Spoiler Free Review: Winter Counts by David Heska Wanbli Weiden

Title: Winter Counts

Author: David Heska Wanbli Weiden

Pub. Date: August 25th 2020

Genre: Adult Fiction

Format: Audiobook

Publisher: Ecco

Pages: 336pages/8 hours & 17 minutes

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“What I’d discovered was that sadness is like an abandoned car left out in a field for good—it changes a little over the years, but doesn’t ever disappear. You may forget about it for a while, but it’s still there, rusting away, until you notice it again.” – Winter Counts

Set on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota, we follow Virgil Wounded Horse a local enforcer as he delivers justice. The American legal system and the tribal council can’t be relied upon for cases of rape, petty drugs, kidnapping or domestic violence. Virgil makes a living from hunting down and then beating up criminals who otherwise would go by unscathed. He’s a recovered alcoholic with a failed relationship who is the guardian of his sisters 14 year old son. He’s fair with his nephew and expects that like most teenagers, he will be tempted to experiment with recreational drugs. He has what he thinks is a fairly open line of communication with him and tries to steer him to staying focused on school. When Virgil catches wind of drug cartels making their presence known to the youth of the reservation, he is offered a job by a local politician to deliver some justice. It isn’t until his own nephew gets caught in the middle of these drug wars that Virgil begins to seek answers to a situation that just doesn’t seem right. There’s an influx of pills and heroine making their way onto the Reservation which finally calls the attention of the Feds. Cases of this magnitude typically do because there’s a vested interest. Virgil sees himself having to turn to an unlikely source for guidance, the very Lakota traditions and spiritual beliefs he so adamantly has turned his back on.

If you’re thinking of listening to the audiobook I absolutly recommend it, the narrator does an excellent job with Virgil. This is a medium paced read that is marketed as a thriller however, I didn’t really see it as such. This reads more like Crime Fiction that covers a lot of the real life issues plaguing Native American reservations. It’s a dark and heavy read with tons of content warnings that I’ll try to cover down below. I found myself unable to walk away from this story for too long and ended up finishing it in just about one sitting. Part of the reason I’ll admit is my interest in the issues many Native American’s are currently experiencing. This has now led me to add a few books to my Indigenous TBR for this year. The lack of social justice this book brings puts a giant spotlight on and brings to the forefront is something I can appreciate. This won’t be the book you’ll find any likable characters in since they’ve pretty much all taken a beating in life. However, for me it was more about the social commentary and spotlighting a serious issue within our own legal system. HIGHLY recommend and without a doubt I’d pick up the next book by David Heska Wanbli Weiden.


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WWW WEDNESDAYS 2/3/2021

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 W’s listed below. Once you’ve posted your WWW, drop a link to your post in Sam’s comments <3’s!

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

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

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

Blackathon (Check out Jesse @BowtiesandBooks announcement video)

Black buck by mateo askaripour

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

the project by courtney summers

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

winter counts by david heska wanbli weiden

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

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


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December 2020 Wrap-Up & Birthday Book Haul

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

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

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

SUCH A FUN AGE BY KILEY REID – (Review) ✨5 STARS✨ A more timely book I could NOT have read in 2020, we follow a black young woman who is accused of kidnapping while baby-sitting for a white family in a. predominantly white neighborhood. I listened to the audiobook which had a awesome narrator! this was a rollercoaster ride for me, feeling everything from anger to hopelessness. Although this does cover some very heavy themes of racism, the author managed to weave in some humor and truly captured what it feels like to be a twenty something year old trying to figure out what to do with your life.

BLAZEWRATH GAMES BY AMPARO ORTIZ – (Review) ✨3.5 STARS✨ This was a fast paced YA Fantasy featuring a Puerto-Rican MC who is feeling displaced from the island after her parents go through a separation. There are dragons and a sort of magical olympics where the dragons and their riders compete. There’s also a villain who was formerly a dragon and is on the brink of starting a rebellion for his own gain. I enjoyed the Puerto-Rican rep I just wished there was more character development done on our MC Lana.

