Category Archives: New Adult 18up

Foul Heart Huntsman by Chloe Gong cover shows a heart (the organ) made of gold, and flowers and leaves behind it.

Review: Foul Heart Huntsman by Chloe Gong

Foul Heart Huntsman by Chloe Gong cover shows a heart (the organ) made of gold, and flowers and leaves behind it.

Foul Heart Huntsman (Foul Lady Fortune #2)
Chloe Gong
Margaret K. McElderry Books
Published September 29, 2023

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About Foul Heart Huntsman

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of These Violent Delights and Our Violent Ends comes the second book in the captivating Foul Lady Fortune duology following an immortal assassin in 1930s Shanghai as she races to save her country and her love.

Winter is drawing thick in 1932 Shanghai, as is the ever-nearing threat of a Japanese invasion.

Rosalind Lang has suffered the worst possible fate for a national spy: she’s been exposed. With the media storm camped outside her apartment for the infamous Lady Fortune, she’s barely left her bedroom in weeks, plotting her next course of action after Orion was taken and his memories of Rosalind wiped. Though their marriage might have been a sham, his absence hurts her more than any physical wound. She won’t rest until she gets him back.

But with her identity in the open, the task is near impossible. The only way to leave the city and rescue Orion is under the guise of a national tour. It’s easy to convince her superiors that the countryside needs unity more than ever, and who better than an immortal girl to stir pride and strength into the people?

When the tour goes wrong, however, everything Rosalind once knew is thrown up in the air. Taking refuge outside Shanghai, old ghosts come into the open and adversaries turn to allies. To save Orion, they must find a cure to his mother’s traitorous invention and take this dangerous chemical weapon away from impending foreign invasion—but the clock is ticking, and if Rosalind fails, it’s not only Orion she loses, but her nation itself.

My Review

The first book in the duology ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, with Orion in danger, and Rosalind finally aware of her feelings for him, so I was really excited to get to read the rest of the story. Though my review of FOUL LADY FORTUNE won’t post for a while, (My calendar is so packed that I don’t have much room for backlist reviews.) I actually finished reading it a few days before beginning FOUL HEART HUNTSMAN, so the story is pretty fresh in my mind. Which is great because so much happens in that book!

First, if you haven’t read FOUL LADY FORTUNE, you’ll want to do that before starting this book. In fact, if you haven’t read THESE VIOLENT DELIGHTS and want to read that duology without spoilers, you’ll want to do that before reading either of the books in this newer duology. You can definitely read FOUL LADY FORTUNE without reading THESE VIOLENT DELIGHTS, as I did, but there will be some spoilers.

I think I actually enjoyed this book more than the first one, even though it doesn’t stand on its own. It was nice to pick up already knowing the characters and their relationships with one another and see those relationships play out. I also enjoyed the high-stakes, captive-swapping team efforts to save the day and all the ways they went sideways. Some moments were satisfying because I saw them coming. Others came as a complete shock.

All in all, I had a lot of fun reading this book, and I read it pretty quickly, despite it being over 500 pages. As with the first book in the duology, this is really adult fiction marketed as YA. My guess is that that’s because of the speculative elements.

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 14 up.

Most characters are Chinese. Alisa and her brother are Russian. Orion has had romantic relationships with both boys and girls. Celia is transgender.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Strong profanity used somewhat frequently.

Romance/Sexual Content
Kissing between boy and girl. References to a boy’s past romantic relationship with another boy.

Spiritual Content
One character repeats a spiritual mantra in an intense moment.

Violent Content
Situations of peril. Battle scenes show soldiers and other operatives attacking one another. References to torture.

Drug Content
A scientist uses chemical agents to manipulate and control prisoners.

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support this blog. I received a free copy of FOUL HEART HUNTSMAN in exchange for my honest review.

Review: Switching Fates by Stacie Ramey

Switching Fates
Stacie Ramey
Ally Press
Published February 12, 2021

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About Switching Fates

One Lives. One dies. He chooses.

