Spoiler Free Review: Witches Steeped in Gold by Ciannon Smart

51813582Title: Witches Steeped in Gold

Author: Ciannon Smart

Pub. Date: April 20th 2021

Genre: YA Fantasy

Format: eGalley

Publisher: Harper Teen

Pages: 544 pages

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE | AMAZON

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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..

This Jamaican-inspired Young Adult Fantasy follows two enemy witches who must form an alliance in order to take down the Queen. The Obeah ruling family (Iraya’s people/natural born magic) has been killed and their people enslaved by the Alumbrar (Jazmyne’s people/Use of magic via Conduits.)  Jazmyne happens to be the Queen’s daughter, only she doesn’t agree with how the Queen rules the people and hopes to overthrow her and take up the throne. Jazmyne is active in a rebel group plotting to eliminate the Queen when she hears of Iraya having survived her parents assasination. The last remaining heir of the previous ruling family, Iraya is a witch who was born with natural powers. See, in this world there are two ways to come about magic and that’s either through conduits to syphon it OR you’re naturally born with it. We first meet Iraya at the start of this story as she sits in jail plotting her vengeance on the Alumbrar Queen and whoever else played a part in killing her loved ones. Jazmyne plans to utilize Iraya to kill her mother, Iraya plans to allow herself to be used whilst carrying out a plan of her own. 

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I’ll preface my thoughts by saying that I am not an Own Voices reviewer for this story however I do encourage you seek them out. Joel from FictionalFates on Booktube gave it a 5 star rating and is an Own Voice reviewer for the Jamaican representation. I gave this a 3 star rating which means I enjoyed many aspects however there were a few things I wish had been ironed out. The world building is where I struggled quite a bit and that isn’t because of its complexity, I love my Fantasy to be meaty and in depth. However, the first half of this book doles out a ton of information and I felt it threw off the pacing. I’ll admit to even being confused for about 40% of the story while trying to take notes. The magic system is very interesting considering magic is attainable through other means if you’re not born with it.  We don’t really get to see them in action much since the Obeah’s abilities are being surpressed by the Alumbrar. Some of the history that lead to the suppression of Obeah magic doesn’t get explained till much later in the story. Also, the Obeah aren’t the only people seeking to overthrow the Queen so there are a few power pieces on the board closing in on her that I would’ve liked to see more of. There’s a ton of plotting, scheming and double dealing which I happen to love in my Fantasy reads. There are characters who have good intentions but end up losing themselves along the way, I did enjoy Iraya’s POV more than Jazmyne. However, by the end of the story Jazmyne managed to get my attention back as I wondered what fate awaits her. All in all, I’m looking forward to the sequel and seeing if these characters can coexist.


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SPOILER FREE REVIEW: THE FINAL REVIVAL OF OPAL & NEV BY DAWNIE WALTON

Title: The Final Revival of Opal & Nev

Author: Dawnie Walton

Pub. Date: March 30th 2021

Genre: Adult Fiction

Format: eGalley

Publisher: 37 INK

Pages: 400 pages

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE | AMAZON | LIBROFM

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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..

Written in oral history format this is the story of a young black woman with a whole lot of style and personality. A visionary who knew how to entertain and couldn’t see herself working a 9 to 5, Opal knew she’d be recognized one day and catch her big break. Born & raised in Detroit alongside her sister and single working mother, she was always up for a performance. Opal’s sister had the voice and was very attractive while Opal was considered unusual due to having Alopecia Areata. She had begun to lose her hair in patches and while she struggled with self image, it did not deter her from the limelight. Opal didn’t have the voice but what she lacked there she more than made up for in stage presence which eventually led to her getting the attention of Nev Charles. Nev who was out with his manager in search of an act that would enhance his performance which was missing something. A singer/songwriter, Nev was born and raised in Britain but had traveled to New York in search of his big break. Signed to Rivington Records, a small and struggling label who took a chance on him, Nev extends the opportunity to Opal after one of her performances at a bar in Downtown Detroit.

Set during the early 70’s in New York City, a time of political tension and racial injustices reaching a climax. Where artists and musicians were providing commentary through their work and a girl like Opal could find her voice. Opal & Nev were never mainstream however they did have a strong cult following. They appealed to those society considered misfits as well as marginalized teenagers who were coping with all sorts of issues like drug addictions, abuse and self harm. Things decisively change for Opal in particular when Rivington Records decides to sign a band who openly praised the confederate flag. During a promotional concert backstage that flag is waved which leads to Opal taking action in protest, this then leads to an outbreak of violence and the loss of life. Nothing is the same after this night, not for these artists individually or for them as a duo. Decades later Opal is considering a reunion tour of sorts with Nev who has shot to stardom while her career has entered a stage of dormancy. Sunny Shelton the daughter of Jimmy Curtis, the black drummer playing for Opal & Nev who was brutally beaten and killed that night, sees an opportunity to put together an oral history of her idols. What she uncovers while conducting interviews however paints a very different picture of what led up to the violence that night.

