Book Review: Holiday Hotel (Simona Island #1)

Title: Holiday Hotel

Author: Poppy Minnix

Pub. Date: November 23, 2021

Pages: 246

Pub: City Owl Press

Genre: Romance

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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Sometimes, it takes a corset and an island getaway to bounce back from a disastrous breakup.

In the winter chill of New York City, Cozette Fay attempts to turn up the heat with a fun and sexy Ms. Claus roleplay. Unfortunately, her aloof boyfriend is more confused than aroused.

She says fa-la-la to her fizzled relationship and escapes to the tropics for Christmas where she meets Nico, a van-driving beach-hunk who secretly owns the hotel on private Simona Island. He upgrades her room, takes her on adventures, and can’t seem to keep his eyes or his hands off of her despite claiming there’s a non-fraternization policy.

It shouldn’t matter that Nico won’t share anything about himself outside of their tropical snow globe—she’s there to reunite with herself, after all—but the closer they get, the more it seems he may be the Santa to her Mrs. Clause all year round.

Readers who enjoy Christmas with You from Tracy Alverez or The One Night Stand Before Christmas from Jana Aston would enjoy Holiday Hotel.
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Book Review: When Night Breaks (Kingdom of Cards #2)

Title: When Night Breaks

Author: Janella Angeles

Pub. Date: October 5, 2021

Pages: 480

Pub: Wednesday Books

Genre: YA Fantasy Romance

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

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The competition has come to a disastrous end, and Daron Demarco’s fall from grace is now front page news. But little matters to him beyond Kallia, the contestant he fell for who is now lost to this world and in the hands of a dangerous magician. Daron is willing to do whatever it takes to find her. Even if it means embarking on a dark and treacherous journey, risking more than just his life, with no promise of return.

After awaking in darkness, Kallia has never felt more lost. Especially with Jack by her side, the magician with who has the answers but cannot be trusted. Together, they must navigate a dazzling world where mirrors show memories and illusions shadow every corner, one ruled by a powerful game master who could all too easily destroy the world she left behind — and the boy she can’t seem to forget. With time running out, Kallia must embrace her role in a darker destiny, or lose everyone she loves, forever
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Book Review: Luminous

Title: Luminous

Author: Mara Rutherford

Pub. Date: October 5, 2021

Pages: 384

Pub: Inkyard Press

Genre: YA Paranormal Fantasy Romance

Rating: ⭐️⭐️.5

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Liora has spent her life in hiding, knowing discovery could mean falling prey to the king’s warlock, Darius, who uses mages’ magic to grow his own power. But when her worst nightmare comes to pass, Darius doesn’t take her. Instead, he demands that her younger sister return to the capital with him. To make matters worse, Evran, Liora’s childhood friend and the only one who knows her secret, goes missing following Darius’s visit, leaving her without anyone to turn to.

To find Evran and to save her sister, Liora must embrace the power she has always feared. But the greatest danger she’ll face is yet to come, for Darius has plans in motion that will cause the world to fall into chaos–and Liora and Evran may be the only ones who can stop him.
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Book Review: Awakened

Title: Awakened

Author: Ciara Duggan

Pub. Date: September 7, 2021

Pages: 288

Pub: Parliament House

Genre: YA Paranormal Fantasy

Rating: ⭐️⭐️.5

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After losing her parents in an accident only she survived, Hannah is desperate for answers. Haunted by the events of that tragic night, she struggles to move on, yearning for some deeper truth about her loss.

But when it comes time to turn a new page and move cross country for college, she vows to leave the past behind. After all, Bellcliff University is a thousand miles away from the ghosts nipping at her heels.

Yet when Hannah accidentally awakens a handsome witch from a hidden cave near campus, she realizes he isn’t the only thing stirring out of slumber. Hannah has roused all magic…including the devil herself.

As if spells, curses, and college jitters weren’t enough, this witch claims to know Hannah from four centuries prior—and their connection is more than casual.

Thrust into a world of sorcery and monsters, Hannah must fight to keep the magic she’d unleashed from claiming a price far too steep for her to pay. 
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Book Review: The Splendor

Title: The Splendor

Author: Breeana Shields

Pub. Date: September 7, 2021

Pages: 330

Pub: Page Street Kids

Genre: YA Fantasy Romance

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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The Splendor isn’t just a glamorous hotel, it’s a magical experience that gives its guests the fantasy fulfillment of their dreams. But The Splendor didn’t make Juliette’s dreams come true. It ruined her life.

After a weeklong stay, Juliette’s sister, Clare, returns from the hotel changed. Her connection to Juliette―the special bond they once shared―has vanished. In a moment of hurt and frustration, Juliette steals their meager savings and visits The Splendor herself.

When she arrives, she’s taken in by the lush and sumptuous hotel. But as she delves more deeply into the mystery of the place, and how they make their illusions work, she grows more and more uneasy. The Splendor has a seedy underbelly, but every time she gets close to discovering something real, she seems to hit a wall.

Meanwhile, Juliette meets Henri, an illusionist who lives and works at the hotel. Henri’s job is to provide Juliette with the same Signature Experience he gives all the guests―one tailored fantasy that will make her stay unforgettable. As he gets to know her, he realizes that not only is he ill-equipped to make her dreams come true, he’s the cause of her heartache.
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Book Review: Lakesedge (World at the Lake’s Edge #1)

Title: Lakesedge

Author: Lyndall Clipstone

Pub. Date: September 28, 2021

Pages: 384

Pub: Henry Holt & Co.

Genre: YA Gothic Fantasy

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

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A lush gothic fantasy about monsters and magic, set on the banks of a cursed lake. Perfect for fans of Naomi Novik and Brigid Kemmerer.

