Review: Alliana, Girl of Dragons

Title: Alliana, Girl of Dragons
Author: Julie Abe
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback arc
Release Date: August 2, 2022
Rating: ★★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

Once upon a time, Alliana believed in dreams and fairy tales as sweet as spun-sugar clouds. Alliana wished on shooting stars, sure that someday she and her grandmother would be able to travel to the capital city to see the queen. Then her grandmother passed away—and those dreams disappeared in a disenchanted puff.

Now Alliana’s forced to attend to the whims of her wicked stepmother—with long days of cleaning her stepfamily’s inn as her skin burns raw or staying up until the crack of dawn to embroider her stepsister’s ball gowns. Until she meets two beings who change her life forever—the first is a young nightdragon who Alliana discovers she can magically talk to. And the second is Nela, a young witch.

Nela needs Alliana’s help navigating the mysterious abyss, filled with dangerous beasts, a place Alliana knows by heart. Alliana sees Nela’s request as a chance to break free of her stepmother’s shadow and to seize a chance at a life she’s barely dared to hope for—but there’s a risk. If caught, Alliana will be stuck working for her stepmother for the rest of her life. Can Alliana truly make wisps of dreams into her own, better-than-a-fairy-tale happily ever after?

Inspired by the Japanese Cinderella story and set in the same world as the Eva Evergreen series, this story can be read as a standalone.


Alliana dreams of going to the Royal Academy and meeting the Queen. When her grandmother passes away, Alliana is left with her stepmother and step siblings, who make her do all the dirty work at their inn. Then, Alliana meets two friends. One is a dragon named Kabo, who Alliana saves from battling dragons. The other is a witch named Nela, who wants to help Alliana escape from her stepmother. Alliana must find a way to break free from the prison get stepmother has created. 

I really enjoyed this Cinderella story. I liked that Alliana’s goal wasn’t to marry a Prince, like in many Cinderella stories. She wanted to follow her dream of going to the Royal Academy for herself. She didn’t want to rely on anyone else because the people closest to her didn’t treat her well. This is an inspiring message for middle grade readers!

Alliana, Girl of Dragons is a great Cinderella story. 

Thank you Little, Brown Books for Young Readers for sending me a copy of this book!

What to read next:

Eva Evergreen, Semi-Magical Witch by Julie Abe

Have you read Alliana, Girl of Dragons? What did you think of it?


Review: The Prison Healer (The Prison Healer #1)

Title: The Prison Healer (The Prison Healer #1)
Author: Lynette Noni
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: Clarion Books
Source: Purchased
Format: Paperback
Release Date: April 13, 2021
Rating: ★★★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Kiva Meridan has spent the last ten years fighting for survival in the notorious death prison, Zalindov, working as the prison healer.

When the Rebel Queen is captured, Kiva is charged with keeping the terminally ill woman alive long enough for her to undergo the Trial by Ordeal: a series of elemental challenges against the torments of air, fire, water, and earth, assigned to only the most dangerous of criminals.

Then a coded message from Kiva’s family arrives, containing a single order: “Don’t let her die. We are coming.” Aware that the Trials will kill the sickly queen, Kiva risks her own life to volunteer in her place. If she succeeds, both she and the queen will be granted their freedom.

But no one has ever survived.

With an incurable plague sweeping Zalindov, a mysterious new inmate fighting for Kiva’s heart, and a prison rebellion brewing, Kiva can’t escape the terrible feeling that her trials have only just begun.

From bestselling author Lynette Noni comes a dark, thrilling YA fantasy perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas, and Sabaa Tahir.


Seventeen-year-old Kiva Meridan is the healer at the prison Zalindov, where she was taken as a prisoner with her father ten years ago. When the Rebel Queen arrives at the prison critically ill, Kiva must keep her alive to do the Trial by Ordeal. The Trial by Ordeal is a series of challenges with earth, water, air, and fire for the most dangerous criminals. The Rebel Queen is too ill to even stand, never mind complete the trial, so Kiva volunteers to do the trial in her place. However, Kiva doesn’t have the elemental magic required to beat the challenges. Kiva must take on this impossible task while also investigating a virus sweeping through the prison and spending time with an irresistible new inmate. 

