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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Review: I’m So Not Over You by Kosoko Jackson

Title: I’m So Not Over You

Author:Kosoko Jackson

Pub. Date: February 22nd 2022

Genre: Contemporary Romance/LGBTQIA+

Format: eARC

Publisher: Berkley Romance 

Pages: 368

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

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

Rating: 36/5.1 =  ☆☆ 3 Stars☆☆╮

Rating system created by The Book Roast 

What would you do if your ex sent you an urgent text to meet him at a café post break up? Kian Andrews has had many thoughts and emotions since last seeing his ex Hudson Rivers. Could he possibly be having second thoughts about their break-up? or an apology? What he wasn’t expecting was for Hudson to ask a huge favor, to fake date him for the sake of getting his wealthy parents off his back. Hudson hasn’t given into his family’s wishes of joining their business, instead he’s chosen to carve his own career path. His relationship with Kian was something his parents not only accepted but praised him for. 𝗜’𝗺 𝗦𝗼 𝗡𝗼𝘁 𝗢𝘃𝗲𝗿 𝗬𝗼𝘂 is a queer second chance romance paired with some fake dating that is set between New York City and Georgia. Our MC’s are from very different socioeconomic backgrounds and are night and day in personalities making a strong case for opposites attract. We follow this couple as they revisit old wounds and decide whether or no their relationship deserves another go around.

This is one romance I wish had been more fleshed out since it featured the second chance trope. I really wanted to know why Kian and Hudson broke up in the first place…was it differences in socioeconomic class? Kian’s constant commentary on these differences? or was it something entirely different? I still feel the reason was needed before plunging into the fake dating negotiations that took place. 𝗪𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗜 𝗟𝗼𝘃𝗲𝗱? I enjoyed Kian’s sarcasm and dry humor when met with Hudson’s southern charm, their on the page chemistry that made for *chefs kiss* steamy scenes, a supportive friend group, the presence of strong sibling bonds, and female side characters who are driven and fiercely independent. There was enough witty banter and intriguing side characters in this book to guarantee I pick up whatever Kosoko Jackson writes next 🖤


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February 2022 Anticipated New Releases

What a curious month it has turned out to be with book releases. I had been hearing that it would be a slow month with not much to really get excited for but that doesn’t seem to be the case at all. I started digging months ago but my list kept growing and yet there are still many titles out there, too many to list in this post. These are just the titles that caught my attention, some of which I was lucky to have been granted access to a eGalley copy of for review. Which titles are you excited for? If there are any you’re looking forward to that are not listed here, drop those titles down below no matter the genre <3’s!

A River Enchanted by Rebecca Ross 2/15/22

House of Earth and Blood meets The Witch’s Heart in Rebecca Ross’s brilliant first adult fantasy, set on the magical isle of Cadence where two childhood enemies must team up to discover why girls are going missing from their clan – Goodreads This one is said to be a Scottish Fantasy that will mark the authors debut in the adult fantasy genre. If I had a list of books I’m predicting will be 5 or 6 star reads, this would make the cut since it checks off so many of my boxes. 

House of Sky and Breath (Crescent City #2) by SJ Maas 2/15/22

I’m but one of many many book lovers that are eagerly counting down the days until the release of this book. I cannot wait to be back with Bryce, Hunt and other cast favorites. I can’t go into details since this is a sequel but here’s my review for House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City #2)

Scorpica (The Five Queendoms #1) by Greer Macallister 2/22/22

What first caught my interest for the book? I heard it described as the “Female Game of Thrones” 😵 and that is all I needed to hear Book Lovers! haha! 500 years of peace shatters between five queendoms in this matriarchal society when girls inexplicably just stop being born. “Uniting the stories of women from across the queendoms, this propulsive, gripping epic fantasy follows a warrior queen who must rise from childbirth bed to fight for her life and her throne, a healer in hiding desperate to protect the secret of her daughter’s explosive power, a queen whose desperation to retain control leads her to risk using the darkest magic, a near-immortal sorcerer demigod powerful enough to remake the world for her own ends—and the generation of lastborn girls, the ones born just before the Drought, who must bear the hopes and traditions of their nations if the queendoms are to survive.”

The Justice of Kings (Empire of The Wolf #1) by Richard Swan 2/22/22

The Justice of Kings, the first in a new epic fantasy trilogy, follows the tale of Sir Konrad Vonvalt, an Emperor’s Justice – a detective, judge and executioner all in one. As he unravels a web of secrets and lies, Vonvalt discovers a plot that might destroy his order once and for all – and bring down the entire Empire – Goodreads

This book has already received positive feedback from some of the top fantasy reviewers across all bookish platforms. The fact that the MC is the MOST hated character and therefore great at his job as executioner, intrigues me smh. I may just pick this one up this weekend while on the road.

Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson 2/2/22

I just found out there was a signed copy with sprayed edges of this book and a part of me is sobbing over this missed opportunity. Black Cake was a January Book Of The Month pick, based on a traditional black cake, a voice recording and a story left behind by Eleanor Bennett for her two children. From the Caribbean to London and Cali, we follow this story and family lineage uncovering secrets and betrayals the matriarch of this family left behind. I’m looking forward to reading Black Cake over the next couple of weeks.