MERRY INKMAS BY TALIA HIBBERT✨4 STARS✨I was looking for some romance/smutty reads around mid-month after reading Fantasy & this novella hit the spot. Yes we can probably all agree that we’re tired of seeing the body boy/dark past trope however, I hadn’t read it in quite some time so it felt new! haha! Here we have Cash Evans who very much love at first sight, falls for Bailey a curvy black woman who he hires to work at his tattoo parlor. Cash invites Bailey over to his family’s home for the holidays and their romance pretty much takes off. Steamy in all the right ways!

FOREVER WILD (THE SIMPLE WILD #2.5) BY K.A. TUCKER – ✨5 STARS✨ I almost feel like this should’ve been a part of Wild at Heart which would’ve then made that a 6 star read. K.A. Tucker novellas really pack in a ton and this was no exception. My fave characters did Christmas and the in-laws in Alaska…PERFECTION! more Calla & Jonah is always a good thing but this time we get backstory on Roy! yea I know, our fave curmudgeon has a past & here we get to see more of him and his happy ending *smiles*

ANXIOUS PEOPLE BY FREDRIK BACKMAN -(REVIEW) ✨5 STARS✨ Simply BEAUTIFUL! I adored this cast of characters & seeing them offer each other sage advice while they remain hostages in a botched bank robbery. The less you know, the better with this book! just bring a box of Kleenex 😉

THE INVISIBLE LIFE OF ADDIE LARUE – (REVIEW) ✨5 STARS✨ FINALLY! a V.E. Schwab book I ADORED start to finish. This book was heartbreaking and yet (hate to use this word again but…) BEAUTIFUL! I lost count of the times I teared up seeing Addie grow hopeful at the possibility of finding love and having that person remember her. Addie has made a deal with good ol’ Lucifer, in exchange for a somewhat immortal life she will surrender her soul when she tires of living. Of course, a deal with Luc doesn’t come without stipulations. Gahhhh! I LOVE THIS BOOK SO MUCH!


 

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


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Spoiler Free Review: Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

Title: Such a Fun Age

Author: Kiley Reid

Pub. Date: December 31st 2019

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Format: Audiobook

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Pages: 310 pages

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In the middle of the night, white blogger Alix Chamberlain and her husband are experiencing a crisis in their home. They call their African American babysitter Emira asking her to come over and take their baby girl Briar Chamberlain for a walk to distract her while they handle the events that have transpired in their home. Emira who is off the clock and at a friends birthday party decides to do this favor for her employer. While walking through the local supermarket in the Chamberlain’s neighborhood with 2 year old Briar, things quickly take a left turn. We have what we now have come to call a “Neighborhood Karen” raise what she thinks are concerns for the safety of Briar to the security guard at the market. It’s quickly implied that a white child wouldn’t be out late at night with a black girl who claims to be said child’s babysitter. One thing leads to another and Emira sees herself accused of kidnapping Briar and isn’t allowed to leave until contact is made with her employer. THIS BOOK!!!! WOW! I was NOT prepared for the rollercoaster of emotions I sat and listened through. This most certainly was a read-in-one-sitting type of book. I felt all things from anger to empathy to disgust watching Emira navigate through the racism and microagressions in her life.

“I don’t need you to be mad that it happened. I need you to be mad that it just like… happens.” – Such a Fun Age

Emira is 25, the age where many find themselves wondering what to do with their life. She isn’t sure what path to take career wise or even what her skillset is really valued at. We see her sort of just go with the flow of things while Alix Chamberlain adopts this really weird obsession with all things Emira. Alix is a white woman who at one point in her life decided to change her name to make herself sound more sophisticated. She’s made a career of writing eloquent persuasive letters that in turn get her free products to review. Alix belongs to this circle of women who are very judgmental and toxic towards one another. This character literally got under my skin, she had this really awkward way of going about making sure Emira sees her as different than most white women. She becomes obsessed with trying to befriend Emira al the while Emira is very aware that they could never be friends. Alix would never treat Emira like she treats her own wealthy friends from New York. There are moments where Alix finds herself both surprised and embarrassed at being taken aback at hearing Emira using words in her vocabulary that don’t align with her listening to rap music. She acknowledges to herself that it shouldn’t come as a surprise since Emira is a college graduate but still she harbors these thoughts. Bookworms! this book will have you shaking your head but the truth is we all know an Alix in real life.

