Once again, Bellefleur has gifted us a magnificent comfort read. A follow-up/companion novel to her Written in The Stars, Hang The Moon follows Darcy’s brother and her best friend and their…dynamic. She’s packed the novel full of tropes, as is her MO (oh my god, there’s only one bed?) and the human golden retriever that is Brendon is impossible not to love.
While the relationship is between a man and a woman, it is in no way ‘straight’. As with Written in the Stars, there is a bisexual main character and while that isn’t in the forefront of every conversation or scene, it is mentioned or implied a few times. It is also great bi representation simply because not every bisexual will end up with the same sex, and vice versa. It’s important to show that, and she has in both her books.
This series is an absolute delight that I return to time and time again when I need a break from the real world or just because I feel like it. The fact that I have to wait until February for Count Your Lucky Stars to come out to finish the trilogy is causing me distress.
Publishing Date/Publisher: August 31, 2021 by Berkley
Review: Hoang captured my heart with The Kiss Quotient, and though I didn’t enjoy The Bride Test nearly as much, I was still eager to read The Heart Principle when I saw it offered on NetGalley. The Heart Principle is written in a different style than it’s predecessors, and the result is a deeply felt and raw portrayal of love, loss, and learning self-acceptance. The main character, Anna, struggles with hiding her social difficulties and exerts great effort to mold herself into the person her family and boyfriend expects. At the end of each interaction she is left mentally and emotionally drained, hardly able to take care of herself. She is completely blindsided when her boyfriend proposes an “open” relationship, and as she grapples with this new reality, she meets Quan, the “bad boy” with a heart of gold. Both Anna and Quan are wearing masks to hide their inner struggles, but once together, they find a safe space to be authentic within their burgeoning relationship.
This really was a beautiful story, though much sadder in tone than the other two books in the series. The author’s note at the end is worth reading and explains why she chose to make this book different.
Publishing Date/Publisher: September 1, 2020 by Workman Publishing
Review: This book very comfortably fits the vibe of a chick lit drama. I wouldn’t say there is a lot of depth to the story, but I did really enjoy the character arc of the main protagonist, Afi. I wouldn’t really categorize it as a “coming-of-age” story, however, Afi grows and changes a lot as a person as she gains exposure to more modern ideas of womanhood. I’m categorizing this as a contemporary romance for reference purposes, but this label doesn’t quite fit either. Yes, indeed there is a romance, but it is sandwiched between two distinct time periods of uncertainty. It’s less about the romance and more about how the mysteriousness of this man, Eli, drives the plot of the story. When Afi marries him, he is not even present at the wedding, and he doesn’t enter the scene until much later in the story. Yet even with his marked absence, Afi is expected by her family and in-laws to play the role of dutiful wife. She eventually finds her voice (the time alone gives her LOTS of time for introspection), and the end result is rather satisfying. I felt a strong sense of liberation on her behalf when all was said and done. Overall, a very interesting glimpse into the traditions and culture shaping modern-day Ghana.
Review: I loved this book- it was just so much fun and the characters were well flushed out with realistic arcs. The book is somewhat Pride and Prejudice but it takes a life of its own with pop culture references and fake dating (best romance trope, let’s be honest. Tied with ‘oh no, there’s only one bed’). And the fact that they did not have a ‘meet cute’ whatsoever. It was a disaster, and I loved every second of it.
It was so, so easy to fall in love with the characters, with Elle and Darcy both being so well-rounded and flawed but perfect. I also greatly appreciated the fact that there was both no homophobia in it, so it felt like a very safe place to just get lost in.
I absolutely cannot wait for the follow up Hang the Moon, starring Darcy’s adorable brother and best friend. Seriously. I need that book.
Publishing Date/Publisher: May 7, 2019 by MacMillan Audio
Review: I didn’t dislike this book, but for some reason I could not fully connect with it. I finished it a couple of months ago and for some reason I have been dragging my feet in reviewing it. Perhaps it is because I have had a hard time pinpointing just what it is that didn’t jive for me. To be honest my memory has already started to erase the finer details of the story. There was nothing particularly memorable that stands out to me about the storyline, but I do remember feeling a sense of anxiety regarding many of the choices that the characters made. I found the villain to be flat, and his motives unclear. One storyline was dropped completely, which I thought was odd until I read the synopsis for the second book in the series and realized this plot point is the basis of a concurrent storyline. I liked the concept of the Rome influenced setting and the Maarin as a seafaring people who act as the go between for the East and West. I don’t regret taking the time to finish this book, but I probably won’t continue with the series.
Review: Megan Bannen ripped my heart out in the best possible way with The Bird and the Blade, so I was very curious when I saw she had published a new novel. After reading this book, it is very apparent that Bannen enjoys breaking the hearts of her readers into a million pieces. She has a very distinct writing flow, so the tone was very similar to The Bird and the Blade though the characters and setting were entirely different. Even though the book was based in a fantasy setting, it felt like I was reading historical fiction. The author has stated that this book is not based on any existing story, but I wouldn’t be surprised if she was heavily influenced by real events in history, particularly religious crusades.