Finlay Donovan Knocks ‘Em Dead by Elle Cosimano 2/1/22

The sequel to Finlay Donovan is Killing It (my review) is already rumored to be twice as funny as the first book in this series and I’m honestly hoping that it is. I haven’t decided yet whether I’ll be reading it physically or via audiobook but after the cliffhanger ending in the first book, I’m curious enough to continue reading. Finlay’s night time job as a hitwoman may just prove to be lucrative haha!

Circus of Wonders by Elizabeth Macneal2/2/22

Set in 1860’s England we follow a circus of wonders that has begun to recruit “human wonders” like our MC Nell who is known as “Leopard Girl” because of the birthmarks covering her body. Soon Nell’s fame begins to eclipse that of the ring master Jasper Jupiter with Nell knowing her worth and willing to fight for it. Other than Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, I haven’t read a circus story I love but that doesn’t stop me from trying. Also, the cover is beautiful and 1800’s England as a backdrop does sound appealing.

Homicide and Halo-Halo by Mia P. Manansala 2/8/22

The second installment in the new cozy mystery series Tita Rosie’s Kitchen Mystery follows Lila Macapagal in the little town of Shady Palms. The Miss Teen Shady Palms Beauty Pageant has come back around and it’s a topic of contention for Lila (previously won) and her cousin Bernadette. When one of the judges gets murdered and Bernadette is the primary suspect, Lila has to set aside their differences to help her clear her name.

The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley 2/22/22

I’ve seen this thriller make its rounds on all platforms, Lucy Foley seems to be a favorite in the genre. This one centers around Jess who is looking to escape her past and decides to flee to Paris for a fresh start. Her brother Ben has agreed to let her stay with him but when she arrives, he’s nowhere to be found and the neighbors are all an eclectic bunch with lots to hide.

The socialite – The nice guy – The alcoholic – The girl on the verge – The concierge

Everyone’s a neighbor. Everyone’s a suspect. And everyone knows something they’re not telling. 

One Night On the Island by Josie Silver 2/15/2022

One can never have enough forced proximity trope romances especially when they’re set on a remote Irish island. We have two loners who love their solitude, escaping for some R&R when they’re informed they’ve been double booked for the same one-room cabin. They can’t really stand each other but while they wait for the weekly ferry to come back around, they start not to mine one another’s company. I’ll read anything and everything set in Ireland! ❤ 

Not the Witch You Wed by April Asher 2/8/22

A fake relationship between a magic-less witch and a wolf shifter turns to more in the start of a bewitching new paranormal rom-com series- Goodreads 

Say less! 😂 I haven’t read a shifter romance in so long but this one sounds so good! It has the fake dating + second chance romance trope which sounds like a good time. 

Lease On Love by Falon Ballard 2/1/22

Pitched as Beach Read meets The Flat Share, and also set in Brooklyn (my home sweet home) we follow Sadie who is a bit down on her luck. After getting passed up for an overdue promotion and in desperate need of a new place to live, she goes out for some drinks. After a few, she makes the mistake of mixing her roommate finding app with her dating app which leads her to Jack’s doorstep. Jack who has just lost his parents and is grieving but open to the idea of renting Sadie a room. They are the COMPLETE polar opposites but somehow it just works.

Ramón and Julieta by Alana Quintana Albertson 2/1/22

When fate and tacos bring Ramón and Julieta together on the Day of the Dead, the star-crossed pair must make a choice: accept the bitter food rivalry that drives them apart or surrender to a love that consumes them—perfect for fans of Jane the Virgin!- Goodreads

Literally checks off all my boxes for a romance and it’s Latinx! I was actually approved for an eGalley on Netgalley on release day & so I dropped everything I was in the middle of and jumped right into this one. 15% in so far & LOVING it! If you’ve watched the Netflix show Gentefied and are sad about it getting cancelled (like myself), pick this book up 😉

I’m So (Not) Over You by Kosoko Jackson 2/22/22

This is a second chance LGBTQIA+ romance with a bit of fake dating where we follow aspiring journalist Kian Andrews who hasn’t spoken to his ex Hudson in a few months. HE receives a text to meet up at a cafe where he has a favor to ask, that Kian agree to fake date him while his family is in town in exchange for the chance to meet some pretty well known figures in media. This then snowballs into Kian getting invited to Hudson’s sisters wedding as a plus one and that just means more time spent together…sounds like a rekindling Book lovers! I was granted a eGalley and will be reviewing here on the blog 🙂

Delilah Green Doesn’t Care by Ashley Herring Blake 2/22/22

Quite possibly my favorite romance of the year! I was very lucky to have received an eGalley and already have a review scheduled to go live closer to the release date, EXCITED to get my hands on a physical copy. This is a F/F queer romance set mostly in a small town with one of our MC’s traveling to/from New York City. Delilah and Claire have known each other since childhood but never really became close friends, Delilah lost her mom at a young age and moved with her dad to Bright Falls when he remarried. Claire was part of her step sister Astrid’s friend circle which made her keep her distance. Fast forward to the present and they’re all grown up & unrecognizable. Delilah doesn’t want to revisit the town she turned her back on but when Astrid asks for a favor, she gives in. Sexy, fun, atmospheric (small town is charming) and funny! 

