Spoiler Free Review: Black Water Sister by Zen Cho

55119872Title: Black Water Sister

Author: Zen Cho

Pub. Date: May 11th 2021

Genre: Fantasy/Queer

Format: eGalley

Publisher: Ace Books

Pages: 384 pages

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE | AMAZON

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🖤eGalley provided by Publisher in exchange for an honest review, all quotes come from an advance copy and may not match the final release🖤

The 411..“𝑻𝒉𝒆 𝒖𝒏𝒄𝒍𝒆𝒔 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒂𝒖𝒏𝒕𝒊𝒆𝒔 𝒘𝒆𝒓𝒆 𝒂𝒍𝒍 𝒖𝒏𝒒𝒖𝒆𝒔𝒕𝒊𝒐𝒏𝒊𝒏𝒈𝒍𝒚 𝒔𝒖𝒑𝒆𝒓𝒔𝒕𝒊𝒕𝒊𝒐𝒖𝒔. 𝑻𝒉𝒆𝒚 𝒕𝒂𝒍𝒌𝒆𝒅 𝒂𝒃𝒐𝒖𝒕 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒔𝒖𝒑𝒆𝒓𝒏𝒂𝒕𝒖𝒓𝒂𝒍 𝒘𝒊𝒕𝒉 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒔𝒂𝒎𝒆 𝒎𝒊𝒙𝒕𝒖𝒓𝒆 𝒐𝒇 𝒎𝒂𝒕𝒕𝒆𝒓-𝒐𝒇- 𝒇𝒂𝒄𝒕 𝒂𝒄𝒄𝒆𝒑𝒕𝒂𝒏𝒄𝒆 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒄𝒂𝒖𝒕𝒊𝒐𝒏 𝒘𝒊𝒕𝒉 𝒘𝒉𝒊𝒄𝒉 𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒚 𝒅𝒊𝒔𝒄𝒖𝒔𝒔𝒆𝒅 𝒑𝒐𝒍𝒊𝒕𝒊𝒄𝒔, 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒇𝒐𝒓 𝒎𝒖𝒄𝒉 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒔𝒂𝒎𝒆 𝒓𝒆𝒂𝒔𝒐𝒏- 𝒚𝒐𝒖 𝒏𝒆𝒗𝒆𝒓 𝒌𝒏𝒆𝒘 𝒘𝒉𝒐 𝒎𝒊𝒈𝒉𝒕 𝒃𝒆 𝒍𝒊𝒔𝒕𝒆𝒏𝒊𝒏𝒈.“

Black Water Sister is set in Malaysia where we follow our main protagonist Jessamyn who is returning with her parents for the very first time since leaving the country when she was only a toddler. Jessamyn has just graduated college and is in that weird stage of life trying to figure out which path to take. She’s also queer and in love with her girlfriend who she’s trying to maintain a long distance relationship with. Jessamyn isn’t out to anyone really and the stress of this alone is enough to make her believe that the voices she’s begun to hear are all in her head. When her Ah Ma aka Grandmother starts appearing and sort of demanding Jess help her with some unfinished business, things really get interesting for her. When Ah Ma was alive, she was the Medium for a feared and mysterious deity called the Black Water Sister. A gang boss has offended the God and Ah Ma is set on settling the score to appease her and also to transition in the afterlife. This Zillennial Paranormal Urban Fantasy has a little of everything! ghosts, spirits, mob bosses, invasive aunties, and also some heavier topics. There’s attempted rape and sexual assault as well as mention of domestic violence and homophobia. Jess also mentions not wanting to introduce her Indian girlfriend to her parents for fear of racism towards her. These complex relationships are center stage and felt easily relatable all the while taking you on a wild ride through the streets & temples of Penang.

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If the book has a healthy dose of snark and witty banter, I’m always game! this time though it’s not between two love interests. Instead, we get Jessamyn and the ghost of her deceased Ah Ma who she had never really met before her death. Ah Ma is tough as nails and that’s because she didn’t have it easy in life or in love, her kids were also estranged from her. Through Ah Ma, Jess is able to finally answer some questions she’s had about her own relationship with her mother who is Ah Ma’s daughter. I found myself easily invested in these characters and hoping that by the end, they’d bridge some of the gaps keeping them apart. This definitely leans towards the darker side of fantasy due to the heavy dose of violence but it’s balanced out with Ah Ma’s personality. Ah Ma left me shaking my head smiling one too many times with her disbelief at getting stuck so to speak with her granddaughter for a Medium. I absolutely LOVED the snark between her and Jessamyn, it was so much fun to go along with these two! When I first heard that this would be set in Malaysia I immediately added it to my TBR hoping that soon I’d get to dive in and be transported to a country I really didn’t know much about. Although we see Jess in action at the temple of the Black Water Sister, we don’t really see her exploring beyond the home she’s a guest in and the Uber to the temple. There’s mention of her work with photography and I sort of hoped we’d get to see some of Malaysia through her own sorting out of which career path to take post Harvard. Nonetheless, there’s tons of action to keep you on your toes with undeniably witty characters. I will absolutely read whatever Zen Cho writes next!


