Spoiler Free Review: Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson

Title: Vespertine

Author:ย Margaret Rogerson

Pub. Date:ย October 5th 2021

Genre: YA Fantasy

Format:ย eARC

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books

Pages:ย 400pages

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We follow Artemesia, a gray sister at a convent who prepares the bodies of the dead to enter the spirit world. She prefers to fly under the radar and have minimal contact with others since doing so often leads to anxiety. Artmesia is walking the path to one day becoming a nun when her convent comes under attack by possessed soldiers forever changing her life course. Within the convent there are Nuns who can wield relics which harness spirits, all know of one powerful Relic that is kept under guard. During the invasion, Artemesia discovers the spirit that is attached to this relic better known as a Revenant. The Revenant is a very powerful being who threatens to possess Artemesia the minute she awakens it. From the minute the Revenant makes it appearance we get the sense it truly hates all Nuns and then the sarcasm begins and it’s made abundantly clear. The dialogue alone provided some of the best on page entertainment I’ve come across. The author best describes this book as a Medieval Venom starring a Nun and a ghost and I think thatโ€™s on point for accuracy๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿฝ being in Artemesiaโ€™s head & hearing the exchanges with the Revenant had me in fits laughing out loud. The Revenant doesn’t let up on the fact that it LOATHES Nuns and makes sure Artemesia knows this while also threatening to take over (possess) if it pleases. Our main character is someone who struggles with mental health tied to a tragic event in her childhood. She doesnโ€™t do well around people in general but gets used to interacting with the Revenant and knows she needs its help to get answers.

This may come across as an unpopular opinion but having read Sorcery of Thorns (my review) and now Vespertine, I’m of the mind that this book is the stronger of the two with regards to character development. That being said, the plot towards the end of this book threw me off a bit and thatโ€™s why I docked it. Not sure if it was a me thing but I felt I lost sight of it and had to backtrack.
Otherwise, it was so damn good! Funny, witty, epic battle scenes and tragic at times. The world building was also very intriguing with Rogerson breaking down how certain spirits are manifested. Whether it was a violent death on a battlefield or the death of a child, the way a person loses their life determines the spirit left behind. There are religious themes explored along with possession that may or may not be to your liking. Personally, I don’t gravitate towards books with religious themes however the dialogue and witty banter between Artemisia and the Revenant all throughout had me giggling more times than I could count. I’m looking forward to the next book in this world seeing as the author introduces others spirits that are on the same level of power as the Revenant and would spell trouble if they were to gain their freedom. I’m curious to know whether the audiobook narrator nailed the performance of the Revenant and will most likely re-read in this format before the next book is released.ย 


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Spoiler Free Review: A Lot Like Adios by Alexis Daria

Title: A Lot Like Adios

Author:ย Alexis Daria

Pub. Date:ย September 14th 2021

Genre: Contemporary Romance/Queer/Latinx

Format:ย Paperback

Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks

Pages:ย 381 pages

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Gabriel Aguilar aka Gabe left his childhood home in the Bronx when he wast 18 years old to make a life for himself on the west coast. A major part of that decision was to put space between him and his family, specifically his father who wanted him to focus his efforts into taking over the family business. Gabe recognized he was stuck in a cycle of seeking validation and allowing others to steam roll him into making decisions that weren’t aligned with his true purpose. For Gabe, his dreams were with physical fitness and going to school to one day open his own gym/rehabilitation for athletes. He’s got a business partner he can count on and call family with which he’s successfully opened and managed one of LA’s hottest celebrity gyms. When his partner Fabian who finds himself overwhelmed with the expansion of his own family asks Gabe to spearhead the expansion of their Gym in New York City, Gabe is SUPER hesitant. When Fabian tells him he’s already reached out to a up & coming marketing solo agent to help with their rebranding, Gabe isn’t expecting it to be Michelle Amato AKA Mich…

