Thriller Thoughts…

The Thriller genre isn’t where you’d typically find me but this year has already started off oddly and we’re just going with it at the moment. I have found Thrillers to be easier to digest as audiobooks while I’m multi-tasking indoors and outdoors. Funny observation, I run faster on the treadmill when I think someone is chasing me while listening to ANY thriller smh. No idea how this looks but if I had to guess, I’d say it’s possible my Pheobe Buffay style of running keeps anyone from coming up behind me ๐Ÿ˜‚ย  it’s a work in progress. I listened to the audiobook for each of the thrillers down below, and they’re listed in order of enjoyment.

In My Dreams I Hold a Knife (5 STARS) Did I stay up until 2am finishing this book? Yesโ€ฆyes I did and although I payed for it dearly the next morning, I had zero regrets while living in the moment. Hands down a compulsive read that is equal parts character and plot driven, this is one you canโ€™t put down for long. Some reviewers say this has Riverdale Vibes and Iโ€™d have to agree. We have an academic setting with seven characters whoโ€™ve gravitated towards each other and have a complex friend group. Itโ€™s told in past and present timelines from mostly Jessicaโ€™s point of view, she is an unreliable character with one hell of a narcissistic personality and fits the bill as far as unlikeable characters go. We get to slip into some of the other characters points of view as they recount their version of events. Ten years ago, one of the friends was murdered on campus and most walked away ready to leave that all behind. Someone decides to make Homecoming the time to lure out the killer to carry out overdue justice which triggers the unraveling of secrets, lies and betrayals within their friend circle. This was fast paced with the first half reading a bit lighthearted (when compared to the latter half this almost seemed like the โ€œgood timesโ€) as we see these characters living their best college lives, dating, and dealing with baggage that stems from unhealthy/toxic relationships with their parents. The second half was like watching the domino effect set off, at which point there is no turning away. Dark & filled with obsession, greed, vanity, violence and narcissismโ€ฆI donโ€™t think Iโ€™ve ever read something so wrong yet also satisfying that I couldn’t stop thinking about the way it ended.ย  Also, other than Coop I canโ€™t really say I liked any of these characters but I found myself 100% invested in all of their lives. In any case, this author is now on my radar for future reads.

A Flicker In The Dark (4.5 STARS) – Iโ€™m not well read with thrillers like I am with Fantasy but as Iโ€™ve been reading more from this genre, Iโ€™m beginning to spot the red herrings. We follow Chloe who is a psychologist in a small Louisiana town where her father is serving time for having killed 6 young girls twenty years ago. Like many children of killers in small towns, your last name haunts and shames you. Sheโ€™s trying to create a new life detached from her dad but when girls begin to go missing again, sheโ€™s thrust back in time to the days leading up to his arrest. This doesnโ€™t read like a debut at all, the writing is engrossing and almost plays out like a movie. I say this while also acknowledging the fact that it wasn’t too difficult to piece together certain things. I still ate it up and appreciated the whole cinematic vibes it was giving as we flash back and forth between Chloe’s childhood and present timelines. Our MC is addicted to prescription medication and with her easy access to them, it makes for moments where you start feeling as paranoid as she’s acting half the time. I lost count of the times I thought to myself “but what if” or “but then that can’t be” safe to say there was an abundance of plot twists. I also wasnโ€™t surprised at all to see that it has already been picked up by HBOMAX, my true joy kicked in when I saw Emma Stone tapped in for the lead ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿฝ we Stan Emma in this corner ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿฝ

