Book Review: The Surface Breaks by Louise O’Neill

Book: The Surface Breaks by Louise O’Neill

Published July 2019 by Scholastic Press|336 pages

Where I Got It: I own the hardcover

Series: None

Genre: YA Fantasy

A dark and beautiful reimagining of The Little Mermaid.

Deep beneath the sea, off the cold Irish coast, Gaia is a young mermaid who dreams of freedom from her controlling father. On her first swim to the surface, she is drawn towards a human boy. She longs to join his carefree world, but how much will she have to sacrifice? What will it take for the little mermaid to find her voice? Hans Christian Andersen’s original fairy tale is reimagined through a searing feminist lens, with the stunning, scalpel-sharp writing and world building that has won Louise her legions of devoted fans in the UK. A book with the darkest of undercurrents, full of rage and rallying cries: storytelling at its most spellbinding.

I really liked The Surface Breaks!  I wasn’t sure what to expect but it’s definitely darker than I thought it would be.

I’m not too familiar with the original fairy tale but this re-telling feels a lot closer to that than the Disney movie we all know and love.  There is no happily ever after for Gaia- there’s a lot of heartbreak and vengeance and learning to find your voice, even when you’re no longer able to speak.

Gaia sacrificed a lot to give up her tail and voice, and she definitely didn’t have a great father.  Throughout the whole book, we see what’s expected of Gaia and her sisters.  They have really high standards they need to live up to, and they are expected to be obedient and quiet and to not stray from that.  Eventually, they do seem to break free- Gaia especially but it took a lot for that to happen.

The society Gaia lives in is very patriarchal- women are expected to look and act a certain way, they only exist for men’s pleasure…we see Gaia and her sisters suffer in this society and though Gaia doesn’t fight it until the very end of the book, we also see her journey to get to that point.  I really liked seeing her journey and decide to forge her own path instead of the one that her father set for her.

The ending was pretty rushed in my opinion, and I thought there were a lot of possibilities for change.  There is part of me that really wants a sequel to see how much things change.  At the same time, though, it is a little bit fun to picture the changes myself.  Still, there’s a lot going on at the end, and it felt like things had to come together really fast.

I liked Gaia and she definitely was not interchangeable with her sisters.  That actually really stood out to me, and it seemed like all of her sisters were meant to show that they all had the same train of thought.  They all seemed the same but this is a book where they were supposed to be like that.

All of the men- both human and not- were all terrible.  It would have been to nice to see one guy who wasn’t horrible but that was not in the cards for this book.  I know O’Neill is trying to make a point, and we definitely got it but…I still wanted one good guy.

The sea witch, Ceto, was pretty awesome.  If I had to pick a favorite character, she is definitely it.  She is not the villain I thought she would be, and I’m glad we had such a great character in her.

4 stars.  I really liked The Surface Breaks, though there were some things I didn’t like.


Book Review: Archangel’s Enigma by Nalini Singh

Book: Archangel’s Enigma by Nalini Singh

Published September 2015 by Penguin|384 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: Guild Hunter #8

Genre: Adult Paranormal Romance

Naasir is the most feral of the powerful group of vampires and angels known as the Seven, his loyalty pledged to the Archangel Raphael. When rumors surface of a plot to murder the former Archangel of Persia, now lost in the Sleep of the Ancients, Naasir is dispatched to find him. For only he possesses the tracking skills required—those more common to predatory animals than to man.

Enlisted to accompany Naasir, Andromeda, a young angelic scholar with dangerous secrets, is fascinated by his nature—at once playful and brilliant, sensual and brutal. As they race to find the Sleeping archangel before it’s too late, Naasir will force her to question all she knows…and tempt her to walk into the magnificent, feral darkness of his world. But first they must survive an enemy vicious enough to shatter the greatest taboo of the angelic race and plunge the world into a screaming nightmare… 

I liked Archangel’s Enigma!  The title is really fitting, considering the book focuses on Naasir.  He’s pretty mysterious, from when he’s appeared in the previous books, and it was nice to get his story.

I did mention how mysterious Naasir was, and we definitely learn a lot about him.  I did feel for him, and he’s had a lot to deal with.  It did take away a little bit of the mystery surrounding him, and I have mixed feelings about it.  It was nice to learn more about him but at the same time, I liked the mystery of wondering what was going on with him and what his story was.