Bryan Rivers will do anything to save his dying girlfriend Courtney—even enlist supernatural help. His ex-girlfriend Rose is a practicing Wiccan, and Bryan pleads with her to use her powers to help. She reluctantly agrees, but like everything in Rose’s world, the remedy is complicated and comes with a serious warning: the kind of powerful magic that Bryan requires involves summoning mythological beings. Specifically, the Three Fates.

Once the Fates appear, their proposition sounds simple: play three rounds of their favorite game, Switching Fates, to win the chance to save Courtney. But it’s a game where Bryan must make the horrifying choice between two lives; which person lives and which person dies. And each round is more challenging and wicked than the last. With the realization that he’s in far over his head, Bryan must figure out how to beat the Fates at their own game.

My Review

I don’t often read books in the New Adult genre, but I like Stacie Ramey’s writing, so when she offered me a copy of her newest book, I couldn’t resist. I’ve been in a little bit of a reading slump lately, where I just haven’t enjoyed reading as much as I usually do, and that’s very odd for me. I think partly because of that, I had a lot of fun reading this book.

One of the reasons I tend not to read a lot of New Adult fiction is that it often contains more graphic sexual content than I’m comfortable reading, but I felt like SWITCHING FATES had a lot of sexual tension without being overly explicit, which I liked.

I also got pretty hooked into the suspense of waiting to see what Bryan would do and whether he would be able to save both Rose and Courtney. I definitely wanted to know what would happen and whether he would find a way through in time, or whether he’d have to make the ultimate terrible choice.

Reading this book felt really indulgent and fun. It was like sitting down to eat a whole box of chocolates. I really enjoyed it even though it’s not my usual go-to genre. It reminded me a little of Amanda Hocking’s Watersong series, so I think fans of those books would really like SWITCHING FATES.

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 18 up.

The major characters are white. Rose is a practicing Wiccan.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used infrequently.

Romance/Sexual Content
Kissing between boy and girl. Some groping over clothes. In one scene a boy takes a girl’s pants off. In another, he reaches under a girl’s shirt. There’s a brief description of sex and some references to it.

Spiritual Content
Rose is a practicing Wiccan who performs a spell meant to save Bryan’s girlfriend from death. Instead, she summons the Fates, three powerful, immortal women who have the ability to control who lives or dies.

Violent Content – Trigger Warning
One scene shows a girl dying after she jumps off a roof and hits her head. Some scenes show characters bound and gagged. Someone beats them with a stick or switch.

There are also some references to a suicide attempt in the past. Bryan discovered the survivor immediately after she’d made the attempt, so there’s some description of what he saw and some references to scars left from that incident.

Drug Content
Bryan attends a party and drinks alcohol with his friends. He sees at least a couple people taking Ecstasy. There are a couple other references to hard drug use and smoking pot.

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support running this blog. I received a free copy of SWITCHING FATES in exchange for my honest review.

Review: The Project by Courtney Summers

The Project
Courtney Summers
Wednesday Books
Published February 2, 2021

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About The Project

Lo Denham is used to being on her own. After her parents died, Lo’s sister, Bea, joined The Unity Project, leaving Lo in the care of their great aunt. Thanks to its extensive charitable work and community outreach, The Unity Project has won the hearts and minds of most in the Upstate New York region, but Lo knows there’s more to the group than meets the eye. She’s spent the last six years of her life trying—and failing—to prove it.

When a man shows up at the magazine Lo works for claiming The Unity Project killed his son, Lo sees the perfect opportunity to expose the group and reunite with Bea once and for all. When her investigation puts her in the direct path of its leader, Lev Warren and as Lo delves deeper into The Project, the lives of its members it upends everything she thought she knew about her sister, herself, cults, and the world around her—to the point she can no longer tell what’s real or true. Lo never thought she could afford to believe in Lev Warren . . . but now she doesn’t know if she can afford not to.

My Review

I could not stop reading this book. It’s super intense in all the best ways. And it seemed like with every chapter, the stakes only got higher. I really needed to know what would happen.