The Collective (4 STARS) – โ€œ๐ˆโ€™๐ฏ๐ž ๐ฅ๐จ๐ฌ๐ญ ๐ญ๐ฐ๐ž๐ง๐ญ๐ฒ-๐ž๐ข๐ ๐ก๐ญ ๐ฉ๐จ๐ฎ๐ง๐๐ฌ ๐ฌ๐ข๐ง๐œ๐ž ๐„๐ฆ๐ข๐ฅ๐ฒโ€™๐ฌ ๐๐ž๐š๐ญ๐ก. ๐ˆโ€™๐ฏ๐ž ๐ฌ๐ญ๐จ๐ฉ๐ฉ๐ž๐ ๐œ๐จ๐ฅ๐จ๐ซ๐ข๐ง๐  ๐ฆ๐ฒ ๐ก๐š๐ข๐ซ ๐š๐ง๐ ๐ฐ๐ž๐š๐ซ๐ข๐ง๐  ๐ฆ๐š๐ค๐ž๐ฎ๐ฉ ๐š๐ง๐ ๐ˆ ๐ก๐š๐ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐›๐จ๐ฅ๐ญ-๐จ๐ง๐ฌ ๐ซ๐ž๐ฆ๐จ๐ฏ๐ž๐, ๐š๐ง๐ ๐ฌ๐จ ๐ˆ ๐š๐ฆ ๐ฅ๐ข๐ญ๐ž๐ซ๐š๐ฅ๐ฅ๐ฒ ๐ง๐จ ๐ฅ๐จ๐ง๐ ๐ž๐ซ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐ฐ๐จ๐ฆ๐š๐ง ๐ˆ ๐จ๐ง๐œ๐ž ๐ฐ๐š๐ฌ. ๐“๐ก๐ž๐ซ๐ž ๐ข๐ฌ ๐ง๐จ ๐ซ๐ž๐š๐ฌ๐จ๐ง ๐ญ๐จ ๐ฐ๐š๐ญ๐œ๐ก ๐ฆ๐ž. ๐๐จ ๐Ÿ๐ฅ๐š๐ญ๐ญ๐ž๐ซ๐ข๐ง๐  ๐ซ๐ž๐š๐ฌ๐จ๐ง, ๐š๐ง๐ฒ๐ฐ๐š๐ฒ.โ€

Ever find yourself reading a book where youโ€™re just as conflicted as the protagonist? The premise of this book lured me in possibly because as a mom myself, the thought of a group of anonymous women (whoโ€™ve all lost a child) working together to deliver justice is hard NOT to get behind.ย The MC Camille has been grieving the death of her 15 year old for the past 5 years and there isnโ€™t a day that goes by that she isnโ€™t angry and obsessed with the killer. Her marriage has come to an end and sheโ€™s left to live in this big colonial style house where the memories of her daughter haunt her. Camille follows the life of her daughterโ€™s killer via social media and ends up showing up at an event where her actions grab the attention of this secret group of women. This is a trip down the dark side of justice that had me back & forth with my feelings but I believe that to be the intent here. Camille at some point finds herself trying to figure out whether the group is strictly operating in the name of avenging these children or if they too are like the monsters they seek to eliminate in the name of justice. Iโ€™m very curious to see how this all ends, in many ways the MC disregards logic and comes more from an emotional headspace. I canโ€™t say I blame her for it but things snowball rather quickly once she acts upon her darkest fantasy. If you can read from the POV of someone who in an obsessive cycle and very angry, this is worth a go.


Friday Reads and Thangs…

This New Yorker is prepared to be snowed in and to be honest I’m excited for it! The snow estimates have been all over the place with some as low as 7 inches toย  10+ inches *GASP*ย  It is so rare that I ever get to slow down and just wind down any day of the week or weekend that I don’t know what to do with myself LOL! I’m really looking forward to my resistance and strength training workouts this weekend since I’ll have a blanket of snow for a view which we haven’t seen in a really long time. Of course I have my reading plans in place and also some things I’d like to watch on Apple TV and HBO. On the healthy/self-love end of things, I’ve been weaning myself off of Starbucks Cold Brews cause as much as I love this drink, it absolutely drives up my anxiety. Instead i’ve been alternating between juicing (spinach, mangos, apples, pine apples and chia seeds in 8 oz of water), smoothies (strawberries, 1 banana, blueberries in 80z of water with 1 tbsp of flax seeds), and teas (Ginger or Peach Green Tea) which have made a HUGE difference in my mood and metabolism. I had planned for this post to go live early this morning but back to back meetings threw a wrench in that. So, let’s get into the books cause ya girl still has 3 miles to run *sobs* for cardio.

I’ve been on a thriller kick this week which I attribute mostly to me just not being in the mood for Fantasy and the escapism it offers. Instead I opted for serial killers and a group of vengeful women getting justice for the murders of their children…don’t know what that says about me these past 7 days but I went with it. Look out for my Three Thriller Mini Review post going up next week featuring yet another thriller that I’m currently listening to.

In My Dreams I Hold A Knife by Ashley Winstead (RTC)

The Collective by Alison Gaylin (RTC)

Finlay Donovan Is Killing It by Elle Cosimano (My Review)

This morning Libby delivered the audiobook for A Flicker in the Dark by Stacy Willingham and before I knew it…I had attended 3 meetings, meal prepped for this weekend and cleaned out my bathrooms while powering through this book. IT’S SO GOOOOOD Book Lovers! Our MC is a psychologist in a small Louisiana town where 20 years prior, her father had been imprisoned for the murder of 6 young girls. I’m about 60% in and hope to finish the rest tonight in the gym but all I can say is that this story is engrossing. Once I’m done with Flicker, I’m jumping right back into the island of Kekon with my favorite gangster family in Jade War. Having recently read and loved Jade City (My review), I really don’t want too much time to pass where I forget key details.

