Review: Go the Distance by Jen Calonita

SYNOPSIS (via Goodreads):

“What if Meg had to become a god?

After Hercules proves he’s a true hero and regains his godship, all seems right in the world. That is, until Zeus tells Meg that she can’t be with Hercules because she’s, well, mortal. Luckily, Hera has a solution, offering Meg a chance to prove herself worthy of a spot on Mt. Olympus–as a god. All Meg has to do is complete a mysterious quest.

The mission? Oh, just to rescue her ex’s current wife from the Underworld. The ex-boyfriend she saved by selling her soul to Hades. The ex-boyfriend who immediately moved on to someone else while she was stuck in the Underworld. Can Meg put her past behind her and use her quick-wit to defeat monsters and gods alike, including the nefarious Hades? Will she finally figure out her place and contribution to the world? Or will her fear of commitment have her running away from an eternity of godhood with Herc?”

REVIEW:

Go the Distance is a part of the ongoing Twisted Tales series published by Disney-Hyperion. Hercules is my favorite Disney movie and Meg is my favorite character. I loved that she was complicated heroine and my love for her has grown as I’ve gotten older. So naturally the minute I heard about this book, I pre-ordered it.

Go the Distance picks up right where the movie left off, except Zeus doesn’t take no for an answer when Hercules turns down his godhood to remain with Meg. Meg is heartbroken, because Hercules is the first real good thing in her life. Hera approaches Meg with the opportunity to spend eternity with Hercules, giving her a trial to become a god herself. This won’t be a simple task, Meg will have to come to terms with her trauma while also trying to bring back a soul.

Go the Distance flushes out Meg’s backstory. We learn that she didn’t have an easy childhood. Meg’s father abandoned her and her mother, then Meg loses her mother when she is a teenager. We obviously know that things didn’t go well in her love life either, with her selling her soul to Hades to save her boyfriend’s life only to be abandoned by him. Throughout the story, each task helps Meg work through her past trauma and realize that she can rely on other people. The whole cast of characters is back for the story, which is nice. I do wish there was a bit more time with just Meg and Hercules, but ultimately this is Meg’s journey. They also throw the Hades and Persephone myth in there for some fun.

Spoilers for the book in the next paragraph.

I did grow frustrated with a couple scenes in this book, they felt very out of character for Meg. One was her insistence on grabbing a forbidden apple to take as a bargaining chip for Hades. It causes everyone to nearly die. It just felt so incredibly random and out of character. Meg is smart but also always expects the worst of any outcome, so she should have expected them to be booby trapped. This leads to a fight with Hercules for swooping in to save them. Obviously, Meg always feels like she can take care of herself, but she completely loses it at Hercules and it feels very out of character.

Overall, if you love Hercules you should check out Go the Distance. It is a fun, quick read that adds some backstory to a wonderful Disney heroine.

RATING: 3/5

Have you read any of the Disney Twisted Tales? Should I check out some more in this series? Let me know in the comments!

Review: A Game of Fate by Scarlett St. Clair

SYNOPSIS (via Goodreads):

“Hades, God of the Underworld, is known for his inflexible rule, luxurious night clubs, and impossible bargains. Use to control, he is not prepared to discover the Fates have chosen his future wife and Queen—Persephone, Goddess of Spring.

Despite her attraction to the god, Persephone, an ambitious journalism student, is determined to expose Hades for his cruel and ruthless ways.

Hades finds himself faced with the impossible—proving his future bride wrong. Despite his efforts, there are forces who wish to keep the two apart and Hades comes to realize he will do anything for his forbidden love, even defy Fate.”

REVIEW:

I’m a sucker for any retelling of Hades and Persephone, so I naturally picked up A Touch of Darkness by Scarlett St. Clair last summer. A Game of Fate is A Touch of Darkness from Hades’ perspective.

I don’t always love the swapped perspective book, but this one is great. In A Touch of Darkness, Persephone is an outsider to the world of the gods. Since A Game of Fate is through Hades eyes we get to see a lot more interaction from the other gods. It also adds to the Hades and Persephone romance. There is much more magic involved and we truly get to understand how he rules the Underworld.