There’s so much to unpack in this book but at its core it’s a book about racism, microagressions, social class, parenting and racial fetishization. These characters seriously had me back and forth with my feelings when it came down trying to figure out if their actions/thoughts were ill intended or not. The idea of the white savior comes into play from the very start when Emira’s white employers are called before releasing her and then continues all throughout.  There were a few twists that I didn’t see coming and seriously had me eyes wide open with anticipation at what could come next. While there are very serious hard hitting themes that play center stage, this book never once felt preachy yet (actually some parts were fun as odd as that may sound) it managed to give a huge SMH at the ignorance Emira had to deal with. The writing invoked emotions that go hand in hand with what 2020 brought to the surface.  A more satisfying ending I did not read in all of 2020, a read I’ll never forget. Kiley Reid’s debut is simply phenomenal! One of my Top 10 of 2020 that I will continue to recommend to all my friends!


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October 2020 Wrap-Up

Ever had a month where you simply needed change? change of scenery or routine? That was October for this book lover. Working from home as well as remote teaching can be hella fatiguing without adding all the other day to day tasks. I was craving fresh air, trees, bodies of water and trails. So, I took my physical fitness journey to the trails in Ramapo New York. It was exactly what I needed to reinvigorate me for LIFE in general. Books were read & lots of thinking and self care was done as well, all in a safe space. I find that detaching from my apartment REALLY helps me ground myself & feed my soul.

I wish I’d taken more photos on the trails but tbh, they were intermediate and for someone like myself who has just started doing these…it can be challenging to say the least (short girl short strides problems haha!) I did get an AWESOME sense of accomplishment whenever I reached the top or pushed myself the extra mile. My reading was top quality this month! I’m behind just two more reviews for October but they’re coming I promise. I just thought it best to wrap up October cause we’re already at the end of November smh.


My Spoiler free  reviews are linked down below…

FABLE BY ADRIENNE YOUNG – This was a 4 Star read, I love a good father/daughter story and Adrienne Young is an author who really delivers on familial bonds. I listened to the audiobook on Libro.fm, the narrator nailed female pirate with an air of defiance. The world building was A+ and if you’re a lover of high seas adventures, this one will make you feel like your dead smack in the middle of an ocean aboard their ship. Pacing at times can be a bit off but the story & character development more than make up for it.

SPOILER ALERT BY OLIVIA DADE – 5 Star read which had me smiling & at times giggling at its raunchiness haha! this is one for those who love fanfiction OR fandoms in general. Our MC is plus size & very secure of herself in a way that had me thriving to embody her glow. She’s a fan fiction writer & cosplayer who loves living the geeky life. The male love interest is the star of a Gameofthronesque type show…the same show our MC writes fan fiction for. I gushed all about these characters in my non-spoiler review linked above.

LEGENDBORN BY TRACY DEONN – 5 EPIC STARS!!! yet I’m still sitting here wondering why this one made a splash pre-release yet I haven’t seen many reviews out there for it. Those reviews I have seen on Bookstagram from black readers & POC have been rave reviews and I LOVED to see it! This is the ONLY Arthurian re-telling? continuation? I really care for this year. We get a MC who has suffered a very traumatic loss at the start & so her grief is integral to this story. She finds her way into a secret society of the descendants of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. There’s blood magic & a war brewing but it’s all linked back to the racism & generational trauma experienced by the MC’s ancestors. This one moved me on a soul level and is exactly the type of Fantasy I want to read more of.

