Fantasy Book Reviews, Young Adult Book Reviews

Netgalley Review: They Drown Our Daughters

Hello Everyone,

Such a pretty cover!

Title: They Drown Our Daughters

Author: Katrina Monroe

Series: Standalone (?)

Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press

Page Count: 300

Genre: Gothic Horror

Trigger Warnings: suicide, drowning


Goodreads Summary:

For fans of Jennifer McMahon and Silvia Moreno-Garcia comes a haunting and atmospheric new novel from debut author Katrina Monroe.

If you can hear the call of the water,
It’s already far too late.

They say Cape Disappointment is haunted. That’s why tourists used to flock there in droves. They’d visit the rocky shoreline under the old lighthouse’s watchful eye and fish shells from the water as they pretended to spot dark shapes in the surf. Now the tourists are long gone, and when Meredith Strand and her young daughter return to Meredith’s childhood home after an acrimonious split from her wife, the Cape seems more haunted by regret than any malevolent force.

But her mother, suffering from early stages of Alzheimer’s, is convinced the ghost stories are real. Not only is there something in the water, but it’s watching them. Waiting for them. Reaching out to Meredith’s daughter the way it has to every woman in their line for generations-and if Meredith isn’t careful, all three women, bound by blood and heartbreak, will be lost one by one to the ocean’s mournful call.

Part modern gothic, part ghost story, They Drown Our Daughters explores the depths of motherhood, identity, and the lengths a woman will go to hold on to both.


My Thoughts:

It’s queer, it’s Gothic horror, and it’s said fans of Silvia Moreno-Garcia should like this. So why didn’t I? 🤷


My Review:

I actually read this ages ago, back during the summer and forgot to post a review. Whoops. Let’s see if I can scrabble a brief background on what I read, what I liked about this and why it didn’t work for me!

A curse, a haunting, and a queer girl in search for answers. All that sounds good, right? But for some reason I just wasn’t drawn into the story! I felt no connection with any of these characters, and it felt like other authors have done this and made a better job of it. It had all the creepy elements, but I wasn’t captivated. Probably 15 year old me would have adored this but adult me is just “meh, it’s okay” and I’m sorry but that’s just how I feel about it. The writing was good and showed promise. The plot was decent and showed vague interest. But overall? This was another solid 3 star read for me. Maybe her next book will work better for me.


My Rating:

⭐⭐⭐

Until next time,

-Pass Me That Book

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fiction, Young Adult Book Reviews

Netgalley Review: Dance of Twilight and Tears

Hello Everyone,

I’ll admit it. I was sold by this cover and learning that this was a Swan Lake retelling!

Book Title: Dance of Twilight and Tears

Author: Zara Mills

Series: I *think* it’s a Standalone? But I’ve been wrong before lol

Genre: YA

Publisher: FinnStar Publishing

Page Count: n/a

Goodreads Summary:

Algae and toe shoes, feathers and tutus

Behind the gilded doors of the Paris Opéra Ballet, two best friends, Madeleine and Lucie, dance the night away. But at first morning light, their human bodies transform into webbed feet, billed lips, and wings.

When enchanted, the girls are the Bois de Boulogne’s famous black and white swans. For ninety years, they have floated in the lake, unable to find true love and break the evil Dance Master’s curse. But when Madeleine meets American transplant Zig Young, everything changes.

Suddenly, Madeleine wins a coveted solo spot in an upcoming ballet, and her growing relationship with Zig means she’s on the verge of breaking the enchantment. However, doing so means leaving the Bois, the ballet, and Lucie forever—something she’s not sure she can bear.

Desperate to not lose her best friend, Lucie will do anything to keep Madeleine with her—including betrayal. She’ll stop at nothing—even if it means breaking Madeleine’s heart and dooming her to life as a swan forever; even if she ruins her own chance at happiness.

In this retelling of Swan Lake, the lines of good and bad blur as Madeleine and Lucie struggle to choose between the life they want and their friendship.

