Review: Book of Night

Title: Book of Night
Author: Holly Black
Genre: Fantasy, Contemporary
Publisher: Tor Books
Source: Purchased
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: May 3, 2022
Rating: ★★★

goodreads-badge-add-plus-71eae69ca0307d077df66a58ec068898

Goodreads Synopsis:

Holly Black makes her adult debut with Book of Night, a modern dark fantasy of shadowy thieves and secret societies.

In Charlie Hall’s world, shadows can be altered, for entertainment and cosmetic preferences—but also to increase power and influence. You can alter someone’s feelings—and memories—but manipulating shadows has a cost, with the potential to take hours or days from your life. Your shadow holds all the parts of you that you want to keep hidden—a second self, standing just to your left, walking behind you into lit rooms. And sometimes, it has a life of its own.

Charlie is a low-level con artist, working as a bartender while trying to distance herself from the powerful and dangerous underground world of shadow trading. She gets by doing odd jobs for her patrons and the naive new money in her town at the edge of the Berkshires. But when a terrible figure from her past returns, Charlie’s present life is thrown into chaos, and her future seems at best, unclear—and at worst, non-existent. Determined to survive, Charlie throws herself into a maelstrom of secrets and murder, setting her against a cast of doppelgängers, mercurial billionaires, shadow thieves, and her own sister—all desperate to control the magic of the shadows.

Review:

In this world, shadows can be altered and can sometimes take on a life of their own. Charlie Hall is a con artist with a bartending day job, with a sister who is obsessed with shadows. When Charlie is approached for a new job, she reluctantly takes it. This job thrusts her into the world of shadows, which is closer to her than she imagined. 

I’m sorry to say this book was disappointing for me. I went into the story blind, and I had no idea what was going on for quite a while. The first third of it was slow paced, then there was a surprising twist that made it pick up the pace but then the momentum slowed when the story became too complicated. 

I think this story should have been longer, with more descriptive characters or shorter with a simpler plot. By the end, I had most of the male characters mixed up, especially when they were in the same room. The characters were also so similar that I couldn’t differentiate between them. 

I really wanted to love this book, but it didn’t work for me.

What to read next:

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

Have you read Book of Night? What did you think of it?

Review: Four Aunties and a Wedding

Title: Four Aunties and a Wedding (Aunties #2)
Author: Jesse Q. Sutanto
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Mystery
Publisher: Berkley Books
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: March 29, 2022
Rating: ★★★★★

goodreads-badge-add-plus-71eae69ca0307d077df66a58ec068898

Goodreads Synopsis:

Meddy Chan has been to countless weddings, but she never imagined how her own would turn out. Now the day has arrived, and she can’t wait to marry her college sweetheart, Nathan. Instead of having Ma and the aunts cater to her wedding, Meddy wants them to enjoy the day as guests. As a compromise, they find the perfect wedding vendors: a Chinese-Indonesian family-run company just like theirs. Meddy is hesitant at first, but she hits it off right away with the wedding photographer, Staphanie, who reminds Meddy of herself, down to the unfortunately misspelled name.

Meddy realizes that is where their similarities end, however, when she overhears Staphanie talking about taking out a target. Horrified, Meddy can’t believe Staphanie and her family aren’t just like her own, they are The Family–actual mafia, and they’re using Meddy’s wedding as a chance to conduct shady business. Her aunties and mother won’t let Meddy’s wedding ceremony become a murder scene–over their dead bodies–and will do whatever it takes to save her special day, even if it means taking on the mafia.

The aunties are back, fiercer than ever and ready to handle any catastrophe–even the mafia–in this delightful and hilarious sequel by Jesse Q. Sutanto, author of Dial A for Aunties.

Review:

Meddy Chen has worked at countless weddings, but it’s finally time for her own. Her mother and aunties find a Chinese-Indonesian family-run wedding company for Meddy’s wedding. The family is a mirror image of Meddy’s, including Staphanie, their wedding photographer, who can relate to Meddy’s problems with her family. However, the night before the wedding, Meddy overhears Staphanie talk about taking out a target at the wedding. Staphanie’s family isn’t a wedding vendor. They’re actually mafia, using Meddy’s wedding to murder someone. Meddy’s aunties and mother have to help her figure out who the target is and stop the mafia family before they ruin Meddy’s wedding. 

This story was a funny sequel, though not as funny as the first one. A lot of the humour from the first book came from the unexpected things that the aunties did to cover up the murder. I was expecting them to be outrageous in this story. However, there were some laugh out loud moments. 