BLACK SUN BY REBECCA ROANHORSE – 4 Stars & I’m prepared to read more by Rebecca Roanhorse ASAP! this is the start to a new adult fantasy series set in a world inspired by the Pre-Colombian Americas, we follow the Sky Made Clans who are prepping for Winter Solstice. Ya’ll ever read a book with a jaw dropping first passage? cause this one had me shaking my head like, what did I just get myself into? HOOKED! Ok. There’s a prophecy, a clan of Crow people who have been wronged, retribution, Queer characters (one who just so happens to be sort of a siren), multiple POV’s and so much more.

GROWN BY TIFFANY D. JACKSON – 5 Stars simply put this was a Gut wrenching audiobook. Our MC is a teenage black girl who aspires to have a singing career. Her path unfortunately crosses with a narcissistic predator who dangles promises but only seeks to control her mind and body. We see her innocence stripped away while he works to isolate her from a family who loves her and has only sought to take care of her. Many have linked this book to the singer R.Kelly but the author has previously stated that this is not that but is it’s own story. Either way, it was at times disturbing to read and others just sad because too often black girls are subjected to having to grow up way before they’re meant to. HIGHLY recommend to those seeking to read & connect with stories/characters outside of their own culture, ethnicity or youth experience.

AMERICAN DREAMER BY ADRIANA HERRERA – 5 GLORIOUS STARS!!! In this corner of the interwebz we LOVE Adriana Herrera and whatever she writes I will buy and support. Also listened to this on Libro.fm while cooking & doing laundry. We follow our MC who is a Dominican Gay man leaving NYC and moving to Upstate NY in hopes that he can turn his Afro-Caribbean food truck into a restaurant. When he arrives he meets Jude, the cute librarian guy who is a bit shy but also very curious about Nesto’s confidence and swag. Filled with yummy food descriptions and a crew of fellas who are #BFFFriendGoals I ate this book up! haha! Cannot wait to continue on with this series.


Lovecraft Country

This was just about the only TV show I managed to watch in October but WOW! Quality streaming content book lovers! I’m not yet finished, I’ve watched 9 episodes and have been staying away from Twitter spoilers. I hear the ending will break me and I’m just bracing for that. Sci-fi Horror which starts off with a black man who goes on a road trip with his Uncle and friend through 1950’s Jim Crow America. Each episode has you clutched in fear for these characters whose lives are constantly in peril between racist America and the actual monsters/demons which I took to be physical manifestations of the hatred steeped in our history/present day.


I hope you’re all doing well during these tough times, finding things that bring joy and peace to your lives. Big or small, whatever brings your soul joy I hope you’ve found it or are on your way to finding it. I’d LOVE to hear all about what ya’ll have been reading or spending time on/with. Drop some love down below <3’s!

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A Diverse Non-Fiction November…

Hola Book Lovers! It’s been quite some time since I picked up a Non-Fiction book, but the mood hit yesterday and before I knew it I had 5 books I’d like to read this month. I’m not too surprised this was a last minute thing since that pretty much sums up most of my reading this year. That it just so happens to be Non-Fiction November is a plus! Earlier this morning I finished listening to  In The Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado. I expected the horror noir vibes but wasn’t expecting it to hit on a personal level. This is going to be a tough read but for those who are interested in the audiobook, the author does narrate it herself which personally made the delivery that much more profound. I’ll hopefully have a mini-review up for In the Dream House this weekend.

DIVERSE NON-FICTION I’M READING THIS MONTH


IN THE DREAM HOUSE BY CARMEN MARIA MACHADODocuments the authors own experience within an abusive same-sex relationship. I wasn’t expecting to listen to this in one sitting but it happened. At times very hard to listen to, raw and unflinching in its honesty. The author wants to raise awareness of how abuse within queer relationships is handled. The fact that often times victims aren’t believed unless there are visible scars & even then it’s sort of swept under the rug. The toxicity in this relationship ranges from emotional to verbal & at times even physical, I’d say you have to be in the right mind space.

BORN A CRIME BY TREVOR NOAH “Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. It is also the story of that young man’s relationship with his fearless, rebellious, and fervently religious mother—his teammate, a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life.” I’ve followed Trevor Noah on The Daily Show for some time now & heard amazing reviews about his memoir, it’s time to dig in! 