 

Ophelia After All by Raquel Marie 2/8/22

In this corner of the interwebz we love Cuban food and Ophelia being a romantic with tons of crushes, a love for rose gardening AND Cuban food was sure to get my attention. Ophelia’s friends and family are used to the many crushes she experiences but when she starts having feelings for Talia Sanchez and thinking less & less of her ex-boyfriend, she has to start discovering who she really is. A queer exploration of character story I just know I’m going to enjoy!

No Filter and Other Lies by Crystal Maldonado 2/8/22

First! can we just take a moment to love on this cover?!?! It’s beautiful 💜 When I read the synopsis, my mouth literally hung open cause I would be mortified if I had gotten myself in a sticky mess like Kat our MC does. Kat has created a persona online known as Max Monroeroe where she shares glam photos, doles out advice and networks with famous influencers. In her real life she’s dealing with unrequited love from her BFF Harri, a bad school year and terrible house parties. When one of her photos goes viral and the person from whom she was stealing photos finds out, her world comes crashing down and she has to figure out how to get out from this web of lies.

The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea by Axie Oh 2/22/22

Axie Oh’s The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea is an enthralling feminist retelling of the classic Korean folktale “The Tale of Shim Cheong,” perfect for fans of Wintersong, Uprooted, and Miyazaki’s Spirited Away – Goodreads

Ok so to sum this one up as best I can, we have a Sea God who is said to be angry with the people and therefore inflicting them with deadly storms. Each year a young bride is chosen and cast into the sea in hopes he will choose one as his bride and end all of the misery. Our MC has a brother who is set to marry his love, but the girl is chosen to be sacrificed and he does what is forbidden. He walks into the water to interfere which would get him a death sentence. Our MC jumps in to save her brother and gets swept into the Spirit Realm under the sea where with the help of a motley crew of demons, Gods and spirits she will attempt to awaken the Sea God. Sounds HELLA atmospheric 🤗

Extasia by Claire Legrand 2/22/22

It’s been years since I’ve read a Claire Legrand book and since I LOVED Sawkill Girls, hearing of this title was exciting! a queer paranormal horror where the MC joins a coven to root out the evil that is plaguing her village. I’ve seen some early mixed reviews but i’m absolutely checking this one out since I’ve enjoyed this author’s writing style in the past.

Only A Monster (Monsters #1) by Vanessa Len 2/17/22

This is one of my MOST anticipated YA books simply because it has two things, monsters and London. Our MC is a 16 year old who is sent to work the summer in London with her eccentric family. Not just eccentric, they’re monsters with powers and our MC finds out she also has powers. The guy she’s crushing on happens to be a monster slayer…her only ally is another guy who comes from an opposing monster family. Could possibly end up as a love triangle? Not sure but it has all the vibeZ! 

Castles in Their Bones by Laura Sebastian 2/1/22

I actually just got my hold for this book come through from Libby so it’s looking like a February read! We follow three princesses who have all been trained since birth in the arts of deception, seduction, and violence in order to take down Monarchies. Their mother is the mastermind behind it all and plans to one day rule over the continent of Vesteria.  

This Woven Kingdom by Tahereh Mafi 2/1/22

This beautiful book just landed on my doorstep this afternoon and honestly has left me giving kudos to Illumicrate 🙌🏽 they’ve outdone themselves with their special edition! This is the first in a romantic trilogy inspired by Persian mythology where we follow a servant who is an heir to a long forgotten ancient Jinn kingdom. The Prince has heard the prophecy foretelling the death of the king but he never would suspect that it would all come down to this one servant. Said to be perfect for fans of fantasy written by Leigh Bardugo, Tomi Adeyemi, and Sabaa Tahir.


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Spoiler Free Review: Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno Garcia

Title: Certain Dark Things

Author: Silvia Moreno Garcia

Pub. Date: September 7th 2021

Genre: Paranormal/Horror Noir

Format: eGalley

Publisher: Tor

Pages: 272 pages

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Originally published in 2016, Certain Dark Things was given a new cover and re-released last month. There’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 she’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!

I’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 Things (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. I’ve said it before and I’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. 


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WWW Wednesday: 9/8/2021

It has been way too long since I posted a WWW Wednesday mainly because I’ve been mood reading and partly because I’ve been on the go. It’s a wrap on this rainy summer and even though I didn’t get as much beach time, I have been safely traveling and working on my little indoor garden. Currently I’m nurturing a Monstera Deliciosa aka My Baby! in hopes she thrives in my home. Physical fitness has taken center stage and for the first time in a really long time, I’m actually really enjoying my new workout routine because of the variety I’ve included. Audiobooks come in clutch when i’m working out and pretty soon they’re going to be my best friend while I tackle painting my apartment. It took me some time to decide on whether or not to paint but seeing as I’m in NYC for at least the next couple of years, might as well bring my vision for Desert Chic to realization. Besides reading, I started watching Fear Street on Netflix and this scares-very-easily person is loving it! What are you lovelies reading/watching/planting/cooking? lemme know down below!

