4.5 star, YA

ARC Review: The Song That Moves the Sun by Anna Bright

This sweeping YA fantasy romance full of star-crossed love, complex female friendship, and astrological magic is perfect for fans of Laini Taylor, Alexandra Bracken, and V.E. Schwab. From the acclaimed author of The Beholder.

Best friends Rora and Claudia have never felt more like their lives are spiraling out of control. And when they meet Major and Amir–two boys from one of the secret cities of the spheres, ruled by the magic of the astrological signs–they discover they’re not alone. There is a disruption in the harmony between the spheres, and its chaos is spreading.

To find the source of the disharmony, Rora and Claudia will embark on a whirlwind journey of secrets, romance, and powerful truths–about themselves, each other, and two long-ago explorers named Dante and Beatrice, who were among the first to chart this course toward the stars.

Inspired partly by the classic works of Dante Alighieri, this gorgeous stand-alone contemporary fantasy will captivate readers of Lore and Star Daughter



**The Song That Moves the Sun comes out June 28, 2022*

Thank you Edelweiss and the publisher for this copy in exchange for an honest review.

Have you ever had a thought just needle its way into your mind like nothing else can? Like the more you try to not think about it, the more it sticks stubbornly inside until there’s nothing else you can think about?

The Song That Moves the Sun did exactly that to me. Since I read its synopsis for the first time, I initially thought to myself this probably wouldn’t be up my alley. I’m not much of a believer in astrology in any way. I mean, all I know is I’m a Capricorn based on when I was born, but I don’t even know what that really means.

Also, Dante? Sure, he’s super famous and many works have been inspired by his work (hello, Dan Brown anyone?). Am I particularly interested in his journey, or what inspired him to write about Heaven, hell and purgatory? Not in particular.

So what is it about this book that drove me towards it? And more importantly, why did I end up absolutely LOVING it?

Surprises, surprises

Let me be up front and mention that I thought this world would be completely separate from the contemporary world we live in. To my surprise, the opening pages plopped us into Washington D.C. in the most ordinary of ways, with Rora nannying some kids. Did this absolutely blow my mind? Yes. How were Rora and Claudia going to connect with these elusive boys of the “spheres”?

The story also takes deep look into mental health and the spiralling that comes with it when we feel a lack of control in our lives. Having anxiety myself, I could relate and wrestle alongside Rora who was immediately upfront about the 31 fears she had, 1 for each day of the month. Some were fears that most people have (I mean, who wants to be mugged?) while others may have been very specific things she did not want to face. I loved that this story was able to take a look at dark thoughts, anxiety and spirals through the lens of a fantasy world where some of the darkness came from magical disharmony in the spheres.

The uniqueness of the world

I’m all about really interesting world building that is also explored thoroughly. Don’t you hate it when a book has this beautifully drawn out map at the front that you realize is barely touched upon by the end of the book? Did I really have to know where Country X was located if it is only mentioned in passing once or twice in a 400+ page book?

There’s definitely NOTHING ordinary about this world. The science geek in me who loved astronomy was fascinated by the geocentric model of the solar system at the forefront of the spheres. This was back in the olden days when people thought the Earth was the centre of the universe instead of the sun, with the planets, moon and Sun circling our little planet in a very specific order. I liked how Rora and Claudia were drawn into these secret planet cities, guided by sweet Major and stoic Amir, and the characteristics of each planet based on the astrological sign associated with the place.

It’s super hard to explain what each place was like, but Anna did an amazing job giving that information to orient us every time they travelled to a new planet (including the Sun!), all the while being very relevant to the story and not just being waylaid with useless information.

Give me ALL the romance

Of course, being me, the romance is always the icing on top of the cake for a good fantasy. I wasn’t sure at first how I would feel about the pairing of both girls and guys with one another, but it just worked, you know?

Both couples had a spark and chemistry from the get-go. Rora was a complete mess inside, beyond just her 31 fears, and Major was the kind of calming presence who could steadfastly offer some of his stability to a racing heart and mind. Amir, on the other hand, challenged Claudia’s way of thinking, both people yearning to belong to those they loved but with each having something holding them back from feeling fulfilled by it.

It didn’t feel forced, like they HAD to get together. It felt like these were the kind of people they needed in their lives and the situation that brought them together was like fate. These are the best kinds of romances, the ones that feel organic and stem from more than physical attraction alone. I felt it because I believed the feelings that they said were brewing under the surface.

Music of the spheres?

There’s a lot about music in this book. I think it’s very clear based on the title. While a lot of it was a little confusing and went over my head, it was a unique theme that connected everything together. Each planet had its own song, and the people who belong to that planet based on their sign belonged to that song also. There was disharmony in the music of the spheres that was causing major issues in all the spheres, including Earth at the centre.

I liked the journey they took to solve the issue. Was it a little anti-climactic in its resolution at the end? I felt a little of that after all the build up, but the world building from all of this really drove me forward. I couldn’t put it down because I wanted to understand more of how the spheres worked, how it linked to people, what was wrong with Rora. It was like a mini mystery I wanted to solve and I could only figure it out if I just turned the next page. This made for excellent pacing.

