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Book Blast: Beneath the Ocean by J.N. Eagles

Free for a limited time on Amazon! Download the eBook May 27!

Genres: poetry + fantasy + ya


Beneath the Ocean is a story told through various poetic styles, illustrating how a young shipmate seeks to find her identity as she struggles against the mercy of the waves and her two fellow deckhands. Through a series of transformations, she strives to locate an island rumored to have buried treasure, which would end her search and, bearing riches, allow her to return home. Instead, she discovers much more while at the bottom of the ocean.

Book Review: Picture-Perfect Boyfriend by Becky Dean

Hi All!

I hope everyone’s week is going well!

As the palest beach-lover you will probably ever know (seriously, I don’t tan, I just burn and then freckle…damn these Irish genes!), I am a big fan of Hawaii. Yes, I’ve only gone once, and yes, I only visited two islands, but I fell in love with the lush nature and hiking in Kauai to the point where I’ve basically been planning my long-awaited retirement since then.

Recently I read Picture-Perfect Boyfriend by the fabulous Becky Dean, and I was transported back to Hawaii! This was such a cute, fun little read with just enough snark and heart to make the YA-lover in me blissfully happy.

Let’s see what it was all about!

Genre:  Young Adult Romance

Publication Date: May 23, 2023

NetGalley Blurb:

Two strangers, one tropical island, and lots of lies in this funny beach romance from the author of Love & Other Great Expectations!

Aspiring nature photographer Kenzie Reed just can’t get her straitlaced family of optometrists to take her art seriously. She’s resigned to putting aside her dreams and accepting the depressing life that awaits her at the family business. She even makes up a fake, boring boyfriend—Jacob—to get her parents off her back.

But when the Reeds arrive in Hawaii for spring break, Kenzie is shocked that “Jacob” shows up at the airport—and joins their vacation. Kenzie can’t reveal him as a fraud without confessing her lie, so she’s stuck playing along while trying to find out who he really is.

No way is she going to actually fall for him—because even though he’s funny, nice, smart, and cute, he’s also a liar. Isn’t he? 

Filled with warm summer breezes and salty sea air, Becky Dean’s Picture-Perfect Boyfriend will sweep you off your feet into a tropical paradise, sun on your shoulders—where love is just around a palm tree.

What I liked about the book:

1. Becky Dean writes FMCs that I genuinely love and care about. From Britt to Kenzie, I feel as though these characters are like my little sisters. I go along with their shenanigans, but at the end of the day I just want to hug them and tell them everything will work out and they should just be their lovely selves.

Speaking of which, I loved how much Jake/Jacob/Liar McLiarFace encouraged Kenzie to be herself and seek her own passions outside of what her family thought. He was the encouraging MMC we all need in a YA book boyfriend.

2. I loved our MC’s snarky/flirty back and forth throughout the entire book. It was so fun to see their conversations play out, especially as they were walking that line of needing to know enough about each other, but trying to keep their secrets to themselves.

3. I loved the mystery component of the book and how we didn’t know how the heck this Jacob guy was for a good portion of it. I found this a fun addition to the story. Who doesn’t love a good mystery!?!  

4. The Hawaii descriptions were so good, I felt like I was visiting the islands again and going on the excursions with the family! I really loved this setting and the details that Becky put into describing it.

What could have been better:

1. I did not like any of the side characters besides Kenzie’s grandma. She was super fun and definitely acted as the comedic relief at a lot of tense moments.

Neil was fine I guess, but he was a super vanilla dude. I guess his best quality was that he wasn’t problematic? Is that a ringing endorsement for a character these days? Probably not, but at least he wasn’t a terrible person like most of Kenzie’s family.

2. Ok, this got really repetitive at times. I felt like Jacob and Kenzie had a lot of the same conversations, and Kenzie had a lot of the same thoughts throughout the book. There were quite a few times where I would read a chapter or two, and then come back later to read they were on a different excursion having a very similar conversation. I often thought to myself, “Am I rereading things? Did my Kindle bookmarking not work?” But, alas, no, there were just a lot of conversations that were very similar.

Final Thoughts:

Cute and fun YA romance with the added benefit of Hawaii!

Final Rating: 

4 stars!

About the Author:

Becky Dean is a fan of adventures both real and fictional. When she’s not writing or traveling, she can be found drinking tea, watching science fiction shows, or quoting The Lord of the Rings. Though she lives in Texas with her husband, she remains a Southern California girl at heart.

Check out Becky’s social media at the links below.

Goodreads | Instagram

While you’re at it, let’s be antisocial together!

Goodreads | Instagram | Gmail

Thank you to NetGalley, Random House Children’s, Delacorte Press, and Becky Dean for the advanced copy of this book. The review above is reflective of my own, honest opinions.

The Other Side of Infinity by Joan F. Smith

Hi All!

This past week I read The Other Side of Infinity by Joan F. Smith. When I was a kid, I was OBSESSED with the movie The Butterfly Effect, so I was super excited when I got this ARC.

Yes, I realize this is a weird film for a child to go absolutely bonkers over, and yes, I realize there are probably things I would hate about this movie if I were to rewatch it as an adult. But kids are dumb and like dumb things. I mean, for Gods’ sake, I also had a crush on Pauly Shore for some unknown reason, so let’s just move on from young Britt’s interests.

ANYWAYS! How did this one stack up? Did it go swimmingly, or did it sink? Let’s find out!

Genre:  Young Adult, Romance

Publication Date: April 25, 2023

NetGalley Blurb:

They Both Die at the End meets The Butterfly Effect in this YA novel by Joan F. Smith, where a teen uses her gift of foreknowledge to help a lifeguard save a drowning man—only to discover that her actions have suddenly put his life at risk.

It was supposed to be an ordinary day at the pool, but when lifeguard Nick hesitates during a save, seventeen-year-old December uses her gift of foreknowledge to rescue the drowning man instead. The action comes at a cost. Not only will Nick and December fall in love, but also, she envisions that his own life is now at risk. The other problem? They’re basically strangers.

