5 star, YA

ARC Review: Always Isn’t Forever by J.C. Cervantes

From New York Times bestselling author J.C. Cervantes comes a sparkling, unforgettable YA romance, perfect for fans of You’ve Reached Sam.

Best friends and soul mates since they were kids, Hart Augusto and Ruby Armenta were poised to take on senior year together when Hart tragically drowns in a boating accident. Absolutely shattered, Ruby struggles to move on from the person she knows was her forever love.

Hart can’t let go of Ruby either…. Due to some divine intervention, he’s offered a second chance. Only it won’t be as simple as bringing him back to life–instead, Hart’s soul is transferred to the body of local bad boy.

When Hart returns to town as Jameson, he realizes that winning Ruby back will be more challenging than he’d imagined. For one, he’s forbidden from telling Ruby the truth. And with each day he spends as Jameson, memories of his life as Hart begin to fade away.

Though Ruby still mourns Hart, she can’t deny that something is drawing her to Jameson. As much as she doesn’t understand the sudden pull, it can’t be ignored. And why does he remind her so much of Hart? Desperate to see if the connection she feels is real, Ruby begins to open her heart to Jameson–but will their love be enough to bridge the distance between them?



Overall Recommendation:

Bring your tissues because Always Isn’t Forever will tug at your heartstrings while you’re screaming at yourself to not let your heart beat with hope for Ruby and Hart. Reminiscent of You’ve Reached Sam, an unexpected early death throws a wrench in their plans for their forever future, but these two lovebirds find a way to connect with each other again even after death. Except Hart can’t tell Ruby he doesn’t appear as he used to! I loved the dual POV that gave insight into their love that defies the passing of time and their age. Their journey for even one more moment together had me hogging the tissues in a corner as I gobbled their story in one sitting. 100% worth the read!

**Always Isn’t Forever comes out June 6, 2023**

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

It’s not a joke when the synopsis compares Always Isn’t Forever to You’ve Reached Sam. The cover gives even the same vibes. But where You’ve Reached Sam hit a little bit of a roadblock for me, this book blew past my expectations and opened my heart (and the floodgates) to Ruby and Hart’s story.

I’m a sucker for romances that hit you deep in the heart and this one is no exception. For a story about death and getting a divine second chance to potentially reconnect, whether you love the book or not hinges on how well you love the two protagonists. I’d say I’m sometimes pretty jaded when it comes to romance stories – I’ve definitely read a lot – but these two teenagers had such a woven and realistic story of love from childhood friends to something more.

The dual POV from Hart (in Jameson’s body) and Ruby gave so much insight to who they each were, but also who the other meant to them. Hart was a songwriter, and his soul was entwined with music and melody that dreamt of their love. While his memories were slowly disappearing, he held on desperately for his memory of Ruby and the music he was in the midst of writing for her at the time of his death. Ruby, on the other hand, loved the water, practically lived in it. After Hart’s drowning, she had to reconcile her love for the water and its hand in taking away the only boy she ever loved.

My heart is still beating rapidly just thinking of their story. The prose and flow had everything to do with it too. Cervantes carved their love story through quick chapters, little memories engraved in their souls, and raw emotions that aren’t always easy to deal with in the face of goodbyes.

Love doesn’t need more than one heart.

If there’s one thing that both Hart and Ruby learned, it was this quote. Oh, my poor heart suffered with Hart as he desperately tried to tell the people he loved, especially Ruby, that he was back. But regardless if she didn’t fully know who he was inside a new body, he knew. And love doesn’t require more than one heart.

Aside from these two whom I fell in love with, there were a few secondary characters making an impact. Ruby’s sister, Gabi, is exactly what I would want in a sister if I were to have one. She pushed Ruby when others may have given up when she went into a sad spiral. They bickered and they disagreed on things but you can tell love was the underlying motive for everything Gabi did for Ruby. And on Hart’s side, let’s just say there’s a fun divine being he befriends who ended up being a nice, more lighthearted character to throw into their mix.

Who surprised me most was Jameson. We can’t forget the boy whose body Hart took. This is NOT like The Host (aka my favourite book ever) where two souls vie for one body. The divine rules for body recycling is interesting, but a body can hold memories so getting to know pieces of Jameson was also amazing. Cervantes has a way of making each character feel real with their emotions and how they grapple with things like grief and guilt and joy.

All this to say, Always Isn’t Forever blew past my expectations. Did I think I would cry? Yes. Did I actually cry? 100 times yes. But it held such a good balance of hope, love, and grief that I could only ever hope to find in a book. If you liked You’ve Reached Sam, I’d say you’d LOVE this one.

4 star

Review: It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover

Sometimes it is the one who loves you who hurts you the most.

Lily hasn’t always had it easy, but that’s never stopped her from working hard for the life she wants. She’s come a long way from the small town in Maine where she grew up — she graduated from college, moved to Boston, and started her own business. So when she feels a spark with a gorgeous neurosurgeon named Ryle Kincaid, everything in Lily’s life suddenly seems almost too good to be true.

Ryle is assertive, stubborn, maybe even a little arrogant. He’s also sensitive, brilliant, and has a total soft spot for Lily. And the way he looks in scrubs certainly doesn’t hurt. Lily can’t get him out of her head. But Ryle’s complete aversion to relationships is disturbing. Even as Lily finds herself becoming the exception to his “no dating” rule, she can’t help but wonder what made him that way in the first place.