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Spoiler Free RAVE Review: One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston

 54860443Title: One Last Stop

Author: Casey McQuiston

Pub. Date: June 1st 2021

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Format: eGalley

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

Pages: 544 pages

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🖤eGalley provided by Publisher in exchange for an honest review, all quotes come from an advance copy and may not match the final release🖤

The 411..

I will preface this review with first asking that you read this book when it hits the shelves next Tuesday June 1st! That it just so happens to be the very first day of Pride month makes this pure PERFECTION! This is a SUPER SEXY, Queer, time-slip Contemporary Romance filled with all the found family feels and New York City History. Specifically the history of the Queer community and the challenges they faced as well as the many strides made leading up to present day. We meet twenty-three year old August who is quite cynical and doesn’t believe in much. She’s spent most of her life assisting her mom in trying to crack a missing persons case and decides it’s time for a change. Moving into a New York City apartment with three other queer roommates and working the night shift at a 24 hour pancake diner fast track August on becoming a true New Yorker. Always on the go. The chances of meeting the same girl on the Q train every day at the same exact time seem almost too good to be true. Yet there Jane is, on the exact morning that August is having a bad start to her day offering her a red scarf to help cover up a coffee stain. Jane, a Chinese Lesbian wearing a leather jacket with 70’s pins. She’s cool and laid back yet charming, sexy and mysterious AF! August CANNOT get her off her mind and thus begins her every morning routine ensuring she gets on the same car train at the exact hour of their first meet. This is NOT for the feint of heart Book Lovers! *turns mini desk fan on* 

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I’ve been waiting to find a 6 star read this year and it being days away from June, I was breaking a sweat thinking it just wasn’t going to happen. This book changed that and I’ll be the first to admit I wasn’t expecting it to. Although I enjoyed McQuiston’s Red, White & Royal Blue I didn’t exactly claim it as a favorite in 2019. One Last Stop however, was the EXACT level of romance, steam, and comedy that I crave whenever I pop into the Contemporary genre. This was also a love letter to NYC, the city I was born and raised in and was able to visualize while riding the Q train with these characters. I’ll also never tire of the found family trope because it’s one that I can relate to personally with my own group of life long queer besties. The side characters were also center stage and I loved this so much! they were each so deeply fleshed out and just what August needed as a welcoming committee to the city of NY. She’s a Bisexual 23 year old paving her own way in life and that can be quite scary to do alone…except she doesn’t have to do it alone. She has Niko, the Trans Psychic Latino who read her aura and pretty much decided she had a home with them from the minute they met. Myla, a queer electrical engineer/artist who has habit of inventing weird in-home games that often take a turn for the worse. Wes, a queer Jewish tattoo artist who is in love with their neighbor but can’t muster up the courage to act on it. We get it all in this book! NYC, one hot steamy romance, time jumps to the 70’s, pancake goodness and drag queens my luvs! I can go on for days but part of the fun is getting to know these characters and falling in love with each and every one of them. I’m ready for whatever McQuiston writes next! ❤

P.S. for those thinking of giving the audiobook a go, I’d highly recommend it! the narrator was on point and I have a referral link to Librofm if you find that you’re interested <3’s!


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Spoiler Free Review: The Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren

55692620Title: The Soulmate Equation

Author: Christina Lauren

Pub. Date: May 18th 2021

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Format: eGalley

Publisher: Gallery Books

Pages: 368 pages

 

GOODREADSBARNES & NOBLE | AMAZON 

 

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🖤eGalley provided by Publisher in exchange for an honest review, all quotes come from an advance copy and may not match the final release🖤The 411..

Single mom Jess Davis is a statistician convinced that the dating scene is just not for her. She’s felt abandoned way too many times and doesn’t want to put her daughter through that again. Jess and her BFF Fizzy hear about GeneticAlly a match making company that is in its early stages of testing. Finding a soulmate through DNA sounds far fetched and she thinks her odds are low. That is until she matches at 98% with one of the app developers!!! 😮 the same guy who walks into the coffee shop every day with ZERO social skills. The guy who is hot AF but is always on the go to even consider his surroundings. Sort of hate-to-love if you can actually hate someone you don’t really know? Think more along the lines of modern day heartwarming tale on the lower end of the steam scale between two individuals who would make quite the odd pairing if you’re only matching by personality. Jess is super relatable as a single mom who is struggling financially to make ends meet even though she’s quite good at what she does for a living. She also happens to have a strong support system between her grandparents and best friend. Jess isn’t fully convinced that GeneticAlly is accurate, she entertains it with skepticism, intrigue, and sarcasm all at once. Dr. River Pena has invested everything into GeneticAlly, it’s basically his baby and although he also doesn’t believe he could’ve matched correctly with Jess…in order to protect the integrity of his research, he has to be willing to date her.