December embarks on a mission to save Nick’s life, and to experience what it feels like to fall in love—something she’d formerly known she’d never do. Nick, battling the shame of screwing up the rescue when he’s heralded as a community hero, resolves to make up for his inaction by doing December a major solid and searching for her mother, who went missing nine years ago.

As they grow closer, December’s gift starts playing tricks, and Nick’s family gets closer to an ugly truth about him. They both must learn what it really means to be a hero before time runs out.

What I liked about the book:

1. I loved the concept of this and when December’s unique ability really shone. I don’t want to give away too much, but it was fun seeing how she thought things out and how much she went down the rabbit hole with the butterfly effect of actions. I especially loved when she brought up her “hypothetical” situation to her friend group and there was an actual cerebral conversation about the topic.

2. I liked Nick’s friend Maverick and Nick’s sister Sophie the most.

Maverick was a wicked smart high schooler taking college classes and setting himself up to be one of the brightest doctors/scientists of his generation, but he also was trying to kick a nicotine habit. I appreciated the depth this small detail brought to his overall character and found him intriguing because of it.

Sophie was a fun and spirited 10-year-old. She had opinions, which were often humorous, and she really strove to accomplish her goals. We got to see her succeed in running and not succeed as well in dancing, which brought depth to her character.

I’ve definitely been reading too many brother’s-best-friend romances because I would totally read a spinoff focused on Mav and Sophie ten years in the future. However, I would not read any other spinoffs from this series.

What could have been better:

1. I didn’t really like any of the characters. I didn’t really hate them either, they were all just a bit boring. Let’s put it this way, none of the characters compelled me to care about them or their lives.

I also felt the circle of friends that December developed was really surface level for how much the author tried to play up her feeling included in their group. The trio of girls were mentioned first by Nick seeing them at the pool, and then they just suddenly became friends with December. I liked how this subverted expectations because they were the popular girls and December was “odd”, but otherwise, there was nothing super intriguing or deeply developed about them or the group dynamic.

2. The pacing of this was too slow for my taste. I felt like Nick not acting on his lifeguard duty and his feelings about that took up too much of the word count. These feelings also led to him wanting to make it up to December and find her mom, which was not really something I was interested in; if December herself didn’t care, why should I?

I also felt like Nick had this secret through the whole book that we weren’t supposed to find out and it got annoying. For how vanilla this guy was, it didn’t seem juicy enough to keep me hooked, but it kept getting brought up over and over again.

3. The romance was a miss for me. I loved December’s descriptions of the butterflies and just letting herself fully fall into her emotions. THAT was brilliant! Otherwise, even with the foresight that they would get together, the start of their romance seemed to come out of nowhere; no real build up, no real flutters from Nick’s point of view, and then suddenly the boy couldn’t get enough of her. Is that really how high school boys think? Perhaps I’m wrong and giving too much credit to the younger opposite sex, but somehow, I don’t think so.

4. There were things drilled into (like December’s mom) that were wrapped up either unsatisfactorily or not at all. If I have to read about it, at least give it an ending!

5. I 100% did not like the ending. Because I didn’t feel a connection to the characters, the ending was more random than emotional for me. It could have been a real heavy hitter if some of the points I highlighted above were executed a bit more well.

Final Thoughts:

Overall, the idea was good and the writing was technically well done, I just felt the execution was lacking in some of the major areas I look at. Not for me.

Final Rating: 2 stars

Thank you to NetGalley, Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group, Feiwel & Friends, and Joan F. Smith for the advanced copy of this book. The opinions expressed above are honest and my own.

Happy Pub Day: Time’s Orphan by Hayley Reese Chow

Hi All!

It’s finally here! Happy Pub Day “Time’s Orphan”!

This week I continued reading the Odriel’s Heirs series with the third and final book in the series, “Time’s Orphan”. If you didn’t catch my posts from the last couple weeks, I was provided with ALL 3 FULL-LENGTH AND 2 NOVELLA-LENGTH books in this series, including an ARC of this third book, by the author Hayley Reese Chow!

I’ve be reviewing one book per week up until now, the third book’s release date. I’ve laughed, I’ve fallen in love with another fictional family, and I’ve given you all my thoughts and feelings along the way. But alas, all good things must come to an end. Good thing Hayley saved the best for last!

Before we hop to my review for this last book, here are the links to my reviews of all the prior books and novellas in the series:

Odriel’s Heirs

Burning Shadows

Idriel’s Children

Night of Ash

Genre:  Young Adult, Fantasy

Publication Date: February 8, 2023

Goodreads Blurb:

Speak of pain, and I’ll tell you of the Time who stole it away…

Besieged by war, ravaged by monsters, and crawling with the undead, the land of Okarria is dying. Seventeen-year-old Emara survives by using her modest healing gift to save as many as she can while eluding the invaders who thirst for her enchanted blood.

So when a cursed cat saves her life and reveals Emara is the legendary Time Heir the necromancer king’s been searching for, she agrees to act as bait in a plot to destroy him. But when the plan goes horrifically awry, Emara must discover how deep her powers go, what she can change…

And what she cannot.

Unfortunately, Time Heirs have a history of getting killed, and with Okarria’s future on the line, Emara may have no choice but to follow in her ancestors’ footsteps.

What I liked about the book:

1. In book 1, we got our feet wet in the world of Okarria. In book 2, we got to step into the Shadow Plane. In book 3, we got time travel baby!

I absolutely loved how this book brought yet another new “location” into play in the series. I loved figuring out who was who and where certain people would have been at this point in their lives. It brought that same air of mystery Hayley has woven in the other stories, with its own unique twist.

Similar to book 2 and the Shadow Plane scenes, a lot of my favorite scenes happened when Emara was 100 years in the past, so this was a big win for me!

It was especially fun to see how the areas acted before the Lost got really bad and it was still a relatively happy and functioning society; this definitely gave me hope that it could look like that again!

2. I really went into this book thinking that no one could top Aza, and DEFINITELY no one could top Makeo. I’m happy to announce that I was wrong on both fronts!

