The Kingdom by Jess Rothenberg

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
As a former Disney employee, I am all about theme parks! So when I saw that The Kingdom by Jess Rothenberg was a read all about a high-fantasy, high-tech theme park, I knew I was going to need to read it! This story follows Ana, one of The Kingdom's "Fantasists," or human/cyborg hybrid princesses genetically engineered to make dreams come true. 

Ana's thoughts and feelings are supposed to be steady, restricted, controlled. So when she meets Owen, a park employee, and starts feeling emotions she shouldn't have and having thoughts and ideas that should never cross her mind, Ana starts to wonder if she is broken.

Chaos ensues as her "sisters," other Fantasists, start to have breakdowns of their own, ultimately resulting in being shut off for good. And when Owen is murdered and Ana looks incredibly guilty, what will become of Ana, the Fantasists, and The Kingdom as a whole?

I absolutely flew through this story and really enjoyed it! Of course I loved all of the theme park elements, and saw so much of Walt Disney World and other theme parks in this book. Theme parks are constantly competing with one another for the newest technology, the most personal experience, and the highest attendance, so it's not at all outside the realm of possibility that something like these Fantasists could be a reality one day. I loved the alternating chapters of Ana's point of view, emails, and interview material, and thought the story was pretty unique overall.

Fans of theme parks, fairy tales, and technology would absolutely love this read!

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Lock Every Door by Riley Sager

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I really adored both of Riley Sager's other books, Final Girls and The Last Time I Lied. I knew I was going to love this one as well, and I was right. Riley Sager's books are always BOTM picks, so I'm excited to have added this third one to my collection. Lock Every Door is Riley Sager's newest release, and it follows Jules after she moves into The Bartholomew in NYC as an apartment sitter.

Jules has basically hit rock bottom. She was laid off, she caught her boyfriend cheating, and she only has about $500 to her name. But when she sees an ad for a high-paying apartment sitter position in the posh Bartholomew and gets the job, she thinks fate has blessed her tremendously. 

Then come the rules: No guests. No spending the night away from the building. No engaging with the building's residents. But it's all worth it for that paycheck, right? Then Ingrid, Jules' new friend and fellow apartment sitter goes missing, and Jules realizes that things at the Bartholomew might not be so perfect after all.

Oh man this plot was good! There was absolutely no way to predict how this was all going to turn out! Honestly, this may be one of the most unique thrillers I've ever read. It was so easy to imagine the glamorous Bartholomew with its gargoyle statues and dark past. This story got better and better with every page and I enjoyed every minute of it. The elements using the old apartment dumbwaiter were so clever and added to the authenticity of the old building. The stories of the Bartholomew's sordid past were fascinating, and I loved the story behind Heart of a Dreamer, the fictional novel mentioned frequently in this book.

Lock Every Door by Riley Sager was engaging, twisted, and suspenseful. Just read it. If you're interested in Riley Sager's books, and Book of the Month, you can sign up using my link here, and we'll both get a free book!

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Minor Prophets by Jimmy Cajoleas

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
I absolutely adored Jimmy Cajoleas' last book, The Good Demon, so I was really excited to discover he had another release coming out. Minor Prophets follows Lee and his sister Murphy after their mother dies, leaving them to defend themselves against their step-father and flee to their estranged grandmother's house.

To make matters worse in this tense and terrifying situation, Lee isn't a normal kid. He has visions, visions that tell the future that his mother has always discouraged him from sharing or acting on. But now that she's gone, his grandmother is encouraging the visions, pushing Lee to the destiny he never knew he had. And his sister Murphy doesn't know what to think, other than that something is seriously wrong with their grandmother, her farm, and the residents of the small town they now call home. 

Based on the fact that this story is full of things I typically love, like spooky atmospheres and creepy cults, you would think I would have really enjoyed this book. Unfortunately, I didn't. It was just entirely too much, and while the overall plot was good, the execution left much to be desired. I couldn't stand the main character Lee, or his sister and grandmother, and everything they did or said just made me angry.  Some parts were pretty disturbing and shocking for YA as well, and while that normally doesn't bother me, I don't think they added anything to this story.

