Audiobook Review – Ugly Love


After loving It Ends with Us, I was super excited to read another by Colleen Hoover, but this one really didn’t work for me.

This story is told from dual POV (with Tate’s in the present and Miles’ in the past) as Tate and Miles start a benefits-only relationship. And, as always, Hoover’s writing drew me in immediately, and kept me flying through the pages, but on the whole, Tate and Miles’ relationship just didn’t work for me. Although Miles was clear up front that he was only in it for sex, Tate knew from the start that she wanted more than that. Not only that, but Miles was, in general, kind of a jerk to her, and she was always making excuses for him.

I feel like we got Miles’ backstory through his POV as also a kind of way of saying “oh but he’s not really a jerk at heart.” But… still, that didn’t really smooth things over for me, and his backstory didn’t hold my interest as much. Overall, if you’re a big Colleen Hoover fan, I might give it a look, but I can’t really say I was rooting for Miles and Tate in this one.

⭐⭐⭐¼

Not really for me, but it could be for you!

Thanks for reading!

Audiobook Review – Instructions for Dancing


Instructions for Dancing follows Evie, a one-time romance book addict who is struggling with her father’s infidelity/her parents divorce/her parents impending remarriage, and essentially doesn’t believe in love anymore. Then after a chance encounter, she develops the ability to see people’s whole love story from beginning to end when they kiss.

So, it was in this book that I realize I am not a big fan of self-aware books. And Evie is constantly comparing the events of her life to the tropes of a romance novel, which I wasn’t a huge fan of. But, then X and his dance competition entered the scene with the save.

Overall, this was a bittersweet coming of age tale of a young person learning the hard lesson that nothing lasts forever. The banter between X and Evie was cute (LOVED The Cupcakes and Kisses discussion) and in general, Evie’s experiences/attitudes definitely seemed to reflect that of a true young adult’s.

Definitely recommended for anyone looking for a bittersweet coming of age young adult tale. (Especially if you don’t mind the trope-awareness.)

⭐⭐⭐⭐

But I really want to read Cupcakes and Kisses now! 😂

Thanks for reading!

Audiobook Review – When the Divine are Dead


When the Divine are Dead by E.K. Barnes follows Bradley, a fourteen-year-old boy with special Diviner abilities, Type I diabetes, and a string of deadly kind of bad luck.

We follow Bradley as he endures a school-shooting and a death of a family member, and then his family tries to start over in a new city with other Diviner families. We get bits an pieces of the horrible things that have happened to Bradley, his difficulty with his abilities, and the internal survivor’s guilt that plagues him as his family tries to start anew.

I really thought the author nailed Bradley’s authentic lower-YA voice, and I really felt for him as he tried to learn how to cope with his situation. Learning about the Diviners’ ability was super interesting, and in general, the tension and tight writing kept my attention straight through the end.

There were a lot of characters and siblings to keep track of, and I did find myself wishing we got a little more development from some of the other main characters. There were also a few strands I was expecting to get answers to that we didn’t quite get. However, this definitely seems like the first of the series, so they could have been left for future books. I also really enjoyed the audiobook narration, and the I think the narrator did an excellent job of telling this story. Would definitely recommend for all fans of YA urban fantasy. Thanks so much to the publisher for the free audible code!

⭐⭐⭐⭐¼

I’m always here for solid YA fantasy!

Thanks for reading!

Book Review – The Future Bride


I picked up The Future Bride by J.G MacLeod as the winner of my little free library contest when it totally hooked me with the tagline, “For adventure. For love. For kilts. (And strong gin)” and I absolutely love when a book is exactly what I think it’s going to be.

This is like a lighter, more fun Highlander. Brigid is a spunky, present-day barista (with martial arts skills) thrown into old Scotland, and she does not back down from the rough and tumble highlander life. The story moves really fast and I couldn’t believe I inhaled it in two days! I liked the interactions between

Brigid and Ferghus and found the portrayal of the old Scottish Gaelic language and culture really interesting. My only real critique was that I wish Brigid had been a little smarter/stronger in the final act. Overall though, really enjoyed this fun, romantic read and would totally recommend for anyone looking  for a romcom twist on Highlander!

⭐⭐⭐⭐½

Someone’s definitely going to love this find!

Thanks for reading!