Emara at her core was a FIGHTER! No, she may not have been exceptionally talented with weapons or her fists, but she NEVER gave up. She was super resilient, was wicked smart, and was all for helping others. Even though she had been told to hide her abilities her whole life, at the first sign that she could help she brought that magic to her fingers and dug in! She also had no qualms about letting herself be captured in order to get closer to the bad guys. She was truly a team player and I loved her.

Speaking of her having to hide her abilities, I loved that she was so different from the other heirs. As someone who had never been told of her true identity and wasn’t trained properly for it, was constantly on the run from battle to battle, and was told to hide her magic growing up, she definitely wasn’t raised like the other heirs. Don’t get me wrong, they all had hard lives, but hers was just a little less cushy and it really made you want her to succeed that much more. In a series full of underdogs and badasses, she had so much to offer the entire group because of her differences! This line in reference to Emara’s thoughts on Aza really showed her difference to me:

This wasn’t just any woman in front of her, this was a legend.

It’s so strange in this world for an heir to think this of another heir; to think them as legendary and above all others. But I loved seeing this small but significant detail with Emara.

I loved her love interest so much for her, always wanting to be near her and seeking her out to take care of her when you can tell no one had really taken care of him. I also adored their back and forth. Their chemistry was so palpable from the beginning that I just kept eating it up page after page.

Jai was everything I thought Klaus was going to be in book 1 and more! He was this little street urchin, pickpocket with a quick mind, delicious smirk, and a deep loyalty for those in his circle.

Shadmundar was so much more caring in this one, really taking the Time Heir under his wing. I loved their connection and how he always had her best interest at heart. I can’t give too much away, but we finally find out why Shadmundar has been around for all these dang heirs and I loved every detail of it!

3. Speaking of Shadmundar, he had a much larger role in this story than the others. I loved how he acted as her historical guide as she came to terms with her identity. A lot of the things that I had questions about and made peace with not knowing in books 1 and 2, he explained to her in this book! We got to know all about why he was turned into a cat, we got to know all about Ivanora’s and Everard’s backstories, and we finally found out who the heck Bellaphia really was.  

4. Like all the other books in the series, the action was phenomenally written. BUT, you could also fully see Hayley’s growth as a writer present in this story. From the daunting and dark first 4 novels/novellas, we finally got to see some lightness, some comedy, and some romance that was better written than all the other stories. The lightness and comedy are more than likely attributable to Emara’s personality compared to Kaia’s and Aza’s, but the chemistry between Emara and her love interest was undeniably a level-up compared to the others.

5. By now you know I’m a fan of these gorgeous covers!

6. I loved that we got to see a lot of Aza in this one! I also loved how her life had developed in the last 10 years and getting to be part of that with her ❤

7. We have finally reached the end of the series, but definitely have only scratched the surface of Hayley’s wisdom. Here were some of my favorite lines for this story:

Both sides always lost in war; one just lost more than the other.

She’d never let them take her alive, even if it meant making the final cut herself.

So many cogs had already been set in motion. And she was only one.

Shad: “The world was never perfect. And even if we succeed, it will never be perfect. The only thing we can do is try to make it a little better with the time that we have.”

Emara: “I should’ve-”

Shad: “Don’t second guess the past. The paths are many, but we can never know where any of them lead. Once chosen, we can only go forward. No use carrying the weight of past mistakes when you still have so many to make in the future.”

Emara: “There’s…too many. I’m going to lose him!”

Aza: “You are not. You are a Time Heir of legend, gifted with the strength of Odriel himself to heal the injured, strengthen the weak, and be the wall between life and death. To the tireless, he gave the hardest task. To the gentle he gave the most power. That is you, Emara Alik, Ioni Rao, survivor of the blood-soaked west.”

– I loved seeing Aza pay the speech of strength forward!

“Secrets weigh lighter when spoken aloud.”

“…in matters of the mind I feel a needle may be more helpful than a club.”

What could have been better:

1. NOTHING! It was complete and total perfection!

Final Thoughts:

Bottom line, this series is a must read for any fans of YA Fantasy!

Final Rating: 5 beautiful stars

Want to check out what else Hayley is working on? Hop on over to her social media accounts using the below.

Goodreads | Instagram | Website

While you’re at it, let’s be antisocial together!

Goodreads | Instagram | Gmail

In Nightfall by Suzanne Young

Hi All!

I hope everyone’s week is going well!

If you’re anything like me, you’re still super fascinated every time you have to write “XX/XX/2023” on something, and simultaneously freaked out that a whole month has already gone by! However, the good news is there are still 11 months left in the year to read as many books as we want!

Speaking of which, this weekend I read In Nightfall by Suzanne Young and had some pretty strong feelings about it. Let’s dive into it!

Genre:  Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal, Horror

Publication Date: March 28, 2023

NetGalley Blurb:

In the quaint town of Nightfall, Oregon, it isn’t the dark you should be afraid of—it’s the girls. The Lost Boys meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer in this propulsive novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Treatment.

Theo and her brother, Marco, threw the biggest party of the year. And got caught. Their punishment? Leave Arizona to spend the summer with their grandmother in the rainy beachside town of Nightfall, Oregon—population 846 souls.

The small town is cute, when it’s not raining, but their grandmother is superstitious and strangely antisocial. Upon their arrival she lays out the one house rule: always be home before dark. But Theo and Marco are determined to make the most of their summer, and on their first day they meet the enigmatic Minnow and her friends. Beautiful and charismatic, the girls have a magnetic pull that Theo and her brother can’t resist.

But Minnow and her friends are far from what they appear.

And that one rule? Theo quickly realizes she should have listened to her grandmother. Because after dark, something emerges in Nightfall. And it doesn’t plan to let her leave.

What I liked about the book:

1. I liked the sarcasm and the relationship between Theo and her brother Marco. It was genuine and believable.

2. I absolutely adored Nonna, especially after she told Theo her history in the town! She was a total badass.

What could have been better:

1. I was definitely lured by the cover and blurb on this one. Given The Lost Boys and Buffy the Vampire Slayer (the Kristy Swanson and Luke Perry version) were two of my favorite movies when I was younger, I figured this would be a slam dunk.

