So This is Ever After by F.T. Lukens Book Review

Book Description

Arek hadn’t thought much about what would happen after he completed the prophecy that said he was destined to save the Kingdom of Ere from its evil ruler. So now that he’s finally managed to (somewhat clumsily) behead the evil king (turns out magical swords yanked from bogs don’t come pre-sharpened), he and his rag-tag group of quest companions are at a bit of a loss for what to do next.

As a temporary safeguard, Arek’s best friend and mage, Matt, convinces him to assume the throne until the true heir can be rescued from her tower. Except that she’s dead. Now Arek is stuck as king, a role that comes with a magical catch: choose a spouse by your eighteenth birthday, or wither away into nothing.

With his eighteenth birthday only three months away, and only Matt in on the secret, Arek embarks on a desperate bid to find a spouse to save his life—starting with his quest companions. But his attempts at wooing his friends go painfully and hilariously wrong…until he discovers that love might have been in front of him all along.

Review

Thoughts and Themes: Once I finished reading In Deeper Waters, I knew I had to get my hands on this book so I pre-ordered it. Thankfully I winded up getting the chance to read an advanced reader’s copy through Netgalley because I didn’t want to have to wait for this book.

This book does have a slow start because they have to introduce the characters to you, the world, and the magic that is involved. This being said the slow start was perfectly fine with me as I loved learning about these characters, their magic, and the new kingdom that they are tasked with running.

The book does pick up around the 50% mark as you get to see a lot more action happening with fighting scenes and also scenes where the team is introduced to new people. I enjoyed reading the scenes in which the team was in danger as this made me want to continue reading to see if they got themselves out this time and how they managed to do this. I liked getting a chance to see them all in action as a team and see how their strengths work with each other to defeat anything/anyone they come across.

Something I really enjoyed about this book was the theme of found family, I just think that the book captured the feelings of this quite well. I really enjoyed seeing each of the character’s relationships with each other and how supportive they are of one another. I also really liked how they all felt like a family and it felt like they had known each other their whole lives.

I really enjoyed getting to learn about the magic that was involved in this new kingdom and how the magic affected the king. I liked learning alongside each of the characters because the reader’s reaction sometimes mirrors Arek’s reactions as he finds out more about what he got himself into.

Characters: In this book, you are introduced to several characters as they are the team that is working with King Arek to run this kingdom. You get to meet his best friend Matt, Sionna, Rion, Lila, and Bethany, each of which I winded up loving from the moment that you meet them. It’s really easy to see why King Arek keeps these people around and why he is so scared to lose them.

I loved all of the characters and their relationships with each other. I liked getting to see how Arek interacted with each of the people on his team and to see him stumble through trying to woo anyone. I really enjoyed getting a chance to see each of the characters on their own to see their traits, characteristics, and abilities shine on their own. I thought it was great to have moments in which each of them was able to provide Arek with something that another person wouldn’t be able to provide.

Something else I enjoyed about the characters was the number of Queer characters that were included in this book. I don’t believe any sexualities were ever named but you see who each of the characters end up dating and/or who they attempt to have relationships with.

Writing Style: This story is written in the first person through the perspective of King Arek which I thought was great. I really liked getting to see everything through his perspective even if there were times that I wanted to know what others thought about certain things that were happening. I really would’ve liked to see some of the stories unfold through Matt’s perspective but I think if that was included certain scenes wouldn’t have been as impactful to the reader.

Author Information

F.T. Lukens is an award-winning author of Young Adult fiction. A sci fi enthusiast, F.T. loves Star Wars and Star Trek and is a longtime member of their college’s science-fiction club. F.T. holds degrees in Psychology and English Literature and has a love of cheesy television shows, superhero movies, and writing. F.T. lives in North Carolina with their spouse, three kids, three dogs, and three cats.

F.T.’s urban fantasy novel The Rules and Regulations For Mediating Myths & Magic won several awards including the 2017 Foreword INDIES Gold Award for Young Adult Fiction, the 2017 IPBA Benjamin Franklin Gold Award for Best Teen Fiction and the 2017 Bisexual Book Award for Speculative Fiction. It was also named to the 2019 ALA Rainbow Book List.

The Bone Spindle by Leslie Vedder Book Review

Book Description

Sleeping Beauty meets Indiana Jones in this thrilling fairytale retelling for fans of Sorcery of Thorns and All the Stars and Teeth.

Fi is a bookish treasure hunter with a knack for ruins and riddles, who definitely doesn’t believe in true love.

Shane is a tough-as-dirt girl warrior from the north who likes cracking skulls, pretty girls, and doing things her own way.

Briar Rose is a prince under a sleeping curse, who’s been waiting a hundred years for the kiss that will wake him.

