Spoiler Free Review: Love On The Brain by Ali Hazelwood

Title: Love On The Brain

Author: Ali Hazelwood

Pub. Date: August 23rd 2022

Genre: Contemporary Romance/Rom-COM

Format: eARC

Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group

Pages: 368

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☆☆ARC provided by Publisher in exchange for an honest review☆☆╮

*•.¸♡ 𝐘𝐨𝐮 𝐝𝐨𝐧’𝐭 𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐧 𝐡𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐭𝐨 𝐚𝐝𝐦𝐢𝐭 𝐭𝐨 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐬𝐞𝐥𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐥𝐨𝐯𝐞 𝐦𝐞, 𝐁𝐞𝐞. 𝐆𝐨𝐝 𝐤𝐧𝐨𝐰𝐬 𝐈 𝐥𝐨𝐯𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐞𝐧𝐨𝐮𝐠𝐡 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐛𝐨𝐭𝐡 𝐨𝐟 𝐮𝐬 – 𝐋𝐞𝐯𝐢 𝐖𝐚𝐫𝐝 ♡¸.•*

Bee Königswasser has been given the opportunity to work as the lead on a neuroengineering project with NASA to create a helmet for astronauts that would improve their focus. She’s excited up until she finds out Levi aka the guy who she believes hates her, will be the co-lead engineer on the project. She feels he made his feelings toward her known during grad school and the last thing she’d fathom is having to work in close proximity with someone who loathes her. She asks herself what would her idol the French Physicist Marie Curie do if she were in her shoes? readily acknowledging that Marie would accept this opportunity no questions asked, Bee decides to accept. Soon after she introduces herself to the team (all dude bros), all sorts of hijinks occur to prevent Bee from actually doing her job. We see Levi begin to back her up as she’s presenting her ideas/suggestions and quickly turns into more of an ally than enemy. Bee is very aware of his presence and stolen glances so much so that she starts to enjoy their collaboration. All the while reminding herself that Levi still fundamentally hates her. 

I’ll preface this part of my review by mentioning that I’ve seen many reviews since I finished my read and although I agree that there’s a specific formula to all of these “Steminist” books, I enjoyed this more than The Love Hypothesis. The biggest standout difference for me is that both leads/romantic love interests are thoroughly fleshed out making it easy to connect and root for this ship. I LOVED the insider look we get to the actual project and seeing Bee leave a lot of dude bros in awe as she strutted her knowledge in her area of expertise. I also loved seeing Levi go from silent bystander to someone in Bee’s corner who can’t stand when his male colleagues make it difficult for her to work. I loved the fact that Bee hates that it takes Levi backing her in order for the team to give her the time of day. She draws parallels between her current situation and that of Marie Curie who had to fight for an ounce of respect/recognition as a female Physicist during the early 1900’s. It’s not often that I end up LOVING the male lead but Levi has my whole heart simply because he’s a feminist that genuinely wants to see change in their field of work. If you can get past the many mentions of Levi’s large manly frame 😂 and Bee being overly oblivious, there’s a lot to love:

🧪Empowered women in STEM
🧪Tropes: Hate to love (kinda)/Close proximity
🧪Twitter threads/wars for entertainment
🧪feisty invisible 🐈
🧪Vegan love
🧪🧠 talk as they race to perfect a helmet for NASA
🧪Male lead is a feminist
🧪The humor was 👌🏽if it can get me to laugh out loud, then and only then it gets placed on my rom-COM faves shelf 😉


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Spoiler Free review: Love In The Time Of Serial Killers by Alicia Thomspon

Title: Love In The Time Of Serial Killers

Author: Alicia Thompson

Pub. Date: August 16th 2022

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Format: eARC

Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group

Pages: 336

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☆☆ARC provided by Publisher in exchange for an honest review☆☆╮

Characters: 7/10   Atmosphere: 0/10  Writing Style: 7/10  Plot: 5/10  Intrigue: 5/10  Logic/Relationships: 7/10  Enjoyment: 7/10

Rating: 38/5.4 =  ☆☆ 3 Stars☆☆╮

Rating system created by The Book Roast 

Fellow Cappies Rejoice we’ve got ourselves our very own Capricorn female MC and I dare you not to draw parallels as you take a trip inside the mind of Pheobe Walsh. Obsessed with True Crime and working on her dissertation analyzing the genre leaves Pheebs with very little time to even think of dating. Her father has recently passed away and she is now back in Florida trying to get her childhood home in order to sell. Having had a tough relationship with her dad that resulted in leaving with her mom after they divorced, she also has her brother Jeremy to reconnect with. The brother who stayed with their curmudgeon dad and is very sweet natured is also worried his sister’s obsession with true crime has reached new levels. Pheeb’s swears the hot and mysterious neighbor Sam MUST be a serial killer and she’s gone as far as logging in his coming & goings. There’s only one problem with this theory & that’s that with every interaction they have she has to admit Sam is just a great guy but this doesn’t mean she’s going to make it easy for him.