What I didn’t figure was the book would feel like someone took The Lost Boys and made it into a Mad Lib for the author to fill out. It was especially hard to ignore in the first couple of chapters that this was a gender swapped, shot for shot remake of the film at times. Instead of the references being a “cool! I get that one!” they were very…cringy. Maybe if I hadn’t just watched the movie 2 weeks ago, I wouldn’t have caught as many of the comparisons and my thoughts on this would be a bit different?

However, I also didn’t feel there was much Buffy the Vampire Slayer­-ness to it other than fighting a bunch of vampires in a prom dress. Perhaps I’m missing something because I’m over 20 years late watching the television show, but I honestly don’t think so.

2. I liked the podcast and mystery ideas within the story, but I didn’t feel they were utilized to their potential. I didn’t really understand what the point was of her even listening to the first episode of the podcast focusing on the town if she had already met the podcasters and formed a relationship with them. I also didn’t understand why they mentioned episode two would drop and then that never went anywhere.

I felt like this was a check-the-box exercise in throwing a podcast into a story, which I’ve seen a lot more of recently. Other than perhaps trying to create a vibe reminiscent of Serial for murder mystery books or trying to show characters as relatable by listening to podcasts, I’m not sure what the theory is behind including this trait now and rarely do I see it executed well.

3. Unfortunately, the book didn’t really get exciting for me until the big reveal we all knew was coming at around the 70% mark. The romance was bleh, the characters besides Nonna were bleh, and the plot was predictable. Overall, just not for me.

4. I hate being THIS PERSON, but this definitely could have used another round of editing. A couple slips are absolutely no problem for me, but constant sentences where you can tell a word was supposed to be deleted stagnate the flow and bring me out of the story altogether.

Final Thoughts:

Overall, just not for me.

Final Rating: 2 stars

Thank you to Random House Children’s, Delacorte Press, and Suzanne Young for this free advanced review copy of this book. The thoughts and opinions expressed above are honest and my own.

Night of Ash (Odriel’s Heirs, #2.5) by Hayley Reese Chow

Hi All!

This week I continued reading the Odriel’s Heirs series with the second novella “Night of Ash”. If you didn’t catch my posts from the last couple weeks, I was provided with ALL 3 FULL-LENGTH AND 2 NOVELLA-LENGTH books in this series, including an ARC of the third book “Time’s Orphan”, by the author Hayley Reese Chow!

I’ll be reviewing one book per week until the third book’s release date of February 8, giving you all my thoughts and feelings along the way!

Before we hop to my review for this second novella in the series, here are the links to my reviews of books 1, 1.5, and 2:

Odriel’s Heirs

Burning Shadows

Idriel’s Children

Genre:  Young Adult, Fantasy

Publication Date: September 27, 2022

Goodreads Blurb:

The night buries all Shadows…

After healing from the last battle with Idriel’s Children, the young Shadow Heir, Aza Thane, once again finds herself at a magus’s door looking for answers. There, she and her companions learn of a dark plot to raise an ancient demon necromancer in the corpse of a soul-eating monster and rush to the once great city of Austerden to stop it.

Racing toward a city on the brink of a massacre and still haunted by her past mistakes, Aza will have to learn to trust again if she wants to save anyone at all… including herself.

What I liked about the book:

1. Similar to the first novella, this book picked up effortlessly from the groundwork Chow did in its predecessor novel. These novellas truly feel like lovely little glimpses into the world of the MCs just after the events in the previous book; an extension of the characters we love, before jumping to new MCs. I love these little shorts we get between the main books and the more time we get to spend with our favorite characters!

2. The characters were awesome as always!

  • Similar to Kaia’s growth shown in “Burning Shadows” it was amazing to see how Aza had grown from a woman of logic and saving those who were more “useful” first, to being willing to sacrifice herself for everyone and anyone. Her fierce spirit and love for those around her, especially in what she thought were her last moments, was phenomenal to watch!

If this was her fate, so be it, but she’d send a hundred of these things to the grave before she followed them.

  • Of course, Makeo, was downright loveable as always, constantly reassuring Aza at every turn and giving her the mental support she needed to continue.

Makeo: *put a reassuring hand on her back* “You need to stop second-guessing yourself.”

Aza: “If I’m that obvious, perhaps I should start third-guessing instead.”

– Giiiirl, that is a slippery slope. Trust me!

Makeo: “You’ve asked for everyone’s forgiveness, Aza, more than once. But you might want to consider asking it of yourself.”

Aza: “How could I ask that, when I’m the reason we’re here?”

Makeo: “Oh Aze.” *his gaze shone with a bittersweet warmth* “That’s where you’re wrong. You were only one stone in an avalanche of hundreds that got us here. If we’re going to stop the chain now, we need to look forward, not back.”

– I mean, how do you NOT fall in love with this guy???

  • I loved seeing a more in depth look into Zephyr, including his “new” romance with Hoku. He seemed less arrogant and more likable when she was around, and she was another badass woman in this series!

Zephyr: *turns to Hoku* “And-”

Hoku: “Don’t even think it. I may not be an Heir, but I have a keen mind. A sharp blade. An unbreakable will.” *lifts her chin, defiance glinting in her eyes* “Surely we’ll need all three.”

Zephyr: *runs a hand through his hair, his brows sloped with worry* “But what if-”

Hoku: “Besides, I’m the fastest rider here and the only one of you lot that’s even been to Austerden.” *she takes a step closer, a dangerous ferocity in her slow movements* “I’m coming.”

– Well, she just put him in his place…

  • And I loved getting to see the Shadow Heir and Dragon Heir get to fight in the same plane!
  • I loved the small bit we got of Dorinar and Marloa, who are DEFINITELY together. Just check this out:

Dorinar: “You can be certain Ivanora (Dorinar’s evil sister) has sent her monsters after us even now. While we’re alive, we’re a threat to her.”

Zephyr: “And you’re sure you won’t come with us, Dorinar? We could use your help.”

Dorinar: “And leave Marloa to travel on her own? With my most precious books?” *sniffles* “I can’t risk it.”

