Book Review: Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan

Daughter of the Moon Goddess (Celestial Kingdoms #1)
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Pub Date: 11 January 2022
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Panda Rating:

(3.5 pandas)

📖 SYNOPSIS

A fantasy inspired by the legend of the Chinese moon goddess, Chang’e , in which a young woman’s quest to free her mother pits her against the most powerful immortal in the realm and sets her on a dangerous path—where choices come with deadly consequences, and she risks losing more than her heart.

Growing up on the moon, Xingyin is accustomed to solitude, unaware that she is being hidden from the powerful Celestial Emperor who exiled her mother for stealing his elixir of immortality. But when Xingyin’s magic flares and her existence is discovered, she is forced to flee her home, leaving her mother behind.

Alone, untrained, and afraid, she makes her way to the Celestial Kingdom, a land of wonder and secrets. Disguising her identity, she seizes an opportunity to learn alongside the Crown Prince, mastering archery and magic, even as passion flames between her and the emperor’s son. To save her mother, Xingyin embarks on a perilous quest, confronting legendary creatures and vicious enemies across the earth and skies. When treachery looms and forbidden magic threatens the kingdom, however, she must challenge the ruthless Celestial Emperor for her dream—striking a dangerous bargain in which she is torn between losing all she loves or plunging the realm into chaos.

⚠️ CONTENT/TRIGGER WARNINGS

Attempted sexual assault, sexual harassment, blood & gore depiction, death of a parent, torture mentioned, kidnapping & captivity, war themes.

Read More »

ARC Review: Reader, I Murdered Him by Betsy Cornwell

Special thanks to Rylee Warner at Spark Point Studio for providing an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!

Reader, I Murdered Him
Publisher: Clarion Books
Pub Date: 11 October 2022
Genre: Young Adult Historical Fiction

Panda Rating:

(3.5 pandas)

📖 SYNOPSIS

The author of the visionary New York Times bestseller Dread Nation returns with another spellbinding historical fantasy set at the crossroads of race and power in America.

It is 1937, and Laura Ann Langston lives in an America divided—between those who work the mystical arts and those who do not. Ever since the Great Rust, a catastrophic event that blighted the arcane force called the Dynamism and threw America into disarray, the country has been rebuilding for a better future. And everyone knows the future is industry and technology—otherwise known as Mechomancy—not the traditional mystical arts.

Laura disagrees. A talented young mage from Pennsylvania, Laura hopped a portal to New York City on her seventeenth birthday with hopes of earning her mage’s license and becoming something more than a rootworker.

But six months later, she’s got little to show for it other than an empty pocket and broken dreams. With nowhere else to turn, Laura applies for a job with the Bureau of the Arcane’s Conservation Corps, a branch of the US government dedicated to repairing the Dynamism so that Mechomancy can thrive. There she meets the Skylark, a powerful mage with a mysterious past, who reluctantly takes Laura on as an apprentice.

As they’re sent off on their first mission together into the heart of the country’s oldest and most mysterious Blight, they discover the work of mages not encountered since the darkest period in America’s past, when Black mages were killed for their power—work that could threaten Laura’s and the Skylark’s lives, and everything they’ve worked for.

⚠️ CONTENT/TRIGGER WARNINGS

Sexual assault, physical violence, murder (on-page), sexual abuse (inferred/implied), parricide (on-page), death of parent (mother, off-page)

Read More »

ARC Review: Rust in the Root by Justina Ireland

Special thanks to Grace Fell at Spark Point Studio and Balzer + Bray for providing an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!

Rust in the Root
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Pub Date: 20 September 2022
Genre: YA Historical Fantasy

Panda Rating:

(4 pandas)

📖 SYNOPSIS

The author of the visionary New York Times bestseller Dread Nation returns with another spellbinding historical fantasy set at the crossroads of race and power in America.

It is 1937, and Laura Ann Langston lives in an America divided—between those who work the mystical arts and those who do not. Ever since the Great Rust, a catastrophic event that blighted the arcane force called the Dynamism and threw America into disarray, the country has been rebuilding for a better future. And everyone knows the future is industry and technology—otherwise known as Mechomancy—not the traditional mystical arts.

Laura disagrees. A talented young mage from Pennsylvania, Laura hopped a portal to New York City on her seventeenth birthday with hopes of earning her mage’s license and becoming something more than a rootworker.