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I didn’t really go into this expecting a steamy romance, my hopes were that I’d walk away with a new favorite Rom-Com and I feel that’s exactly what I got. Besides the developing romance, we get to see a positive f/f friendship where the BFF is more like family. I ADORED Fizzy! a romance writer who has even written a character based off of Jess and honestly every time she threatened to kill her off, I giggled thinking of my own best friend. I would absolutely read a spin-off based on Fizzy’s own escapades which we get a slight glimpse to in this book. Even seven year old Juno was fun to get to know on the page, she’s got such an inquisitive mind and loves the library. Our love interest is just about the only aspect I wish was a bit more fleshed out. We get to know him through his research but it isn’t until the last quarter of the book where we get to see some of his personal life influences like his family. This is also where we learn he’s Latinx which tbh, I would’ve loved to have learned from the very beginning. A more balanced approach towards the main characters is something I find helps me get more invested in their lives. That being said, my heart melted every time Dr. River Pena interacted with little Juno! his respect for women and just his whole love language was *chefs Kiss* perfection!

The Soulmate Equation hits shelves next week Tuesday May 18th


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SPOILER FREE REVIEW: THE FINAL REVIVAL OF OPAL & NEV BY DAWNIE WALTON

Title: The Final Revival of Opal & Nev

Author: Dawnie Walton

Pub. Date: March 30th 2021

Genre: Adult Fiction

Format: eGalley

Publisher: 37 INK

Pages: 400 pages

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE | AMAZON | LIBROFM

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🖤eGalley provided by Publisher in exchange for an honest review, all quotes come from an advance copy and may not match the final release🖤

The 411..

Written in oral history format this is the story of a young black woman with a whole lot of style and personality. A visionary who knew how to entertain and couldn’t see herself working a 9 to 5, Opal knew she’d be recognized one day and catch her big break. Born & raised in Detroit alongside her sister and single working mother, she was always up for a performance. Opal’s sister had the voice and was very attractive while Opal was considered unusual due to having Alopecia Areata. She had begun to lose her hair in patches and while she struggled with self image, it did not deter her from the limelight. Opal didn’t have the voice but what she lacked there she more than made up for in stage presence which eventually led to her getting the attention of Nev Charles. Nev who was out with his manager in search of an act that would enhance his performance which was missing something. A singer/songwriter, Nev was born and raised in Britain but had traveled to New York in search of his big break. Signed to Rivington Records, a small and struggling label who took a chance on him, Nev extends the opportunity to Opal after one of her performances at a bar in Downtown Detroit.

Set during the early 70’s in New York City, a time of political tension and racial injustices reaching a climax. Where artists and musicians were providing commentary through their work and a girl like Opal could find her voice. Opal & Nev were never mainstream however they did have a strong cult following. They appealed to those society considered misfits as well as marginalized teenagers who were coping with all sorts of issues like drug addictions, abuse and self harm. Things decisively change for Opal in particular when Rivington Records decides to sign a band who openly praised the confederate flag. During a promotional concert backstage that flag is waved which leads to Opal taking action in protest, this then leads to an outbreak of violence and the loss of life. Nothing is the same after this night, not for these artists individually or for them as a duo. Decades later Opal is considering a reunion tour of sorts with Nev who has shot to stardom while her career has entered a stage of dormancy. Sunny Shelton the daughter of Jimmy Curtis, the black drummer playing for Opal & Nev who was brutally beaten and killed that night, sees an opportunity to put together an oral history of her idols. What she uncovers while conducting interviews however paints a very different picture of what led up to the violence that night.

Content Warning: drug & pill addiction, overdose, cancer, xenophobia, Infidelity, homophobic slurs, violence, racism, death

People always used to comment on how different the two of us were, but a lot of that was optics. Me and Nev had real soul connections-funny stories about growing up, the hilarious things you do to make your way through this world as an outsider. But behind that there was some heaviness too.