Our main character Pheobe puts the grump in grumpy sunshine and her dark sense of humor isn’t for everyone. Some readers may even find her to be unlikeable because we get a heavy dose of her paranoia with many mentions pop culture references of serial killers. For other readers who may listen/read true crime, the research in the genre may actually be a bonus and the dissertation process to have been detailed nicely. The romance takes off a bit later in the story with the steamy scenes falling short and I know that’s probably going to hurt the overall ratings for this book. I feel this one is going to land with those who don’t mind their female protagonist to be a bit unlikeable, perhaps even pessimistic and cynical. Sam the love interest is hard not to love, he’s a music teacher who can’t help but want to assist Pheobe with moving furniture or any project really as long as he’s getting to spend time with her. I almost wish this had been dual POV to give us a break from Pheeb’s thought process while also giving us a chance to get to know Sam. Taking all of this into account… this is my personal opinion but I feel male grumpy protagonists are ALWAYS preferred over a female grump 😂 yet they DO exist and deserve to be loved just as much! haha! To be honest I loved so many of the other themes in this book like the sibling dynamics, second chance friendships and unresolved grief of a parent being addressed. I feel these did compensate for some of the other things that needed more developing. 

𝗪𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗜 𝗹𝗼𝘃𝗲𝗱:

💓Plus size representation
🕵🏻True Crime genre explored
😒Grumpy/Sunshine trope🤗
🐈‍⬛Stray cat claiming squatters rights
👫Sibling relationship explored
👭🏻Second chance friendships
📚The Library as a secondary setting


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Spoiler Free Review: After Hours on Milagro Street by Angelina M. Lopez

Title: After Hours on Milagro Street

Author: Angelina M. Lopez

Pub. Date: July 26th 2022

Genre: Romance/Latinx

Format: eARC

Publisher: Carina Trade

Pages: 400

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☆☆ARC provided by Publisher in exchange for an honest review☆☆╮

Characters: 10/10   Atmosphere: 10/10  Writing Style: 10/10  Plot: 8/10  Intrigue: 8/10  Logic/Relationships: 10/10  Enjoyment: 10/10

Rating: 66/9.4 =  ☆☆ 5 Stars☆☆╮

Rating system created by The Book Roast 

*•.¸♡ 𝐘𝐨𝐮 𝐝𝐨𝐧’𝐭 𝐡𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐭𝐨 𝐛𝐞 𝐚𝐥𝐨𝐧𝐞 𝐚𝐧𝐲𝐦𝐨𝐫𝐞. 𝐋𝐞𝐭 𝐦𝐞 𝐭𝐚𝐤𝐞 𝐜𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐨𝐟 𝐲𝐨𝐮. 𝐖𝐞’𝐥𝐥 𝐟𝐢𝐠𝐡𝐭 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐡𝐨𝐦𝐞 𝐭𝐨𝐠𝐞𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫. ♡¸.•*

This book kept me up last night as I was determined to finish it and those final few lines gave me goosebumps!! After Hours on Milagros Street is a romance with mystery, paranormal, and historical fiction aspects sprinkled throughout. I love my romance to be complex and the story line to have some depth, this was just that. We meet Alex Torres as she makes her appearance back in her hometown of Kansas. She’s an Alpha plus size Mexican-American female who has made a name for herself as an in demand bartender. Alex has been summoned by her sisters with hopes of convincing their matriarch of a grandmother to sell them her bar so that she may retire comfortably. The problem is that many in the Torres clan view her as a bit louder than the rest of them and a bit of a loose canon. For Alex, her image is something she plays up for the white people she bartends for. “The world expected an angry black woman, and Alex had let it pay her rent” She plans to use what she’s learned as well as her social media presence to put Kansas/Milagro Street back on the map. The town that for many years has been home to Mexican-American working families is struggling to keep the lights on. Jeremiah Post is renting a room at the bar, he is a white college professor whose own backstory is a mystery to all and he’d rather keep it that way. He loves the Torres clan, grandmother Loretta treats him like one of her own and the many aunts, uncles, and cousins who congregate at the bar daily see him as family too. Alex & Jeremiah’s first encounter is 10/10 spicy and hot. Alex knows exactly what she wants and isn’t afraid to go for it, she absolutely DOES get consent even as she’s going through the motions. I LOVED IT!