I started The Love Hypothesis last night and while I may not be a Star Wars fan, I did love me some Adam Driver! Our male love interest is most definitely Kylo Ren fanfic inspired. I AM HERE FOR IT! We get the fake dating trope between two scientists that promises to be cute and steamy, what more can we ask for? I’m hoping to get some reading in tonight while doing the laundry but can easily see this one keeping me up past the midnight hour. 

I also sporadically decided to start listening to The King of Scars audiobook while I work. This is a re-read for me since I originally read my physical copy in 2019 and three starred it. YUP. It was not a great moment. In any case, seeing as I’ve had a copy of Rules of Wolves sitting on my shelves for quite some time and I’ve been reading from my shelves…figured I’d give it another go. It may still be a three star but so far I’m enjoying the audiobook way more than the physical. Zoya is EVERYTHING and her accent makes me smile. 

I actually binge read The Kiss Quotient trilogy, I listened to The Heart Principle on my flight back to NYC. The narrators did a fantastic job with all three books, Helen Hoang is now a new favorite Contemporary Romance author. The Heart Principle did have a different feel than it’s predecessors seeing as it was birthed after a year of grief and loss for the author. I had the chance to read the author’s interview on Goodreads where she discusses what she experienced in 2019/20 and the therapy she sought out to help her cope with her grief. The Heart Principle felt raw and vulnerable, I deeply resonated with Anna who I embodied at one point in my life. Quan, her love interest is reclaiming his life and self love after also experiencing a tough battle. Although very different in tone, I can honestly say this book is my favorite of the three. Please check for content warnings, my review is in the works. 

I also had the chance to read an early copy of A Curse In Ash by Julie Zantopoulos (my reviewand LOVED it! this was a book I picked up on my day off and read it start to finish in one day. If you enjoy sexy fae times and fantasy that is set in a contemporary world, then this is for you. If you love friendship circles that portray healthy relationships, this is for you. Lastly, if you enjoy a steamy AF Fantasy…I mean all the way off the meter…the meter is broken my loves! then I HIGHLY recommend giving this one a go 😉

Never has a book been easier to select off my shelves than The Inheritance of Orquidea Divina by Zoraida Cordova what better way is there to bring in Latinx Heritage Month (begins September 15th) than with a new book by one of my favorite authors, Zoraida Córdova?!?! this is an adult fantasy that also spends time in Ecuador which is where Córdova was born in. I’ve heard only positive reviews and cannot wait to dive in to the Ecuadorian folklore I’ve heard our author weaves in. My boyfriend also happens to be Ecuadorian and as with most books I read, I’ll be sharing this one with him for thoughts 😉


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August 2021 Anticipated New Releases

I’m making up for skipping out on my July Anticipated Releases post with this nice and LONG early list of anticipated August New Releases. There’s a little of everything for everyone and while gathering these titles I realized I have some books to read ASAP since this month is sequel heavy! *sideways glance at Raybearer* I have been blessed by the Book Gods with early access to some of these titles (Currently Reading: Velvet Was the Night) and will be sharing my reviews for them here on the blog. Not sure how my internal bookish clock just knows that it’s August and even though I don’t ever pre-plan on participating in ARC August…it always ends up happening that I do, possibly cause Netgalley guilt is a real thing *silent nod* Anyways let’s get to it, If there are any titles I’ve left out please drop them down below in the comments <3’s!

FANTASY & SCI-FI

DEVIL IN THE DEVICE (GODDESS IN THE MACHINE #2) BY LORA BETH JOHNSON – The sequel to Goddess in the Machine which I have not yet read, follows Andra in the year 3102 as she awakens from a cryonic sleep only to discover that all of her friends and family have died while she survived. The descendants of those that have passed see her as a deity and she’s game to play the part if it means finding answers and making her way back to Earth. The sequel Devil in the Device hits shelves on 8/24/2021

THE SECOND REBEL (THE FIRST SISTER TRILOGY #2) BY LINDEN A. LEWIS – Geared towards fans of The Red Rising series, The Handmaid’s Tale and The Expanse. The original, The First Sister follows a Priestess of the Sisterhood as she travels alongside soldiers from Mars & Earth. When her former captain abandons her and she’s forced to stay aboard the ship with no friends or power alongside a new captain, she is commanded to spy for the Sisterhood. Complications arise when she finds herself falling in love. The sequel The Second Rebel hits shelves on 8/24/2021

THE WITCH HAVEN BY SASHA PEYTON SMITHThe Last Magician (Gasps) meets The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy. A Historical Fantasy following a young woman who discovers she has magical powers and is thrown into a battle with witches and wizards. Oh, and it’s set in 1911 New York City. That is ALL I need to know tbh. 8/31/2021

THE PARIAH (THE COVENANT OF STEEL #1) BY ANTHONY RYAN – Set to be an EPIC Fantasy trilogy, we follow an Outlaw living amongst thieves until an act of betrayal sets him on a new path of vengeance and living a soldier’s life in the Queen’s army. He will be up against both human and arcane forces as he is forced to decide whether he can be a warrior or forever an Outlaw. Orbit NEVER fails to deliver heavy hitters – on shelves 8/24/2021

