Bite-Sized Reviews of Courtesy of Cupid, The Curse of Eelgrass Bog, Falling Short, and Dungeons and Drama

Posted February 5, 2024 by Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction in Reviews / 6 Comments

Today, I’m reviewing three MG novels a YA romance. I hope these bite-sized reviews will be enough to feed your fiction addiction!

Bite-Sized Reviews of Courtesy of Cupid, The Curse of Eelgrass Bog, Falling Short, and Dungeons and DramaCourtesy of Cupid by Nashae Jones
Published by Aladdin on January 2, 2024
Genres: Middle Grade, Romance
Pages: 288
Source: The Publisher
Cover Artist: Stephanie Singleton
My rating:
4.5 Stars

In this middle grade rom-com sprinkled with a dash of magic, a girl uses her newfound ability to make people fall in love to sabotage her rival.

Erin Johnson’s thirteenth birthday unfolds like any other day, from her mom’s quirky and embarrassing choice of outfit to racing her nemesis, Trevor Jin, to the best seat in class—front row, center. But her gifts this year include something very out of the magical powers.

Erin discovers her mysterious father is actually the love god Cupid and she’s inherited his knack for romance. It’s not the most useful ability for an overachiever with lofty academic and extracurricular goals…or is it? Erin desperately wants to be elected president of the Multicultural Leadership Club, and as usual, Trevor is her fiercest competition. He’s never backed down from a challenge before, but if Erin makes him fall in love with her, maybe he'd drop out of the race and let her win.

With her magical pedigree, wrapping Trevor around her finger is a snap, and having him around all the time is a small price to pay for victory. But without their cutthroat rivalry bringing out the worst in each other, Erin realizes Trevor may not be as bad as she thought, and suddenly her first foray into love gets a lot more complicated…


Courtesy of Cupid is one of the first true middle grade romances I can remember reading (where the romance is the primary focus of the book). In fact, it reads a lot like a YA romance, except that the relationship doesn’t make it all the way to kissing by the end of the book. It’s a classic rivals to crush romance where the MC (Erin) falls for the one person she’s trying hardest to one-up. And to make it all a bit more fun, there’s a hefty dose of magic when Erin discovers her dad is a Cupid – and she has the power of magical matchmaking. The story also involves a bit of middle grade angst and touches on family issues in a realistic but hopeful way. I recommend this book to any middle grader interested in romance!

***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher for review. No compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***

Bite-Sized Reviews of Courtesy of Cupid, The Curse of Eelgrass Bog, Falling Short, and Dungeons and DramaThe Curse of Eelgrass Bog by Mary Averling
Published by Razorbill on January 2, 2024
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy, Horror, Middle Grade, Romance
Pages: 256
Source: NetGalley
Cover Artist: James Firnhaber
My rating:
4.5 Stars

Dark secrets and unnatural magic abound when a twelve-year-old girl ventures into a bog full of monsters to break a mysterious curse.

Nothing about Kess Pedrock’s life is normal. Not her home (she lives in her family’s Unnatural History Museum), not her interests (hunting for megafauna fossils and skeletons), and not her best friend (a talking demon’s head in a jar named Shrunken Jim).

But things get even stranger than usual when Kess meets Lilou Starling, the new girl in town. Lilou comes to Kess for help breaking a mysterious curse—and the only clue she has leads straight into the center of Eelgrass Bog.

Everyone knows the bog is full of witches, demons, and possibly worse, but Kess and Lilou are determined not to let that stop them. As they investigate the mystery and uncover long-buried secrets, Kess begins to realize that the curse might hit closer to home than she’d ever expected, and she’ll have to summon all her courage to find a way to break it before it’s too late.


The Curse of Eelgrass Bog is a creepy middle grade fantasy with a central mystery that keeps the reader guessing! Kess spends lonely days trying to keep her home, The Unnatural History Museum, running while her parents are off on an expedition, all the while wondering why her brother just locks himself in the office all day. The book sets up some compelling mysteries right from the start, and the creep factor is high (Kess’s best friend is a demon head in a jar, and the museum is full of the bodies of monstrous creatures). When Kess meets Lilou, the new girl draws Kess into a mystery of her own that sends the girls into the mythical and treacherous bog. The story takes some serious twists and turns–the major one has pretty big hints spread throughout the book but still gives room for uncertainty, which is perfect for a middle grade read. And the relationship between the girls turns into the beginnings of a sweet romance. Readers will find themselves swept by the unique worldbuilding in this one–highly recommended!!

