Blog Tour: Once Upon a Broken Heart by Stephanie Garber (Review + Author Interview!)

Endless thanks to Flatiron Books for kindly inviting me to participate in this blog tour! Caraval has been one of my favorite series for years now, and it really is a dream come true to help promote the release of Stephanie Garber’s next book, Once Upon a Broken Heart, on my blog!

Without further ado, let’s get started!

Once Upon a Broken Heart by [Stephanie Garber]

Title: Once Upon a Broken Heart

Author: Stephanie Garber

Release Date: September 28th, 2021

Synopsis: For as long as she can remember, Evangeline Fox has believed in true love and happy endings…until she learns that the love of her life will marry another. Desperate to stop the wedding and to heal her wounded heart, Evangeline strikes a deal with the charismatic, but wicked, Prince of Hearts. In exchange for his help, he asks for three kisses, to be given at the time and place of his choosing. But after Evangeline’s first promised kiss, she learns that bargaining with an immortal is a dangerous game — and that the Prince of Hearts wants far more from her than she’d pledged. He has plans for Evangeline, plans that will either end in the greatest happily ever after, or the most exquisite tragedy…

This story was even more magical and whimsical than I thought it would be! It takes place shortly after the events of Finale, the final book in the Caraval trilogy, but this time around, we’re introduced to a completely new cast of lovable characters. Well, “new” with one exception, of course: Jacks, the Prince of Hearts!

In the Caraval trilogy, Jack’s instantly stole my heart with his snarkiness, devastating beauty, and tragic backstory. If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll know that I’m a total sucker for morally grey fictional characters, and Jacks is just that! I’m so glad Stephanie Garber decided to gift us readers with a Jacks spin-off story, because not only did it give us the opportunity to dive deeper into his character arc, but it also introduced us to a new protagonist that I loved getting to know: Evangeline Fox.

What I love about Evangeline is that it’s so easy to write her off as a naive, hopeless romantic, but in reality, she’s just a dreamer like the rest of us! Which makes her so relatable! As a reader and fantasy lover, I’ve always had the mindset that happy endings are possible no matter what, and to see that kind of optimism reflected in Evangeline’s character was so wonderful.

Another thing I loved about Once Upon a Broken Heart: how magical it was. Every time I flipped open this book, I felt like I was stepping into a literal fairy tale! The story is steeped with mystical fables and legends, making for a truly breathtaking reading experience. Stephanie Garber’s prose is as stunning as ever– It’s so vivid that the magic practically comes alive on the page!

Overall, Once Upon a Broken Heart is a spectacular addition to the Caraval universe. Full of magic, mystery, romance, and heartbreak, it’s a book you won’t be able to put down!

We know the Prince of Hearts, Jacks, plays a leading role in Once Upon A Broken Heart.
Can readers expect any other familiar faces from the Caraval series? ( http://www.TreatYoShelf.blog)

I usually try not to answer this question—I like it when people don’t know what to expect. So, I won’t say if there will be any other familiar faces in Once Upon A Broken Heart. But I will say that readers might meet one or two characters who were mentioned in the Caraval series but didn’t actually get any page time.

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Why do you love Evangeline and the Prince of Hearts and why should readers root for them? (www.eleventhirteenpm.com)

This is such a funny question, and I feel as if I shouldn’t confess the answer to this because I actually wrote Once Upon A Broken Heart with the hope that readers would feel as if Evangeline should run far away from Jacks, but at the same time really want them to kiss each other.

I love Jacks because he’s pretty much the worst. He says terrible things and he does terrible things—which is why Evangeline should stay away from him. However, I love Evangeline because she’s such an optimist—I love that she believes in love at first sight and happily ever after, and even though she should probably run away from Jacks, I think she’s just the type of girl he needs in his life.

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Your books always read like fairytales (at least for me)! What are your favorite fairytales? (www.alexalovesbooks.com)

Thank you so much! I love fairytales and I have so many favorites. My very favorite is anything that’s Beauty and the Beast inspired. I love stories that involve truly unlikeable beast-like characters changing as they fall in love, and I’m always sucker for the kidnapped/captive girl trope.

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If you could be transported into the world of ONCE UPON A BROKEN HEART, what kind of character do you think you would be and would you be easily swayed to make a deal with a Fate? (ACourtofCoffeeandBooks.com)

Ooh, this is such a fun question. I want to say that I’d make a deal with a Fate because I think it would be interesting and exciting. But, I probably wouldn’t actually make a deal with a Fate because I know it never ends well. I’d most likely stay away from all things Fate and spend time seeing the wonders of the Magnificent North. I’d eat dragon roasted apples, hunt for enchanted books, look for mermaids in the ocean, and hopefully get in a little magical trouble, but not the kind that involves Fates.

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Which one of your characters do you relate to the most and why? Are there pieces of
yourself in both Evangeline and Jacks? (www.mermaidreadsbookblog.wordpress.com, me!)

There are always pieces of me in my heroines. I think Evangeline has a lot of my positivity and my optimism. I’m hopefully not like Jacks, but I will admit that I do relate to his character. I tend to hold onto things from the past, especially heartbreak, which is something that I have in common with the Prince of Hearts.

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Author » Stephanie Garber

Stephanie Garber is the #1  New York Times and Sunday Times bestselling author of THE CARAVAL SERIES, which has been translated in over 25 languages. Her newest book, ONCE UPON A BROKEN HEART, releases September 28, 2021.

When she’s not writing, she’s usually reading or watching television shows with vampires. Now that her dream of becoming a published author has come true, her new dream is to visit Club 33 at Disneyland.

August 2021 Wrap-Up

Before I even get into any actual monthly updates, let me take a moment to apologize for my inactivity last month! I was crazy busy for the entirety of August, so I had very little time to read and even less time to blog.

Why was I so busy, might you ask? Well… *takes a deep breath* A couple weeks ago, I returned to normal, in-person classes for the first time in what feels like forever! It was… wild, to say the least. Seeing everyone on campus after months of online learning was so surreal, especially since we’ve all changed so much over the past year and a half. But overall, I’m so glad to be back. Zoom school took a major toll on my mental health, and even though I’ve only been taking in-person classes for a few weeks now, I’m already feeling happier and more energized.

