What it's about:
     To cope with the death of her mother, Juliet writes letters and leaves them at the cemetery.  When someone (spoiler: it's Declan) finds one of them and writes BACK, she's at first angry, then intrigued.  Thus begins an anonymous correspondence in which the person writing to her may have more in common with Juliet than she thought. Being able to bare all in such a personal yet impersonal way seems to have a strong impact on both parties, but reality has a way of impeding even the most private of exchanges, and secrets start to seep through the cracks and into their real lives.

What I thought:
     I picked this book up at a publisher's booth during BookCon on a whim.  I was with a friend, and when we read the inside cover, it seemed like something we'd like. It also came *highly* praised by the girl who rang us each out a copy.  The plan was to read it together (we do buddy reads all the time).  It had been sitting on my TBR shelf for almost 2 months when the other day my friend texted me, asking if I wanted to start the read. I wasn't super into any of the other books I was reading at the time, and said "Yeah, sure!" 

That was yesterday.  My friend hasn't even started it yet (Sorry, Court. Please forgive me.)

I've been going through a bit of a YA Contemporary Romance phase (yes, it's waaay out of my comfort zone--the proof is in my "Read" list).  So when I grabbed this one off my shelf last night and reread the jacket info, it was like...fate.  I had just run out of the few YACR books that were in my radar, and suddenly, without even knowing it, my past self went and bought my present self a...present.

That's exactly what this book was for me.  Don't get me wrong--this book is pretty emotionally rough to get through most of the time--the main characters are heartbroken and hurt and hiding that fact from most of the people in their lives.  When they get a chance to anonymously open up and spill each of their secrets, it feels a little like a hand reaching into your chest and squeezing really hard.  The emotions come through vividly and feel very very real.  

I'm not going to lie--this book overall probably won't make you feel very good.  Parts of it are cute, and feel pretty good, but it's decidedly *not* your typical cutesy YACR.  But the growth that Juliet and Declan go through to get to the ending is raw and authentic and gripping.  If I hadn't had to do life things like...sleep and work, I would have downed this thing in one sitting.

I'm not saying it didn't have a few downfalls. The characters themselves can get a bit cliched and some of the scenarios were a tad dramatic, but when they're stuck into the story and given these huge impactful backstories and really great secondary characters (my complete and utter favorite being Rev, Declan's best friend), all that cliche and drama seems a bit *less* cliche and more on the "Oh ow, that hurts. This isn't even happening to ME, why do I feel this pain?" side of things.  

Honestly, my biggest problem with this book will be deciding how to reorganize my "favorites" shelf to fit this one in.  


Rating:  5 stars.

What it's about:
     The fifth and final book in the Others series, this book follows the paring down of human civilization and the small factors that help the Elders decide how much human they really want to keep in Thaisia.  Meg, Simon, and the beloved cast of terra indigene and human packs in and around the Lakeside Courtyard must deal with a threat much closer to hearth and home than they ever have before--and how they react will impact the entire world.

What I thought:
     I completely and utterly adore this series, and this last book was no exception.  The Others of the Lakeside Courtyard have become some of my favorite characters of all time, and the way they learn to deal with and adapt for the "good" humans just makes me so happy.  The characters have evolved in more ways than one and they and the story are just written *so well* that it feels like this could be a real world with real consequences.

I don't want to go too far without a spoiler warning, but if you are at all interested in reading a fantastic urban fantasy of the shifter vein, give this series a try. It has become one of my favorites and now holds a prized spot on my bookshelves!

Spoilers follow, because I can't help but mention some of my favorite parts.

  • Meg yells at the Elders in the Courtyard for being rude puppies and demanding wolf cookies.
  • The Wolves catching a giant turkey for the human pack, and delivering it still warm, resulting in:
  • The Human/Wolf potluck dinner and:

I have to stop reading on the train.

Rating: 5 stars.