But six months later, she’s got little to show for it other than an empty pocket and broken dreams. With nowhere else to turn, Laura applies for a job with the Bureau of the Arcane’s Conservation Corps, a branch of the US government dedicated to repairing the Dynamism so that Mechomancy can thrive. There she meets the Skylark, a powerful mage with a mysterious past, who reluctantly takes Laura on as an apprentice.

As they’re sent off on their first mission together into the heart of the country’s oldest and most mysterious Blight, they discover the work of mages not encountered since the darkest period in America’s past, when Black mages were killed for their power—work that could threaten Laura’s and the Skylark’s lives, and everything they’ve worked for.

⚠️ CONTENT/TRIGGER WARNINGS

Racism, use of racial slurs, slavery (historical), genocide (historical), violent death (on-page)

Read More »

Romance Mini-Reviews: The Charm Offensive + The Missed Connection

Note: these reviews were originally posted on my Goodreads in June and July 2022 (oldest first)

The Charm Offensive
Publisher: Atria Books
Pub Date: 07 September 2021
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Panda Rating:

(4 stars)

📖 SYNOPSIS

In this witty and heartwarming romantic comedy—reminiscent of Red, White & Royal Blue and One to Watch—an awkward tech wunderkind on a reality dating show goes off-script when sparks fly with his producer.

Dev Deshpande has always believed in fairy tales. So it’s no wonder then that he’s spent his career crafting them on the long-running reality dating show Ever After. As the most successful producer in the franchise’s history, Dev always scripts the perfect love story for his contestants, even as his own love life crashes and burns. But then the show casts disgraced tech wunderkind Charlie Winshaw as its star.

Charlie is far from the romantic Prince Charming Ever After expects. He doesn’t believe in true love, and only agreed to the show as a last-ditch effort to rehabilitate his image. In front of the cameras, he’s a stiff, anxious mess with no idea how to date twenty women on national television. Behind the scenes, he’s cold, awkward, and emotionally closed-off.

As Dev fights to get Charlie to open up to the contestants on a whirlwind, worldwide tour, they begin to open up to each other, and Charlie realizes he has better chemistry with Dev than with any of his female co-stars. But even reality TV has a script, and in order to find to happily ever after, they’ll have to reconsider whose love story gets told.

⚠️ CONTENT/TRIGGER WARNINGS

Anxiety, panic attacks, mental illness (chronic depression), homophobia, OCD, racial micro aggressions

Dev and Charlie absolutely charmed me! 🥹 They have an almost instant connection that slowly develops into a heartwarming romance. My heart hurt for Charlie as he struggled to believe that he deserved love because all his life people have treated him as “less- than” due to his OCD and anxiety. I loved watching him slowly learn to not be apologetic for being who he is. Dev is a hopeless romantic who is scared to accept love out of fear of being abandoned or rejected. He puts on a “Fun Dev” persona pretending everything is fine despite suffering from chronic depression. Not only did I love the diversity and LGBTQIA+ representation in this book, but I thought the mental health, OCD and anxiety rep was also really well addressed and handled sensitively.

Their romance was incredibly soft and sweet with super swoontastic moments that had me reading with heart-eyes. 😍 There’s a forbidden romance element which really upped the stakes and increased the tension. I appreciated that they did what they needed to do for themselves first to have a healthy relationship. As much as I enjoyed this though, I admit that I expected to love it much more than I did. There were moments when I felt disconnected from the characters and romance. It was enjoyable enough but when I had to put it down, I also didn’t feel compelled to pick it back up again immediately! Still, I did enjoy this a lot and I would definitely love to read parts of it again because they made my heart very happy!

The Missed Connection (Airport Novellas #2)
Publisher: Berkley
Pub Date: 21 June 2022
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Panda Rating:

(4 stars)

📖 SYNOPSIS

Two strangers share a romantic night together only to discover months later they’re professional rivals in this grumpy meets sunshine romance novella from the acclaimed author of How To Fail at Flirting.

Gia loves her job as a professor, even when it means dealing with an elusive rival academic who’s made it his mission to criticize her work. When she meets him for the first time, she’s shocked to learn they’ve met before. Months earlier, they shared a perfect New Year’s Eve together in an airport during a weather delay.

After months of working together, Felix still can’t believe the person whose research he’s been challenging is the same captivating woman he kissed that night. The two couldn’t be more different. Gia is bubbly, friendly, and extroverted and drives ordered, serious Felix nuts.

