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

Title: The Witch’s Heart

Author: Genevieve Gornichec

Pub. Date:Β February 9th 2021

Genre:Β Norse Mythology/Fantasy

Format: eGalley

Publisher:Β Ace Books

Pages: 368 pages

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πŸ–€eGalley provided by Publisher in exchange for an honest review, all quotes come from an advance copy and may not match the final releaseπŸ–€

β€œπ‘‡β„Žπ‘’π‘¦ π‘ π‘Žπ‘¦ π‘Žπ‘› π‘œπ‘™π‘‘ π‘€π‘–π‘‘π‘β„Ž 𝑙𝑖𝑣𝑒𝑑 𝑖𝑛 π‘‘β„Žπ‘’ π‘’π‘Žπ‘ π‘‘, 𝑖𝑛 πΌπ‘Ÿπ‘œπ‘›π‘€π‘œπ‘œπ‘‘, π‘Žπ‘›π‘‘ π‘‘β„Žπ‘’π‘Ÿπ‘’ π‘ β„Žπ‘’ π‘π‘œπ‘Ÿπ‘’ π‘‘β„Žπ‘’ π‘€π‘œπ‘™π‘£π‘’π‘ , π‘€β„Žπ‘œ π‘β„Žπ‘Žπ‘ π‘’ π‘‘β„Žπ‘’ 𝑠𝑒𝑛 π‘Žπ‘›π‘‘ π‘‘β„Žπ‘’ π‘šπ‘œπ‘œπ‘›. π‘‡β„Žπ‘’π‘¦ π‘ π‘Žπ‘¦ π‘ β„Žπ‘’ 𝑀𝑒𝑛𝑑 π‘‘π‘œ π΄π‘ π‘”π‘Žπ‘Ÿπ‘‘ π‘Žπ‘›π‘‘ π‘€π‘Žπ‘  π‘π‘’π‘Ÿπ‘›π‘’π‘‘ π‘‘β„Žπ‘Ÿπ‘’π‘’ π‘‘π‘–π‘šπ‘’π‘  π‘’π‘π‘œπ‘› π‘Ž π‘π‘¦π‘Ÿπ‘’, π‘Žπ‘›π‘‘ π‘‘β„Žπ‘Ÿπ‘’π‘’ π‘‘π‘–π‘šπ‘’π‘  π‘€π‘Žπ‘  π‘ β„Žπ‘’ π‘Ÿπ‘’π‘π‘œπ‘Ÿπ‘› π‘π‘’π‘“π‘œπ‘Ÿπ‘’ π‘ β„Žπ‘’ π‘“π‘™π‘’π‘‘β€œ

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 *πΆβ„Žπ‘’π‘“π‘  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! πŸ€—


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Spoiler Free Review: The Project by Courtney Summers

Title: The Project

Author: Courtney Summers

Pub. Date:Β February 2nd 2021

Genre:Β Young Adult Thriller

Format: eGalley

Publisher:Β Wednesday Books

Pages:Β 352 Pages

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πŸ–€eGalley provided by Publisher in exchange for an honest review, all quotes come from an advance copy and may not match the final releaseπŸ–€

β€œπ‘Šβ„Žπ‘œπ‘’π‘£π‘’π‘Ÿ 𝑀𝑖𝑙𝑙 π‘™π‘œπ‘ π‘’ β„Žπ‘–π‘  𝑙𝑖𝑓𝑒 π‘“π‘œπ‘Ÿ π‘šπ‘¦ π‘ π‘Žπ‘˜π‘’ 𝑀𝑖𝑙𝑙 𝑓𝑖𝑛𝑑 π‘–π‘‘β€œ

π‘‡β„Žπ‘’ π‘ƒπ‘Ÿπ‘œπ‘—π‘’π‘π‘‘ 𝑏𝑦 πΆπ‘œπ‘’π‘Ÿπ‘‘π‘›π‘’π‘¦ π‘†π‘’π‘šπ‘šπ‘’π‘Ÿπ‘  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.Β The ProjectΒ 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 ofΒ SadieΒ 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 lovelyΒ 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:Β August 25th 2020