The Final Revival of opal & Nev

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I’ll admit that my interest was initially piqued when I heard rumblings of this book being similar to Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid which I absolutely LOVED in 2019! However, Opal & Nev is its own story also told in oral history format but with a ton of funky personality. Not only did the author do a phenomenal job of bringing Opal & Nev to life but the cast of characters also will remain unforgettable. These voices linger and it’s kind of hard not to open up a web browser and run a search for them even though you know they’re fictional. So much of what was going on in New York during the 70’s with Nixon, racial injustice, and HIV/AIDS was brought to the page in a way that further fleshed out their story. If Opal were a real person in todays society and culture, not only do I think she’d be ICONIC but also she’d be joining grassroots efforts to fight the injustices that continue to plague black communities. I was very close to 5 starring this book & it’s probably still going to make my list for best books of 20201. In between the oral history Sunny is piecing together from each character, we get what’s titled “Editiors Note” from Sunny herself. Sometimes I did feel these parts took me out of the narrative a bit even though I was still genuinely interested in Sunny herself. It was never enough to take away from my enjoyment of the story, perhaps it was a matter of Opal taking center stage so much that I found it hard to pull away from her voice. Overall I found this to be quite the engaging character driven read and I already have my eyes on the audiobook from Librofm which is released this Tuesday March 30th with a FULL cast!


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Spoiler Free Review: Down Comes the Night by Allison Saft

Title: Down Comes the Night

Author: Allison Saft

Pub. Date: March 2nd 2021

Genre:YA Fantasy/Queer

Format: eGalley

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Pages: 400 pages

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🖤eGalley provided by Publisher in exchange for an honest review, all quotes come from an advance copy and may not match the final release🖤

A Gothic Bi-Sexual Fantasy/Murder Mystery with a hate-to-love romance?!?! sounds too good to be true but Allison Saft truly delivered. MC Wren Southerland is orphaned at a young age and taken in by her aunt (The Queen) as a healer in the Queen’s Guard. While in the military she falls in love with Una Dryden, a career ambitious general who loves her in return but will always choose her rank and service to the Queen over Wren. There is a long lasting war between the Danubians (Wren’s People) and the Vesrians while the Cernosians remain neutral and apart from their war. The body count is rising and soldiers have begun to go missing while on guard. Una is the sole reason for which Wren continues in the military, she is ill suited for the jobs more harsh requirements when handling enemy hostages. Wren has a couple of infractions for displaying what is considered to be too much empathy.

“I need you by my side. And there Wren would stay, even if it she couldn’t always stomach what at any and all costs entailed. She cursed the empathy that flowed in her blood as surely as her healing magic did.”

Dismissed from the Queen’s Guard, Wren decides to accept a mysterious invitation from an eccentric reclusive Lord. He writes of a sick member of his staff and the urgency with which he seeks out Wren’s medical expertise in exchange for assistance with her dilemma. She arrives at his estate to find a cold and crumbling mansion, the Lord welcomes her in his study with a contract for her to sign should she accept his terms and conditions. All seems quite odd but given her predicament and desire to redeem herself with the Queen, she accepts. The identity of the patient poses a HUGE conflict of interest for her and the ultimate test of empathy. Things begin to unravel at Colwick Hall, Wren is determined to uncover the truth behind her missing comrades and exactly what role the Lord of Colwick plays in the war.

Content Warning: War themes, gore, murder, kidnapping, detailed surgical procedures

Haunting and at times disturbing, this slower paced Gothic Mystery sometimes left me cringing at the medical procedures described. In some ways it reminded me of Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Mexican Gothic which also took place in a Gothic styled mansion. In this stand-alone Fantasy there are Danubians and Vesrians who have been gifted with magic and the Cernosians who are a people without this gift. The magic system is where I would’ve like to have seen more exploration. Other than Wren who has healing magic and one other MC who has a different type of magic, we don’t really get discussion on the different types of existing magic in this world. Otherwise, I’d say this is one super atmospheric character driven story that would be perfect for the Fall/Winter seasons. I enjoyed the romance even if  many scenes were fade to black (expect a ton of sexual tension), it is still Young Adult and my guess is that it was written with that in mind.  Would I have read an adult version of this story? ABSOLUTELY! our MC Wren craves real genuine connection and affection, seeing her navigate her own feelings/emotions leaves you with a deep sense of yearning. I empathized with this character who at every turn was told to stop feeling so much and basically go against what is second nature to her. I won’t go into too much detail on her love interest(s) since I consider that to be spoilery but I was very pleased to get a complex character who was trying to atone while also acknowledging that their transgressions can’t be erased. I love who Wren ultimately ends up with simply because that person made her feel seen and appreciated those qualities that others tried to root out of her. A solid debut Book Lovers! I’ll be on the lookout for Allison Saft’s next book.