The beginning confused me a little bit. It begins with Bea’s point-of-view, told in third person present tense. Then alternates between her point-of-view and Lo’s (first person present tense), and once I got that far, I felt like I found a rhythm.

THE PROJECT has so many great things. I loved the juxtaposition of the zeal for writing news at SVO, the magazine where Lo works for a charismatic, energetic boss against the magnetic change-the-world attitude of the Unity Project. It felt like a sly contrast showing the difference between a cult and a passion project, if that makes sense??? And also a great way to show some important things about Lo’s character that make some of the events late in the story make sense.

So the Unity Project… at first I was a little creeped out because the leader uses a lot of bastardized Christian ideas (which some cults do, so it’s pretty real). As a Christian myself, it’s always icky to see something be twisted like that, but I felt like as the story went on, it was so clear that the Unity Project not only wasn’t preaching Christian doctrine, but wasn’t pretending to, either. For some reason that made a difference to me.

Anyway– Lo and Bea. Okay, so I’m a huge, ginormous fan of sister stories, and this one is no exception. I loved that their relationship wasn’t perfect, and that they always seemed kind of like seesaw sisters? You know, where one is up when the other is down, never really synced up with each other. But through the narrative, you see that they love one another and how their lives impact each other, even through the time they’re not close.

One note on age range: Though I think this is billed as young adult fiction and Lo is seventeen (I think Bea is in her early twenties), I’m not sure I’d put it on the shelf with YA. I think the themes and attitudes of the characters place it more solidly in a new adult age group.

On the whole, THE PROJECT pretty much swallowed me whole. I felt like I read it all wide-eyed, barely blinking because I didn’t want to stop reading even long enough for that! It’s got some heavy content, so please check that out, but if you enjoy darker suspense novels, this is a top notch one.

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 18 up.

I think the major characters are white.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used fairly frequently.

Romance/Sexual Content
Brief and longer descriptions of sexual contact between a boy and girl.

Spiritual Content
The leader of the Unity Project uses Bible verses to reference himself (as a stand-in for God or Jesus) and explain his actions. A Catholic priest offers help to Lo.

Violent Content Trigger Warning for domestic abuse and torture.
References to domestic child abuse. Some references to and descriptions of torture.

Drug Content
Lo’s coworkers often meet after work at a bar, but she skips those gatherings because she’s underage.

Note: I received a free copy of THE PROJECT in exchange for my honest review. This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support running this blog.

Review: The Vine Witch by Luanne G. Smith

The Vine Witch
Luanne G. Smith
Published October 1, 2019

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About The Vine Witch

A young witch emerges from a curse to find her world upended in this gripping fantasy of betrayal, vengeance, and self-discovery set in turn-of-the-century France.

For centuries, the vineyards at Château Renard have depended on the talent of their vine witches, whose spells help create the world-renowned wine of the Chanceaux Valley. Then the skill of divining harvests fell into ruin when sorcière Elena Boureanu was blindsided by a curse. Now, after breaking the spell that confined her to the shallows of a marshland and weakened her magic, Elena is struggling to return to her former life. And the vineyard she was destined to inherit is now in the possession of a handsome stranger.

Vigneron Jean-Paul Martel naively favors science over superstition, and he certainly doesn’t endorse the locals’ belief in witches. But Elena knows a hex when she sees one, and the vineyard is covered in them. To stay on and help the vines recover, she’ll have to hide her true identity, along with her plans for revenge against whoever stole seven winters of her life. And she won’t rest until she can defy the evil powers that are still a threat to herself, Jean-Paul, and the ancient vine-witch legacy in the rolling hills of the Chanceaux Valley.

My Review

It’s not often that I read a book set in turn-of-the-century France, and I feel like I’m okay with that, but if I’d read more, I think I would have enjoyed the setting of this book more. I liked it, I just felt like it was written more for readers who are already familiar with that type of setting and was kind of spare on details that unfamiliar readers might want to have.

