2 star, YA

Review: Bone Crier’s Dawn by Kathryn Purdie

Series: Bone Grace #2

Love is a matter of life and death.

Bone Criers have been ferrying the dead into the afterlife for centuries, a dangerous duty only possible with the powers they gain from sacrificing their amourés the men destined to love them and die. But Bone Criers Ailesse and Sabine—along with Ailesse’s love, Bastien—are working to chart their own course and rewrite the rules of the afterlife. If they don’t break the soul between Ailesse and her amouré, she could die—just as Bastien’s father did.

Sabine struggles to maintain her authority as matrone of her famille—the role always destined for her sister—even as she fights to control the violent jackal power within her.

Bastien is faced with a new dilemma as the spirits of the Underworld threaten the souls of his friends—and his father.

Ailesse attempts to resist her mother’s siren song as she’s drawn into her own version of the Underworld. How will she save her friends once she’s cut off from their world?

This pulse-pounding follow-up to Bone Crier’s Moon is a story of love, sisterhood, and determination as three friends find the courage and power to shatter the boundary between the living and the dead.



One of my most highly anticipated sequels of this year, I wanted so badly to get my hands on this that I actually bought the special edition from Owlcrate. I attended Kathryn Purdie’s Twitter Q&A last year after the first book was released and was so pumped for any news from this book.

To say I was disappointed is a bit of an understatement. I was underwhelmed. I don’t even think I needed too much but it just did not speak to me in all the ways I was looking for. Bone Criers Dawn just didn’t impress me.

The book picks up pretty much after the events of Bone Criers Moon. When I read this first book, I had raved so much about the world building that felt so unique and special to this story. Women ferrying the dead using strengths (or graces, they call) from the bones of animals they slaughtered. But choose wisely because you can only pick 3 animals!

This is still interesting and this sequel definitely adds a bit more to this world building element. However, this alone can’t carry the story. It’s not that in depth to make you feel so invested in the land outside of the characters we’re reading about.

So what about the other aspects of the book I would normally find enjoyable?

There are 3 POVs in this book: Bastien, Ailesse and Sabine. Bastien and Ailesse were the enemies to lovers I fell in love with in the last book, this unwitting pair that didn’t seem like they’d work together. But then came the extra complication in the form of Prince Cas, future ruler of the region they lived in who was a wrench in their love story. From two became three and I’m not the hugest fan of love triangles. Yet this one wasn’t even executed well!

There’s dumb miscommunication or “I’m going to focus on myself for now” issues that hurt the budding relationship, and the relationship one of the guys goes for in the end didn’t even build until maybe past the 50% mark? Even then, it felt super instant and not based on proper relationship markers, like a rebound. That sucked ‘cause I actually liked that pairing.

Additionally, both of the female protagonists make bad decisions based on their fears and insecurities. Ailesse hurt Bastien needlessly and Sabine became so ruthless it was like she wasn’t herself anymore. You ever have to sit through a book where you wanna yell at the character you’re stuck following that that’s a dumb mistake they’re making? It’s not pleasant.

Literally the only upside was the world building. The way everything wrapped up felt too anticlimactic and not fleshed out enough. I wanted more, no, needed more but unfortunately this was the end. Maybe it was just me but it didn’t feel like it lived up to the bar its predecessor left.

Would I still recommend this book? It’s by no means the best fantasy out there but there’s still something in it to offer the world, notably the world building. But I will leave that up to you.

Overall Recommendation:

Bone Crier’s Dawn did not live up to the expectations set by its first book in this duology which was a huge disappointment for me. While the world building is still interesting, it doesn’t build enough in this book to carry the pace and enjoyment. The 3 different protagonists each had their own issues, most of them due to the choices they make, and the romantic relationship that readers loved in book 1 felt extra dramatic for no reason while creating another relationship that literally had minimal foundation. Perhaps this is a me and not the book thing, but for huge fans of the first book, this is my caution to you to lower expectations and maybe it’ll be everything you hoped for.

4 star, YA

Review: The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Series: The Inheritance Games #1

A Cinderella story with deadly stakes and thrilling twists.

Avery Grambs has a plan for a better future: survive high school, win a scholarship, and get out. But her fortunes change in an instant when billionaire Tobias Hawthorne dies and leaves Avery virtually his entire fortune. The catch? Avery has no idea why–or even who Tobias Hawthorne is. To receive her inheritance, Avery must move into sprawling, secret passage-filled Hawthorne House, where every room bears the old man’s touch–and his love of puzzles, riddles, and codes. 

Unfortunately for Avery, Hawthorne House is also occupied by the family that Tobias Hawthorne just dispossessed. This includes the four Hawthorne grandsons: dangerous, magnetic, brilliant boys who grew up with every expectation that one day, they would inherit billions. Heir apparent Grayson Hawthorne is convinced that Avery must be a con-woman, and he’s determined to take her down. His brother, Jameson, views her as their grandfather’s last hurrah: a twisted riddle, a puzzle to be solved. Caught in a world of wealth and privilege, with danger around every turn, Avery will have to play the game herself just to survive.



I approached the newest series by Jennifer Lynn Barnes with a sense of wary excitement. Having loved and felt let down by her past stories, I wasn’t sure which side of the fence this one would land in. I am happy to say that The Inheritance Games hooked me with its main plot line and reeled me in with the characters I fell for.

Avery Grambs was an ordinary girl by all standards, possibly even less known than the average high school student as she was practically orphaned and living with her half-sister. Good with puzzles and strategy, here’s a girl who wanted to do actuarial science in the future – but only because it was something she could excel in and pays well. After all, she knew exactly how much effort it took to do well in school (not much at all between her jobs), so what would it look like to actually try? What a practical and intriguing mind.