Euphoria was recommended to me by both friends & family to the point I just couldn’t escape it anymore. It’s INTENSE and I have had to take breaks in between episodes to process certain scenes but it’s excellently written. Anyone who is interested in watching the show should know that it focuses heavily on addiction. I’m starting season 2 this weekend and a part of me is not ready but I’m going in regardless.

Ted Lasso! this show caught me by surprise BIG time and I’m not even sure why I was resistant to starting it. My BFF kept asking me every week if I’d watched it so I figured it was time and I LOVE it so much that i’m savoring each episode so as to not finish the first season.


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Review: Finlay Donovan Is Killing It by Elle Cosimano

Title: Finlay Donovan Is Killing It

Author:Elle Cosimano

Pub. Date:ย February 2nd 2022

Genre: Contemporary Mystery/Thriller

Format:ย Audiobook

Publisher: Minotaur Books

Pages:ย 355 pages/9 hrs 59 min

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE | LIBROFM | AMAZONย 

Characters: 7/10ย  ย Atmosphere: 0/10ย  Writing Style: 7/10ย  Plot: 8/10ย  Intrigue: 0/10ย ย Logic/Relationships: 10/10ย  Enjoyment: 6/10

Rating: 38/5.4 =ย  โ˜†โ˜† 3ย Starsโ˜†โ˜†โ•ฎ

Rating system created byย The Book Roastย โ•ฐโ˜†โ˜† โ€œ๐Œ๐ฒ ๐†๐จ๐จ๐ ๐ฅ๐ž ๐ฌ๐ž๐š๐ซ๐œ๐ก ๐ก๐ข๐ฌ๐ญ๐จ๐ซ๐ฒ ๐š๐ฅ๐จ๐ง๐ž ๐ฐ๐š๐ฌ ๐ฉ๐ซ๐จ๐›๐š๐›๐ฅ๐ฒ ๐ž๐ง๐จ๐ฎ๐ ๐ก ๐ญ๐จ ๐ฉ๐ฎ๐ญ ๐ฆ๐ž ๐จ๐ง ๐š ๐ ๐จ๐ฏ๐ž๐ซ๐ง๐ฆ๐ž๐ง๐ญ ๐ฐ๐š๐ญ๐œ๐ก ๐ฅ๐ข๐ฌ๐ญ. ๐ˆ ๐ฐ๐ซ๐จ๐ญ๐ž ๐ฌ๐ฎ๐ฌ๐ฉ๐ž๐ง๐ฌ๐ž ๐ง๐จ๐ฏ๐ž๐ฅ๐ฌ ๐š๐›๐จ๐ฎ๐ญ ๐ฆ๐ฎ๐ซ๐๐ž๐ซ๐ฌ ๐ฅ๐ข๐ค๐ž ๐ญ๐ก๐ข๐ฌ. ๐ˆโ€™๐ ๐ฌ๐ž๐š๐ซ๐œ๐ก๐ž๐ ๐ž๐ฏ๐ž๐ซ๐ฒ ๐ฉ๐จ๐ฌ๐ฌ๐ข๐›๐ฅ๐ž ๐ฐ๐š๐ฒ ๐ญ๐จ ๐ค๐ข๐ฅ๐ฅ ๐ฌ๐จ๐ฆ๐ž๐จ๐ง๐ž. ๐–๐ข๐ญ๐ก ๐ž๐ฏ๐ž๐ซ๐ฒ ๐œ๐จ๐ง๐œ๐ž๐ข๐ฏ๐š๐›๐ฅ๐ž ๐ค๐ข๐ง๐ ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐ฐ๐ž๐š๐ฉ๐จ๐ง.โ€ โ˜†โ˜†โ•ฎ

Finlay Donovan is a single mother of two who is struggling to launch her career as a Mystery/Thriller writer post divorce all the while being stripped of her nanny. We meet Finlay on a very chaotic morning as she tries to get her kids ready before a meeting with her agent since she is on deadline for a book. Findlay has an outspoken five year old who is pretty much getting into everything and anything she can when mom is not looking. During her meeting she discusses the premise of her novel and is overhead by a customer sitting nearby, this stranger misunderstands Finlay and believes her to be a hit-woman for hire. This woman approaches Finlay with the name of her husband on a piece of paper, she is offering Finlay a substantial amount of money (*Side note* Life after divorce has left Finlay in need of income since she hasn’t sold a book in quite a bit and her bills are stacking up)ย to kill and dispose of his body. Our MC is flabbergasted and immediately thinks to herselfย I can’t do this but those thoughts quickly change to wellย it wouldn’t hurt to find out why this woman wants her husband dead.ย Lots of Google searches and undercover nights while juggling the responsibilities of a single mom on deadline for a book, make for a mystery with lots of comedic scenes.