I liked Elena immediately, and Jean-Paul, too. The story alternates back and forth in their points of view. It was fun watching them feel each other out. I thought the other characters– Elena’s grandmother, her former fiancé, and the Elena’s unlikely ally later in the book– were all great characters that added a lot to the story.

In terms of the plot, the story moves pretty quickly. The beginning was a little dense and confusing only because it introduces a lot of characters, goals, and action. Once I’d read four or five chapters, I got pretty hooked on the story and didn’t want to stop reading. I finished the rest of the book that day.

On the whole, I enjoyed THE VINE WITCH. I loved the parts about the vineyard and the tug-of-war between Elena and Jean-Paul over magic versus science. I feel like I wanted the story to be like 50 pages longer so that I could read more about some of the subplots like that.

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 18 up.

All characters are European.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used very infrequently.

Romance/Sexual Content
References to sex. Kissing between man and woman.

Spiritual Content
Descriptions of rituals and spells, including using pentagrams and summoning a demon. One character encounters a jinni.

Violent Content
References to mutilated animals found near the town. Descriptions of torture and situations of peril.

Drug Content
Elena experiments with poisons. Characters (all adults) drink wine.

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support the costs of running this blog. I received a free copy of THE VINE WITCH in exchange for my honest review.

Review: Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart

Genuine Fraud
E. Lockhart
Delacorte Press
Published September 5, 2017

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From the author of the unforgettable New York Times bestseller We Were Liars comes a masterful new psychological suspense novel–the story of a young woman whose diabolical smarts are her ticket into a charmed life. But how many times can someone reinvent themselves? You be the judge.

Imogen is a runaway heiress, an orphan, a cook, and a cheat.
Jule is a fighter, a social chameleon, and an athlete. 
An intense friendship. A disappearance. A murder, or maybe two. 
A bad romance, or maybe three.
Blunt objects, disguises, blood, and chocolate. The American dream, superheroes, spies, and villains. 
A girl who refuses to give people what they want from her.
A girl who refuses to be the person she once was.

My Review

Wow. I was not expecting this book to be as dark as it was. From the description, I think I expected there to be two points of view, Imogen and Jule. There’s not– the whole story is told from Jule’s perspective. It’s also told in a choppy timeline, where each chapter jumps backward a bit and then runs forward to end where the previous chapter began. (Like the movie Memento with Edward Norton.)

I think the timeline totally worked. It created this choppy, suspenseful story where Jule’s completely in control of the narrative. I suspected a few of the twists before they happened, but some things took me completely by surprise.

Some of the book reminded me a little bit of a poem I read once by Robert Frost, which I think is about a boy killed with an axe. The words create this kind of aloof, calm sense, but somehow that makes what the poem tells all the more shocking and disturbing. That’s how I felt about some of the scenes in the book.

I felt like I couldn’t look away. Even when I didn’t want to know what happened, I felt like I had to finish the story. The writing was pretty compelling. It’s definitely one of those stories that looks at the darker impulses of being human: selfishness, obsession, greed.

If you’re into darker lit, GENUINE FRAUD is probably right up your alley. If you prefer stories where you like the characters and grow to like them more as the story progresses and you understand them more, GENUINE FRAUD is not likely to be the kind of book you’d enjoy. I’d recommend WE WERE LIARS by E. Lockhart instead, or WE ARE THE GOLDENS by Dana Reinhardt.

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 16 up.

Jule’s sexual orientation is unclear. At times it seems like she has feelings for Imogen, but it’s hard to tell whether those feelings are sexual.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity and some crude language used often throughout the book.

Romance/Sexual Content
Jule witnesses Imogen having sex in the pool with her boyfriend. Imogen references walking in on two female roommates having sex.

Spiritual Content
Jule listens to a man singing “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” at a bus station and wonders whether she’s too lost for a savior. She concludes that she is.

Violent Content
Scenes show two young women bashed in the head with heavy, blunt objects. In two other scenes, a young woman attacks someone who’s following her. Details are a bit disturbing. A young man is found after having apparently hanged himself.