Genre:Β Adult Fiction

Format: Audiobook

Publisher:Β Ecco

Pages:Β 336pages/8 hours & 17 minutes

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β€œWhat I’d discovered was that sadness is like an abandoned car left out in a field for goodβ€”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:Β Rena Barron

Pub. Date:Β February 18th 2021

Genre:Β Young Adult Fantasy

Format: eGalley/ARC

Publisher:Β HarperTeen

Pages:Β 448 pages

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β€œπΌ 𝑀𝑖𝑙𝑙 π‘ π‘‘π‘Žπ‘Ÿπ‘‘ π‘šπ‘¦ π‘ π‘‘π‘œπ‘Ÿπ‘¦ π‘Žπ‘‘ π‘‘β„Žπ‘’ 𝑏𝑒𝑔𝑖𝑛𝑛𝑖𝑛𝑔, π‘‘β„Žπ‘’ π‘šπ‘–π‘‘π‘‘π‘™π‘’, π‘Žπ‘›π‘‘ π‘‘β„Žπ‘’ 𝑒𝑛𝑑. πΉπ‘œπ‘Ÿ 𝐼 β„Žπ‘Žπ‘£π‘’ 𝑙𝑖𝑣𝑒𝑑 π‘Ž π‘‘β„Žπ‘œπ‘’π‘ π‘Žπ‘›π‘‘ 𝑙𝑖𝑣𝑒𝑠 π‘Žπ‘›π‘‘ 𝑑𝑖𝑒𝑑 π‘Ž π‘‘β„Žπ‘œπ‘’π‘ π‘Žπ‘›π‘‘ π‘‘π‘’π‘Žπ‘‘β„Žπ‘ , π‘Žπ‘›π‘‘ π‘’π‘£π‘’π‘Ÿπ‘¦ π‘‘π‘–π‘šπ‘’ 𝐼 𝑑𝑖𝑑, 𝐼 π‘Ÿπ‘’π‘™π‘–π‘£π‘’ π‘‘β„Žπ‘’ π‘ π‘Žπ‘šπ‘’ π‘šπ‘’π‘šπ‘œπ‘Ÿπ‘¦.β€œ

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)Β 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 readΒ Kingdom of SoulsΒ 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 storyπŸ’œ


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Spoiler Free Review: Remote Control by Nnedi Okorafor

Title: Remote Control

Author:Β Nnedi Okorafor

Pub. Date:Β January 19th 2021

Genre: Science Fiction Fantasy

Format: eGalley

Publisher: Tor.com

Pages: 160 pages

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β€œπΌπ‘› π‘†π‘Žπ‘›π‘˜π‘œπ‘“π‘Žβ€™π‘  π‘¦π‘’π‘Žπ‘Ÿπ‘  π‘œπ‘› π‘‘β„Žπ‘’ π‘Ÿπ‘œπ‘Žπ‘‘, π‘ β„Žπ‘’β€™π‘‘ π‘™π‘’π‘Žπ‘Ÿπ‘›π‘’π‘‘ π‘‘β„Žπ‘Žπ‘‘ π‘π‘’π‘œπ‘π‘™π‘’ π‘€π‘’π‘Ÿπ‘’ π‘π‘œπ‘šπ‘π‘™π‘–π‘π‘Žπ‘‘π‘’π‘‘. π‘‡β„Žπ‘’π‘¦ π‘€π‘œπ‘Ÿπ‘’ π‘šπ‘Žπ‘ π‘˜π‘  π‘Žπ‘›π‘‘ 𝑔𝑒𝑖𝑠𝑒𝑠 π‘‘π‘œ π‘π‘Ÿπ‘œπ‘‘π‘’π‘π‘‘ π‘œπ‘Ÿ β„Žπ‘–π‘‘π‘’ π‘‘β„Žπ‘’π‘–π‘Ÿ π‘Ÿπ‘’π‘Žπ‘™ 𝑠𝑒𝑙𝑣𝑒𝑠. π‘‡β„Žπ‘’π‘¦ π‘Ÿπ‘’π‘–π‘›π‘£π‘’π‘›π‘‘π‘’π‘‘ π‘‘β„Žπ‘’π‘šπ‘ π‘’π‘™π‘£π‘’π‘ . π‘‡β„Žπ‘’π‘¦ π‘‘π‘’π‘ π‘‘π‘Ÿπ‘œπ‘¦π‘’π‘‘ π‘‘β„Žπ‘’π‘šπ‘ π‘’π‘™π‘£π‘’π‘ . π‘‡β„Žπ‘’π‘¦ 𝑏𝑒𝑖𝑙𝑑 π‘œπ‘› π‘‘β„Žπ‘’π‘šπ‘ π‘’π‘™π‘£π‘’π‘ .β€œ