The plot had a lot of American Horror Story vibes which I absolutely adore, but it just didn't work and I think the potential was wasted here.

Overall Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars

Thanks so much to Abrams for an ARC of this read! Minor Prophets by Jimmy Cajoleas is out now!

The Monster of Elendhaven by Jennifer Giesbrecht

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I absolutely love horror, but don't read enough of it. I knew I needed this book from the first time I saw it, especially going into the Halloween season. The Monster of Elendhaven by Jennifer Giesbrecht is a horror fantasy novella following a monster and a sorcerer, both with a love of magic and murder.

Johann knows he is a monster and nothing else. Florian is a sorcerer, bent on bringing back the plague that killed his family. Alone, they have nothing. Together, they have a power to bring the entirety of Elendhaven to its knees. But someone is watching them, hunting them, threatening to send their plans crashing down.

This book had so many different elements: horror, fantasy, queer representation, Victorian-esque history, town legends, and more. The writing was vivid and descriptive, and it was so easy to imagine the dark alleys, abandoned factories, and black ocean of Elendhaven. The blurb likens the setting to Jack the Ripper's London, and I definitely see that. There is a lot of fairly graphic violence in this one, so I want to make people aware of that. It's ruthless, dark, and gritty, much like the cover would suggest.

While I did enjoy this story, I found myself wanting more. It was hard to follow at first, and there were some plot lines that I didn't think tied up well. That being said, it was a novella, so it couldn't have the robustness of a full-length novel, though I think a full-length novel would have done this story more justice.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Thanks so much for Tor for an ARC of this read! The Monster of Elendhaven by Jennifer Giesbrecht is out tomorrow, September 24th, so be sure to pick up a copy!

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

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I finally got to dive into this super-hyped Christina Lauren read! And it did in fact live up to that hype. 

At the beginning of The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren, Olive's twin sister Ami is getting married. But when everyone gets food poisoning at the wedding, Ami and her new husband Dane have to figure out what to do with the honeymoon trip that Ami won for them. Luckily, Olive avoided the food poisoning, as she was allergic and didn't eat the fish that was served, so it appears that she'll get to enjoy this fancy trip. The groom's brother Ethan also didn't partake of the buffet, and in order to fool the hotel and go on the trip, they have to pretend to be Ami and Dane, aka husband and wife. The only problem? Olive and Ethan completely despise each other.

This was so cute! I mean of course it was, it's a Christina Lauren book. But I really enjoyed this one. I loved the enemies to lovers trope used here. I saw a lot of myself in Olive and her insecurities, and loved Ethan and Ami as characters as well. I thought it was great that Olive was a science nerd and wore shirts with physics puns on them. I really enjoyed seeing Olive and Ami's big, boisterous, and supportive family and how they all rallied around the two sisters when things went south. I was grinning or laughing out loud for probably 85% of the book, and the banter between these Olive and Ethan was second to none. I could see this making such a good movie!

I'm so excited to continue to experience Christina Lauren's rom coms, and will probably pick up Roomies next. They also have a new book, Twice in a Blue Moon, coming out this fall!

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Be sure to check out my reviews of some of Christina Lauren's other books, Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating and My Favorite Half-Night Stand as well!

Things to Keep You Occupied During a Storm (We Speak in Storms by Natalie Lund)

Storms can suck. We're trapped inside. Sometimes the power goes off. Cabin fever starts to build and you don't know what to do with yourself. In We Speak in Storms by Natalie Lund, three teens have experienced firsthand the devastation a storm can bring and how hard it is to overcome.  

In an effort to curb that cabin fever, here's a list of 10 things to keep yourself occupied during a storm:

1) Read! Of course, my favorite pastime would be first. Use this time stuck inside to pick up a book you've been meaning to get to and read your heart out. Bonus: this can be done by candlelight even if the power goes out!