**This ARC was provided through NetGalley for an honest review--Thanks NetGalley!**

What it's about:
     Geekerella is a modern-day retelling of the classic Cinderella fairytale, but with a massively geeky twist.  Elle Wittimer is a super fan of  Starfield, the show her dad introduced her to as a kid. Her fandom is thrown into chaos when teen heartthrob Darien Freeman is cast in the lead male role in the film reboot of the beloved show.  When a cosplay contest is announced at the Starfield convention, Elle sees it as her chance to get away from the horrible stepmother and bratty stepsisters who have ruined her life.

What I thought:
     This book made my geek heart happy.  If at least part of it takes place at a convention, I'm sold.  Even better, when the show is made up but sounds like something I'd DEFINITELY be into (think Star Wars/Star Trek/Battlestar Galactica vein), and the fandom sounds like the fandoms I'm in? Done and done!

One of my favorite parts of this book was that even though it's clearly a retelling when you stop to think about it, the story was so engaging and really delved so deep into the lore and obsessions of the Starfield fandom that I often found myself forgetting that it was also Cinderella.  

Don't get me wrong--if retellings are your thing, this doesn't disappoint.  Downtrodden but still hopeful main character, dreamy prince, a few different characters that could be considered "fairy godmothers", and an evil, awful stepmother who, to be honest, rivals the OG stepmother, Lady Tremaine.  

Throw in a few mysterious text conversations, some of the prince's POV, and a cosplay ball to end all cosplay balls, this book was an imaginative and unique retelling that is sure to grab readers of retellings, convention-goers, and good old fashioned fairy tale lovers.

Rating: 4.5 stars (Reach for the stars...aim...IGNITE!)

**I received an E-ARC of this book via NetGalley for an honest review**

What it's about:
          Tea is a member of a magical order of geisha-like women who both entertain and use their magical powers to aid the kingdoms in which they work and reside.  Tea is different, however.  She is a Dark asha, able to bring creatures--and people--back to life, and to end the half-lives of creatures called daeva who are rampaging through the kingdoms, often at the hands of the sinister Faceless magic users.  Tea must learn how to become a full-fledged asha while learning how to handle her rare and dangerous gift--avoiding enemies and making allies along the way!

What I thought:
          This was a pretty cool story.  It was like a magic-infused Memoirs of a Geisha, with really wonderful writing that made it so easy to visualize the world and characters. The richness of the scenery and details of everything, including the clothing and accessories, asha customs, and landscapes really made the story immersive and full.

I liked the juxtaposition of past & present a lot. Half of the story is told from Tea's point of view, sharing her history and how she became an asha.  The other half is "present day" told from the point of view of a character known as the Bard, viewing Tea as an older asha who has changed her life's path drastically.  We slowly follow Tea as she begins her journey as a fledgling asha, learning what she learns and following her friendships and oppositions, as well as uncovering secrets about the world that are truly unique and really enchanting.

The worldbuilding in this book was very interesting. Each kingdom had its own traits and characteristics and they were portrayed well throughout the plot in subtle ways. I would have liked to be able to look back at a paper map, but as I had an e-ARC, it was a little hard to switch back and forth/look at the map closely.  The story stayed in the same location for most of the time, but I really think that further along in the series, we will be brought to new lands and end up seeing more places.

The plot was definitely unique. Though overall, it seemed slightly slow-moving to me, I think it was because this is the first book in a series, so I think this book acted as a more introductory piece, which set things up nicely for the next book, as this one ends on a rather exciting note.  I loved being able to see how Tea became an asha and how she interacted with the other asha and the community of Ankyo.  I thought that her sistership and relationships with the women of the Valerian ashaka were a strong point, and I can't wait to see those relationships develop more! Fox and Tea's asha sisters were great additions to the story, and I am interested to learn more about Kance and Kalen (ahem. Especially Kalen. I smell a slow-burning romance!).  

I really enjoyed learning about the magic system and the different characters. (Also, I seriously want a heartsglass). The lore that was created to explain heartsglass and the daeva was so authentic and really felt like an actual folk tale--I loved that it was referred to later in the story, which both intrigued  me and made me worry for the events between the past and present storylines.  

Overall, I think this book would be a great selection if you enjoy Asian culture-inspired reads with a spellbinding twist and super interesting magical systems! I got MAJOR Memoirs of a Geisha vibes throughout the whole story, and I definitely think that the series will go great places in the next book!

