A Few Books I Recently Read

Hello friends! Here is another book review dump — there’s five books here that you might not have come across yet!

Meet The Sky by McCall Hoyle

Hoyle's Meet The Sky follows Sophie who is a teenage girl who works at her family's horse farm and goes to school.

Meet The Sky by McCall Hoyle has been on my TBR shelf for what has felt like a long time — since 2018. As I am a sucker for contemporary young adult books that are short and am on a mission to get books off my shelf and out the door, now was the time to read this book. Also? Can we talk about how great the cover for this book is. However, I ended up not exactly loving Meet The Sky. It just wasn’t my full cup of tea for a few reasons.

Hoyle’s Meet The Sky follows Sophie who is a teenage girl who works at her family’s horse farm and goes to school. She dreams of being a veterinarian someday but isn’t sure how to make that happen after her dad walked out and her sister is living with a TBI. So, it’s just Sophie and her mom holding down the horse farm. Complicating things is that an old friend and crush – Finn – has moved back to the Outer Banks. A hurricane is coming and everyone is evacuating. During evacuation Sophie has an accident and gets separated from her family. Finn is still on the Outer Banks and so Sophie and Finn have to figure out how to survive together.

For a book that was under 250 pages, this sure didn’t go as fast as I thought it would. The pacing was so slow. I thought Sophie was a bit selfish particularly when it came to the things Finn cared about. She seemed to really lack empathy for him. She cared about wild horses and her family but couldn’t seem to understand Finn’s motivations. There did seem to be a lot going on in this book which is fine, our inner lives are complex, but it just felt like too much for me. I can see this appealing to the younger YA set.


Cinder & Glass by Melissa De La Cruz

I am such a sucker for a fairy tale retelling. Cinder & Glass by Melissa De La Cruz takes the story of Cinderella and sets it in 17th century France at the court of Versailles. Cendrillon de Louvois grew up living a charmed, somewhat rural life. As she got older, she would go to court with her father who was the king’s most beloved advisor. Unfortunately her father marries this awful woman who then becomes her stepmother. In tow are two stepsisters — one decent and the other, an awful person.

I am such a sucker for a fairy tale retelling. Cinder & Glass by Melissa De La Cruz takes the story of Cinderella and sets it in 17th century France at the court of Versailles.

As you know, Cendrillon’s father dies and Cendrillon is forced into working as a servant for her stepmother. All hope is not lost, you see, the prince, Louis, is having a ball. Cendrillon catches the attention of both Louis and his illegitimate brother Auguste. She’s attracted to Auguste but needs to be with Louis so as to get out of her stepmother’s clutches. Cendrillon has some big choices to make — hence the storyline of Cinder & Glass.

I am glad I listened to Cinder & Glass. Melissa De La Cruz’s fairy tale retelling was a good palate cleanser of a read. I loved that I knew the basic bones of the story but how it all filled out kept my attention. Cendrillon was someone I absolutely rooted for. Oh and also, I loved that there was some sapphic representation in this book too. The setting was interesting. When it comes to the audiobook, it was a solid listen. Lauren Ezzo narrates and does a spectacular job. Her voice is perfect for fantasy and fairy tales. The audiobook is 9 hours and 30 minutes and well worth listening to.


Diamond Park by Phillippe Diederich

Diamond Park by Phillippe Diederich is such an under the radar gem.

Diamond Park by Phillippe Diederich is such an under the radar gem. I call it under the radar because as of the time of writing this review it only has 40 ratings and 18 reviews on goodreads. That is MAJORLY under the radar. Which is sad because this was a great listen about four marginalized teenagers and a murder mystery where the simple gets complicated real quick. Diamond Park is about a boy named Flaco who lives in Houston with his mom. He is a good kid and an artist. One day he sees that his dream car is for sale and so he takes the bus with three of his friends to go buy the car in diamond park. Unfortunately, a murder goes down. One of his friends Tiny goes under the radar due to ICE. His other friend Susi is arrested. And so Flaco and Magana go to Mexico intent on proving Susi’s innocence and also catching this kingpin named Anaconda.

I thought Diamond Park was an excellent listen. It is 9 hours and 41 minutes long and narrated by Andres Zuno. Zuno is new to me as a narrator but I loved his narration style — very easy to listen to and understand. This book had some interesting twists to it. Also, protect Flaco at all costs, okay. I thought this was so well written and it just kept my attention too – with the whole murder mystery aspect. If you’re looking to try a book that is fast paced and under the radar — get your hands on this book — especially via audio.


Echoes And Empires by Morgan Rhodes

Echoes And Empires by Morgan Rhodes is the first in a new duology. I had found myself looking forward to this book despite not loving Falling Kingdoms because it looked like it would have a tighter focus. Also, I just LOVE the cover. When the audiobook came up in Volumes, narrated by Cassandra Campbell,I knew I had to give it a listen. Echoes And Empires is about a girl named Josslyn Drake who leads a privileged life as daughter of the prime minister.

I enjoyed Echoes And Empires by Morgan Rhodes. The audiobook narrated by Cassandra Campbell is especially good.

All that changes when her father is murdered and while she is out shopping she happens to get struck by some illegal magic. Now she has magic herself and is reliving the memories of an evil warlock. She has to keep the magic a secret and she turns reluctantly to criminal Jericho Nox for help. Along the way Josslyn uncovers many secrets about the kingdom she lives in and experiences quite the perspective shift.

I enjoyed Echoes And Empires by Morgan Rhodes. The audiobook narrated by Cassandra Campbell is especially good. I listened to it at 2x speed because you know the pressure is on — but it was still understandable and I could process the plot easily enough. If I pick up the second book in the duology it will certainly be via audio. Which is good — I like having new fantasy authors that I like to read.


Great Or Nothing by Joy McCullough, Caroline Tung Richmond, Jessica Spotswood and Tess Sharpe

I am such a sucker for any kind of retelling or reimagining of Little Women. So of course Great Or Nothing by Joy McCullough, Caroline Tung Richmond, Jessica Spotswood and Tess Sharpe peaked my interest. Also? I just love Spotswood’s work. Great Or Nothing is set during 1942 as the United States enters into World War II. Beth is already dead. Meg is a school teacher in Concord. Jo builds planes in Boston and is too deep in grief to write. Meanwhile, Amy has snuck away to be a volunteer in the Red Cross… in London. Meanwhile, Theodore Laurence just so happens to be in London as an army pilot. Beth also has chapters — in verse from beyond the grave.

So of course Great Or Nothing by Joy McCullough, Caroline Tung Richmond, Jessica Spotswood and Tess Sharpe peaked my interest

Honestly, I really liked the concept behind Great Or Nothing. It gets right to the meat of it and really delves into the emotions and grief the loss of Beth causes. But also — I found myself so interested in the perspective of each of the March sisters. I loved that Meg learned to stand up for herself. Amy’s boldness in sneaking to London to serve the war effort was so engaging. Jo’s story was probably not my favorite. As I listened to this book, I could not tell you which author had which sister. I also could not tell you which narrator had which part. The audiobook has multiple narrators. It is 9 hours and 47 minutes long — but I definitely listened to it sped up. The narrators are Saskia Maarleveld, Joy McCullough, Tess Sharpe and Erin Spencer. I think if you do read this book — it could go either way and you’d probably retain more by reading the audiobook copy — but it is an easy listen and does keep your attention.


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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.

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