Release Day Reviews- What Souls Are Made Of/Acts of Violet/Honey & Spice

Netgalley adding audiobooks has been a gamechanger for me in terms of reading ARCs. So I thought I would start posting release day reviews of ARCs I have read in an attempt to bring them some attention!

As the abandoned son of a Lascar—a sailor from India—Heathcliff has spent most of his young life maligned as an “outsider.” Now he’s been flung into an alien life in the Yorkshire moors, where he clings to his birth father’s language even though it makes the children of the house call him an animal, and the maids claim he speaks gibberish.

Catherine is the younger child of the estate’s owner, a daughter with light skin and brown curls and a mother that nobody talks about. Her father is grooming her for a place in proper society, and that’s all that matters. Catherine knows she must mold herself into someone pretty and good and marriageable, even though it might destroy her spirit.

As they occasionally flee into the moors to escape judgment and share the half-remembered language of their unknown kin, Catherine and Heathcliff come to find solace in each other. Deep down in their souls, they can feel they are the same.

But when Catherine’s father dies and the household’s treatment of Heathcliff only grows more cruel, their relationship becomes strained and threatens to unravel. For how can they ever be together, when loving each other—and indeed, loving themselves—is as good as throwing themselves into poverty and death?

Do you know those authors whose writing just works for you? Tasha Suri is quickly becoming that author for me! The Jasmine Throne was one of the best books I read in 2021, so I was thrilled when I discovered that she was writing a Wuthering Heights retelling for this remixed series that Feiwel & Friends is doing. I was even more excited to be approved for an ALC on Netgalley! I loved that audio, btw.

I have never read Wuthering Heights and have no intentions to, but I am familiar with the story. I was nervous going into What Souls Are Made Of that it would be all dark and depressing, but it ended up being a lot more hopeful than you would initially expect. I think readers anticipate adult fantasy from Tasha Suri, so it is important to reiterate that this is 100% YA historical fiction. It made me realize I need to give the genre more of a chance because I loved this!

From what I know about the original story, Catherine is not given a perspective. She is spoken about but never has the chance to speak. It was refreshing to see that she does have a voice in this retelling and I enjoyed her inner dialogue. She comes to a lot of realizations throughout the novel and I think she had the most growth. She could be unlikeable at times but she stood out to me.

Heathcliff’s chapters were a little more thrilling and I would say emotional. He and Catherine are separated for the majority of the novel and he goes through a lot. We hear about his complicated feelings about Catherine and her treatment of him. It was interesting!

If you know anything about Wuthering Heights, you know how important the moors are to the story and Tasha Suri embraces that. I think the nature of historical fiction is that they are rooted in place and that is true here. It was very atmospheric!

Overall, this was fantastic and made me even more excited for the other books in this series and for the release of the sequel to The Jasmine Throne, which releases in August! So soon!

Nearly a decade ago, iconic magician Violet Volk performed her greatest trick yet: vanishing mid-act. Though she hasn’t been seen since, her hold on the public hasn’t wavered. While Violet sought out the spotlight, her sister Sasha, ever the responsible one, took over their mother’s salon and built a quiet life for her daughter, Quinn. But Sasha can never seem to escape her sister’s orbit or her memories of their unresolved, tumultuous relationship. Then there’s Cameron Frank, determined to finally get his big break hosting a podcast devoted to all things Violet—though keeping his job hinges on an exclusive interview with Sasha, the last person who wants to talk to him.

As the ten-year anniversary approaches, the podcast picks up steam, and Cameron’s pursuit of Sasha becomes increasingly intrusive. He isn’t the only one wondering what secrets she might be keeping: Quinn, loyal to the aunt she always idolized, is doing her own investigating. Meanwhile, Sasha begins to experience an unsettling series of sleepwalking episodes and coincidences, which all lead back to Violet. Pushed to her emotional limits, Sasha must finally confront the most painful truths about her sister, and herself, even at the risk of losing everything.