A Game of Fate definitely enhances the story. There is enough new information added, that fully rounds out the story that feels like this is a necessary read. I loved Hecate and Hermes, their relationships with Hades were definitely a high point of this book. Seeing his relationship with Persephone through Hades eyes really added another layer to this story. I also have to say that I enjoyed his POV better than Persephone’s. I think that was more so because of the involvement of the gods with Hades story and the set up of the Triad. I also loved Aphrodite and Hephaestus’s story. Like I would love a whole other series about them and their relationship.

Overall, I really enjoyed A Game of Fate. If you enjoyed A Touch of Darkness, then you should definitely check it out. I also recommend reading it before picking up the next book in the series.

RATING: 4/5

WWW Wednesday – April 14, 2021

Happy Wednesday! Time for another WWW Wednesday!

As always, I’m answering the three questions below. Let me know your answers in the comments or share to your own blog.

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

I am currently reading Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M. Danforth. It is a gothic horror book that piqued my interest on my last library trip. I am enjoying it but is a bit slow going. I’m about 200 pages in and feel like nothing is happening, but there is also a lot of groundwork to be laid. So I feel like I will appreciate all this build up in the long run. I am also continuing my re-read of ACOTAR, picking up A Court of Wings and Ruin. This series is so hard for me to put down once I pick it up.

What did you recently finish reading?

I just finished Much Ado About You by Samantha Young. This was a really charming romance novel, with Evie being a very relatable and compelling lead. I did feel like this book had a lot going on at times, but it all came together so I can’t complain too much. Also who doesn’t want to escape to a quaint English village and run a bookshop.

What do you think you’ll read next?

Ugh this question drives me crazy every week! I’m so bad at picking my next book because I’m such a mood reader. It really depends on how my last book left me feeling. I think I might pick up People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry. It was my Book of the Month choice for April and I adored Beach Read by Emily Henry, so I can’t wait to pick this up.

Review: Head Over Heels by Hannah Orenstein

SYNOPSIS (via Goodreads):

“The past seven years have been hard on Avery Abrams: After training her entire life to make the Olympic gymnastics team, a disastrous performance ended her athletic career for good. Her best friend and teammate, Jasmine, went on to become an Olympic champion, then committed the ultimate betrayal by marrying their emotionally abusive coach, Dimitri.

Now, reeling from a breakup with her football star boyfriend, Avery returns to her Massachusetts hometown, where new coach Ryan asks her to help him train a promising young gymnast with Olympic aspirations. Despite her misgivings and worries about the memories it will evoke, Avery agrees. Back in the gym, she’s surprised to find sparks flying with Ryan. But when a shocking scandal in the gymnastics world breaks, it has shattering effects not only for the sport but also for Avery and her old friend Jasmine.”

REVIEW:

Head Over Heels has been sitting on my TBR for awhile and I just had to grab it on my last library trip. I was so excited to check this book out, because I have to admit I always get sucked into Women’s Gymnastics during the Summer Olympics. What they do is just so incredible. So I loved the concept of this book.

Avery spent her whole life training to be an Olympian, she gave up a normal childhood for the chance at glory. It all came crashing down at her Olympic trials. She suffers a devastating injury that ends her Olympic dreams. Avery never really had plans for what happened after the Olympics. It has been years since the day her world imploded, but she still really hasn’t processed her trauma. After a breakup and a move back to her hometown, she realizes that she needs to come to terms with her destroyed dreams.

I loved the honest conversations had about mental health and the pressures that these athletes have put on them. I loved the journey that Avery goes on in this book. She remembers what she loves about gymnastics, she discovers new things she loves, she makes new friends, and rekindles old friendships. I loved that this book while a contemporary romance doesn’t solely focus on romantic relationships. Avery focuses on loving herself again, and the importance of her friends in her lives while also discovering a new romance.

Avery and Ryan have chemistry right from the start and I loved their history. I enjoyed their whole dynamic and the respect that Ryan has for her. Obviously, I was very frustrated with some of his choices, but I did love that when he realized how wrong he was he admitted to it.

This book has a great and honest message about mental health. It is Avery coming to terms with her trauma and the realization that this sport she loves has caused her a lot of pain. She realizes that she doesn’t want anyone to go through that pain as she did. It is a beautiful message and told very well. I couldn’t put this book down once I picked it up. I definitely recommend!