2) Netflix binge. Yes, power is required for this one. If you're lucky enough to still have your lights, curl up under a blanket, make a big bowl of popcorn, and 

3) Pick up a craft project. Love to knit? Still working on that watercolor painting? Pick up your favorite project and let the calming nature of doing something creative put your mind at ease.

4) Clean up your room. Sorry, it's boring I know! But there's no better feeling than having a freshly cleaned room. Get it out of the way while you're stuck inside so you can really enjoy the good weather once the storm has passed.

5) Tell ghost stories. I will never grow out of telling ghost stories! There's something about gathering around in a circle when the power goes out and telling stories by candlelight that really sends chills up your spine!

6) Cuddle your pets. Animals sense atmospheric pressure changes and can be really freaked out when storms roll around! Give them some extra cuddles during the storm to put both them and yourself at ease.

7) Relax to some music. Take the mood lighting of flickering candles and add some of your favorite tunes to the mix, creating a relaxing oasis for you to ride out the storm in.

8) Play board or card games. Gather up your friends, family, roommates, whoever is around and get to some good old fashioned competition! Whether you're throwing down cards in Uno or snatching up properties in Monopoly, playing games is sure to make the time go by quickly. 

9) Talk to one another. This, like others, only works if you have other people around, but how often do we sit down with one another and actually talk? Ask them how they are, what's been happening in their lives. Take this opportunity to get to know each other. And even if it's family and you think you know them pretty well, I guarantee they have stories you haven't heard yet!

10) Stay safe. This last one isn't as fun as it is seriously important. Storms can be extremely dangerous and destructive, and if you've got a tornado, hurricane, or even just a thunderstorm heading your way, your first priority should be your safety. Pay attention to weather broadcasts and take any advice given by professionals regarding seeking shelter or evacuation.

About We Speak in Storms

Cover Art Courtesy of Penguin Teen
A powerful and haunting debut novel about friendship, acceptance, and learning to let go as the balance between the living and the dead is upended, perfect for fans of We Were Liars.
It's been more than 50 years since a tornado tore through a drive-in movie theater in tiny Mercer, Illinois, leaving dozens of teens -- a whole generation of Mercerites -- dead in its wake. So when another tornado touches down in the exact same spot on the anniversary of this small-town tragedy, the town is shaken. For Brenna Ortiz, Joshua Calloway, and Callie Keller, the apprehension is more than just a feeling. Though they seem to share nothing more than a struggle to belong, the teens' paths continue to intersect, bringing them together when they least expect it, and perhaps, when they need it most. Both the living and the dead have secrets and unresolved problems, but they may be able to find peace and move forward--if only they work together. 
A beautifully told, haunting yet hopeful novel about pushing past the pain, facing the world, and finding yourself.

About the Author

Natalie Lund ( is a former middle and high school teacher. A graduate of Purdue University's MFA program, she taught introductory composition and creative writing there, and also served as the fiction editor of The Sycamore Review. Natalie lives in Chicago with her husband. You can follow her on Twitter @nmlund.

Have you ever been affected by a major storm? How do you pass the time during storms?

Thanks so much to Penguin Teen for a finished copy of We Speak in Storms by Natalie Lund. This thrilling read is out now, and you can purchase it here!

Naturally Tan by Tan France

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
And with this book, my 5 star streak has sadly been broken. I absolutely adore Netflix's Queer Eye. I was a little young for the original version of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, but this reboot has completely won my heart. When I saw Tan was putting out a book, I had to get my hands on it. Naturally Tan by Tan France is his memoir, going through his childhood, working odd jobs, meeting his husband, getting into fashion, starting his own company, and finally landing the role on Queer Eye.

This was a fun read, and definitely screamed Tan! It was peppered with some amazing illustrations by his husband, Rob France, which I thought added a great touch. There were also little PSAs about fashion, dating advice, and even a face mask recipe! It was very interesting reading about his struggles, not only with his race, but also with his sexuality. My heart broke for him multiple times throughout the book, as his personal experiences really were an eye opener. It really felt like you were just sitting down and having a casual conversation with Tan versus reading a book. I've heard the audiobook is fantastic, and even has interviews with Antoni (swoon!) in it as well!