The only downside is that classwork, homework, and extracurriculars now take up nearly all of my time, and like I mentioned above, I barely got the chance to read anything last month! I’ve been trying to catch up on my reading over the weekends, but I’m still not at all close to reading as much as I did over summer break, or even over those many months of lockdown.

Not having tons of free time to read and blog has been a really difficult adjustment for me, not gonna lie. But hey, it is what is it.

I only read three books last month, but two of them were really memorable ones! Let’s take a look:

Total Number of Books Read: 3

Amazon.com: The Broken Ones eBook : Jensen, Danielle L.: Kindle Store

The Broken Ones by Danielle L. Jensen: Out of the three books I read last month, The Broken Ones was definitely my least favorite. I had a feeling I wasn’t going to like it, since prequels are usually not my thing. But I still held out hope that it would surprise me… After all, Danielle L. Jensen is one of my all time favorite authors. But while The Broken Ones certainly wasn’t terrible, it wasn’t all that great either. Both of the leading characters were so lovesick and naive that they were borderline unbearable to read about, and their romance was incredibly underdeveloped as well. The only thing that really kept me invested in the book was the political intrigue, which has always been one of my favorite aspects of DLJ’s writing. But other than that, there wasn’t much else I liked about The Broken Ones. I’ll stick to the original Malediction series, thanks! Rating: ★★★☆☆

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All the Light We Cannot See - Wikipedia

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr: It”s been far too long since I’ve read some good historical fiction, and Anthony Doerr’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel was the perfect book to satisfy that need! This story is tragic, heartbreaking, and beautiful, and it’s guaranteed to have you feeling all the feels. The beginning of the book was a tad slow, but it didn’t take long for me to get completely sucked into it! Doerr truly has some of the most stunning prose I’ve ever read, and I couldn’t help but fall deeply in love with his wonderfully crafted characters. I can’t believe it took me so long to pick this gem of a novel up! Rating: ★★★★☆

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Amazon.com: Six Crimson Cranes: 9781529356557: Lim, Elizabeth: Books

Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim: I absolutely adored Elizabeth Lim’s Blood of the Stars duology, so you can imagine how stoked I was to pick up the first book in her newest series: Six Crimson Cranes! I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as Blood of the Stars, but it was still very entertaining. I loved the characters and magic system so much, and I’m eagerly awaiting the release of the next book after that MASSIVE cliffhanger! Rating: ★★★★☆

July 2021 Wrap-Up

This month, I want to focus on improving my time management skills so I’m able to read more. I’m hoping to finish six or seven books by the end of September, but we’ll see how it goes. Some of the books I want to read this month are My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell, Gods & Monsters by Shelby Mahurin, Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid, and my ARC of Once Upon a Broken Heart by Stephanie Garber!

What books did you read in August? Be sure to let me know down below in the comment section! I hope you all had a fantastic month!

Until next time,

July 2021 Wrap-Up

July was a pretty mediocre reading month for me.

I spent the first week of the month on vacation with my family, which was super relaxing. But then came the post-vacation reading slump, which STILL hasn’t gone away. I know experiencing reading slumps from time to time is inevitable, but it still sucks. Because of my slumpy mood, I didn’t read or blog as much as I would’ve liked to in July, but I still managed to read a few great books!

Amazon.com: Defy the Night (9781547604661): Kemmerer, Brigid: Books

Defy the Night by Brigid Kemmerer (ARC): Defy the Night was easily the best book I read last month! It had a gripping plot, fascinating characters, amazing romance… What more could I possibly ask for? This book was so addictive, and I’m so sad to be finished with it because the wait for the sequel is going to be HORRIBLE. Brigid Kemmerer… Please write fast! Rating: ★★★★★

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These Violent Delights (These Violent Delights, #1) by Chloe Gong

These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong: It took me awhile to get fully sucked into this book, but one I was, I couldn’t put it down. I absolutely loved the dynamic between the two rival gangs in the story, as well as the complicated relationship between Roma and Juliette, our two main characters. I also loved all of the nods to Romeo and Juliet (the inspiration behind this book), which just so happens to be my favorite classic! Rating: ★★★★☆

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Amazon.com: The Rest of the Story (9780062933638): Dessen, Sarah: Books

The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessan: This was a pretty generic YA Contemporary novel, but I liked it nonetheless! It was the perfect summer read, and I loved its themes of found family and self discovery. The characters and romance were charming, and so were the friendships and familial relationships. Overall, this book was nothing special, but I still thoroughly enjoyed it. Rating: ★★★★☆

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Amazon.com: A Curse So Dark and Lonely (The Cursebreaker Series)  (9781681195087): Kemmerer, Brigid: Books

A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer (Re-read): I re-read A Curse So Dark and Lonely so I could pick up its sequels with a refreshed memory. I was a little scared to do so, because I thought that maybe I wouldn’t enjoy the book as much as I had the first time I read it. But thankfully, I did! This story is such a spectacular twist on Beauty and the Beast, especially with its complicated characters and amazing romance. Re-reading it made me so excited to start the sequels! Rating: ★★★★½

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Amazon.com: A Heart So Fierce and Broken (The Cursebreaker Series)  (9781681195117): Kemmerer, Brigid: Books

A Heart So Fierce and Broken by Brigid Kemmerer: A Heart So Fierce and Broken wasn’t quite as good as A Curse So Dark and Lonely, but I still really liked it! I loved how politically driven the plot was (something about politics in fantasy novels just fascinates me!), and I also enjoyed getting to know several of the new characters that were introduced in this novel (such as Lia Mara, Tycho, and Nola Verin). However, my biggest complaint about this book is that some of the characters from the first novel were completely villainized. Some of the things a certain person in particular did were so cruel and out of character! It was a big bummer, especially considering how much I was enjoying all of the other aspects of the book. Rating: ★★★★☆

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Half-Blood (Covenant Series #1) by Jennifer L. Armentrout, Paperback |  Barnes & Noble®

Half-Blood by Jennifer L. Armentrout: Ugh, my girl Jennifer L. Armentrout has really been letting me down lately! First with The Crown of Gilded Bones, and now with this book! To be fair, it really wasn’t that bad, but with the promise of an epic YA paranormal novel inspired by Greek Mythology, I was expecting a whole lot more than what I got. A majority of the book felt really boring and cliche to me, and things only got interesting near the end. I’m going to give the sequel a chance, because I’m still intrigued enough to continue on with the series, but I’ll be really disappointed if it’s as dull as book one! Rating: ★★★☆☆

