ARCs Book Reviews

ARC Review: Turning by Joy L. Smith

Book Review logo*ARC copy won in a Goodreads Giveaway
Turning is set to be released March 1, 2022.*

"Turning" by Joy L. Smith (cover)
Image via Goodreads

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Recommend to Others?: Yes

ABOUT: In this raw, searingly honest debut young adult novel, a former aspiring ballerina must confront her past in order to move forward from a devastating fall that leaves her without the use of her legs.

Genie used to fouetté across the stage. Now the only thing she’s turning are the wheels to her wheelchair. Genie was the star pupil at her exclusive New York dance school, with a bright future and endless possibilities before her. Now that the future she’s spent years building toward has been snatched away, she can’t stand to be reminded of it—even if it means isolating herself from her best friends and her mother. The only wish this Genie has is to be left alone.

But then she meets Kyle, who also has a “used to be.” Kyle used to tumble and flip on a gymnastics mat, but a traumatic brain injury has sent him to the same physical therapist that Genie sees. With Kyle’s support, along with her best friend’s insistence that Genie’s time at the barre isn’t over yet, Genie starts to see a new path—one where she doesn’t have to be alone and she finally has the strength to heal from the past.

But healing also means confronting. Confronting the booze her mother, a recovering alcoholic, has been hiding under the kitchen sink; the ex-boyfriend who was there the night of the fall and won’t leave her alone; and Genie’s biggest, most terrifying secret: the fact that the accident may not have been so accidental after all.


REVIEW: Turning left me speechless. This raw, achingly beautiful story of a promising, black ballerina’s uphill battle to reclaim herself after a fall leaves her paralyzed and wheelchair-bound.

Genie is devastated, angry, and depressed. Dance was her everything. Now, she’s left adrift, lost without her identity, and struggling to come to terms with her new normal. There’s more to her accident that she’s closely guarding that makes dealing with the demons of her past in her present extremely painful.

It wasn’t easy to read this heartbreaking story. Some characters, including Genie, didn’t know how to exist in the After of Genie’s fall. I like that we get a well-rounded view of other characters’ thoughts and feelings. Moreso, major injuries like Genie’s sometimes take a village to recover from. But ultimately, Genie must decide what she wants and who she wants to be going forward.

Genie trying to navigate through toxic intimate and familial relationships were honestly heart-wrenching. You can see clearly how much those relationships have affected her mental health in the past and continue to do so in the present. Many setbacks occur in order to wade through those murky waters and rekindle relations with those who deep down loved and supported her and refused to give up on her.

Genie’s character growth is slow, arduous, and deftly developed. I couldn’t help but feel so proud of all the breakthroughs (mighty baby steps!) she experiences as she begins to heal. To escape the despair, move past the anger, and see that dreams and a future are still possible.

It was hard to put into words everything I thought and felt while reading this amazing book. This review may not do it justice and there’s probably some things I’m forgetting to mention. But I can say without a doubt that I loved this book.

I loved Genie’s character. I especially loved Kyle and the relationship he and Genie built together. And I loved the intensity and joy this remarkable story evokes. Joy L. Smith’s Turning is a must-read, memorable debut!

CW: trauma, toxic relationships

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Book/Library Hauls

October Book Haul!

Different colored, illustrated pumpkins outline the image that says October Book Haul.
October Book Haul!

Happy Sunday!

Have you bought or received any new books recently?

October was a good bookish month for me. I found several free kindle ebooks on Amazon, I was pleasantly surprised to have won two giveaways, and I attended a book fair. What’s also exciting about this haul is that all of the books are by new-to-me authors.

The books I’m most looking forward to reading are Class Act, Turning, and Wildfire Griffin. Probably not this year but hopefully next year I can set aside a month to binge read some of the unread books on my Kindle because I have WAY too many and it’s easy for me to forget them. That’s the bookish life!

Here are the new additions to my bookshelves:

IG @thebookshelfcorner


Scholastic Book Fair

Class Act by Jerry Craft

Love Like Sky by Leslie C. Youngblood

Sunny Makes A Splash by Jennifer L. Holm


Goodreads Giveaway Wins

The Girl of Magic and Dreams by Charity Tober

Turning by Joy L. Smith


Image via Goodreads

Free Kindle Reads

Alien Lord’s Captive by Mina Carter

Before Dawn by Suzanne Halliday

Falling for Zeke by Sara Blackard

Meant to Be by Melody Grace

Seaside Summers Box Set (books 1-3) by Melissa Foster

Wait for Me by J.H. Croix

Wildfire Griffin by Zoe Chant

As Always, Happy Reading!!!