As questions about her new relationship overwhelm her, so do thoughts of Atlas Corrigan — her first love and a link to the past she left behind. He was her kindred spirit, her protector. When Atlas suddenly reappears, everything Lily has built with Ryle is threatened.



After having read Verity, my friend suggested this other one by the same author, citing that it was also very good. I overall quite enjoyed this book! It may not be for everyone, but I definitely enjoyed the story and the twists that came with it. It’s kind of a romance book, but in my opinion it’s also quite the thriller. After reading this I’m not surprised at all that the author was able to write Verity.

It Ends With Us is the story of Lily, who has a rough childhood and is forced to navigate adulthood quite isolated. On her journey to success, she meets the neurosurgeon Ryle, who turns her life around in more than one way. Ryle has a “no dating” rule, which intrigues Lily. This book follows the journey of Lily as she navigates romance, business, exes, and (TW) abuse.

Continue reading “Review: It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover”
2.5 star, YA

ARC Review: This is the Way the World Ends by Jen Wilde

You are cordially invited to spend one fateful night surviving an elite private school’s epic masquerade ball

As an autistic scholarship student at the prestigious Webber Academy in New York City, Waverly is used to masking to fit in—in more ways than one. While her classmates are the children of the one percent, Waverly is getting by on tutoring gigs and the generosity of the school’s charming and enigmatic dean. So when her tutoring student and resident “it girl” asks Waverly to attend the school’s annual fundraising Masquerade disguised as her, Waverly jumps at the chance—especially once she finds out that Ash, the dean’s daughter and her secret ex-girlfriend, will be there.

The Masquerade is everything Waverly dreamed of, complete with extravagant gowns, wealthy parents writing checks, and flowing champagne. Most importantly, there’s Ash. All Waverly wants to do is shed her mask and be with her, but the evening takes a sinister turn when Waverly stumbles into a secret meeting between the dean and the school’s top donors—and witnesses a brutal murder. This gala is harboring far more malevolent plots than just opening parents’ pocketbooks. Before she can escape or contact the authorities, a mysterious global blackout puts the entire party on lockdown. Waverly’s fairy tale has turned into a nightmare, and she, Ash, and her friends must navigate through a dizzying maze of freight elevators, secret passageways, and back rooms if they’re going to survive the night.

And even if they manage to escape the Masquerade, with technology wiped out all over the planet, what kind of world will they find waiting for them beyond the doors?



Overall Recommendation:

This is the Way the World Ends delivers on the diversity front in its characters but lacks the emotional connection to them. Between certain flashbacks and a plot about the world literally ending, there wasn’t enough time focused on any singular thing. There was a lot of potential but perhaps didn’t come through in a way I had anticipated while rooting for Waverly and co.

**This is the Way the World Ends comes out May 9, 2023**

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for this copy in exchange for an honest review

This book is definitely reminiscent of the dystopian era of YA, although it starts off in a world similar to ours. You know going into the book that things aren’t as they seem, and the world may be on the brink of big changes that will impact everyone in a devastating manner. How this happens though? Now that’s the mystery, and it does unfold in an intriguing way.

Set in a prestigious New York school, we follow Waverly, one of few students who attend based on scholarship and merit instead of wealth and connections. For the most part, I liked her as a protagonist. She’s unique and stands out among the YA crowd full of heroines that all seem so…one noted. She’s autistic and deals with the world in a slightly different way than others. But that doesn’t necessarily define her, just a fact that explains how her POV makes sense.

There’s also a heavy emphasis in chronic illness among the secondary characters. From MS flares to the need for a cane with mobility, diversity is most definitely present. While it’s tempting to feel like the author just wants to add “diverse characters” into the story, I don’t feel that is the case here. These aren’t just token characters to check off a box and feel good about yourself. Their disabilities or health struggles are a part of who they are and play more of a role in the story than an adjective to describe a person.

That being said, I struggled the most with this story when it came to really connecting with the characters. They seem great and all, but why should I care? I know, it sounds harsh, but a part of me felt very disconnected from them, which isn’t great when these characters are on the run and trying to escape pending doom and death.

What the book excelled at more was laying out the end of the world plot. It felt like a quick read at times because I was anticipating with Waverly the puzzle pieces we needed to put together to understand what’s happening. The end of the world hadn’t happened yet, unlike most dystopians that already drop you in a devastated world, so it was cool seeing the transition.

Unfortunately, the plot dragged only in its flashback scenes. They’re there to add context for Waverly’s relationship with her ex, Ash. I liked Ash well enough but I couldn’t determine whether I was rooting for their present relationship or not from what little information we are presented with about her. Most of the happy parts of their relationship occurred in the past so I never got to truly feel them falling in love. In fact, the romance almost deterred some of the action in the story with the page time it was given.

Without giving away anything, I’ll say that I’m not sure how I feel about the ending. It both felt like the appropriate place to leave it while also making me wish for more. That may be a good indicator for a book. It makes you both want more and somewhat satisfied with the direction it did go in. For a debut novel, This is the Way the World Ends had some bumps but it also had some things I enjoyed for a quick read.