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These Hollow Vows (These Hollow Vows, #1) by Lexi Ryan

These Hollow Vows by Lexi Ryan: It’s difficult for me to rate this book, because my feelings about it completely depend on which portion of the story you’re referring to. The thing is, I found the first half to be extremely boring, with very little character development and world building. Then, once I hit the halfway point, things picked up a bit, and the characters and relationships were fleshed out more. Then came the last hundred pages, which were absolutely amazing! My eyes were glued to the pages, and that final plot twist blew my mind. So, long story short, I’d say that this book went from mediocre, to decent, to fantastic, all over the course of 450 pages. Rating: ★★★½

June 2021 Wrap-Up

ARC Review: Defy the Night by Brigid Kemmerer

I’m trying to be extra cautious with the books I read in August, because the last thing I want to do is pick up a really boring one and worsen my reading slump! A few titles I have a lot of faith in are Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim, Small Favors by Erin A. Craig, and Aurora Burning by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. These three books are all written by authors whose work I’ve enjoyed in the past, so I have a feeling they’ll help pull me out of my dreadful slump!

I hope July was a great reading month for you all! Please let me know what books you read last month and/or which ones you’re planning on picking up in August!

Until next time,

ARC Review: Defy the Night by Brigid Kemmerer

Amazon.com: Defy the Night (9781547604661): Kemmerer, Brigid: Books

The kingdom of Kandala is on the brink of disaster. Rifts between sectors have only worsened since a sickness began ravaging the land, and within the Royal Palace, the king holds a tenuous peace with a ruthless hand.

King Harristan was thrust into power after his parents’ shocking assassination, leaving the younger Prince Corrick to take on the brutal role of the King’s Justice. The brothers have learned to react mercilessly to any sign of rebellion–it’s the only way to maintain order when the sickness can strike anywhere, and the only known cure, an elixir made from delicate Moonflower petals, is severely limited.

Out in the Wilds, apothecary apprentice Tessa Cade is tired of seeing her neighbors die, their suffering ignored by the unyielding royals. Every night, she and her best friend Wes risk their lives to steal Moonflower petals and distribute the elixir to those who need it most–but it’s still not enough.

As rumors spread that the cure no longer works and sparks of rebellion begin to flare, a particularly cruel act from the King’s Justice makes Tessa desperate enough to try the impossible: sneaking into the palace. But what she finds upon her arrival makes her wonder if it’s even possible to fix Kandala without destroying it first.

Set in a richly imaginative world with striking similarities to our own, Brigid Kemmerer’s captivating new series is about those with power and those without . . . and what happens when someone is brave enough to imagine a new future.

Defy the Night was a wild ride from start to finish, and I absolutely loved every second of it! I didn’t expect to enjoy it even more than Brigid Kemmerer’s beloved Cursebreakers series, but somehow, I did! It seems to me that Kemmerer’s writing gets better and better with every book she publishes.

This story has so many strengths… For starters, the world-building. The dark, dangerous atmosphere of the book pulled me in right away. Immediately, I was thrust into Kandala, a kingdom suffering at the hands of a disastrous plague, with citizens divided by desperation and distrust. Tension practically leaked from the pages of the book, and I was constantly on the edge of my seat. I loved how Brigid Kemmerer truly dug deep into the politics of Kandala, giving us a fleshed out political landscape that added so much complexity to the story. As I learned more about the political warfare within Kandala, I got to see every single side of the conflict, making it impossible to decide who to root for. I just love it when an author crafts a world with so many different dimensions and dynamics that we readers can’t help but feel torn!

Another thing I loved about Defy the Night was the incredible cast of characters! The story focuses on our two protagonists, Tessa and Corrick, who happen to be our alternating narrators as well. Coming into this book, I was worried that I would enjoy reading from one character’s perspective more than the other’s, because that problem is all too common when it comes to stories told in dual POV. But thankfully, Tessa and Corrick’s perspectives were equally captivating! Tessa’s compassion, bravery, and selflessness resulted in me instantly falling in love with her character, and Corrick… Don’t even get me started on Corrick! Long story short: He’s now one of my favorite male characters. As the King’s Justice, Corrick is expected to be cruel, cold, and brutal, but his desire to be a truly good leader leaves him torn between duty to his brother, the King, and compassion for his people, who are desperately seeking protection against the vicious plague. Corrick’s conflicting loyalties make him a truly layer character, and I still can’t get over how well developed he is. His thoughts and emotions were expressed so vividly, and he felt so realistic to me that by the end of the book, I completely forgot he was fictional!

I enjoyed reading about many of the supporting characters in this novel as well. King Harristan, for example, was one that immediately stood out to me. Initially, it’s easy to write Harristan off as a selfish, privileged tyrant, but as you learn more about him and why he makes seemingly cruel decisions, you realize that it’s not that simple. All of the characters in this book have motives behind their actions, and getting to see those motives unveiled was definitely the highlight of the book for me.

Overall, I had such a great time reading Defy the Night. It’s one of those rare, magical books that completely removes you from reality and makes you forget you’re just reading words on paper. The world and characters are so very vibrant, and I can’t wait to see more of them in book two!

Speaking of which, I’ll be going into hibernation until the sequel comes out… How am I expected to wait OVER A YEAR to find out what happens next??? WAKE ME UP IN 2022, Y’ALL!!!

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June 2021 Wrap-Up

Sorry for posting this wrap up so late! I just got back from vacation, and I’d been taking a brief break from blogging. But I’m back now!

June has always been one of my favorite months of the year, because it marks the start of summer, the season full of sunshine, relaxation, beach trips, and all that good stuff. I’ve been on summer break for the past few weeks, and I’ve had such an amazing time catching up on my reading all while enjoying the epic summer vibes surrounding me! I went to the beach multiple times last month, which was so much fun, since it’s one of my favorite places! What reader doesn’t love reading in the warm summer sand with the gentle crash of waves in the background? It’s so peaceful!

With all of the free time summer break has given me, I managed to read a lot in June! And many of the books I read were incredible! Let’s go ahead and take a look at them, shall we?