Andromeda was interesting too, and I completely understand why she would take a vow of celibacy.  With the family she has, it could have gone a few different ways, but Singh did a great job at showing her hesitation and why she made the choices she did.  I really liked her, and I thought she was a smart woman.  Plus, she’s a scholar, and she seems really curious.

She and Naasir made a really interesting pair, and she was so accepting of who Naasir really was.  It went both ways, and you could tell he really cared about her.  They both accepted and saw the other for who they really were, and they really would do anything for each other.  Naasir in particular- he did help her get out of her grandfather’s court, and into a court that is a much better fit for her.  I just want Andromeda to be happy and away from her family.

3 stars.  I liked Andromeda and Naasir, especially as a couple but I do have mixed feelings about finally getting Naasir’s story.

Book Review: Onyx And Ivory by Mindee Arnett

Book: Onyx & Ivory by Mindee Arnett

Published May 2019 by Balzer + Bray|497 pages

Where I Got It: I own the paperback

Series: The Rime Chronicles #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

Acclaimed author Mindee Arnett thrusts readers into a beautiful, dangerous, and magical world in this stunningly epic and romantic fantasy for fans of Leigh Bardugo and Sarah Raasch.

They call her Traitor Kate. It’s a title Kate Brighton inherited from her father after he tried to assassinate the high king of Rime.

Cast out of the nobility, Kate now works for the royal courier service. Only the most skilled ride for the Relay and only the fastest survive, for when night falls, the drakes—deadly flightless dragons—come out to hunt. Fortunately, Kate has a secret edge: She is a wilder, born with forbidden magic that allows her to influence the minds of animals.

And it’s this magic that leads her to a caravan massacred by drakes in broad daylight—the only survivor Corwin Tormaine, the son of the king. Her first love, the boy she swore to forget after he condemned her father to death.

With their paths once more entangled, Kate and Corwin must put the past behind them to face this new threat and an even darker menace stirring in the kingdom. 

I was really intrigued by Onyx & Ivory- partly because of that cover and partly because it sounded really interesting.  While I liked it, I didn’t like it as much as I thought I would.

I did like the story behind why she was seen as a traitor.  It’s sad that she doesn’t have a lot of options because of what her dad did.  Something about this book made me think of Everless by Sara Holland.  There are some similar elements- living at the palace and then being exiled, being able to do something that no one else can…they would make good read-alikes, I think.

Back to Kate, though.  People were absolutely horrible to her, and she didn’t deserve it.  She’s definitely guilty by association.  To me, though, it was clear she had no part in what happened.  I get why her dad did what he did but it definitely had a really big impact on Kate’s life.

It did take quite a while for me to get into the book.  It started off pretty slow, and it felt really long.  I’d say it was painfully slow at the beginning, but once things got going, it was interesting.  There’s an interesting blend of monsters, magic and romance.  I liked the magic and dragons but I didn’t particularly care for the romance.  There’s a lot of history between Kate and Corwin, and while Kate seems to be willing to move on and make things work, I had a hard time really getting behind Kate and Corwin as a couple.  Maybe it’s because it’s the first book in a series and most of the book is building up the romance.

I don’t have strong thoughts about Corwin either way.  Even though we spend a good chunk of the book with Corwin, his story doesn’t stand out a lot.  Still, there was one plot point with Corwin that wasn’t surprising at all.  I won’t give it away, but the whole thing with one of the officials?  I knew something was up with him.

I don’t know if I’ll be reading the next book.  There’s a lot of really interesting things in the book but I just don’t know that I like it enough to keep reading.  Maybe one day, I’ll pick it up but it won’t be anytime soon, that’s for sure.

3 stars.  I’m honestly wavering between two and three stars for this one, but I really liked and felt for Kate.  Plus, everything with the magic and dragons was pretty cool so I decided to round up for this one.

Book Review: There Will Come A Darkness by Katy Rose Pool

Book: There Will Come A Darkness by Katy Rose Pool

Published September 2019 by Henry Holt & Co|496 pages

Where I Got It: I own the hardcover

Series: The Age Of Darkness #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

The Age of Darkness approaches.
Five lives stand in its way.
Who will stop it… or unleash it?