Michelle Amato has just quit her job and is trying to venture off independently as a freelance graphic designer. She doesn’t have it all figured out just yet but is eager to find her true purpose in life without the stress of her Puerto-Rican/Italian family who are truly trying to see if she’s dating and on the way to someday starting a family. When she gets an email from Fabian hiring her to help with the gym and sees Gabe’s name attached to the email as co-owner, she feels a mixture of emotions all at once. Gabe, her best friend from childhood who walked out of her life 13 years ago without a word. Gabe who she one day thought would end up with and instead left her with a ton of unresolved feelings. She takes it as an opportunity to finally get answers from him whether he likes it or not. Mich will take on the campaign as long as Gabe is willing to agree to some terms. Some of these do require them spending time alone as they work on this campaign. This is a friends-to-lovers romance that will have you rooting for the couple till the very end!ย 

ย 

There really is so much to love about A Lot Like Adios and I’ll go as far as saying, it’s tons better than You Had me at Hola!ย Both of our main characters are Bi-sexual, Mich specifically is working through her sexuality and admits to not having it all figured out quite yet. I loved seeing the honesty and vulnerability when she talks about her dating life. Mich also struggles with anxiety for which she does take medication. She’s someone who is self-aware and knows that in order to make progress emotionally, she’s going to have to address the open wounds between her and Gabe. Gabe is equally self aware but has the opposite approach in order to protect his peace and make his own decisions, he’s chosen to run away from it all. It’s an interesting push and pull dynamic between the two as they seek to mend their relationship as well as work on the external factors that played a part in the distance. As always, Alexis Daria knows how to deliver on what being a part of a Latinx family feels and looks like. I loved the importance given to self-care and mental health and the different ways of coping. Also, being first generation myself and understanding that my immigrant parents had a very different more traditional approach to careers made seeing Gabe & Mich’s story that much more relatable. For those who enjoy mixed media, Gabe & Mich had a fan-fiction web comic when they were teens and we get to see their chat messages when they were piecing together that story. The romance/steamy scenes were satisfying and passionate, Gabe really enjoys proving to Mich that he knows his way to woman’s orgasm. He is a very generous lover as well as super confident which honestly is part of his sex appeal. It was a good time all around! I’m looking forward to more stories within the Primas of Power universe *fingers crossed*


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Spoiler Free Review: The Inheritance of Orquidea Divina by Zoraida Cordova

Title: The Inheritance of Orquidea Divina

Author:ย Zoraida Cordova

Pub. Date:ย September 7th 2021

Genre: YA Fantasy/Magical Realism

Format: Hardcover BOTM

Publisher: Atria Books

Pages:ย 336 pages

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The Montoya family is used to the oddities that come with having Orquidea Divina for a Matriarch. Theyโ€™ve stopped asking if the fantastical stories she told them were true…how she managed to make a barren land fruitful? or how the pantry never seems to run low? One by one her grown adult children and grandchildren get summoned to their childhood home in Four Rivers for what appears to be her funeral. Orquidea wishes to dine with them and give them their inheritance however when they arrive, they find she has already begun her transformation. She is literally transforming into a large tree with roots when her family arrives with a lot of questions and frustrations. They want answers but Orquidea has never been a woman of many words and will make them all work for the answers they seek. She gives Marimar, Rey and Tatinellyโ€™s small child Rhiannon special gifts that they donโ€™t quite understand. In order to get answers they need to dig deep into Orquideas past which means they must travel to Ecuador. Itโ€™s through this journey that they get to know Orquidea, a woman that didnโ€™t speak much and came across as cold but was filled with magic and mystery.