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Spoiler Free Review: Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert

Title: Act Your Age, Eve Brown

Author: Eve Brown

Pub. Date: March 9th 2021

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Format: eGalley

Publisher: Avon Books

Pages: 400 pages

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🖤eGalley provided by Publisher in exchange for an honest review, all quotes come from an advance copy and may not match the final release🖤

Eve Brown hasn’t quite found her footing in life when her family decides to stage an intervention. The wealthy Brown family love their daughters but realize that Eve is a bit lost and hesitant to set off in the world. Cutting her off of her trust fund and pushing her to set some goals turns out to be the push she needs to discover some things about what is holding her back. She stumbles into a Bed and Breakfast that is looking to hire a Chef, the owner Jacob is an autistic man who is everything Eve has stayed away from. Organized, meticulous, a bit rigid and a stickler for rules Jacob sees Eve as a tornado come at the wrong time. Eve personally applies for the job because she thinks it doesn’t run the risk of being something she will fall in love with doing. For Eve it’s not just fear of failure, it’s also disappointing her loved ones. It’s why she’s floated in between careers and hobbies without ever truly setting roots even though she’s quite skilled and great at pretty much anything she tries her hand at.

“𝑊𝑜𝑟𝑘 𝑤𝑎𝑠 𝑠𝑜𝑚𝑒𝑡ℎ𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑦𝑜𝑢 𝑑𝑖𝑑 𝑡𝑜 𝑡𝑟𝑦 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑓𝑒𝑒𝑙 𝑢𝑠𝑒𝑓𝑢𝑙—𝑢𝑛𝑡𝑖𝑙 𝑦𝑜𝑢 𝑓𝑢**𝑒𝑑 𝑖𝑡 𝑢𝑝. 𝑊𝑜𝑟𝑘 𝑤𝑎𝑠 𝑠𝑜𝑚𝑒𝑡ℎ𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑦𝑜𝑢 𝑑𝑖𝑑 𝑡𝑜 ℎ𝑒𝑙𝑝 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑝𝑒𝑜𝑝𝑙𝑒 𝑎𝑟𝑜𝑢𝑛𝑑 𝑦𝑜𝑢 𝑢𝑛𝑡𝑖𝑙 𝑦𝑜𝑢 𝑤𝑒𝑟𝑒𝑛’𝑡 𝑛𝑒𝑒𝑑𝑒𝑑 𝑎𝑛𝑦𝑚𝑜𝑟𝑒. 𝑊𝑜𝑟𝑘 𝑤𝑎𝑠 𝑛𝑜𝑡 𝑠𝑜𝑚𝑒𝑡ℎ𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑦𝑜𝑢 𝑒𝑛𝑗𝑜𝑦𝑒𝑑 𝑖𝑛 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑜𝑓 𝑖𝑡𝑠𝑒𝑙𝑓, 𝑏𝑒𝑐𝑎𝑢𝑠𝑒 𝑡ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝑤𝑜𝑢𝑙𝑑 𝑜𝑛𝑙𝑦 𝑚𝑎𝑘𝑒 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑠𝑖𝑡𝑢𝑎𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛 𝑤𝑜𝑟𝑠𝑒 𝑤ℎ𝑒𝑛 𝑒𝑣𝑒𝑟𝑦𝑡ℎ𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑐𝑜𝑙𝑙𝑎𝑝𝑠𝑒𝑑.“

Jacob has just suffered an injury (won’t say how cause spoilers haha!) and doesn’t have anyone that can help run his B&B the way he is accustomed to on such short notice. He gives in and posts a flier looking to hire a Chef temporarily and Eve is who comes in for an interview. We get a hate-to-love romance with plenty of steam to accompany the dishes they’re serving! + who doesn’t love the proximity trope? *wink eye wink eye* UGH! just when I thought it couldn’t get better than Dani & Zaf from Take a Hint, Dani Brown (my review) Hibbert swoops in with the next all star couple *heart eyes*

There’s so much we get to unravel with Eve as a main character, someone who is so giving of herself but doesn’t see much of a return. This was really a story of self worth and setting boundaries that I heavily could relate to. It’s also not a Talia Hibbert book without A+ humor and banter, Eve & Jacob had me laughing for the entirety of my one sitting read of this book. I created a playlist of songs Eve listens to while she works and enjoyed my time with these characters. Character quirks I loved: Jacobs maddening inner monologue on how Eve drives him up the wall had me giggling for hours. His need for control and icy reserve slowly coming apart whenever he entered the kitchen and saw Eve in her element. Eve who is completely oblivious at just how magnificent she is…I LOVE HER! I lived for those moments when Eve delighted in the joy she got from making Jacob blush with her sexual innuendos. I love all of the Brown sisters but Eve is just so full of personality and a nurturer in ways she herself hasn’t acknowledged. Eve is a multi-talented, plus size, sexy, fun tee-shirt wearing woman with great taste in music and a big heart.

