Spoiler Free Review: Remote Control by Nnedi Okorafor

Title: Remote Control

Author:ย Nnedi Okorafor

Pub. Date:ย January 19th 2021

Genre: Science Fiction Fantasy

Format: eGalley

Publisher: Tor.com

Pages: 160 pages

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE | AMAZON

โ€œ๐ผ๐‘› ๐‘†๐‘Ž๐‘›๐‘˜๐‘œ๐‘“๐‘Žโ€™๐‘  ๐‘ฆ๐‘’๐‘Ž๐‘Ÿ๐‘  ๐‘œ๐‘› ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘’ ๐‘Ÿ๐‘œ๐‘Ž๐‘‘, ๐‘ โ„Ž๐‘’โ€™๐‘‘ ๐‘™๐‘’๐‘Ž๐‘Ÿ๐‘›๐‘’๐‘‘ ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘Ž๐‘ก ๐‘๐‘’๐‘œ๐‘๐‘™๐‘’ ๐‘ค๐‘’๐‘Ÿ๐‘’ ๐‘๐‘œ๐‘š๐‘๐‘™๐‘–๐‘๐‘Ž๐‘ก๐‘’๐‘‘. ๐‘‡โ„Ž๐‘’๐‘ฆ ๐‘ค๐‘œ๐‘Ÿ๐‘’ ๐‘š๐‘Ž๐‘ ๐‘˜๐‘  ๐‘Ž๐‘›๐‘‘ ๐‘”๐‘ข๐‘–๐‘ ๐‘’๐‘  ๐‘ก๐‘œ ๐‘๐‘Ÿ๐‘œ๐‘ก๐‘’๐‘๐‘ก ๐‘œ๐‘Ÿ โ„Ž๐‘–๐‘‘๐‘’ ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘’๐‘–๐‘Ÿ ๐‘Ÿ๐‘’๐‘Ž๐‘™ ๐‘ ๐‘’๐‘™๐‘ฃ๐‘’๐‘ . ๐‘‡โ„Ž๐‘’๐‘ฆ ๐‘Ÿ๐‘’๐‘–๐‘›๐‘ฃ๐‘’๐‘›๐‘ก๐‘’๐‘‘ ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘’๐‘š๐‘ ๐‘’๐‘™๐‘ฃ๐‘’๐‘ . ๐‘‡โ„Ž๐‘’๐‘ฆ ๐‘‘๐‘’๐‘ ๐‘ก๐‘Ÿ๐‘œ๐‘ฆ๐‘’๐‘‘ ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘’๐‘š๐‘ ๐‘’๐‘™๐‘ฃ๐‘’๐‘ . ๐‘‡โ„Ž๐‘’๐‘ฆ ๐‘๐‘ข๐‘–๐‘™๐‘ก ๐‘œ๐‘› ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘’๐‘š๐‘ ๐‘’๐‘™๐‘ฃ๐‘’๐‘ .โ€œ

Nnedi Okoraforโ€™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 doesnโ€™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.ย 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 Controlย was my first venture into Afro-Futurism but it won’t be my last! If anything, Okorafor has awakened my interest in this genre.ย I look forward to reading more from this author and in fact have already hauled the Hugo and Nebula Award winner Bintiย trilogy๐Ÿ–ค


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February 2021 Anticipated New Releases

Who thought February was going to be a slow publication month? THIS Gal right here! It took me by surprise when I looked at my Notes app and realized I had 22 titles listed for this month and that’s not including any of the BIG hyped up releases (lookin’ at you SJM) but I wanted to spotlight those many may have not heard about. As always, I scout out as many of the BIPOC books hitting the shelves in hopes you too will be as stoked as I am to read these new stories. Yesterday I actually finished reading one of the books on this list (The Project by Courtney Summers) and your girl is still shooketh! I also just received my copy of Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers in the mail from Book of the Month & will be squeezing it into my February “Possible Reads” If you make it to the end of this post, drop some love in the comment box. What new releases are you MOST excited for? any that aren’t listed here? Curious Bookworm here ๐Ÿ˜‰


YA & SCI-FI

MUSE BY BRITTANY CAVALLARO (2/2) – YA Historical set in 1893 during the World’s Fair, we follow Claire who is the daughter of a famous genius inventor. Her father believes that her touch is what has granted him this gift and plans to use her as St. Cloud prepares for war however, Claire plans to claim her life for herself.

WHAT BIG TEETH BYย  ROSE SZABO (2/2) – YA Horror/Paranormal pitched as perfect for fans ofย Wilder Girls this follows Eleanor who has been estranged from her wild family for some years. When an incident takes place at her boarding school she is forced to return home where she struggles to fit in with her monstrous family.

