ARC Review: The Ivory Key by Akshaya Raman

Special thanks to Clarion Books for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Goodreads: The Ivory Key (The Ivory Key Duology #1)
Publisher: Clarion Books
Publish Date: 04 January 2022
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Panda Rating:

(3.5 pandas)

Magic, a prized resource, is the only thing between peace and war. When magic runs out, four estranged royal siblings must find a new source before their country is swallowed by invading forces. The first in an Indian-inspired duology.

Vira is desperate to get out of her mother’s shadow and establish her legacy as a revered queen of Ashoka. But with the country’s only quarry running out of magic–a precious resource that has kept Ashoka safe from conflict–she can barely protect her citizens from the looming threat of war. And if her enemies discover this, they’ll stop at nothing to seize the last of the magic.

Vira’s only hope is to find a mysterious object of legend: the Ivory Key, rumored to unlock a new source of magic. But in order to infiltrate enemy territory and retrieve it, she must reunite with her siblings, torn apart by the different paths their lives have taken. Each of them has something to gain from finding the Ivory Key–and even more to lose if they fail. Ronak plans to sell it to the highest bidder in exchange for escape from his impending political marriage. Kaleb, falsely accused of assassinating the former maharani needs it to clear his name. And Riya, a runaway who cut all family ties, wants the Key to prove her loyalty to the rebels who want to strip the nobility of its power.

They must work together to survive the treacherous journey. But with each sibling harboring secrets and their own agendas, the very thing that brought them together could tear apart their family–and their world–for good. 

TL;DR: My journey reading this was quite an experience! Although it was a bit of a rough first half, I ended up enjoying this Indian-inspired fantasy and the characters plus the strong focus on family and sibling relationships. We get several POVs but the author does a great job in creating distinct voices for each sibling. The second half was so full of Indian Jones-style mystery adventure and I sped through it so quickly! With the surprising twists and baby-cliffhanger ending, I’m excited to know what happens next and how this duology concludes.

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ARC Review: Starry-Eyed Love by Helena Hunting

Special thanks to St. Martin’s Press for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads: Starry-Eyed Love (Spark House #2)
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publish Date: 10 May 2022
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Panda Rating:

(3.5 pandas)

Charming, hilarious, and emotional, Starry-Eyed Love is Helena Hunting at her very best!

Having just broken up with her boyfriend, London Spark is not in the mood to be hit on. Especially not when she’s out celebrating her single status with her sisters. So when a very attractive man pays for their drinks and then slips her his number, she passes it right back to him with a ‘thanks, but no thanks’. As the business administrator for their family’s event hotel, the Spark House, London has more important things to worry about, like bringing in new clientele.

As luck would have it, a multi-million-dollar company calls a few months later asking for a meeting to discuss a potential partnership, and London is eager to prove to her sisters, and herself, that she can land this deal. Just when she thinks she has nailed her presentation, the company’s CEO, Jackson Holt, walks in and inserts himself into the meeting. Not only that, but he also happens to be the same guy she turned down at the bar a few months ago.

As they begin to spend more time together, their working relationship blossoms into something more. It isn’t until their professional entanglements are finally over, that London and Jackson are finally ready to take the next step in their relationship. But between Jackson’s secretive past and London’s struggle with her sisters, London must question where she really stands – not just with Jackson, but with the Spark House, too.

TL;DR: I genuinely enjoyed this so much more than the first book! Although it was slow at the start and there were communication issues that I wished had been handled better, London and Jackson had great chemistry and I liked how their romance played out. They had sweet moments with just the right amount of cheese to make it cute and I really liked how they supported each other. I also loved the sibling dynamic between the Spark sisters and although I’m not sure if Hunting’s books are 100% for me, I’m looking forward to Harley’s story because she’s my favourite sister so far!

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ARC Review: Impossible by Darcy Burke

Special thanks to Zealous Quill Press for providing an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!