I also found this story much more intense than the first one. A lot of the antics that they did to try to figure out who the target was were more serious than funny. I couldn’t see how they were going to get out of this mess. In the end, the explanation made sense to me so I was pleased with what happened. I hope there will be another book in this series because these are such fun characters!

Four Aunties and a Wedding is a great rom com sequel to Dial A for Aunties!

Thank you Berkley Books for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

Other books in the series:

Have you read Four Aunties and a Wedding? What did you think of it?

Happy Pub Day – May 24

Happy Pub Day to all of these new books!

Dukes Do It Better by Bethany Bennett

A Cruel and Fated Light by Ashley Shuttleworth

Never Coming Home by Hannah Mary McKinnon

Just Your Local Bisexual Disaster by Andrea Mosqueda

How We Ricochet by Faith Gardner

Primal Animals by Julia Lynn Rubin

Two Truths and a Lie by April Henry

I Guess I Live Here Now by Claire Ahn

Milo and Marcos at the End of the World by Kevin Christopher Snipes

Break This House by Candice Iloh

A Furry Faux Paw by Jessica Kara

Only on the Weekends by Dean Atta

You Made a Fool of Death With Your Beauty by Akwaeke Emezi

Beauty and the Besharam by Lillie Vale

Hide by Kiersten White

What books are you most excited for this week?

Review: The Raven’s Spell (Conspiracy of Magic #1)

Title: The Raven Spell (Conspiracy of Magic #1)
Author: Luanne G. Smith
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Mystery
Publisher: 47North
Source: Thomas Allen and Son
Format: Paperback
Release Date: February 1, 2022
Rating: ★★★★

goodreads-badge-add-plus-71eae69ca0307d077df66a58ec068898

Goodreads Synopsis:

In Victorian England a witch and a detective are on the hunt for a serial killer in an enthralling novel of magic and murder.

After a nearly fatal blow to the skull, traumatized private detective Ian Cameron is found dazed and confused on a muddy riverbank in Victorian London. Among his effects: a bloodstained business card bearing the name of a master wizard and a curious pocket watch that doesn’t seem to tell time. To retrieve his lost memories, Ian demands answers from Edwina and Mary Blackwood, sister witches with a murky past. But as their secret is slowly unveiled, a dangerous mystery emerges on the darkened streets of London.

To help piece together Ian’s lost time, he and Edwina embark on a journey that will take them from the river foreshore to an East End music hall, and on to a safe house for witches in need of sanctuary from angry mortals. The clues they find suggest a link between a series of gruesome murders, a missing person’s case, and a dreadful suspicion that threatens to tear apart the bonds of sisterhood. As the investigation deepens, could Ian and Edwina be the next to die?

Review:

In Victorian England, sister witches Edwina and Mary Blackwood discover a man on the riverbank, nearly dead. Mary collects memories from corpses in little baubles, so she decides to take the memories from this man even though he isn’t dead yet. The man, Ian Cameron, wakes in hospital with no memory of his identity, with a business card of a witch and an unusual pocket watch in his pocket. The only clue Ian is given is to find the sisters who run a former apothecary shop. Meanwhile, strange murders are happening across the city, causing alarm. Though the sisters return some of his memories, many of Ian’s recent memories are missing, including the reason he was in town and what caused his accident. Edwina assists Ian in his investigation of the murders, a missing friend, and what caused his accident. 

This was an exciting and suspenseful fantasy mystery. I love it when fantasy is combined with historical fiction. There was a secret underground society of witches in this world. The story was fast paced, with a few different mysteries happening at the same time. 

The ages of the characters were never given, but I imagined the main characters to be in their early twenties. There was one part where an adult character is said to have a relationship with another character described as a child. It was only mentioned a couple of times but I found it kind of disturbing and out of place with the rest of the story. There were also mentions of suicide, but they were brief. 

This story ended on a cliffhanger. I’m really curious to see what happens in the next book!

Thank you Thomas Allen and Son for providing a copy of this book.

What to read next:

The Vine Witch by Luanne G. Smith

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

Have you read The Raven Spell? What did you think of it?

Review: Esme’s Birthday Conga Line

Title: Esme’s Birthday Conga Line
Author: Lourdes Heuer, Marissa Valdez
Genre: Children’s, Picture Book
Publisher: Tundra Books
Source: Publisher
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: May 10, 2022
Rating: ★★★★★

goodreads-badge-add-plus-71eae69ca0307d077df66a58ec068898

Goodreads Synopsis:

Esme always has a plan. A funny and sweet early illustrated chapter book about a problem-solving girl who has to manage her own birthday bash. For fans of Dory Fantasmagory.