Cursed princes are nothing but ancient history to Fi–until she pricks her finger on a bone spindle while exploring a long-lost ruin. Now she’s stuck with the spirit of Briar Rose until she and Shane can break the century-old curse on his kingdom.

Dark magic, Witch Hunters, and bad exes all stand in her way–not to mention a mysterious witch who might wind up stealing Shane’s heart, along with whatever else she’s after. But nothing scares Fi more than the possibility of falling in love with Briar Rose.

Set in a lush world inspired by beloved fairytales, The Bone Spindle is a fast-paced young adult fantasy full of adventure, romance, found family, and snark. 

Review

CW: Blood, emotional abuse, gaslighting, PTSD, sexism, violence, misogyny, confinement

Thoughts and Themes: It took me a while to really get into this book and I was ready to put it aside and decide to read it at a later time. I’m really glad that I stuck with it and didn’t just give up though because once you are about 40% into the book then it is hard to put the book down.

While it does take a lot of the book, I did enjoy the world building that we got throughout this story. I liked that this was a retelling of Sleeping Beauty but it was more than what I expected. I liked learning about Briar Rose kingdom and the curse that is over it as well as getting the back story of the two main characters.

I cried when I found out Fi’s backstory and recommend you proceed with caution on this one especially if you find emotional abuse triggering. When you find out about Fi’s curse and how that happened to her, you see into her past and see how she was emotionally abused, manipulated, and gaslit.

Characters: In this book you get to meet several different characters through their different interactions with Fi and Shane. You get to meet both of their love interests along with Fi’s ex.

I really enjoyed the relationship between Fi and Shane and the snarky banter between them. I liked how they both have to learn to trust the other but they both are the kind of people who want to accomplish everything on their own.

I liked the love interests that are included in this story for both of our main characters and how those relationships come to be. I liked getting to know more about Briar Rose throughout the whole story and through his interactions with Fi. I liked their interactions with each other and how snarky they are towards each other. I liked the way their romance develops throughout the story and how it wasn’t something that was immediate but took a while for Fi to even consider him as a potential love interest.

I do wish that we got more of a love story for Shane since I feel we didn’t get that relationship as developed as Fi’s relationship was. I do hope that we get to see more of this relationship in the next book and we get more of a romance arc for Shane since she deserves this too.

I was searching for a villain this whole time and I think while there’s some villainous characters, it was more about their adventure. I think that you really don’t get to meet the villains of this story until the last 20% of the book and even then it isn’t all about them.

Writing Style: This story is told in third person dual point of view, alternating between Fi and Shane’s perspectives. You also get a few sections with Briar Rose’s perspective thrown in there as well but those are shorter sections than the other two. I liked getting to see this story from all three of these perspectives as it adds to their adventure. I would have liked to hear more from Briar Rose though to see his story before this all takes place. There are also portions where I would have liked to see Shane’s point of view more too.

Author Information

Leslie Vedder (she/her) is a queer ace author who subsists primarily on coffee and cat snuggles!

She grew up on fantasy books, anime, fanfiction, and the Lord of the Rings movies, and met her true love in high school choir. She currently lives in Colorado with her wife and two ultra-spoiled house cats.

Her debut YA novel THE BONE SPINDLE is forthcoming in January 2022 from Penguin / Razorbill. Find her online at leslievedder.com.

The Afterlife of Holly Chase Book Review

Summary: (borrowed from Barnes and Noble) On Christmas Eve five years ago, seventeen-year-old Holly Chase was visited by three Ghosts who showed her how selfish and spoiled she’d become. They tried to convince her to mend her ways. She didn’t. And then she died.

Now she’s stuck working for the top-secret company Project Scrooge—as their latest Ghost of Christmas Past. So far, Holly’s afterlife has been miserable. But this year’s Scrooge is different. This year’s Scrooge might change everything…

Thoughts: I got this book because my December TBR had no holiday books and this one was on display at my local library. I saw that it was a retelling of a Christmas Carol which I have never read so I was a bit worried about that. I’m so glad that I decided to read it because it was such a cute Christmas story.

I loved the romance aspect of this story and how Holly was trying to fix the scrooge. I loved how Ethan’s past mirrored Holly’s and how they bonded over small things. I liked watching as they both grew as people and as they changed in the readers eyes as well.

The twist at the end was so unexpected and was something that I never saw coming. I was like wow how did they do that but was also kind of sad because I was rooting for the original plot I thought was happening. I loved the way they shifted everything and how they made sense of things.

I recommend this to those of you who enjoyed A Christmas Carol and those of you who enjoy romance.

You can get this book at Barnes and Noble or look for it at your local library.