For generations, the Seven Prophets guided humanity. Using their visions of the future, they ended wars and united nations―until the day, one hundred years ago, when the Prophets disappeared.

All they left behind was one final, secret prophecy, foretelling an Age of Darkness and the birth of a new Prophet who could be the world’s salvation . . . or the cause of its destruction. As chaos takes hold, five souls are set on a collision course:

A prince exiled from his kingdom.
A ruthless killer known as the Pale Hand.
A once-faithful leader torn between his duty and his heart.
A reckless gambler with the power to find anything or anyone.
And a dying girl on the verge of giving up.

One of them―or all of them―could break the world. Will they be savior or destroyer?

There Will Come A Darkness is a great book, and I’m glad I read it.  I ended up really liking it!

I was hesitant because there are 5 different narrators.  I’m not the biggest fan of multiple narrators, especially when there’s more than two or three.  I thought I would have trouble keeping track but I didn’t have that problem at all!  Everyone really stood out, and they all had their own stories and voices.  It was interesting to see all of them cross paths, and there is a part of me that’s hoping all 5 of them will end up meeting each other at the same time.  It would be interesting to see all of them come together.

I don’t know that I have a favorite character, but I really liked Beru.  I really felt for her, and I can’t imagine going through everything she went through.  I don’t blame her for wanting to be free from what happened.  We didn’t see a lot of her but I was always interested to see what was going on when she was narrating.  Of the five narrators we have in the book, hers is one I’m looking forward to seeing more of in the next book.

I really liked the setting.  It had a Mediterranean feel to it, and I really thought of ancient Greece the whole time I was reading it.  I really wanted to spend more time in this world because I really think there’s so much more to explore.  I’m really hoping we’ll get to see more of this world as the series goes on, but I’m also fine staying in the same place too.

The world is really interesting.  I really liked the history we get to see, and I’m curious to see how this prophecy unfolds and what it will bring about.  All of the characters are connected to the prophecy and I’m actually excited to see what part they play in things.  It seems like this prophecy will change things for both the characters and the world they live in.

I’m definitely excited about the next book, and I really want to know how this prophecy turns out.

4 stars.  I really liked There Will Come A Darkness, especially the setting and world.

ARC Book Review: The Library Of Lost Things by Laura Taylor Namey

Book: The Library Of Lost Things by Laura Taylor Namey

Expected Publication Is October 8, 2019 by Inkyard Press|Expected Number Of Pages: 384 pages

Where I Got It: I received an e-ARC from in exchange for a fair and honest review

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

From the moment she first learned to read, literary genius Darcy Wells has spent most of her time living in the worlds of her books. There, she can avoid the crushing reality of her mother’s hoarding and pretend her life is simply ordinary. But when a new property manager becomes more active in the upkeep of their apartment complex, the only home Darcy has ever known outside of her books suddenly hangs in the balance.

While Darcy is struggling to survive beneath the weight of her mother’s compulsive shopping, Asher Fleet, a former teen pilot with an unexpectedly shattered future, walks into the bookstore where she works…and straight into her heart. For the first time in her life, Darcy can’t seem to find the right words. Fairy tales are one thing, but real love makes her want to hide inside her carefully constructed ink-and-paper bomb shelter.

Still, after spending her whole life keeping people out, something about Asher makes Darcy want to open up. But securing her own happily-ever-after will mean she’ll need to stop hiding and start living her own truth—even if it’s messy.

I liked The Library Of Lost Things!  I wanted to like it more, which seems to be happening a lot lately, but I still liked it.

I loved that Darcy worked at a bookstore.  I really wanted the Yellow Feather to be a real bookstore that I could visit, but it seems to be just a fictional place.  Still, it felt like a living, breathing place that I could actually visit, and it very much felt like a character itself.  I could totally see it sharing a space with a wig shop, which was a character in and of itself, even though we don’t spend as much time there.  I definitely wanted to visit Mysterious Galaxy after reading this book.

I also liked how important books were to Darcy, and all of the books that were mentioned.  As a reader, I really liked that, and it made it fun to see what would be referenced or mentioned.