“Your abilities lie in the places people usually overlook, so you’ve been convinced you don’t have any at all. But you’re smart, and you’re capable, and if people struggle to see that, it’s their problem, not yours.”

Jacob is 100% supportive and in doing so helps Eve come to the realization that she is a phenomenal woman. They also share a lot more in common than meets the eye, won’t say what cause that would definitely be spoilery. I just honestly believe Talia Hibbert knows how to deliver a male love interest you can’t help but love! They’re in no way perfect but Red from Get a Life Chloe Brown, Zaf from Take a Hint, Dani Brown and now Jacob from Act Your Age, Eve Brown Come close to ideal when thinking of a life partner  This is the conclusion to the Brown sisters and although bittersweet, I am beyond happy to have met all of these characters on the page. These are character driven stories filled with humor and strongly independent female leads paired with awesome male partners. Best of all is the humor, diversity, and body positivity they all carry within💜


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Spoiler Free Review: The Witch’s Heart by Genevieve Gornichec

Title: The Witch’s Heart

Author: Genevieve Gornichec

Pub. Date: February 9th 2021

Genre: Norse Mythology/Fantasy

Format: eGalley

Publisher: Ace Books

Pages: 368 pages

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🖤eGalley provided by Publisher in exchange for an honest review, all quotes come from an advance copy and may not match the final release🖤

“𝑇ℎ𝑒𝑦 𝑠𝑎𝑦 𝑎𝑛 𝑜𝑙𝑑 𝑤𝑖𝑡𝑐ℎ 𝑙𝑖𝑣𝑒𝑑 𝑖𝑛 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑒𝑎𝑠𝑡, 𝑖𝑛 𝐼𝑟𝑜𝑛𝑤𝑜𝑜𝑑, 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑟𝑒 𝑠ℎ𝑒 𝑏𝑜𝑟𝑒 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑤𝑜𝑙𝑣𝑒𝑠, 𝑤ℎ𝑜 𝑐ℎ𝑎𝑠𝑒 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑠𝑢𝑛 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑚𝑜𝑜𝑛. 𝑇ℎ𝑒𝑦 𝑠𝑎𝑦 𝑠ℎ𝑒 𝑤𝑒𝑛𝑡 𝑡𝑜 𝐴𝑠𝑔𝑎𝑟𝑑 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑤𝑎𝑠 𝑏𝑢𝑟𝑛𝑒𝑑 𝑡ℎ𝑟𝑒𝑒 𝑡𝑖𝑚𝑒𝑠 𝑢𝑝𝑜𝑛 𝑎 𝑝𝑦𝑟𝑒, 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑡ℎ𝑟𝑒𝑒 𝑡𝑖𝑚𝑒𝑠 𝑤𝑎𝑠 𝑠ℎ𝑒 𝑟𝑒𝑏𝑜𝑟𝑛 𝑏𝑒𝑓𝑜𝑟𝑒 𝑠ℎ𝑒 𝑓𝑙𝑒𝑑“

I’m happiest with a slower paced read that pulls me in with lush storytelling and characters I can’t help but get invested in. The Witch’s Heart will appeal to fans of Madeline Miller, Katherine Arden and Rin Chupeco. We follow Angrboda a Giantess who has lived many times over in the Ironwood. She’s been burned by Odin three times and has had her heart cut out, yet she lives. Angrboda is gifted with the magic of Seid, the ability to see the future and essentially the end of the world as the Gods know it. She lives protected and in hiding until the God of mischief Loki stumbles across her cave. This is the story of their complicated love, offspring, and revenge on the Gods who constantly play with the lives of those they consider beneath them. Angrboda is bi-sexual and there’s a beautiful relationship that develops later on in the book, slow burn *𝐶ℎ𝑒𝑓𝑠 𝐾𝑖𝑠𝑠* worth the wait! I went into this story not knowing much other than it was centered on Norse Mythology which is a subject of interest for me. I allowed myself to get swept away by Angrboda’s story and quickly found myself absorbed by these characters lives. There’s a prophecy and there are Gods behaving badly, it just doesn’t get better than that!