Total number of books read: 14

The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes | Little, Brown Books for  Young Readers

The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes: In all honesty, this book was a bit of a let down. It definitely wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t nearly as good as I expected it to be, having read so many glowing reviews for it. The pacing was rather slow (especially for the first half of the book), and I feel as though the characters could have been better developed. The plot twists were well thought out, but some of them, particularly the one at the end, just seemed odd to me. I guess I’ll have to read the sequel in hopes that things will be further explained! Rating: ★★★☆☆

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Amazon.com: The Ones We're Meant to Find (9781250258564): He, Joan: Books

The Ones We’re Meant to Find by Joan He: This book has me so conflicted! On one hand, the concept behind it was insanely interesting, and every single aspect of the world was incredibly detailed. On the other hand, many parts of the book were really slow paced. The first half of it was difficult to get through, and even though it picked up significantly after 200 pages or so, it took too long for things to get exciting. I should also mention that the book is written in dual POV… One of the risks of reading a story written in multiple perspectives is that you might have one POV feel much more compelling than the other. Unfortunately, that was the case in The Ones We’re Meant to Find. I think this is mainly because Joan He decided to write one character in 1st Person POV, and the other in 3rd Person POV… which made no sense to me. I connected with the 1st Person POV way more, and the 3rd Person POV just ended up feeling dull and monotonous. But, despite its flaws, I still think that The Ones We’re Meant to Find was a very well written sci-fi novel, and I’m glad I read it! Rating: ★★★☆☆

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Amazon.com: House of Hollow (9780593110348): Sutherland, Krystal: Books

House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland: I went into this book with sky-high expectations, and it did not disappoint! It was the perfect mix of fantasy, horror, and mystery, and I swear, my eyes were literally glued to the pages! Krystal Sutherland did an excellent job of building up suspense while still maintaining a fast-paced, entertaining plot. All of the twists and turns had me on the edge of my seat, and I was never once bored. I still can’t get over that shocking, sickening plot twist that was revealed at the very end… I DID NOT SEE IT COMING AT ALL! House of Hollow is easily one of the most original books I’ve ever read and from here on out, I’ll be recommending it to everyone I know! Rating: ★★★★★

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Beach Read by Emily Henry: 9781984806734 | PenguinRandomHouse.com: Books

Beach Read by Emily Henry: I liked this book a lot! It was more than just the light-hearted rom-com I expected it to be– It had heavy themes of grief, trauma, and depression, all of which I think were portrayed in a very raw, realistic way. The characters were extremely complex, and their emotions were written so vividly. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a heavy, emotional romance novel that contains both happy, joyful moments, and poignant, sad ones. Rating: ★★★★☆

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Amazon.com: An Emotion of Great Delight (9780062972415): Mafi, Tahereh:  Books

An Emotion of Great Delight by Tahereh Mafi: Tahereh Mafi is one of my all time favorite authors, and every single one of her books that I’ve read has been great! An Emotion of Great Delight was no exception! It’s such an emotional book that will REALLY have you feeling all the feels. All of the characters were so complicated and well developed, even the supporting ones! My only complaint is that sometimes, the flowery, poetic writing could be so packed full of similes, metaphors, and imagery that everything just felt… chaotic. Tahereh Mafi is a truly talented author, but in this book, the writing just felt a little too over-the-top for my personal taste. But, nonetheless, An Emotion of Great Delight is still a fantastic, powerful novel that I’d highly recommend! Rating: ★★★★☆

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The Kiss Quotient: Hoang, Helen: 9780451490803: Amazon.com: Books

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang: I was scared that this book wouldn’t live up to the hype, but it most definitely did! It was so adorable and entertaining, and I’m 100% in love with both of the main characters. I also have to applaud the fantastic autism rep. I’ve read so many reviews from readers who saw themselves in the autistic MC, Stella, and were inspired to seek out diagnoses! Isn’t that amazing? You can rest assured that I’ll be picking up more of Helen Hoang’s work in the near future, since I can’t get enough of her writing! Rating: ★★★★☆

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The Handmaid's Tale: Atwood, Margaret: 9780385490818: Amazon.com: Books

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood: This book is equal parts frightening, disturbing, and compelling. The world of Gilead has quickly become one of my favorite dystopian settings, not just because it’s sickeningly fascinating, but also because it doesn’t feel impossible. It’s a demonstration of our society’s potential future, which is what makes it truly scary. I’ve heard that the show adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale is even better than the novel, so I’m off to watch that next. Wish me luck! Rating: ★★★★☆

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Amazon.com: Tweet Cute: A Novel (9781250237323): Lord, Emma: Books

Tweet Cute by Emma Lord: I absolutely LOVED this adorable gem of a book! The characters were charming, the romance was sweet, the banter was hilarious, and the heavenly descriptions of baked goods had my mouth watering (if you’re a foodie, you NEED to read this book). I would highly recommend Tweet Cute to anyone looking for a cute, romantic, laugh-out-loud YA Contemporary! Rating: ★★★★★

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Amazon.com: Love & Gelato (9781481432559): Welch, Jenna Evans: Books

Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch: This was a quick, entertaining read that I flew through in just a day! It’s nothing wildly unique, but it’s so easy to get sucked into that it’s impossible not to enjoy it! I love summer abroad stories, and this is definitely one of my new favorites. Perfect for fans of Anna and the French Kiss and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants! Rating: ★★★★☆

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Amazon.com: You Have a Match: A Novel (9781250237309): Lord, Emma: Books

You Have a Match by Emma Lord: After falling in love with Emma Lord’s debut novel, Tweet Cute, I was hungry for more of her work! So of course I HAD to pick up You Have a Match, a story about self discovery, family, friendship, and love! Did I mention that it’s also loosely inspired by The Parent Trap? What more could you possibly want in a book? Unsurprisingly, You Have a Match was a five star read! Rating: ★★★★★

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Amazon.com: A Touch of Darkness (Hades X Persephone Book 1) eBook: St.  Clair, Scarlett: Kindle Store