I enjoyed this fast paced witty audiobook, although I was convinced I’d end up loving it since it does have a ton of hype in the book community. There were some very funny laugh out loud moments but this is one where you want to suspend all disbelief and just enjoy the ride. Now, I donโ€™t see this mentioned anywhere but since I listened to the audiobook Iโ€™ll just go ahead and say it…Finlayโ€™s 5 year old was NOT my favorite, the voice she made really made me want to stop listening and switch to physical reading. A part of me believes she was intentionally making that voice to irritate Finlay but still I couldn’t help not being annoyed. There were some characters I loved like Finlayโ€™s nanny turned sidekick Vero and the nosey neighborhood watch lady who keeps a log of comings/goings but we donโ€™t get much of her. Personally, I feel our MC reads as very relatable when it comes to the aspects of handling motherhood and a career while also co-parenting in a difficult situation. We see her sort of unintentionally get her groove back when she’s dressing up for these undercover gigs. There are love interests that I felt would’ve been nice to see more chemistry between but I also appreciated that her romantic life wasn’t center stage to the plot.ย  As for the general plot itself, it was entertaining seeing Finlay get into one messy situation after another wondering how she would dig her way out. If you enjoyed Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala, then this would be a good fit for you. Will I be picking up Finlay Donovan Knocks ‘Em Dead? how could I not after that epilogue which was *jaw dropping*ย 


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Review: Olga Dies Dreaming by Xรณchitl Gonzalez

Title: Olga Dies Dreaming

Author:ย Xรณchitl Gonzalez

Pub. Date:ย January 4th 2022

Genre:ย Contemporary Fiction/LGBTQIA+

Format:ย Audiobook – Libro.FM & Book Of The Month

Publisher:ย Flatiron Books

Pages:ย 384 pages/11 hrs 22 min

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE | LIBROFM | AMAZON

Characters: 10/10ย  ย Atmosphere: 10/10ย ย Writing Style: 10/10ย ย Plot: 6/10ย  Intrigue: 0/10ย  Logic/Relationships: 8/10ย  Enjoyment: 8/10

Rating: 52/7.4 =ย  โ˜†โ˜† 4ย Starsโ˜†โ˜†โ•ฎ

Rating system created byย The Book Roastย 

โ˜†โ˜† โ€œ๐‹๐ข๐ค๐ž ๐ฌ๐ก๐žโ€™๐ ๐œ๐จ๐ฆ๐ž ๐ญ๐จ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐ž๐ง๐ ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐š ๐’๐œ๐จ๐จ๐›๐ฒ-๐ƒ๐จ๐จ ๐ž๐ฉ๐ข๐ฌ๐จ๐๐ž ๐š๐ง๐ ๐ฉ๐ฎ๐ฅ๐ฅ๐ž๐ ๐จ๐Ÿ๐Ÿ ๐ก๐ž๐ซ ๐จ๐ฐ๐ง ๐ฆ๐š๐ฌ๐ค, ๐ซ๐ž๐ฏ๐ž๐š๐ฅ๐ข๐ง๐  ๐ญ๐ก๐š๐ญ ๐š๐ฅ๐ฅ ๐ญ๐ก๐ข๐ฌ ๐ญ๐ข๐ฆ๐ž ๐ฌ๐ก๐žโ€™๐ ๐›๐ž๐ž๐ง ๐ฉ๐ฅ๐š๐ฒ๐ข๐ง๐  ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐ฉ๐š๐ซ๐ญ ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐‡๐š๐ฉ๐ฉ๐ฒ-๐†๐จ-๐‹๐ฎ๐œ๐ค๐ฒ ๐๐š๐ซ๐ญ๐ฒ ๐๐ฅ๐š๐ง๐ง๐ž๐ซ ๐ฐ๐ก๐ž๐ง ๐ข๐ง ๐ซ๐ž๐š๐ฅ๐ข๐ญ๐ฒ ๐ฌ๐ก๐ž ๐ฐ๐š๐ฌ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐ญ๐ž๐ซ๐ซ๐ข๐Ÿ๐ฒ๐ข๐ง๐  ๐„๐๐ฎ๐œ๐š๐ญ๐ž๐ ๐–๐จ๐ฆ๐š๐ง ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐‚๐จ๐ฅ๐จ๐ซ” โ˜†โ˜†โ•ฎ