DARK AND HOLLOW STAR BY ASHLEY SHUTTLEWORTH (2/23) – YA Fantasy pitched asย The Cruel Princeย meetsย City of Bones,ย an Urban Fantasy set in the magical world of Toronto. We follow a queer cast of characters racing to stop a serial killer whose crimes threaten to expose the Faerie world to humans. THAT COVER!!! I’m glad this is one I know for sure will be in one of the book boxes I subscribe toย *books shimmy*

ALL THE TIDES OF FATE (ALL THE STARS AND TEETH #2) BY ADALYN GRACE (2/2) – This is the sequel to All the Stars and Teeth (My Review) which was one of my favorite YA Fantasy books in 2020 & had I been able to come up with 20 faves in 2020, it would’ve certainly made the cut! Mermaids, Pirates, curses and a bad a** female heroin who trying to protect her Queendom. Amora is the unlikeable character I absolutely wanted more of, STOKED to pick this one up!

THE GILDED ONES (DEATHLESS #1) BY NAMINA FORNA (2/9) – West African inspired YA Fantasy, we follow a 16 year old MC who prays her blood will run red on the day of her ceremony. When it runs gold (the color of impurity) she must decide whether to stay in her village & live through the consequences or leave and join the emperors army of girls just like her. Near immortals with rare gifts who are the only ones able to stop the threat to the empire.

YESTERDAY IS HISTORY BY KOSOKO JACKSON (2/2) – I heard time travel featuring a m/m romance and decided that was all I needed to know! we have a MC who receives a liver transplant and before he knows it, is time traveling between present day Boston and 1969 where he meets his love interest. The family of the donor explains that time travel is a gift attached to the liver! Can anyone say ORIGINAL?!?! Hella intrigued!

REAPER OF SOULS (KINGDOM OF SOULS #2) BY RENA BARRON (2/18) – I have a non-spoilery review coming later this week but gahhH! if like me you loved Kingdom of Souls then this is an absolute MUST! it’s beautifully written with even more in depth unraveling of the Gods. This was an emotional rollercoaster with many twists and turns, slow to start but when it takes off there’s no getting off the ride!


YA CONTEMPORARY

LOVE IS A REVOLUTION BY RENร‰E WATSON (2/2) – STOKED! a story where our female plus size black MC finds self love! Yes she does so while sorting out some lies she told her love interest who is an activist but STILL, we do NOT have enough or any self-love stories in YA. I’m READY!

FAT CHANCE, CHARLIE VEGA BY CRYSTAL MALDONADO (2/2) – Keeping on with the self-love reads, this a Latinx coming of age story where we follow a brown skinned fat MC who is done having to fit into the image everyone else has for her. Her BFF is the only one who fully accepts her for who she is but things get complicated when Charlie gets asked out by cutie in class Brian. The problem being that Brian asked Charlie’s BFF out first which now brings forth so many questions.

THE INITIAL INSULT BY MINDY MCGINIS (2/23) – First, let it be known I’ll read anything by Mindy Mcginnis! but to be blessed with a Duology is a real treat and to have it be inspired by Edgar Allen Poe? are we even worthy?!? Set in Ohio this one follows Tress & Felicity whose paths are bound to cross and it all is linked back to the disappearance of Tress Montor’s parents. Told in alternating POV’s this dark thriller sets the stage for an unraveling of a friendship that I’m sure I’ll be left reeling from.

THE PROJECT BY COURTNEY SUMMERS (2/2) – I was very lucky to have received a eGalley of this highly anticipated new book by the author ofย Sadie.ย HAUNTING AF Bookworms! SMH I have a full review coming over the next few days with a massive amount of content warnings. I haven’t read Sadie yet but after reading this book, I will absolutely read anything by Summers. If you’re interested in Cults & their inner workings as well as the emotional toll many people experience while being indoctrinated then this is a solid read. I gave it 5 stars but will save my thoughts for my review ๐Ÿ˜‰

A PHO LOVE STORY BY LOAN LE (2/9) – The minute I saw this cover I thought about Tweet Cute which I adored! and then I read the synopsis & it was a no brainer, I NEED this book in my life! Really just pass along any baking/Foodie books because they offer up so much comfort. Here we have two MC’s who are complete opposites as they both work in their families respective Pho restaurants. “For years, the Mais and the Nguyens have been at odds, having owned competing, neighboring pho restaurants. Bao and Linh, whoโ€™ve avoided each other for most of their lives, both suspect that the feud stems from feelings much deeper than friendly competition.”ย THIS!


CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE & FICTION

IT’S BEEN A PLEASURE, NONI BLAKE (2/23) – “Of all the women and men Noni Blake has pleased in her life, there’s one she’s often overlooked–herself. After the end of a decade-long relationship, Noni decides it’s time for that to change. She’s finally going to prioritize her wants and desires and only do things (and people) that feel good in the moment.” –ย This bit right here had me stop dead in my tracks! Having personally seen myself embark on a similar journey, this is one I had to add to my TBR. A 30 something year old woman who sees herself starting over while traveling around the world. This promises to be hilarious and relatable, sign me up!

FIRST COMES LIKE (MODERN LOVE #3) BY ALISHA RAI – This is here solely because I’ve just started reading The Right Swipe and can already tell I’ll definitely be binge reading this series in 2021. This one promises a Catfishing story between our love interests & I’m a sucker for a good love story over the interwebZ haha! Beauty Influencer meets Bollywood Soap Opera Star…BUT WAIT! he doesn’t know who she is or rather who would use his name to woo her over the net!

MAKE UP BREAK UP BY LILY MENON (2/2) – Second chance romance trope?!?! YES PLEASE! a Las Vegas fling between two dating app developers that ends up turning into a competitive race to win a contest that if won can keep their apps afloat. “Love, romance, second chances, fairy-tale endingsโ€ฆthese are the things Annika Dev believes in. Her app, Make Up, has been called the โ€œGoogle Translate for failing relationships.โ€High efficiency break-ups, flashy start-ups, penthouses, fast carsโ€ฆthese are the things Hudson Craft believes in. His app, Break Up, is known as the โ€œUber for break-ups.โ€

SERENA SINGH FLIPS THE SCRIPT BY SONYA LALLI (2/16) – A story about an independent strong woman who is trying to prove to her family and many aunties that domestic bliss is not needed in order to have a happy life. We follow Serena who works at a firm in DC as she navigates friendships and reconnecting with family & even her ex-boyfriend while also trying to hold onto her own self-reliance.

HONEY GIRL BY MORGAN ROGERS (2/23) – I’m MOST Stoked for this new release and have since adjusted my expectations to understand that this is NOT a Romance. It’s more of a late coming-of age story set in NYC after our MC impulsively marries another girl while on a girls trip to Vegas. I will MOST likely be reading this book this month cause the anticipation is KILLIN me!


ADULT FANTASY & SCI-FI

WINTER’S ORBIT BY EVERINA MAXWELL (2/2) – A SCI-FI Romance featuring A M/M romance between Royals marketed for fans of Red White and Royal Blue. Early reviews have this one described as more of a Romance set against a Sci-Fi back drop which is something to keep in mind if you’re looking at this as more of a Sci-Fi focused book cause that it is not. I just got my copy from Illumicrate & can’t wait to dive in!

THE WITCH’S HEART BY GENEVIEVE GORNICHEC (2/9) – Norse Mythology I HAVE MISSED YOU! this one is pitched for fans of Madeline Miller’s Circe which I’ve shamefully NOT yet read. We follow a Giantess who falls in love with the legendary trickster Loki and conceives three “unusual children” each with a. secret destiny. Since I scored a eGalley for this one I will be powering through this one later this week with a full RTC ๐Ÿ˜‰

FIREHEART TIGER BY ALIETTE DE BODARD (2/9) – A Sapphic Novella (by Tor!)ย pitched as “The Goblin Emperor meets Howlโ€™s Moving Castle” Mhmm! need I say more?!? I’m READY!

THE BLACK COAST (THE GOD-KING CHRONICLES #1)ย  BY MIKE BROOKS (2/18) – A new EPIC Fantasy series that promises War Dragons! This is a story about two different cultures who have to come together to maintain peace. This is a multiple POV Fantasy featuring queer characters and conversation on gender roles and sexuality. This is one I have high on my TBR.

THE ECHO WIFE BY SARAH GAILEY (2/16) – Pitched for fans of Big Little Lies? why, yes! Yes I am said fan *arms extended* Martine is a genetically cloned replica made from Evelyn Caldwellโ€™s award-winning research. Sheโ€™s patient and gentle and obedient. Sheโ€™s everything Evelyn swore sheโ€™d never be. And sheโ€™s having an affair with Evelynโ€™s husband. Now, the cheating bastard is dead, and the Caldwell wives have a mess to clean up. Good thing Evelyn Caldwell is used to getting her hands dirty. ”ย This honestly sounds like it would also make for a dope book to movie adaptation.