Goodreads: Impossible (The Phoenix Club #6)
Publisher: Zealous Quill Press
Published: 19 April 2022
Genre: Historical Romance

Panda Rating:

(3 pandas)

Ada Treadway has been in love before, and it brought nothing but heartache. Still, she retains her cheerful optimism and is fiercely protective of the independence and respect she’s earned as bookkeeper of the Phoenix Club. When the owner enlists her help to organize his friend’s estate ledgers, she’s eager to prove her expertise and her worth. But his friend turns out to be a disagreeable, unpleasant beast, and Ada works to find the warm-hearted gentleman she’s sure lurks beneath.

Maximillian Hunt, the Viscount Warfield doesn’t care if he lives to see tomorrow, and he certainly doesn’t want to recall yesterday. The arrival of the meddlesome and effusively positive woman who will put his accounts in order not only reminds him of the past he’s desperate to forget, she sparks something within him he thought dead. Tempted by a future he never imagined, he must do the impossible: convince her that he’s worth risking her heart a second time.

TL;DR: Overall, while this started off strong, the romance felt a little too half-baked for me to fully enjoy it. That’s not to say that I didn’t like these characters or enjoy their story because I did, and I was actually quite convinced that this was going to be a favourite in this series, so it was quite disappointing that their romance ended up being a bit unsatisfying for me. I am looking forward to the next book in the series though as we finally get McDougal’s story!

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Blog Tour Review: Sofi and the Bone Song by Adrienne Tooley

Hello, friends! It’s my stop on the TBR & Beyond Tours for Sofi and the Bone Song by Adrienne Tooley and I’m excited to share my review and favourite quotes with you today!

Thanks to Margaret K. McElderry Books for providing an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!

Click here or on the banner above to check out the rest of the amazing bloggers on tour!

Goodreads: Sofi and the Bone Song
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication Date: 19 April 2022
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Panda Rating:

(4.5 pandas)

In this gorgeous, queer standalone fantasy, a young musician sets out to expose her rival for illegal use of magic only to discover the deception goes deeper than she could have imagined—perfect for fans of An Enchantment of Ravens!

Music runs in Sofi’s blood.
Her father is a Musik, one of only five musicians in the country licensed to compose and perform original songs. In the kingdom of Aell, where winter is endless and magic is accessible to all, there are strict anti-magic laws ensuring music remains the last untouched art.

Sofi has spent her entire life training to inherit her father’s title. But on the day of the auditions, she is presented with unexpected competition in the form of Lara, a girl who has never before played the lute. Yet somehow, to Sofi’s horror, Lara puts on a performance that thoroughly enchants the judges.
Almost like magic.

The same day Lara wins the title of Musik, Sofi’s father dies, and a grieving Sofi sets out to prove Lara is using illegal magic in her performances. But the more time she spends with Lara, the more Sofi begins to doubt everything she knows about her family, her music, and the girl she thought was her enemy.

As Sofi works to reclaim her rightful place as a Musik, she is forced to face the dark secrets of her past and the magic she was trained to avoid—all while trying not to fall for the girl who stole her future.

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Blog Tour Review: An Arrow to the Moon by Emily X.R. Pan

Hello, friends! It’s my stop on the TBR & Beyond Tours for An Arrow to the Moon by Emily X.R. Pan and I’m excited to share my review and journal spread with you today!

Thanks to Little, Brown Books for Young Readers for providing an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!

Click here or on the banner above to check out the rest of the amazing bloggers on tour!

Goodreads: An Arrow to the Moon
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: 12 April 2022
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary, Magical Realism

Panda Rating:

(3.5 pandas)

Romeo and Juliet meets Chinese mythology in this magical novel by the New York Times bestselling author of The Astonishing Color of After

Hunter Yee has perfect aim with a bow and arrow, but all else in his life veers wrong. He’s sick of being haunted by his family’s past mistakes. The only things keeping him from running away are his little brother, a supernatural wind, and the bewitching girl at his new high school.