Olga Dies Dreaming is a dual point of view story that toggles between present day and timelines that date back to the early 2000โ€™s. We follow Olga and Pedro aka โ€œPrieto” Acevedo as they navigate their lives and careers while also dealing with an absent mother who makes her presence known through letters and visits from fellow associates. Blanca abandoned her children when they were very young to fight for a liberated Puerto-Rico, never making her whereabouts known since sheโ€™s the leader of a small group of liberation radicals known as the โ€œPaรฑuelos Negrosโ€ who are akin to the Black Panthers. Olga has made a career out of wedding planning for the elite in NYC Manhattan while also keeping love and romance at arms length. Sheโ€™s out to break stereo-types as a Latinx business owner and has turned her back on ALL things related to her mom & issues plaguing Puerto-Rico. Olgaโ€™s brother Prieto is a popular Congressman in a rapidly gentrifying Brooklyn neighborhood who is torn between being present as a good father for his daughter vs. wanting to protect Puerto-Rico from exploitation. Prieto is flawed thereโ€™s no denying that, his intentions started off good as he struggled with finding his role and how to do his part in helping the island. Ultimately I found his actions in politics to be very spineless and damaging to the island.

Whenever I pick up a book by a debut author, I’m looking to see if they’re characters are compelling enough for me to get invested in their back stories. Gonzalez delivered top tier character development and gave each one a distinctive voice, down to the absentee mother whose presence was felt through a series of evocative letters.ย  Both siblings have serious abandonment issues that are in need of healing as it continues to play a role in the decisions they make with their loved ones and in their respective careers. They both seek validation from a mother who abandoned her role in their lives and lives/breathes her cause, something they still canโ€™t accept.

This book wonโ€™t be for every reader especially since woven in the text is a lot of history centered around the Puerto-Rican diaspora. There is a heavy emphasis on politics both in gentrifying NYC neighborhoods as well as the relationship between the mainland United States and Puerto-Rico. I can appreciate this since so much went down when Hurricane Maria made landfall in 2017 leaving the island in the dark and many of us outsiders with family on the island, feeling helpless and frantic. PREPA and the shady political behaviors by the Governor which we watched in real life get exposed, are mentioned in this book which may shed some light to those who didnโ€™t know much about it. The conclusion wrapped up a bit too quick for my liking for a book that mostly was medium paced with many complex layers to unravel. I listened to the audiobook and gave the performance 5 stars, the narrator knocked it out the park. I felt the audiobook specifically, really brought Blancaโ€™s letters to life and made her passionate pleas to rally up more powerful. There were scenes I found hard and heavy to get through, especially when Prieto visits the towns in Puerto-Rico and speaks to citizens who are exhausted and feeling forgotten without water or light. Overall, it was an impactful memorable read that has placed Xรณchitl on my radar for any future releases.

CW: Death of a parent, rape, suicide, cheating, divorce, cancer, serophobia, gentrification, abandonment, drug addiction, homophobic slurs, racism


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Spoiler Free Review: Girls Burn Brighter by Shobha Roa

Title: Girls Burn Brighter

Author: Shobha Roa

Pub. Date:ย March 6th 2018

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Format:ย Audiobook

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Pages:ย 309 pages/11 hours & 38 minutes

ย 

ย 

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE | AMAZON | LIBROFM

Girls Burn Brighter is a story about friendship and the resilience many girls/women have to find within when faced with trauma and tragedy. We follow two girls Poornima and Savitha who are living in India, they start off walking very different paths but soon end up down the same road. After the loss of Poornima’s mother, her father hires Savitha to work in his Sari looms. They instantly strike up a friendship with Savitha bringing much joy to Poornima who is dreading the day her marriage is arranged. Savita is a positive soul who always sees the brighter side of every situation, her smile alone is contagious and often is exactly what Poornima needs. One night, tragedy comes for Savitha and it robs her of the light she carries within. Traumatized by what has happened to her, she flees their village in the middle of the night. Poornima is devastated by the disappearance of her friend and knows something terrible had to have happened. Poornima decides she’s going to go after her friend and the story switches to multi-pov as we follow each of the girls journey in America. This story tackles human trafficking and violence many young girls and women face, it is not an easy read. It is raw and violent, all the while communicating to the reader the sense of hope and fight these girls have to find their way back to one another again.ย 

CW: Human trafficking, domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, violence, mutilation, disfigurement, abuse

I was not prepared for this story and yet I could not stop listening and hoping that it would all end on a good note for Savitha and Poornima. The truth however is more painful and tragic, not many escape human trafficking and if they do there are scars to carry. The violence they experience in India and then later in America all the while pushing on was heartbreaking. Watching the girls tuck away their traumas in order to find answers from the men who held them captive was sobering. They couldn’t stop and process the constant violations against their bodies because that meant never getting out. They used every tool at their disposal to outsmart and maneuver their way forward in hopes of seeing each-other again. This isn’t the type of story that can ever truly have a happy ending and does feel very heavy while reading, the author handled these tough themes in a thought provoking way. A lot of the scenes depicted are violent and sobering because it’s the stark reality many face in our real world. The character development is strong with each of their voices and personalities coming through in a very distinct way. My eyes are peeled for anything Shobha Roa writes next. 