Esme lives with her grandparents on the uppermost floor of the topmost best building. It’s her birthday. Mimi and Pipo gave her a beautiful guitar. But they didn’t plan a birthday party.

Esme thinks this is the way with grandparents. They don’t know about parties or piñatas or birthday cake. No problem! Esme is great at problem solving.

With a little help of her cat, El Toro, and a LOT of help from her neighbors in the topmost best building, the irrepressible Esme gets the birthday party of her dreams.

Review:

Esme lives with her grandparents on the uppermost floor of the topmost best building. They gave her a guitar for her birthday but they didn’t plan a party for her. So Esme, with her cat El Toro, decides to make her own birthday party by making a piñata, baking a cake, and inviting everyone who lives in the building, even the grumpy superintendent!

This is an adorable early chapter book about an independent little girl. When Esme didn’t get the party she wanted, she decided to make it happen. Though she made the plans to do everything, the rest of her guests from the building helped her with each step. 

I liked that Esme lived in an unconventional household, living only with her grandparents. They didn’t understand that Esme wanted a party for her birthday, so this shows one issue that can arise from an unconventional family situation. It’s important to have diverse representation of different cultures and family structures, so that all children can see themselves in books and all children can learn all family lifestyles. 

Esme’s Birthday Conga Line is an adorable children’s book. 

Thank you Tundra Books for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Your Birthday Was the Best by Maggie Hutchings, Felicita Sala

Have you read Esme’s Birthday Conga Line? What did you think of it?

Review: Veil (Hush #2)

Title: Veil (Hush #2)
Author: Dylan Farrow
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Source: Publisher via NetGalley, Raincoast Books
Format: Ebook, Paperback arc
Release Date: April 26, 2022
Rating: ★★★★

goodreads-badge-add-plus-71eae69ca0307d077df66a58ec068898

Goodreads Synopsis:

The thrilling sequel to Hush, one of the most talked about YA fantasies of 2020.

Shae’s entire world has been turned upside down, and everything she’s ever believed is a lie. More determined than ever, she sets out to the mysterious land of Gondal—a place forbidden to mention and resigned to myth—in search of a dangerous magical book that could alter the fabric of the world.

Following the trail of Ravod, the boy she thought she knew and trusted, Shae discovers there is far more to the young man who stole the Book of Days than she ever realized. Together, with her friends, Mads and Fiona, and a newfound ally in her fierce former trainer, Kennan, Shae crosses the borders of the only home she’s ever had and into a world ruled not by magic, but technology and industry — one fraught with perils of its own.

In a world shrouded in lies, Shae is desperate for answers and to restore peace, but who will lift the veil?

Review:

After discovering that everything she had ever been taught was a lie, Shae sets out to the mysterious land of Gondal with her friends. They are looking for the Book of Days, which was stolen by Ravod. When they go to Gondal, they discover that it’s ruled not by magic like their world, but by technology. Shae is still adjusting to a world with writing and books that is completely different from the world she grew up in. She has to find and use the Book of Days to restore her home. 

This was an exciting sequel to Hush. I liked that it showed the world beyond Montane, the setting of Hush. Gondal closely resembled our real world, with large buildings, technology, and a lack of magic, whereas Montane was a fantasy land. 

I was a little disappointed in the ending. I hoped that it would continue in another book because there is still more to explore in that world, but the epilogue suggested it’s the end of the story. There was an unexpected death that I thought Shae should have had a stronger emotional reaction to. I did like some surprising twists near the end of the story.

Veil is a good sequel to Hush. 

Thank you Raincoast Books and Wednesday Books for providing a copy of this book.

What to read next:

Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves by Meg Long

Edgewood by Kristen Ciccarelli

Other books in the series:

Have you read Veil? What did you think of it?

Happy Pub Day – May 17

Happy Pub Day to all of these new books!

From Bad to Cursed by Lana Harper

Harvey Takes the Lead by Colleen Nelson

How to Live Without You by Sarah Everett

The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School by Sonora Reyes

The Peach Rebellion by Wendelin Van Draanen

Once Upon a K-Prom by Kat Cho

Gideon Green in Black and White by Katie Henry

Melt With You by Jennifer Dugan

Practice Girl by Estelle Laure

Twin Crowns by Catherine Doyle and Katherine Webber

Take Your Breath Away by Linwood Barclay

The Sisters Sputnik by Terri Favro

Bloomsbury Girls by Natalie Jenner

The Emma Project by Sonali Dev

On a Quiet Street by Seraphina Nova Glass

See You Yesterday by Rachel Lynn Solomon

The Love Connection by Denise Williams

My Summer Darlings by May Cobb

Adult Assembly Required by Abbi Waxman

What books are you most excited for this week?