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WWW WEDNESDAYS 2/3/2021

WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted byย Sam @ Taking On a World of Wordsย and to participate all you have to do is answer the three Wโ€™s listed below. Once youโ€™ve posted your WWW, drop a link to your post in Samโ€™s comments <3โ€™s!

The questions:
1. What are you currently reading?
2. What did you recently finish reading?
3. What do you think youโ€™ll read next?

Day 3 of a snowy wintry setting in NYC and although I’m working from home, I’m still feeling that cold air in my apartment. Cozy socks & coffee are on, my window blinds are open while I watch the neighborhood help each other dig their cars out of the snow. I also have an ongoing list of “Possible Reads” cause who am I kidding with TBR’s at this point? absolutely no one smh. February is Black History Month however if you’ve been following my blog and/or my Bookstagramย for some time now, then you know I read books by BIPOC authors all year long (as one should)ย and promote their works. I didn’t join any of the Readathons this year since reading has been touch & go for me while I juggle life and physical fitness but my intention is to amp up my reading this month. In case you’re interested in any of these Readathons (run by some of the MOST down to earth people!) I’ll bless ya with the links here:

Black Author Readathon (Check out Steps Romance Book Talk announcement Video)

Blackathon (Check out Jesse @BowtiesandBooks announcement video)

Black buck by mateo askaripour

I’m 30% into this audiobook from Libro.fm and I’ve already had some “the audacity” moments! this is a satirical take on one young black mans shot to stardom when he gets offered a “once in a lifetime” opportunity while working as a Manager at Starbucks. Darren is 22 years old and unambitious, the former Valedictorian of his class at Bronx Science. His mother who he lives with in their family owned Brownstone in Bedstuy wants nothing more than to see him live up to his potential. Rhett Daniels the CEO ofย Sumwun, NYCโ€™s hottest tech startup sees that potential and is intent on getting Darren on his team. Darren joins and from day 1 is met with some quite infuriating white leadership who dish out every single stereotype there is about black people. I’ve lost track of how many times Darren has been asked whether he’s been told by anyone that he looks like MLK or Sidney Poitier. Darren’s inner monologue has me smiling at times and other times laughing, fast paced and thought provoking this book explores race and ambition through a different lens.

the project by courtney summers

I actually had started my eGalley before getting swept up in Black Buck so it’s on a slight pause for now. I’m sure when I do pick it back up I will breeze right through it since it’s based on cults and YA Thriller/Suspense novels tend to be inhale reads for me. I’ve never read anything by Courtney Summers but I do own the Sadie audiobook I shamefully have procrastinated on starting SMH! Hopefully it’s as good as many of my bookish friends are anticipating it to be *fingers crossed*

winter counts by david heska wanbli weiden

Also a audiobook from Libro.fm that is fantastically narrated! I finished listening to this one on Sunday morning and immediately 5 starred it on Goodreads & Story Graph. Set on an Indian Reservation in South Dakota, we follow Virgil Wounded Horse a biracial Lakota local enforcer who is hired to take care of criminals when the tribal council & American legal system look the other way. Things hit close to home when his 14 year old nephew gets swept up in the middle of cartel drug wars. Virgil must find a way to get him out and get rid of these bad guys who are selling heroine & hard pills to the youth on the reservation. This was a DARK challenging read at times that is mostly character driven. I have a full review coming here on the blog next week but also have a post up on Bookstagram.

Continuing on with my list of “Possible Reads”ย pretty much makes any of these three a contender for my next read. However, I will definitely be starting The First Sister by Linden A. Lewis next week since it is a buddy read with Melanie over @Meltotheanyย that I’m really looking forward to. Chances are this may change mid week since I have a couple of library holds that are looking mighty close to coming through…I’m looking at you The Right Swipe & Ring Shout cause y’all are about to throw a wrench in my reading plans haha!


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Spoiler Free Review: Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas

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

Author:ย Angie Thomas

Pub. Date:ย January 12th 2021

Genre:ย Young Adult Contemporary

Format: Audiobook

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Pages:ย 360 pages

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE | AMAZON | LIBRO.FM (MY REFERRAL LINK)

In 2017 Angie Thomas introduced us to Maverick Carter in The Hate U Giveย as the father of Star, Seven & Sekani Carter. Inย Concrete Roseย 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:ย J. Elle