โ•ฐโ˜†โ˜† โ€œั‚ะฝั” ั•ฯฮนัฮนั‚ั• ฮฑั‚ั” ฮฑะธโˆ‚ ฮฑั‚ั”. ั‚ะฝั” โ„“ฮนฮฝฮนะธg ะฝฯ…ััฮนั”โˆ‚ ั‚ฯƒ ั‚ั”โ„“โ„“ ั‚ะฝั”ฮนั ั•ั‚ฯƒัฮนั”ั•, ั‚ะฝั”ฮนั ฮฑยขยขฯƒะผฯโ„“ฮนั•ะฝะผั”ะธั‚ั•, ั‚ะฝั”ฮนั ฯ‰ฮนะธั•, ั‚ะฝั”ฮนั ฯัฯƒgั”ะธัƒ. ะผฮฑัั‚ฮนะธ ฮฝฮฑะธฮนั•ะฝั”โˆ‚ fฯƒั ฮฑ ะผฯƒะผั”ะธั‚, ั‚ะฝั”ะธ ัั”ั‚ฯ…ัะธั”โˆ‚ ฮฑะธโˆ‚ ั‚ะฝั” ั•ฯƒฯ…ะธโˆ‚ั• ฯƒf ฯƒัqฯ…ฮนฬโˆ‚ั”ฮฑั• fฮฑฮฝฯƒัฮนั‚ั” ั•ฯƒะธgั• fฮนโ„“โ„“ั”โˆ‚ ั‚ะฝั” ะฝฯƒฯ…ั•ั”, ฯ‰ะฝฮนยขะฝ ะฝฮฑโˆ‚ ะฒั”ั”ะธ ั”ะผฯั‚ัƒ ฮฑะธโˆ‚ ั•ฮนโ„“ั”ะธั‚ fฯƒั ั‚ฯƒฯƒ โ„“ฯƒะธgโ€ โ˜†โ˜†โ•ฎ

This story was EVERYTHING and so much more than what I thought we were going to get! Iโ€™ve always loved Magical Realism (Iโ€™m lookinโ€™ at you Anna Marie-McLemore) and know that some readers have a hard time suspending their disbelief with this style of writing, however here is a story that makes it easy for you. Each of her descendants ALSO have a hard time digesting what theyโ€™re seeing but they kinda have to because theyโ€™re being hunted and killed off one by one. Cordova takes you by the hand as you travel to Ecuador with this tale of roots, the ties that bind us, and finding where you belong. I wanted to know so badly what transpired in Orquedias past to make her flee the country she was born in. Other thanย The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern,ย I’m not really a fan of circus themed settings so I was a bit hesitant to learn from early readers that we’d be visiting one in this story. Atmospheric and tantalizing, my eyes couldn’t absorb it all in fast enough and those last 100 pages flew right by!ย This was beautifully written and heartfelt, really no surprise to me when the tears started flowing and the page tabs were growing. This is hands down a 6 star read and going on my favorites list for 2021! โคย 


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ย 

Spoiler Free Review: Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno Garcia

Title: Certain Dark Things

Author: Silvia Moreno Garcia

Pub. Date:ย September 7th 2021

Genre: Paranormal/Horror Noir

Format:ย eGalley

Publisher: Tor

Pages:ย 272 pages

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Originally published in 2016, Certain Dark Things was given a new cover and re-released last month. Thereโ€™s been a recent resurgence of Vampires across all media and I for one was excited to see a story set in a Dystopian Mexico City. We meet Atl who is a descendant of Aztec blood drinkers as sheโ€™s on the run from rival vampires. She meets Domingo, a young garbage collector who has been living in the city streets for years. He is instantly mesmerized by her beauty and willing to let her feed off him to survive. Atl never hides her true nature and makes sure Domingo knows what he’s getting himself into. What she doesn’t count on is actually getting attached to Domingo and developing feelings for him. This world is gritty and violent, the vampires all self preserve by any means necessary while living alongside mortals. This is a short quick read that is very atmospheric and will please readers who enjoy neo-noir. Our main character is on the run all throughout this story with other vampires, criminals and cops on her trail. The body count is high with very little focus on the romance and an emphasis on the chase itself. If you happen to be a fan of animal companions, Atl has a genetically modified dog who is super overprotective of Atl and is described as being large in size with tattoos on the side of its face. All in all giving Atl a bad a** look and swag!