Review: Dukes Do It Better (Misfits of Mayfair #3)

Title: Dukes Do It Better (Misfits of Mayfair #3)
Author: Bethany Bennett
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance
Publisher: Forever
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback
Release Date: May 24, 2022
Rating: ★★★★★

goodreads-badge-add-plus-71eae69ca0307d077df66a58ec068898

Goodreads Synopsis:

From the series guaranteed to “win the hearts of Regency fans” comes a story of secrets, scandal, and unlikely love that will warm even the coldest of hearts (Publishers Weekly).

After a debut season plagued by scandal, Lady Emma Hardwick is ready to return to London, now with her young son in tow, and make a match. She’s looking for someone respectable. Someone wholly unlike Malachi Harlow, the new Duke of Trenton and former ship captain, whose long hair and tattoos make him decidedly dangerous to her peace of mind.

Malachi would rather be at sea than in a London ballroom. But until he can sort out why the admiralty brought him home, he has to stay landbound. That becomes less of a hardship when he meets the beguiling Lady Emma, whose dimples and easy laughter capture his imagination. When they start receiving threatening notes, they realize that there’s more to their connection than chemistry, and they’ll have to work together to figure out why someone wants to ruin their lives.

Review:

Lady Emma Hardwick had a scandalous history in London, but she’s ready to return for the season, with her young son. She would like to find someone who can give them a secure future, but that may not be Captain Malachi Harlow, the new Duke of Trenton. Emma and Malachi had one night together on a beach months ago, but they’ve been apart ever since. Malachi would rather be on his ship, but after the death of his older brother, he needs to be in London to find his place as Duke. They try to have a short fling during the London season, but they have undeniable feelings for each other. Then they receive some threatening letters that put their relationship at risk. Emma and Mal must decide if their love is strong enough or if they should go their separate ways. 

This story began with the romance already in progress. I liked that Emma and Mal already had strong feelings for each other right from the beginning. It made their story feel bigger than this book, since it had begun off the page. Their chemistry was strong and believable. 

The miscommunication trope was in this story, which I find so frustrating. It made sense and was believable that they would misunderstand certain things in those circumstances, but I still wanted to yell at the characters to just talk it out. Luckily the misunderstanding part didn’t last too long in the story. 

Dukes Do It Better is a great Regency romance!

Thank you Forever Pub for providing a copy of this book.

What to read next:

Never a Duke by Grace Burrowes

Not the Kind of Earl You Marry by Kate Pembrooke

Other books in the series:

  • Any Rogue Will Do
  • West End Earl

Have you read Dukes Do It Better? What did you think of it?

Review: Harvey Takes the Lead (Harvey #3)

Title: Harvey Takes the Lead (Harvey #3)
Author: Colleen Nelson, Tara Anderson (illustrator)
Genre: Middle Grade, Contemporary
Publisher: Pajama Press
Source: Publisher
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: May 17, 2022
Rating: ★★★★★

goodreads-badge-add-plus-71eae69ca0307d077df66a58ec068898

Goodreads Synopsis:

The award-winning Harvey Stories are back with a new story of acceptance, understanding, and the loving comfort of everyone’s favourite Westie.

There’s nothing quite like the loving companionship of a loyal dog. When Harvey’s status as Brayside’s comfort dog comes into question, the elderly residents are quick to stand up for him.

Mr. Kowalski, a longstanding Brayside resident, is struggling with his wife’s recent hospitalization. As Harvey watches over him, Mr. Kowalski shares stories of his youth during World War II—tales which fascinates Harvey’s friend Austin. At the same time, the newly appointed Assistant Director Hilary Appleby, the person who wants to get rid of Harvey, also creates unreasonable rules which make the residents of Brayside miserable.

The new school season for Austin and Harvey’s owner Maggie proves to be harder than expected. Maggie’s audition for the school play of Annie doesn’t go as planned, with the role she wanted going to Ndidi, who rarely comes out to rehearsals. Austin, for his part, is battling shame around not being able to afford a school trip.