***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley. No compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***

Bite-Sized Reviews of Courtesy of Cupid, The Curse of Eelgrass Bog, Falling Short, and Dungeons and DramaFalling Short by Ernesto Cisneros
Published by Quill Tree Books on March 15, 2022
Genres: Contemporary, Middle Grade
Pages: 304
Source: Library
Cover Artist: Jay Bendt
My rating:
4.5 Stars

A novel about two best friends who must rely on each other in unexpected ways.
Isaac and Marco already know sixth grade is going to change their lives. But it won't change things at home--not without each other's help.

This year, star basketball player Isaac plans on finally keeping up with his schoolwork. Better grades will surely stop Isaac's parents from arguing all the time. Meanwhile, straight-A Marco vows on finally winning his father's approval by earning a spot on the school's basketball team.

But will their friendship and support for each other be enough to keep the two boys from falling short?


Falling Short is an ode to every middle grade kid who worries they can’t measure up (which is, let’s face it, all of us at that age). Best friends Isaac and Marco are ready to make some major changes in sixth grade. Isaac knows he needs to focus on his schoolwork and be more responsible, but most days that feels like an impossible task, especially when he’s also navigating the tricky relationship between his recently separated mom and dad (after his dad turns to alcohol in difficult times). Meanwhile, Marco would love to have any kind of relationship at all with his own dad – Marco can never seem to do the types of things that make his dad proud, and he barely even sees him anymore. Isaac does his best to keep his grades up and Marco tries his best to make the basketball team, but no matter how hard both boys work, they feel like they’re up against impossible tasks, and they both start to wonder if they’re always going to be destined to fall short. The book touches on serious topics like alcoholism and divorce, but there’s always a thread of optimism throughout the story that keeps it from feeling too heavy. This book is perfect for contemporary readers and it will have extra appeal to kids who like heartfelt family stories or sports stories.

Bite-Sized Reviews of Courtesy of Cupid, The Curse of Eelgrass Bog, Falling Short, and Dungeons and DramaDungeons and Drama by Kristy Boyce
Published by Delacorte on January 9, 2024
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 304
Source: NetGalley
Cover Artist: Liz Parkes
My content rating: Nothing more than kissing
My rating:
4.5 Stars

When it comes to romance, sometimes it doesn't hurt to play games. A fun YA romcom full of fake dating hijinks!

Musical lover Riley has big aspirations to become a director on Broadway. Crucial to this plan is to bring back her high school’s spring musical, but when Riley takes her mom’s car without permission, she's grounded and stuck with the worst punishment: spending her after-school hours working at her dad’s game shop.

Riley can't waste her time working when she has a musical to save, so she convinces Nathan—a nerdy teen employee—to cover her shifts and, in exchange, she’ll flirt with him to make his gamer-girl crush jealous.
But Riley didn’t realize that meant joining Nathan's Dungeons & Dragons game…or that role playing would be so fun. Soon, Riley starts to think that flirting with Nathan doesn't require as much acting as she would've thought...



Dungeons and Drama is my favorite type of YA romance – the kind that keeps me smiling the whole time. And, of course, it incorporates some of my favorite tropes and themes: fake dating, enemies to lovers (but where neither person is an actual jerk at the beginning, so I’m still fully rooting for them), theater, and Dungeons and Dragons. I breezed through this book really quickly and enjoyed every minute of it. I appreciated watching the main character fighting for something she loved the school musical) and also learning to love new things (D&D!). And the secondary characters all won me over too, especially Riley’s best friend Hoshiko, who has her back throughout the entire book and gets a subplot romance of her own. This book is also fantastic for younger YA readers, which is something I always have my eye out for as a bookseller. So much to love about this one!

***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley. No compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***

That’s it for now! Have you read any of these? What did you think?
I wanna know!


6 responses to “Bite-Sized Reviews of Courtesy of Cupid, The Curse of Eelgrass Bog, Falling Short, and Dungeons and Drama

  1. You have me curious about Cupid. I hope my library gets it. I have that Boyce book on my radar too. I originally did not because the one book I read from her was just OK, but everyone seems to love Dragons. I have to take a look. Great reviews, Nicole!

    Sam@WLABB recently posted: Isn't It Romantic?
  2. There are a fair number of middle grade romances, including the Angela Darling CRUSH books and Nelson’s WISH books. I always say that MGLit romance is happier, and YA romance is angsty and whiny! I always enjoy seeing romances from the boy’s perspective, like Richards’ Stu Truly.

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