A Touch of Darkness by Scarlett St. Clair: I really love the concept behind this book. Greek gods and goddesses living in our modern-day world as fashion designers, night club owners, celebrities, and the like? Ummm, YES PLEASE. But, sadly, A Touch of Darkness is a victim of poor execution. The world building was very vague, and the characters could use a lot of development. Do I think this is a bad book? Definitely not. I had fun reading it! I just wanted… more. But I’m invested in the story enough to want to know what happens next, so I’ll still be continuing on with the series! Rating: ★★★½☆

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One Last Stop: McQuiston, Casey: 9781250244499: Amazon.com: Books

One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston: This is another book that I “liked” but expected more from. It didn’t instantly pull me in like McQuiston’s debut novel Red, White & Royal Blue did, and it took me a good 150-200 pages to get fully engrossed in the story. But thankfully, the second half of the book was really enjoyable, and I loved the themes of found family! Also, the representation/diversity in this book is wonderful, and it’s definitely something that more authors need to take note of! Rating: ★★★½☆

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Amazon.com: A Strange Hymn (The Bargainer Book 2) eBook: Thalassa, Laura:  Kindle Store

A Strange Hymn by Laura Thalassa: While this book wasn’t quite as good as its predecessor, Rhapsodic, it was still really, really enjoyable! It introduced us to so many new plot elements, and I loved how it was mainly set in the fae world (not the mortal world). Getting to learn more about the fae and their magic system was so exciting! My only other comment is that while I love Des and Callie’s romance, I have to admit that the power imbalance between them is very toxic. I hope this is something that changes in future books in the series! Rating: ★★★★☆

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Dragonfly in Amber: A Novel (Outlander): Gabaldon, Diana: 9780440215622:  Amazon.com: Books

Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon: I’ve been wanting to dive back into the world of Outlander ever since I finished book one way back in March! But Diana Gabaldon’s 800+ page long tomes are INTIMIDATING, so it’s taken me a couple of months to muster up the courage to start book two, Dragonfly in Amber. I’m surprised by how fast I flew through it! For the most part, it was incredibly fast paced and intense (there were only a few slow sections), and Gabaldon’s writing was as gorgeous as ever! Claire Fraser is officially one of my all time favorite female characters, and I love how she never puts up with any bullsh*t! I can’t wait to see more of her and Jamie in book three. Rating: ★★★★½

May 2021 Wrap-Up

Review: The Crown of Gilded Bones by Jennifer L. Armentrout

The Life’s a Beach Book Tag

I’m hoping to have another successful month of reading in July! Some of the books I want to pick up are Defy the Night by Brigid Kemmerer (which I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of!), These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong, and The Queen Will Betray You by Sarah Henning!

I hope you all had a fantastic June! Let me know what books you read down below in the comment section!

Until next time,

The Life’s a Beach Book Tag

Since it’s officially summer in the northern hemisphere, I thought it would be fun to participate in a summery, beachy book tag!

The “Life’s a Beach” Book Tag was originally made by Lefty Reads, so creation credits go to her! During summertime, I go to the beach constantly, so this tag felt like an appropriate one to do. Let’s go ahead and get started!

A book that stuck with you long after you finished reading it

Amazon.com: Mockingjay (Hunger Games) (9780545663267): Collins, Suzanne:  Books

Every single time I re-read this series, I go into Mockingjay knowing that it’s going to leave me with a devastating book hangover that will last for days, if not weeks. As much as The Hunger Games is mocked for being a cringey YA dystopian series that we all obsessed over as teenagers, it truly is, in my opinion, a masterpiece. It leaves you with so much to think about, and that’s one I the things I love most about it. Thought provoking, emotional books like Mockingjay are always the ones that stick with me the longest, and I know a lot of other readers who feel the same way!

A book that burned you

An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

An Enchantment of Ravens burned me REAL bad. I picked it up thinking I would love it, but sadly, I ended up absolutely hating it. The insta-love between the two main characters had me rolling my eyes, and the plot moved at a painfully slow pace! A huge shame, since I had such high hopes for this book!

A book that calms you down after a long day

Amazon.com: Tweet Cute: A Novel (9781250237323): Lord, Emma: Books

Humorous YA contemporary novels like Tweet Cute are always able to calm me down after a rough day! This book has it all: amazing characters, hilarious banter, adorable romance, witty writing… the list goes on and on! Tweet Cute even managed to make me laugh out loud a couple times as I was reading it, which is a pretty rare occurrence for me! Humor has always been my favorite way to manage stress, so it’s no wonder I absolutely loved this book! If you’re looking for a charming, funny read, you definitely need to pick it up!

A book with a pretty, summery cover

Island Affair (Keys to Love): Oliveras, Priscilla: 9781420150179:  Amazon.com: Books

I haven’t read this book, nor do I really know what it’s about, but it’s been on my radar for quite a while, and JUST LOOK AT THAT GORGEOUS COVER!!! Major summer vibes! I absolutely love the beautiful tropical flowers and the adorable humming birds! So cute!

A book that is everywhere

Amazon.com: The Prison Healer (9780358434559): Noni, Lynette: Books

This book follows me EVERYWHERE! There’s no escape! It’s always popping up in my Instagram and Goodreads feeds, reminding me how badly I need to get off my butt and go read it! It sounds really interesting, and I’ve seen so many glowing reviews for it, so I have a feeling I’ll enjoy it!

A book with wonderful characters

Amazon.com: All the Stars and Teeth (All the Stars and Teeth Duology, 1)  (9781250307781): Grace, Adalyn: Books

I don’t think I’ll ever be able to stop gushing about the incredible characters in All the Stars and Teeth! They’re all so unique and well developed, and I was able to connect with each of them in different ways. And, despite the fact that they exist in a fantasy setting, they all exhibit real, human struggles, making them SO relatable. If you haven’t read All the Stars and Teeth yet, you really need to check it out… You won’t be disappointed!

A book you absolutely gulped down

Amazon.com: Sing Me Forgotten (9781335147943): Olson, Jessica S.: Books

There are so many books I could use for this prompt, but the one that came to mind first was Sing Me Forgotten by Jessica S. Olson! There is literally never a dull moment in this fast-paced, addictive story, and trust me when I say that your eyes will be glued to the pages from start to finish!