Pub. Date:ย January 26th 2021

Genre:ย Young Adult Fantasy

Format:ย eGalley

Publisher: Simon Schuster Books

Pages:ย 368 pages

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE | AMAZON

๐Ÿ–คeGalley provided by Publisher in exchange for an honest review, all quotes come from an advance copy and may not match the final release๐Ÿ–คโ€œ๐ผ๐‘กโ€™๐‘  ๐‘›๐‘œ๐‘ก ๐‘—๐‘ข๐‘ ๐‘ก ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘’ ๐‘๐‘ข๐‘ง๐‘ง๐‘–๐‘›๐‘” ๐‘š๐‘Ž๐‘”๐‘–๐‘๐‘Ž๐‘™ ๐‘’๐‘›๐‘’๐‘Ÿ๐‘”๐‘ฆ ๐‘๐‘ข๐‘š๐‘๐‘–๐‘›๐‘” ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘Ÿ๐‘œ๐‘ข๐‘”โ„Ž ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘–๐‘  ๐‘๐‘™๐‘Ž๐‘๐‘’ ๐‘™๐‘–๐‘˜๐‘’ ๐‘’๐‘™๐‘’๐‘๐‘ก๐‘Ÿ๐‘–๐‘๐‘–๐‘ก๐‘ฆ. ๐ผ๐‘กโ€™๐‘  ๐‘›๐‘œ๐‘ก ๐‘—๐‘ข๐‘ ๐‘ก ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘Ž๐‘ก ๐‘›๐‘œ ๐‘œ๐‘›๐‘’ โ„Ž๐‘’๐‘Ÿ๐‘’ ๐‘™๐‘œ๐‘œ๐‘˜๐‘  ๐‘™๐‘–๐‘˜๐‘’ ๐‘š๐‘’ – ๐‘๐‘ข๐‘ก โ„Ž๐‘–๐‘š. ๐ผ๐‘กโ€™๐‘  ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘Ž๐‘ก ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘–๐‘  ๐‘–๐‘  ๐‘›๐‘œ๐‘ก ๐‘š๐‘ฆ โ„Ž๐‘œ๐‘š๐‘’. ๐‘‡โ„Ž๐‘’๐‘ ๐‘’ ๐‘Ž๐‘–๐‘›๐‘ก ๐‘š๐‘ฆ ๐‘๐‘’๐‘œ๐‘๐‘™๐‘’.โ€

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 motherโ€™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 sheโ€™s known, Rue must adapt in Ghizon. She has a whole lot of bottled up emotions and sheโ€™s done holding back. On the one year anniversary of her motherโ€™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. โ€œIt takes a village to raise a childโ€ is a quote that comes to mind when reading Wings of Ebony and Rue loves her village. Sheโ€™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, sheโ€™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 Giveย and Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone,ย 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 ย 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!ย 


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December 2020 Wrap-Up & Birthday Book Haul

It may be January but your girl is still sorta…kinda…celebrating my birthday! It took many years for me to love celebrating this day (December 31st) but life should be celebrated & I’m very blessed with an awesome little family and friends. December was an odd month, I felt like I was watching everyone try and reach their Goodreads goals while I accepted quietly (of course smh) that it just wasn’t going to happen. I don’t have a post going up with 2020 stats cause honestly that year is dead and gone and I have no desire to go dig it back up. However, I’m happy with the 67 books I read because of the grade A quality stories I discovered (Top 10 of 2020) and the new authors I fell in love with (I’m looking at you Silvia Moreno-Garcia & Fredrik Backman.)ย In the month of December I read 6 books, some of which ended up being my top faves of 2020! Now, onto some non-bookish December happenings…

I very bravely decided to made my very first Pavochon which is a Puerto-Rican style cooked Turkey!!! It was very important for me to make everything from scratch like my dad used to do and I have ZERO regrets on the turnout even if…it was a 3 day process (flashbacks oh no!) but it was also very therapeutic and FUN!!! my loved ones who are some of the TOUGHEST food critics were floored and that honestly made my birthday week. I’ve fallen in love with cooking these past 2 years and can’t wait to try out new recipes in the new year.

Promise to keep these brief since I have reviews for most of the books I read…

SUCH A FUN AGE BY KILEY REID – (Review) โœจ5ย STARSโœจย A more timely book I could NOT have read in 2020, we follow a black young woman who is accused of kidnapping while baby-sitting for a white family in a. predominantly white neighborhood. I listened to the audiobook which had a awesome narrator! this was a rollercoaster ride for me, feeling everything from anger to hopelessness. Although this does cover some very heavy themes of racism, the author managed to weave in some humor and truly captured what it feels like to be a twenty something year old trying to figure out what to do with your life.