Nnedi Okorafor’s Remote Control is an Afro futurism novella featuring a seven year old Sankofa aka The Adopted Daughter of Death as she travels down the winding roads in Ghana after a tragic accident that changed her life. Sankofa travels alone with the exception of a fox who never leaves her side for long. Wherever she goes, death follows. Her touch can destroy towns as well as grant death to those ailing or diseased. Sankofa doesn’t have many answers but she does set out to find the object that fell from the sky. In this Novella we see Sankofa grow into a woman who has learned to observe those around her. Humans deep reliance on technology and what fear can inspire in others. Our MC has experienced a deep and tragic loss before the start of her journey. She then goes on to experience trauma at the hands of strangers who either fear her or see her as a literal remote control they can wield for their own benefit.Β This was my first time reading Nnedi Okorafor, I found Okorafor’s writing style easily transported me to the winding roads of Ghana. I smelled the shea butter tree and cream Sankofa used on her skin. I heard the slap of her sandals on the ground and the rustle of tree leaves. There was one morbid scene that had my stomach turned inside out but it also left me in awe. I was blown away at how much was delivered in this 160 page novella and the fact that it still delivered a satisfying ending. Sankofa is a memorable character that I wouldn’t mind coming across again if the author were to revisit her story. Remote ControlΒ was my first venture into Afro-Futurism but it won’t be my last! If anything, Okorafor has awakened my interest in this genre.Β I look forward to reading more from this author and in fact have already hauled the Hugo and Nebula Award winner BintiΒ trilogyπŸ–€


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Spoiler Free Review: Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas

Title: Concrete Rose (The Hate U Give #0)

Author:Β Angie Thomas

Pub. Date:Β January 12th 2021

Genre:Β Young Adult Contemporary

Format: Audiobook

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Pages:Β 360 pages

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In 2017 Angie Thomas introduced us to Maverick Carter in The Hate U GiveΒ as the father of Star, Seven & Sekani Carter. InΒ Concrete RoseΒ we get Mavericks story on his upbringing, young adult life, and the circumstances that eventually led to him becoming a father of two at the age of 17. This was a fast paced character driven emotionally charged story. Maverick is in High School when we meet him, he’s living with his mother and his father is incarcerated. Watching his mother hold down a job to put food on the table, Maverick joins the King Lords. The same gang his father belongs to and has gained much notoriety in. This is how Maverick goes about bringing a second stream of income while being a student. Things get further complicated when a girl he slept with turns out to be pregnant with his first born. Maverick must decide whether he will continue to live life earning money on the streets seeking drugs or take an out that is being offered to him. An opportunity to get his life back on track and provide for his three month old son Seven. Working in the neighborhood store/garden, going to school and selling drugs while being a father is more than what maverick can handle. Something has to go.

We see Maverick’s internal struggle with the loyalty he feels to King, the friend who brought him into the street gang & leaving it all behind. We also see him come into his own as a young single father who has to juggle his responsibilities. I LIVED for the nurturing moments he has with his baby boy Seven. Even while feeling overwhelmed and as if he wasn’t cut out for parenthood, he never gives up on trying to get it right. Concrete Rose advocates for young black men, we simply do NOT have many (If any) books on our shelves with this representation. In many ways Maverick is healing generational trauma by choosing a different path even if it is by way of tough love from his Mom. Maverick’s mother is a beacon of light in the storm. She isn’t going to do the work of raising Seven but she’s going to make sure Maverick aka her baby, knows she’s there for support. I ABSOLUTELY LOVED to see the bond between mother and son! He may trip up a few times but his mother never gives up on him. It wasn’t an easy journey to the Maverick we meet as Star’s father, but just like Star he knows what it’s like to get caught in the middle of two worlds. If you’ve read The Hate U Give and/or watched the movie, I feel this book gives some much needed insight on the Carter family.


