Blog Tour Review: Dark and Shallow Lies by Ginny Myers Sain

Today is my stop on the TBR & Beyond Tours for Dark and Shallow Lies by Ginny Myers Sain.
Special thanks to Razorbill/Penguin for providing an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Be sure to click on the banner above to check out the rest of the amazing bloggers on tour!

Goodreads: Dark and Shallow Lies
Publisher: Razorbill
Publication Date: 31 August 2021
Genre: YA Mystery/Thriller, YA Fantasy

Panda Rating:

(3 pandas)

A teen girl disappears from her small town deep in the bayou, where magic festers beneath the surface of the swamp like water rot, in this chilling debut supernatural thriller for fans of Natasha Preston, Karen McManus, and Rory Power.

La Cachette, Louisiana, is the worst place to be if you have something to hide.

This tiny town, where seventeen-year-old Grey spends her summers, is the self-proclaimed Psychic Capital of the World—and the place where Elora Pellerin, Grey’s best friend, disappeared six months earlier.

Grey can’t believe that Elora vanished into thin air any more than she can believe that nobody in a town full of psychics knows what happened. But as she digs into the night that Elora went missing, she begins to realize that everybody in town is hiding something—her grandmother Honey; her childhood crush Hart; and even her late mother, whose secrets continue to call to Grey from beyond the grave.

When a mysterious stranger emerges from the bayou—a stormy-eyed boy with links to Elora and the town’s bloody history—Grey realizes that La Cachette’s past is far more present and dangerous than she’d ever understood. Suddenly, she doesn’t know who she can trust. In a town where secrets lurk just below the surface, and where a murderer is on the loose, nobody can be presumed innocent—and La Cachette’s dark and shallow lies may just rip the town apart.

Continue reading “Blog Tour Review: Dark and Shallow Lies by Ginny Myers Sain”

Goodreads Monday – The Bridge Kingdom by Danielle L. Jensen

Welcome back to Goodreads Monday! It’s been a very hot minute since I did one but I figured I might as well get back into it! This weekly meme was started by @Lauren’s Page Turners and it invites you to pick a book from your TBR and explain why you want to read it. Easy enough, right? Feel free to join in if you want to! I’ll be using a random number generator to pick my books from my insanely long GR Want-to-read list.*

*Sorry if a book has been featured twice. I need to make better note of which ones I’ve done already!

This week’s featured book is The Bridge Kingdom by Danielle L. Jensen. It’s a YA** romantasy that came out in 2020 and has an average rating of 4.11 with several thousand reviews/ratings on Goodreads. It’s the first book in The Bridge Kingdom series (1 of 5).

Continue reading “Goodreads Monday – The Bridge Kingdom by Danielle L. Jensen”

Goodreads Monday – To Best the Boys by Mary Weber

Welcome back to Goodreads Monday! It’s been a very hot minute since I did one but I figured I might as well get back into it! This weekly meme was started by @Lauren’s Page Turners and it invites you to pick a book from your TBR and explain why you want to read it. Easy enough, right? Feel free to join in if you want to! I’ll be using a random number generator to pick my books from my insanely long GR Want-to-read list.*

*Sorry if a book has been featured twice. I need to make better note of which ones I’ve done already!

This week’s featured book is To Best the Boys by Mary Weber. It’s a YA fantasy/dystopia that came out in 2019 and has an average rating of 3.71 on Goodreads.

Continue reading “Goodreads Monday – To Best the Boys by Mary Weber”

ARC Review: Shadow Frost by Coco Ma

Special thanks to NetGalley and Blackstone Publishing for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads: Shadow Frost (Shadow Frost #1)
Publisher: Blackstone Publishing
Publish Date: 01 October 2019
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Panda Rating:

(2.5 pandas)

IN THE KINGDOM OF AXARIA, a darkness rises.

Some call it a monster, laying waste to the villagers and their homes.
Some say it is an invulnerable demon summoned from the deepest abysses of the Immortal Realm.
Many soldiers from the royal guard are sent out to hunt it down.

Not one has ever returned.