BLAZEWRATH GAMES BY AMPARO ORTIZ – (Review) โœจ3.5ย STARSโœจย This was a fast paced YA Fantasy featuring a Puerto-Rican MC who is feeling displaced from the island after her parents go through a separation. There are dragons and a sort of magical olympics where the dragons and their riders compete. There’s also a villain who was formerly a dragon and is on the brink of starting a rebellion for his own gain. I enjoyed the Puerto-Rican rep I just wished there was more character development done on our MC Lana.

MERRY INKMAS BY TALIA HIBBERTโœจ4 STARSโœจI was looking for some romance/smutty reads around mid-month after reading Fantasy & this novella hit the spot. Yes we can probably all agree that we’re tired of seeing the body boy/dark past trope however, I hadn’t read it in quite some time so it felt new! haha! Here we have Cash Evans who very much love at first sight, falls for Bailey a curvy black woman who he hires to work at his tattoo parlor. Cash invites Bailey over to his family’s home for the holidays and their romance pretty much takes off. Steamy in all the right ways!

FOREVER WILD (THE SIMPLE WILD #2.5) BY K.A. TUCKER – โœจ5ย STARSโœจย I almost feel like this should’ve been a part of Wild at Heart which would’ve then made that a 6 star read. K.A. Tucker novellas really pack in a ton and this was no exception. My fave characters did Christmas and the in-laws in Alaska…PERFECTION! more Calla & Jonah is always a good thing but this time we get backstory on Roy! yea I know, our fave curmudgeon has a past & here we get to see more of him and his happy ending *smiles*

ANXIOUS PEOPLE BY FREDRIK BACKMAN -(REVIEW) โœจ5ย STARSโœจย Simply BEAUTIFUL! I adored this cast of characters & seeing them offer each other sage advice while they remain hostages in a botched bank robbery. The less you know, the better with this book! just bring a box of Kleenex ๐Ÿ˜‰

THE INVISIBLE LIFE OF ADDIE LARUE – (REVIEW) โœจ5ย STARSโœจย FINALLY! a V.E. Schwab book I ADORED start to finish. This book was heartbreaking and yet (hate to use this word again but…) BEAUTIFUL! I lost count of the times I teared up seeing Addie grow hopeful at the possibility of finding love and having that person remember her. Addie has made a deal with good ol’ Lucifer, in exchange for a somewhat immortal life she will surrender her soul when she tires of living. Of course, a deal with Luc doesn’t come without stipulations. Gahhhh! I LOVE THIS BOOK SO MUCH!


 

Blessed with SUPER AMAZING thoughtful friends! these are the books I received for my birthday and Christmas from Taylor @NerdNarration & Lourdes @Chaptersweloveย *heart eyes*ย safe to say I’m set for some good reads for the next couple of months *shimmy shimmy*ย 


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January 2021 Anticipated New Releases

Hello Bookworms! I decided to try something new (to me) here on the blog since I always have a running list going on my phone of anticipated new releases. It helps me be more aware of what’s coming out in the publishing world even though I don’t particularly like or stick to TBR’s. I debated this past weekend on whether this post should be quarterly or monthly and with the help of a friend decided monthly would be best. The reason being that I read across many different genres and a quarterly list would look Nanas & would probably end up missing a few titles that slip through the cracks. I’m a little late this month since I was unsure on the format but in the future these posts will go up the last week of the month in anticipation of the following months titles. January is typically a slow month in books seeing as we’re gearing up to be overwhelmed with ALL the books come February and I do mean ALL the books haha! So without further ado…


YA & MIDDLE GRADE

LORE BY ALEXANDRA BRACKEN (1/5/2021)-Putting aside the fact that this cover is STUNNING & will make anyone do a double take…this book features Athena the Goddess of wisdom, war and crafts aka my favorite of them all! as punishment for a past rebellion, nine greek Gods are forced to walk the mortal earth while being hunted by ancient bloodlines. Our MC has turned their back on said world until a wounded Athena crosses her path. This one is coming in one of my book boxes & will MOST def be a book I read in February.

ANGEL OF GREENWOOD BY RANDI PINK (1/12/2021)- Historical YA inspired by the Greenwood Massacre of 1921 in Tulsa aka Black Wall Street. We follow two teens with  opposing views on how black people should handle conflict & racism. Isaiah is a follower of WEB Du Bois & believes black people should rise up and claim their place as equals. Angel is a follower of Book T Washington and believes black people should take a slow peaceful approach w/out forced conflict. Things change when a white mob storms their community destroying the town and leaving its residents displaced.