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Spoiler Free Review: Wings of Ebony by J. Elle

Title: Wings of Ebony

Author:Β J. Elle

Pub. Date:Β January 26th 2021

Genre:Β Young Adult Fantasy

Format:Β eGalley

Publisher: Simon Schuster Books

Pages:Β 368 pages

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πŸ–€eGalley provided by Publisher in exchange for an honest review, all quotes come from an advance copy and may not match the final releaseπŸ–€β€œπΌπ‘‘β€™π‘  π‘›π‘œπ‘‘ 𝑗𝑒𝑠𝑑 π‘‘β„Žπ‘’ 𝑏𝑒𝑧𝑧𝑖𝑛𝑔 π‘šπ‘Žπ‘”π‘–π‘π‘Žπ‘™ π‘’π‘›π‘’π‘Ÿπ‘”π‘¦ π‘π‘’π‘šπ‘π‘–π‘›π‘” π‘‘β„Žπ‘Ÿπ‘œπ‘’π‘”β„Ž π‘‘β„Žπ‘–π‘  π‘π‘™π‘Žπ‘π‘’ π‘™π‘–π‘˜π‘’ π‘’π‘™π‘’π‘π‘‘π‘Ÿπ‘–π‘π‘–π‘‘π‘¦. 𝐼𝑑’𝑠 π‘›π‘œπ‘‘ 𝑗𝑒𝑠𝑑 π‘‘β„Žπ‘Žπ‘‘ π‘›π‘œ π‘œπ‘›π‘’ β„Žπ‘’π‘Ÿπ‘’ π‘™π‘œπ‘œπ‘˜π‘  π‘™π‘–π‘˜π‘’ π‘šπ‘’ – 𝑏𝑒𝑑 β„Žπ‘–π‘š. 𝐼𝑑’𝑠 π‘‘β„Žπ‘Žπ‘‘ π‘‘β„Žπ‘–π‘  𝑖𝑠 π‘›π‘œπ‘‘ π‘šπ‘¦ β„Žπ‘œπ‘šπ‘’. π‘‡β„Žπ‘’π‘ π‘’ π‘Žπ‘–π‘›π‘‘ π‘šπ‘¦ π‘π‘’π‘œπ‘π‘™π‘’.”

Wings of Ebony is a debut YA Fantasy set between the mortal world in Houston and the magical world of Ghizon. Our MC Rue has just witnessed her mother’s murder when a father she never knew comes to take her away. Rue is a Demigod. Her sister Tasha who has a different father, is not. Separated from her sister & the only home she’s known, Rue must adapt in Ghizon. She has a whole lot of bottled up emotions and she’s done holding back. On the one year anniversary of her mother’s death she breaks Ghizon law by returning to Houston to see her sister. She finds that her sister & other black & POC kids from the neighborhood have unwillingly been roped into street crime & violence. This book tackled some hard hitting issues affecting inner city youth, specifically black & POC families. Kids whose parents work long hours to survive while the neighborhood looks after one another. β€œIt takes a village to raise a child” is a quote that comes to mind when reading Wings of Ebony and Rue loves her village. She’s angry at how the youth are portrayed whenever the news covers a shooting, and at how cops turn the other way. I was rooting for Rue, Tasha & all the neighborhood kids to take back their home. Rue is a no nonsense straight shooter who is loyal to her roots, she’s unapologetically going to take back what was once taken from her and for that alone, she is a stand-out memorable kick a** MC!

Wings of Ebony will absolutely appeal to fans of Angie Thomas’ The Hate U GiveΒ and Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone,Β written in a raw authentic voice that invokes a range of emotions. J. Elle puts a spotlight on the issues plaguing black and brown communities in cities like Houston. Families that are forced to make a choice between staying home to watch the kids or put food on the table. The concept of the neighborhood’s older grandmothers watching over the youth is a very real one that I for one can relate to having been raised by two working parents with no child care. The frustration Rue feels, her mixed feelings when it comes to asking for help from the cops is as real as it gets. I felt the author captured what inner city life looks like for a lot of working families in these neighborhoods.