Full transparency, it took me a few days to finish this book but I didn’t see it as a negative. The pace is a bit slower than most romance books because of the historical fiction/mystery aspects but the latter half really picks up the pace. I appreciated the character development we see with Alex who goes from wanting to change everything about the bar to wanting to preserve some of what makes it feel like home to many of Freedom’s residents. Also, Jeremiah’s work as an ally helping preserve the Mexican-American immigrant history of the town and the fact that Alex makes sure that he knows she’s not down with the white savior roles perpetuated by many. Jeremiah’s respectful stance in making sure that he remains an ally in the background, his respect towards her family and the towns roots make him a new fave! This book has a whole lot of heart and the characters quickly come to life including our older generations. Last but not least, the supernatural aspects the author introduced to highlight the racism and bigotry surrounding Mexican-Americans bumped this book to a five star read for me. Consider reading if you enjoy romance wrapped in a bit of a mystery, found families that just so happen to be LARGE families, and angry ghosts.

𝗧ropes: close proximity, opposites attract, hate-to-love, grumpy sunshine

Content Warnings: mention of alcoholism, racism, bigotry, microagressions


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Spoiler Free Review: The Romance Recipe by Ruby Barrett

Title: The Romance Recipe

Author: Ruby Barrett

Pub. Date: July 12th 2022

Genre: Contemporary Romance/Queer

Format: eARC

Publisher: Carina Adores

Pages: 304

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☆☆ARC provided by Publisher in exchange for an honest review☆☆╮

Characters: 6/10   Atmosphere: 10/10  Writing Style: 5/10  Plot: 5/10  Intrigue: 0/10  Logic/Relationships: 5/10  Enjoyment: 5/10

Rating: 36/5.1 =  ☆☆ 3 Stars☆☆╮

Rating system created by The Book Roast 

Amy Chambers is a restaurant owner, micro-manager, control freak who is having a tough time keeping the doors open. Employing a predominantly queer staff, Amy really cares about creating a space for them where they feel safe and can make a decent living with benefits. She’s just not drawing in a big enough crowd to pay the overhead costs or rent. She offers the Chef position to Sophie Brunet, a former reality-tv show finalist who can hopefully reignite interest in her restaurant Amy and May. Sophie grump in the kitchen/sunshine in the streets, took thirty years to figure out she was queer” she doesn’t really want to post every single dish she cooks on instagram for the likes. Sophie just wants to cook and explore new dishes, she’s a real chemist in the kitchen. Her new attraction to Amy aka her Boss proves challenging when an opportunity for a tv show that could put the restaurant back on the map comes around. First there’s the issue of whether Sophie even cares to go back on tv with a hobby that brings her a lot of comfort and joy in private. Then there’s the fact that she has just left one relationship to better understand her bisexuality all while managing her career. If you love a foodie romance, this one gives you plenty of time in the kitchen with recipe experimentation! 

╰☆☆ 𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐲 𝐬𝐚𝐲 𝐨𝐧𝐜𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐫𝐭 𝐭𝐨 𝐦𝐨𝐧𝐞𝐭𝐢𝐳𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐡𝐨𝐛𝐛𝐲 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐧𝐞𝐞𝐝 𝐭𝐨 𝐟𝐢𝐧𝐝 𝐚 𝐧𝐞𝐰 𝐡𝐨𝐛𝐛𝐲. 𝐅𝐨𝐫 𝐬𝐨 𝐥𝐨𝐧𝐠 𝐜𝐨𝐨𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐚 𝐩𝐚𝐬𝐬𝐢𝐨𝐧, 𝐦𝐚𝐲𝐛𝐞 𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐪𝐮𝐢𝐭𝐞 𝐚 𝐡𝐨𝐛𝐛𝐲, 𝐛𝐮𝐭 𝐬𝐨𝐦𝐞𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐈 𝐝𝐢𝐝 𝐛𝐞𝐜𝐚𝐮𝐬𝐞 𝐈 𝐥𝐨𝐯𝐞𝐝 𝐢𝐭. 𝐍𝐨𝐰 𝐈 𝐠𝐞𝐭 𝐩𝐚𝐢𝐝 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐦𝐲 𝐩𝐚𝐬𝐬𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐬𝐮𝐝𝐝𝐞𝐧𝐥𝐲 𝐈’𝐦 𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐠𝐨𝐨𝐝 𝐚𝐭 𝐢𝐭 𝐚𝐧𝐲𝐦𝐨𝐫𝐞. ☆☆