There is a fair amount of dialogue in this story which is something I personally enjoy. I’ve seen some reviewers say they were a little thrown off by the dialogue being a bit more modern in comparison to the world it’s set in…honestly, the witty banter between all of the characters is what made this book super entertaining and endearing. Angrboda herself is someone who has lived a few times over and as such she is NOT in any way old fashioned. As a matter of fact she’s quite the opposite! Angrboda is all accepting, she loves who she wants to love and is quick to look you in the eye and ask why you’d assume she preferred one gender over another for her lovers. She’s simply a character I hope to never forget! now, I didn’t think we’d get much from Loki but I was pleasantly surprised by how Gornichec wrote this character. Loki is a multi-faceted character who is very comfortable with his sexuality and wishes only to never be controlled and/or know what the future has in store. We also got an amazing line-up of side characters in Angrboda & Loki’s children but I won’t speak on the why’s since that would be spoilery. Overall, a new favorite for me this year and a mood changer. I’d say this is a medium paced book with lots of character development, witty banter and YES! ROMANCE for the WIN! 🤗


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Spoiler Free Review: The Project by Courtney Summers

Title: The Project

Author: Courtney Summers

Pub. Date: February 2nd 2021

Genre: Young Adult Thriller

Format: eGalley

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Pages: 352 Pages

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🖤eGalley provided by Publisher in exchange for an honest review, all quotes come from an advance copy and may not match the final release🖤

“𝑊ℎ𝑜𝑒𝑣𝑒𝑟 𝑤𝑖𝑙𝑙 𝑙𝑜𝑠𝑒 ℎ𝑖𝑠 𝑙𝑖𝑓𝑒 𝑓𝑜𝑟 𝑚𝑦 𝑠𝑎𝑘𝑒 𝑤𝑖𝑙𝑙 𝑓𝑖𝑛𝑑 𝑖𝑡“

𝑇ℎ𝑒 𝑃𝑟𝑜𝑗𝑒𝑐𝑡 𝑏𝑦 𝐶𝑜𝑢𝑟𝑡𝑛𝑒𝑦 𝑆𝑢𝑚𝑚𝑒𝑟𝑠 is the story of two sisters who experience the tragic death of their parents in a car accident at a very early age. Lo almost lost her life alongside her parents that same night. Her sister Bea was left praying for a miracle when a mysterious man presents himself to her at the hospital. Bea believes him to have healed her sister and so she decides to follow him back to the Unity Project, cutting off ties with her loved ones as is required from all of their members. The Unity Project is widely known and loved in most of the Upstate New York region for its charitable endeavors and shelters they’ve opened for women and children. Years pass by and Lo goes in search of her sister, she isn’t convinced the Unity Project is all that it portrays. When a man accuses the Project of killing his son, Lo takes that and runs with it determined to get her sister back. The Project is a medium paced character driven story that chronicles the inner workings of a cult from recruitment to the inception of its members and later the psychological effects on those who have left the cult.

MIND BLOWN at the amount of research that had to have gone into cults and their inner workings. From how you’re targeted, to isolation, brainwashing and eventually the feeling that you’re indebted to a greater cause. All the while following someone who believes himself to be God. Is it suitable for Young Adult readers? I believe it to be if viewed as a cautionary tale of sorts since cults do exist and many fall victim because they lack the knowledge on how they work. It is a very emotionally heavy read that does a fine job of tackling tougher topics such as religion, faith and those in positions of power within religious groups. This absolutely reads on the more mature end of the Young Adult scale with its dark tones in manipulation and abuse. Personally, I couldn’t stop reading this book and I’m glad I have a copy of Sadie by this author to hold me over until their next published book. There are a slew of content warnings that I encourage you to review, I’m adding those provided by the lovely Melanie from Meltotheany down below:

Content and Trigger Warnings: abandonment, loss of loved ones, sleep paralysis, grief, depression, panic attacks, hospitalization, talk of death of child in past, physical abuse, torture, emotional abuse, manipulation, gaslighting, blood depiction, complications with childbirth, murder, child abuse, captivity, and cults.


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Spoiler Free Review: Winter Counts by David Heska Wanbli Weiden

Title: Winter Counts

Author: David Heska Wanbli Weiden

Pub. Date: August 25th 2020

Genre: Adult Fiction

Format: Audiobook

Publisher: Ecco

Pages: 336pages/8 hours & 17 minutes

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“What I’d discovered was that sadness is like an abandoned car left out in a field for good—it changes a little over the years, but doesn’t ever disappear. You may forget about it for a while, but it’s still there, rusting away, until you notice it again.” – Winter Counts

Set on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota, we follow Virgil Wounded Horse a local enforcer as he delivers justice. The American legal system and the tribal council can’t be relied upon for cases of rape, petty drugs, kidnapping or domestic violence. Virgil makes a living from hunting down and then beating up criminals who otherwise would go by unscathed. He’s a recovered alcoholic with a failed relationship who is the guardian of his sisters 14 year old son. He’s fair with his nephew and expects that like most teenagers, he will be tempted to experiment with recreational drugs. He has what he thinks is a fairly open line of communication with him and tries to steer him to staying focused on school. When Virgil catches wind of drug cartels making their presence known to the youth of the reservation, he is offered a job by a local politician to deliver some justice. It isn’t until his own nephew gets caught in the middle of these drug wars that Virgil begins to seek answers to a situation that just doesn’t seem right. There’s an influx of pills and heroine making their way onto the Reservation which finally calls the attention of the Feds. Cases of this magnitude typically do because there’s a vested interest. Virgil sees himself having to turn to an unlikely source for guidance, the very Lakota traditions and spiritual beliefs he so adamantly has turned his back on.