– Definitely not leaving his woman behind, and DEFINITELY DEFINITELY not leaving his books behind. I get it man, I get it.

  • I also loved the old guardsman, Samar Bhalla, at the end who gave Aza strength when she needed it most.

Samar: “It’s not about what you’ve done or haven’t, it’s about what you can still do. It’s your potential. I’m afraid, my lass, for better or for worse, as the Shadow Heir, you don’t just belong to yourself. But to all of Okarria. You hold our hope in your hands. You shoulder our fears. And you are the kindling for our bravery.”

Aza: “What if it’s already over?”

Samar: “That is a decision, lass. It’s never over as long as the brave are willing to fight on. And like it or not, it is your fight to lead. Your decision to make. Is this over? Or are you willing to fight for what was taken from us?”

3. I liked the progress shown in this book, including the history behind maybe why Ivanora is the way she is.

I also loved the fact that they didn’t come out on top! This novella definitely heightened the need for the elusive Time Heir and will feed beautifully into his/her story that’s up next! I really hope the next book doesn’t follow the same formula as books 1 and 1.5, meaning Aza and Zephyr won’t have much of a role in book 3 because of a time jump. I can’t bear to lose any more heirs! I just want my Time Heir and the whole story to end nicely!!!

4. This was the perfect amount of action, new plot development, and page count for a novella. I could not put it down and was able to finish it in about an hour or two.

What could have been better:

1. I was a bit bummed that we didn’t get more Makeo, Zephyr, and Hoku, especially since if the formula from books 1 and 1.5 does continue, they will have a small role going forward, much like Klaus and Kaia in books 2 and 2.5. Let’s hope that’s not the case because I need all the Maldibor babies up in this world, or at least the freaking curse broken and HEAs all around!

Final Thoughts:

Such a great addition to this series!

Final Rating: 4.5 stars

Want to check out what else Hayley is working on? Hop on over to her social media accounts using the below.

Goodreads | Instagram | Website

While you’re at it, let’s be antisocial together!

Goodreads | Instagram | Gmail

Idriel’s Children by Hayley Reese Chow

Hi All!

I hope everyone’s week is going well!

This week I continued reading the Odriel’s Heirs series with the second full-length book “Idriel’s Children”. If you didn’t catch my post from last week, I was provided with ALL 3 FULL-LENGTH AND 2 NOVELLA-LENGTH books in this series, including an ARC of the third book “Time’s Orphan”, by the author Hayley Reese Chow!

I’ll be reviewing one book per week until the third book’s release date of February 8, giving you all my thoughts and feelings along the way!

Before we hop to my review for this second full-length book in the series, here are the links to my reviews of book 1 and book 1.5:

Odriel’s Heirs

Burning Shadows

Genre:  Young Adult, Fantasy

Publication Date: May 1, 2022

Goodreads Blurb:

Reaping darkness, the Shadow slicked steel with judgment and danced with death…

Sixteen-year-old Aza inherited the power of shadow to rid the land of evil as Odriel’s cold-blooded assassin. With her growing strength, Aza discovers the Shadow Plane—a realm of wraiths where screams haunt the winds, calling to her. Although her father forbids her from entering the dark realm, Aza can’t ignore the beckoning whispers.

When a dangerous new breed of monster attacks, Aza believes the Shadow Plane holds the answers they need to defeat them. With the unwanted help of a snarky cat and a cursed beast, Aza seeks out the monastic Wraith-Called for answers. But the deeper Aza delves into the dark realm, the further she drifts from the world she knows.

As Aza uncovers evils new and old, she must decide if the ends really do justify the means… and how many lives she’s willing to pay.

What I liked about the book:

1. The worldbuilding continued, letting us step into a whole other dimension: the Shadow Plane  – the space between the living and the dead. From creepy creatures to an alluring voice calling our FMC, it was hard to resist the pull to the Shadow Plane as a reader as well. So much mystery and so much darkness had me rooting for Aza to learn to control her time in the Shadow Plane so we too could see what it was all about. And when we did learn about it, as well as more history about the Heirs, I loved it!

I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll just say, some of the scenes that happened in the Shadow Plane were my favorite scenes in the entire book.

2. I thought the characters in book 1 were good, but they had NOTHING on these new characters!

Aza, our FMC, was a supreme badass! She literally came out swinging and she was just really cool (as dumb as that sounds coming from a 30-year-old woman). She understands her mission as the Shadow Heir completely, being able to separate her emotions from her logic as easy as the crow flies.

The path of the Shadow Heir was dark for more reasons than one. Sometimes, you had to take a life to save one. It set them apart from the Dragon and Time Heirs, and it was one of the reasons the Dragon Heirs never accompanied them [Klaus and Aza] on these tasks. Odriel had forged the Shadows with a different metal.

She was adventurous and inquisitive, often going against the grain and doing things her father (the other Shadow Heir) told her not to for the sake of learning and growth. Because of this, we were introduced to some fantastic side characters and the Shadow Plane you all know I love from item 1 above.

I also loved how even though she was outwardly confident, she was well aware of her reputation and responsibilities as the Shadow Heir and she didn’t want to bring anyone down with her. If she had it her way, she would never involve anyone else unless the situation was dire, in an attempt to keep everyone safe from the issues at hand and herself.

You’re Odriel’s Assassin. You’re full of harm, whether you mean it or not.

Aza’s smile melted away. She missed that girl she had been. Back when the shadows were just a fun trick to make Makeo laugh. Now the shadows seemed to be all she was. Just darkness lined with good intentions…fleeing the dull ache of memories long gone and the echo of her mother’s voice reciting The Heir’s Way. And forever more, the Shadow Heir only danced with death.

Also, she was SUPER protective of those loyal to her, especially Makeo. Gods, the way she defended him and got totally pissed off when people judged him unfairly was just EVERYTHING! When the book opened and I thought it was posing Witt to be the Klaus in this story and then Makeo entered the story, I thought we were going to get a love triangle situation and I was shouting “IT BEST BE MAKEO!”.  