A book you can’t wait to return to

The Lightning Thief | Disney Books | Disney Publishing Worldwide

I’ve been craving a Percy Jackson re-read for the longest time now, especially with the Disney+ TV show in the early stages of production! This is the series that really got me into reading, and it makes me feel so nostalgic for my childhood, since I read it when I was quite young. The characters in this series mean so much to me, and I can’t wait to reunite with them! I seriously need a re-read soon!

Review: The Crown of Gilded Bones by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Disclaimer: This review contains my own opinions regarding this book. If you loved this book and disagree with me, that’s perfectly okay! Reading is subjective, and we’re all entitled to our own opinions!

The Crown of Gilded Bones (Blood And Ash Series Book 3) eBook: Armentrout,  Jennifer L.: Amazon.in: Kindle Store

She’s been the victim and the survivor…

Poppy never dreamed she would find the love she’s found with Prince Casteel. She wants to revel in her happiness but first they must free his brother and find hers. It’s a dangerous mission and one with far-reaching consequences neither dreamed of. Because Poppy is the Chosen, the Blessed. The true ruler of Atlantia. She carries the blood of the King of Gods within her. By right the crown and the kingdom are hers.

The enemy and the warrior…

Poppy has only ever wanted to control her own life, not the lives of others, but now she must choose to either forsake her birthright or seize the gilded crown and become the Queen of Flesh and Fire. But as the kingdoms’ dark sins and blood-drenched secrets finally unravel, a long-forgotten power rises to pose a genuine threat. And they will stop at nothing to ensure that the crown never sits upon Poppy’s head.

A lover and heartmate…

But the greatest threat to them and to Atlantia is what awaits in the far west, where the Queen of Blood and Ash has her own plans, ones she has waited hundreds of years to carry out. Poppy and Casteel must consider the impossible—travel to the Lands of the Gods and wake the King himself. And as shocking secrets and the harshest betrayals come to light, and enemies emerge to threaten everything Poppy and Casteel have fought for, they will discover just how far they are willing to go for their people—and each other.

And now she will become Queen…

Let me preface this review by saying that I really, really wanted to love The Crown of Gilded Bones. After all, it’s the worst feeling in the world when you dislike a book that everyone else seems to adore.

The From Blood and Ash series has gotten so much praise within the past year, and very little criticism. I thought the first book was pretty great, and, for the most part, deserving of the hype. Then I read the second book, which was not nearly as good, but still enjoyable enough to keep me reading. Then came the third book, The Crown of Gilded Bones, which is probably the most disappointing sequel I’ve read in a long time. When I finished it last night, it literally felt like a victory, since the book was so exhausting to get through. I really struggled with it, for a number of reasons.

First of all, the pacing of the story was a total nightmare. The first 100 pages were very eventful, and I thought we were off to a good start, but then BAM! Everything went downhill. The next 400+ pages were completely and utterly pointless when it came to advancing the plot and developing the characters. In fact, I would even say that BACKWARDS character development took place, since most of the characters had me wanting to tear my hair out by the end of the book (Please note that Kieran, the only character in this book with more than half a brain cell, is exempt from that statement).

For starters, Poppy, our protagonist, suddenly became as interesting as stale bread. In the last two books, I admired her wit, daring, and boldness, but in The Crown of Gilded Bones, she just read off as a typical Mary Sue. She had virtually no flaws, and everything about her was painfully perfect. As a result, I couldn’t connect with her AT ALL, which made her inner monologue extremely difficult to read.

Casteel, too, became very bland in this novel. I’ve never been a big fan of him (mainly because he reminds me of a horny teenage boy), but at least in the previous two books, he actually had a personality. In book three, said personality was completely erased! Casteel’s only purpose was to be a hype man for Poppy by constantly praising her and reminding us readers how amazing and special she is. He had no character arc of his own, and, like Poppy, was boring to read about.

And naturally, when you combine two flat characters, you end up with a flat romance as well. In From Blood and Ash and A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire Poppy and Casteel had phenomenal chemistry, but in The Crown of Gilded Bones, I felt nothing from them. Maybe it’s because now that they’re together, there’s no romantic tension or slow-burn keeping me invested in the romance. But nevertheless, I’m disappointed.

Another thing that made this book so hard to get through was the endless info-dumping. Over the course of 600+ pages, Poppy asked a LOT of questions, and I get that questions are kind of her thing, but Jennifer L. Armentrout took it wayyyy too far in this book. Every time Poppy asked a question, 15+ pages of info-dumping would follow. I understand that Armentrout is trying to expand her world-building, but we’re three books into this series! By now, shouldn’t most of the world-building be out of the way? Plus, a lot of the new plot elements she introduced in this book completely contradicted the world-building she constructed in books one and two. It was all so confusing and impossible to keep up with.

So, with this series’ plot, characters, romance, AND world-building completely down the drain, it was a challenge for me to find any redeeming qualities in The Crown of Gilded Bones. There was really only one thing that convinced me to rate it two stars instead of one: the ending.

As much as I disliked the majority of this book, I can’t deny that the ending was epic. Probably because Queen Ileana, the villain of the story, swooped in within the last hundred pages and enchanted me with her fascinatingly wicked character arc. I’m a sucker for an interesting villain, and Ileana might just be one of my new favorites. She reminded me a lot of various other fictional villains, such as Queen Levana (The Lunar Chronicles) and Amarantha (A Court of Thorns and Roses), but there was still something so refreshing and new about her character. I owe her a big thank you for making this snooze-fest of a book a whole lot more entertaining. I really, REALLY hope we get to see more of Queen Ileana in book four of this series, especially if Poppy and Casteel continue to be such bland main characters.

However, I will confess, within those last few chapters, Poppy somehow managed to grow a spine after acting embarrassingly naive and whiny for a majority of the book. Just when I was about to give up on her character, she reclaimed the boldness and badassery she possessed in the first two books. I have a theory for why this is, but I wouldn’t be able to explain it without going into spoiler territory. But let me just say that I truly hope this confident, fiery version of Poppy is here to stay, because I can’t take another whole book of her acting like a twit. Sorry-not-sorry!

As much as I loved the ending, it didn’t make up for the 400+ pages of boredom I had to force myself through to finish this book. I think Jennifer L. Armentrout has gotten into the habit of making her books unnecessarily long, for reasons I clearly don’t understand. Does she just do it for bragging rights? I hope not. 😂

Overall, I’m so crushed that The Crown of Gilded Bones wasn’t for me. It had a strong beginning and a strong ending, but the majority of it was painfully boring, which was such a big disappointment.