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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 thisย scares-very-easilyย 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 ๐Ÿ˜‰

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 Cรณrdova?!?! this is an adult fantasy that also spends time in Ecuador which is where Cรณrdova 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 ๐Ÿ˜‰


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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*ย I have been blessed by the Book Gods with early access to some of these titles (Currently Reading: Velvet Was the Night)ย 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*ย 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.ย 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 –ย 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;ย 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 –ย Described as a modern dayย Practical Magic,ย we 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 โ€œa homage to slasher films that also manages to defy and transcend genre.โ€ 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 victimโ€™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 โ€“ for different reasons โ€“ simmering with resentment” – 8/31/2021


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June 2021 Reading Wrap-Up

Who else is falling short of TBR goals simply because you’re having one HOT person summer?!?! Well June threw a wrench in my reading goals in the best of ways so there’s no complaining here but I am back on track with my July Possibility Pile. I only read 4 books in June but they were quality readsย (one of them is a bit iffy as the days go by lol)ย I traveled with and enjoyed. I haven’t really been in the Fantasy reading mood lately, leaning instead into Romance & Contemporary Fiction. That being said (Ha!), this weekend during my post work-out soak I started She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan (The Radiant Emperor #1)ย & already I’mย MIND BLOWNย (hits shelves 7/20/21)ย by the vivid imagery and the main character’s self awareness. Drop some love down below in the comment box with what you’re currently reading/watching/listening to โค โค โค

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Dial A For Aunties by Jesse Q Sutanto – โœจ3.5 ๐“ข๐“ฝ๐“ช๐“ป๐“ผโœจIf you can manage to suspend all disbelief, Dial A for Aunties will take you on a WILD hilarious ride! I listened to the audiobook on Librofm and I’m so glad I did, the narrator did such a phenomenal job of making this family feel real. We follow Meddelin Chan who goes on a blind date & somehow accidentally ends up killing her date. When she calls her mom freaking out, her mom calls in the Aunties who quickly come to help cover up & hide the body. Meddelin and her family all are in the family business of weddings & they end up concealing the body on the island where the wedding is taking place. This is a romantic comedy that is laugh out loud & over the top! What I loved? the beautiful descriptions ofย Chinese-Indonesian culture specifically wedding traditions. Also, the amazing support this family offers one another to ensure they’re all successful in their family business. Lastly, the AUNTIES!!! their in-fightings had me chuckling and shaking my head on more than one occasion. Overall a good time!

Survive the Night by Riley Sager – โœจ3 ๐“ข๐“ฝ๐“ช๐“ป๐“ผโœจย Unlike many of my friends who’ve read all of Sager’s backlist, this is only my second read by this author. It’s undeniably a page turner with a unreliable narrator. It has a very dreamlike feel that makes you wonder if the narrator really is hallucinating. I’ve changed my rating several times since reading it & not for the better, it sits at 3 stars because I couldn’t detach from it and ended up binge reading. Would you get in a car with a perfect stranger all the while knowing a campus killer is on the loose? Our MC Charlie is trying to leave campus for good after the murder of her roommate. A chance meeting at the campus ride board leads her to Josh Baxter. Josh who is on his way to care for his sick father and offers Charlie a ride. Set mostly in the car on dark roads, this story will have you flipping pages into the night. Charlie is an unreliable narrator & things get interesting when she begins to think sheโ€™s in the car with her roommates killer. Itโ€™s a game of cat and mouse that plays throughout the night and you really start to fear for Charlie. The problem is, some pieces don’t fit no matter how you try to make them and doing so will make the writing seem forced…that’s how I felt about the way all was wrapped up.