My Thoughts:

Okay, admittedly I don’t know much about Swan Lake. So I have no idea if this is a good retelling or not lol. You guys will have to tell me if it is or not!

My Review:

This was a fascinating book, in that I love books about dancing and mysterious elements, and yet I feel as though maybe I just wasn’t the right age for this book. It was weird. Good weird but weird. I loved the opening chapters, the dark atmospheric setting and the curse upon the girls that turn into swans. I don’t feel as though that’s spoilers, so apologies if it is. It’s literally right in the opening couple of chapters.

I haven’t read much dancing books. I think that the first book that had dance in it was Twilight lol. Remember Bella with the ballet studio in book one? For those that know, you know exactly what I am talking about. I think that was my first exposure to dance in fiction. I’ve since read a decent amount of books that will have dancing mentioned. I’ve watched both first films of Step Up (I think that was the title!) And I adore ballet but after watching a documentary about the hospital bills and how painful ballet really is? No thanks, definitely not for me!

That said, I am not an expert on dancing. I don’t dance, my balance is crap. So reading books about it is the best way to go. This was a good book. Descriptive but not over the top. Fun, but not a challenging read. But it is YA so maybe I shouldn’t have thought otherwise oopsie.

What’s this story about? It’s about a curse. It’s about romance. About dancing, and healing and figuring out what one wants. It’s a fast paced read; I easily managed to finish this in a few hours. I’m trying to be vague about this as I don’t want to spoil anyone! And as I don’t know much about Swan Lake, all I can say is that this was quite good and definitely worth reading! If you like curses, dancing, and darkly atmospheric books, then do check this one out!

My Rating:

⭐⭐⭐⭐

Until next time,

-Pass Me That Book

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Fantasy Book Reviews, Young Adult Book Reviews

Book Review: The Circus Rose

Hello Everyone,

Such a beautiful cover!

Title: The Circus Rose

Author: Betsy Cornwall

Series: Standalone

Genre: Fantasy, YA, Retelling

Publisher: Clarion Books

Published: 2020

Page Count: 300

Goodreads Summary:

A queer retelling of “Snow White and Rose Red” in which teenage twins battle evil religious extremists to save their loves and their circus family.

Twins Rosie and Ivory have grown up at their ringmaster mother’s knee, and after years on the road, they’re returning to Port End, the closest place to home they know. Yet something has changed in the bustling city: fundamentalist flyers paper the walls and preachers fill the squares, warning of shadows falling over the land. The circus prepares a triumphant homecoming show, full of lights and spectacle that could chase away even the darkest shadow. But during Rosie’s tightrope act, disaster strikes.

In this lush, sensuous novel interwoven with themes of social justice and found family, it’s up to Ivory and her magician love—with the help of a dancing bear—to track down an evil priest and save their circus family before it’s too late.

My Thoughts:

Magical, lyrical, told in two parts, one part being poetry and the other part being story this was beautiful, sad, enchanting and wonderful. Betsy Cornwall has won me over with her beautiful prose and elegant writing. Such strong characters though I admit to Ivory being my favorite compared to that of Rose. A retelling of Snow White, Rose Red this is one of my new favorites.

My Review:

I’m always a fan of circus stories. I’m sad that they are mostly gone now. The circus to me was always magical and exciting. I even tried joining one once but was unsuccessful. This book I put off reading for at least two, three years now, I devoured in a single sitting. It was half told in verse, split between two characters, Ivory (who was my favorite) and Rose. While I’m not a big fan of novels in verse, I still felt that this was handled well for a retelling of Snow White and Rose Red. While short, this definitely didn’t hold back it’s punches, in proudly displaying Rose and Ivory and their mother, all together struggling to get by daily. The characters felt so real it was as if I was there amongst them, enjoying the show.

This was one of the first YA books I’ve read in a while, and I’m so glad it was a high rating for me. I’m also glad that I own a physical copy. I hope to get through more of the authors backlist titles at some point though no clue when that will be. This book is recommended for those that want representation for bisexual characters, nonbinary characters, sapphic love interests and a satisfying ending.