When Asterin Faelenhart, Princess of Axaria and heir to the throne, discovers that she may hold the key to defeating the mysterious demon terrorizing her kingdom, she vows not to rest until the beast is slain. With the help of her friends and the powers she wields — though has yet to fully understand — Asterin sets out to complete a single task. The task that countless, trained soldiers have failed.

To kill it.

But as they hunt for the demon, they unearth a plot to assassinate the Princess herself instead. Asterin and her companions begin to wonder how much of their lives have been lies, especially when they realize that the center of the web of deceit might very well be themselves. With no one else to turn to, they are forced to decide just how much they are willing to sacrifice to protect the only world they have ever known.

That is, of course… if the demon doesn’t get to them first.

BUY A COPY:

TL;DR: Shadow Frost is a book that younger me would’ve devoured and unquestionably loved but older me is feeling quite conflicted about it. Coco Ma has created a vast world with interesting deity lore, an elemental magic system and a huge cast of characters. That said, the world building was haphazard, the pacing was choppy, and the characters were fairly one-dimensional. I think this book suffered from trying to do too much at one time and it uses a lot of very typical YA tropes about royal families, their bodyguards and friends. There’s a nice found family element which I always love but ultimately, this didn’t work out so well for me.

Before kicking off my review, I have to say that I am impressed by the fact that Coco Ma wrote this when she was 15! I can’t fathom writing something like this now let alone when I was a teenager, so major props to her for creating this intriguing world of magic!


I’m quite conflicted about this book because while I think there were interesting elements as well as characters that I did like, I felt that the story was bogged down by trying to include too much at once. It seemed like the author was trying to cram in as much as possible to cover a lot of bases and unfortunately, it just didn’t work for me. The story itself was also nothing new to the genre and didn’t bring anything so unique for it to stand out from the crowd.

Coco Ma presents a vast world with many neighbouring nations, intriguing lore of the gods/goddesses, and an elemental magic system involving the use of stones to channel the magic that resides within a person. People also belonged under certain houses that correlated with patron gods/goddesses but I can’t say exactly how it works because it was unclear to me. The world-building is patchy at best with lots of info-dumping across the story. There were inconsistencies in descriptions, items and language, that made me question whether this was set in a modern or historical period and I’m still not quite sure which it is. This made it difficult for me to picture the settings and sadly, it also affected how I pictured the characters in that, aside from one or two that had their appearance literally shoved in your face, the rest were kind of non-descript.

The writing itself wasn’t bad rather it was the inconsistent pacing that made it hard for me to focus and made this, quite honestly, a bit of a slog to read… The beginning is slow until about 30% and then they’re (very) suddenly off on a quest to find the demon and the pace builds up, only for it to slow down again for a large portion of the story until the action starts up at the end. There’s really not a lot that happens here and I had to push myself to not DNF this.

The characters were all quite typical of YA fantasies that follow the ruling royals, their bodyguards and friends. They’re not 100% cookie-cutter but they are quite one-dimensional and I didn’t form strong attachments to (m)any of them. That said, there is a pretty large cast and surprisingly, we also get almost all of their POVs and it was… A lot! I didn’t expect there to be so many viewpoints and those POVs often changed within chapters, which got pretty confusing at times, especially when there was little to distinguish them from each other. They were fairly angsty teenagers who focused on baffling things during inappropriate times and often made illogical and rash decisions with weak justifications. I didn’t particularly like Asterin, our ‘chosen one’ princess who was good at everything and who everyone loved. She was spoiled, self-absorbed, selfish and quite frankly, a bad friend. The characters who intrigued me the most were Rose and Harry, and though we got their POVs, I would’ve definitely loved to see more from them compared to the others. Again, I feel like if there were fewer POVs, there would’ve been room to give the characters more depth and space for us to care more about them. There are also several romantic pairings and because I didn’t really care for the characters, I wasn’t invested in any of the ships and found some of them to be cringeworthy (no matter how accurate, I don’t think using ‘brat’ as a term of endearment for the person you “love” is attractive, especially when you’re the person it’s being said to).

With all that said, I did become more intrigued by the end. The plot does become intensely dramatic and over the top but I wanted answers and I have more questions than I did at the start. There is also a certain character arc that surprised me and I’m curious to see how the new dynamic affects the friendships and the story. Will I pick up the next book though? I know this is something that younger me would’ve devoured without questions and would’ve (most probably) absolutely adored! But while I am curious now, I’m not sure it’s enough for me to want to read on.

