who is nearly infallible might be turned off by Marilia.  She may often act rashly; she is flawed and more human than touched by the gods. She has a brilliant mind, one with a penchant for strategy and warfare but societal and gender norms prevent her from pursuing anything more than a domestic life. Sibling rivalry pits her against her brother Annuweth, who is being trained in all the things she would rather be doing. Jealousy and the belief she could be much better than him if only given the same opportunities creates a strain between the siblings who once believed it was the both of them against the world. 

Morgan Cole created a world that is richly detailed with complex characters. Cole excels in world building and the introduction to it was engaging. We get a glimpse of what Marilia’s life was supposed to have been before destiny takes a hand and pushes her elsewhere. The strategy and battle scenes are also very well-written. The middle is not nearly as exciting as the beginning and the end. It’s not Cole’s writing so much as this is the Marilia growing up part, where she has to deal with societal norms and grapple with feelings that she is unsure about whereas the beginning and the end are just more…exciting.

The book was tortuous! I’m used to the nice chosen one trope and so had a love-hate relationship with Marilia as soon as the sibling rivalry began. I hated that it only became more pronounced. She was brilliant and hardly humble about her skills.  It frustrated me, and I desperately wanted her to make up with Annuweth. I wanted her to look beyond herself and also recognize that her brother could provide her with the insight she didn’t have but I also recognized that had all that happened, it wouldn’t have been the same book.

Passing over Marilia, the Warlord may be a rash decision on the reader’s part because this will mean missing out on a well-written novel about the rise of a woman who changed the fate society kept pushing onto her.  Marilia, the Warlord is an amazing read, and I couldn’t stop turning the pages, no matter the pain it inflicted on me. I’m a bit scared to start the next book, especially with the last book coming out soon (I think), because I don’t know how much I’ll still like Marilia after the trilogy ends.