Rating:  4 stars

**This ARC was provided through NetGalley for an honest review--Thanks NetGalley!**

What it's about:
          In this retelling of the Princess and the Pea, a game of truth or dare turns strange when one of Maggie's friends goes missing after spending the night at a classmate's strange mansion.  Even stranger? Nobody but Maggie even remembers Kate.  Maggie is determined to find out what's going on, and knows it *has* to have something to do with an enchanted glowing emerald, a mysterious hoodied boy called Garon, and the strange classmate who lives in the house.

What I thought:
          I truly commend the author on picking a less mainstream fairy tale to retell! I like the Princess and the Pea and have found it super underutilized in the modern genre of retellings.

We end up following two different stories within this book--one in the present that follows Maggie and her missing BFF, and the other that tries to convey the origin story of the emerald as well as Lindy, the weird loner classmate who lived not only in the olden-day country of Valstenia, but also now...in Maggie's time.

Honestly, I didn't love this book.  I was really looking forward to a neat retelling, but in my opinion it missed the mark and seemed to only extract the "object under the mattress" aspect of the original tale. 

Parts of the story really dragged on and there were many bits that I felt were unnecessary and ended up making the events convoluted and confusing rather than explanatory.  We were switched back and forth so much that I forgot what was happening in the main story while reading the origin story--if there was even enough time between origin scenes for anything of worth to actually happen.  In fact, at both 30% and 60% through, I updated my Goodreads status mentioning how much the book was dragging on. 

Me, while trying to get through this book.
While parts of the story line were creative, I think what held my enjoyment of it back so much was that this was supposed to be a retelling, but just ended up its own separate story.  The characters weren't very well developed and some of the revelations we get right at the ending seemed rushed and stuck in last minute because it was easy to make that the resolution.  

"Yer a Princess, Maggie?"

Overall, this book was decently written and I smell a sequel brewing, but I don't think I will be reading anything else related to this book.  If you're into YA chase scenes with a few fairy tale elements thrown in, you might be interested in picking up a copy!

Rating: 2.5 stars.
What it's about:
          Trixie Watson: genius, fangirl, comic reader. Ben West: genius, fanboy, comic reader.  Watson and West together? The best-known worst enemies of the school, going back to 1st grade when Ben pushed Trixie off the monkey bars and broke her arm.  Given their interests and common friend group, why don't these two get along?!  When disaster strikes and their classmates start getting expelled for mysterious reasons, they have to learn to work together to find out if the expulsions are legit or the product of a supervillian! 

What I thought:

Now back to your regularly scheduled review reading:

This book was so freaking adorable. My geeky heart was screaming with happiness and dying of the cute feels. I read it out loud to a friend during a road trip (we're cute, I know) so I had to break it up into two sittings but I definitely could have read this in one go.

Trixie and her friends are my high school spirit animals.  If I had known girls like this when I was a teenager, I'd have been bffs with them.  Nerdy, smart, bookish, quirky--just a great trio of sci-fi watching comic book reading gals.

Then there's Ben.  Snarky, nerdy, poetry-quoting Ben.  His friend group is more varied (though still geeky--I mean, they go to a school for geniuses, after all), but when the powers of the two groups combine, it is truly amazing.

The story is funny and adorable and geeky and mysterious and heartwarming and just a little sad.  You get to watch Ben and Trixie go from arch nemeses to friends to something more (because how could this NOT include a romance?)

The plot is set up so that there are seemingly two different storylines: the Watson v. West snarkfest that transforms into such an adorable romance full of fandom references that my nerd girl brain wanted to explode of pure happiness:

I mean...at one point, after a haircut and a shave, one of Trixie's friends compares Ben to the Tenth Doctor. TEN. DAVID FREAKING TENNANT. 

The other half of the story involves the class ranking list that is the bane of the entire student body and #1 stress inducer to the majority of the characters involved.  People start getting accused of cheating and hacking into the school's grading system and BAM, people start getting expelled left and right. People that are Trixie and Ben's friends, and who Trixie knows would never do anything to hurt their school career.  This is obviously the more serious and less fluffy part of the book, but it tests the tentative relationship between Trixie and Ben and allows them to work together to figure out once and for all what is going on.

