ARC Review: The Night We Met by Zoe Folbigg

Look at that beautiful cover!!

Star rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis: via NetGalley

As a man holds his wife’s frail hand, he recounts a journey like no other…

Daniel and Olivia are destined to be together. At least, Daniel thinks this the night he sees Olivia across a sea of people. As he backpacks through Australia, Daniel and Liv continue to cross paths, yet never speak. Until one night, Liv joins Daniel for a drink. And that night everything changes.

Back in London, stuck in a monotonous routine, Daniel finds himself daydreaming of the woman with green eyes and fiery hair. Armed with only a name he begins a hunt to find her. With every passing moment, Daniel’s hopes begin to disappear. What if it wasn’t meant to be?

But then fate steps in, and Daniel and Olivia’s story can truly begin…

This is a tale of serendipity, missed chances and the power of love.

General information: Thanks to NetGalley and Aria Books for my copy! This book is set to come out February 11, 2021.

My thoughts:

Just a heads up, there are no major spoilers in this review!! The book starts out with Olivia in a hospital bed so her cancer diagnosis isn’t a spoiler. Just wanted to clarify that before anyone reads further.

This book actually made me tear up at a couple of points! It was beautifully written and kept me reading. I love the little vignettes we get of Olivia and Daniel’s life, it felt very authentic. All the emotions and reactions of the family dealing with Olivia’s cancer felt realistic, as well. I also loved the complicated mother-daughter relationship we got with Olivia and teenage Flora.

The depiction of a character’s alcohol problem was very well done and really resonated with me. I also like how short most of the chapters were, it made the book very easy to read in chunks (which I did, over the span of about a week). I loved the writing style in general, too.

At first, Olivia felt a little too perfect as a character, but later on in the book she developed a bit more personality… this could be because we mostly got Daniel’s impression of her, as he learned more about her as a person, so I don’t really mind. At first I was worried she would end up being a manic pixie dream girl, but I feel like she was more fully fleshed out as Daniel learned more about her.

As for some things I didn’t love- Annabel felt a little one-note as a character, like she was there for the sake of the story having a minor ‘villain.’ The chapters going back and forth through time also gave me whiplash a little bit; it was well done, but kind of hard to follow, especially after I picked the book back up after not reading it for a couple of days. It does tell the story well, though, so I didn’t really mind.

I also kind of took issue with Olivia and Daniel’s burgeoning relationship- after they finally connect, it feels a bit like they fall in love instantly, without much provocation. I realize they’d been dancing around each other for years by the point they finally get together, but it all felt a bit too neat.

Other than that, I loved this book and plan on buying a copy when it comes out! I definitely recommend requesting a copy from NetGalley yourself if you enjoy romance.

Thanks for reading! Have you requested this from NetGalley/preordered this or do you plan to? Let me know in the comments!

ARC Review: Malice by Heather Walter

Star rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis: via Goodreads

A princess isn’t supposed to fall for an evil sorceress. But in this darkly magical retelling of “Sleeping Beauty,” true love is more than a simple fairy tale.

Once upon a time, there was a wicked fairy who, in an act of vengeance, cursed a line of princesses to die. A curse that could only be broken by true love’s kiss.

You’ve heard this before, haven’t you? The handsome prince. The happily-ever-after.

Utter nonsense.

Let me tell you, no one in Briar actually cares about what happens to its princesses. Not the way they care about their jewels and elaborate parties and charm-granting elixirs. I thought I didn’t care, either.

Until I met her.

Princess Aurora. The last heir to Briar’s throne. Kind. Gracious. The future queen her realm needs. One who isn’t bothered that I am Alyce, the Dark Grace, abhorred and feared for the mysterious dark magic that runs in my veins. Humiliated and shamed by the same nobles who pay me to bottle hexes and then brand me a monster. Aurora says I should be proud of my gifts. That she . . . cares for me. Even though it was a power like mine that was responsible for her curse.

But with less than a year until that curse will kill her, any future I might see with Aurora is swiftly disintegrating—and she can’t stand to kiss yet another insipid prince. I want to help her. If my power began her curse, perhaps it’s what can lift it. Perhaps, together, we could forge a new world.

Nonsense again.

Because we all know how this story ends, don’t we? Aurora is the beautiful princess. And I—

I am the villain.

General information: This book is set to come out on April 13, 2021 from Random House Publishing Group.

My thoughts:

I loved this book! The whole concept of an F/F fairytale retelling is amazing to me. I love fairytale retellings in general, and this one did not disappoint. I could barely put it down. I love the worldbuilding of Briar and the Graces specifically. This book had a really original take on Sleeping Beauty. I sped through the last 50 pages trying to find out what would happen and the ending was soul-crushingly good. It was angsty in all the best ways. Many of the characters really stood out in good ways; I even really felt for Rose by the end.
Some more negative thoughts: there was a lot of exposition in the beginning of the book, some of it in chunks delivered to the reader. I understand the necessity of it, but there might be a better way to sprinkle it throughout the book. The appearance of Kal felt kind of random and very convenient. I had some issues with one of the reveals in the end, but I won’t go into spoiler territory on here.

Other than that, this was a great read! I highly recommend it, especially for fans of fairytale retellings. Definitely request a copy from NetGalley or pick one up when it comes out in 2021. Thanks to NetGalley and Random House publishing for my copy!

Have you read this book? Is it on your TBR? Let me know in the comments!

ARC Review- The Mask of Mirrors by M. A. Carrick

Star rating: DNF; no star rating

Synopsis: via Goodreads

Nightmares are creeping through the city of dreams…

Renata Viraudax is a con artist who has come to the sparkling city of Nadezra — the city of dreams — with one goal: to trick her way into a noble house and secure her fortune and her sister’s future.

But as she’s drawn into the elite world of House Traementis, she realizes her masquerade is just one of many surrounding her. And as corrupt magic begins to weave its way through Nadezra, the poisonous feuds of its aristocrats and the shadowy dangers of its impoverished underbelly become tangled — with Ren at their heart.

General information: This book will be published on January 19th 2021 by Orbit Books.

My thoughts:

I really, really wanted to love this book. It started off strong and I loved the characters, but it just wasn’t for me. There was a lot of exposition in the first 100 pages or so, and it was hard to keep track of all the character names, places, and concepts mentioned. It felt like too much exposition but not enough actual information at the same time.
I really enjoyed the basic concept, that a regular girl is trying to con her way into a noble house, but it got to a point where it felt so bogged down by sideplots about cleaning a river and other intrigues that I was having a hard time keeping track of what was what, and I just couldn’t finish it.
Ultimately, the concept is great and the characterization was amazing! I love the main character and the side characters all really stand out. I wanted to finish this book for the main character’s sake but I was just getting confused and wasn’t excited to read it anymore.
I just don’t think this was the book for me. Someone else may love it, but ultimately I just couldn’t get past the first 200 pages. This was a DNF for me but it may be a 5/5 stars for someone else!