Spoiler Free RAVE Review: One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston

 54860443Title: One Last Stop

Author: Casey McQuiston

Pub. Date: June 1st 2021

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Format: eGalley

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

Pages: 544 pages

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🖤eGalley provided by Publisher in exchange for an honest review, all quotes come from an advance copy and may not match the final release🖤

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* 

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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’s Red, White & Royal Blue I didn’t exactly claim it as a favorite in 2019. One Last Stop 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! ❤

P.S. for those thinking of giving the audiobook a go, I’d highly recommend it! the narrator was on point and I have a 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 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?

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 here 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* If audiobooks are your thing, I hear this has a FULL cast! I’m tempted to use my Librofm credit for a re-read. 

 

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55692620the soulmate equation by christina lauren

goodreads-badge-add-plus-71eae69ca0307d077df66a58ec068898 “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.” 

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 with Witches Steeped in Gold since it is a May release and I have a Netgalley ratio to work on.


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Continue reading “WWW WEDNESDAY: 3/30/2021”

February 2021 Wrap-Up & Book Haul…

February…the month where everything didn’t go quite as planned. Valentine’s Day weekend my boyfriend had booked us a cabin and the weather seemed to favor it, we were packed up and ready to go. I’d been quarantining at home all year long, working remotely, and pretty much limiting my proximity to anyone. COVID however arrived at my doorstep. It hit us hard for two whole weeks and it ended with a week long hospitalization for myself. It had to be the single most scariest experience I’ve ever been through with the odds stacked high against me making a turnaround. I believe it was a whole lot of faith, strength, and will power coupled with an awesome team of medical professionals that pulled me through. I’m home now where I’m recovering from some tough residual side effects but getting better and stronger each and every day.

I read 5 books in February which is honestly surprising given the level of meds I was on that made it difficult to not see words swimming on the page. I did NOT write reviews for any with the exception of The Project by Courtney Summers since that was an ARC from the Publisher. Instead, I will try to summarize my thoughts in this Wrap-Up for each title. I did watch a couple of good new shows and one Netflix Original movie. Other than this, It was a month to rest and recover while also being thankful for my health and that of my two tiny humans.

Sidenote: Why didn’t anyone tell me Matcha is where it’s at?!?! OBSESSED! How do you like your matcha? I’m looking for new recipes <3’s!

THE RAVENS BY KASS MORGAN & DANIELLE PAIGE  ✨3.5 𝑆𝑡𝑎𝑟𝑠✨- 𝑇ℎ𝑒 𝑅𝑎𝑣𝑒𝑛𝑠 was one of the books I read during my hospital stint. I was feeling for a witchy read and this one proved to be fast paced which helped considering nausea limited my reading time. That being said, it could’ve improved upon its character development. Our MC Vivi has always lived life alongside her mother who is very superstitious and makes her living reading Tarot. They constantly uproot their lives and move from place to place to “keep safe” however Vivi doesn’t know from what. Very little answers are provided to her by her mom until she gets accepted to Uni and joins Kappa Rho Nu. Unbeknownst to her, this ambitious smart tough sorority is also a coven of bad a** witches 🙌🏽 we get to meet these other witches and the powers they were gifted (Pentacles, Swords, Cups or Wands) from their family lineage. I didn’t connect with Vivi or really sympathize as much as I believe the authors intended. I actually connected a lot more with each of the the Side characters. There was also an issue with a death of a side character that I felt was a bit glazed over even though it was center stage for the first half of the book. Overall it was a fast enjoyable read albeit these issues, I LOVED the spotlight it gave these Alpha women leaders in the making! Sisterhood is not something we get enough of on the page, I’m glad Fairyloot made this one of their picks! 🖤

THE PROJECT BY COURTNEY SUMMERS (My Review) ✨5 𝑆𝑡𝑎𝑟𝑠✨MIND BLOWN at the amount of research that had to have gone into cults and their inner workings. From how you’re targeted, to isolation, brainwashing and eventually the feeling that you’re indebted to a greater cause. All the while following someone who believes himself to be God. A cautionary tale of sorts is what some may view it as. This is marketed as Young Adult but definitely reads on the more mature end of the scale. Fast paced & character driven, this dark tale will sink its clutches into you.

FIREFLY LANE BY KRISTIN HANNAH  ✨5 𝑆𝑡𝑎𝑟𝑠✨- Firefly Lane provided some comfort in February in its tale of friendship between two girls from the opposite sides of the track. I laughed and cried reading this book and then of course binge watched the Netflix adaptation. Although the show does deviate a lot from the story, many of its core scenes and friendship milestones remained the same. Accompanied by some awesome 70’s music tracks, we follow Kate and Tully as young girls in grade school to life with kids and careers. Kate has the kids and the husband with dreams of one day becoming a published author. Tully has always dreamed and passionately pursued her career as an accomplished news reporter. They see each other through heartbreaks, career wins, and the ups & downs of their Thelma & Louise vibe friendship.