There’s a lot to love in this queer book about two lesbian/bisexual chefs, especially if you love a good foodie romance. I love a well fleshed out dual POV, however I had a hard time distinguishing between Amy and Sophie’s chapters. Although their back stories are clearly defined up-front, their voices sounded very much the same. I felt their romance was rushed especially for Sophie who had just left one long term relationship and was feeling comfortable finally looking at girls with open interest. I appreciated Amy expressing that Sophie should give herself time to date whomever and not feel the need to settle down so quickly. This however came across to Sophie as if Amy was trying to make decisions for her and I guess I could see both sides of that argument. Even with these concerns being vocalized between the two, I felt that the pacing was off and the ending felt rushed. I enjoyed the reality tv show aspects/celebrity chef however just when this takes off at the end, it cuts off and we don’t really get to see that aspect develop. It is expressed in the book that tv ultimately isn’t where Sophie’s heart is at but the majority of the plot is also banking on this show being a success. It would’ve been nice to see more of that since ultimately it was Amy who chose to pursue the tv opportunity. As for the smut/steam, that is where this book really gets all the brownie points. Those sex scenes were give and take and just all around sexy! It gets all the chili 🌶 for simply being all one could hope for, teasing and all! *chefs kiss* 


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Spoiler Free Review: The Dead Romantics by Ashley Poston

Title: The Dead Romantics

Author: Ashley Poston

Pub. Date: June 28th 2022

Genre: Contemporary Romance/Paranormal

Format: eARC

Publisher: Berkley

Pages: 368

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☆☆ARC provided by Publisher in exchange for an honest review☆☆╮

Characters: 10/10   Atmosphere: 10/10  Writing Style: 10/10  Plot: 8/10  Intrigue: 8/10  Logic/Relationships: 10/10  Enjoyment: 10/10

Rating: 68/9.7 =  ☆☆ 5 Stars☆☆╮

Rating system created by The Book Roast 

★彡 𝐄𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐲𝐨𝐧𝐞 𝐬𝐚𝐢𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐰𝐡𝐞𝐧 𝐚 𝐃𝐚𝐲 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐛𝐨𝐫𝐧, 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐲 𝐰𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐚𝐥𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐝𝐲 𝐰𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐟𝐮𝐧𝐞𝐫𝐚𝐥 𝐜𝐥𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐬. 𝐖𝐞 𝐭𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐭𝐞𝐝 𝐝𝐞𝐚𝐭𝐡 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐝 𝐨𝐟 𝐜𝐞𝐥𝐞𝐛𝐫𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐦𝐨𝐬𝐭 𝐩𝐞𝐨𝐩𝐥𝐞 𝐨𝐧𝐥𝐲 𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫 𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐞𝐫𝐯𝐞𝐝 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐥𝐢𝐟𝐞. 彡★

Florence Day is a ghostwriter for a prolific romance writer who happens to be on a deadline. After a very rough break-up, Florence can’t find it in her to write about love, she no longer believes in it. She’s on her way to meet her new editor and pitch him the idea for a book outside of the romance genre. She wasn’t anticipating him being an incredibly sexy “mountain of a man” or that he would deny her pitch at another book. The pressure is on and when Florence gets a call from her mother to come home because her dad has just passed…she has to return down south to a town that ran her off ten years ago. Florence sees ghosts, more specifically she sees those that need help crossing over. Her family runs the towns funeral parlor and the only other person who shared her gift was her dad. Ten years ago she helped solve the murder of a boy with the help of his ghost and that made headlines. Now back in town, she answers the funeral parlors doorbell only to find the ghost of her very handsome editor and his unfinished business. The one to make her question her new stance on love.

THIS BOOK!!! Yes, I’m a sucker for father/daughter stories but I bawled my eyes out while smiling and laughing all at the same time. Having lost my own dad, whenever I find one in the pages of a book with as much character and life as my own had…it’s a 5 star read. Although the reason for which Florence returns to her hometown is sad, it’s also treated as a celebration of life. Her family after all is in the business of death and preparing send offs, her father made sure that his is befitting that of his life. The whole family is awesome and supportive, quirky and honest. They have their issues like every family but they hash it out. The neighbors/town come to life and you get all the southern charm both good & bad. The romance was sweet, slow burn and hopeful! it doesn’t get better than a love interest who also loves reading romance novels and restores faith in love. Last but not least there’s a funeral parlor setting, Adams Family vibes, and queer siblings who fight and make up that made this a fun read with tons of personality! 🖤