One big complaint with this read was that it really jumped around a lot. I felt like certain sections were cut really short, while others were unnecessarily drawn out, and the flow of everything wasn't as smooth or linear as I would have liked. Another thing that rubbed me the wrong way was that at times it felt extremely judgy. For example, in this book Tan comes for bangs, and comes for them HARD. Bangs are my signature look, but seeing them raked across the coals so hard kind of hurt. Yes, not everyone can pull them off, but I feel like I can! He also came for long hair (another one of my own traits!) among other things, and it just felt very contradictory to the Queer Eye message of loving yourself and being authentically you.

This was a solid 3-star read. Some good parts, some bad parts, and overall very middle of the road. 

Overall Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

Thanks so much to St. Martin's Press for a finished copy of this read! Naturally Tan by Tan France is out now!

Well Met by Jen DeLuca

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
I've slowly been dipping my toe in the romance genre. I don't think I'll ever embrace full-fledged smut, but I've really been enjoying books in the same vein as Christina Lauren's standalone reads. When I saw this book as a BOTM choice, I decided to grab it, and I'm very glad I did! Well Met by Jen DeLuca is a contemporary romance centered around a renaissance faire, and it was so fun from start to finish.

When Emily moves to the small town of Willow Creek, Maryland to help her sister and niece after an accident, she has no idea what she is in for. After being roped into participating in the local renaissance faire, she starts making friends and really connecting with the residents of her temporary home...except for one. Simon is mean, nasty, and condescending. He takes the faire way too seriously, making Emily feel bad about everything she does. But when he puts on his pirate costume each weekend, a new Simon comes out, and maybe Emily had her initial opinion of him all wrong. Could there be something more there, and could Willow Creek be more than just a temporary stop for her after all?

I loved this for so many reasons! We go to a renaissance faire every fall in Maryland (which is actually the big faire they reference in the story!) and my dress is blue, just like Emily's. This had the enemies to lovers trope which I really enjoy, but it had some great side plots as well. I laughed out loud on numerous occasions and was really rooting for Emily's happiness. I really enjoyed all the minor characters in this book as well, and loved seeing the supportive cast that Emily had around her (even though her sister did annoy me a little bit). This was a very fast read, and I devoured it in just a few hours. There were a few raunchy scenes, but nothing offensively explicit, and they were far from the focus of the book. 

This was Jen DeLuca's first novel, but I will definitely be picking up anything else she puts out. Plus, she is originally from Richmond, VA which is where I'm based! This was an adorable book, and the perfect story to round out a great summer of reading.

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

The Nobodies by Liza Palmer

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
With each book I pick up, I am so terrified of breaking my 5 star streak, but I haven't been let down yet! As far as this one, a book hasn't spoken to me on this much of a personal level in a long time! The Nobodies by Liza Palmer is the perfect story of a thirty-life crisis, and as I am quickly approaching 30 myself (only a few months to go!), I really identified with the main character Joan and the subject of impostor syndrome.

Joan feels like her life is at a dead end. After being laid off from her job, having her writing dreams crushed, and having to move back in with her parents, she has no idea which way is up or how to get herself out of this hole. When she lands a job at tech start up Bloom as a junior copywriter, she resigns herself to the fact that her life as a true journalist is over. But then again, the perfect career-making story might just be right under her nose.

I just loved every single character in this book! I would absolutely want to be friends with Joan, Hani, Thornton, and Elise. The irony of the trendy tech startup was not lost on me. The romance element in the story was perfect, just the right amount, and added to the story in the best way. I really identified with Joan's career struggles, as I myself have been laid off from a job in the past, and took my next job for a paycheck rather than a calling. I loved all the realistic differences between millenials and gen z, and this book made me laugh on more than one occasion. 

I do think the ending was a little rushed, and I still had a some questions, but it wasn't bad enough for me to take off a star. I have no idea if there is a sequel planned for this, but if there was I would definitely read it!

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

A big thanks to Flatiron Books for an ARC of this read! The Nobodies by Liza Palmer is out September 10th, so be sure to pick up a copy!