I read this book while I was sick with Covid, and it kept my mind off being sick. This story was an original take on a “chosen one” story. Kiva didn’t seem like a typical hero, until she volunteered to take the place as the Rebel Queen in the trial. The tasks seemed impossible, which made it more exciting when she succeeded. 

The twists at the end of the story blew me away! I missed the hints of what was coming throughout the story, but after I knew what happened, I could see the clues. 

The Prison Healer is a fantastic young adult fantasy!

What to read next:

The Gilded Cage by Lynette Noni

Other books in the series:

  • The Gilded Cage (The Prison Healer #2)
  • The Blood Traitor (The Prison Healer #3)

Have you read The Prison Healer? What did you think of it?

Happy Pub Day – July 26

Happy Pub Day to all of these new books!

Accomplished by Amanda Quain

Long Story Short by Serena Kaylor

Team Chu and the Battle of Blackwood Arena by Julie C. Dao

Beating Heart Baby by Lio Min

Nobody’s Princess by Erica Ridley

Master of Iron by Tricia Levenseller

Into the Sublime by Kate A. Boorman

The Witchery by S. Isabelle

Violet Made of Thorns by Gina Chen

Love Times Infinity by Lane Clarke

Beasts of Ruin by Ayana Gray

Booked on a Feeling by Jayci Lee

The Last to Vanish by Megan Miranda

The Valkyrie’s Daughter by Tiana Warner

Knot Again by Kwana Jackson

Boys I Know by Anna Gracia

The Comic Book Lesson by Mark Crilley

After Life by Melissa de la Cruz

A Strange and Stubborn Endurance by Foz Meadows

What books are you most excited for this week?

Review: Gouda Friends (Ponto Beach Reunion #2)

Title: Gouda Friends (Ponto Beach Reunion #2)
Author: Cathy Yardley
Genre: Romance, Contemporary
Publisher: Montlake
Source: Thomas Allen and Son
Format: Paperback
Release Date: March 22, 2022
Rating: ★★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

Two high school BFFs reunite and endeavor to fix each other’s lives in this geeky romance from the author of Love, Comment, Subscribe.

Tam Doan dumped her boyfriend after he threw away her gourmet cheese. Sure, it’s a little more complicated than that, but the point is, he had it coming. Newly single and unemployed, Tam calls up her best friend from high school and utters the emergency code word—goldfish. Next thing she knows, she’s on a plane back home.

Josh O’Malley was a troubled, unconfident teenager. Now he’s the successful owner of a multimillion-dollar ghost kitchen. Tam, his high school BFF and fellow member of the Nerd Herd friend group, was instrumental in building his self-esteem. When she calls him out of the blue, he jumps at the chance to return the favor.

Josh and Tam immediately get to work fixing her life—but again, it’s complicated. Their close friendship was always a lifeline between them; a blooming romance might confuse things. Still, at least one thing is for certain: their chemistry is un-brie-lievable.


Tam Doan dumped her boyfriend when she found him in bed with his ex, and then discovered that he threw out her favourite cheese. She immediately called her childhood best friend, Josh O’Malley. Josh got her on a plane to his home in Ponto Beach, where he runs a successful ghost kitchen. Tam and Josh had always been best friends, but sparks start flying when they’re reunited. Josh wants to help Tam fix the problems in her life, but his love for her is so strong that he wants her to be with him too. They have to figure out how to balance their work lives and their undeniable chemistry. 

I don’t read many friends-to-lovers story but I think I should. Tam and Josh had such a beautiful friendship. They would drop everything to help each other no matter what. It was destiny that they had to be together. They made such a sweet and heartwarming couple. 