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid – (My Review) โœจ4 ๐“ข๐“ฝ๐“ช๐“ป๐“ผโœจThis book hit on a more personal level for me, it didn’t dethrone TJR’s The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo but it does hold a special place in my heart. Overall, this is a story of childhood/sibling trauma and breaking free from the toxic cycles as adults. I love books that remind us how perfectly imperfect we can be, especially when you’re a parent because so often that role is one to look up to. When you fall from that pedestal you’ve been placed on, how you get back up or don’t…can possibly affect your children later on down the road. Nina (the oldest) in some ways was repeating relationship patterns her mother got caught up in. This story is told in past & present tense, in the past we follow Mick Riva and his wife as they struggle through infidelity and drug/alcohol abuse. In the present, it’s all about the Riva kids who are famous because of their father and are hosting their yearly party. Over the course of 24 hours we see them deal with their personal relationships & demons. I docked it one star because of the climax and how much I didn’t really care for it…that is to say, the party itself was just not it for me. it only detracted from what I really cared about and that is the characters themselves. For the most part we see Nina’s character development and then it’s surface level with the other siblings. I’m hoping we get a book following Kit who intrigued me so much! *fingers crossed*

Ace of Spades by Faridah ร€bรญkรฉ-รyรญmรญdรฉ – (My Review) โœจ5 ๐“ข๐“ฝ๐“ช๐“ป๐“ผโœจSave the best for last! One of the better debuts I’ve read this year, I honestly couldn’t put it down! This year has been really hard for me to find YA I enjoy which has me being way more selective with what I pick up. Ace of Spades had a little of Gossip Girl mixed with Jordan Peele’s Get Out mixed with Alyssa Cole’s When No One is Watching,ย check out my recent review in the link above.

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*Confession* I binged all 5 seasons of Workin’ Moms in 48 hours SMH #NOREGRETS I FELT SEEN! LMAO! The title really does say it all, we follow these four ladies as they juggle life with being modern career women. They all have such different approaches that it makes for a very unlikely group of friends but also, I think that’s what makes it work. Everything from marriage to raising tweens and having healthy supportive female friendships is explored. I had a GREAT time, laughed a whole lot and also shed some tears along the way. Come on season 6!ย 

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PIXAR! why do you always leave me ballin’ my eyes out?!?! Luca and Alberto’s friendship really is top tier, I was smitten with their adventures on land. We follow these two sea monsters as they explore a fishing village that doesn’t like and actually hunts sea monsters for cash rewards. This is a story of acceptance and being judged by those who fear what you are. Disney has received some backlash for Queer baiting as many (including myself) wondered if there was more to Luca & Alberto. Regardless of what was intended, I found their human connection to be beautiful and a story that everyone can appreciate.


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Spoiler Free RAVE Review: One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston

ย 54860443Title: One Last Stop

Author:ย Casey McQuiston

Pub. Date:ย June 1st 2021

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Format:ย eGalley

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

Pages:ย 544 pages

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE | LIBROFM

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๐Ÿ–คeGalley provided by Publisher in exchange for an honest review,ย all quotes come from an advance copy and may not match the final release๐Ÿ–ค

The 411..

I will preface this review with first asking that you read this book when it hits the shelves next Tuesday June 1st! That it just so happens to be the very first day of Pride month makes this pure PERFECTION! This is a SUPER SEXY, Queer, time-slip Contemporary Romance filled with all the found family feels and New York City History. Specifically the history of the Queer community and the challenges they faced as well as the many strides made leading up to present day. We meet twenty-three year old August who is quite cynical and doesn’t believe in much. She’s spent most of her life assisting her mom in trying to crack a missing persons case and decides it’s time for a change. Moving into a New York City apartment with three other queer roommates and working the night shift at a 24 hour pancake diner fast track August on becoming a true New Yorker. Always on the go. The chances of meeting the same girl on the Q train every day at the same exact time seem almost too good to be true. Yet there Jane is, on the exact morning that August is having a bad start to her day offering her a red scarf to help cover up a coffee stain. Jane, a Chinese Lesbian wearing a leather jacket with 70’s pins. She’s cool and laid back yet charming, sexy and mysterious AF! August CANNOT get her off her mind and thus begins her every morning routine ensuring she gets on the same car train at the exact hour of their first meet. This is NOT for the feint of heart Book Lovers! *turns mini desk fan on*ย 