Alternating between Sasha’s narration and Cameron’s podcast transcripts, interspersed with documents that offer a tantalizing peek at Violet herself, Acts of Violet is an utterly original, propulsive story of fame, deception, and forgiveness that will make you believe in magic.

I really wanted to love Acts of Violet, especially since Oona Out of Order really surprised me, but it just didn’t quite work for me. I will say that the audiobook was incredible and was a five-star listening experience for me. A lot of the book centers around a podcast, so it was fun to listen to. I will be honest, I don’t think I would have finished this book if I had been reading it physically.

The story revolves around Violet, who was a stage magician who vanished during an act ten years prior. We follow her family, her sister mostly, and their reactions to her disappearance. They were estranged at the time but we as the readers don’t understand why until closer to the end of the novel. I typically enjoy stories about sisters, but I never felt invested. Maybe it was because Violet is not present and we only get one side of the story. We also get podcast clips from people who knew Violet, including her ex-husband, as well as clips from fans and detractors. I thought that we were building up to an epic conclusion about what actually happened to Violet but the ending felt convenient and a bit of a copout.

Take this all with a grain of salt because I am also simply not a fan of magicians or reading about them. Just not my thing! I do look forward to whatever Margarita Montimore writes next.

Sweet like plantain, hot like pepper. They taste the best when together…

Sharp-tongued (and secretly soft-hearted) Kiki Banjo has just made a huge mistake. As an expert in relationship-evasion and the host of the popular student radio show Brown Sugar, she’s made it her mission to make sure the women of the African-Caribbean Society at Whitewell University do not fall into the mess of “situationships”, players, and heartbreak. But when the Queen of the Unbothered kisses Malakai Korede, the guy she just publicly denounced as “The Wastemen of Whitewell,” in front of every Blackwellian on campus, she finds her show on the brink.

They’re soon embroiled in a fake relationship to try and salvage their reputations and save their futures. Kiki has never surrendered her heart before, and a player like Malakai won’t be the one to change that, no matter how charming he is or how electric their connection feels. But surprisingly entertaining study sessions and intimate, late-night talks at old-fashioned diners force Kiki to look beyond her own presumptions. Is she ready to open herself up to something deeper?

A gloriously funny and sparkling debut novel, Honey & Spice is full of delicious tension and romantic intrigue that will make you weak at the knees.

I finished Honey & Spice last night, right in time! I had an ALC from and an eARC from HarperCollins Canada. I think the publishers just knew I was going to have a great time with this book!

I think Kiki herself is what makes this romance so compelling. We get to know her right from the beginning. She is sarcastic, a bit abrasive, and hilarious. But, underneath it all, she is insecure and terrified to fall in love. We get to know some of her history and where her insecurity stems from and it made me emotional in a way I wasn’t expecting. There are also great female friendships that form throughout the novel and that was maybe my favourite thing about the story. It was so nice to see!

Malakai was a fun love interest. There is a moment that very much appealed to my book-loving heart and I swooned. You will know what I mean when you get to that scene. It was so sweet!

My only gripe with it is something we often get with fake dating (which is a trope I love!) and that is the misunderstandings that happen. It is so clear that they have feelings for one another but Kiki just doesn’t see it! I think that it all comes down to her insecurities, so I can’t fault her for it. The third act breakup was frustrating for me, but it resolves itself quickly.

I forgot to mention that Kiki is the host of a radio show targeted toward women within the Afro-Caribbean community at her university. I loved that we got snippets of the show throughout the novel. Also, Malakai is filming a documentary about couples who date in college, so we see some of those interviews as well, which was fun. Oh, and I want to mention that I am always intrigued by the pop culture references that authors choose to include. Why Twilight!?

Overall, Honey & Spice was a fast-paced and sweet romance that definitely has some spicy scenes!

Today is a huge release day and there are a few other books that come out today that I have my eye on. I have an ALC of Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin, so that is a high priority!

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