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Book Reviews

[#PubDayTuesday] Book Review: Open Your Heart by Cheris Hodges

*advanced kindle copy won in a Goodreads Giveaway*

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance
Series: Richardson Sisters #3
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐☆
Recommend to Others?: Yes

ABOUT: Their family’s historic bed-and-breakfast in Charleston, South Carolina, is a legacy the four very different Richardson sisters are determined to protect at all costs. But sudden passion is a seductive–and dangerous–complication…

For fashion boutique owner Yolanda Richardson, coming home is a matter of life and death. Witness to a brutal crime, her family’s quiet B&B is her only refuge until she can testify against the perpetrator. But her reserved hired bodyguard, Charles Montgomery, is anything but safe. His icy cool-under-fire–and hidden intensity–is too explosive for Yolanda to resist…

Love always equals loss–Charles knows that hard equation all too well. Controlling his emotions keeps his clients from harm–and his heart safe. Yolanda’s beauty and headstrong spirit have him wanting her in all kinds of ways. But for her own protection, he has to do his best to keep her at arm’s length. Until unexpected danger and lethal misunderstandings put their survival–and any chance at a future together–on the knife-edge…


My Review: This is the first story I read by Cheris Hodges and I really liked it! Open Your Heart was a charming love story.

I admire Yolanda’s independence to strike out on her own and open up her own fashion boutique. She’s got a good head on her shoulders but can be incredibly stubborn when she wants to. There were small moments when she was a tad whiny and her behavior towards Charles unfounded. But I liked her character all the same and how far she’s willing to go to protect her family from danger.

Charles is a swoon-worthy love interest who takes his job very seriously. Though very good at what he does, he has his work cut out for him trying to keep Yolanda safe. I like that he’s not afraid to be real with her about how dire the situation is, though that hot and cold does cause some friction between them. It’s also a struggle at times to maintain his logic and reason around Yolanda when he’s so drawn to her. To both their frustrations Charles holds himself back but for truly tragic reasons. His path towards healing and a second chance at love was so sweet.

I love the relationship between Yolanda and her three other sisters. They argue and sometimes get on each other’s nerves. But it’s clear how much they love and are super protective of one another. The family’s close relationship is unshakable, which was nice to see within the story.

Overall, Open Your Heart was an entertaining romantic suspense. The characters were well written and interesting. The story kept my attention the entire time. And the romance between Yolanda and Charles was tantalizingly slow, sweet as can be, and steamy!

Open Your Heart is book 3 of 4 of the Richardson Sisters series. I’m looking forward to reading the other books featuring Yolanda’s sisters as I got to know them really well in this one.

Book Reviews

Book Review: Set to Music by Negeen Papehn

***Kindle e-copy won in a Goodreads giveaway listed by Entangled Publishing.***

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance, Music
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Recommend to Others?: Yes

ABOUT: Dr. Darya Zameeni doesn’t have time for interruptions—in her ER, or in her life. Especially not from the gorgeous man pacing in her waiting room. With mountains of student debt, an ailing single mother, and a younger sister to support, Darya can’t afford to get sidetracked, even though they can’t take their eyes off each other.

Disillusioned Grammy-winning rock star Anthony Castillo’s night wasn’t supposed to end like this—in the ER, panicked after his little brother’s sudden collapse on stage. The band cannot go back on tour without Carlos, but his brother needs constant medical attention. When the beautiful, no-nonsense Dr. Zameeni treating Carlos shows no interest in their fame, he decides she is the perfect candidate for the job. If only he can convince her—and himself—that he wants nothing more.

Darya can’t imagine leaving her job, even temporarily, to follow a rock star around the globe. She’s expected to be the perfect Iranian daughter, after all. But Anthony’s offer comes right as she needs the money and she cannot deny their attraction.

Family is everything to them both. With so much to lose, the smart thing would be to go back to their lives and forget they’d ever met. But doing the smart thing has never seemed so wrong…


My Review: Set to Music was sooooo good with a superb, diverse cast of lovable characters. The romance between Darya and Anthony was super sweet with sizzling chemistry. Also, can we take a moment to appreciate the swoon-worthy cover? Stunning!

Family is everything and it’s a huge part of what drives Darya, Anthony, and the story. I can’t speak to what being in an Iranian household is like, but the author makes it easy to understand how Darya’s culture and her mother’s expectations dictate the decisions she makes even if they’re not what she truly wants. I do love how close she is to Maman (her mother) and little sister, Niloo. She also has her bffs as coworkers, so she is surrounded by a small group of family. Anthony has his little brother and guitarist, Carlos, his other bandmates, the crew, and his other family members. Within both circles are beautifully flawed relationships that have been through hell and back and still come out closer and stronger than ever.