A LESSON IN VENGEANCE BY VICTORIA LEE – “For fans of Wilder Girls and Ninth House comes a dark, twisty, atmospheric thriller about a boarding school haunted by its history of witchcraft and two girls dangerously close to digging up the past”-Goodreads …Witchery & a Boarding school? SIGN ME UP! – 8/3/2021

REDEMPTOR (RAYBEARER #2) BY JORDAN IFUEKO – A HIGHLY anticipated sequel and yea shame me now for not having read Raybearer but I promise it’s happening SOON! Raybearer follows Tarisai who longs for the warmth of family. Raised in isolation by a mysterious and often absent mother called The Lady, she is sent to compete with other children for a chance to be chosen to join the Crown Prince’s Council of 11. Why? because The Lady has a magical wish Tarisai is compelled to obey: Kill the Crown Prince. The Sequel Redemptor hits shelves on 8/17/2021

THE SISTERS OF RECKONING (THE GOOD LUCK GIRLS #2) BY CHARLOTTE NICOLE DAVIS – The sequel to The Good Luck Girls which is described as Westworld meets The Handmaid’s Tale. A western with a sisterhood of queer girls who are sold to a “Welcome House” as girls, branded with cursed markings. Setting off on a dangerous escape to freedom, the girls are up against a country who doesn’t want them to have freedom and forces both human/inhuman. The sequel The Sisters of Reckoning hits shelves on 8/10/2021

CAZADORA (WOLVES OF NO WORLD #2) BY ROMINA GARBER – The follow-up to Lobizona & YES I absolutely did read and LOVE Lobizona! (My review) Argentinan Folklore weaved in with real world issues make this Fantasy a MUST read! We get witches and wolves in a magical school setting. The sequel Cazadora hits shelves on 8/17/2021

ROMANCE

THE DATING DARE (SWEET MESS #2) BY JAYCI LEE – I have been meaning to read the first book in this cute new series but it doesn’t seem like you have to read them in order. Here we have Tara Park who doesn’t hop into bed with perfect strangers but then she meets Seth Kim. Her friends new brother-in-law who is very tempting, handsome and charming. A game of truth or dare leads these two to a four date arrangement. Doesn’t seem like this fling with no strings attached is set to be very successful, not when they find each other to be the perfect package- 8/3/2021

BATTLE ROYAL (PALACE INSIDERS #1) BY LUCY PARKER – OK! baking rom-coms are my WEAKNESS BOOK LOVERS! a hate-to-love rom com where we meet Sylvie, she once was a contestant on a hit baking show where her creation of a glittery unicorn went sideways. Dominic, a judge on the panel was quick to vote her off but Sylvie still uses her platform to open up her own magical bakery. Fast forward to present time where the the royal family is having a wedding and the Princess wants both Sylvie and Dominic to compete for the opportunity of making the royal wedding cake. This just sounds like a fun time! 8/17/2021

CONTEMPORARY YA

HOW MOON FUENTEZ FELL IN LOVE WITH THE UNIVERSE BY RAQUEL VASQUEZ GILLIAND – THE HATING GAME meets I AM NOT YOUR PERFECT MEXICAN DAUGHTER; a YA Romance starring a Mexican American teenager who discovers profound truths about the universe as she spends her summer on a road trip across the country – 8/10/2021

EDIE IN BETWEEN BY LAURA SIBSON – Described as a modern day Practical Magicwe meet Edie one year after the death of her mother. But her ghost never left. According to Edie’s GG, it’s tradition for the dead of the Mitchell family to linger with the living. Edie stumbles upon the diary of her mother along with some talismans that transport her to different times in her mother’s life where Edie witnesses her mom experience love, loss and hope. Edie is still grieving her mother’s death and hopes she can find a way to make peace with her loss and put the past to rest – 8/24/2021

ADULT FICTION/THRILLERS

VELVET WAS THE NIGHT BY SILVIA MORENO-GARCIAThis is 100% a SMG STAN BLOG! I nearly fell off my chair when the Publisher granted my request and I’m currently reading this title, too early to speak on thoughts. This one is for lovers of Noir, Historical Fiction, Mystery/Thrillers. We follow Maite in 1970’s Mexico City where she is a secretary who loves reading Secret Romance. In the backdrop there is political unrest with students protesting and taking over the city. Maite escapes into her romance reads until her next door neighbor Leonora goes missing & Maite goes searching for her. Meanwhile, she’s not the only one searching for the missing woman. We have a shadowy figure who runs goon squads that target political activists and stopping them. Elvis is one of the goons and he LOVES movies & Rock n Roll…he comes to observe Maite from a distance and grows obsessed with her, the woman who shares his taste in music is also lonely- 8/17/2021

THE HEART IS A CHAINSAW BY STEPHEN GRAHAM JONES“Alma Katsu calls My Heart Is a Chainsaw “a homage to slasher films that also manages to defy and transcend genre.” On the surface is a story of murder in small-town America. But beneath is its beating heart: a biting critique of American colonialism, Indigenous displacement, and gentrification, and a heartbreaking portrait of a broken young girl who uses horror movies to cope with the horror of her own life.” Goodreads8/31/2021