My Rating:

⭐⭐⭐⭐

Until next time,

-Pass Me That Book

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Historical Fiction Book Reviews, Young Adult Book Reviews

Book Review: Kanada

Title: Kanada

Author: Eva Wiseman

Series: standalone

Genre: YA, Middle Grade, Historical

Publisher: Penguin Random House

Page Count: 300

Goodreads Summary:

Kanada. The name meant untold riches and promise to Jutka, a young Hungarian girl who was captivated by stories of a vast, majestic country where people were able to breathe free of hatred and prejudice. Freedom was in short supply, but hatred was everywhere in Hungary as hundreds of thousands of Jews were deported to concentration camps during the last year of WWII. Jutka, her friends, and her family are sent to Auschwitz.

In that hellish place, there was another Kanada. It was the ironic name given to the storehouse at Auschwitz where the possessions, clothing and jewelry stripped from the victims were deposited, and where Jutka was put to work.

The war may have ended, but it did not end the suffering of many of the inmates of concentration camps. Many had no homes to go to, and if they did, they were not welcome. Hundreds went back to Poland and were murdered. Famished, diseased, and homeless, they lived in the hopelessness of camps, wondering if they could ever find a home in the world. Some went to Israel, but for Jutka there was only one dream left her: the dream of a country full of hope, where she would no longer have to live in fear.

Eva Wiseman’s powerful novel describes the war and its long, difficult aftermath with compassion and tenderness.

My Thoughts:

Definitely have a box of tissues prepared for this book. I had gone into this completely blind, and ended up sobbing my eyes out.

My Review:

This was very good, although super sad as it’s another Auschwitz story. I hadn’t realized that in going in so allow me to inform you that you definitely should have a box of tissues prepared. Jutka is a believable character and the story is powerful, emotional, and full of historical references. From Hungary to Canada, this was a really good read. I can definitely see why it was the winner of the Geoffrey Bilson award back in 2007. Jutka, a young Hungarian girl, is just trying to survive and not get killed all because she was born a Jew. The story is told before, during and after World War 2. It’s beautifully written, and vivid with descriptions of the time and place of what it was like living as a Jew during that era.  It was quite sad, and yet Jutka pressed on and survived. Very recommended for those who like historical fiction!

My Rating:

⭐⭐⭐⭐

Until next time,

-Pass Me That Book

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Science Fiction Book Reviews, Young Adult Book Reviews

Book Review: Avalon

Hello Everyone,

The cover is so intriguing!

Title: Avalon

Author: Mindee Arnette

Series: Book 1

Genre: YA, Science Fiction

Publisher: Harper Collins

Page Count: 400

Goodreads Summary:

Of the various star systems that make up the Confederation, most lie thousands of light-years from First Earth-and out here, no one is free. The agencies that govern the Confederation are as corrupt as the crime bosses who patrol it, and power is held by anyone with enough greed and ruthlessness to claim it. That power is derived from one thing: metatech, the devices that allow people to travel great distances faster than the speed of light.

Jeth Seagrave and his crew of teenage mercenaries have survived in this world by stealing unsecured metatech, and they’re damn good at it. Jeth doesn’t care about the politics or the law; all he cares about is earning enough money to buy back his parents’ ship, Avalon, from his crime-boss employer and getting himself and his sister, Lizzie, the heck out of Dodge. But when Jeth finds himself in possession of information that both the crime bosses and the government are willing to kill for, he is going to have to ask himself how far he’ll go to get the freedom he’s wanted for so long.

My Thoughts:

This was proclaimed as a For fans of Josh Whedon’s cult classic television show Firefly comes a fascinating and fast-paced sci-fi thriller from author Mindee Arnett, over on Google and I really feel like it is accurate description of the book, however Firefly remains top tier. Worth reading if missing Firefly otherwise unless you really like predictable teen science fiction, I’d give this a hard pass. I love Mindee Arnett’s books, but this just didn’t do it for me.