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Spoiler Free Review: A Caribbean Heiress in Paris by Adriana Herrera

Title: A Caribbean Heiress in Paris (Las Léonas #1)

Author:Adriana Herrera

Pub. Date: May 31st 2022

Genre: Historical Romance/Latinx

Format: eARC

Publisher: HQN

Pages: 368

 

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☆☆ARC provided by Publisher in exchange for an honest review☆☆╮

Characters: 10/10   Atmosphere: 7/10  Writing Style: 10/10  Plot: 10/10  Intrigue: 7/10  Logic/Relationships: 10/10  Enjoyment: 10/10

Rating: 64/9.1 =  ☆☆ 5 Stars☆☆╮

Rating system created by The Book Roast 

☆☆ 𝐋𝐢𝐟𝐞 𝐢𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐂𝐚𝐫𝐢𝐛𝐛𝐞𝐚𝐧 𝐡𝐚𝐝 𝐭𝐚𝐮𝐠𝐡𝐭 𝐋𝐮𝐳 𝐀𝐥𝐚𝐧𝐚 𝐇𝐞𝐢𝐭𝐡-𝐁𝐞𝐧𝐳𝐚𝐧 𝐚 𝐟𝐞𝐰 𝐯𝐢𝐭𝐚𝐥 𝐥𝐞𝐬𝐬𝐨𝐧𝐬. 𝐅𝐢𝐫𝐬𝐭, 𝐜𝐨𝐫𝐬𝐞𝐭𝐬 𝐢𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐭𝐫𝐨𝐩𝐢𝐜𝐬 𝐰𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐩𝐮𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐭 𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐦 𝐨𝐟 𝐞𝐯𝐢𝐥. 𝐒𝐞𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐝, 𝐚 𝐰𝐨𝐦𝐚𝐧 𝐚𝐭𝐭𝐞𝐦𝐩𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐨 𝐭𝐡𝐫𝐢𝐯𝐞 𝐢𝐧 𝐚 𝐦𝐚𝐧’𝐬 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐥𝐝 𝐦𝐮𝐬𝐭 𝐚𝐥𝐰𝐚𝐲𝐬 𝐡𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐚 𝐩𝐥𝐚𝐧. 𝐓𝐡𝐢𝐫𝐝, 𝐚 𝐟 𝐥𝐚𝐬𝐤 𝐟𝐮𝐥𝐥 𝐨𝐟 𝐟𝐢𝐧𝐞 𝐫𝐮𝐦 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐚 𝐩𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐨𝐥 𝐬𝐞𝐫𝐯𝐞𝐝 𝐰𝐞𝐥𝐥 𝐢𝐧 𝐚𝐥𝐦𝐨𝐬𝐭 𝐚𝐧𝐲 𝐞𝐦𝐞𝐫𝐠𝐞𝐧𝐜𝐲. ☆☆╮

A Caribbean Heiress in Paris is Historical Romance with flavor, heart and heat! Our Dominican Scottish MC is traveling to The Exposition Universelle from Santo Domingo with three hundred casks of her family made rum Caña Brava. Unfortunately she has also lost her father and their family owned Rum business is not quite fully under her control. The only way to regain it is by marrying and having her husband then release ownership of it to her. Evan Sinclair is in a similar boat, only he has a toxic father in control of the inheritance his mother has left him as a future wedding gift. Luz is business savvy, knows what she wants and speaks her truths. She can spot a business opportunity like the best of them, and a marriage of convenience with a hot Scott? Why not?

Luz Alana has her work cut out for her, she’s now her little sister’s care taker as well as the oldest living heir to the family owned buisness in a misogynistic world. She’s looking to continue growing her brand but those who are in the business of selling spirits (white privileged men) aren’t inclined to make it easier for her. We see Luz challenge micro-agressions with wit and a spitfire personality. We see her love interest Evan attempt to handle any who step out of line but it’s not really necessary, Luz can hold her own and makes sure Evan knows it. Still, it is nice knowing he is willing to go to bat for her if need be. 

This is only the second Historical Romance I’ve picked up, the first being Sarah Maclean’s Bombshell which also featured a feminist heroine who is fiercely independent. I’m convinced now that I’ve read Luz Alana’s story arc that so long as the heroine is a no-nonsense call it like she sees it type, I will love the story! Luz addresses the fact that the generational wealth from which Evan will benefit comes from the slave trade. Evan in turn quickly acknowledges that to be a disgraceful truth.

“You are correct, yours is a legacy to be proud of. Mine, on the other hand, only warrants being razed to the ground.”