There is a lot to enjoy with this story. Gelya in particular is a smart and witty character, and I couldn’t help but like her. Her relationship with Tavik is in equal parts funny and serious. Bannen seems to have a unique gift for achieving this kind of balance, and it adds a lot of depth to her characters.
Despite everything that impressed me about this book, the story itself was not particularly compelling to me. If it wasn’t Bannen writing it, I probably would not have picked it up based on the synopsis alone. The subject matter just really isn’t my cup of joe.
Review: Though the first three books in this series were debatably young adult fiction, there is no doubt that this book is new adult/adult fiction. Sarah has turned up the smut significantly in this installment, and I really don’t see any going back for her. It is clear that new adult/adult fiction is where she really shines.
I loved Nesta’s story arc, probably even more than Feyre’s. She has a lot of inner demons that fuel her destructive behavior as she copes with the aftermath of traumatic events. Her family basically does an intervention that forces her to become introspective and re-evaluate what she truly wants out of life. In many ways it is a redemption story as Nesta comes to terms with her past and rebuilds the relationships she has shattered. As she forges new friendships and kindles a passionate affair with Cassian, she learns to forgive herself for her perceived failures and is finally able to move towards a brighter future.
I like the direction that the series is moving in, and I look forward to seeing whose story Sarah tells next.
Publishing Date/Publisher: January 21, 2021 by One More Chapter
Review: This was probably one of the most frustrating books I have ever read. I liked the author’s writing style, and enjoyed the setting – a sort of futuristic reimagining of an alternate history. I also thought the author very cleverly blended science fiction with fantasy as she pitted scientific advances against magic.
The story was good, but fell short of great. The story is told from the single point of view of a girl named Cassandra making the story entirely character driven. I really felt like I was in her thoughts, which became downright annoying when she would just have the same circular line of thinking over, and over, and over again. The actual plot could be summed up in a few minutes and was highly predictable, yet it took over 13 hours of listening time to get to the inevitable conclusion.
The romance in this story is perhaps it’s greatest failure. Cassandra harps on and on about the connection she feels to the mysterious boy Devyn, who is constantly pulling her in and then pushing her away with no explanation. Honestly I just wanted to reach through the pages and slap them both across the face, and tell them to just get. to. the. point. I really wish there had been some POV chapters from Devyn’s perspective, because his portrayal through the eyes of Cassandra was not at all flattering. Perhaps if I had some backstory and clearer motivators for him, I would have been willing to root for him.
By the end I had no answers and no clear picture of where the story is going. Considering how long this book was, I probably won’t be picking up the next one. I highly suspect that the three books in the trilogy could have easily fit into a duology if all the repetitive filler was cut out.
Performers: Fiona Hardingham, Katharine Lee McEwan, Steve West, Maxwell Caulfield & Nikki Massoud
Length: 17 hr, 9 min
Series: An Ember in the Ashes, Book 4
Publishing Date/Publisher: December 1, 2020 by Listening Library
Review: This was a highly anticipated read for me. I was extra patient waiting for the audiobook format to become available at my library, because I so enjoy the casting for this series. The cast did an incredible job again, so no complaints there.
I really hyped this book up in my mind after reading A Reaper at the Gates, so I was sorely disappointed when it didn’t quite deliver for me. There were several aspects of this book that I found frustrating:
The romance between Elias and Laia just lacked that luster that it had before.
Poor fricken Helene. She remains my favorite character in the series, but I did not like the trajectory of her story at all.
The origin of Laia’s magic is revealed, but the explanation felt convoluted.
I was surprised by how little page time any of the main characters actually had together.
Despite my criticisms, I did enjoy the book and I still loved the series as a whole. Perhaps it wasn’t the conclusion I was hoping for, but I would still recommend it.
Title: The Cruel Prince, The Wicked King, & The Queen of Nothing
Author: Holly Black
Page Count: 370, 336, & 300
Series: The Folk of the Air, Books 1-3
Publishing Date/Publisher: January 2, 2018 – January 8, 2019 – November 19, 2019 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Review: I was never quick to pick up this book series for two reasons:
I read the Coldest Girl in Cold Town by this author and though I enjoyed it, I wasn’t terribly impressed.
The book synopsis for The Cruel Prince does not do it justice.
I have seen this book series mentioned enough times now that I finally decided to read it. As a result, I am going to do something I never do and review all three books together. Why you ask? Because I ripped through them so fast it doesn’t even make sense for me to review them individually. This was a book series that kept me reading late into the night and each book took me about 2 days to finish. I simply could not put them down. The romance is a slow burn (which I always appreciate), but it was the political intrigue and endless scheming that truly kept me glued to the pages. Jude is a very strongly written character, and it was fascinating to watch her turn her vulnerabilities into strengths. The pacing of this book series is excellent, and I was never once bored. Great cliffhangers and a great ending really cemented this as one of my favorite YA series of all time.