Besides the resolution, the only other thing I may not have loved was the many flashbacks to Dante’s life with Beatrice in the 13th century. They were almost as much a main character as Rora and Claudia, although their chapters were shorter. I understand those chapters brought relevance to what was happening in the present day as Dante and Beatrice’s explorations of the spheres may be the key to what was going wrong now, but sometimes I wished it was a little less focused on them.

Bottom line

I know, this is a long review, but I just had to put it all out there. I was picky about the ending but otherwise there was so much potential explored in this world of magical, musical spheres I almost didn’t want to leave. This is probably one of the only standalone fantasies I’ve read, but it’s making me wish it was a series or duology because I enjoyed my time here so much.

If you want romance, magic, and the strangest and wholly unique world building based on astrology you’ve ever seen? This book checks them all. I can’t recommend it enough for the experience alone.

Overall Recommendation:

The Song that Moves the Sun surprised me with its interesting solar system worlds that were connected to our contemporary/modern universe. I loved how it could potentially grow into more if the author ever chose to revisit, but that’s a good sign the story was memorable and enjoyable. The romance was everything! Both couples brought the angst and the feels. This stand-alone was truly “out of this world”.

2.5 star, YA

Review: Cinder & Glass by Melissa de la Cruz

For this princess, winning the crown is no fairytale.

1682. The king sends out an invitation to all the maidens in France: their presence is requested at a number of balls and events that will be held in honor of the dashing Prince Louis, who must choose a bride. 

Cendrillon de Louvois has more grace, beauty, and charm than anyone else in France. While she was once the darling child of the king’s favorite adviser, her father’s death has turned her into the servant of her stepmother and cruel stepsisters–and at her own chateau, too!

Cendrillon–now called Cinder–manages to evade her stepmother and attend the ball, where she catches the eye of the handsome Prince Louis and his younger brother Auguste.

Even though Cendrillon has an immediate aversion to Louis, and a connection with Auguste, the only way to escape her stepmother is to compete with the other women at court for the Prince’s hand.

Soon, as Cendrillon glows closer to Auguste and dislikes the prince more and more, she will have to decide if she can bear losing the boy she loves in order to leave a life she hates.

Melissa de la Cruz takes a lush, romantic hand to this retold fairy tale classic.



I’m a hugeeee sucker for all things Cinderella. It’s my favorite fairy tale and obviously my favourite one for retellings. So you can imagine my disappointment with how Cinder & Glass turned out, especially with such a gorgeous cover.

This story is set in 1600s France in the court of King Louis XIV. I loved the inspiration to set this fairytale in a historical period instead of some completely reimagined land. The plotline was also intriguing with a competition for the prince’s hand (very reminiscent of The Selection) while secretly falling for the younger prince instead.

With all these elements that just SCREAM at me to like it, it begs the question why I didn’t end up loving this book.

It really all comes down to execution. The set up for a Cinderella tale is quite simple. The protagonist lived a happy life with her family even as her mother died when she was young as her father more than made up for it. The loss of her father and the marriage to her stepmother are the turning points in the story that truly leads to the problems she has to face.

This takes a whole section of the book to even reach, a good quarter of the book setting up the beginning of the Cinderella plot. While I appreciate getting to know a bit about the inner workings of the French court when Cendrillon moved to Versailles, was it really necessary to drag it out that long? Her stepsisters are still fairly horrid and her new stepmother just screams evil in disguise.

Then there’s the pacing. Maybe it’s not my favoured format of reading but it felt very…narrated and detached? As if the author is simply moving through time telling us of what is happening to Cendrillon instead of diving into the depths of emotion she must be facing. I wanted to FEEL and instead it was all rather clinical in execution.

My favourite part of any Cinderella tale is the romance. Yes, I’m a modern day woman who can occasionally swoon at a princely figure coming to help and believe a woman who is being oppressed by someone in power over her. But even that held its own problems here.

First, the competition wasn’t really all that big in this story? It was present but we knew from the start that Cendrillon wasn’t going into it for love as she had met Auguste a year ago and already formed a bit of an attraction to him. Her motivation led to, well, a lack of ambition and focus to win so it wasn’t really that interesting reading about her dates or the other girls she competed with.

The attraction she felt for Auguste wasn’t even consolation as the chemistry was barely there. It felt like they had developed a good friendship in the scary world of court politics but it suddenly blew into the realm of “more-than-friendship” in the blink of an eye, with only the angst that she couldn’t be with him. I wanted to believe in this romance but I really wasn’t feeling it. And that just sucks big time because what’s a Cinderella tale without the love that conquers all?

While I have many complaints about this book, I did enjoy the setting and managed to read this in a day as it’s not too long of a book. The lush descriptions of Versailles made me wish I could go back there again and explore it a little less rushed. It also helped that it’s still a story based on my favourite fairytale. If it was any other, I probably would’ve been tempted to DNF at any time.

I can’t say I recommend this book – something my heart hurts to say because Cinderella! – but it could’ve been worse in some ways. There’s still the fight against the evil stepmother and satisfaction gained when good triumphs over those who oppress and abuse. The idea was there, but perhaps the execution could’ve used some tweaking.