I hate to compare, but I liked her a lot more than Kaia from book 1. She was more outwardly confident and she had more edge to her. Now, I will caveat this with we know Kaia was stoned and bullied for her gifts growing up by her peers, whereas Aza grew up in the school her parents started, where their gifts were embraced. This is likely a HUGE factor in the personality difference between two badass women.

Makeo, our MMC and a Maldibor(!), was the perfect best friend and I was rooting for him to become the perfect book boyfriend the whole time! He was stable and comforting, strong and silent without being hard and cold. He was also super astute and knew her to a freaking T!

I loved these lines of his:

Makeo: “You’re as sharp as your knives, Aza.”

Aza: “Is that a bad thing?”

Makeo: “I’ll let you know when I catch the edge.”

Aza: “Sometimes I’m afraid the shadows have stained me.”

Makeo: “In the face of pain and fear, a heart will raise walls to protect itself. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a good heart.”

Aza: “There’s a thin line between a walled heart and a stone one. You can’t know which one it is until you see inside.”

Makeo: *whispers in her ear* “I see you, Aza Thane. And I will remind you as many times as you need to hear it. You don’t have to be alone.”


Witt was the hilarious comedic relief and he did such a good job of it! He was hilarious and knew just enough to get himself into trouble. He was also the only outwardly optimistic one in the group, which gave it a lighter tone than if it were just the other three. Without him, I could legit see myself feeling this was a dismal read. I honestly didn’t think I would even like him at the start of the book, but he slowly grew on me and wriggled his way into my heart (not past Makeo, but that says more about Makeo than Witt).

Shad was his perfect, snarky self, with a few more war wounds and an extra side of surly given his elongated servitude. I totally called that this damn cat was going to be around for all these books and I love it! Will he ever be free??? I’m dying to see his reunion with Everard and how that plays out.

Dorinar was back and was just so helpful all over again. I loved that his “assistant”/unconfirmed girlfriend, Marloa did not let him get away with ANYTHING! She put him in his place and he allowed her to, only further proving she was more than just an assistant.

Of course, we got to see our MCs from book 1, but in their capacity as parents who can still throw down.

3. This book did a good job introducing us to some of the history in this world that I wanted from book 1.

I will note, because of the background set in book 1, this book didn’t seem like there was as much history I felt we were missing. I’ve made peace with the items we don’t know (yet?) and appreciated the ground we did gain as far as history went.

4. Like the other books in this series so far, the action is phenomenally written.


Witt Corser had been a knot in her hair since they were kids, but his innkeeper father did a lot for Catalede. A usefulness that bought him approximately two minutes of civility.

And this is when I knew this girl was my kindred spirit!

            Worrying brings no answers.

True, but easier said than done.

“Draw your line in the sand, Keo, but don’t be surprised when it washes away.”


In this game, a coincidence was just a riddle she had yet to solve.

As a puzzle nerd, I love this!

“The difference between dead and alive is one day.”

Well that puts things into perspective!

“When in doubt, you’re already thinking twice as much as when you were certain.”

This is something I should definitely keep in mind daily.

“Control your mind first, and your body will follow.”

UGGGGGH the wisdom Chow gives is soooooo good. I should invest in a lot of sticky notes so I can post all of these near my work computer.

6. Like book 1, that cover is fantastic! I love the green, I love the skull, I love the knives. It’s all just REALLY doing it for me.

What could have been better:

1. I always want MORE with these stories! Seriously, Chow could right these as 500-600 page books and I would read them!

Final Thoughts:

Such a great installment to this series! My favorite so far!

Final Rating: 4.5 stars

Want to check out what else Hayley is working on? Hop on over to her social media accounts using the below.

Goodreads | Instagram | Website

While you’re at it, let’s be antisocial together!

Goodreads | Instagram | Gmail

Burning Shadows (Odriel’s Heirs, #1.5) by Hayley Reese Chow

Hi All!

This week I continued reading the Odriel’s Heirs series with its first novella “Burning Shadows”. If you didn’t catch my post from last week, I was provided with ALL 3 FULL LENGTH AND 2 NOVELLA LENGTH books in this series, including an ARC of the third book “Time’s Orphan”, by the author Hayley Reese Chow!

I’ll be reviewing one book per week until the third book’s release date of February 8, giving you all my thoughts and feelings along the way!

Before we hop to my review for this first novella in the series, here’s a link to my review of book 1: Odriel’s Heirs.

Genre:  Young Adult, Fantasy

Publication Date: June 22, 2021

Goodreads Blurb:

There are worse things than the undead…

After months on the road, Kaia and Klaus, the Dragon and Shadow Heirs, have chased the remains of Idriel’s undead army into the wild western lands of Okarria. There, they encounter the barbaric evidence that the living can be just as bloodthirsty as the undead.

Faced once again with humanity’s brutality, Kaia will have to discover what she’s willing to sacrifice to protect her people… and if it will be enough.

What I liked about the book:

1. I loved how easily this picked up from book 1. The story takes place one year after the events in book 1 and picks up with Kaia and Klaus still off doing their heir thing fighting bad guys and staying on the move. I also liked how this story continued Kaia’s and Klaus’s dynamic of equally saving each other. Hayley Reese Chow does a great job not succumbing Kaia to the damsel in distress role in these books and really showing it’s an equal partnership between the heirs.

2. I loved how confident Kaia is in this one! You can totally see her growth and confidence that she worked so hard to find in book 1 have definitely flourished! She is more sure of herself and her abilities, as well as her ability to ultimately make the right decision, even if it means some tough choices with consequences.

Klaus was just as fun and flirty as always, which was great to revisit. I liked seeing him get a bit territorial with her when they ran into his childhood frenemy Madoc and seeing how their relationship had developed as well. It made him that much more YA dreamy!

I also liked Madoc with his rogue charm and his history with Klaus. It was fun to hear more about Klaus from Madoc’s point of view and I wish we had even more background into their years together.

3. I liked how this set the stage for the ongoing books, showing there is another necromancer out there that others will have to deal with. I won’t ruin any details here, but just know that the storyline continues and the plot has thickened!

4. This was the perfect amount of action, new plot development, and page count for a novella. I could not put it down and was able to finish it in about an hour or two.