Iโ€™ve honestly enjoyed seeing the growth in writing while reading Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s books, each story speaks to the talent and unwillingness by this author to be boxed into any one specific genre. This story was a 3.5 star read for me which is still a solid rating, it’s just not my favorite of what I’ve read so far. I’ve heard it said that noir fic is known to focus more on the setting and that’s definitely the case here. The plot is very straight forward (more telling/less showing) which I didn’t mind but personally would’ve loved to see a little more world building to compensate. I would’ve gladly read a 400 page book set in this world which already had me invested in its characters. I’ve been making way through all of SMG’s book, Certain Dark Thingsย (being one of her earlier works) has left me in awe of how much growth we get to see in each of the books that follow.ย Iโ€™ve said it before and Iโ€™ll say it again, Silvia Moreno-Garcia is a highly underrated author who will continue to break genre barriers! the one thing I can always count on is that I never know what to expect from this author but it’s guaranteed to be a solid read.ย 


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Spoiler Free Review: The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood

Title: The Love Hypothesis

Author:Ali Hazelwood

Pub. Date:ย September 14th 2021

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Format:ย Physical Book

Publisher: Berkley Books

Pages:ย 384 pages

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Olive is a third year PHD candidate focused on science and not quite sure if sheโ€™s interested in love. In fact sheโ€™s questioning everything about how she views attraction, sex, and romance. Olive’s best friend Anh on the other hand is a romantic at heart and it just so happens that she has amazing chemistry with Jeremy who is Olives ex. She feels terrible for having these feelings and decides to keep them hidden but everyone in their friend circle can see they’re perfect for one another. Olive truly didn’t have any deep emotions for Jeremy but convincing Anh that she’s more than OK with them dating is proving to be challenging. The only way would be if she can show Anh that she’s since moved on into a new relationship. The idea of fake dating someone doesn’t have much time to brew in her mind before she finds herself ambush kissing Professor Adam Carlsen. The professor known to break the hearts of budding scientists leaving them in tears and rethinking their entire career paths. What’s even more surprising is that the forever grumpy Adam surprises her by agreeing to an arrangement that would help them both.
๐Ÿ”ฌ๐Ÿงช๐Ÿ’ž
*โ€ข.ยธโ™ก ฯ‰ะฝฮฑั‚ ฮน โ„“ฯƒฮฝั”โˆ‚ โ™กยธ.โ€ข*
๐ŸงชWomen in STEM
๐Ÿ”ฌQueer and diverse characters
๐ŸงชPositive healthy female friendships
๐Ÿ”ฌAcademic settings
๐ŸงชForced proximity situations that’ll have you blushing alongside our MC
๐Ÿ”ฌFlirting & banter *Chefs Kiss*

I don’t think I ever really considered the Fake Dating Trope to be one that I’d be totally into but it absolutely is now! I lost count of the times I found myself blushing and smiling from second hand embarrassment. We also get the Grumpy/Sunshine Trope which I’ve personally always enjoyed. Does it help that as soon as I heard this story is Kyloren Fanfic inspired, that I immediately envisioned Adam Driver as the lead male interest? ABSOLUTELY! he perfectly fits the description and mannerisms. I’ll admit I wasn’t too keen on the premise of a best friend falling for the other friends ex however, I felt Olive’s feelings on the whole thing were very well explored. She has a moment of introspection that even though it wasn’t spelled out on the page, I understood it to be that Olive may be Asexual. I appreciated reading a character’s POV who experiences love and sexual attraction differently than what we’re used to seeing in books.

I also LOVED how well balanced this read was with regards to the science in an academic setting and the actual romance. There was an emphasis on highlighting the many hurdles women in STEM go up against in a field where their counterparts are predominantly Caucasian males. Olive’s BFF Anh is a Vietnamese PHD Candidate who is very driven to creating more resources for BIPOC women in STEM. These themes were woven in organically which I feel is probably because the author themselves is a Neuroscientist with plenty of time in an academic setting. There’s honestly so much to love here! last but not least…The STEAM factor was so satisfying! It is well deserving of my 6 star rating simply because I am STILL thinking of these characters and the *Chefs Kiss* flirting that took place.ย 


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Spoiler Free Review: Velvet Was the Night by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Title: Velvet Was the Night

Author:ย Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Pub. Date:ย August 17th 2021