Award-winning author Colleen Nelson and illustrator Tara Anderson team up once again to deliver another engaging story where Harvey’s exceptional nose leads Maggie and Austin to find resolution to the many challenges they face.

Themes of acceptance, understanding, and intergenerational friendships are the strengths of this middle-grade novel.

Review:

When Brayside retirement home gets a new assistant director, she decides to make new rules. These include, Harvey, the Westie, needing special permission to visit and having restrictions while there. Mr. Kowalski’s wife ends up hospitalized, so Harvey would be a great comfort to him. Maggie and Austin sneak Harvey in when they can, but they also have a lot of other issues to deal with. Maggie has auditioned to play Annie in her school play, but she’s given the understudy role and is disappointed. Austin wants to go on a special class trip, but he knows his mom can’t afford the expense. Maggie and Austin have to try to save the welcoming place they know Brayside can be, while also solving their problems along the way. 

These Harvey books are so adorable. They get better with each book. Though they’re fairly short, there is a lot of information packed inside them. There is also incredible character development, so it feels like I’m reading about real people. 

The issues at the retirement home were an important part of this story. The new assistant director thought she was doing the right thing by restricting Harvey’s visits and banning activities for the residents. However, these were things that they looked forward to, so it actually hurt their quality of life. I saw first hand at my grandmother’s nursing home how music and dogs can brighten up the residents. There were even non-verbal residents who would speak when they saw dogs or heard certain songs. I’m glad this was part of a children’s book, so they can learn about life in a retirement home. 

Harvey Takes the Lead is another wonderful Harvey story!

Thank you Pajama Press for providing a copy of this book.

What to read next:

The Undercover Book List by Colleen Nelson

The Unique Lou Fox by Jodi Carmichael

Other books in the series:

Have you read Harvey Takes the Lead? What did you think of it?

Review: Rebel Rose (The Queen’s Council #1)

Title: Rebel Rose (The Queen’s Council #1)
Author: Emma Theriault
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Fantasy
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Source: Author giveaway
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: November 10, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

goodreads-badge-add-plus-71eae69ca0307d077df66a58ec068898

Goodreads Synopsis:

Happily ever after is only the beginning as Belle takes on the responsibility of becoming queen and learns to balance duty, love, and sacrifice, all while navigating dark political intrigue—and a touch of magic.

It’s 1789 and France is on the brink of revolution. Belle has finally broken the Enchantress’s curse, restoring the Beast to his human form and bringing life back to their castle in the province of Aveyon. But in Paris, the fires of change are burning, and it’s only a matter of time before the rebellion arrives on their doorstep.

Not so very long ago, Belle dreamed of leaving her provincial home for a life of adventure. But now she finds herself living in a palace, torn between her past as a commoner, and her future as royalty. While Belle grapples with her newfound position, there are those who would do anything to keep her from power.

When she stumbles across a magic mirror that holds a dire warning, Belle wants nothing more than to ignore the mysterious voice calling her to accept a crown she never desired. But violent factions of the revolution may already be lurking within her own castle, and doing nothing would endanger everything she holds dear. With the fate of her country, her love, and her life at stake, Belle must decide if she is ready to embrace her own strength–and the magic that ties her to so many female rulers before her–to become the queen she is meant to be.

Rebel Rose is the first in the Queen’s Council series, an empowering fairy tale reimagining of the Disney Princesses-and the real history behind their stories-like you’ve never seen before.

Review:

France, 1789: Belle has broken the curse and freed Prince Lio from his beastly form. The newlyweds travel to Paris to try to establish Lio’s place in the aristocracy, since he was gone for ten years and no one has any recollection of him as a beast. There are violent protests in the street in the name of revolution. Belle is torn between her commoner birth and her new royal lifestyle. She discovers another magic mirror, which shows her a future where their palace is burning down. Belle must reach inside herself to find her magic to save her country, her home, and her love. 

This story takes place after the events of the Disney Beauty and the Beast movie. I’ve never read a story that tells the events after the movie, and I loved it. Beauty and the Beast was one of my favourite movies as a kid, so it was fun to see these characters facing new challenges after their main story. 

There was a lot of real history that happened in the story. King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were mentioned many times. The French Revolution played a big role in the conflict between the aristocracy and the general population. I loved how this brought the story into the real world. 

Rebel Rose is the first book in the Queen’s Council series, and I’m excited to see what happens in the next book about Mulan!

What to read next:

The Beast Within by Serena Valentino

As Old as Time by Liz Braswell

Have you read Rebel Rose? What did you think of it?