CONCRETE ROSE (THE HATE U GIVE #0) BY ANGIE THOMAS (1/12/2021)- The prequel to the The U Give, here we get the story of Maverick Carter (Starr Carter’s Dad) and how he came to be a young father.  For Mav, life hasn’t been easy but he tries to juggle school and becoming a young dad while also making money on the streets as apart of a gang. Son of a former gang legend, Mav is left to care for his family while his mother works two jobs and his dad is in prison. He’s offered a chance to leave street life behind and go straight but it proves to be much easier said than done. This is Mavericks story of becoming the man we later see in The Hate U Give. STOKED! black men as a whole are under represented in books, Mav is a fictional father I absolutely loved when I first met him on the page!

BE DAZZLED BY RYAN LA SALA (1/5/2021)- After reading and really enjoying Reverie by this author, I knew to keep an eye out for future works. Dubbed as Project Runway goes to Comic con! this a queer m/m YA Contemporary with a MC who loves creating, bedazzling, sewing, stitching, pattern making etc. when he enters a Cosplay competition in hopes of winning a sponsorship. The problem is that his ex boyfriend has also entered the competition and unresolved feelings still linger when they’re partnered to work together! SIGN ME UP!

WINGS OF EBONY BY J. ELLE (1/26/2021)-A debut fantasy about a black teen from Houston Texas who witnesses the murder of her mother on her doorstep. She’s then separated from her sister by her father and whisked away to an island of magic wielders, Rue is half God/half human. On the anniversary of her mom’s death she wants only to return to Houston and see her sister. When she does, she finds that Evil has taken a hold of the black kids in her community and forced them into crime and violence. Rue must tap into her ancestral magic to try and save her neighborhood before the Gods burn it to the ground.

ROMAN + JEWEL BY DANA L. DAVIS (1/5/2021)-What if Romeo & Juliet got the Hamilton treatment? Yea that’s about all I needed to read to know I want to to read this tbh. Our MC Jerzie wants so badly to land the lead role in what is Broadway’s hottest new show featuring a diverse cast of characters and “modern twists” on the play. She ends up however, being cast as the understudy and also falling for the male lead. The problem is, the mega star who has been cast as the star lead has also set her eyes on him. DRAMA! haha!

AMARI AND THE NIGHT BROTHERS BY B.B. ALSTON (1/19/2021)- Quinton Peters who is living in low-income housing has received two full scholarship offers to Ivy League schools when he mysteriously goes missing. His 13 year old sister Amari wonders why it’s not made a bigger deal. When she discovers a suitcase in Quinton’s closet with an invitation for her to go to a summer tryout at the secretive Bureau of Supernatural Affairs she decides to answer. In search of answers on Quinton’s disappearance, Amari discovers a world of mermaids, dwarves, yetis, magicians and a weredragon as a roommate. Mari must compete against some of the nation’s wealthiest kids who’ve known about the supernatural world all their lives. This just sounds like it’s going to a be a fun time!


SCI-FI & FANTASY

REMOTE CONTROL BY NNEDI OKORAFOR (1/19/2021) –“Sheโ€™s the adopted daughter of the Angel of Death. Beware of her. Mind her. Death guards her like one of its own.” An African Futurism Novella that features a MC named Fatima who has a fox companion she walks alone searching for answers on the object that fell from the sky changing her forever. STOKED to have a eGalley I’ll be reading tonight!

PERSEPHONE STATION BY STINA LEICHT (1/5/2021)-Dubbed as being for fans of The Mandalorian and Cowboy Bebop will pretty much get anyones attention! a Queer Sci-Fi space opera that takes place in a backwater planet called Persephone station where a bartender named Rosie serves two types of people: Those of the criminal class and those who seek to employ them. When Angel an ex marine and head of a semi-organized crew of criminal bent on doing the honorable thing gets hired by Rosie, she sees herself up against an army. The Serrao-Orlov Corporation is a corporation set on exploiting Persephone Station until met with Angel & crew. THAT COVER & PREMISE!!! โค


fiction & romance

THE PROPHETS BY ROBERT JONES JR. (1/5/2021)- “A singular and stunning debut novel about the forbidden union between two enslaved young men on a Deep South plantation, the refuge they find in each other, and a betrayal that threatens their existence.” I received an ALC copy from Libro.fm that I’m pretty stoked to get to just from listening to the sample audio.

THE EX TALK BY RACHEL LYNN SOLOMON (1/26/2021)- hate to love romance? seems so. Shay, a producer for her Seattle public radio realizes things have gotten pretty stale on the air and the show needs a new concept.  Her newest colleague Dominic who has just attained a masters program in journalism thinks he knows all there is to know about radio. The idea is born to have exes come on the show and deliver relationship advice. Their boss decides they’re PERFECT to host the show since they already despise each other. This sounds innnnneresting haha!