ORDINARY GIRLS BY JAQUIRA DIAZ“Ordinary Girls is a fierce, beautiful, and unflinching memoir from a wildly talented debut author. While growing up in housing projects in Puerto Rico and Miami Beach, Jaquira Díaz found herself caught between extremes: as her family split apart and her mother battled schizophrenia, she was surrounded by the love of her friends; as she longed for a family and home, she found instead a life upended by violence. From her own struggles with depression and sexual assault to Puerto Rico’s history of colonialism, every page of Ordinary Girls vibrates with music and lyricism. Díaz triumphantly maps a way out of despair toward love and hope to become her version of the girl she always wanted to be.” Thank YOU Bookstagram for placing this book on my feed cause the minute I saw the cover I ran over to Goodreads for a synopsis. This sounds like it will be a powerful read! 

THE UNDOCUMENTED AMERICANS – “One of the first undocumented immigrants to graduate from Harvard reveals the hidden lives of her fellow undocumented Americans in this deeply personal and groundbreaking portrait of a nation. Writer Karla Cornejo Villavicencio was on DACA when she decided to write about being undocumented for the first time using her own name. It was right after the election of 2016, the day she realized the story she’d tried to steer clear of was the only one she wanted to tell. So she wrote her immigration lawyer’s phone number on her hand in Sharpie and embarked on a trip across the country to tell the stories of her fellow undocumented immigrants–and to find the hidden key to her own.” Having had many of my own family members battle for years to obtain their paperwork for an opportunity to live & work in the USA, this one is HIGH up on my priority list. 

HOOD FEMINISM – “Today’s feminist movement has a glaring blind spot, and paradoxically, it is women. Mainstream feminists rarely talk about meeting basic needs as a feminist issue, argues Mikki Kendall, but food insecurity, access to quality education, safe neighborhoods, a living wage, and medical care are all feminist issues. All too often, however, the focus is not on basic survival for the many, but on increasing privilege for the few. That feminists refuse to prioritize these issues has only exacerbated the age-old problem of both internecine discord and women who rebuff at carrying the title. Moreover, prominent white feminists broadly suffer from their own myopia with regard to how things like race, class, sexual orientation, and ability intersect with gender. How can we stand in solidarity as a movement, Kendall asks, when there is the distinct likelihood that some women are oppressing others?” I’m MOST stoked to read this one, I have both the audiobook and a physical copy I was gifted from a friend. It’s important for me to read books with a focus on intersectional feminism. 


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Spoiler Free Review: Fable by Adrienne Young

Title: FABLE

Author: Adrienne Young

Pub. Date: September 1st 2020

Genre: YA Fantasy

Format: eGalley + audiobook

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Pages: 357 pages

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🖤ALC provided by author in exchange for an honest review🖤

There are five rules. Only five.

🏴‍☠️Keep your knife where you can reach it.

🏴‍☠️Never, ever owe anyone anything.

🏴‍☠️Nothing is free.

🏴‍☠️Always construct a lie from a truth

🏴‍☠️Never, under any circumstances, reveal what or who matters to you


These are the five rules Fable lives by, the ones her father had her memorize at a very young age. The same rules she thinks about whenever she thinks of making her way back to him. Saint, a well known Pirate with a fleet abandoned Fable on her fourteenth birthday. After experiencing the death of Fable’s mother, he believed Fable would do best away from the world of Pirates. He sailed away leaving her to fend for herself on an island that is pretty tough to survive as it is filled with sketchy cutthroat pirates. He did make her this one promise…

“Get yourself off this island and the next time I see you, I’ll give you what is yours” 

Fable is a Dredger, she hunts for underwater treasure and turns a profit from local merchants. She also has the unique inherited gift passed down to her from her mother of deciphering gems. She manages to hustle a Pirate named West to allow her passage on his crew ship as a Dredger. He begrudgingly grants her passage without first taking a vote with his crew. Fable then has the task of gaining the crews trust and earn the spot she was given without their say. The Marigold sets sail to The Narrows where Fable hopes to find her father Saint. All the while, never revealing that the well known Pirate is her father. It is the one secret he asked her to keep but one thing is clear to Fable…she isn’t the only one keeping secrets on The Marigold!