I didn’t like Tam’s ex-boyfriend at all. He didn’t have any redeeming qualities, and it didn’t make sense that they were together for so long when they had nothing in common.

Partway through the story I started to guess who the couple would be in the next book in the series. I looked it up and I’m so excited to be right! Ex Appeal is scheduled to come out in November and I can’t wait to read it!

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

What to read next:

Love, Comment, Subscribe by Cathy Yardley

Other books in the series:

Have you read Gouda Friends? What did you think of it?

Happy Pub Day – July 19

Happy Pub Day to all of these new books!

Lumberjackula by Mat Heagerty and Sam Owen

A Reluctant Witch’s Guide to Magic by Shivaun Plozza

Never Never by Serena Valentino

Blackwater by Jeannette Arroyo and Ren Graham

You, Me, and Our Heartstrings by Melissa See

Youngblood by Sasha Laurens

Goth Girl, Queen of the Universe by Lindsay S. Zrull

These Twisted Bonds by Lexi Ryan

Heat Wave by T.J. Klune

The Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Things We Do in the Dark by Jennifer Hillier

The Retreat by Sarah Pearse

Crumbs by Danie Stirling

The Life She Had by K.L. Armstrong

The Accidental Pinup by Danielle Jackson

The Godparent Trap by Rachel Van Dyken

Don’t Call Me a Hurricane by Ellen Hagan

Wind Daughter by Joanna Ruth Meyer

The Comedienne’s Guide to Pride by Hayli Thomson

The Sweetest Connection by Denise Williams

The Bodyguard by Katherine Center

What books are you most excited for this week?

Review: The It Girl

Title: The It Girl
Author: Ruth Ware
Genre: Thriller, Contemporary
Publisher: Gallery
Source: Publisher
Format: Ebook, paperback arc
Release Date: July 12, 2022
Rating: ★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

The #1 New York Times bestselling author of One by One returns with an unputdownable mystery following a woman on the search for answers a decade after her friend’s murder.

April Clarke-Cliveden was the first person Hannah Jones met at Oxford.

Vivacious, bright, occasionally vicious, and the ultimate It girl, she quickly pulled Hannah into her dazzling orbit. Together, they developed a group of devoted and inseparable friends—Will, Hugh, Ryan, and Emily—during their first term. By the end of the second, April was dead.

Now, a decade later, Hannah and Will are expecting their first child, and the man convicted of killing April, former Oxford porter John Neville, has died in prison. Relieved to have finally put the past behind her, Hannah’s world is rocked when a young journalist comes knocking and presents new evidence that Neville may have been innocent. As Hannah reconnects with old friends and delves deeper into the mystery of April’s death, she realizes that the friends she thought she knew all have something to hide…including a murder.


April Clarke-Cliveden was the “It Girl” on the Oxford campus, who seemed to have it all. Her roommate, Hannah Jones, was dazzled by her. They had a close group of friends (Will, Hugh, Ryan, and Emily) who did everything together, but by the end of their first year, April was dead. Hannah’s testimony that the creepy porter, John Neville, was the last person seen leaving their room, is what convicted him for murder. Now, ten years later, Hannah is expecting her first child with April’s ex-boyfriend, Will. When they get the news that John Neville has died in prison, it brings the case back into the spotlight. Journalists start asking questions about the case, which makes Hannah question if she was correct in her assumption that John killed April. She does her own investigation, digging up everyone’s secrets, and discovering things that should have stayed hidden. 

I was looking forward to reading this book but I found it disappointing. I was certain that I knew who the murderer was from the beginning. The twist that I predicted is one that I’ve read a few times in similar thrillers so it wasn’t original. I seemed to be right, but the story took a strange turn at the end that felt forced. There were also a couple of red herring clues that went nowhere and didn’t actually have anything to do with the story. 

I’ve rated this book three stars because I did finish it, and I’m sure some readers could enjoy it. I just found it disappointing because it was like other thrillers I’ve read in the past. 

Thank you Simon and Schuster Canada for sending me a copy of this book.