Drug Content 
Imogen drinks alcohol at a bar in Puerto Rico with Jule (where it’s legal).

Note: This post contains affiliate links which cost you nothing but which help support this blog.

Review: Vanishing Throne by Elizabeth May

The Vanishing Throne (The Falconer #2)
Elizabeth May
Chronicle Books
Published on June 21, 2016

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About The Vanishing Throne
Everything she loved is gone.

Trapped. Aileana Kameron, the Falconer, disappeared through the fae portal she was trying to close forever. Now she wakes in an alien world of mirrors, magic, and deception—a prisoner of the evil fae Lonnrach, who has a desperate and deadly plan for his new captive.

Tortured. Time after agonizing time Lonnrach steals Aileana’s memories, searching for knowledge to save his world. Just when she’s about to lose all hope, Aileana is rescued by an unexpected ally and returns home, only to confront a terrifying truth. The city of Edinburgh is now an unrecognizable wasteland. And Aileana knows the devastation is all her fault.

Transformed. The few human survivors are living in an underground colony, in an uneasy truce with a remnant of the fae. It is a fragile alliance, but an even greater danger awaits: the human and fae worlds may disappear forever. Only Aileana can save both worlds, but in order to do so she must awaken her latent Falconer powers. And the price of doing so might be her life…

My Review
After I read the first book in The Falconer series, I couldn’t wait to read this one. Somehow it still took me like two years to do it, though. Oops.

What I loved: witty banter between characters, and one new character in particular. I loved Kiaran’s sister. She’s not at all like the stereotypical fae with the moodiness or aloofness. She has this open curiosity and goofy sense of humor but still feels like a member of the fae somehow. I liked her a lot. I also really enjoyed Aileana’s friend, a pixie named Derek. I’d forgotten all about him between books, but once he came back on the scene, I was hooked all over again.

The romance element remains strong and some very interesting plot twists place a lot of obstacles between Aileana and her happily-ever-after. Some of those twists took me completely by surprise, but they made so much sense looking back. I love when a story has a turning point like that, where it makes you go back and see all the earlier parts differently.

One thing that I kind of missed from The Falconer is that Aileana used to be much more concerned with propriety. She makes sure to have boundaries in her relationships with men. In this book, she has no thought for boundaries or her future. Some of that makes perfect sense, since the story has a much more post-apocalyptic feel, so it would be weird if her feelings about her future didn’t change. I guess there wasn’t really a point where she evaluated her beliefs and changed. She kind of just gets swept up in her relationship with Kiaran and never appears to think about any consequences to her actions. It wasn’t a huge deal in the story, but for anyone who read the first book thinking the series wouldn’t have any sex in it because of the time period it’s set in and Aileana’s personal beliefs, just know that isn’t true.

Reading Vanishing Throne made me super interested in reading the series finale, Fallen Kingdom. I love the strong heroine and the memorable characters, so I’m definitely eager for more. The series is a great pick for fans of Julie Kagawa.

Recommended for Ages 14 up.

Cultural Elements
The story is set in Scotland, so most characters are white and upper class.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Mild profanity used very frequently. A few instances of stronger curses.

Romance/Sexual Content
Kissing between man and woman. One scene shows them undressing and going to bed together. It’s obvious they have sex but not graphically described.

Spiritual Content
The story contains faeries and monsters who possess magic. Some humans have specialized abilities which allow them to sense faeries or resist their magic. Some fae have an alliance with humans and use magic to protect them.

If a human dies and comes back to life, they may return with the ability to see the Fae. It can also unlock other gifts.

Violent Content
Battle scenes with some descriptions of injuries. Aileana is captured by fae at one point and tortured. Mostly her torture is mental. For instance, eventually, the isolation becomes a huge burden and she becomes eager for her captor’s visits. He bites her repeatedly, and his venom causes some additional pain.

Drug Content
Fae bites inject a venom that humans find addicting. At one point, a small group sit together drinking whiskey.