I really liked Darcy, who had to deal with a lot.  There’s a lot going on with her family, and with some of the family secrets that come out, I really felt for Darcy.  I can’t imagine trying to deal with a mom who hoards, or dealing with she learned about both her mom and her dad.  She had to be a lot more responsible than she needed or should have been, and I really hope she has a lot of carefree moments in her future.

I can see why she’s so closed off, and how hard it is for her to let people in.  I feel like I’d act the same way if I were her, but we do see that change over the course of the book.  It seems like things start to change with her mom and her grandma, and hopefully, they’re all able to work through everything.  It will take time, of course, but hopefully, they’re able to get to a better place someday.

3 stars.  I liked The Library Of Lost Things, but I didn’t love it.  I really liked the Yellow Feather and all of the book references.

ARC Book Review: The Grace Year by Kim Liggett

Book: The Grace Year by Kim Liggett

Expected Publication Is October 8, 2019 by Wednesday Books|Expected Number Of Pages: 416

Where I Got It: I received an e-ARC from in exchange for a fair and honest review

Series: None

Genre: YA Thriller

“A visceral, darkly haunting fever dream of a novel and an absolute page-turner. Liggett’s deeply suspenseful book brilliantly explores the high cost of a misogynistic world that denies women power and does it with a heart-in-your-throat, action-driven story that’s equal parts horror-laden fairy tale, survival story, romance, and resistance manifesto. I couldn’t stop reading.” – Libba Bray, New York Times bestselling author

No one speaks of the grace year. It’s forbidden.

Girls are told they have the power to lure grown men from their beds, drive women mad with jealousy. They believe their very skin emits a powerful aphrodisiac, the potent essence of youth, of a girl on the edge of womanhood. That’s why they’re banished for their sixteenth year, to release their magic into the wild so they can return purified and ready for marriage. But not all of them will make it home alive.

Sixteen-year-old Tierney James dreams of a better life—a society that doesn’t pit friend against friend or woman against woman, but as her own grace year draws near, she quickly realizes that it’s not just the brutal elements they must fear. It’s not even the poachers in the woods, men who are waiting for their chance to grab one of the girls in order to make their fortune on the black market. Their greatest threat may very well be each other.

With sharp prose and gritty realism, The Grace Year examines the complex and sometimes twisted relationships between girls, the women they eventually become, and the difficult decisions they make in-between

The Grace Year sounded really interesting so I was glad to receive an e-ARC from netgalley.  I liked it, as much as someone can like a book like this one.  It was pretty hard to get through, though.

Part of why I had a hard time getting through it was the sections.  Each section is a different season, but there were no chapters or page breaks.  Other than fall, winter, spring, summer and return, there was nothing to indicate time passed or a scene change.  It made each section drag, and I struggled to get through it because it felt like each season lasted forever.

The one thing that really stands out is how horrible these girls are to each other.  I understand it, especially in this society, but I really wish we saw more of the day-to-day life in the camp.  I also wanted to know more about how society got to this point.  It did feel like it was set in New England in the late 1600’s/early 1700’s, but because we have no information about this world, it’s hard to say for sure what inspired this world.

It was interesting to see how this group of girls handled their grace year, and it’s actually easy to see why no one knows what happens during that year.  It’s not something I would want to talk about once it was over.  Assuming I actually made it to the end of my grace year.  It was hard to read some of the violence that happens in the book, and it was hard to see just how cruel some of the girls really were.

But overall, maybe they should be talking about it, to make things better for future generations.  It does seem like it’s not like this everywhere, and that other towns are different.  It really makes me wonder what happened in this particular town, especially because it is pretty terrifying when it comes down to it.

My Rating: 3 stars.  The world was interesting, even though I wanted more history for the town these girls are from.  It gives you a lot to think about, and it’s a book that stays with you for a while.

Book Review: Queen Of Ruin by Tracy Banghart

Book: Queen Of Ruin by Tracy Banghart

Published Little, Brown Books For Young Readers|336 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: Grace And Fury #2

Genre: YA Fantasy

A fierce sequel full of sisterhood, heart pounding action, betrayal, and intrigue in the royal court in a series that “breathes new life into the feminist story of oppression and resistance” (Publisher’s Weekly).

