The Desire Card by Lee Matthew Goldberg

The Desire Card by [Goldberg, Lee Matthew]


Any wish fulfilled for the right price. That’s the promise the organization behind The Desire Card gives to its elite clients – but sometimes the price may be more menacing than anyone could ever imagine.

Harrison Stockton has lived an adult life of privilege and excess: a high-powered job on Wall Street fuels his fondness for alcohol and pills at the expense of a family he has no time for. Quite suddenly all of this comes crashing to a halt when he loses his job and at the same time discovers he almost certainly has only months left to live.

Desperate, and with seemingly nowhere else left to turn, Harrison activates his Desire Card. What follows is a gritty and gripping quest that takes him from New York City to the slums of Mumbai and forces him to take chances, and make decisions, he never thought he’d ever have to face. When his moral descent threatens his wife and children, Harrison must decide whether to save himself at any cost, or do what’s right and break his bargain with the mysterious group behind The Desire Card.

4 stars. The Desire Card was a fast-paced read that was compelling all the way through. This type of scenario isn’t my usual cup of tea, but I thoroughly enjoyed the book. The characters were really interesting- we got to see the main character, Harrison’s, lowest point and how he dealt with this. Harrison is a very unlikable character. He’s a heavy drinker, rude to most of the people he meets, drowns himself in work, and doesn’t spend much time with his wife and kids. There’s a lot of moral corruption in this book- in Harrison and in many of the other characters. However, we get to see Harrison and the other characters change and grow throughout the book.

The book was action-packed and a pretty fast read. Just as it was starting to get a little stereotypical, a great plot twist arrived that I didn’t see coming. Interesting, dark themes throughout the book, especially in Mumbai, where it describes the realities of impoverished people there.

The Desire Card is a thrilling book with action that will keep you on the edge of your seat the whole time and dark lessons about life.

Note: I was provided with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Again, But Better by Christine Riccio

Again, But Better by Christine Riccio

373 pages

Synopsis: Shane has been doing college all wrong. Pre-med, stellar grades, and happy parents…sounds ideal—but Shane’s made zero friends, goes home every weekend, and romance…what’s that? 

Her life has been dorm, dining hall, class, repeat. Time’s a ticking, and she needs a change—there’s nothing like moving to a new country to really mix things up. Shane signs up for a semester abroad in London. She’s going to right all her college mistakes: make friends, pursue boys, and find adventure! 

Easier said than done. She is soon faced with the complicated realities of living outside her bubble, and when self-doubt sneaks in, her new life starts to fall apart. 

Shane comes to find that, with the right amount of courage and determination one can conquer anything. Throw in some fate and a touch of magic—the possibilities are endless. 

“You’re bolder than before.”

I usually don’t like books by YouTubers, but Again, But Better really exceeded my expectations. It’s fun, it’s cute, and it’s a fast but emotional read. I loved the characters and the drama between everyone- especially Shane and Pilot and Shane and her parents- and Shane’s development throughout the book was really great.

Christine Riccio made studying abroad and all the places the people in the book visited sound vibrant and exciting with great descriptions.

The writing was not spectacular, but decent for a debut. It had an overload of references to 2011 (when the first half of the book was set) and Shane, the main character, seems very similar to the author, Christine Riccio. However, the book had a lot of funny moments and nostalgic vibes. The pacing was done very well, with a good balance between school, work, and hanging out with friends.

The plot twist was definitely unexpected, though I would have liked to know more of the background behind it, and have the ending fleshed out a bit more.

I received a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.



The Enchanted Sonata by Heather Dixon Wallwork

Clara Stahlbaum has her future perfectly planned: marry the handsome pianist, Johann Kahler (ah!), and settle down to a life full of music. But all that changes on Christmas Eve, when Clara receives a mysterious and magical nutcracker. 

Whisked away to his world–an enchanted empire of beautiful palaces, fickle fairies, enormous rats, and a prince–Clara must face a magician who uses music as spells…and the future she thought she wanted. 

The Enchanted Sonata is a beautiful book that blends The Nutcracker and the Pied Piper, perfect for the winter holiday time. The romance was very cute and realistic, and I love all of the characters. Clara was brave, funny, and relatable, and you really get to see her develop through the story from a lovesick little girl into a courageous, smart woman. The prince was very likable and always wanted to do the right thing. Even the antagonist is well developed with a clever backstory. 
The dialogue and humor were a bit dull, but the world building was amazing! I loved how it whisked you away to the vivid world of Imperia- from the forests to Polichinelle’s candy shop to the royal palace. I also really loved the way the author wrote about the music that was played in the book. A wonderful, lyrical book that I would recommend to any musician or lover of fairy tales.

I received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exhange for my honest review.

