For as long as she can remember, Evangeline Fox has believed in true love and happy endings . . . until she learns that the love of her life will marry another.
Desperate to stop the wedding and to heal her wounded heart, Evangeline strikes a deal with the charismatic but wicked Prince of Hearts. In exchange for his help, he asks for three kisses, to be given at the time and place of his choosing.
But after Evangeline’s first promised kiss, she learns that bargaining with an immortal is a dangerous game—and that the Prince of Hearts wants far more from her than she’d pledged. He has plans for Evangeline, plans that will either end in the greatest happily ever after or the most exquisite tragedy. . . .
Before I dive into my thoughts about this book, I had the pleasure of buddy reading this book with Leslie @ Books are the New Black. You can find her lovely review of this book here.
Whimsical and full of the magic that has propelled Stephanie Garber as a must-read author for many, this new companion series featuring a certain villain we all love and a girl who believes in happy fairy tale endings was everything I could’ve asked for. And I had pretty high expectations.
Seventeen-year-old Ivy’s summer break kicks off with an accident, a punishment, and a mystery: a stranger whose appearance in the middle of the road, in the middle of the night, heralds a string of increasingly unsettling events. As the days pass, Ivy grapples with eerie offerings, corroded memories, and a secret she’s always known—that there’s more to her mother than meets the eye.
THE CITY, BACK THEN . . .
Dana has always been perceptive. And the summer she turns sixteen, with the help of her best friend and an ambitious older girl, her gifts bloom into a heady fling with the supernatural, set in a city of magical possibilities and secret mystics. As the trio’s aspirations darken, they find themselves speeding toward a violent breaking point.
Years after it began, Ivy and Dana’s shared story will come down to a reckoning among a daughter, a mother, and the dark forces they never should’ve messed with.
**Our Crooked Hearts comes out June 28, 2022**
Thank you Flatiron Books for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Chilling, gripping and full of familial drama, Our Crooked Hearts blew through all my expectations and I couldn’t put it down.
At the heart of this story is the bond between Ivy and her mother. Which isn’t a very good one as Ivy knows Dana is keeping something big from her (and the rest of the family). Although the synopsis suggests it’s evenly split between Ivy and the flashbacks to Dana’s childhood, it doesn’t really start off that way.
We get a lot of chapters about Ivy’s current life in the suburbs. All is well…that is, until she encounters a strange woman in the middle of the road late at night who may have more than a passing curiosity about Ivy. The story dives into this really quick, which I thoroughly appreciate, and sets the tone for the following strange events to come.
Once Dana’s flashbacks start coming, it provides great context to us, the omniscient reader, about what she’s hiding from the family – and perhaps how this stranger in the present day is related to what once happened. I’m normally not the biggest fan of two alternative POVs in different timelines as one is normally stronger than the other and I would much prefer to stick with the one I like. However, I found myself not begrudgingly reading Dana’s POV but also coming to like those chapters too. They filled in gaps we’re still piecing together, but the anticipation for figuring out how everything related was oddly satisfying.
I had the privilege of hearing Melissa speak about the writing process for this book and I fully understand how the story needed to be told from both Ivy and Dana’s POVs. It might’ve started off as Ivy’s story, but humanizing Dana instead of making her the enemy in Ivy’s eyes shows the complexity of humans, not just the black and white we sometimes get depending on whose perspective you’re told.
This book is also full of magic. It’s not very specific to any witchcraft practiced in modern society but a little bit of everything. Melissa did her research and it showed. The end result was an eerie tale that highlighted the price one pays when they meddle with forces they do not understand.
The pacing was excellent and the time really flies by as you switch from Ivy to Dana and back again. The underlying mystery, the strange events occurring present day and the secrets unfolding were the perfect balance to drive momentum to the climax. The one thing I will add is that I had hoped for more resolution in Ivy and Dana’s relationship. While we get a lot of information about them separately in their individual POVs, there’s not a lot of interaction between them and I feel that could’ve been explored a little more.
If you’ve read any book by Melissa Albert before, you already should know she’s a masterful storyteller, but if you’re new, then you’re in for a treat. Our Crooked Hearts presents a perfect story in the dark with plenty of magic, mayhem and mystery. You should definitely grab this one when it comes out!
Our Crooked Hearts is a fast-paced tale with a supernatural mystery that may tie to a family’s past. Excellently told in two alternative timelines featuring mother and daughter, I found myself loving both POVs as they blend the perfect story together, each adding pivotal information as we race to solve the present day’s strange occurrences before something terrible happens. Melissa Albert’s latest novel is another showcase of her amazing storytelling. Trust me, it will grip you in its hold until the end.
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?
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.
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.
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”.