RATING: 5/5

Review: The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

SYNOPSIS (via Goodreads):

“Lucy Hutton has always been certain that the nice girl can get the corner office. She’s charming and accommodating and prides herself on being loved by everyone at Bexley & Gamin. Everyone except for coldly efficient, impeccably attired, physically intimidating Joshua Templeman. And the feeling is mutual.

Trapped in a shared office together 40 (OK, 50 or 60) hours a week, they’ve become entrenched in an addictive, ridiculous never-ending game of one-upmanship. There’s the Staring Game. The Mirror Game. The HR Game. Lucy can’t let Joshua beat her at anything—especially when a huge new promotion goes up for the taking.

If Lucy wins this game, she’ll be Joshua’s boss. If she loses, she’ll resign. So why is she suddenly having steamy dreams about Joshua, and dressing for work like she’s got a hot date? After a perfectly innocent elevator ride ends with an earth-shattering kiss, Lucy starts to wonder whether she’s got Joshua Templeman all wrong.

Maybe Lucy Hutton doesn’t hate Joshua Templeman. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.”

REVIEW:

I completely loved this book! This book sucks you in from page one. All I wanted to do was read this book. I had been seeing The Hating Game everywhere and kept hearing wonderful things about It . It definitely lived up to the hype.

The Hating Game is narrated entirely from Lucy’s perspective. It works really well because Lucy makes a lot of assumptions. We are seeing everything through her eyes. So of course everything is skewed her way. Nothing is super groundbreaking about the plot or characters. Though one thing I did really enjoy was that Josh was the shy/insecure one of the couple. You don’t always see that in romance book couples. Their chemistry is undeniable and clearly obvious to everyone around them. Their passive-aggressive banter is amazing and so well done. As their relationship progresses, Lucy realizes how much she does and doesn’t know Josh and you fall for him along the way too. The last chapter of this book is picture perfect and I had the biggest smile on my face as I read it.

This book just made me feel warm and fuzzy. I didn’t want to put it down. I just wanted to tune out the world and keep reading this book. It reminded me why I absolutely love contemporary romance and it was completely addictive.

This book is exactly what you’re looking for with a rom-com. I will be recommending this for a long time.

RATING: 5/5

WWW Wednesday – April 7, 2021

Happy Wednesday and happy April! I’m so excited for the warmer temps that are hitting the Northeast. It feels like Spring has finally arrived. Since it is Wednesday that means it’s time for WWW Wednesday.

As always, I’m answering the three questions below. Let me know your answers in the comments or share to your own blog.

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

I’m currently reading Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey. I’ve been on a romance kick recently, probably because none of them are disappointing. Fix Her Up is absolutely great so far. Georgie and Travis have amazing chemistry and I’m definitely picking up more books by Tessa Bailey.

What did you recently finish reading?

I just finished Head Over Heels by Hannah Orenstein. This book had been sitting on my TBR for awhile, and I grabbed it on my last library trip. This book did not disappoint! I absolutely loved it. It tackles the importance of mental health head on, while also delivering a satisfying romance. I definitely recommend.

What do you think you’ll read next?

I think my next book is going to be Plain Bad Heroines. It just arrived at my library and it sounded so interesting. I think it will be a nice change in genre since I normally just bounce between Romance and Fantasy.

REVIEW: The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton

SYNOPSIS (via Goodreads):

“Opal is a fiercely independent young woman pushing against the grain in her style and attitude, Afro-punk before that term existed. Coming of age in Detroit, she can’t imagine settling for a 9-to-5 job—despite her unusual looks, Opal believes she can be a star. So when the aspiring British singer/songwriter Neville Charles discovers her at a bar’s amateur night, she takes him up on his offer to make rock music together for the fledgling Rivington Records.

In early seventies New York City, just as she’s finding her niche as part of a flamboyant and funky creative scene, a rival band signed to her label brandishes a Confederate flag at a promotional concert. Opal’s bold protest and the violence that ensues set off a chain of events that will not only change the lives of those she loves, but also be a deadly reminder that repercussions are always harsher for women, especially black women, who dare to speak their truth.