A SLOW FIRE BURNING BY PAULA HAWKINS – “When a young man is found gruesomely murdered in a London houseboat, it triggers questions about three women who knew him. Laura is the troubled one-night-stand last seen in the victim’s home. Carla is his grief-stricken aunt, already mourning the recent death of yet another family member. And Miriam is the nosy neighbor clearly keeping secrets from the police. Three women with separate connections to the victim. Three women who are – for different reasons – simmering with resentment” – 8/31/2021


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June 2021 Anticipated New Releases

June has seen some dope titles drop and we still have two more weeks of releases to go! I’m currently in the middle of Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké Íyímídé, a June release that you will absolutely want to pick up…I’m not kidding, it’s a compulsive read that is exactly as is described. Get Out meets Gossip Girl and if you were a fan of Alyssa Cole’s When No One is Watching, I’d say go for it! next up on my Possibility Pile, is an eGalley of Survive the Night by Riley Sager that I’m hoping makes me a fan of this beloved author *fingers crossed*

Have you read any of these books? any I left out? Drop them down below in the comments Luvs! ❤

YOUNG ADULT

FIRE WITH FIRE BY DESTINY SORIA“Dani and Eden Rivera were both born to kill dragons, but the sisters couldn’t be more different. For Dani, dragon slaying takes a back seat to normal high school life, while Eden prioritizes training above everything else. Yet they both agree on one thing: it’s kill or be killed where dragons are concerned.” 6/8

THE WOLF AND THE WOODSMAN BY AVA REID“In the vein of Naomi Novik’s New York Times bestseller Spinning Silver and Katherine Arden’s national bestseller The Bear and the Nightingale, this unforgettable debut— inspired by Hungarian history and Jewish mythology—follows a young pagan woman with hidden powers and a one-eyed captain of the Woodsmen as they form an unlikely alliance to thwart a tyrant.” 6/8

THE NATURE OF WITCHES BY RACHEL GRIFFIN“For centuries, witches have maintained the climate, their power from the sun peaking in the season of their birth. But now their control is faltering as the atmosphere becomes more erratic. All hope lies with Clara, an Everwitch whose rare magic is tied to every season.” 6/1

MY CONTRARY MARY BY CYNTHIA HAND, BRODI ASHTON, JODI MEADOWS -Aaaaaand they’re BACK! “Welcome to Renaissance France, a place of poison and plots, of beauties and beasts, of mice and . . . queens? Mary is the queen of Scotland and the jewel of the French court. Except when she’s a mouse. Yes, reader, Mary is an Eðian (shapeshifter) in a kingdom where Verities rule. It’s a secret that could cost her a head—or a tail.” 6/22

ACE OF SPADES BY FARIDAH ÀBíKÉ ÍYÍMÍDÉ“An incendiary and utterly compelling thriller with a shocking twist that delves deep into the heart of institutionalized racism, from an exceptional new YA voice. Welcome to Niveus Private Academy, where money paves the hallways, and the students are never less than perfect. Until now. Because anonymous texter, Aces, is bringing two students’ dark secrets to light. ” 6/10

GEARBREAKERS BY ZOE HANA MIKUTA“Two girls on opposite sides of a war discover they’re fighting for a common purpose–and falling for each other–in Zoe Hana Mikuta’s high-octane debut Gearbreakers, perfect for fans of Pacific Rim, Pierce Brown’s Red Rising Saga, and Marie Lu’s Legend series.” 6/29

DARLING BY K. ANCRUM “A teen girl finds herself lost on a dangerous adventure in this YA thriller by the acclaimed author of The Wicker King and The Weight of the Stars—reimagining Peter Pan for today’s world.” 6/22

THE WITCH KING BY H.E. EDGMON“To save a fae kingdom, a trans witch must face his traumatic past and the royal fiancé he left behind. This debut YA fantasy will leave you spellbound.” 6/1

BLACKOUT  (ANTHOLOGY) “Six critically acclaimed, bestselling, and award-winning authors bring the glowing warmth and electricity of Black teen love to this interlinked novel of charming, hilarious, and heartwarming stories that shine a bright light through the dark.” 6/22

BLOOD LIKE MAGIC BY LISELLE SAMBURY – “A rich, dark urban fantasy debut following a teen witch who is given a horrifying task: sacrificing her first love to save her family’s magic. The problem is, she’s never been in love—she’ll have to find the perfect guy before she can kill him.” 6/15

ADULT FICTION

MALIBU RISING – (RTC 4 stars) Malibu: August 1983. It’s the day of Nina Riva’s annual end-of-summer party, and anticipation is at a fever pitch. Everyone wants to be around the famous Rivas: Nina, the talented surfer and supermodel; brothers Jay and Hud, one a championship surfer, the other a renowned photographer; and their adored baby sister, Kit. Together the siblings are a source of fascination in Malibu and the world over–especially as the offspring of the legendary singer Mick Riva.” 6/1. 