Book Review – The Controlled


The Controlled  by P.J. Willett follows a group of teachers and students in a bleak dystopian school after a human experiment goes terribly wrong. And, boy, is this book bleak. I’m all for dystopian shenanigans but these characters are absolutely a product of their horrible environment, and they are *rough*!

The story unfolds the fateful day from the perspectives of several of the main characters. Each one has their flaws and brutal backstory of surviving in this world in which the education system is now corporately controlled and has completely devolved. This book definitely has a message to convey, and it doesn’t hold any punches as it leans into a, at times, amusingly over-the-top caricature of a school under-siege by its mind-controlled-gone-wrong students. This dark narrative was wholly unique and definitely held my attention, but without anyone to truly root for, I didn’t feel super invested in the characters’ fates. However, if you’re looking for a twisted near-future dystopian that serves as an intense reflection on modern trends, I’d definitely give it a look!

Thanks so much to the publisher for the free ebook!

⭐⭐⭐½

Definitely makes the top 3 schools I do NOT want to go to. 😂

Thanks for reading!

Book Playlists!

Music Meets Books!

So, I’m not a musically inclined person by nature, but I decided to try to make some playlists for my books, and I absolutely loved it! Listening to the playlists added this whole other dimension and put me right into the book so I could experience the scene play out. So cool! Naturally, since it was so awesome, I had to share. Below, are the playlists for the entire Odriel’s Heirs series, and I’ll be sure to add them to their page on this site. I’ll also release the playlists for Codename: CNDRLA and my 2023 sci-fi closer to publication!

I hope you enjoy them and as always, I’d love to hear your suggestions and recommendations if you have any!

Odriel’s Heirs

Burning Shadows

Idriel’s Children

Night of Ash

Time’s Orphan

Night of Ash out 27 Sep & Time’s Orphan release in February!

Thanks for reading!

A Writing Update

Things are happening!

We pause the usual book reviews, for a writing update! It seems like there’s a lot going on lately, so here’s the quick scoop on my upcoming releases and works-in-progress (WIPs)!

The Biggest News:

🥳🥳🥳 I SIGNED MY FIRST BOOK DEAL! 🥳🥳🥳

I’m so thrilled to announce first young adult science fiction is coming to Whimsical Publishing in Summer (ish) 2023! If you’re interested in updates, definitely keep an eye on my Instagram and Twitter for more developments!

Writing Contest News:

In the NYC Microfiction Challenge, I made it to the final round! 🥳 Winners will be announced in September, and I’ll be sure to post my final entry and feedback here!

I submitted Odriel’s Heirs in the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off! This contest is still in the early stages, but I’m excited to see the review of Odriel’s Heirs from Booknest.

I submitted The Gatekeeper of Pericael in the Book Blogger Novel of the Year Contest, and it made it into the semifinals! 🥳 Finalists are announced in September, but the competition is crazy steep this year, so my fingers are crossed tight!

What’s going on with Codename: CNDRLA?

I know this WIP is a favorite of many of my Betas and CPs, and it probably seems like it’s been in the query trenches forever! And yes, reader, it does feel that way sometimes! But, seriously it’s a good thing! I still have a handful of full requests I’m waiting to hear back on from agents and publishers. The process just takes a really long time! I’m hoping I’ll have an update by the end of the year, but we’ll just have to wait and see. 😊

When’s the last book of the Odriel’s Heirs series coming out?

Time’s Orphan (Odriel’s Heirs #3) is with my Critique Partners for revision this month, and I’m hoping to release ARCs this Fall for a February release. If that seems too far away, you can check out Night of Ash (Odriel’s Heirs #2.5) in the meantime! Night of Ash is the follow-on sequel novella to Idriel’s Children, and ARCs are available now before the 27 Sep release. If you’d like one, just give a shout.

Also, I’m in the process of creating paperback versions of Burning Shadows and Night of Ash, so if you’re interested in having the whole series on your shelf, you can! I’m hoping the paperback versions should be ready in time for Night of Ash’s release.

That’s all I’ve got for now, but if you have any questions, please feel free to comment below! As always, thanks for reading!