What I loved most is the way Luz and Evan’s relationship developed. Sure he was smitten from the moment he laid eyes on her but first and foremost he gave her props and admired the business woman in her. They also had grade A communication and thankfully the miscommunication trope does not rear it’s ugly head. There are some things that aren’t immediately disclosed since there is a revenge subplot but it wasn’t anything that couldn’t be explained and worked through. I absolutely LOVED this book and cannot wait to read stories from Luz’s girlfriends aka The Leonas who both piqued my curiosity. 


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Spoiler Free Review: Just Your Local Bisexual Disaster by Andrea Mosqueda

Title: Just Your Local Bisexual Disaster

Author: Andrea Mosqueda

Pub. Date: May 24th 2022

Genre: Contemporary YA/Queer

Format: eARC

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Pages: 352

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☆☆ARC provided by Publisher in exchange for an honest review☆☆╮

Characters: 10/10   Atmosphere: 8/10  Writing Style: 8/10  Plot: 8/10  Intrigue: 0/10  Logic/Relationships: 8/10  Enjoyment: 8/10

Rating: 50/7 =  ☆☆ 4 Stars☆☆╮

Rating system created by The Book Roast 

Maggie Gonzalez gave me a serious case of nostalgia as she helped her sister get ready for her quinceañera, picked a partner to accompany her to the quince and sorted through her messy (relatable) romantic feelings. Growing up in Texas’s Rio Grande Valley, Maggie dreams of one day becoming a music photographer. She’s one of three girls to a single mom/small business owner, they’re bonds with one another are pretty tight. With college right around the corner, we see Maggie struggle with mixed emotions over leaving her family as well as guilt over how expensive a college education can be. Her love life is just as complicated, Maggie is a bisexual teen who is trying to sort out her feelings for her BFF Amanda, ex Matthew and new girl in town Dani. Along the way there’s discussion on stereotypes Bisexual people are met with and the boundaries Maggie learns to set for herself. 

Just Your Local Bisexual Disaster delivered Latinx queer characters that embodied the messy chaos that is being a teenager in love. This is a character driven story where the relationships are well fleshed out. This has led to some reviewers feeling like this could’ve been shorter but personally I enjoyed seeing the history behind these connections. Maggie is Gen Z (even with some pop culture references that were out of place), she smokes weed with her friends, has a Finsta and is exploring hobbies/passions that can turn into a future career. If you enjoy stories with a focus on family bonds, Maggie and her sisters are pretty tight knit. Everyone helps out in the household and family owned business, they know their mom works hard and in many ways the oldest help raise the youngest. What to look forward to? seeing Maggie’s family come together to organize the Quinceñera, Maggie trying to pick an escort to the very special birthday/rites of passage, and LOTS of complicated feelings and blurred lines. I happened to also get a copy of the audiobook and thought the narrator did a good job with the friend group, even the obnoxious temperamental ex 🤷🏻‍♀️ I also can’t end this review without mentioning how yummy this book read haha!  but seriously you’ve been warned, the mention of tacos and other foods is very likely to set your tummy rumbling 😉


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Spoiler Free Review: Set On You by Amy Lea

Title: Set On You

Author: Amy Lea

Pub. Date: May 10th 2022

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Format: eARC

Publisher: Berkley Books

Pages: 384 pages

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🖤ARC provided by Publisher in exchange for an honest review🖤

Fitstagrammer Crystal Chen has built her platform by breaking gym stereotypes and throwing positivity at the haters who can’t help but troll her posts. She’s just experienced a break-up that’s left her feeling like setting some boundaries. Tired of having surface level flings and craving a deeper connection, Crystal is on high alert for any guy with red flags. To top it off she finds herself in squat wars with the new guy at the gym who she’s dubbed The Squat Rack Thief. This guy doesn’t follow any of the gyms unspoken rules leaving Crystal both appalled and determined to beat him to the squat rack each night. Soon a tit-for-tat type relationship develops and with it, a whole dose of sexual chemistry. 

Hopefully Dear Reader, you haven’t read the Goodreads synopsis for this book since I feel it gives away a bit too much and I’m glad I went in with very minimal info. For starters, we don’t get Squat Rack Thief’s name right away and I felt this added a fun mystery and led to a surprising reveal. These characters face a couple of challenges before their romance takes off but nothing they couldn’t get through, it was more of a battle of wills playing out. Crystal isn’t trying to become anyone’s rebound (again) and she’s also fiercely and proudly protective of her followers. She dedicates her time to working privately with clients and posting motivational videos/captions that we get to read in the book. We also get to see both the positive & negative comments she gets daily and how she handles having a large platform as a plus size Chinese American Fitstagrammer. Squat Rack Thief is described as looking like Chris Evans and having killer abs but he also deals with some stereotypes and Crystal brings those to the surface. 