Banished by Asa at the end of Grace and Fury, Nomi and Malachi find themselves powerless and headed towards their all-but-certain deaths. Now that Asa sits on the throne, he will stop at nothing to make sure Malachi never sets foot in the palace again. Their only hope is to find Nomi’s sister, Serina, on the prison island of Mount Ruin. But when Nomi and Malachi arrive, it is not the island of conquered, broken women that they expected. It is an island in the grip of revolution, and Serina–polite, submissive Serina–is its leader.
Betrayal, grief, and violence have changed both sisters, and the women of Mount Ruin have their sights set on revenge beyond the confines of their island prison. They plan to sweep across the entire kingdom, issuing in a new age of freedom for all. But first they’ll have to get rid of Asa, and only Nomi knows how.

Separated once again, this time by choice, Nomi and Serina must forge their own paths as they aim to tear down the world they know, and build something better in its place.

The stakes are higher and the battles bolder in Tracy Banghart’s unputdownable sequel to Grace and Fury.

I liked Queen Of Ruin!  I just haven’t been in a mood to write lately, so I’ve already forgotten a lot of the book and what happened, but I did like it.

It was interesting to see Nomi and Serina try to change things.  Though they come together, they also end up separating and going their own way as they try to make their world a better place.  I really liked Serina and how much she changed throughout the series.  She really came into her own and organized a rebellion.  Nomi took charge of her own path but I felt like it was a lot more subtle than what we saw with her sister.

I did like their relationship, though.  They both fought for a better world, and they both strong in their own way.  And I liked that they were strong in different ways.  They, and all of the other women we see in the series, show that strength can come in many different packages, and that there is more than one way to be strong.  It’s nice to see, because I feel like we don’t get a lot of that in YA.  At least in the books I’ve read.

I was disappointed with the ending.  I really wanted to know what happened after the end of the book.  I don’t wish for epilogues often but I really would have liked an epilogue to at least get an idea of how things turned out.  I don’t need every last detail but I would have liked something telling us how things turned out.

3 stars.  I liked Queen Of Ruin but didn’t love it.

ARC Book Review: The Babysitter’s Coven by Kate Williams

Book: The Babysitter’s Coven by Kate Williams

Expected Publication Is September 17, 2019 by Delacorte Press|Expected Number Of Pages: 368

Where I Got It: I received an e-ARC from in exchange for a fair and honest review

Series: The Babysitter’s Coven #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

Adventures in Babysitting meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer in this funny, action-packed novel about a coven of witchy babysitters who realize their calling to protect the innocent and save the world from an onslaught of evil.

Seventeen-year-old Esme Pearl has a babysitters club. She knows it’s kinda lame, but what else is she supposed to do? Get a job? Gross. Besides, Esme likes babysitting, and she’s good at it.

And lately Esme needs all the cash she can get, because it seems like destruction follows her wherever she goes. Let’s just say she owes some people a new tree.

Enter Cassandra Heaven. She’s Instagram-model hot, dresses like she found her clothes in a dumpster, and has a rebellious streak as gnarly as the cafeteria cooking. So why is Cassandra willing to do anything, even take on a potty-training two-year-old, to join Esme’s babysitters club?

The answer lies in a mysterious note Cassandra’s mother left her: “Find the babysitters. Love, Mom.”

Turns out, Esme and Cassandra have more in common than they think, and they’re about to discover what being a babysitter really means: a heroic lineage of superpowers, magic rituals, and saving the innocent from seriously terrifying evil. And all before the parents get home.

I liked The Babysitter’s Coven but like a lot of the books I’ve read this year…I didn’t like it as much as I wanted to.

For some reason, the book felt like it should have been middle grade and not YA  I kept forgetting that the characters were around 17, and it would be interesting to see this book as a middle grade series.

I can’t speak to the comparisons to Buffy or Adventures In Babysitting, since I haven’t seen Buffy or Adventures In Babysitting.  I kept thinking about the Babysitter’s Club, though, if they were witches and trying to defend against demons and whatnot.

Esme wasn’t always my favorite character, and Cassandra wasn’t either, but maybe they’ll grow me, should I pick up the sequel.  I’m not sure if I will but we’ll see when the next one comes out.  I did like Janis, though.  And I did like the backstory for Esme’s mom.  It wasn’t what I was expecting but I did like it.  Pig was great too, and it’s so hard not to love.