One thing I feel Adrienne Young does so well is familial bonds, fleshing them out so that the reader really understands the connection. After reading Sky in the Deep I knew I’d want to read more from this author and Fable once again delivered, this time with Fable’s found family. We see her throughout this entire journey revisiting the memories she has of when she had her father & mother together on their ship The Lark. She hasn’t given up on her father despite his abandonment, it just motivates her to prove her worth as a Pirate in his eyes. While on the ship she starts building these connections with the crew members that fill the hole she has for her family. Then there’s the relationship she forms with West which personally had me wondering if there was more to it than them just being crew mates. Their relationship doesn’t take center stage in the story nor is it really a slow burn. Instead we see West having to trust in Fable’s abilities and learn to respect her need to not be restricted. Voice notes with my good friend Taylor over at Nerd Narration helped me see the father/daughter relationship from a different angle. Yes I absolutely ended the night in tears & said to myself yet again, Adrienne Young is an author to keep an eye out for.

P.S. The audiobook only further enhanced the already SUPER atmospheric world building. The narrator really brought Fable to life on the ship, brave & daring!


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Spoiler Free Review: When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole

Title: When No One is Watching

Author: Alyssa Cole

Pub. Date: September 1st 2020

Genre: Fiction/Suspense/Horror Noir

Format: ALC

Publisher: William Morrow

Pages: 368 pages

GOODREADS | BANRES & NOBLES | LIBRO.FM

🖤ALC provided by author in exchange for an honest review🖤

Hi hello, Latinx Brooklynite here👋🏽specifically Williamsburg where gentrification swept through and forever changed the neighborhoods I called home. Alyssa Cole gives us Sydney Green, a Black woman who loves her community in Brooklyn but is seeing it erased with each passing day. Major developers buying houses & converting them into condos. The beautiful brownstones where her neighbors have lived for generations sold. Sydney is feeling very paranoid & questioning the whereabouts of those familiar faces. After experiencing a neighborhood tour where the hostess pointed out ONLY the Caucasian history, Sydney decides to start up her own. Theo, a white newcomer to the neighborhood is experiencing relationship issues. He knows he wants to help Sydney in her research as an ally but has to prove his intentions are good. Theo’s girlfriend is racist & constantly referring to them as superior to the black people in the community they’ve moved into. We follow Sydney & Theo as they set out in starting up her tour company. There are times where I wondered if Sydney was an unreliable narrator. She’s a woman determined not to lose her home or her history. In many ways this book felt like Horror Noir & I LOVED it!!! The Goodreads synopsis mentions the movie Get Out by Director Jordan Peele & that’s exactly the vibes I got while listening to the audiobook. Loved listening to the excerpts from “The Hood” app where many of the “Karen” type characters really displayed their micro-aggressions & were checked by black residents in the neighborhood.

CW: alcohol abuse, sick parent, cheating, gentrification, microagressions, death of a parent, panic attacks, gaslighting, anxiety, abduction attempts, involuntary medical experimentation

I’m no thriller expert and so I won’t pretend to know what makes a good thriller. What I do know is that if you go into this read and treat it as you would a horror, then it will meet those expectations. Otherwise, the plot pacing will seem off which is in large part what many readers have said they found issue with. I urge you to seek out reviews by black content creators who have been vocal about how realistic they found the fear & anxiety Sydney was experiencing. What I can say is that as a Latinx woman who has seen my childhood neighborhood torn down, redesigned and sold to the highest bidder…I found this book extremely relatable. I’ve seen whole families disappear at times rather abruptly after being offered a big check to leave their homes. Other times they’re met with uncooperative landlords who make it so they have no choice but to leave the community.