Have you read The It Girl? What did you think of it?

Review: The Perks of Loving a Wallflower (The Wild Wynchesters #2)

Title: The Perks of Loving a Wallflower (The Wild Wynchesters #2)
Author: Erica Ridley
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance
Publisher: Forever
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback
Release Date: October 26, 2021
Rating: ★★★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

Fans of Bridgerton will love this Regency romp in which a proper Society miss recruits a very improper lady grifter in a quest for vengeance, only to find love instead.

As a master of disguise, Thomasina Wynchester can be a polite young lady—or a bawdy old man. Anything to solve the case. Her latest assignment unveils a top-secret military cipher covering up an enigma that goes back centuries. But when Tommy’s beautiful new client turns out to be the highborn lady she’s secretly smitten with, more than her mission is at stake…

Bluestocking Miss Philippa York doesn’t believe in love. Her cold heart didn’t pitter-patter when she was betrothed to a duke, nor did it break when he married someone else. All Philippa desires is to rescue her priceless manuscript and decode its clues to unmask a villain. She hates that she needs a man’s help—so she’s delighted to discover the clever, charming baron at her side is in fact a woman. Her cold heart… did it just pitter-patter?


Thomasina “Tommy” Winchester is a master of disguises, which she uses to serve justice. Her latest case is to reveal a top-secret military cypher that was found by a young woman, but her uncle is taking credit for it. For this case, Tommy has to work with bluestocking Miss Philippa York. Philippa’s parents want her to marry a man with a title to further her father’s political career. When she lost a Duke who was betrothed to her, they put a time limit on her to get married before she becomes a spinster. Philippa is eager to solve the cypher hidden in priceless manuscripts. When Tommy enters Philippa’s suitor race as Baron Vanderbean, Philippa is suddenly interested in a man for the first time. They have to work together to get justice for their friend, while also breaking societal expectations of how they should behave. 

I haven’t read many historical romance stories with same-sex couples, but I find them fascinating. There were even more societal restraints put on women in the 19th century than there are today. Philippa says many times that her only job is to marry a man with a title, so there seems to be no chance that she could end up with Tommy. This adds tension to the romance, because there isn’t a predictable happily ever after for the couple. 

The Perks of Loving a Wallflower is a fun, Sapphic romance. The next book in The Wild Wynchesters series, Nobody’s Princess, comes out July 26!

Thank you Forever for sending me a copy of this book!

What to read next:

Nobody’s Princess by Erica Ridley

Other books in the series:

  • The Duke Heist (The Wild Wynchesters #1)
  • Nobody’s Princess (The Wild Wynchesters #3)

Have you read The Perks of Loving a Wallflower? What did you think of it?

Review: Lumberjackula

Title: Lumberjackula
Author: Mat Heagerty, Sam Owen
Genre: Graphic Novel, Middle Grade, Fantasy
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers
Source: Author
Format: Paperback arc
Release Date: July 19, 2022
Rating: ★★★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

This middle grade graphic novel follows a half-vampire, half-lumberjack boy who feels torn between his parents and just wants to be a dancer.

Jack is in a pickle. His lumberjack mom wants him to go to Mighty Log Lumberjack Prep to learn how to chop wood and wear flannel. His vampire dad wants him to go to Sorrow’s Gloom Vampire School to learn how to turn into a bat and drink blood-orange juice. And Jack has a secret: what he really wants to do is dance.

When he finds out about Tip Tap Twinkle Toes Dance Academy from new friend Plenty, Jack feels he’s finally found the place where he can be his true self. But he’s too afraid of disappointing his family to tell them. What’s a half-lumberjack, half-vampire boy to do?

To summon the confidence to pursue his dreams, Jack will have to embrace every part of himself—his lumberjack toughness, his vampire eeriness, and most especially his awesome dance moves.