I was expecting expecting babysitting to have more of a connection to the weird goings-on.  It would make a great cover but it didn’t go that way at all.  Still, it was fun to see what adventures they got themselves into, and I liked seeing them try to figure things out with pretty much no information.

I do wish they struggled a little more than they did, because things were pretty easy for both Esme and Cassandra.  They did figure things out pretty fast, and they seemed to do things really well after practicing a handful of times.  I think it would have made their achievements a lot more fun and it would have been a little easier to root for them.  But maybe that’s just me.

There was this 90’s teen movie vibe to it, which was fun.  Now that I think about it, I can totally see this book being a Disney channel series/original movie.  It would be pretty fun to watch, and it’s certainly light and fluffy enough to work well as a movie or tv show.

The outfits sounded pretty cool too, and that, more than anything, made me think of the outfits that Stacy and Claudia would wear in the BSC.  Which I now feel like reading, by the way.  A movie would bring the outfits to life, and it would be pretty cool to actually see the outfits.

3 stars.  I liked The Babysitter’s Coven, but I honestly thought it sounded younger than I expected.  It was a fun read but I had my issues with it too.

Around The Internet #17

Hello and Happy Friday the 13th!  I’m back with more cool things I’ve found on the internet.  I hope you enjoy them!

That’s all for today, and I hope it’s a good one!

Book Review: Archangel’s Shadow by Nalini Singh

Book: Archangel’s Shadow by Nalini Singh

Published October 2014 by Penguin Group|378 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: Guild Hunter #7

Genre: Adult Paranormal Romance

In the wake of a brutal war, the archangel Raphael and his hunter consort, Elena, are dealing with the treacherously shifting tides of archangelic politics and the people of a battered but not broken city. The last thing their city needs is more death, especially a death that bears the eerie signature of an insane enemy archangel who cannot—should not—be walking the streets.

This hunt must be undertaken with stealth and without alerting their people. It must be handled by those who can become shadows themselves…

Ash is a gifted tracker and a woman cursed with the ability to sense the secrets of anyone she touches. But there’s one man she knows all too well without a single instant of skin contact: Janvier, the dangerously sexy Cajun vampire who has fascinated and infuriated her for years. Now, as they track down a merciless killer, their cat-and-mouse game of flirtation and provocation has turned into a profound one of the heart. And this time, it is Ash’s secret, dark and terrible, that threatens to destroy them both.

I liked Archangel’s Shadows but it’s not one of my favorites in this series

Janvier and Ashwini were interesting characters and I liked them.  Ashwini was particularly interesting, especially because of her family.  I really liked her, and though I liked Janvier, I didn’t like him as much as Ashwini.  I did like them together, and there’s definitely a connection between them, but compared to some of the other couples (mostly Elena and Raphael), they were just okay.

I liked the story, and we do see more of the world they live in.  There’s so much going on in thiis world, and I feel like we learn more about it with every passing book.  I was really interested in the grey area that we saw in this book and even though it didn’t occur to me that some of the vampires might have “cattle,” it did make sense.  It made me sad to see that there were women dependent on these vampires for support, but it also doesn’t surprise me.

We also see the aftermath of the battle and how the Tower is trying to deal with some of the rumors and stories circulating around town.  No one can catch a break but Ash and Janvier do get their HEA.  It is romance after all, and no romance is complete without having a happily ever after.  I’m glad Ash told Janvier her hesitations and family history.  It did make sense for why she didn’t want to be a vampire, but she did come around.

Even though I like the characters and story, and was glad to read about Janvier and Ash, I also wasn’t super into the story or the pairing.  I don’t know why, but it felt like something was missing.  According to the author’s note at the end of the book, there is a novella that goes into more detail about their relationship.  I don’t think it’s necessary to read it, because you do get their story and you know what’s going on.  Plus, you do get hints throughout the previous books that mention both Ash and Janvier.  Still, I can’t help but wonder if that’s the missing piece for this book.  That might not be the case for other readers, but it might be for me.

3 stars.  I liked Archangel’s Shadow but it’s not my favorite in this series.