Genre: Thriller Mystery/Historical Fiction

Format:ย eGalley

Publisher: Del Rey

Pages:ย 289 pages

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1970โ€™s Mexico City is where we meet our MC Maite, a Secretary with a passion for romance comics and a love for music records crooning lyrics she can get lost in. She doesnโ€™t see much excitement in her life and canโ€™t imagine that changing anytime soon, so she escapes into her comics where she envisions herself as the woman being swept off her feet by a handsome and daring man. This all changes when her neighbor hires her to cat sit and then mysteriously disappears, Maite sees herself thrown into the hunt for Leonora during a very dangerous time in Mexico. Elvis is a criminal who loathes violence and loves Rock โ€™Nโ€™ Roll (Presley is his idol), he was picked up off the streets and trained as part of a Paramilitary group called โ€œThe Hawksโ€ in squashing student protests by brute force. He comes across Maite when his latest job has him looking for Leonora aka the missing woman. Heโ€™s ordered to watch her and begins to fall for the many things they share in common despite her not being his usual type.
๐Ÿ”ฅ๐Ÿ‘„๐Ÿšฌ๐ŸŽถ๐Ÿ”ฅ
As a backdrop in the city, Sylvia Moreno Garcia writes of the very real life Corpus Christi Massacre that took place in 1971. When 10,000 student demonstrators set to the streets to peacefully protest oppression and demand Democracy. This was during the time Mexico was governed by only one party known as the PRI aka the Institutional Revolutionary Party which was viewed as a dictatorship. The โ€œHalconesโ€ or Falcones were a real pay-for-hire group trained by the CIA.
๐Ÿ”ฅ๐Ÿ‘„๐Ÿšฌ๐ŸŽถ๐Ÿ”ฅ

As I make my way through Silvia Moreno Garcia’s backlist, I will start ranking them in hopes of a dedication post for my favorite author. ๐‘ด๐’†๐’™๐’Š๐’„๐’‚๐’ ๐‘ฎ๐’๐’•๐’‰๐’Š๐’„ still reigns in my heart as my favorite SMG, however I really enjoyed this book. Maite will NOT be everyoneโ€™s cup of tea but I personally enjoy unlikeable characters. This book is heavy on the events that took place in Mexico during the 60โ€™s surrounding students & government. If you enjoy having a bit of Historical Fiction weaved throughout or in this case where it’s the back drop, then you’ll probably really enjoy this one. I felt the author nailed it when she described it as having a very Pulp Noir feel, I definitely got those vibes. We have a mystery at the core, political unrest in the background, two MC’s with a deep appreciation of older Rock N’ Roll and career criminals in the mix. Silvia Moreno-Garcia is known for her signature mark of blending multiple genres, Velvet was the Night is a mash up of Mystery Thriller and Historical Fiction. I have come to expect to be pleasantly surprised every time I pick up a SMG book because I know that it won’t have the same feel as any of her other books. It’s become a little thrilling in a sense to see what she has in store within the pages of the next book. If you enjoy music while you read, check out SMG’s Velvet Was the Night Playlist on Spotify!


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Spoiler Free Review: She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan

Title: She Who Became the Sun

Author: Shelley Parker-Chan

Pub. Date: July 20th 2021

Genre: Fantasy/Queer

Format: eGalley

Publisher: TOR Books

Pages: 416 pages

Itโ€™s 1345 and China is under Mongol rule. A famine is killing many, leaving villages with nothing in its wake. To be born male is to be deemed of value and families will sacrifice their daughters in exchange for food and safety from bandits. Weโ€™re introduced to a boy destined for greatness and his sister who is one of the few (if not the only) girls left in her village. A prophecy is issued and the boy is said to be destined for greatness whereas the girl would amount to โ€œnothingness.โ€ When a bandit attack leaves them orphaned, itโ€™s the girl who takes fate/destiny into her own hands. Taking her brotherโ€™s identity, Zhu Chongba begins her journey to greatness. She is 10 years old when she goes to the local monastery with hopes of being allowed entrance as a young novice. She spends several nights at the monasteries gates amongst others who are also trying to gain acceptance, a monastery is said to never go without food. She is beaten and pushed away until eventually she’s the only one left and therefore allowed access. Head shaved and prepubescent, armed with her brother’s identity, Zhu Chongba begins her journey to power. Her ambition and drive will take her to unthinkable heights. For Zhu a life well lived is one of value and accolades, she sees clearly the role that gender plays in politics and uses that insight to rise through the ranks as Zhu Chongba. Driven by purpose, Zhu will stop at nothing to achieve the greatness the prophet once said her brother would attain. 