Have you read Shadow Frost or is it on your TBR?

Blog Tour Review: Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim

Today is my stop on the TBR & Beyond Tours for one of my most anticipated reads of the year: Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim!

Special thanks to Knopf for providing an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Be sure to click on the banner above to check out the rest of the amazing bloggers on tour!

Goodreads: Six Crimson Cranes
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: 06 July 2021
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Panda Rating:

(4.5 pandas)

Shiori, the only princess of Kiata, has a secret. Forbidden magic runs through her veins. Normally she conceals it well, but on the morning of her betrothal ceremony, Shiori loses control. At first, her mistake seems like a stroke of luck, forestalling the wedding she never wanted, but it also catches the attention of Raikama, her stepmother.

Raikama has dark magic of her own, and she banishes the young princess, turning her brothers into cranes, and warning Shiori that she must speak of it to no one: for with every word that escapes her lips, one of her brothers will die.

Penniless, voiceless, and alone, Shiori searches for her brothers, and, on her journey, uncovers a conspiracy to overtake the throne—a conspiracy more twisted and deceitful, more cunning and complex, than even Raikama’s betrayal. Only Shiori can set the kingdom to rights, but to do so she must place her trust in the very boy she fought so hard not to marry. And she must embrace the magic she’s been taught all her life to contain—no matter what it costs her.

Continue reading “Blog Tour Review: Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim”

Blog Tour Review + Excerpt: Royal Spy by Heather Frost

Hello, friends! I’m back today with a blog tour for Royal Spy (Fate of Eyrinthia #2) by Heather Frost. Thanks to the author for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Be sure to check out the rest of the bloggers on tour at the end of my post!

Royal Spy is book two in the Fate of Eyrinthia series. You can read my review for book one here.

Goodreads: Royal Spy (Fate of Eyrinthia #2)
Publication Date: 20 May 2021
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy, Romance

Panda Rating:

(4 pandas)

A DECOY recruited to be a spy.
A PRINCE compelled to become an assassin.
A SERJAH pressured by an unwanted crown.
A WORLD covered in shadows.

Mere months ago, Clare was just a kitchen maid. Now, she is a decoy for Princess Serene and a novice spy, caught in the royal family’s web of secrets. While journeying to Mortise to finalize the princess’s betrothal to Serjah Desfan, Clare lives for the stolen moments she has with Bennick, the bodyguard who is quickly claiming her heart. But when a notorious assassin is hired to kill her, Clare’s life and the alliance hang in the balance.

In Ryden, Grayson prepares to leave for Mortise with his brother, Liam. Their orders are to ignite a war between their enemies, and Grayson has been tasked with assassinating Princess Serene. It may cost his soul, but he is ready to comply, as long as he gets something in return: freedom for Mia, the girl he loves. But the more time he spends with his brother, the more he begins to wonder if Liam is what Grayson wishes he had the courage to be . . . a traitor. 

Desfan feels trapped. By his disapproving council, his impending marriage to a stranger, and the imminent arrival of enemy princes who may not want the peace they profess. When a dangerous drug threatens his people, Desfan jumps at the chance to rely on his swords instead of politics. But his investigation uncovers more than he bargained for—a plot that may destroy Mortise from within.

Eyrinthia hovers on the edge of war. Spies. Rebels. Traitors. All must choose a side.

CW/TW: abuse, kidnapping, murder, gore/violence

Pre-order Royal Spy and fill out the form to receive an EXCLUSIVE short story from Bennick’s POV: The Decoy and the Bodyguard

Continue reading “Blog Tour Review + Excerpt: Royal Spy by Heather Frost”

Blog Tour Review: The Stolen Kingdom by Jillian Boehme

Today is my stop on the TBR & Beyond Tours for The Stolen Kingdom by Jillian Boehme.
Special thanks to Netgalley and Tor Teen for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Be sure to click on the banner above to check out the rest of the amazing bloggers on tour!