BLACK BUCK BY MATEO ASKARIPOUR 

𝐼𝑡’𝑠 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑑𝑢𝑡𝑦 𝑜𝑓 𝑒𝑣𝑒𝑟𝑦 𝑚𝑎𝑛 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑤𝑜𝑚𝑎𝑛 𝑤ℎ𝑜 ℎ𝑎𝑠 𝑎𝑐ℎ𝑖𝑒𝑣𝑒𝑑 𝑠𝑜𝑚𝑒 𝑠𝑢𝑐𝑐𝑒𝑠𝑠 𝑖𝑛 𝑙𝑖𝑓𝑒 𝑡𝑜 𝑝𝑎𝑠𝑠 𝑖𝑡 𝑜𝑛, 𝑏𝑒𝑐𝑎𝑢𝑠𝑒 𝑤ℎ𝑒𝑛 𝑤𝑒’𝑟𝑒 𝑔𝑜𝑛𝑒, 𝑤ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝑚𝑎𝑡𝑡𝑒𝑟𝑠 𝑚𝑜𝑠𝑡 𝑖𝑠𝑛’𝑡 𝑤ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝑤𝑒’𝑟𝑒 𝑎𝑏𝑙𝑒 𝑡𝑜 𝑎𝑡𝑡𝑎𝑖𝑛 𝑏𝑢𝑡 𝑤ℎ𝑜 𝑤𝑒 𝑤𝑒𝑟𝑒 𝑎𝑏𝑙𝑒 𝑡𝑜 ℎ𝑒𝑙𝑝.”
✨5 𝑆𝑡𝑎𝑟𝑠✨
𝐵𝑙𝑎𝑐𝑘 𝐵𝑢𝑐𝑘
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 one 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. This is the book that had me SMH saying “the audacity” at the things white privileged men felt entitled to say to Darren. 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.

SLAY BY BRITTNEY MORRIS  ✨4 𝑆𝑡𝑎𝑟𝑠✨- I inhale read this book and although it be small in page count, it is mighty in its message! a book I will gladly pass down to my Afro-Latinx daughter because it embodies black excellence. Morris gave us black girls in STEM, a detailed layout of the virtual game our 16 year old MC has designed, discourse on black spaces, the importance of not relying on black people to educate you on their experiences, code switching and so much more! Yes, chances are if you love books by Angie Thomas, you will also enjoy Slay. But even more incentive is that Kiera is just a girl who loves video games and geekin’ out with others who just like her have been looking for a space to call their own. There were some cringe worthy moments with regards to Kiera’s boyfriend Malcolm who was the walking definition of toxic masculinity HOWEVER, I found his scenes to be important and insightful. These characters are well fleshed out and multifaceted, by the time I reached the end of the book I was fully invested. I’m absolutely already anticipating Morris’ next book!

FIREFLY LANE | THE GILDED ONES | THE WITCH’S HEART | THE PUSH | THE KINDEST LIE | HONEY GIRL | STAMPED


TO ALL THE BOYS ALWAYS AND FOREVER

The conclusion to the “All the boys” trilogy…or is it? I’ve heard rumblings of a spin-off being considered and I for one would be all on board. Give us Laura Jean in NYC attending NYU. I LOVED this movie but it is the third one so there’s not much I can’t say that isn’t spoilery. However, I will say that it was pretty awesome watching LJ make her own decisions & following her heart when it comes to life after high school.

FIREFLY LANE

After reading Kristin Hanna’s Firefly Lane I jumped right into a Netflix binge of the adaptation. The show definitely stands on its own and changes up a lot of what was in the book but I think that’s because it was intended to have more than one season. If you’ve read the book, then you know there are some major events that would change the dynamic on TV. That being said, I still thoroughly enjoyed the show & seeing the different paths taken. I also LOVED hearing some of the 70’s music tracks mentioned in the books & seeing the flashbacks. UGH! all the geek love for Kate with her Ginormous glasses, bell bottoms and love for Tolkien. Tully, be still my heart! I have a soft spot for this character who is just looking for home & family but keeps finding comfort in her career. The one thing that hasn’t turned its back on her because it’s dependent on her will power, ambition and determination. I hope the show gets a second run, that ending just can’t be it! if you know, you know HAHA!

WANDAVISION

This was a show that felt absolutely trippy! from the black and white “I Dream Of Genie” mixed with “I Love Lucy” and a bit of “Bewitched” styled Pilot episode to the consistent sitcom themed episodes that followed as it made its way to present time. I’ll admit that at first I wasn’t sure at all this was for me however, by the 4th episode I was hooked and had to know what exactly was going on. Trust Marvel to have perfected their formula, at this point there isn’t anything I wouldn’t watch by them. STOKED for Falcon and the Winter Soldier streaming next Friday 3/19/2021!


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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

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE | LIBROFM – MY REFERRAL LINK

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

“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

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE | LIBRO.FM

🖤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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