My Review:

Jeth, Celeste, Lizzy and others on his crew are hired by the ITA to find a missing ship in a place no one goes to anymore because bad things happen there. There’s a mystery surrounding his parents death and their being called traitors. Lots of hijinks ensue, being chased by all sorts of people and near death experiences while also Jeth is intent to buy his parents ship, Avalon, back. It’s all fun and games until the truth comes out.

My Rating:

⭐⭐⭐

Until next time,

-Pass Me That Book

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Mystery/Thriller Book Reviews, Young Adult Book Reviews

Book Review: Mystery On the Isle of Skye

Hello Everyone,

I love these old covers! So neat!

Book Title: Mystery On the Isle of Skye

Book Author: Phyllis A. Whitney

Series: Standalone

Publisher: Fawcett Juniper

Page Count: 200

Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Suspense

Goodreads Summary:

Following instructions contained in the parting gift from her Grandmother when she set out for Isle Of Skye, would lead to startling surprises for Cathy MacLeod. She and her standoffish cousin Don, would be drawn in a search for answers to baffling puzzles. New friends and thrilling adventures wait for Cathy where she learned to love the mountains and legendary magic of her Grandmother’s beautiful isle. The greatest surprise of all came when she least expected it…

My Thoughts:

This was a wonderful little story of a girl going to the Isle of Skye by request of her dying grandmother. At times the story definitely read like it was meant for a much younger audience, but the story itself was intriguing and full of Scottish history, phrases, and words. I adore stories set in Scotland, England, and the surrounding areas so I was sure to love this and Phyllis A Whitney is one of my favorite authors. I dove right into this book, and finished it within a few hours (interruptions by family making it difficult to keep reading). I’m happy that the first read of the year is a high four star read. But onto what the book actually is about!

Book Review:

Catherine “Cathy” Macleod receives a mysterious box and quest from her ailing, dying grandmother to go to the Isle of Skye and follow through on various instructions to receive her prize. The book starts off with Cathy joining her aunt, uncle and two cousins Don and Punch on the trip of a lifetime. She’s swept away into learning all about Scotland and it’s people, especially her family the Macleod’s. I was pleased to note the Battle of Culloden being mentioned, the Sith, fey and magic also having mentions scattered in the book. But those mentions were brief and the story focused more on Cathy becoming friends with Don and Punch. I’m happy to add there’s zero romance in the book. It’s a straight up ya mystery with elements of suspense and a fun quest. While the ending felt abrupt it was a happy ending. The characters felt believable though some of the writing definitely felt dated in the “portly” aunt Bertha. Overall I’m happy to rate this 4.5 stars.

My Rating:

⭐ ⭐⭐⭐

Until next time,

-Pass Me That

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Young Adult Book Reviews

Library Book Review: White Smoke

Hello everyone,

Such a lovely cover.

Title: White Smoke

Author: Tiffany D. Jackson

Series: Standalone

Genre: YA, Paranormal, Suspense

Publisher: Harper Collins

Page Count: 400

Goodreads Summary:

The Haunting of Hill House meets Get Out in this chilling YA psychological thriller and modern take on the classic haunted house story from New York Times bestselling author Tiffany D. Jackson!

Marigold is running from ghosts. The phantoms of her old life keep haunting her, but a move with her newly blended family from their small California beach town to the embattled Midwestern city of Cedarville might be the fresh start she needs. Her mom has accepted a new job with the Sterling Foundation that comes with a free house, one that Mari now has to share with her bratty ten-year-old stepsister, Piper.

The renovated picture-perfect home on Maple Street, sitting between dilapidated houses, surrounded by wary neighbors has its . . . secrets. That’s only half the problem: household items vanish, doors open on their own, lights turn off, shadows walk past rooms, voices can be heard in the walls, and there’s a foul smell seeping through the vents only Mari seems to notice. Worse: Piper keeps talking about a friend who wants Mari gone.

But “running from ghosts” is just a metaphor, right?

As the house closes in, Mari learns that the danger isn’t limited to Maple Street. Cedarville has its secrets, too. And secrets always find their way through the cracks.