Goodreads: The Stolen Kingdom
Publisher: Tor Teen
Publication Date: 02 March 2021
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Panda Rating:

(4 pandas)

For a hundred years, the once-prosperous kingdom of Perin Faye has suffered under the rule of the greedy and power-hungry Thungrave kings. Maralyth Graylaern, a vintner’s daughter, has no idea her hidden magical power is proof of a secret bloodline and claim to the throne. Alac Thungrave, the king’s second son, has always been uncomfortable with his position as the spare heir—and the dark, stolen magic that comes with ruling.

When Maralyth becomes embroiled in a plot to murder the royal family and seize the throne, a cat-and-mouse chase ensues in an adventure of dark magic, court intrigue, and forbidden love.

Continue reading “Blog Tour Review: The Stolen Kingdom by Jillian Boehme”

Blog Tour Review + Giveaway: Unwritten by Alicia J. Novo

I’m so excited to be back with a blog tour with Xpresso Tours for Unwritten by Alicia J. Novo. Special thanks to the author for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review!

Be sure to click on the banner above to check out the other bloggers on tour!
Also, don’t forget to enter the GIVEWAY at the end of my post!

Goodreads: Unwritten (The Zeeshwen Chronicles #1)
Publish Date: 08 May 2021
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Panda Rating:

(3 pandas)

Books whisper to Beatrix Alba. But they aren’t the reason she has never fit in. Bullied at home and school, she keeps a secret—a power of violence and darkness.

When the spell that keeps her hidden fails, she’s catapulted into the Zweeshen, a realm where all tales live, and her dream of meeting her favorite characters comes true. But wishes are tricky, and behind its wonder and whimsy, the Zweeshen is under attack. A character is burning bookworlds in pursuit of a weapon to rule both stories and storytellers. To succeed, he needs a riddle in Beatrix’s possession.

Now he’s hunting her down.

Joining forces with William, a cursed conjurer, Beatrix must face an enemy who knows her every weakness in a realm where witches play with time, Egyptian gods roam, and Regency heroines lead covert operations. And with her darkness as the only weapon, she may have to sacrifice everything to save a world that rejects her.

PRE-ORDER:

Continue reading “Blog Tour Review + Giveaway: Unwritten by Alicia J. Novo”

Goodreads Monday – Night Spinner by Addie Thorley

Welcome back to Goodreads Monday! It’s been a very hot minute since I did one but I figured I might as well get back into it! This weekly meme was started by @Lauren’s Page Turners and it invites you to pick a book from your TBR and explain why you want to read it. Easy enough, right? Feel free to join in if you want to! I’ll be using a random number generator to pick my books from my insanely long GR Want-to-read list.*

*Sorry if a book has been featured twice. I need to make better note of which ones I’ve done already!

This week’s featured book is Night Spinner by Addie Thorley. This is a YA fantasy and is the first book of a duology. It’s apparently a retelling of The Hunchback in Notre Dame? 😍

Continue reading “Goodreads Monday – Night Spinner by Addie Thorley”

Blog Tour Review + Giveaway: Lost in the Never Woods by Aiden Thomas

I’m so excited to be back with a blog tour with Xpresso Tours for one of my most anticipated 2021 releases: Lost in the Never Woods by Aiden Thomas. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing the ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Be sure to click on the banner above to check out the other bloggers on tour!
Also, don’t forget to enter the GIVEWAY (US/CAN) at the end of my post!

Goodreads: Lost in the Never Woods
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Release Date: 23 March 2021
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Panda Rating:

(3.5 pandas)

When children go missing in the small coastal town of Astoria, people look to Wendy for answers.

It’s been five years since Wendy and her two brothers went missing in the woods, but when the town’s children start to disappear, the questions surrounding her brothers’ mysterious circumstances are brought back into light. Attempting to flee her past, Wendy almost runs over an unconscious boy lying in the middle of the road, and gets pulled into the mystery haunting the town.

Peter, a boy she thought lived only in her stories, claims that if they don’t do something, the missing children will meet the same fate as her brothers. In order to find them and rescue the missing kids, Wendy must confront what’s waiting for her in the woods.

BUY NOW: Amazon (US) | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | Google Play

Continue reading “Blog Tour Review + Giveaway: Lost in the Never Woods by Aiden Thomas”