Gentrification is a complex subject and the ramifications it has on those who experience this won’t be the same for everyone. Sydney is a black woman who is made to feel paranoid. She encounters Theo’s girlfriend Kim who basically spews out any & all microagressions you can think of. What once was familiar territory is now a place where she has to watch over her back. Sydney is also experiencing a higher level of harassment from debt collectors, her stress levels are through the roof. All of which when put together, paints a picture of someone who may or may not be stable. That’s what made this book unputdownable for me! the fact that everything she was experiencing can and HAS happened. That ending was chefs kiss perfection! I smirked and nodded my head up & down as I stood in solidarity. This may be Alyssa Cole’s first book outside of the Romance genre but WOW! it is a solid entry into Horror Noir, I personally am excited to see more genre exploring from this author.


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August 2020 Wrap-Up

The last official month of Summer has come & gone leaving me sitting here drafting up a wrap-up in warm fuzzies while sipping on my coffee. My reading in August was very scattered and looking back that was probably because I was anticipating September too hard to even focus. I’m a type A personality who organizes & plans for things and so most of my focus was in preparing for a more stress free work from home/remote learning set-up in my apartment. I did still squeeze in a few more trips to the beach in an attempt to stretch out the golden tan I worked so hard for smh. This all is the reason for which I listened to 4 audiobooks & read 3 physical books. Although I found some new authors I’d like to read more from, the only read to truly blow me away was Lobizona by Romina Garber & this now being September aka Latinx Heritage month, I hardcore recommend this read my friends! ❤

THE ROOMMATE BY ROSIE DANAN – (MY REVIEW)✨4 STARS✨FUN, STEAMY & SEX POSITIVE

THE VOTING BOOTH BY BRANDY COLBERT – (MY REVIEW) ✨4 STARS✨ A TIMELY READ THAT BRINGS ISSUES WITH VOTER SUPPRESSION TO THE FOREFRONT

FAITH TAKING FLIGHT BY JULIE MURPHY – (MY REVIEW) ✨3.5 STARS✨CUTE QUEER STORY ABOUT FRIENDSHIPS WITH SOME PACING ISSUES THAT MADE IT CHAOTIC TOWARDS THE END

ONE TO WATCH BY KATE STAYMAN-LONDON -(MY REVIEW)✨5 STARS✨ AUDIOBOOK WAS THE WAY TO GO! QUITE THE ADDICTIVE READ WITH A PLUS SIZE MC ON A DATING SHOW WHO FACES MUCH ADVERSITY & CRUELTY. THIS WAS AT TIMES HARD TO LISTEN TO BECAUSE IT WAS TRIGGERING, STILL ONE OF MY FAVES THIS YEAR

THE FAITHLESS HAWK (THE MERCIFUL CROW #2) BY MARGARET OWEN – (MY REVIEW) ✨ 5 STARS✨ THIS BOOK! AHHH! ALL THE FEELS, TRULY LEFT ME BAWLIN’ MY EYES OUT ON THE VERY LAST PAGE. THIS DUOLOGY  IS NOW SITTING NEXT TO MY MY SIX OF CROWS DUOLOGY AS FOREVER FAVORITES

HIS & HERS BY ALICE FEENEY – (MY REVIEW) ✨ 4 STARS✨ONCE AGAIN LIBRO.FM CAME THROUGH WITH A BONE CHILLING ALC! TOLD IN MULTIPLE POV WITH ONE OF THE 3 NARRATORS USING A VOICE CHANGER…COULDN’T LISTEN TO THOSE CHAPTER AT NIGHT JUSSAYIN.

LOBIZONA BY ROMINA GARBER – (MY REVIEW) ✨5 STARS✨ROMINA GARBER DELIVERED SUCH A SOLID STAND OUT DEBUT! IF YOU’RE LOOKING FOR SOMETHING TO REPLACE SHE WHO SHALL NOT BE NAMED…LOBIZONA WILL DEF GIVE YOU HP VIBES.

PROJECT POWER EXCEEDED EXPECTATIONS, SET IN NEW ORLEANS WE FOLLOW A TEEN WHO TEAMS UP WITH A COP & EX SOLDIER TO GET TO THE BOTTOM OF A VERY SERIOUS DRUG THAT HAS HIT THE STREETS. A DRUG THAT GIVES YOU UNPREDICTABLE SUPER POWERS FOR 5 MINUTES.  HIGH ADRENALINE DELIVERED BY JAMIE FOX WHO HAS YET TO DISAPPOINT ME.