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I’ve been waiting to find a 6 star read this year and it being days away from June, I was breaking a sweat thinking it just wasn’t going to happen. This book changed that and I’ll be the first to admit I wasn’t expecting it to. Although I enjoyed McQuiston’sย Red, White & Royal Blue I didn’tย exactly claim it as a favorite in 2019.ย One Lastย Stopย however, was the EXACT level of romance, steam, and comedy that I crave whenever I pop into the Contemporary genre. This was also a love letter to NYC, the city I was born and raised in and was able to visualize while riding the Q train with these characters. I’ll also never tire of the found family trope because it’s one that I can relate to personally with my own group of life long queer besties. The side characters were also center stage and I loved this so much! they were each so deeply fleshed out and just what August needed as a welcoming committee to the city of NY. She’s a Bisexual 23 year old paving her own way in life and that can be quite scary to do alone…except she doesn’t have to do it alone. She has Niko, the Trans Psychic Latino who read her aura and pretty much decided she had a home with them from the minute they met. Myla, a queer electrical engineer/artist who has habit of inventing weird in-home games that often take a turn for the worse. Wes, a queer Jewish tattoo artist who is in love with their neighbor but can’t muster up the courage to act on it. We get it all in this book! NYC, one hot steamy romance, time jumps to the 70’s, pancake goodness and drag queens my luvs! I can go on for days but part of the fun is getting to know these characters and falling in love with each and every one of them. I’m ready for whatever McQuiston writes next! โค

P.S. for those thinking of giving the audiobook a go, I’d highly recommend it! the narrator was on point and I have aย referral link to Librofm if you find that you’re interested <3’s!


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WWW WEDNESDAY: 3/30/2021

WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On a World of Words 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?

Book Lovers, Is it really only Wednesday? this is one of those weeks where there just aren’t enough hours in the day. Coincidentally it’s also the week I return to work after some rest and recovery. The icing on the cake literally is my little girl turning 10! so yea, I’ve been donning my Wonder Woman cape to make it all happen and ending my nights with either a good book or episodes of Ginny & Georgia on Netflix which I sure do hope gets a second season *fingers crossed* By the time this post goes live I’ll probably be refreshing my USPS app in hopes that my copies of Wild Women and the Blues by Denny S. Bryce AND Rule of Wolves (King of Scars #2) by Leigh Bardugo arrive sooner than later *shimmies in chair*

What is the highlight of your week? not having a great week, plans for the weekend? perhaps new releases you’re looking forward to? Drop some Luv down in the comments <3’s!

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51813582Witches steeped in gold by ciannon smart

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“This Jamaican-inspired fantasy debut about two enemy witches who must enter into a deadly alliance to take down a common enemy has the twisted cat-and-mouse of Killing Eve with the richly imagined fantasy world of Furyborn and Ember in the Ashes” – Goodreads

I’m only a few pages into this highly anticipated Fantasy and even though I can’t really say much about my enjoyment, I will say that this style of writing is what I gel with best. I’m hoping it delivers on the character development front and that each sisters voice is distinct and well fleshed out. I’ve never read a Jamaican-inspired Fantasy and would love for this to be a new favorite, I’ll have a full review up here on the blog next week.

23766634._SY475_a court of wings and fury (a court of thorns and roses #3) by Sarah J maas

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I’m not one to read two books at a time in the same genre but the audiobooks for the ACO series are pretty hard to stay away from for too long. Feyre is in full spy mode here and has since acquired a new title, I’ll not spoil that for those who haven’t had a chance to get to this series but would like to. I also just got in the mail my new book sleeves from Illumicrate & GAAASSSSP! STUNNING! I’ll be posting photos over on Bookstagram as I make my way through the books.

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54304125the final revival of opal & nev by Dawnie Walton

Earlier this week I finished & 4 starred The Final Revival of Opal & Nev which hit shelves yesterday March 30th. I have a full review hereย I would recommend it to anyone who loved Daisy & the Jones and the Six but gets that although this shares many similarities…it stands on its own and has a whole different unique vibe. The characters will stay with you, good luck not googling them to see if they actually exist in real life *yes. yes I did*ย If audiobooks are your thing, I hear this has a FULL cast! I’m tempted to use my Librofm credit for a re-read.ย 

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55692620the soulmate equation by christina lauren

goodreads-badge-add-plus-71eae69ca0307d077df66a58ec068898ย “Single mom Jess Davis is a data and statistics wizard, but no amount of number crunching can convince her to step back into the dating world. Raised by her grandparents–who now help raise her seven-year-old daughter, Juno–Jess has been left behind too often to feel comfortable letting anyone in. After all, her father’s never been around, her hard-partying mother disappeared when she was six, and her ex decided he wasn’t “father material” before Juno was even born. Jess holds her loved ones close, but working constantly to stay afloat is hard…and lonely.”ย 

I’ve only ever read one other book by Christina Lauren and have checked out the synopsis to a few others with no genuine interest up until now. The premise of this single mom entering a science experiment/dating app that matches you with someone based on your DNA is super intriguing. That it so happens to be the creator of the app only doubles my interest! I’m hoping this is the book that drives me to give some of their other books a shot. I will be reading this as soon as I’m done withย Witches Steeped in Goldย since it is a May release and I have a Netgalley ratio to work on.


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