My Thoughts:

I had no idea that this was a ghost story as I went into this book as blindly as possible and was pleasantly surprised. When’s a better time to read a ghost story if not at Christmas, lol. Especially ones like this. It referenced paranormal activity and the haunting of hill house, both of which I am barely familiar with. The ghost story was well handled and I enjoyed the book. While the beginning is a bit slow paced of a family winning a house in a broken down neighborhood (which for me would have been major red flags); the parents in this story of course didn’t believe that the kids could see ghosts. Of which the ghost cliches in this book constantly made me laugh and wasn’t for me this book wasn’t scary but entertaining.

The ending though. I definitely wasn’t expecting that ending and am still feeling a book hangover like “what did I just read?”. I have no clue what to say and so it’s best not to say anything and let y’all read for yourself. It’s good writing, strong characters and all kinds of fun.

My Rating:

⭐ ⭐⭐⭐

Until next time,

-Pass Me That Book

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Science Fiction Book Reviews, Young Adult Book Reviews

Physical Book Review: Victories Greater Than Death

Hello Everyone,

I read this book and wound up sadly dnf’ing it! I managed 55% before giving up out of frustration and annoyance. I know it’s a lot of people’s favorite but it just didn’t work for me.

Book Title: Victories Greater Than Death

Book Author: Charlie Jane Anders

Book Genre: SciFi/YA

Page Count: 300

Publisher: Tor Teen

Goodreads Summary:

Outsmart Your Enemies. Outrun the Galaxy.

Tina never worries about being ‘ordinary’—she doesn’t have to, since she’s known practically forever that she’s not just Tina Mains, average teenager and beloved daughter. She’s also the keeper of an interplanetary rescue beacon, and one day soon, it’s going to activate, and then her dreams of saving all the worlds and adventuring among the stars will finally be possible. Tina’s legacy, after all, is intergalactic—she is the hidden clone of a famed alien hero, left on Earth disguised as a human to give the universe another chance to defeat a terrible evil.

But when the beacon activates, it turns out that Tina’s destiny isn’t quite what she expected. Things are far more dangerous than she ever assumed. Luckily, Tina is surrounded by a crew she can trust, and her best friend Rachael, and she is still determined to save all the worlds. But first she’ll have to save herself.

Buckle up your seatbelt for this thrilling sci-fi adventure set against an intergalactic war from international bestselling author Charlie Jane Anders.

My Thoughts:

As mentioned, I wound up dnf’ing this book. It felt off. The writing was good, but I didn’t care for any of the characters at all. The pacing felt wrong and there was just an overall “meh” feeling to the story. This was really disappointing in that I so wanted to like this more than I did but…it just wasn’t for me. I may try again one day though I doubt it.

My Rating:

⭐⭐⭐

Until next time,

-Pass Me That Book

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Fantasy Book Reviews, fiction, Young Adult Book Reviews

Ebook Review: Brambles

Hello all,

New to me author and first review of October!

I have never read anything by Intisar Khanani but now she is high on my watch list. This is the short prequel to Thorn, that is the explanation of what Princess Alyrra had done to earn the court and her mother and brother’s hatred. (As described through Google/Goodreads). I won’t give away spoilers but I will list trigger warnings.

Trigger Warnings: bullying, mentions of flogging/beating, mistreatment of servants, abuse, emotional abuse?, physical abuse, and attempted murder

Now I’m unsure if it’s actually emotional abuse, but I feel it is. I can’t say without spoilers as it is a short story, but this is pretty hefty in how servants and the princess are treated. I would go in this with caution, if any of these triggers apply to you.

Goodreads Summary:

In the kingdom of Adania, everyone knows what Princess Alyrra did to earn the court’s contempt, her mother’s disdain, and her brother’s hatred.

She betrayed her own.

Yet, the truth hides another story, one of honor and honesty, of a princess gambling her own life for another’s. It’s a tale of courage and consequences, and a choice that can never be undone.