Darya and Anthony were fantastic main characters and the conflicts they face are heavy-hitting kickboxes to the feels. Anthony isn’t your typical rock star. To the public, he is the bad boy lead singer of Tenura. In private, he is loyal, lives for the music and not the fame, and does what he does for his brother and family’s well-being. He’s a charming introvert. Darya is fun to be around and has worked hard to get to where she is professionally because that is what’s expected of a good daughter. Still emotionally recovering from a bad breakup, she takes a chance she wouldn’t normally take by helping Tenura and in turn help her family financially after discovering her mother is diagnosed with cancer. It’s not easy for Darya to make certain decisions (professionally and romantically) because her mother’s wishes and expectations are so ingrained that to do something else – i.e., give in to her attraction to Anthony – is illogical. Not to mention that Niloo isn’t coping well with the diagnosis.

I admire Anthony and Darya’s strength when at times they wanted nothing more than to crumble. They sacrifice a lot to go above and beyond for those they love most. The two lovebirds have a lot in common, which is why they fit so perfectly together in one sugary-sweet package.

I liked the sub-story lines as much as the main story line. All of the other characters made this story fun to read. This is a standalone novel, but I would love to read a book featuring Carlos and another featuring Niloo. These two need their own stories (post events of Set to Music).

Set to Music was joyous, captivating, emotional, and heart-wrenching. I highly recommend this if you love music and/or emergency service romances. This lovely story ranks high in favorite reads of 2021. So much to love and so many feels!

Book Reviews

Book Review: Wicked As You Wish by Rin Chupeco

Note: I won a free ARC copy in a Goodreads Giveaway.

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Series: A Hundred Names For Magic #1
Rating: 1 out of 5 (DNF @ pg. 225)
Recommend to Others?: No


ABOUT: When a hidden prince, a girl with secrets, a ragtag group of unlikely heroes, and a legendary firebird come together…something wicked is going down.

Many years ago, the magical Kingdom of Avalon was left encased in ice when the Snow Queen waged war. Its former citizens are now refugees in a world mostly devoid of magic. Which is why the crown prince and his protectors are stuck in…Arizona.

Prince Alexei, the sole survivor of the Avalon royal family, is hiding in a town so boring, magic doesn’t even work there. Few know his secret identity, but his friend Tala is one of them.

A new hope for their abandoned homeland reignites when a famous creature of legend, the Firebird, appears for the first time in decades. Alex and Tala must unite with a ragtag group of new friends to journey back to Avalon for a showdown that will change the world as they know it.


My Review:
[DNF @ pg. 225]

I did not like Wicked As You Wish and had to stop reading. The story tried to do too much. All the fairy tale references and the reimagined America and world and the different types of people, and the excess of characters…I felt I was getting bombarded.

There was nothing to grasp on, nothing compelling. Very small things that were interesting were few and far in between. It was all a jumbled mess.

Tala is the most useless main character I’ve ever read about. What’s equally worse was that it wasn’t her fault. She was kept in the dark about literally everything. So when things starting going bad, there wasn’t much she could do beside follow someone else’s lead. It was all on a need to know basis, which put Tala at a disadvantage no matter how many times she inquired. What’s more is that there is no foundation for why her specifically (along with Alex) will be what turns the tide. I found it hard to label Alex or Tala as the main characters of this story.

There are way too many characters at the forefront and too many people talking. These are all good people but so many are providing input or doing things or the POV shifts that it gets confusing at times. This also led to a lack of character development by anyone. No character to root for. No character that’s interesting. Just flat characters.

I could not enjoy this story; it wasn’t for me.

About Books

I Bought More Books! Yay!

Happy Thursday, Bookworms!!!!

Even though I wasn’t supposed to for a long while I ended up buying more books. I couldn’t help it. The covers are so beautiful and the story sounds interesting. I was hooked before I even started reading.

From a Scholastic Book Fair I got Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly and Nat Enough by Maria Scrivan. From Amazon, I order Ashlords by Scott Reintgen, which was my number buy for 2020.


I also want to share a book I recently won in a Goodreads Giveaway. I won an ARC of Wicked As You Wish by Rin Chupeco from Sourcebooks Fire.

This is special to me because it’s the first time I’ve won a giveaway on Goodreads AND it’s the first physical ARC I’ve gotten.

I’m still on a book buying ban! But these small treasures were worth it. All of these books will be on my April TBR.

Have you bought any new books or are you on a book buying ban???

And, As Always, Happy Reading!!!