There are monsters in the world.

When Violeta Graceling arrives at haunted Lakesedge estate, she expects to find a monster. She knows the terrifying rumors about Rowan Sylvanan, who drowned his entire family when he was a boy. But neither the estate nor the monster are what they seem.

There are monsters in the woods.

As Leta falls for Rowan, she discovers he is bound to the Lord Under, the sinister death god lurking in the black waters of the lake. A creature to whom Leta is inexplicably drawn…

There’s a monster in the shadows, and now it knows my name.

Now, to save Rowan—and herself—Leta must confront the darkness in her past, including unraveling the mystery of her connection to the Lord Under.
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Book Review: A Shadow in the Ember (Flesh and Fire #1)

Title: A Shadow in the Ember

Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout

Pub. Date: October 19, 2021

Pages: Not Listed

Pub: Blue Box Press

Genre: Fantasy Romance

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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Born shrouded in the veil of the Primals, a Maiden as the Fates promised, Seraphena Mierel’s future has never been hers. Chosen before birth to uphold the desperate deal her ancestor struck to save his people, Sera must leave behind her life and offer herself to the Primal of Death as his Consort.   

However, Sera’s real destiny is the most closely guarded secret in all of Lasania—she’s not the well protected Maiden but an assassin with one mission—one target. Make the Primal of Death fall in love, become his weakness, and then…end him. If she fails, she dooms her kingdom to a slow demise at the hands of the Rot. 

Sera has always known what she is. Chosen. Consort. Assassin. Weapon. A specter never fully formed yet drenched in blood. A monster. Until him. Until the Primal of Death’s unexpected words and deeds chase away the darkness gathering inside her. And his seductive touch ignites a passion she’s never allowed herself to feel and cannot feel for him. But Sera has never had a choice. Either way, her life is forfeit—it always has been, as she has been forever touched by Life and Death.
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Book Review: What Once Was Mine (Twisted Tales #12)

Title: What Once Was Mine

Author: Liz Braswell

Pub. Date: September 7, 2021

Pages: 512

Pub: Disney-Hyperion

Genre: YA Fantasy Retellings

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

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The 12th installment in the New York Times best-selling series asksWhat if Rapunzel’s mother drank a potion from the wrong flower?

Desperate to save the life of their queen and her unborn child, the good people of Corona search for the all-healing Sundrop flower to cure her—but mistakenly acquire the shimmering Moondrop flower instead. Nonetheless it heals the queen, and she delivers a healthy baby girl with hair as silver and gray as the moon. With it comes dangerous magical powers: the power to hurt, not heal. For her safety and the safety of the kingdom, Rapunzel is locked in a tower and put under the care of powerful goodwife, Mother Gothel.

For eighteen years Rapunzel stays locked away, knowing she must protect others from her magical hair. But when she leaves the only home she’s ever known, wanting only to see the floating lights that appear on her birthday, she gets caught up in an adventure across the kingdom with two thieves—a young woman named Gina, and Flynn Rider, a rogue on the run. Before she can reach her happy ending, Rapunzel learns that there may be more to her story, and her magical tresses, than she ever knew.
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Book Review: Small Favors

Title: Small Favors

Author: Erin A. Craig

Pub. Date: July 27, 2021

Pages: 480

Pub: Delacorte

Genre: YA Historical Horror Fantasy

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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Ellerie Downing lives in the quiet town of Amity Falls in the Blackspire Mountain range–five narrow peaks stretching into the sky like a grasping hand, bordered by a nearly impenetrable forest from which the early townsfolk fought off the devils in the woods. To this day, visitors are few and rare. But when a supply party goes missing, some worry that the monsters that once stalked the region have returned.

As fall turns to winter, more strange activities plague the town. They point to a tribe of devilish and mystical creatures who promise to fulfill the residents’ deepest desires, however grand and impossible, for just a small favor. But their true intentions are much more sinister, and Ellerie finds herself in a race against time before all of Amity Falls, her family, and the boy she loves go up in flames.
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Book Review: Defy the Night (Defy the Night #1)

Title: Defy the Night

Author: Brigid Kemmerer

Pub. Date: September 14, 2021

Pages: 496

Pub: Bloomsbury YA

Genre: YA SFF Romance

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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From New York Times bestselling author Brigid Kemmerer comes a blockbuster fantasy series about a kingdom divided by corruption, the prince desperately holding it together, and the girl who will risk everything to bring it crashing down.

The kingdom of Kandala is on the brink of disaster. Rifts between sectors have only worsened since a sickness began ravaging the land, and within the Royal Palace, the king holds a tenuous peace with a ruthless hand.

King Harristan was thrust into power after his parents’ shocking assassination, leaving the younger Prince Corrick to take on the brutal role of the King’s Justice. The brothers have learned to react mercilessly to any sign of rebellion–it’s the only way to maintain order when the sickness can strike anywhere, and the only known cure, an elixir made from delicate Moonflower petals, is severely limited.

Out in the Wilds, apothecary apprentice Tessa Cade is tired of seeing her neighbors die, their suffering ignored by the unyielding royals. Every night, she and her best friend Wes risk their lives to steal Moonflower petals and distribute the elixir to those who need it most–but it’s still not enough.

As rumors spread that the cure no longer works and sparks of rebellion begin to flare, a particularly cruel act from the King’s Justice makes Tessa desperate enough to try the impossible: sneaking into the palace. But what she finds upon her arrival makes her wonder if it’s even possible to fix Kandala without destroying it first.

Set in a richly imaginative world with striking similarities to our own, Brigid Kemmerer’s captivating new series is about those with power and those without . . . and what happens when someone is brave enough to imagine a new future.
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