A short story prequel to her multi-starred fantasy, Thorn, Intisar Khanani’s “Brambles” gives Alyrra’s account of what really happened all those years ago, and how a few critical days turned her life into a daily fight for survival.

~•~•~•~

My Thoughts:

For 40 pages I was enchanted by this world. Valka was a villain you just couldn’t help but get strong feelings for in all the negative ways. Princess Alyrra was definitely a character to root for and her brother obviously needs a lesson in manners. Forty pages and yet I’m still pondering all the actions and characters in this novella.

My Rating:

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

First read of the month gets five stars! I’m hopeful that this is a good sign. Happy reading to all!

Until next time,

-Pass Me That Book

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Netgalley Review, Science Fiction Book Reviews, Young Adult Book Reviews

Netgalley Review: Iron Widow

Hello All,

Like the design? Made with Canva!

It feels even longer since I wrote a Netgalley review than a regular review. I’m hoping that this turns out well, but if any links aren’t working please let me know in the comments! I would really appreciate it!

Iron Widow is proclaimed as Pacific Rim meets Handmaid’s Tale and from what I read it’s a story about a girl getting vengeance for her murdered Big Sister and getting into a lot of trouble along the way. First in a series written by Xiran Jay Zhao. It’s Chinese history and mecha science fiction for YA readers, from what Penguin Books says. This book blew me away, though it took me a bit before I was hooked and grabbed it left me wanting more.

Book Title: Iron Widow

Book Author: Xiran Jay Zhao

Publisher: Penguin Random House

Series: Book One

Page Count: 400

Goodreads Summary:

The boys of Huaxia dream of pairing up with girls to pilot Chrysalises, giant transforming robots that can battle the mecha aliens that lurk beyond the Great Wall. It doesn’t matter that the girls often die from the mental strain.

When 18-year-old Zetian offers herself up as a concubine-pilot, it’s to assassinate the ace male pilot responsible for her sister’s death. But she gets her vengeance in a way nobody expected—she kills him through the psychic link between pilots and emerges from the cockpit unscathed. She is labeled an Iron Widow, a much-feared and much-silenced kind of female pilot who can sacrifice boys to power up Chrysalises instead.​

To tame her unnerving yet invaluable mental strength, she is paired up with Li Shimin, the strongest and most controversial male pilot in Huaxia. But now that Zetian has had a taste of power, she will not cower so easily. She will miss no opportunity to leverage their combined might and infamy to survive attempt after attempt on her life, until she can figure out exactly why the pilot system works in its misogynist way—and stop more girls from being sacrificed.

My Thoughts:

I actually started writing notes at a quarter of the way through the book. It was intense reading (and I had no idea it was 400 pages, it flew by fast!) But I still loved it. I did have my issues with the book, but it thankfully came with trigger warnings listed at the front! (I wish more authors would do this!)

Trigger Warnings: misogyny and femicide, rape mentioned, physical and emotional abuse, suicidal ideation, alcoholism, blood and gore, murder, torture, torture of a child

This is not a book for the faint hearted or those easily offended.

Wu Zitan is a girl fixing to go off to war for her family, as she has no desire to be married. She also doesn’t want to die but it’s common knowledge that girls don’t live long upon serving the men in the army. Wu Zitan is only going so that she can get vengeance for her Big Sister who was killed recently. (Unsure if this is a SPOILER) she succeeds… and falls into worse trouble.

I loved Wu Zitan’s character. She was strong willed despite shit after shit flung at her, and she still triumphed against all odds though that cliffhanger was definitely not what I saw coming. I had suspicions for something else entirely but it’s nice to be surprised. I liked that there wasn’t a love triangle. I won’t say anything because I don’t want too many spoilers. But I’m happy for how the relationship turned out. The books cliffhanger is still frustrating and I need the second book. I can’t begin to rate this highly enough but I believe it’s earned it’s rating!

My Rating:

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

My thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a copy of the book. I definitely look forward to the sequel!

Until next time,

-Pass Me That Book

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