NYC Midnight Challenge Entry: Unplanned

Unplanned

June 2022 (Round Two)
Genre: Romance
Word: Mine
Action: Hanging Wet Clothes to Dry
Time Constraint: 24 hours
Length: 100 words

Emmy’s newborn mewl rattles my sleep-deprived brain as I hang her soiled, wet pajamas on the shower rod. This was never part of my plan—the fling turned unexpected pregnancy turned—

Emmy falls silent, and I freeze, ears straining. Did she smother? I rush from the bathroom and find Jake stretched on the carpet, humming “Baby Mine” with our tiny daughter curled on his bare chest. He peeks at me with a soft smile before inviting me in with an outstretched arm.

I slide into his warm, solid embrace, and everything else melts away in this perfection I never could’ve planned.

JUDGe’s Feedback

This one placed second in my group and got me to the final round! The feedback is below!

WHAT THE JUDGES LIKED ABOUT YOUR STORY

{1943}  Oh my gosh, this was a lovely romance! I loved the unexpected nature of the ending, after you set up our anticipation of a bittersweet outcome from a “fling turned unexpected pregnancy”. The image of Jake on the floor with the baby was delightful. My heart melted at the end, as he invited her to join the embrace with the baby. Wonderful!

{1963}  This piece subtly explores the theme of life’s unpredictability, and whether it ultimately is a positive or negative thing. The unplanned pregnancy, the fear of a spontaneous death — the gloomy atmosphere gives way to the realisation that things worked out well quite by accident; perhaps fate is not so cruel after all?

{2121}  Despite the narrator’s doubts and stress at the beginning of the story, revealing that none of the following events or situation she finds herself in was planned, she realizes by the end that some of the best things in life are entirely unplanned, precisely because they never would’ve happened had they been.  

WHAT THE JUDGES FEEL NEEDS WORK

{1943}  I thought your story was beautifully written. I would think about maybe adding some more sensory details to your narrative. You might also think about how to show the  mother’s panic, rather than telling us with “I freeze, ears straining”. I loved “did she smother?” but maybe this could stand alone, perhaps even using italics? I think there was more scope to create a very dramatic, heart stopping moment here?    

{1963}  The wording of the opening takes a couple of reads to understand that Emmy is the newborn, not that Emmy has a newborn. Additionally the hyphenation seems to artificially reduce the word count. Avoid risky tricks like these! You might be able to cut “Did she smother” to make room for small adjustments, since this doesn’t add anything not already implied by the rest of the story. 

{2121}  Instead of dwelling on how this was unplanned, the narrator could potentially express some conflicted feelings on new motherhood, another level of challenging because it was unplanned. Doing so would make her realization at the end that much more satisfying and coming full circle.

Audiobook Review – Today, Tonight, Tomorrow


ERMAHGERDDD. I loved this book. Seriously. Amazing. The MCs were cute and well-developed, and their enemies-to-lovers ARC was just perfect. I loved seeing the history between them evolve into begrudging alliance evolve into something more. And I also totally loved the senior class scavenger hunt through Seattle. It was seriously fun, and I sooo want to play too! The pacing is quick, the voice is tone is fun, while still probing deeper into character development. I loved Neil and Rowan’s banter, and their adventure just reminded me how fun YA can be!

Probably one of the best YA contemporary romances I’ve ever read. Cannot recommend enough, and BRING ME THE MOVIE! The audiobook was also perfectly performed. Just in general, fabulous read/listen. Don’t miss it!

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Locke and I are totally spreading the word about this book! It is Amazing!

Thanks for reading!

Audiobook Review – Defy the Night


I totally inhaled this book! Fast-paced, strong stakes, political intrigue, and a slowburn romance with thick “it’s complicated” vibes. I really liked both Corrick’s POV as the conflicted King’s Justice in a time where their kingdom is torn apart by disease and suffering. And it was perfectly balanced by Tessa’s more optimistic hopeful view tempered by what she witnesses out in the impoverished wilds. Usually I’m not into politics explanations in fantasy books, but I think this one did an amazing job of explaining the nuances of the sector relationships, rumors, and difficult choices of the rulers. I also really enjoyed how the characters change and grow as they come to different realizations about one another. It drew me into their world without slowing down the pace, and I totally drank it in. I also appreciated that even though there’s a sequel coming out, this book leaves you still feeling satisfied at the end. Totally recommend to high fantasy fans, and I would definitely read the sequel! Five glittering stars!

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Aw look Locke’s even giving it a wink. Definitely approved!

Thanks for reading!