THE MAIDENS BY ALEX MICHAELIDES“Edward Fosca is a murderer. Of this Mariana is certain. But Fosca is untouchable. A handsome and charismatic Greek Tragedy professor at Cambridge University, Fosca is adored by staff and students alike—particularly by the members of a secret society of female students known as The Maidens.” 6/15

SURVIVE THE NIGHT BY RILEY SAGER“It’s November 1991. George H. W. Bush is in the White House, Nirvana’s in the tape deck, and movie-obsessed college student Charlie Jordan is in a car with a man who might be a serial killer.” 6/29

THE CHOSEN AND THE BEAUTIFUL BY NGHI VOImmigrant. Socialite. Magician. Jordan Baker grows up in the most rarefied circles of 1920s American society—she has money, education, a killer golf handicap, and invitations to some of the most exclusive parties of the Jazz Age. She’s also queer, Asian, adopted, and treated as an exotic attraction by her peers, while the most important doors remain closed to her. But the world is full of wonders: infernal pacts and dazzling illusions, lost ghosts and elemental mysteries. In all paper is fire, and Jordan can burn the cut paper heart out of a man. She just has to learn how. Nghi Vo’s debut novel The Chosen and the Beautiful reinvents this classic of the American canon as a coming-of-age story full of magic, mystery, and glittering excess, and introduces a major new literary voice. 6/1

DEAD DEAD GIRLS BY NEHESA AFIA“The start of an exciting new historical mystery series set in 1920s Harlem featuring Louise Lloyd, a young black woman caught up in a series of murders way too close to home…Harlem, 1926. Young black girls like Louise Lloyd are ending up dead. Following a harrowing kidnapping ordeal when she was in her teens, Louise is doing everything she can to maintain a normal life. She’s succeeding, too. She spends her days working at Maggie’s Café and her nights at the Zodiac, Manhattan’s hottest speakeasy. Louise’s friends might say she’s running from her past and the notoriety that still stalks her, but don’t tell her that.” 6/1

ADULT ROMANCE

TRYST SIX VENOM BY PENELOPE DOUGLAS(F/F BULLY NEW ADULT ROMANCE) “Marymount girls are good girls. We’re chaste, we’re untouched, and even if we weren’t, no one would know, because we keep our mouths shut.
Not that I have anything to share anyway. I never let guys go too far. I’m behaved. Beautiful, smart, talented, popular, my skirt’s always pressed, and I never have a hair out of place. I own the hallways, walking tall on Monday and dropping to my knees like the good Catholic girl I am on Sunday. That’s me. Always in control. Or so they think. The truth is that it’s easy for me to resist them, because what I truly want, they can never be. Something soft and smooth. Someone dangerous and wild.” 6/3

REEL BY KENNEDY RYAN – 
Award-Winning Wall Street Journal Bestselling author Kennedy Ryan launches a brand new series with a Hollywood tale of wild ambition, artistic obsession, and unrelenting love.
One moment in the spotlight. For months I stood by, an understudy waiting in the wings, preparing for my time to shine.
I never imagined he would watch in the audience that night.
Canon Holt.
Famous film director.
Fascinating. Talented. Fine.
Before I could catch my breath, everything changed.
I went from backstage Broadway to center stage Hollywood.
From being unknown, to my name, Neevah Saint, on everyone’s lips.
Canon casts me in a star-studded Harlem Renaissance biopic, catapulting me into another stratosphere. But stars shine brightest in the dead of night.
Forbidden attraction, scandal and circumstances beyond my control jeopardize my dream. Could this one shot—the role of a lifetime, the love of a lifetime—cost me everything?” 6/8

CLAIMED BY J.R. WARDA heart-pounding new series set in the Black Dagger Brotherhood world, with a scientist fighting to save the timber wolves—and getting caught in a deadly trap herself…

Lydia Susi is passionate about protecting wolves in their natural habitat. When a hotel chain develops a tract of land next to the preserve, Lydia is one of the most vocal opponents of the project—and becomes a target.” 6/27

NEON GODS BY KATEE ROBERT“He was supposed to be a myth. But from the moment I crossed the River Styx and fell under his dark spell… he was, quite simply, mine. Society darling Persephone Dimitriou plans to flee the ultra-modern city of Olympus and start over far from the backstabbing politics of the Thirteen Houses. But all that’s ripped away when her mother ambushes her with an engagement to Zeus, the dangerous power behind their glittering city’s dark facade.” 6/1

THE QUEER PRINCIPLES OF KIT WEBB BY KAT SEBASTIAN“Critically acclaimed author Cat Sebastian makes her trade paperback debut in a stunning historical romance about a reluctantly reformed highwayman and the aristocrat who threatens to steal his heart. Kit Webb has left his stand-and-deliver days behind him. But dreary days at his coffee shop have begun to make him pine for the heady rush of thievery. When a handsome yet arrogant aristocrat storms into his shop, Kit quickly realizes he may be unable to deny whatever this highborn man desires.” 6/8


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May Wrap-Up & Book Haul…

Hola Hola Book Lovers! May was somewhat of a return to normalcy month for me after a rocky couple of months caused by health concerns. I kept my reading light (with the exception of one book that I mentally prepared for; The Mirror Season by Anna-Marie McLemore) and instead leaned more towards small towns both on Netflix and in real life. Road trips with the windows down paired with good music were my lifeline. New York City put on its best Spring dress after a long period of hibernation and like many others, I welcomed it with arms wide open (safely of course). Mother’s Day was SUPER special thanks to two tiny humans and my boyfriend who really marked the day with a variety of heartfelt gestures and gifts. Winter clothes officially went in drawers and out came my Spring/Summer dresses, shorts, skirts and sandals. My fridge is stocked with fruits for all your fruit bowl/smoothie/juicing needs. Last but not least, I went from drinking my Cafe Bustelo to Starbucks Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew cause ya girl is too hot to be drinking hot coffee. Summer is almost here Luvs!!!