What could have been better:

1. I know this is the last book really dedicated to Kaia and Klaus, so I’m sad to see that we didn’t get a whole lot more into Klaus’s backstory. We did get to know some, but it wasn’t earthshattering stuff, it was more fun anecdotes. Alas, I will never truly know Klaus.

Final Thoughts:

Such a fun addition to the series!

Final Rating: 4.25 stars

Want to check out what else Hayley is working on? Hop on over to her social media accounts using the below.

Goodreads | Instagram | Website

While you’re at it, let’s be antisocial together!

Goodreads | Instagram | Gmail

Odriel’s Heirs by Hayley Reese Chow

Hi All!

Happy Wednesday! (I know, that’s such a corporate America/mom thing to say, but I’m both so it is what it is!)

I started the first book in a new series this week, and LET ME TELL YOU, this is shaping up to be an early contender for favorite series read during 2023! What is this mysterious series you may ask? Odriel’s Heirs by the talented Hayley Reese Chow!

Big thank you to Hayley Reese Chow for reaching out to me and providing me with ALL 3 FULL LENGTH AND 2 NOVELLA LENGTH books in the series, including an ARC of the third book “Time’s Orphan” which will be released this February! My goal is to review one book per week until the third book’s release date of February 8, giving you all my thoughts and feelings along the way!

Can’t wait to share this with you all. Let’s get to it!

Genre:  Young Adult, Fantasy

Publication Date: March 1, 2020

Goodreads Blurb:

The brave, burning with fire, harnessed the Dragon’s Rage….

As the Dragon Heir, seventeen-year-old Kaia inherited the power of flame to protect her homeland from a godlike necromancer’s undead army. But after centuries of peace, the necromancer has faded to myth, and the Dragon Heir is feared by the people. Persecuted and cast out, Kaia struggles to embrace and control her seemingly useless gift while confined to her family’s farm.

But when the necromancer’s undead terrorize the land once again, Kaia runs away to join the battle.

With the help of her childhood rival, the handsome Shadow Heir, and a snarky, cursed cat, Kaia must figure out how to control both her fire and her confidence in time to save Okarria. If she fails, she will sacrifice her family, her new friends, and the enchanting world she has only just begun to see.

And time is running out.

What I liked about the book:

1. It has a map! I love when books include maps, because you know some crazy stuff is going to go down and the worldbuilding is going to be insane!

97% of the time a book has a map, I’m guaranteed to fall in love! This was no exception!

2. I love mythology, real and created for the sake of literature, so the fact that this book was driven entirely by legend was very much my jam!

Original Legend: “three ordinary men stepped forward to confront Nifras, the demon necromancer, and his army of the Lost” (basically an army of the undead lead by a super bad guy). “The high spirit, Odriel, blessed them with great gifts to pass down to their Heirs. To the bravest, he gave the power of the Dragon – or fire. He cloaked the cunning in shadow – to walk unseen. And to the kind, he gave his healing touch.”

Add to this a missing (maybe even dead?) heir, a mini-boss that basically looks like Voldemort, an emotional support dog sidekick, a talking cat, and stories of previous heirs doing pretty crazy stuff to summon Odriel’s assistance, and I was a total happy camper!

3. Characters

Kaia – our FMC with the perfect amount of spark and flaws!

I cannot tell you how much I loved that Kaia was such an outcast in her community! She was literally stoned and yelled at for her abilities, but then still had to save everyone when the time came. Isn’t that the mark of a real hero???

Also, the author did a great job showing that she was no Mary Sue. The background and learning that went into her abilities was described as a lifelong experience instead of something she could just magically do, and she still didn’t come out on top in most instances. I loved the background that she was not the strongest in the events the heirs competed in and that she frequently lost in sparring matches with the Shadow Heir her whole life. This did a lot to humanize her character and made her truly relatable. It also made it that much more believable and exciting when she did something incredible! I absolutely loved her as the FMC!

Klaus – our MMC who you just know has one of those delicious bad boy smirks and eyes only for the FMC. I loved his nature of playfulness mixed with strong-will, and how he had her back at every turn. I also liked the bit of jealousy we got to see come out and play 😉

From what we know, he has the possibility for a really daunting and incredible backstory, and I really hope we get to know more of it in the first novella!  

Lastly, he’s a YA hunk for sure. For God’s sake, he calls her Firefly! I mean, OH.MY.GOD. just look at these lines:

I would rather fight beside you in the darkness than live without you in the sun.

– And y’all wonder why we like fictional men…

Kaia: I’m not a master of my emotions, as you are.

Klaus: To be honest, I hope you never learn. When you grieve, the sun does not shine, and when your heart is light, the whole world smiles with you.


Shadmundar – snarky, talking cat…Ummmm yeah, I need more backstory here! I have a feeling Shadmundar is going to be a continuing character throughout the series, so hopefully we get to know more, but I’m already sold!

Gus – probably my favorite character! Gus is Kaia’s emotional support hound who is able to tell when her rage is overtaking her and could lead to fiery situations. I loved the telepathic conversations him and Kaia had, with all his praising and reassurance. Sweetest doggo ever!

Tekoa – Ummmm, why did I feel that Kaia should have ended up with Tekoa at some points??? Was I the only one that thought a love triangle would have worked beautifully here? Such a good guy and such a good boost of confidence for her, just not the guy.

Fiola/Mackie – salt of the earth, downright good people. I loved Mackie’s flora and fauna gifts and abilities, as well as his willingness to do whatever it took. I loved that Fiola was basically the mother figure Kaia needed while at war. She was humorous and humble, which made me love her so much!

Everard – I loved this idea that he was a stubborn magi but a secret romantic. I NEED more of his and a certain lady’s backstory!


To keep the dead from our doorstep, I must ride out to meet them.

– Well that’s badass.

The first battle is in your head.

Or this one of similar sentiment

To win on the battlefield you must first conquer the fear within.

– My father also told this to me as a child. I felt so connected to Kaia at this point!

We must accept who we are, the good and the bad.

So true

If ever you need a light, just remember the one that burns within you never goes out.


