REVIEW: 10 Blind Dates – Ashley Elston

43885673Title: 10 Blind Dates
Author: Ashly Elston
Rating: ★★★½

10 Blind Dates is an absolutely delightful book sure to give readers warm and fuzzy feelings. The foundation of this story is family, friendships, and rediscovering yourself. This book is perfect for anyone who enjoys watching those heartwarming, wholesome holiday movies on the Hallmark channel!

My favorite thing about 10 Blind Dates is the large, extended family of the protagonist, Sophie. As someone who comes from a very large Italian family, it was really easy to understand how important the holidays were to Sophie and the chaos that comes with many relations all under the same roof. Growing up, Christmas Eve was always my favorite day and it was amazing to get the same feeling of nostalgia and comfort from these pages.

The blind dates Sophie’s family puts her up to and the betting chart that accompanied the schedule was so fun! You can definitely feel some of the second-hand embarrassment she must have felt being put on the spot by her family. And the main romance that develops was really cute and well-written!

Overall, 10 Blind Dates is a light, heartwarming story about family and friendships perfect for the winter holidays coming up. I definitely recommend this for anyone who enjoys stories full of cheer and happy endings!

REVIEW: Relic – Bronwyn Eley (ARC)

46218744._SY475_.jpgTitle: Relic (The Relic Trilogy: Book 1)
Author: Bronwyn Eley
Rating: ★★★½

ARC provided by the publisher.

Relic is the first book in a new fantasy trilogy that is sure to impress many readers, myself included. With a strong heroine, excellent worldbuilding, and a very interesting premise, this was one heck of an entertaining story!

The premise of Relic felt really unique and fascinating, which is what originally drew me to the story. The book follows our protagonist, Kaylan, who has been chosen to be the next shadow: a personal servant to the Lord whom basically absorbs all the negative energy and pain given off by their magical relic. The worldbuilding present in the Relic was truly excellent. It was so easy to understand how the world worked without feeling confused or overwhelmed. Bronwyn Eley did a great job with placing the necessary pieces into the story and avoiding any information dumping.

I found Kaylan to be an excellent heroine! She was smart, caring, and resilient. Family and friendships mean a lot to her and are a central part of the story. She showed a lot of grit and determination in trying to solve her predicament, unwilling to simply roll over and accept her fate. I also thought she was very astute and made good decisions. For instance, when learning about a rebellion brewing, rather than joining forces with them straight away, she makes note of the negative consequences that rebelling could have on citizens. I loved that aspect! In many YA books, the hero/heroine jump ship to the rebels without even stopping to think if they were truly any better, or to at least weigh the pros/cons first. Bronwyn Eley excelled with that part of the book.

Overall, I thought Relic was a great debut fantasy book! I really enjoyed the main character and the premise of the story. This is the first book in a trilogy and I look forward to seeing what happens next!

REVIEW: Eight Will Fall – Sarah Harian (ARC)

35827843._SY475_Title: Eight Will Fall
Author: Sarah Harian
Rating: ★★★★

ARC received through #booksfortrade on Twitter.

Eight Will Fall was a totally fun adventure. The premise follows eight criminals sent into an underground labyrinth with a mission to defeat a magical ancient god that has been destroying their kingdom. Sarah Harian compared it The Descent meets The Goonies and that is such a clever and accurate description of this book!

The worldbuilding was so good. It was pretty simple and easy to follow without being underdeveloped. The majority of the focus was on the plot, which was really appreciated. The magic system that was developed was also really unique and added another layer of intrigue to the story. The descriptions of the caves and underground tunnels were written in a way that I could vividly picture myself underground. The author also did an amazing job setting the creepy, gorey vibe of the story. Some parts are definitely going to be giving readers goosebumps!

The execution of this book was perfect for what the author was trying to achieve. I don’t think I’ve read another book like it where a sense of dread seems to linger over the reader. Eight Will Fall is definitely one of a kind and I hope this makes it on to a lot of TBR lists!

 

REVIEW: How to Hack a Heartbreak – Kristin Rockaway

41887423Title: How to Hack a Heartbreak
Author: Kristin Rockaway
Rating: ★★★½

“And the way things were going, I’d likely be single and debt-ridden for the rest of my life.”

There’s nothing more enjoyable than reading a fun rom-com in the summer! How to Hack a Heartbreak is the perfect book for those everyone out there (including myself) that is sick and tired of the trials of modern dating in a digital world.

When I read the synopsis of this book, I knew I had to read it. Similar to myself, our protagonist, Melanie, is completely fed-up with dating apps. After her latest fiasco, she decides to secretly develop her own app to weed out the men taking advantage of online dating. She not only has to balance the unexpected popularity of her new app, but as the only female employee at her tech job, she also has to deal with incompetent jerks that continually belittle her knowledge. 

Everything about Mel and her story was so relatable! It’s hard to not find enjoyment in her growth as a character, and it’s impossible not to root for her in her journey to find love in a world full of swiping left or right. How to Hack a Heartbreak sheds light on the trials and tribulations of modern dating in a funny, light-hearted way that made this the perfect book for summer.

REVIEW: The Bone Houses – Emily Lloyd-Jones (ARC)

36524503Title: The Bone Houses
Author: Emily Lloyd-Jones
Rating: ★★★★½

ARC provided by the publisher.

The Bone Houses has me under its spell. The story follows a gravedigger and a mapmaker on an epic adventure full of family, magic, and the undead. The book features elements of Welsh mythology, meanwhile other parts were reminiscent of The Black Cauldron. The eerie, atmospheric settings gives a haunting feel to this mesmerizing story that reads as if it’s a dark fairytale.

The book has so many things going for it. Ryn was a fantastic protagonists with a no-nonsense attitude that I adored. It’s so easy to love a character that’s smart and capable like her. The loving relationship she shares with her sister and brother was another wonderful aspect of the story. It was great seeing how much they cared for each other and what lengths Ryn was willing to take to protect them.

Emily Lloyd-Jones did a marvelous job creating a dark, creepy vibe for this story. Ryn has taken over her father’s job as the town’s gravedigger, but these days most townspeople are opting for burning the bodies of the deceased in order to avoid coming back as a bone house–a zombie, essentially. When more and more bone houses start appearing from the haunted forest near the town, Ryn–with the help of a lost mapmaker, Ellis–embark on a journey to the center of the forest to solve the problem.

The pacing was perfect and the plot never seemed to slow down. I had a lot of fun following the journey of Ryn and Ellis as they worked together in their goal to defeat the magic affecting the bone houses. There is a slight romance, but it’s more of a hint than anything and it takes a backseat to the plot and growth of the characters.

There was a lot of Welsh mythology present in The Bone Houses and I absolutely loved it! I think this is the first book I’ve read based heavily on Welsh folktales and the story was extremely captivating. The book’s themes about death, life after death, and grief were very poignant and impactful. I think the author handled the subject with expertise.

The Bone Houses was an engaging, thrilling story that reads like a spooky mythology retelling. From the dark elements, to the fearless protagonist, to a very loyal undead goat, there’s a lot to love in this book. I highly recommend this to anyone looking for a fun, atmospheric standalone fantasy!