โ€œMost strong-willed people never understand that will alone isnโ€™t enough to guarantee their survival. They donโ€™t realize that even more so than will, survival depends upon an understanding of people and power.โ€
โ€• Shelley Parker-Chan

I wasn’t expecting to get lost within the power hungry pages of this book but from the moment I picked it up I was transfixed by our main character. In a famine filled world where everyone is fighting to live one more day, our MC has the innate ability to turn the tides in her favor. Zhu is fiercely determined to make her life mean something by any means necessary. With every connection she makes, she strategically advances towards the top. Her biggest enemy is Ouyang, a Eunuch General who has his own agenda and has targeted Zhu as the only one standing in his way. Shelley Parker-Chan gives us a revenge plot along with themes of destiny, gender, power and the ambition to defy that which your gender has predetermined. These characters are ALL morally grey and multi-faceted, often times I found myself rooting for each of their agendas as cut throat as they were. If you love Historical Fiction and/or intricately written political power plays, this can absolutely be your jam! If you enjoy reading characters that have been discarded and despite all odds rise to the top, then this book will more than tick off the box! This book is violent yet engrossing with its animated war scenes and will leave you in awe of our MC. I simply cannot wait for the next book in The Radiant Emperor series.

Content warnings (as provided by the author):
* Dysphoria
* Pre-existing non-consensual castration
* Misgendering
* Internalised homophobia
* Life-altering injury (amputation)
* Ableist language
* Non-graphic depictions of death by torture
* Major character death
* Offscreen murder of a child
* Scenes depicting extreme hunger/starvation
* Graphic depiction of a person burning to death


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Spoiler Free Review: A Curse in Ash by Julie Zantopoulos

Title: A Curse in Ash

Author: Julie Zantopoulos

Pub. Date: October 5th 2021

Genre: Contemporary Fantasy/Romance

Format: eGalley

Publisher: Atmosphere Press

Pages: 392 pages

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Aisling Quinn has created a semi-normal life alongside humans, she’s a half Fae Witch who has learned how to make a living from her witchy abilities. The Veil exists to keep Fae from crossing over however those keeping tabs on her can’t really be stopped by the Veil. Aisling is a consultant to the Supernatural Police Department and a Tarot Reader on the side, she has her friend group cheering her on in life when said life gets turned upside down. When a sexy tattooed Irish stranger comes to town unintentionally activating their bond and her Fae Fiancรฉ refuses to leave her side while she’s under attack….things get hot and interesting! Aisling is the epitome of an independent sexy resourceful bad a** who sets boundaries while also having two men willing to throw down for her! and even accept each others role in her life…mhmmm this gave me major Polyamory vibeZ and I for one was there for it. Aisling knows what both these men need emotionally and cares for them both deeply. How she managed to get them to coexist is still beyond me but it was super enjoyable seeing their interactions play out when fiercely protecting her. 

Riordan is bonded to Aisling which intensifies their connection and the sexual attraction that was already there before their bonding. Riordan never wanted a bond, he has serious opposition to it because of the the role it has played in robbing him of his loved ones. That all changes when the inevitable happens and he begins to live and breathe Aisling. 

“sex between bonded pairs had been the cause of power outages, freak storms, and changing tides. It was powerful magic, and she was curious as hell about it” – On sex with a Ravdi aka the person bonded to a witch

Brynach is the Dark Prince of the Unseelie Court and as Aisling’s betrothed, he must ensure her safety at all costs. Brynach has grown up with Aisling which means there’s history and tenderness there. Although they’ve never kissed and at one point it was thought to be a case of unrequited love, all cards are on the table now and he is out to earn her love before they wed. 