Sleep, Merel, Sleep

sleepmerelsleep_cover-animatedSleep, Merel, Sleep by Silke Stein (Released on June 7th!)

Synopsis: Who wants to be awake forever?

Life has changed for eight-year-old Merel. Since the birth of her sick baby brother, her parents seem to have forgotten she exists. But when she finds a tiny silver violin in her bedroom rug, things take a turn for the worse.

Merel learns that her sleep has abandoned her and that she must embark on a perilous journey to recover it or stay awake forever. Together with her devoted toy sheep Roger, tired Merel sets out in search of Lullaby Grove. Before long, she finds herself haunted by a scary stranger.

Follow Merel into a surreal world. Meet a sleepy king with an obsession for feathers and a transparent old man on a night train going nowhere. Discover why the moonfish cry, why you should never walk across the Great Yawns ― and if poor Merel can escape her pursuer, win back her sleep, and realize what matters most in her life.

3.5 stars. This book was very abstract and weird, but quite interesting. It would be a great pick for middle-grade children who are about to become big brothers or sisters. Merel’s brother was just born, and Merel isn’t too pleased with him. Because he is sick, Merel’s parents never have time for her. One night, Merel’s sleep abandons her and she must go on a whimsical journey to find her “Sleep” and return his violin to him so that she can go to bed. Along the way, she meets friends and enemies and learns about what truly matters in her life.

I do wish that some things were explained a little more and that the transitions weren’t so odd and quick. It was a little like Alice in Wonderland, where the story is one nonsensical adventure after another, but it was still fun. Also, I wished that the ending wasn’t so abrupt, and didn’t leave so many loose ends untied. The last chapter or so confused me at first, because Merel went from one situation to another without explanation.

I liked how Silke Stein incorporated the issues of death of a loved one and the sickness of a premature sibling. It explains it in a way that children could understand, but adults can relate to.

The various characters were imaginative and interesting, and were one of the best parts of this book. Merel is relatable and brave. Though a bit unlikable at first (I mean, she threw enough tantrums that even her sleep abandoned her), she grew into a strong and smart little girl.

ARC provided by the author, Silke Stein, in exchange for my honest review.




Stories from the Witch Store


Stories from the Witch Store by Olga Gutsol (114 pages, Published 8/20/2017)

Summary: Funny and imaginative chronicles from the life of a hereditary witch Arelia who, along with her loyal companions Cat and house-ghost Puck, moved to the small town of Burnaville to open the Magic Potions store. Here she falls into a lifetime of boredom. How have her magical powers resulted in this? What is missing from the charming life she has built?

Review: I rated this book 3.5 stars. It’s quite a cute book (I mean, look at that cover!) with beautiful illustrations and lots of fun adventures for a witch and her best friends. Arelia is witty and interesting, although she can be a bit annoying sometimes, complaining a lot and thinking that she is above everything and everyone because she’s a witch. Cat and Puck (the house spirit) are quite funny. I also wish that there was more backstory. We don’t get to find out much about Arelia before she moves to Burnaville or any of the other characters before the story. And although there are a lot of interesting day-to-day experiences, there isn’t a whole lot of a plot, so if you’re interested in something with a clear story arc, character development, and some sort of overarching goal, this might not be the book for you. Still, it was a very compelling premise. I don’t think I’ve ever read anything where a witch is just jotting down her everyday adventures, and it was very interesting to read about Arelia’s type of witchcraft. Stories from the Witch Store was an interesting, fast, and beautiful read.

Note: I received this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.



Wildwood by Colin Meloy

Illustrated by Carson Ellis

Number of Pages: 560


Prue McKeel’s life is ordinary. At least until her brother is abducted by a murder of crows and taken to the Impassable Wilderness, a dense, tangled forest on the edge of Portland. No one’s ever gone in—or at least returned to tell of it.

So begins an adventure that will take Prue and her friend Curtis deep into the Impassable Wilderness. There they uncover a secret world in the midst of violent upheaval—a world full of warring creatures, peaceable mystics, and powerful figures with the darkest intentions. And what begins as a rescue mission becomes something much greater, as the two friends find themselves entwined in a struggle for the very freedom of this wilderness. A wilderness the locals call Wildwood.

Review: I really enjoyed this book. It was a cool concept and I loved all of the illustrations throughout the book. The beginning was a little boring, but it got more exciting at it went along, and it turned out to be pretty action-packed and adventurous.

I didn’t like the characters very much. None of the main characters seemed to have back stories or unique emotions. You don’t really get to know Curtis or Prue.

I also thought that the book was pretty predictable. All the people you expected to be bad were bad and all the people you expected to be good were good. Nothing super exciting happened. Overall, I’d give it a three out of five stars.