What are some of the january titles you’re most looking forward to hitting the shelves? drop a comment down below & as always, happy reading <3’s!


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Spoiler Free Review: Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

Title: Such a Fun Age

Author:ย Kiley Reid

Pub. Date:ย December 31st 2019

Genre:ย Realistic Fiction

Format:ย Audiobook

Publisher:ย G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Pages:ย 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.

โ€œI don’t need you to be mad that it happened. I need you to be mad that it just like… happens.โ€ – 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 andย 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. ย 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. ย 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:ย September 8th 2020

Genre:ย Contemporary Fiction

Format: Audiobook

Publisher:ย Atria Books

Pages:ย 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.ย This is the type of book you should go into blindly & allow yourself to get wrapped up in. I guarantee that in no time youโ€™ll be deeply invested in each of these characters stories. Backman is an author Iโ€™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 soonย ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿฝ


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Spoiler Free Review: Blazewrath Games by Amparo Ortiz

Title: Blazewrath Games (Blazewrath Games #1)

Author:ย Amparo Ortiz

Pub. Date:ย October 6th 2020

Genre: YA Fantasy/Latinx

Format:ย eGalley

Publisher: Page Street Kids

Pages:ย 368 pages

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE | AMAZONย 

๐Ÿ–คeGalley provided by Publisher in exchange for an honest review๐Ÿ–ค

โ€œ๐‘‡โ„Ž๐‘’ ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘–๐‘›๐‘” ๐‘Ž๐‘๐‘œ๐‘ข๐‘ก ๐‘๐‘’๐‘œ๐‘๐‘™๐‘’ ๐‘–๐‘  ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘’๐‘ฆ ๐‘ก๐‘’๐‘›๐‘‘ ๐‘ก๐‘œ ๐‘™๐‘œ๐‘ฃ๐‘’ ๐‘ข๐‘  ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘’๐‘–๐‘Ÿ ๐‘ค๐‘Ž๐‘ฆ, ๐‘›๐‘œ๐‘ก ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘’ ๐‘ค๐‘Ž๐‘ฆ ๐‘ค๐‘’โ€™๐‘‘ ๐‘ค๐‘Ž๐‘›๐‘ก ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘’๐‘š ๐‘ก๐‘œ ๐‘™๐‘œ๐‘ฃ๐‘’ ๐‘ข๐‘ . ๐‘Š๐‘’ ๐‘๐‘Ž๐‘› ๐‘ก๐‘’๐‘™๐‘™ ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘’๐‘š ๐‘™๐‘œ๐‘Ž๐‘‘๐‘  ๐‘œ๐‘“ ๐‘ก๐‘–๐‘š๐‘’๐‘ . ๐‘Š๐‘’ ๐‘๐‘Ž๐‘› ๐‘‘๐‘Ÿ๐‘Ž๐‘ค ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘’๐‘š ๐‘Ž ๐‘๐‘™๐‘œ๐‘œ๐‘‘๐‘ฆ ๐‘š๐‘Ž๐‘. ๐‘†๐‘œ๐‘š๐‘’๐‘ก๐‘–๐‘š๐‘’๐‘  ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘’๐‘–๐‘Ÿ ๐‘ค๐‘Ž๐‘ฆ ๐‘–๐‘  ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘’ ๐‘œ๐‘›๐‘™๐‘ฆ ๐‘ค๐‘Ž๐‘ฆ ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘Ž๐‘ก ๐‘š๐‘Ž๐‘˜๐‘’๐‘  ๐‘ ๐‘’๐‘›๐‘ ๐‘’ ๐‘ก๐‘œ ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘’๐‘š. ๐‘‚๐‘ข๐‘Ÿ ๐‘ฃ๐‘œ๐‘–๐‘๐‘’๐‘  ๐‘Ž๐‘Ÿ๐‘’ ๐‘—๐‘ข๐‘ ๐‘ก ๐‘คโ„Ž๐‘–๐‘ก๐‘’ ๐‘›๐‘œ๐‘–๐‘ ๐‘’”

Blazewrath Games is described as โ€œHow to Train Your Dragonsโ€ meets โ€œQuidditch through the Agesโ€ and Iโ€™d say thatโ€™s about right with the exception that this book actually brings forth a ton of representation. It is the first Young Adult Fantasy Iโ€™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 sheโ€™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 youโ€™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 inย Bloodbath Ring (Blazewrath Games #2)ย which doesn’t have a release date yet but I’ve already added to my TBR.


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