โ€œHe knew her favorite foods, knew her preferences without having to ask. Thatโ€™s what a shared history could do. Again, she was reminded that life would be so much easier if she could love him the way everyone wanted her to. All she had to do was give herself permission to fall. She just had to dive in, no looking back.โ€ – Brynach

This book had me from the minute Riordan rode into town…I figured I was going to lose an afternoon but a whole day?!?! compulsively UNPUTDOWNABLE! These characters suck you in and before you know it, you’re invested in their whole backstory and what it is they deeply desire. When reading Fantasy/Romance, I tend to either really love the female main character or her love interest(s), but never both or in this case all three. I absolutely LOVE Aisling with her potion making skills, Tarot reading side job and loyal supportive BFF ways. She was well fleshed out which makes it hard not to root for her getting BOTH fellas, jussayin! haha! Brynach and Riordan are the both sweet and swag rolled into one and the way they love left me at times nodding my head in approval. Especially Riordan who knows how to self love and therefore is unwilling to do anything that compromises that, truly a dream! The sex scenes were off the meter, I was at times sitting at my desk very aware of this being A+ quality content haha! The world building was *Chefs Kiss*ย on both sides of the veil. I was living my best life Readers. Visually descriptive scenes of Aisling collecting herbs for her potions and the gates to the Unseelie Court opening only once they’ve tasted the blood from your finger prick and identified you, leave you engrossed in this world. This book is beautifully diverse and filled with loving connections.The friendships that make up Aisling’s circle are some of the best I’ve seen on paper. They check on each other and at times check each other if they step out of line, they’re healthy and exactly what we all look for in our friend groups. I’m ready for the next installment and even have a few theories I’d like to see come to fruition ๐Ÿ˜‰ย 

Content Warning: Homophobia, death of a parent/loved one, Panic attacks, mention of drug addiction, fire/burning, Cancer, PTSD, anxiety


A Curse In Ash hits the shelves October 5th 2021! โค โค โค


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Spoiler Free Review: Isn’t It Bromantic? by Lyssa Kay Adams

Title: Isn’t It Bromantic?

Author:ย Lyssa Kay Adams

Pub. Date:ย July 20th 2021

Genre: Contemporary/Sports Romance

Format:ย eGalley

Publisher: Berkley

Pages:ย 350 pages

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Who else has been counting down the months for the release of The Russian’s story arc?!?! I couldn’t wait, I just knew there was more to him than the comedic scenes we saw him in when reading the other Bromance Book Club books. Happy to report that there is Book Lovers! Vlad aka The Russian is perhaps the ultimate hopeless romantic in the club but he’s running out of that hope that has kept him in a marriage of convenience to Russian journalist Elena Konnikova. Vlad is a famous hockey player who has done well for himself in the United States, marrying Elena who was his childhood best friend was something he was happy to do at the time. Life for Elena in the states has been a mix of both good and not necessarily bad but definitely a big adjustment mixed in with a yearning for home. Vlad takes the approach of giving her space to find her way in her new normal which includes at one point going to Chicago in order to pursue her degree in journalism. The time away from each other doesn’t really help either of them come together in their marriage. We see them stumble through interactions while trying to learn each others boundaries. This changes when Vlad suffers a sports injury and Elena sees this as an opportunity to show him gratitude for all that he’s done for her. In the background we also learn that Elena is actively investigating the mysterious disappearance of her father who was also a journalist. She decides to pick up where he left off with his story on a sex trafficking ring but as we’ve seen in the other installments in this series, things get a bit dark and complicated along the way.ย 