Decades later, as Opal considers a 2016 reunion with Nev, music journalist S. Sunny Shelton seizes the chance to curate an oral history about her idols. Sunny thought she knew most of the stories leading up to the cult duo’s most politicized chapter. But as her interviews dig deeper, a nasty new allegation from an unexpected source threatens to blow up everything.”

REVIEW:

The Final Revival of Opal & Nev was my March pick for Book of the Month. I have to say I was sucked in from the synopsis alone. Obviously, there is the instant comparison of Daisy Jones & the Six. This book tells such a different story and that is where the similarities end. I loved this book even more than Daisy Jones & the Six.

The Final Revival of Opal & Nev is filled with fully realized characters, they are all very human with faults. Dawnie Walton manages to weave real life events with her fictional events making for an incredibly believable story. Because it is told in an oral history style it makes it a super easy read, though the topics discussed are not for the faint of heart. I couldn’t put this book down! This story feels authentic and real to the point that sometimes you forget that this is a fictional band.

Opal & Nev reflects both the 70’s and today very well. It shows both the good and the bad, and how much things really haven’t changed. Walton never shies away from tough topics in the book, she fully embraces them and handles them with care. There is a revelation about halfway through the book that absolutely shocked me, and left my mouth gaping open.

If I do have a critique about this book is that sometimes the “editor’s” notes from Sunny’s POV would throw me off. I think they affected the pacing a bit. I would get really sucked into the interview style, and reading about things that happened through each character’s eyes. Then we would have an editor’s notes section and while they were important to the overall story, at times they took me right out.

Overall, The Final Revival of Opal & Nev was so well done, and I can’t recommend it enough. If you loved Daisy Jones & the Six, or are just a lover of music history then this book is for you.

RATING: 4/5

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Review – Storm & Fury by Jennifer L. Armentrout

SYNOPSIS (via Goodreads):

“Eighteen-year-old Trinity Marrow may be going blind, but she can see and communicate with ghosts and spirits. Her unique gift is part of a secret so dangerous that she’s been in hiding for years in an isolated compound fiercely guarded by Wardens—gargoyle shape-shifters who protect humankind from demons. If the demons discover the truth about Trinity, they’ll devour her, flesh and bone, to enhance their own powers.

When Wardens from another clan arrive with disturbing reports that something out there is killing both demons and Wardens, Trinity’s safe world implodes. Not the least because one of the outsiders is the most annoying and fascinating person she’s ever met. Zayne has secrets of his own that will upend her world yet again—but working together becomes imperative once demons breach the compound and Trinity’s secret comes to light. To save her family and maybe the world, she’ll have to put her trust in Zayne. But all bets are off as a supernatural war is unleashed…”

REVIEW:

Storm & Fury is a spin-off of the Dark Elements series by Jennifer L. Armentrout. I have been wanting to read this series for a while now, but just kept getting distracted by other books. Honestly, I was intrigued by this book before I even knew about the Dark Elements series. I do believe you could go in blind since Armentrout does a good job of explaining prior events, but I do think having read the first series really adds depth to this book.

Our lead in this book is Trinity, she’s unique and the last of her kind. She’s half-human and has been protected by the Wardens for the last 10 years. The reader is left in the dark about what Trinity is for about half of the book, which was surprising. Trinity also suffers from a degenerative eye disease, which for most of the book I thought was a side effect of her powers. It’s actually really cool that it is a part of her that is completely human.

I loved being back in this world, and the opportunity to have Zayne have his own story. He was one of my favorites from the Dark Elements series, and I’m excited to see how his story evolves. Trinity and Zayne’s relationship is great and really adds to this story.

Storm & Fury packs much more oomph than any of the books in the Dark Elements series. Those books always felt a little lacking for me, but this book really sucks you in. I did grow a little frustrated with how Trinity’s uniqueness was teased. It was a little annoying to me for the last sentence of every chapter to be along the lines of “if they knew what I was”. It just grew tedious after a while, and probably why it took me a bit to get into this book.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I’m excited to see where this series goes from here, and I love what it adds to the previous series.

RATING: 4/5