All images originate from Pinterest

CW (some of which are mentioned in the author’s note): Cheating, Cancer, death of a loved one mentioned, cyberbullying, fatphobia, references to racism, fitness/diet culture

At its core this book carries such a strong message on what exactly “body positivity” really is on an individual basis and what confidence and self-worth really looks like on the daily. Any book that can make me self reflect is one I’ll recommend and this is one I feel did that and more. Personally, my fitness journey like crystals stemmed from wanting to find my way back to a more confident ME. It’s not tied to a number on the scale but rather a feeling of happiness and comfort in my own skin. There’s also the fact that Crystal doesn’t have a traditional job or career, she has built a strong following and with it acquired some endorsements. Her loving traditional self-made father struggles with her choices and that too was interesting to see play out. All in all, we have a independent woman who has worked hard to achieve success, confidence and up her self worth but that doesn’t mean every day is a good day.

“I don’t think confidence and self-worth is something you magically attain. And you don’t simply hold onto it forever like a tangible object. It’s fluid. You can be confident in every aspect except one. Or something could happen and all your confidence can be shattered in an instant.”

The journey Crystal is on is hella relatable down to setting healthy boundaries with the male love interest. Yes there were moments where they bent the rules & gave into their cravings but there was also a clear line of communication. I really would’ve loved for this to have been multiple POV cause I was dying to know what Squat Rack Thief was thinking. Especially during the last 15% where that communication they maintained all throughout was put on pause. Otherwise this was a laugh-out-loud funny, sexy, empowering, and at times five chili peppers steamy read. There’s a strong cast of supporting characters made up of family members and friends, each of them well fleshed out with tons of personality. Something to look forward to? possibly? well, Crystal’s sister is introduced as a Bookstagrammer/Nurse and I’m more than READY for her story! One can hope amiright?!? Set on You by Amy Lea hits shelves May 10th!

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Spoiler Free Review: The Book Of Cold Cases by Simone St. James

Title: The Book Of Cold Cases

Author: Simone St. James

Pub. Date: March 15th 2022

Genre: Mystery Thriller/Paranormal

Format: eARC

Publisher: Berkley

Pages: 344

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☆☆ARC provided by Publisher in exchange for an honest review☆☆╮

Characters: 7/10   Atmosphere: 10/10  Writing Style: 9/10  Plot: 7/10  Intrigue: 7/10  Logic/Relationships: 7/10  Enjoyment: 7/10

Rating: 54/7.7 =  ☆☆ 4 Stars☆☆╮

Rating system created by The Book Roast 

𝗧𝗛𝗘 𝗕𝗢𝗢𝗞 𝗢𝗙 𝗖𝗢𝗟𝗗 𝗖𝗔𝗦𝗘𝗦 is my first Simone St James read even though I have their other books on my shelves. St. James just happens to be one of those authors I had a hunch that I would vibe with their writing style and I’m satisfied with this taste test. Opting for the audiobook was a solid choice considering that we get three narrators who slowly unwind this tale in past and present timelines. The mystery suspense is super amped up while we follow our narrator Shea Collins, a receptionist who spends her evenings working on her crime blog. Shea is a survivor from an attempted abduction at the age of nine. She lives with some PTSD that prevents her from ever riding in cars and what some may view as an obsession with cold cases. Shea goes down a rabbit hole when she crosses paths with Beth Greer, the towns wealthy resident who was once accused of murder. How’d she clear her name? Did she really kill her own father or those other random family men? Why does she still live in her family home surrounded by her parents things stuck in time? Shea gets the opportunity of a lifetime when Beth who was acquitted of all charges decides to grant her an interview. There are aspects of this book that are absolutely reminiscent of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, just in a small town setting sprinkled with a bit of paranormal happenings.