Lumberjackula, AKA Jack, is half-lumberjack and half-vampire. His mom wants him to go to Mighty Log Lumberjack Prep and his dad wants him to go to Sorrow’s Gloom Vampire School. However, Jack doesn’t feel like he fits in at either of those schools. What he really loves is to dance, so when he discovers Tip Tap Twinkle Toes Dance Academy, he knows it’s the right school for him. Jack doesn’t want to disappoint either of his families, though, so he pretends he still doesn’t know what school he wants to attend. Jack has to learn how to embrace all parts of his personality and be his true self. 

This was such a fun graphic novel! Jack comes from two very different backgrounds, lumberjack and vampire. He didn’t really feel like he fit in completely with either group, but he didn’t want to let either of his parents down. I think this would be relatable for kids who come from more than one cultural background. Jack had to learn that he didn’t have to fit into either group, and he could follow his own path to become a dancer. 

The illustrations in this graphic novel were vibrant and adorable. There were even some dances that Jack did to music that were mapped out. I really enjoyed reading this story!

Lumberjackula is an uplifting middle grade graphic novel about being true to yourself. 

Thank you Mat Heagerty and Simon Kids for sending me a copy of this book!

What to read next:

Unplugged and Unpopular by Mat Heagerty,Tintin Pantoja, Mike Amante

Martian Ghost Centaur by Mat Heagerty, Steph Mided

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

Happy Pub Day – July 12

Happy Pub Day to all of these new books!

The It Girl by Ruth Ware

Always Be My Duchess by Amalie Howard

Meet Me in the Middle by Alex Light

The Binding Room by Nadine Matheson

Etta Invincible by Reese Eschmann

The Romance Recipe by Ruby Barrett

Out of Her Depth by Lizzy Barber

No Funny Business by Amanda Aksel

Barbarian Lover by Ruby Dixon

No One is Alone by Rachel Vincent

A Lady’s Guide to Fortune-Hunting by Sophie Irwin

A Heavy Dose of Allison Tandy by Jeff Bishop

Bet on It by Jodie Slaughter

Wake the Bones by Elizabeth Kilcoyne

Corinne by Rebecca Morrow

How Maya Got Fierce by Sona Charaipotra

We Made It All Up by Margot Harrison

After Life by Melissa de la Cruz

Into the Mist by P.C. Cast

What books are you most excited for this week?

Review: Caraval (Caraval #1)

Title: Caraval (Caraval #1)
Author: Stephanie Garber
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Source: Purchased
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: September 29, 2016
Rating: ★★★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

A legendary competition.

A mesmerizing romance.

An unbreakable bond

between two sisters.

Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval—the faraway, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show—are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt-of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. Nevertheless she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic. And whether Caraval is real or not, Scarlett must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over or a dangerous domino effect of consequences will be set off, and her beloved sister will disappear forever.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval . . . beware of getting swept too far away.


Scarlett Dragna and her sister Tella have never left their home island. Their father has arranged a marriage for Scarlett with an unknown Count. Scarlett has dreamed of going to the mysterious performance of Caraval, but now that she will be leaving to be married, she won’t have the chance to go. However, one day she receives three tickets to Caraval: one for her, her sister, and her fiancé. Instead of Scarlett’s fiancé, who they haven’t met, they bring Julian, Tella’s latest lover. On their way to Caraval, the sisters are separated. The game of Caraval this year will centre around the mystery of finding Tella. Scarlett is constantly told not to believe anything in the game, but she must trust her instincts to find her sister before the game is over. 

I’m so glad I finally started this series! This was such a thrilling story. I didn’t know what it was going to be about, so the plot was a surprise. There was fantasy, romance, and a mystery. 

The game itself was unreliable so, like Scarlett, I didn’t know what to believe. This made the story unpredictable, especially by the end. I really enjoyed the ending and I’m going to have to start the next book soon!

Caraval is an exciting start to this series!

What to read next:

Legendary by Stephanie Garber

Other books in the series:

  • Legendary (Caraval #2
  • Finale (Caraval #3)

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