Luna Chang dreads the future. Graduation looms ahead, and her parents’ expectations are stifling. When she begins to break the rules, she finds her life upended by the strange new boy in her class, the arrival of unearthly fireflies, and an ominous crack spreading across the town of Fairbridge.

As Hunter and Luna navigate their families’ enmity and secrets, everything around them begins to fall apart. All they can depend on is their love…but time is running out, and fate will have its way. 

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Blog Tour Review: Heartbreak Symphony by Laekan Zea Kemp

Hello, friends! It’s my stop on the TBR & Beyond Tours for Heartbreak Symphony by Laekan Zea Kemp and I’m excited to share my review and journal spread with you today!

Thanks to Little, Brown Books for Young Readers for providing an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!

Click here or on the banner above to check out the rest of the amazing bloggers on tour!

Goodreads: Heartbreak Symphony
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: 05 April 2022
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary

Panda Rating:

(4.5 pandas)

Clap When You Land meets On the Come Up in this heart-gripping story about navigating first love and overcoming grief through the power of music.

Aarón Medrano has been haunted by the onstage persona of his favorite musician ever since his mother passed away. He seems to know all of Aarón’s deepest fears, like that his brain doesn’t work the way it should and that’s why his brother and father seems to be pushing him away. He thinks his ticket out is a scholarship to the prestigious Acadia School of Music. That is, if he can avoid blowing his audition.

Mia Villanueva has a haunting of her own and it’s the only family heirloom her parents left her: doubt. It’s the reason she can’t overcome her stage fright or believe that her music is worth making. Even though her trumpet teacher tells her she has a gift, she’s not sure if she’ll ever figure out how to use it or if she’s even deserving of it in the first place.

When Aarón and Mia cross paths, Aarón sees a chance to get close to the girl he’s had a crush on for years and to finally feel connected to someone since losing his mother. Mia sees a chance to hold herself accountable by making them both face their fears, and hopefully make their dreams come true. But soon they’ll realize there’s something much scarier than getting up on stage—falling in love with a broken heart.

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Blog Tour Review: This Rebel Heart by Katherine Locke

Hello, friends! It’s my stop on the TBR & Beyond Tours for This Rebel Heart by Katherine Locke and I’m excited to share my review and favourite quotes with you today.

Special thanks to Knopf Books for Young Readers for providing an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!

Click here or on the banner above to check out the rest of the amazing bloggers on tour!

Goodreads: This Rebel Heart
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: 05 April 2022
Genre: Young Adult Historical Fiction, Magical Realism

Panda Rating:

(4.5 pandas)

A tale set amid the 1956 Hungarian revolution in post-WWII Communist Budapest.

In the middle of Budapest, there is a river. Csilla knows the river is magic. During WWII, the river kept her family safe when they needed it most–safe from the Holocaust. But that was before the Communists seized power. Before her parents were murdered by the Soviet police. Before Csilla knew things about her father’s legacy that she wishes she could forget.

Now Csilla keeps her head down, planning her escape from this country that has never loved her the way she loves it. But her carefully laid plans fall to pieces when her parents are unexpectedly, publicly exonerated. As the protests in other countries spur talk of a larger revolution in Hungary, Csilla must decide if she believes in the promise and magic of her deeply flawed country enough to risk her life to help save it, or if she should let it burn to the ground.

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Blog Tour Review: A Magic Steeped in Poison by Judy I. Lin

Hello, friends! Today is my stop on the TBR & Beyond Tours for A Magic Steeped in Poison by Judy I. Lin, one of my most anticipated releases this year! I’m excited to share my (slightly rambling) review and a journal spread with you and I hope you enjoy this post! 🍵

Special thanks to Judy I. Lin and Feiwel and Friends for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review

Click here or on the banner above to check out the rest of the amazing bloggers on tour!

Goodreads: A Magic Steeped in Poison (The Book of Tea #1)
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Publication Date: 29 March 2022
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Panda Rating:

(5 pandas)

Judy I. Lin’s sweeping debut A Magic Steeped in Poison, first in a duology, is sure to enchant fans of Adrienne Young and Leigh Bardugo.
I used to look at my hands with pride. Now all I can think is, “These are the hands that buried my mother.”