“A COVERT TEAM OF IMMORTAL MERCENARIES ARE SUDDENLY EXPOSED AND MUST NOW FIGHT TO KEEP THEIR IDENTITY A SECRET JUST AS A UNEXPECTED NEW MEMBER IS DISCOVERED” I HAD NO IDEA THIS ORIGINATED FROM A COMIC BUT I WAS LEFT WITH A NEED FOR MORE! I TRULY WISH THIS HAD BEEN MADE A SERIES BUT THAT COULD JUST BE MY BIAS TOWARDS ANYTHING HAVING TO DO WITH IMMORTALS. LOVED THESE CHARACTERS (NOT ENOUGH TIME) AND THEIR OLD TIES TO ONE ANOTHER. AGAIN, JUST WISH WE GET MORE.


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Spoiler Free Mini Reviews: The Faithless Hawk and His & Hers


THE FAITHLESS HAWK (THE MERCIFUL CROW #2) BY MARGARET OWEN

✨ 5 STARS✨ 

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE | AMAZON

The Faithless Hawk is absolutely making my Top 20 of 2020 list at the end of the year! I had for some reason thought this was a trilogy but in fact it’s the conclusion to a duology. The Merciful Crow (Spoiler free review) was one of the best new Fantasy books I picked up last year leaving me wanting more. The first book was more character driven whereas the conclusion expanded on world building & the magic system. We got a comprehensive look at the caste system this world is ruled by which further highlighted the issues with how the Crows have been mistreated. We also get more interaction from the villainous Queen Rhussana who takes the cake for EVIL, she could give Levana from the Lunar Chronicles a run for her money. If you’re someone who enjoys Fantasy that leans more towards the adult spectrum then this is one I HIGHLY recommend. It’s a dark world filled with the stench of death while our Crows deliver mercy as best they can while watching their own backs. One thing I can honestly say balanced out all that death was the humor Margaret Owen gave us in the second half of this book. Court politics, scheming, infiltration & CATS! yes, Barf is back and has managed to acquire some friends haha! the crew is focused on removing Rhusanna from the throne and crowning Jasimir as the rightful heir/ruler. Fie + Jasimir showed the MOST character development in this book and their friendship is unrivaled. Satisfying conclusion that left me bawling in tears! it’s pretty safe to say I’ll read anything Owen writes in the future


HIS & HERS BY ALICE FEENEY

✨ 4 STARS✨ 

✨ ALC received from Libro.fm in exchange for an honest review✨ 

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE | LIBRO.FM 

“There are two sides to every story: yours and mine, ours and theirs, His & Hers. Which means someone is always lying.”

I’ll preface this by saying, If you plan on reading this book then audiobook should be seriously considered. The sampler gives you a taste of what’s to come with one of the narrators giving a bone chilling performance. Told in multiple POV we follow Anna Andrews a TV presenter, DCI Jack Harper working the case, and the third narrator whose identity is undisclosed. This web was thick & I had a hard time trying to even place a bet on who the actual killer is. A murder has gone down in Anna’s hometown of Blackdown in London & it just so happens to be a childhood friend.  A Toxic friend who left behind a trail of frenemies from their younger years in school. Jack also knows the victim and pretty soon realizes he has become a suspect in his own case. Both Anna & jack know something but they’re holding their cards close to their chest. This is one of those books you just have to go in blindly to truly experience very twist & turn as intended. I listened to this audiobook every waking hour & finished it in 2 days. Every time I started a chapter with the unknown person of interest, I felt a bit of fear…enough to not want to read this one alone. Both Anna & Jack are not what you’d call honorable people, they are self centered and indulge in just about anything to dull whatever pain they’ve experienced. This is another author I hope to be reading more from in the near future.

CW: death of a child, alcohol/drugs, cheating, parent w/Dementia, domestic violence, fat shaming, eating disorders, grooming, rape, bullying


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