Am I still going to read the next book in the series? Yes. Will I regret it? If it ends up being as boring as The Crown of Gilded Bones was, then probably. But I’ve already dedicated so much time to this series, so I feel like I owe it at least one more chance. Here’s to hoping future novels set in the From Blood and Ash world are more enjoyable than this book!

Premium Photo | Two out of five stars rating

May 2021 Wrap-Up

May was definitely a busy month for me! I spent a majority of it studying and taking my final exams for school, which was pretty stressful. And with schoolwork taking up most of my time, I didn’t get the chance to read that much in May, and that was a big bummer for me! But in the end, it all paid off, because now I’m on summer break! Classes have only been over for a few days, but I’m already having an amazing time relaxing and enjoying all of this free time. This past week, I’ve already been able to catch up on my reading and blogging, and I’m looking forward to spending the next two and a half months discovering more incredible books and writing new blog posts!

Total Number of Books Read: 8

Sing Me Forgotten by Jessica S. Olson

Sing Me Forgotten by Jessica S. Olson: This book was, to put it simply, perfection! It’s a gender-bent Phantom of the Opera retelling that had me hooked from the very first page. It was literally impossible to put down, with its unique magic system, fascinating morally grey characters, and gripping plot. Jessica S. Olson is a truly talented author, and I still can’t believe that this magnificent book is her debut novel! I’m so excited to see what she writes next… You can rest assured that whatever it is, I’ll be first in line to read it! Rating: ★★★★★

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Amazon.com: Wing Builder eBook: Braxton, Mel: Kindle Store

Wing Builder by Mel Braxton: Wing Builder was such a fun book! It’s set in a very unique world that is a gorgeous blend of science fiction, fantasy, and even a little bit of dystopia! The characters were very well written too, and I had an amazing time following their journey. If you’re looking for an enjoyable standalone novel to get lost in, Wing Builder is definitely the book for you. Rating: ★★★★☆

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Romeo and Juliet (Folger Shakespeare Library Series) by William  Shakespeare, Paperback | Barnes & Noble®

Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet was my first Shakespeare play EVER, and it surprised me in the best way possible! I honestly didn’t expect to love it as much as I did, because, prior to reading it, I had so many people tell me that Shakespeare’s work was boring and difficult to understand. But I had so much fun meeting his characters and dissecting all of his beautiful language choices! I’m really looking forward to reading more of his work in the future. Rating: ★★★★★

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Amazon.com: Paper Princess: A Novel (The Royals Book 1) eBook: Watt, Erin:  Kindle Store

Paper Princess by Erin Watt: Here’s the thing– This book is extremely cringe-worthy, ridiculous, and problematic. Buttttttt… IT WAS SO ENTERTAINING!! It’s one of those books that falls under the “so bad it’s good” category… A guilty pleasure read, if you will. I feel embarrassed for liking it so much, but something about it was so addictive! Is it the finest work of literature out there? Definitely not. But if you don’t take it too seriously, you’ll have such a good time reading it. The mature, “sophisticated” part of me is giving it three stars, but make no mistake, it deserves five stars for entertainment value! Rating: ★★★☆☆

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Amazon.com: Broken Prince: A Novel (The Royals Book 2) eBook: Watt, Erin:  Kindle Store

Broken Prince by Erin Watt: Practically everything I said in my Paper Princess review applies to Broken Prince as well. This book wasn’t any less ridiculous than its predecessor, but boy was it entertaining! If not for all of the exams I had last month, I probably would’ve read Broken Prince in one sitting! This series is basically a mash-up of every teen soap opera I’ve ever watched, but in book form! Think Gossip Girl meets Riverdale meets The Fosters. SO ENTERTAINING. Rating: ★★★☆☆

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Amazon.com: Twisted Palace: A Novel (The Royals, 3) (9781682305065): Watt,  Erin: Books

Twisted Palace by Erin Watt: There was so much drama in this book, I could barely keep track of it all! But just like Paper Princess and Broken Prince, Twisted Palace was impossible to put down. I’m so glad I found this series when I did, because it ended up being the perfect form of escapism from exam stress. Rating: ★★★☆☆

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Pride and Prejudice (Barnes & Noble Collectible Editions) by Jane Austen |  NOOK Book (eBook) | Barnes & Noble®

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen: After binge reading the Paper Princess series for a whole week, I decided to pick up something a little more serious: Pride and Prejudice, my first Jane Austen novel! I absolutely loved the book, and now I’m super excited to watch the movie adaptation, because I’ve heard great things about it (the 2005 edition, of course). I also plan to read more of Austen’s work later this year since her other books get lots of praise as well! Rating: ★★★★☆

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Rhapsodic (The Bargainer Book 1) - Kindle edition by Thalassa, Laura.  Literature & Fiction Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

Rhapsodic by Laura Thalassa: Holy crap, this book was good! It was so easy to get sucked into with its fascinating characters and compelling romance! It kind of felt like a darker, steamier version of ACOTAR, but at the same time, it was totally refreshing and definitely wasn’t a copy-cat version of Sarah J. Maas’s work. I absolutely LOVED Callie and Des, and I’m obsessed with the way Laura Thalassa developed their complex relationship through events taking place in present day as well as intriguing flashback scenes. My only complaint is that the one POC character in this book was portrayed quite stereo-typically. She didn’t really have much of a character arc of her own, and it would have been nice if she’d been more thoroughly developed. However, I do understand that this book is heavily focused on Callie and Des, leaving little room for the development of secondary characters. Hopefully the cast of characters will expand in book two, though! Rating: ★★★★½

April 2021 Wrap-Up

Upcoming Book Releases I Can’t Wait to Read

Review: Sing Me Forgotten by Jessica S. Olson

ARC Review: Wing Builder by Mel Braxton

Summer 2021 TBR

I’m so excited to spend the rest of June relaxing, reading, and enjoying summer break! I have quite a hefty June TBR planned out, but with all of this time on my hands, I have faith that I’ll be able to take it on! A few of the books I want to read this month are Realm Breaker by Victoria Aveyard, These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong, and Luck of the Titanic by Stacey Lee. I’ve heard amazing things about all of them, so let’s hope they end up being good!

