Aces Wild – review

Author: Amanda DeWitt
Publication date: September 13, 2022
Genre: YA contemporary
My rating: 3.5/5 stars

Okay, so. The blurb on this one had me 100% sold–a heist in the vein of Six of Crows featuring an all-asexual cast? You’d be hard-pressed to find a more perfect intersection of my interests. The thing is, this marketing tactic really did the book a disservice. This is not like Six of Crows, minus perhaps the found family element and some teens engaging in illegal activity. It was a fun read, and the ace rep was wonderful, but I’ll admit, I felt rather let down. Were it not for my extreme soft spot for good ace rep, this would likely have been a lower rating. Read on for a better breakdown of my thoughts!

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Backlog Mini Book Review – Nothing but Blackened Teeth

Author: Cassandra Khaw
Publication date: October 19, 2021
Genre: horror
My rating: 3/5 stars

Hello, friends! It’s been a while since I’ve posted here, but I’m on a mission now to post more regularly again this year. My first order of business is catching up on some reviews from old NetGalley titles over the past year or two; my second will be more regularly sharing my reviews of this year’s reads. To that end, some of these reviews may be abbreviated, in part because I read the books a while ago, but also because I’m trying to get better at just posting rather than insisting on perfect, lengthy opinions. Kicking things off, this is a title I got a while ago but only just got around to reading this past fall: a horror novella set in a crumbling Japanese manor populated by ghosts, following an incredibly tense wedding party.

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Belladonna – ARC review

Author: Adalyn Grace
Publication date: August 30, 2022
Genre: Gothic YA fantasy/romance
My rating: 3.5/5 stars

A murder mystery featuring Gothic vibes and a romance with Death himself. A beautiful cover (seriously, look up what is under the dust jacket on the US versions of this one). An author with an impressive resume (including a stint interning on The Legend of Korra). This book is perfect in theory. And while it certainly delivered on all the vibes and atmosphere, I must confess that the book as a whole was just…okay. It wasn’t bad; it just didn’t live* up to its full potential.

*pun about living (since this book deals with death so much) was not intentional, but now that I’ve noticed, I have to leave it in.

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Flip Turns – blog tour (ARC review)

Author: Catherine Arguelles
Publication date: September 12, 2022
Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary/Mystery

My rating: 3.75/5 stars

Summer may be over, but that’s no reason we can’t enjoy a middle-grade summer swim team mystery! Flip Turns is an easy read, replete with humor, the casual bluntness of young teenagers, and the trappings of a classic whodunnit, but also deals with serious topics (including stalking-like behavior and anxiety) in a context that’s approachable for younger audiences. I’m so glad to have been a part of TBR and Beyond’s tour for this book–read on for my thoughts on the book!

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Violet Made of Thorns – blog tour (ARC review + awesome quotes!)

Author: Gina Chen
Series: Violet Made of Thorns duology (#1)
Publication date: July 26, 2022
Genre: YA fantasy
My rating: 4.5/5 stars

Fantasy politics. Morally questionable main character. Lies and prophecies and the blurry lines between the two. The girl who wants to kill Prince Charming instead of flirt with him. Enemies-to-lovers romance. Have I convinced you yet? Violet Made of Thorns by Gina Chen was one of my most-anticipated books of 2022, and reader, it delivered. This is the sort of debut that makes me incredibly excited about this author’s future works (and has me chomping at the bit for the sequel!). Read on for my review of this riveting title, along with a (somewhat lengthy) list of quotes I loved from it.

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Not Good for Maidens – blog tour (review, quotes, and ace rep!)

Author: Tori Bovalino
Publication date: June 21, 2022
Genre: YA fantasy horror
My rating: 4/5 stars

A modern take on the Goblin Market fairytale. Queer rep galore. Themes of belonging, family, duty, bonds, and bargains. Old English villages. Witches. Creepy-as-heck body horror. You’ll find it all in Not Good for Maidens, a dark YA fantasy full of bargains gone wrong, temptations too strong, and yearning to belong, unfolding over two timelines and two continents.. Read on for more of my thoughts, including some favorite quotes of mine from the book!

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The Words We Keep – blog tour (ARC review + quotes + mental health rep)

Author: Erin Stewart
Publication date: March 15, 2022
Genre: YA contemporary
My rating: 4.5/5 stars

By turns painfully real and softly hopeful, The Words We Keep is a striking exploration of the effects of mental illness not just on an individual, but on an entire family. It addresses the pervasiveness of mental health struggles across all types of individuals–social butterflies, high-achieving academic types, and nonconformist artists. And it does so through the eyes of anxious girl doing her best not to come unraveled even as her world seems to be falling apart around her. I couldn’t get over how much this story resonated with my own memories of high school and college–through those years of my life, so much of this main character’s experience could have been my own–and I sincerely hope this book is picked up by students working their way through high school today, as the stakes and anxieties have only gotten higher the past few years. Read on for a full review, as well as some quotes from this book that I really appreciated.

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All the Right Reasons – blog tour (ARC review + EDS rep!)

Author: Bethany Mangle
Publication date: February 15, 2022
Genre: YA Contemporary
My rating: 4/5 stars

Fans of Gilmore Girls, this book was basically made for you. A story of a single mother and her daughter, both struggling to find love, propelled by hefty doses of sarcasm and coffee, this is a great read if you’re looking for something sweet, fast, and fun. And, more importantly, it has Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome representation! Read on for more about the book and my thoughts on it.

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Daughter of the Moon Goddess – blog tour (ARC review + quotes!)

Author: Sue Lynn Tan
Publication date: January 11, 2021
Genre: fantasy, mythology, YA retelling
My rating: 4.5/5 stars

Come for the gorgeous cover and Chinese mythology; stay for the gorgeous writing and epic scope. This book has been on my radar since it was first announced, so naturally, I was thrilled when Turn the Page Tours presented me with the opportunity to read it for their blog tour! This book is romantic, heartbreaking, and beautiful, with lush details and a strong heroine who grows from naivete into her own person. Read on for my review, as well as a sampling of some lovely quotes from the book.

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Our Violent Ends – blog tour (ARC review + giveaway!!)

Tour banner reading:
Turn the Page Tours presents Our Violent Ends by New York Times bestselling author Chloe Gong
Blog Tour | Nov. 8th-12th
Depicting the cover of the book, against a fiery background.

Author: Chloe Gong
Series: These Violent Delights (#2)
Publication date: November 16, 2021
Genre: YA historical fantasy/retelling, romance
My rating: 4/5

Crackling with tension and filled with (surprise, surprise) violence, Our Violent Ends is a deliciously dark* conclusion to the These Violent Delights duology. The first book in the series smashed onto the YA scene with much fanfare, a loose retelling of Romeo and Juliet set in Shanghai in the 1920’s, substituting rival gangs for feuding houses and adding a mysterious, monstrous illness. (Also, the author was literally still in undergrad when she published it, so uh…what am I doing with my life???) In this second installment, the stakes–both personal and political–are higher than ever, and the result is an action-packed, emotional whirlwind.

*I feel obligated to point out that this exact phrase, “deliciously dark,” was also used by Natasha Ngan in describing this book. I wrote this intro before looking at her quote in the official blurb. So…if two independent minds both came up with those words, you can pretty reasonably assume it’s a valid assessment.

Like most tour posts, I’ve got a review for you, a smattering of excellent quotes from the book, and, if you stick around until the end, a giveaway that you can enter to win a copy of both books in the duology for yourself! Let’s get started.

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