This story however takes place between two worlds, it’s a Fantasy set in Ghizon AND Houston. Here is where I felt the story took some hits, the pacing was off and so the time we actually spend in Ghizon is limited. I would’ve gladly read this book if it were 500 pages if it meant that Ghizon were more fleshed out and the magic system better explained. Things take a Β turn around the 65% mark for the better but by then I did feel we were rushing towards a conclusion. We get introduced to a love interest in the midst of a revolution which I personally could’ve done without OR seen it introduced in the next book. I also wish the relationship between Rue and her father was better explored, it’s understandable she has a TON of mixed emotions towards him…we just don’t see enough father/daughter relationships in books. Although I felt the Fantasy aspects of this book were a bit under developed, I honestly feel based off the last 40% that the follow up will build on what we’ve seen here. I did secure a finished copy from Barnes & Nobles which is offering bonus content I feel would be a shame to miss out on because they’re letters from Rue’s Dad & Book Lovers! I balled my eyes out!!! the letters also include some sketches that are pretty dope!Β 


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Spoiler Free Review: Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

Title: Such a Fun Age

Author:Β Kiley Reid

Pub. Date:Β December 31st 2019

Genre:Β Realistic Fiction

Format:Β Audiobook

Publisher:Β G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Pages:Β 310 pages

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE | LIBROFM – MY REFERRAL LINK

In the middle of the night, white blogger Alix Chamberlain and her husband are experiencing a crisis in their home. They call their African American babysitter Emira asking her to come over and take their baby girl Briar Chamberlain for a walk to distract her while they handle the events that have transpired in their home. Emira who is off the clock and at a friends birthday party decides to do this favor for her employer. While walking through the local supermarket in the Chamberlain’s neighborhood with 2 year old Briar, things quickly take a left turn. We have what we now have come to call a “Neighborhood Karen” raise what she thinks are concerns for the safety of Briar to the security guard at the market. It’s quickly implied that a white child wouldn’t be out late at night with a black girl who claims to be said child’s babysitter. One thing leads to another and Emira sees herself accused of kidnapping Briar and isn’t allowed to leave until contact is made with her employer. THIS BOOK!!!! WOW! I was NOT prepared for the rollercoaster of emotions I sat and listened through. This most certainly was a read-in-one-sitting type of book. I felt all things from anger to empathy to disgust watching Emira navigate through the racism and microagressions in her life.

β€œI don’t need you to be mad that it happened. I need you to be mad that it just like… happens.” – Such a Fun Age

Emira is 25, the age where many find themselves wondering what to do with their life. She isn’t sure what path to take career wise or even what her skillset is really valued at. We see her sort of just go with the flow of things while Alix Chamberlain adopts this really weird obsession with all things Emira. Alix is a white woman who at one point in her life decided to change her name to make herself sound more sophisticated. She’s made a career of writing eloquent persuasive letters that in turn get her free products to review. Alix belongs to this circle of women who are very judgmental and toxic towards one another. This character literally got under my skin, she had this really awkward way of going about making sure Emira sees her as different than most white women. She becomes obsessed with trying to befriend Emira al the while Emira is very aware that they could never be friends. Alix would never treat Emira like she treats her own wealthy friends from New York. There are moments where Alix finds herself both surprised and embarrassed at being taken aback at hearing Emira using words in her vocabulary that don’t align with her listening to rap music. She acknowledges to herself that it shouldn’t come as a surprise since Emira is a college graduate but still she harbors these thoughts. Bookworms! this book will have you shaking your head but the truth is we all know an Alix in real life.

There’s so much to unpack in this book but at its core it’s a book about racism, microagressions, social class, parenting andΒ racial fetishization. These characters seriously had me back and forth with my feelings when it came down trying to figure out if their actions/thoughts were ill intended or not. The idea of the white savior comes into play from the very start when Emira’s white employers are called before releasing her and then continues all throughout. Β There were a few twists that I didn’t see coming and seriously had me eyes wide open with anticipation at what could come next. While there are very serious hard hitting themes that play center stage, this book never once felt preachy yet (actually some parts were fun as odd as that may sound) it managed to give a huge SMH at the ignorance Emira had to deal with. The writing invoked emotions that go hand in hand with what 2020 brought to the surface. Β A more satisfying ending I did not read in all of 2020, a read I’ll never forget. Kiley Reid’s debut is simply phenomenal! One of my Top 10 of 2020 that I will continue to recommend to all my friends!