Vlad and Elena’s story is not just a marriage of convenience, it’s also friends to lovers and SUPER slow burn. I would say around the 52% mark is when we see our characters really start to make progress in their feelings towards one another. It’s not filled with cute moments or steamy scenes, instead we get their backstory in Russia and the childhood memories that pretty much makes their love story feel destined to be. Elena can be a bit stand offish and is self aware that she’s not as warm as other women she comes across. However, if I had to take a guess at her love language I’d say it’s a combo between acts of service and physical touch. The latter posing an issue since Vlad is SUPER respectful of Elena and would NEVER think to even kiss her for fear of pushing her away. As for acts of service, my girl Elena LOVES to cook and bake all of Vlad’s favorite Russian dishes and just so happens to have learned them from his own mother! I was fully invested in their love story and would go as far as saying that it is the most fleshed out from the other couples in the club simply because they share so much history. The fellas reconvene to help The Russian who is adamant about NOT being their next project but eventually gives in because he still has hope for his own love story. Also, Vlad has a project of his own he’s keeping under wraps (won’t say what cause SPOILERS) but I was both surprised and cheesy smiling when reading about his passion. What I didn’t love? I always find the subplots in these books to be very interesting, having the potential to cover some hard hitting topics. That being said, I always end up feeling like the subplots aren’t quite as developed as the romance. The sex trafficking ring we learn about in this book sucked me right in but it quickly wraps up at the end of the book. I would’ve like to see Elena’s journalistic skills come into play some more. What I loved? the healthy dose of our fellas in action, comedic relief, the continued efforts towards fighting toxic masculinity, supportive male AND female friendships as well as our couple in the kitchen cooking together. I’m NEVER quitting the Bromance Book Club!


Book Lovers I’m usually good at guessing whether we’ll get another book and who the love interest would be…this time I have no clue! Taking any guesses and/or info you may have on Lyssa Kay Adams next book <3’s!


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Spoiler Free Review: The Taking of Jake Livingston by Jake Douglass

39085455Title: The Taking of Jake Livingston

Author:ย Ryan Douglass

Pub. Date:ย July 13th 2021

Genre: YA Horror/Queer

Format:ย eGalley

Publisher: Putnam

Pages:ย 308 pages

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Those that love Horror Noir with atmospheric/creepy vibes may find a new favorite in The Taking Of Jake Livingston, it is intense across the board invoking many emotions all at once. Jake is a black gay Medium who is caught in a life of trauma having to see the death loops of victims that are sort of in limbo. This means his reality bleeds into the spirit world where Ghouls, Demons and Ghosts wander aimlessly. He sees the gruesome ways many have been killed accidentally & those that were not, like the mass school shooting executed by Sawyer Doon. Sawyer, a Caucasian male who was briefly in therapy and mostly at home with a mother who was more ashamed to have a son who struggled with mental health. Sawyer is now haunting Jake and also killing students he wasnโ€™t able to get to before committing suicide at the school. Jake finds himself trying to stop Sawyer while also dealing with racism at his school, bullying, homophobia, and memories of an abusive father who tried to pray away the fact that his son is gay. Told in dual POV, we get to be in Jake and Sawyer’s thoughts all throughout until it’s made clear what it is that Sawyer is after. Haunting and absolutely THE scariest book I’ve read in a long time.ย 

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I could NOT put this book down! I worried constantly for Jake & how living through the horror of death loops alone would affect his own mental health. Then seeing him in a school where heโ€™s the only black student and how the teachers/students interacted with him, was maddening and heart breaking. We get to live in Jake and Sawyer’s minds, the latter felt like the toughest to read from. Sawyer’s thoughts are from beyond the grave, we’re reading excerpts from his journal and it’s made very clear that Sawyer is aware he’s struggling with mental health. He’s having deeply disturbing thoughts of self harm as well as harming others and it felt as if it was only a matter of time before he gave in and acted on these impulses. We see him go in and out of therapy mainly because his mother feels it brings shame to their family. I can’t say I felt sorry for this character however, I do feel his mother failed him and in doing so contributed to the events that took place at the school. Jake’s POV was also tough for different reasons. I felt paranoid at times which made sense since he couldn’t allow himself to fall into a deep sleep for fear of Sawyer’s ghost killing him. It feels like Jake has become numb to it all but it’s still very shocking to read what he’s witnessing. Towards the last quarter, Jake does have a romance take off (LOVED Alistair) and being that he experienced so much trauma just to exist, I really wanted to see more of him coming into his own. I wouldnโ€™t have minded it being a bit longer just to see more of Jake & Alistairโ€™s relationship really have a chance on the page. All in all I was completely engrossed by this story!

Content Warning: CW: Homophobia, Bullying, Child abuse, off the page domestic violence, Racism, attempted rape, violence, school shooting (graphic), abandonment


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