Now the two have been assigned to embark on a five-school tour for work. Gia and Felix can’t imagine a travel partner they’d enjoy less until they feel the sparks fly over their shared armrests, security mishaps, and a shared hotel room. They’ll need to decide if they can manage their professional tension, or risk missing the connection of a lifetime.

⚠️ CONTENT/TRIGGER WARNINGS

Workplace misogyny, sexism

This wasn’t anything particularly special but it was exactly what I wanted when I went in search of a fast in-between read this morning. This was my first Denise Williams book so I didn’t have any expectations going in but I’m happy to say that I enjoyed her writing and characters!

Gia and Felix are your typical grumpy-sunshine trope in a work-nemesis-to-lovers romance situation. Their meet-cute on NYE at the airport is like what those romantic dreams are made of only for those fantasies to crumble to dust a few months down the line when they meet again and realise they’re enemies in the professional field in real life. These two have a clear attraction to each other that I really enjoyed seeing grow as they spend more time together. Felix is a pretty closed book and I felt the win alongside Gia every time her sunshine personality managed to elicit even the smallest of grins from him. Despite their opposite personalities they clicked so well and I loved how Gia encouraged Felix to be more relaxed and open, and I loved the way he grounded her. They were so accepting of each other and it was really sweet!

I’d have loved to read more about them but even with this being a novella, I still really enjoyed seeing how they evolve and grow together. This also served big on that happy ending. Was it a little cheesy? Heck yes but it was so perfectly Gia but I loved that it was Felix who came up with the idea for her 😂 They’re so cute!

Have you read either of these contemporary romances or are they on your TBR? If you did, what did you think of them?

Blog Tour Review: Well, That Was Unexpected by Jesse Q. Sutanto

Hello, friends! I’m excited to share my thoughts and favourite quotes today for Well, That Was Unexpected by Jesse Q. Sutanto on the blog tour hosted by TBR & Beyond Tours.

Thanks to Delacorte Press for providing a digital ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Click here or on the banner above to check out the rest of the fantastic bloggers on tour!

Read More »

Blog Tour Review: Omega Morales and the Legend of La Lechuza by Laekan Zea Kemp

Hello, friends! It’s my stop on the TBR & Beyond Tours for Omega Morales and the Legend of La Lechuza by Laekan Zea Kemp and I’m excited to share my thoughts and favourite quotes with you today!

Thanks to Little, Brown Books for Young Readers for providing a digital ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Click here or on the banner above to check out the rest of the fantastic bloggers on tour!

Read More »

Blog Tour Review: Soul of the Deep by Natasha Bowen

Hello, friends! It’s my stop on the TBR & Beyond Tours for Soul of the Deep by Natasha Bowen, the second and final book in the Skin of the Sea duology and I’m excited to share my thoughts and favourite quotes with you today!

Thanks to Random House Books for Young Readers for providing an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Click here or on the banner above to check out the rest of the fantastic bloggers on tour!

Read More »

Blog Tour Review: As Long as the Lemon Trees Grow by Zoulfa Katouh

Hello, friends! It’s my stop on the TBR & Beyond Tours for As Long as the Lemon Trees Grow by Zoulfa Katouh and I’m excited to share my thoughts and favourite quotes with you today!

Thanks to Little, Brown Books for Young Reads for providing an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Click here or on the banner above to check out the rest of the fantastic bloggers on tour!

Read More »

Blog Tour Review: The Decoy Girlfriend by Lillie Vale

Hello, friends! It’s my stop on the TBR & Beyond Tours for The Decoy Girlfriend by Lilli Vale and I’m excited to share my thoughts and favourite quotes with you today!

Thanks to G.P. Putnam’s Sons for providing an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Click here or on the banner above to check out the rest of the fantastic bloggers on tour!

Read More »

Blog Tour Review: The Dragon’s Promise by Elizabeth Lim

Hello, friends! It’s my stop on the TBR & Beyond Tours for The Dragon’s Promise by Elizabeth Lim. After the cliffhanger ending in SCC, I’ve been super excited to continue Shiori’s story so I’m happy to share my thoughts and favourite quotes with you today!

Thanks to Knopf Books for Young Readers for providing an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!

Click here or on the banner above to check out the rest of the amazing bloggers on tour!

Read More »