I have a feeling June is going to be a pretty great month for me! With summer almost here, I can already tell that the next few weeks are going to be lots of fun.

I hope you all have an amazing June as well, and feel free to leave a comment letting me know what your reading plans for the month are! I’d love to chat with you!

Until next time,

Summer 2021 TBR

Summer’s almost here, and I’m SUPER excited since it’s my favorite season of the year! I love the warm weather, cool drinks, sun dresses, beach visits, and, most importantly, the endless time I have to read! Being on summer break is the best, because it’s the portion of the year where I have the most free time. This means that I can spend hours each day catching up on my reading, preferably by the pool or beach. 😉

There are so many great books I want to dive into this summer, and I can’t wait to share them all with you. Let’s go ahead and get started!

A majority of the books on my Summer ’21 TBR are romance novels, particularly rom-coms! Summer is arguably the best season for romance… What could be better than lounging by the pool with a fun romance book in one hand, and a tropical summery drink in the other? Out of all the romance novels presented below, I think the one’s I’m most excited to pick up are Kiss My Cupcake, People We Meet on Vacation, and Tweet Cute!

I also have a couple of great contemporaries lined up for the season ahead! One of them is An Emotion of Great Delight, written by Tahereh Mafi, one of my all time favorite authors! Tahereh’s writing has never disappointed me, so I can already tell that this book is going to become a new favorite of mine. Her previous contemporary novel, A Very Large Expanse of Sea, was SO powerful, and I have a feeling this one will be too! I was lucky enough to be sent a physical arc of it (CRAZY, right???), so I’m planning on starting it very soon!

Fantasy is easily my favorite genre, so you can bet that this summer will be full of many heart-pounding novels full of magic, royalty, mythical creatures, and more! In fact, I’ll probably end up reading many more fantasy books in addition to the ones listed below, since there are so many more I want to get my hands on! A few fantasy books (on this list) that I’m especially hyped for are Realm Breaker, These Hollow Vows, and A Touch of Darkness.

It’s been a LONG time since I’ve enjoyed a good ol’ mystery novel so I’m planning on reading quite a few of them within the next couple of months! The one I’m most looking forward to reading is definitely House of Hollow. I’ve heard that it also contains fantastical/mythical elements, and what could be better than a fantasy-mystery mash-up?

Here are a few other books I’m planning on reading this summer that didn’t fall into any of the categories listed above. They all sound super good, so I have high hopes for all of them!

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I’m not sure if I’ll pick up every single one of these books by the end of summer, but I’m going to try to get to as many of them as I can!

Have you read any of the books listed above? If so, let me know what you thought of them down below in the comment section!

I hope you all enjoy the rest of spring!

Until next time,

ARC Review: Wing Builder by Mel Braxton

Amazon.com: Wing Builder eBook: Braxton, Mel: Kindle Store

He has his wings, she needs to build hers.

Wren knew she was weird, but she also believed she was human. When she learns she’s an heir to a House Banae… she also discovers someone wants her dead.

Ezal is cursed with the Blight, his gray wings making him ineligible to be Wren’s suitor. When he is assigned as Wren’s Protector, he welcomes the responsibility, eager to guard her at any cost.

To become Lady Banae, Wren must marry—and quickly! While white-winged bachelors line up to be Wren’s suitors, it’s Ezal who has captured her heart.

Together, Wren and Ezal navigate mysterious attacks and political maneuvers. As danger and death whirl around them, they must forge their own way forward or accept eternal separation.

Wing Builder is a new-adult romance set in a breathtaking sci-fantasy landscape. Expect aerial world-building and a swoon-worthy romance torn by political agendas and unexpected assassins. Wing Builder is a sweeter romance with steamier moments and includes a “happily ever after.” This stand-alone story features a competition between suitors, beautiful dresses, and a woman stepping into her strength. There is also a cat.

Wing Builder was such a fun read!

It’s a lush blend of science fiction and fantasy, and it also contains elements of romance, mystery, and even dystopia! There’s something in it for everyone, so no matter what genre you usually gravitate towards, I think you’ll definitely enjoy this book.

It follows our main character Wren, who has been swept away to Letharia, a beautiful dimension made up of floating islands and winged, angel-like beings, after she discovers that she is the heir to one of the realm’s governing houses. Ezal, our other main character, is Wren’s protector, responsible for helping her navigate Letharian politics, all while they dodge shocking assassination attempts aimed towards Wren. As Wren and Ezal search for answers, they begin to develop feelings for one another… Feelings that neither of them can ignore, even though they are strictly forbidden.

Reading through Wren and Ezal’s perspectives was so enjoyable, since they’re both such likable characters. Wren, for starters, was an amazing heroine, particularly because she didn’t need to act feisty and sassy to be a badass. She was more of a gentle, kind character, but none of that stopped her from being strong and independent, even in a world where she was put at a disadvantage for not having wings. Moreover, I deeply admired Wren’s intelligence, as well as her thirst for knowledge. It was so refreshing to read about a scholarly female main character!

Ezal was a wonderfully written character, too. He’s very strong an noble on the surface, but as I discovered throughout the book, he actually has so many more complex layers. For example, he constantly struggles with feeling unlovable and unworthy, which was both heartbreaking and realistic to read about. That’s the thing I love about Ezal– He’s so real. In fact, he’s probably one of the most realistic, relatable male characters I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading about!

I really loved Ezal and Wren’s romance, because I found it so beautiful how they constantly lifted each other up and helped each other find their inner strength. Especially near the end of the novel, as things were being wrapped up, I loved how Ezal and Wren continued to support each other, even when their circumstances worked to keep them apart.

In addition to the characters and romance, I also really loved the world-building in this book! The whole idea of magical cordwork was super brilliant, fascinating, and unlike anything I’ve ever read before. The dimensional science was also another well explained aspect of the setting, and I appreciate that the author took the time to research it instead of simply crediting all of the fantastical aspects of the world to magic.

Overall, Wing Builder was a fantastic stand-alone novel that I highly recommend to anyone looking for a quick yet captivating read. With stunning world-building and intricate characters, it’s definitely a book you do not want to miss out on!

Premium Photo | Four out of five stars rating