This was a solid 4 💫 read that I really enjoyed, my only wish was that it had been a bit more eerie. Even though it is a mystery, I found myself quickly piecing together certain aspects. That being said, the paranormal direction that it took introduced a whole other theory in this whodunnit. I’ve heard from other readers that of all the St. James books, this one did scale it down a bit with the haunted aspects. I haven’t read any of their other books to compare however, I felt that I would’ve much rather enjoyed if the introduction of the paranormal aspects was executed earlier on in the story. There’s also a super slow burn romance that doesn’t take center stage to the story but I found myself rooting for. One things for sure, St. James is anuthor I’ll be keeping on my radar and The Broken Girls will be the next book I read by them 🖤


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Spoiler Free Review: Scorpica by G.R. Macallister

Title: Scorpica

Author: G.R. Macallister

Pub. Date: February 22nd 2022

Genre: Fantasy/LGBTQIA+

Format: eARC

Publisher: Saga Press

Pages: 448

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☆☆ARC provided by Publisher in exchange for an honest review☆☆╮

Characters: 8/10   Atmosphere: 10/10  Writing Style: 9/10  Plot: 7/10  Intrigue: 0/10  Logic/Relationships: 10/10  Enjoyment: 7/10

Rating: 51/7.2 =  ☆☆ 4 Stars☆☆╮

Rating system created by The Book Roast 

☆☆ 𝐀𝐜𝐫𝐨𝐬𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐅𝐢𝐯𝐞 𝐐𝐮𝐞𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐨𝐦𝐬 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐤𝐧𝐨𝐰𝐧 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐥𝐝, 𝐨𝐧 𝐚𝐧 𝐚𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐚𝐠𝐞 𝐝𝐚𝐲, 𝐫𝐨𝐮𝐠𝐡𝐥𝐲 𝐚 𝐡𝐮𝐧𝐝𝐫𝐞𝐝 𝐜𝐡𝐢𝐥𝐝𝐫𝐞𝐧 𝐰𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐛𝐨𝐫𝐧. 𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐲 𝐫𝐮𝐬𝐡𝐞𝐝 𝐡𝐞𝐚𝐝𝐥𝐨𝐧𝐠 𝐟𝐫𝐨𝐦 𝐛𝐞𝐭𝐰𝐞𝐞𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐠𝐡𝐬 𝐨𝐟 𝐰𝐚𝐫𝐫𝐢𝐨𝐫𝐬 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐬𝐡𝐞𝐩𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐝𝐬, 𝐟𝐚𝐫𝐦𝐞𝐫𝐬 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐜𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐭𝐢𝐞𝐫𝐬, 𝐬𝐜𝐫𝐢𝐛𝐞𝐬 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐡𝐞𝐚𝐥𝐞𝐫𝐬, 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐬 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐪𝐮𝐞𝐞𝐧𝐬. ☆☆╮

Five Queendoms have ruled over the land in peace for five hundred years until the Drought of Girls arrives. When girls who are the warriors, healers, magic wielders, and scribes in this world cease being born, the Queendoms turn against one another. In a land of many religions, prayers go up to their different Gods in hopes of ending this curse. Told in multi-POV mainly from the perspectives of the Queen of Arca & Scorpica, this is the start to what has been described as the female Game of Thrones. We have a matriarchal society where men have lesser magic if any all, theirs is more for cosmetic purposes since their role in society is mostly as stay at home husbands. They do not have the right to vote or hold any office, they’re tasked with rearing children in this world where polygamy is the norm. The exception being the land of Scorpica where men are not allowed entry and women warriors travel out of their lands every five years to procreate. Male born babies are sold off and female babies are welcomed as future warriors. When the Drought of Girls begins, all Queendoms look to one another for the source of this curse. Power plays are set into motion by each queen to protect their positions of power at any and all costs. 

This is the type of Fantasy that will satisfy the reader who enjoys thoroughly fleshed out world building, political machinations, and slow but steady storytelling that feels like it’s all leading up to something greater. Although quite dense at times with a TON of characters, the short chapters really make it easier to follow the many story lines at once. I really enjoyed learning of the different lands and their Queendoms because each has it’s own specialty they’re known for sort of like the seven kingdoms of Westeros (Game of Thrones). We get to spend some time learning of the warriors in Scorpica, Scribes in the Bastion, deal makers/traders in Paxim, and Sorcerers in Arca. Some lands were explored more than others but I was satisfied with the two we spent the most time in (Scorpica & Arca) since they wield the most power through physical and magical strengths. A good majority of the cast of characters are queer and most relationships are Polyamorous. I love a good set of supporting side characters especially when they’re sort of found family. We get that here in a group of misfits/thieves we meet on the journey of one of the main characters we follow. I’m hoping to meet these characters on the page again after getting fully invested in their lives. This was definitely a foundation setting book to what has the potential to be an EPIC fantasy. My guess is that the sequel will hit the ground running and swords will be clashing. For this to be the first fully matriarchal/feminist Fantasy I’ve read…MORE please? haha! this hit the spot 🙌🏽


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