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Spoiler Free Review: Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

Title: Anxious People

Author: Fredrik Backman

Pub. Date:Β September 8th 2020

Genre:Β Contemporary Fiction

Format: Audiobook

Publisher:Β Atria Books

Pages:Β 341 pages

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE | LIBROFM (MY REFERRAL LINK)

My First Backman!!!

I’ve been hearing about Fredrik Backman’s curmudgeonly characters and tear jerker story lines for a few years now but decided to end 2020 with seeing for myself. Whelp! no lies detected Bookworms, this book broke me and left me sobbing tears of happiness? sadness? I still don’t know. I opted to listen to the audiobook after hearing many rave reviews on the narrators performance, this I can also attest to. I also think this is the type of book you want to walk in blind to as I did. From the very start we are thrust into a botched bank robbery and our MC is the perpetrator who in an effort to escape stumbles into an apartment open house. What our MC finds is possibly the worse group of hostages ever but for the reader it proves to be a good time haha! Yes, there is humor all throughout which does a nice job of balancing out the more hard hitting conversations between these hostages. We meet a retired couple who seek fixer uppers in an effort to find common ground in their stale marriage, a lesbian couple who are about to have their first child even though they can’t seem to agree on much, a wealthy woman banker who has been consumed by wealth so much so that she’s lost touch with humanity and love and a 87 year old woman who could not be less fazed by the gun wielding bank robber. This is a story about every day people trying their best to get it right but oftentimes discovering that the road is paved with many bumps along the way. It was beyond eye opening and heartwarming to see how human empathy can really make those differences that set us apart seem really minuscule in the grander scheme of things.

CW: Suicide, suicidal thoughts, depression, death of a loved one, infidelity, divorce

Zara, Roger, AnnaLee, Roe, Julia, Estelle and our MC aka the Bank Robber are some of the MOST unforgettable characters I’ve come across in fiction. Each one of these characters left their mark when sharing insight on their lives, the wins and the losses. There are secrets, love affairs, grief, sadness, fears that all get laid out on the table in the nooks & tiny closet of this small apartment. I predict Fredrik Backman will become one of my favorite story tellers of all time simply because I love character driven stories and he so masterfully creates people who you can connect with on a soul level.Β This is the type of book you should go into blindly & allow yourself to get wrapped up in. I guarantee that in no time you’ll be deeply invested in each of these characters stories. Backman is an author I’ll be revisiting in 2021, I’ve already secured a copy of A Man Called Ove from my library but I have a feeling I will be buying myself a copy real soonΒ πŸ™ŒπŸ½


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Spoiler Free Review: Blazewrath Games by Amparo Ortiz

Title: Blazewrath Games (Blazewrath Games #1)