Wherever there is light, there is also shadow.

– Brilliant

Kill the puppeteer, and the marionettes will fall.


5. Ok, adorable alert! Hayley has the first chapter available on her WordPress site (link to site available at the end of blog). BUT she also narrated the first chapter of the book and has that available on her site for those who would prefer to dive in with an auditory experience.

6. Last, but not least, I love that cover! It’s totally gorgeous and screams at me to read it!

What could have been better:

1. I’m greedy and I wanted this to be so much longer! The author definitely has the chops given the action scenes written and the world created, so I desperately needed this to be three times as long!

There wasn’t anything missing plot wise, but I definitely felt that with more details, fluff, and character development it could have had that extra something! I would have killed for more lead up in the romance department, more exploring into the world, creatures, and groups, and more background into the original heirs.

Final Thoughts:

If you are looking for a fun new YA Fantasy series, this is a great choice!

Final Rating: 4.25 stars

Want to check out what else Hayley is working on? Hop on over to her social media accounts using the below.

Goodreads | Instagram | Website

While you’re at it, let’s be antisocial together!

Goodreads | Instagram | Gmail

French Kissing in New York by Anne-Sophie Jouhanneau

Hi All!

 I hope your week is going well! If you’re anything like me, you’re already fully immersing yourself in wonderful stories to make your head and shoulders feel just a little more light this holiday season.

One book that’s been on my TBR forever is my ARC of French Kissing in New York. With an expected publication date of January 3, 2023 and a title like that, I was thinking this would be a perfect New Years Eve read…and then I got impatient and had to read it!

This ARC definitely got me with it’s cover. All those bright colors and the promise of romance was right up my alley! So how did this seemingly adorable book stack up? Let’s find out!

Genre: Romance, Teens & YA

Publication Date: January 3, 2023

NetGalley Blurb:
“It took all of two paragraphs for me to fall head-over-heels in love with this story. Naive, plucky Margot was perfection, New York City brimmed loud and clear from the pages, and I absolutely adored the love story. I’ll be thinking about this one for a while.”—Jenna Evans Welch, New York Times bestselling author of Love & Gelato

A charming, high-energy romance in the city that never sleeps about a girl who can’t wait to be a part of Manhattan’s restaurant scene—and find the boy she fell for last summer. Perfect for fans of Emily in Paris!

Welcome to New York. . . . He’s been waiting for you.

Margot hasn’t been able to stop thinking about Zach, the dreamy American boy she met one magical night in Paris. In an instant, they fell head over heels in love and spent the perfect evening ensemble—sealed with a kiss and a promise: if the universe wants them to be together, fate will find a way.

Flash forward one year later: Margot has finished high school and is newly arrived in New York, ready to roll up her chef’s-coat sleeves in Manhattan’s bustling restaurant scene, celebrate her father’s upcoming wedding . . . and reconnect with Zach.

But a lot can happen in a year, and promises made in the shadows of the Eiffel Tower look different in the neon glow of the Big Apple. Margot spends the summer desperate to find Zach and enlists the help of Ben, the sweet line cook at her restaurant. Margot is convinced she found her soul mate that night in Paris . . . but what if the universe has a different plan?

Anything’s possible in New York City. Especially l’amour, American-style.

What I liked about the book:

1. This story was basically a love letter to food and New York and I loved it!

I’m not a huge fan of New York, but something about the descriptions of all the little local locations and hipster cookie bars made me want to go again and see if my first time was just a fluke. Maybe I’m hipster enough now to enjoy it???

The food in this story was AMAZING! The sounds, the descriptions, the smells (ok, not really, but you know what I mean) all made me hungry, and even more impressive, made me want to cook, which is usually an absolute no-go for me.

2. Another thing I really liked about this book was that the main character, Margot, was really on a journey of self-discovery. I love books about characters who end up finding themselves, especially if it’s wildly different than they originally thought. It was fun to stick around for Margot’s journey to New York and her crazy antics to try to find “the love of her life”.

Every time I picked up this book to continue reading, I couldn’t think of anything but Taylor Swift’s “Welcome to New York”, which definitely got played on repeat several times while I read this coming-of-age story. Here you go, don’t say I never did anything for you 😘

3. Oh, how I loved Ben. He was sweet and stood up for her, he helped her on her hunt, and he legitimately tried to date her in the sincerest way possible. He was definite cinnamon-role hubby material and for sure a Short King!

I loved watching how Margot’s opinion of Ben changed as well. He went from the short guy that was not terrible looking to her best friend that was, like, a total babe.

What could have been better:

1. I felt like there was so much emphasis on the food and locations that it detracted from the characters themselves. I would go so far as to say Margot was not the main character; the main character was New York. As a person that needs a lot of character connection in a book, I found this area lacking.

2. Similarly, because there was so much emphasis on the food and locations, I felt we were really just location hopping, which took away from real plot development at times. I definitely didn’t mind reading about all the locations and food choices the characters made, but there were a couple times I was left hungry and feeling like I didn’t really read anything that advanced the story.

3. I really, really hated how much of the plot was around her happiness being dependent on her finding Zach. Not only because it was Zach, but because it was any other person other than herself. I get that this is a total YA thing to think, and is probably normal (?…But what do I know, I ditched high school in favor of independent study because I couldn’t understand my peers…). HOWEVER, even if this is “normal” I definitely don’t think it should be emphasized like this in books, or it at least should have been wrapped up with a better message than not being addressed at all. It’s definitely not a healthy message for teens to obsess over someone and completely shirk other parts of their life/responsibilities in order to get them. Like, GIRL, YOU HAVE A JOB AND A DAMN FINE MAN RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU. WHAT ARE YOU DOING RISKING THAT FOR SOME DUDE YOU KISSED ONCE???  

Final Thoughts:

This was a cute little love story to food, first loves, and the city that never sleeps. Definitely worth a read if you are a YA romance fan ❤️  

Final Rating: 3.5 stars!

Thank you to NetGalley, Random House Children’s / Delacorte Press, and Anne-Sophie Jouhanneau for the free copy of this book. The review above is reflective of my honest opinion.