Then comes the out-of-nowhere inheritance and the four Hawthorne brothers. Or should I say, half brothers? This family dynamic was super interesting with all the boys, their mother that they share, and aunts/uncles and family staff all under one roof, albeit a super large mansion-sized roof. I loved that each brother was different, although they could technically be put into a stereotypical box.

Grayson: the serious responsible one who is secretly a sweetheart underneath those frigid cold outer layers

Jameson: the adventurous, rebellious one that gives off bad-boy (or at least bad influence) vibes

Nash: the laidback cowboy one (they are in Texas after all) who prefers not to take on the mantle of responsibility

Xander: the sweet, fun, innocent one that is instantly your friend

I felt for Avery as she came face to face with these formidable brothers and having to navigate the sudden windfall all at the same time. Having not grown up with much money, suddenly she had to learn what it meant to be a billionaire. Who can you trust? How do you invest the money wisely? Wait, is someone trying to kill you now for your money?

Honestly, the riddles took a back burner to the relational aspects in this book. That may be why I docked off one star. I had wanted more clues, more of a hunt for the answer to everyone’s big question: why did Avery inherit everything (important) from a guy she had never known?

The little bits of clues and riddle hunting were fun and enjoyable. I always appreciate authors who craft some good puzzles for us readers to also figure out. I just wish it was a bigger part of this story. It may be that the next book will provide more now that we have been introduced to the family.

This leads me to what the story focused a little too much about. At the heart of the Hawthorne relationships Avery finds herself navigating is a love triangle between Grayson and Jameson. Obviously, I expected that from the synopsis. What I didn’t expect was some more convoluted past history between the brothers over another girl. One that didn’t end well for all parties and now impact their potential new fight over Avery. I don’t necessarily mind the backstory set up for the current-day issues, but it took up SO MUCH of the emotional arc of all three characters and impacted even the riddle hunting portion of the book. I would’ve been happier if it was limited in some capacity.

Disclaimer: if it’s not obvious yet, I don’t particularly have a great track record with love triangles. I thought I got over that particular issue in recent years, but nope. I wanted to love Jameson, I really did, but my heart just couldn’t get into their interactions. He wasn’t considerate to Avery at times, so focused on his love for puzzle solving, that I’m not sure what he truly sees in her. Or her in him, for that matter. He doesn’t have that sense of maturity, which if you read the differences in the brothers above, Grayson has in spades. So of course, I’m now Team Grayson unwittingly and hope my heart won’t be shattered in book 2. We shall see (and hope fervently).

By the end, I did appreciate where the storyline took everything and the new questions revealed from the limited answers we got at its conclusion. The pacing was good enough, and I really enjoyed Avery as a protagonist. She didn’t trust easily (which is good because we don’t want some naive girl here) but had relatively good judgment to discern when and who to rely on. Her puzzle solving mind was interesting to observe, and for the most part, I agreed with the choices she made. Although I came for the puzzles in this book, I stayed for the characterizations I enjoyed and the less annoying relationships that were forming. Here’s to waiting for the sequel!

Overall Recommendation:

The Inheritance Games brings an excellent plot line that puzzles and intrigues. Following a protagonist that doesn’t make me want to shout at her choices, I thoroughly enjoyed and empathized with Avery as she navigates a billionaire’s life that suddenly dropped into her lap. With a mystery at its heart to unravel and some romantic tensions in the form of a budding love triangle (yay…), there’s definitely plenty here to keep me flipping through its pages to the end for the twisty reveal. As more questions pile on top of the ones we already had, the sequel is definitely something I’m invested in! The only issue I had was this book had less puzzle solving than romantic entanglements (past or present). I hope book 2 will give us more puzzles and less complications in romance, but otherwise, this Jennifer Lynn Barnes novel was a win in my heart.

4 star, YA

Review: Love & Olives by Jenna Evans Welch

Series: Love & Gelato #3

Santorini felt like an island holding its breath. As if it were keeping in a secret…

Liv Varanakis doesn’t like to think about her father much, which makes sense—he fled to Greece when she was only eight, leaving her with just a few painful memories of their shared love for the lost city of Atlantis. So when teenage Liv suddenly receives a postcard from her father, who explains that National Geographic is supporting a documentary about his theories on Atlantis—and asks if she will fly out to Greece and help—Liv is less than thrilled.

When she arrives in gorgeous Santorini, things are just as awkward as she’d imagined. There are so many questions, so many emotions that flood to the surface after seeing her father for the first time in years. Liv doesn’t want to get sucked back into her father’s world. She also definitely doesn’t want Theo, her father’s charismatic so-called protégé, to witness her struggle.

Even so, she can’t help but be charmed by everything Santorini has to offer—the beautiful sunsets, the turquoise water, the sun-drenched villages, and the delicious cuisine. But not everything on the Greek island is as perfect as it seems. Because as Liv slowly begins to discover, her father may not have invited her to Greece for Atlantis, but for something much more important.



What was lost is now found.

A slightly different take from her other travel inspired novels, Jenna Evans Welch takes us to the beautiful island of Santorini in this latest novel, Love & Olives. While we still get the chance to explore around and “see” the different tourist attractions here, it’s a lot less focal to the story. The main attraction is this: a hunt for the lost city of Atlantis.

That’s right, folks. They are searching for Atlantis. Liv’s father abandoned her when she was a child to go in search of his lifelong dream of Atlantis, and now she finds herself on Greek soil for the first time to join her father in his excursion. Sounds like there’s bound to be lots of intense emotions flying around on this vacation, hmm?

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