Author:Β Amparo Ortiz

Pub. Date:Β October 6th 2020

Genre: YA Fantasy/Latinx

Format:Β eGalley

Publisher: Page Street Kids

Pages:Β 368 pages

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE | AMAZONΒ 

πŸ–€eGalley provided by Publisher in exchange for an honest reviewπŸ–€

β€œπ‘‡β„Žπ‘’ π‘‘β„Žπ‘–π‘›π‘” π‘Žπ‘π‘œπ‘’π‘‘ π‘π‘’π‘œπ‘π‘™π‘’ 𝑖𝑠 π‘‘β„Žπ‘’π‘¦ 𝑑𝑒𝑛𝑑 π‘‘π‘œ π‘™π‘œπ‘£π‘’ 𝑒𝑠 π‘‘β„Žπ‘’π‘–π‘Ÿ π‘€π‘Žπ‘¦, π‘›π‘œπ‘‘ π‘‘β„Žπ‘’ π‘€π‘Žπ‘¦ 𝑀𝑒’𝑑 π‘€π‘Žπ‘›π‘‘ π‘‘β„Žπ‘’π‘š π‘‘π‘œ π‘™π‘œπ‘£π‘’ 𝑒𝑠. π‘Šπ‘’ π‘π‘Žπ‘› 𝑑𝑒𝑙𝑙 π‘‘β„Žπ‘’π‘š π‘™π‘œπ‘Žπ‘‘π‘  π‘œπ‘“ π‘‘π‘–π‘šπ‘’π‘ . π‘Šπ‘’ π‘π‘Žπ‘› π‘‘π‘Ÿπ‘Žπ‘€ π‘‘β„Žπ‘’π‘š π‘Ž π‘π‘™π‘œπ‘œπ‘‘π‘¦ π‘šπ‘Žπ‘. π‘†π‘œπ‘šπ‘’π‘‘π‘–π‘šπ‘’π‘  π‘‘β„Žπ‘’π‘–π‘Ÿ π‘€π‘Žπ‘¦ 𝑖𝑠 π‘‘β„Žπ‘’ π‘œπ‘›π‘™π‘¦ π‘€π‘Žπ‘¦ π‘‘β„Žπ‘Žπ‘‘ π‘šπ‘Žπ‘˜π‘’π‘  𝑠𝑒𝑛𝑠𝑒 π‘‘π‘œ π‘‘β„Žπ‘’π‘š. π‘‚π‘’π‘Ÿ π‘£π‘œπ‘–π‘π‘’π‘  π‘Žπ‘Ÿπ‘’ 𝑗𝑒𝑠𝑑 π‘€β„Žπ‘–π‘‘π‘’ π‘›π‘œπ‘–π‘ π‘’”

Blazewrath Games is described as β€œHow to Train Your Dragons” meets β€œQuidditch through the Ages” and I’d say that’s about right with the exception that this book actually brings forth a ton of representation. It is the first Young Adult Fantasy I’ve seen hit the shelves with Latinx characters straight from the island of Puerto-Rico. The Spanish language is used all throughout, bringing the terms of endearment we use for one another as well as the pride we have for our Island to the page. The Blazewrath Games themselves are sort of like the Olympics with representation from all countries. One of the countries introduced has a team made up of ALL members of the LGBTQIA+ community. Within team Puerto-Rico we also have Queer rep which made my little heart very happy to see! Our MC Lana faces some challenges getting chosen as a Runner for the team since she has spent many years away from the island. She feels displaced & is met with some opposition along the way.

Lana is passionate about Blazewrath & Puerto Rico, she sets out to prove she’s worthy of her place on the team. In this world dragons bond with the humans they choose to participate in the Blazewrath Games. The Dragons are full of personality & love for their Riders but there are also Unbonded Dragons. These dragons are deemed volatile to civilians and our villain who was a former dragon cursed into human form sees an opportunity to gain control. Dragon sanctuaries are being burned down in protest of the Blazewrath Games. Lana and her teammates are thrust into solving a complex conspiracy while also trying to win the Cup for their Island of Puerto Rico. If you’re looking to discover new diverse YA Fantasy with dragons, wizards, witches and adventure this is one worth giving a shot.

Content Warning: Mention of domestic violence, Cancer, death of a parent

Blazewrath Games is Amparo Ortiz debut YA Fantasy, one that I was heavily looking forward to since seeing Ortiz speak on a panel earlier this year for Diversity in YA. Our MC Lana who was born in Puerto-Rico but has since relocated with her mother after their parents separation is experiencing a sense of displacement. She yearns to reconnect with her roots and also with her father who she maintains a close long distance relationship with. I’ve always had a soft spot for father/daughter stories since they take me back to my own and so I was hoping to see Lana’s more fleshed out. Her dad seems to be someone she has a deep bond with but for the majority of the story he’s M.I.A. Although his absence is explained on the page, I wished we’d seen more of him and less of what seemed to be a very tense relationship with her mom. Blazewrath is a fast paced adventure with a conspiracy at its core, if you’re a fan of dragons and magical settings this is a solid read. Team Puerto-Rico is a tight knit crew we get to know as Lana interacts with them in her training. More focus however is placed on the dragons, their abilities which are developing and their personalities. I LOVED all of the dragons with a special place in my heart for Daga the youngest and easily excited of them all. I’m very curious to see where Ortiz takes this story next inΒ Bloodbath Ring (Blazewrath Games #2)Β which doesn’t have a release date yet but I’ve already added to my TBR.


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