And that cover is to die for so I could just sit here all day staring at it, which would be enough.

Overall Recommendation:

Cinder & Glass fell flat as a Cinderella retelling due to its lack of emotional depth and unhurried pace through the key points we all recognize from the tale. I wanted to love this so bad because I love Cinderella but I couldn’t emotionally connect with any of the characters, even the pain Cendrillon was going through. It’s not a Cinderella story if you don’t even sympathize for her. Or fall in love with her love story.

4.5 star, YA

Review: You’ve Reached Sam by Dustin Thao

Seventeen-year-old Julie has her future all planned out—move out of her small town with her boyfriend Sam, attend college in the city, spend a summer in Japan. But then Sam dies. And everything changes.

Heartbroken, Julie skips his funeral, throws out his things, and tries everything to forget him and the tragic way he died. But a message Sam left behind in her yearbook forces back memories. Desperate to hear his voice one more time, Julie calls Sam’s cellphone just to listen to his voicemail.

And Sam picks up the phone.

In a miraculous turn of events, Julie’s been given a second chance at goodbye. The connection is temporary. But hearing Sam’s voice makes her fall for him all over again, and with each call it becomes harder to let him go. However, keeping her otherworldly calls with Sam a secret isn’t easy, especially when Julie witnesses the suffering Sam’s family is going through. Unable to stand by the sidelines and watch their shared loved ones in pain, Julie is torn between spilling the truth about her calls with Sam and risking their connection and losing him forever.



Bring out all those tissues, because I was completely right and You’ve Reached Sam jerked those tear ducts. HARD.

I have absolutely no words to use to describe this beautiful story. It made me cry (during work of all places!) and my heart ache for Sam and Julie.

This is a story about grief. But it is so much more than just what that word may imply. When Sam died tragically, Julie was left with a world that was devoid of the one person she was literally planning her future with. On the brink of high school graduation, what does one do?

In a series of flashbacks that presented as Julie’s dreams mixed with memories, we get to see Sam and Julie’s story from the first moment they met and all the little moments that made up their relationship. I loved this part because it made us understand who they each were, but also how they were together. And of course, it made me fall in love with Sam and their relationship even more.

Julie’s first reaction to handling grief was to cut everything out of her life that brought memories of Sam. That meant his clothes, his presents for her, everything. Some of it may have come with feelings of guilt for how Sam ended up dying, but it definitely was different from how the others in Sam’s circle were dealing with his death.

And that is ultimately a big thing explored here: everyone handles their grief differently. But that doesn’t mean they each have to be isolated in finding their way back to some semblance of living.

I love how it explored Sam’s closest relationships and how their relationship with one another changed and evolved after such a tragedy. And a tragedy this sure was because he was so young, he had barely lived out his dreams yet.

But back to the heart of the story. This is about Julie’s connection with Sam. And in some magical way, they were able to connect from the beyond and be able to still talk to each other. This is what made the story special, and also super heartbreaking. Because we all know it – this can’t possibly last forever. Julie will have to learn to let him go at some point.

The prose was beautiful. I loved Sam and Julie’s conversations so much. I loved seeing how she struggled with doing things in her life that felt like moving on in some miniscule way but only to fall away from it because of her still-present connection with Sam. Their relationship wasn’t always sunshine and rainbows, as it wouldn’t realistically be, but these were two people who loved one another deeply and made my cynical heart believe could’ve survived a high school romance into adulthood.

We were two parts of a song – he was the music and I was the words.

The ending almost broke me, in the best of ways, I suppose. I had to listen to this as an audiobook – I was so afraid I’d be crying so hard I wouldn’t be able to see the words. I needed to be able to get through the ending faster that would inevitably have me in a puddle of my own tears.

I won’t ruin the beauty of the conversations and the growth in Julie and those closest to Sam. I would want you to experience that firsthand yourself if this review has piqued your interest. I normally avoid books that I know will break my heart, but there was just something about this book that drew me in from the start.

I wondered why someone would want to intentionally experience [something that’d make you cry in a way you’ve never cried before]. I think I figured it out.

You want to feel something. Something meaningful and intense. You want to feel that thing in your heart and stomach. You want to be moved, to care about something or fall in love, you know….It makes you feel alive.

Dustin Thao, you’re a genius and your gut-wrenching story deservedly launched to #2 on the NYT bestseller list. I can’t wait to see what’s next.

Overall Recommendation:

You’ve Reached Sam is a heartbreaking story of loss and grief in a young life tragically gone too soon. Dealing with the aftermath of her boyfriend’s death, Julie struggles to move on when a magical connection through their phones allows them to communicate with each other, even from the beyond. Mixed with flashback dreams of their relationship and the present day haze of grief, this story will unlock those tear ducts as Julie inevitably needs to learn to let him go. Explorations of the different ways people handle grief, especially among those who were all near to the same loved one, was one of the highlights of this novel. But ultimately, Julie’s journey navigating life after Sam is one that was written with the most beautiful prose fitting for her story. I am overjoyed I found my way to this book, and you should definitely find your way here too.