For Ning, the only thing worse than losing her mother is knowing that it’s her own fault. She was the one who unknowingly brewed the poison tea that killed her—the poison tea that now threatens to also take her sister, Shu.

When Ning hears of a competition to find the kingdom’s greatest shennong-shi—masters of the ancient and magical art of tea-making—she travels to the imperial city to compete. The winner will receive a favor from the princess, which may be Ning’s only chance to save her sister’s life.

But between the backstabbing competitors, bloody court politics, and a mysterious (and handsome) boy with a shocking secret, Ning might actually be the one in more danger.

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ARC Review: The Rigid Duke by Darcy Burke

Special thanks to Zealous Quill Press for providing an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!

Goodreads: The Rigid Duke (Matchmaking Chronicles #1)
Publisher: Zealous Quill Press
Published: 08 March 2021
Genre: Historical Romance

Panda Rating:

(3 pandas)

As a refinement tutor, Mrs. Juno Langton helps young ladies develop the skills and confidence to secure an advantageous marriage. Her cheerful disposition never wavers no matter how challenging her assignment. When a house party provides an opportunity to match her difficult charge with a duke, Juno will go to any lengths to satisfy her employer and ensure the young lady’s future. Too bad the duke is an unsmiling, rigid grouch, albeit an irritatingly handsome one.

The Duke of Warrington dislikes social gatherings and despises the Marriage Mart which makes it nigh impossible to find a wife. He plans to secure his future duchess at a house party, but she’s being managed by a thoroughly meddlesome—and provocative—Mrs. Langton, who is determined to find his better nature. He’ll do anything to avoid her sunny charm and room-brightening smiles, but she’s breaking through his shell and the only way he can think to keep her quiet is to kiss her. He must marry the young lady, not desire the companion.

But now he’s rethinking his wife choices.

TL;DR: I’ve come to really enjoy Darcy Burke’s books ever since discovering her historical romances last year and The Rigid Duke was no different. It was an enjoyable grumpy/sunshine romance that’s slightly more sex than plot but was a quick and entertaining read that delivers a sweet HEA!

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ARC Review: Royal Captive by Heather Frost

Special thanks to Heather Frost for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

🥳 HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY TO ROYAL CAPTIVE!!! 🥳

Royal Captive is book three in the Fate of Eyrinthia series.
Read my review for book one here and book two here!

Goodreads: Royal Captive (Fate of Eyrinthia #3)
Publication Date: 18 March 2022
Genre: Young Adult Romance Fantasy

Panda Rating:

(3.5 pandas)

A DECOY trapped in a dangerous lie
A SERJAH searching for the truth
A PRINCE caught in a deadly game
A WORLD choked by secrets

Abducted during a devastating ambush, Clare is now the captive of ruthless mercenaries. Dragged through the wilderness while grieving heart-rending loss, she must maintain the illusion that she is the princess. Because if she lets the mask slip, even for a moment, the Mortisians will have no reason to keep her alive.

After arresting traitors close to the crown, Desfan fights to rebuild his court, knowing that the imminent arrival of the Devendran princess will further upset the precarious balance in Mortise. But Desfan’s world is rocked when he discovers a rumor that rewrites the most devastating event in his life. He will stop at nothing to find the truth–no matter where it leads.

As Grayson struggles to find his footing in Mortise, he discovers new friends and enemies. His life is further complicated by the tenuous alliance with his spymaster brother. With secrets deepening around him, Grayson must decide where his loyalties truly lie. Through it all, his heart remains in Ryden with Mia. Unfortunately, his love for her is no secret, and the Black Hand is a coveted weapon . . .

Eyrinthia holds its breath as allies and enemies collide. Secrets. Lies. Betrayals. Nothing will be the same.


CW/TW: abuse, kidnapping, murder, gore/violence, torture (captive), imprisonment


Continue reading “ARC Review: Royal Captive by Heather Frost”