If you’re thinking of listening to the audiobook I absolutly recommend it, the narrator does an excellent job with Virgil. This is a medium paced read that is marketed as a thriller however, I didn’t really see it as such. This reads more like Crime Fiction that covers a lot of the real life issues plaguing Native American reservations. It’s a dark and heavy read with tons of content warnings that I’ll try to cover down below. I found myself unable to walk away from this story for too long and ended up finishing it in just about one sitting. Part of the reason I’ll admit is my interest in the issues many Native American’s are currently experiencing. This has now led me to add a few books to my Indigenous TBR for this year. The lack of social justice this book brings puts a giant spotlight on and brings to the forefront is something I can appreciate. This won’t be the book you’ll find any likable characters in since they’ve pretty much all taken a beating in life. However, for me it was more about the social commentary and spotlighting a serious issue within our own legal system. HIGHLY recommend and without a doubt I’d pick up the next book by David Heska Wanbli Weiden.


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Spoiler Free Review: Reaper of Souls by Rena Barron

Title: Reaper of Souls

(Kingdom of Souls #2)

Author: Rena Barron

Pub. Date: February 18th 2021

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Format: eGalley/ARC

Publisher: HarperTeen

Pages: 448 pages

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“𝐼 𝑤𝑖𝑙𝑙 𝑠𝑡𝑎𝑟𝑡 𝑚𝑦 𝑠𝑡𝑜𝑟𝑦 𝑎𝑡 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑏𝑒𝑔𝑖𝑛𝑛𝑖𝑛𝑔, 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑚𝑖𝑑𝑑𝑙𝑒, 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑒𝑛𝑑. 𝐹𝑜𝑟 𝐼 ℎ𝑎𝑣𝑒 𝑙𝑖𝑣𝑒𝑑 𝑎 𝑡ℎ𝑜𝑢𝑠𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑙𝑖𝑣𝑒𝑠 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑑𝑖𝑒𝑑 𝑎 𝑡ℎ𝑜𝑢𝑠𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑑𝑒𝑎𝑡ℎ𝑠, 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑒𝑣𝑒𝑟𝑦 𝑡𝑖𝑚𝑒 𝐼 𝑑𝑖𝑑, 𝐼 𝑟𝑒𝑙𝑖𝑣𝑒 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑠𝑎𝑚𝑒 𝑚𝑒𝑚𝑜𝑟𝑦.“

Reaper of Souls was one of my MOST highly anticipated sequels to look forward to in 2021 and I can honestly say it was worth the wait. Kingdom of Souls (My Review) introduced us to Arrah who comes from a powerful family of witch doctors but for some reason hasn’t come into her own powers. After the catastrophic events we left off in Kingdom Of Souls, Arrah finally has the gift of magic but it came about in a terrible way. Returning from exile, we see Arrah go after those who have taken her people from their tribal lands. What she soon discovers is that this is a war between the Orishas and their demon children and caught in the middle are mortals. The Character development alone was phenomenal & the world building/magic system is very richly woven and inspired by folk magic. Arrah is discovering along the way the many secrets she unknowingly carries within. A deeper connection to it all. A sort of forbidden love. A choice to make. The inevitability of it all.

Rena Barron has delivered such a rich and beautifully written Fantasy where the lives of our key characters are constantly haunted by the mistakes and transgressions of their parents and ancestors. Will they choose to repeat those mistakes OR course correct for the good of their people? This story is told in multi-POV format between Arrah, Rudjeck and a third entity that for spoiler free reasons I won’t disclose. If you love character driven stories that are more slower paced with a big reward at the end, then this is absolutely a trilogy worth giving a go. Seeing as it had been some time since I had read Kingdom of Souls I would’ve loved it if there had been a Legend/Key at the very start. There are a handful of Orishas and their history is fleshed out in the first book but this follow-up goes even deeper into their history and conflicts with one another. Pacing can seem a bit off at times but I chucked that off to Arrah’s own personal journey to self realization which in my opinion was done perfectly! If you’re expecting NOT to be left reaching for more after this book, you are sadly mistaken! I cannot wait for the conclusion to this fantasy/love story💜


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