Overall, I thought this book was great. It's a YA contemporary chock a block full of ALL OF THE FANDOMS, filled with fluff bolstered by some well-placed and meaningful drama.  As soon as I closed the book I logged onto Amazon to buy myself a copy because I will DEFINITELY be revisiting this story!

Rating: 5 stars.
**NetGalley provided this ARC for review purposes--Thanks NetGalley!**

What it's about:
           This story follows Lady Aileana Kameron (Kam, to Kiaran), who's just come back out into society from the mourning period following her mother's brutal murder. She was in such shock from witnessing her mother's heart being ripped out that she didn't cry...and therefore a lot of people in society now treat her like she's the one who committed the murder.  It doesn't help that she fights and kills invisible monsters that roam the streets of Edinburgh at night with the help of a mysterious fae male with a dark past who calls himself Kiaran and has vowed to never kill another human again.

Aileana notices that there are bigger and badder fae showing up at the same time as the baobhan sith who killed her mom is coming back into the area.  She discovers, through some stoic comments (on Kiaran's part) and information revealed to her by the only warm and kind man in her life and one of my favorite characters--Derrick the closet-pixie, that she is a Falconer, which gives her increased skills in badassery and--oops--makes her the only person alive who can reset the lock placed on the fae prison 2000 years ago.  As if trying to fit into a dated and sexist society wasn't bad enough.

What I thought:
          A steampunk fairy story set in Scotland? A brooding, sassy, sexy fae warrior who's mostly cold inhuman fairy with just the tiniest bit of humanity creeping around the edges? A tale of the Seelie and Unseelie courts of the Fairy Realm who are about to escape and wreak havoc on the world after being imprisoned for the last two millennia?

So let's talk characters: 

Aileana is a total badass--society girl by day, tinkering inventor/fae hunter by night. She's got her own flying machine--THAT SHE BUILT--and is feeling confident enough to go hunting fae on her own.  She's--for good reason--traumatized by seeing her mother slaughtered, so behind all of that confidence there's a little fear and brokenness that shapes her character nicely.

Next, I'm just going to come out and say it--Kiaran could be ACOTAR's Rhysand's younger formerly-evil cousin.  He's just that perfect blend of snark and coldness with a dash of humanity (his long-lost love? A Falconer woman from before the fae were captured underground) and a smidge of a super dark past.  I don't know why I like characters like him so much, but he's a winner.

Every girl needs a Derrick the closet pixie in their lives. He's encouraging, helpful, brave, and sews a mean wardrobe.  He's also adorable when drunk on honey.  He and Kiaran obviously have something from their past that's keeping them from being friends, but for Aileana's sake, they are relatively civil with each other.

There's also Catherine, Aileana's best human friend, and her brother (who just happens to have some hidden talents of his own).

The cast of characters in this story is great. All of them are well-developed and we get a really strong sense of the relationships they have with Aileana and how they fit into the story as a whole.  There's no instant bonding or knowledge that comes out of nowhere--many of these characters are already established in Aileana's life before we start reading so the transition is well done.

The story and setting are also captivating.  I want to visit this world!  The descriptions of the places and things Aileana encounters on an everyday basis are vivid and imaginative.  What self-respecting tea-drinker would I be if I said I wasn't super intrigued by the instant tea-dispensing machines that seem to be handily located in every parlor in town?

Once the story gets moving, it's all intrigue and action.  We see Aileana's growth and understanding of what her role really is as well as how big her responsibilities are--she is literally the only one standing between life as she knows it and Fae Armageddon.  The inclusion of the Seelie/Unseelie court-style fae was one of my favorites.  It's a throwback that to me, and indicates that these fae mean business and that they're not to be trusted because they can and WILL just murder you.

All of these aspects combine into a fantastic and engaging book--I fell in love with the characters, setting, and story, and bought the Kindle version of the second book before I was even done with the first!

Rating: 4.5 stars