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The Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren (my review) -*4 Stars* The Romantic Comedy that had me once again pulling out all of my unread Christina Lauren books with plans to read this summer. Hate to love (sort of) romance, dating apps, BFF who writes the MC into her Romance novels, and super supportive grandparents. I smiled more times than I could count whenever Jess & Fizzy sat at the cafe talking about the odds of GeneticAlly truly finding their soulmate. This is one I’d watch a movie adaptation of in a heartbeat!  

 The Mirror Season by Anna Marie-McLemore – *5 Stars* I have yet to write my review and have no real promises to make. This was the hardest read I’ve picked up from one of my all time favorite YA authors. The subject matter being rape that is detailed on the page is utterly heartbreaking. To then read the afterward and see that it’s based on real life events the author and a friend lived through was devestating. This was still playing out in court in an open case at the time of publication and truly speaks to the strength of the author to bring awareness to something that many teens have experienced. I fully advise looking into content warnings. 

Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala – *4 Stars* My very 1st cozy mystery and it did NOT dissapoint! I was excited to see the author’s cover reveal of the sequel (Homicide and Halo-Halo) that’ll be releasing in February 2022. Arsenic and Adobo was a fun murder mystery set in a small town, following a Filipino MC who is trying to find her path after a rough break-up. She returns home where her many aunties descend and begin to apply some pressure with a lot of love. Fun & addictive!

Black Water Sister by Zen Cho (my review) -*3.5 Stars* We follow 23 year old Jessamyn who has left the states with her parents to return to Malaysia and find her footing. Jess is a stressed out Zillenial Queer trying to maintain a long distance relationship with her girlfriend who no one in her family knows about. That is why when she begins to hear voices she thinks it’s a byproduct of those stressors and NOT the ghost of her Ah Ma who she never met. Ah Ma is her grandmother who when alive, was a Medium for a quiet and mysterious spirit called Black Water Sister. Ah Ma needs Jessamyn’s help in settling a score on behalf of this God or risk her wrath. Dark but also well balanced with snark and humor between Jessamyn and her Ah Ma. I’d also advise looking into content warnings.

One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston (my review) – *6 EPIC STARS* Save the best for last amiright?!? Truly wasn’t expecting this since I admittedly fell into the unpopular opinion of not really loving Red, White, and Royal Blue. I ADORED this book to pieces and the fact that it dropped on June 1st, the first day of Pride month is 100% apropos! If I start writing I’ll never stop so instead I ask that you click on my review link so that you can read my GUSH review on the Q train. That is all. 

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ARIADNE | THE HUNTING WIVES | LAST SUMMER AT THE GOLDEN HOTEL | REALM BREAKER | ILLUSIONARY | THE PRISON HEALER | SON OF THE STORM | BLACK WATER SISTER | THE INHERITANCE OF ORQUÍDEA DIVINA (ARC)

It was a heavy on the Fantasy type of haul with the exception of my Book of The Month picks. Realm Breaker by Victoria Aveyard is very special being that it is the first Bookish Mother’s Day gift I received from my little human, she went straight towards the sword on the cover which made me so proud haha! Then I was sent a ARC copy of The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina from Atria Books (very thankful), Zoraida Cordova is a favorite author of mine so this was an exciting package to open. I LOVE the Fairyloot edition of The Prison Healer with its beautiful purple sprayed edges *heart eyes* Son of the Storm was an impulse buy while on a road trip, book store sighting always is a good reason to pull over. My review for Black Water Sister is linked up above in the Wrap-Up.

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CRUELLA (IMDB)

WOW! I should’ve known once I saw Emma Stone was chosen to play Cruella that it would be a solid performance. I was not prepared for this villains backstory but it is absolutely the BEST one I believe Disney has produced! While writing this post I had to stop and hop over to Spotify to download the soundtrack which was ON POINT! as were all of the costumes Cruella dons throughout the movie. The duality of this character is so well delivered that I honestly will always see this version as THE story of how she came to be who we all know. HIGHLY reccomend for those who love a good villain rising backstory, however It may throw off some of the younger viewers who only know the 101 Dalmations version. Still! This was EPIC!

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VIRGIN RIVER (IMDB)

My go-to for whenever I need a pick me up, are books and movies/tv shows that are set in small towns with a cast of characters that feel like family. This was it! Jess over at Litnoob on Bookstagram recommended Virgin River and from the very first episode I knew I would be binge watching the first two seasons on Netflix. We follow a nurse who has just lost her husband and decides to sell her house in L.A. and relocate to a remote Northern California town. The job ad she responds to online however, isn’t quite what it claimed to be. Instead she arrives at a beat down cabin, a curmudgeon doctor/employer, and a town full of neighbors who are ALL up in one another business haha! I LOVED it! anxiously anticipating season 3 streaming in July.


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