Content Warning: drug & pill addiction, overdose, cancer, xenophobia, Infidelity, homophobic slurs, violence, racism, death

People always used to comment on how different the two of us were, but a lot of that was optics. Me and Nev had real soul connections-funny stories about growing up, the hilarious things you do to make your way through this world as an outsider. But behind that there was some heaviness too.

The Final Revival of opal & Nev

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I’ll admit that my interest was initially piqued when I heard rumblings of this book being similar to Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid which I absolutely LOVED in 2019! However, Opal & Nev is its own story also told in oral history format but with a ton of funky personality. Not only did the author do a phenomenal job of bringing Opal & Nev to life but the cast of characters also will remain unforgettable. These voices linger and it’s kind of hard not to open up a web browser and run a search for them even though you know they’re fictional. So much of what was going on in New York during the 70’s with Nixon, racial injustice, and HIV/AIDS was brought to the page in a way that further fleshed out their story. If Opal were a real person in todays society and culture, not only do I think she’d be ICONIC but also she’d be joining grassroots efforts to fight the injustices that continue to plague black communities. I was very close to 5 starring this book & it’s probably still going to make my list for best books of 20201. In between the oral history Sunny is piecing together from each character, we get what’s titled “Editiors Note” from Sunny herself. Sometimes I did feel these parts took me out of the narrative a bit even though I was still genuinely interested in Sunny herself. It was never enough to take away from my enjoyment of the story, perhaps it was a matter of Opal taking center stage so much that I found it hard to pull away from her voice. Overall I found this to be quite the engaging character driven read and I already have my eyes on the audiobook from Librofm which is released this Tuesday March 30th with a FULL cast!


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March 2021 Anticipated New Releases

March, when the weather starts to change up here in NYC and the book releases start to double! One day I’m layering up at home and the next I’m sporting beach wear *queue the random snow flurries* Ordinarily this is also the time of the year when I’d go find a cozy cafe to go sit and read. Instead, I’ve taken to substituting reading on my commute and in cafes for a favorite room in my apartment paired with Tik Tok recipes of lattes. As for my favorite room? it’s a coin toss between the tub (bath bomb + wine are invited of course) OR a spot on the couch along with my fuzziest blanket and tea. Audiobooks is where I change things up a bit since I cannot sit still while listening to a book, my attention will go everywhere else. I really enjoy listening to a book while cooking, doing laundry or working out. Currently I’m finishing up Down Comes The Night by Allison Saft and I feel almost like I have too many books I want to read next smh, stay tuned for a Friday Reads post this week <3’s!

 What are you Lovely Book Lovers highly anticipating? I read across most genres, I say most because I’ve yet to venture into Historical Romance but I’m getting there *grin & nod* SO drop those I may have missed down below. Tackling my Possibility Pile is about to get a whole lot bigger and more innnnneresting with the titles listed below hitting shelves this month…


YA fantasy/SCI-FI/Middle grade/Contemporary

LOST IN THE NEVER WOODS BY AIDEN THOMAS – 3/23 Aiden Thomas is releasing the first book he wrote prior to Cemetery Boys & I’m here for it! this is a Queer Peter Pan retelling about grief and after loving Cemetery Boys so much, I have zero doubts Thomas will deliver another 5 star!

A TRIAL OF SORCERERS BY ELISE KOVA – 3/4 I shamefully own some of Kova’s books but have yet to read them SMH, this author is known for scoring such STUNNING covers! This is the start of a new YA Fantasy series that I’ve heard may actually take place in the same world as the Air Awakens series but can be read on its own.  Described as a “tale of competition, coming of age, distant lands, elemental magic, and romance. It’s perfect for fans of the Legend of Korra, Truthwitch, and A Sorcery of Thorns.”

NAMESAKE (FABLE #2) BY ADRIENNE YOUNG – 3/16 The sequel to Fable (my review) , a duology following a female Pirate on a quest to find the father who abandoned her. There’s a crew and a high seas adventure, treachery and what could possibly be the beginning of a romance? I’m curious enough to want to find out! also, Young has a real talent for writing familial connections that leave you all in your feelings. If you love a good audiobook, the narrator Emma Lyssy NAILED the performance on Fable and is back again for Namesake. 

CHAIN OF IRON (THE LAST HOURS #2) BY CASSANDRA CLARE – 3/2 I have nothing to say other than I’m a slacker AND all I can do is watch from the sidelines as everyone gets to read this book! I have yet to start Lady Midnight but that’s where I left off with the shadowhunters so yes it’s absolutely on my to-do list this year. If only to justify buying a copy of this beauty *sobs* 

THE MIRROR SEASON BY ANNA MARIE-MCLEMORE – 3/16 Here in this corner of the interwebz we stan Anna Marie-McLemore, they are an auto-buy author for me and I already have a copy of this book arriving tomorrow. We have a MC who goes to a party and is the victim of assault along with a boy she barely knows. This causes her to lose her gift for making enchanted pan dulce. The neighborhood itself starts to mysteriously change and the boy who was assaulted with her shows up at her school with no recollection of the night they were both harmed. She then decides that in order to protect him she must hide the truth from him. THIS is going to break me! I just know it.

FIRE KEEPER’S DAUGHTER BY ANGELINE BOULLEY – 3/16 A debut that has been making its rounds on the gram and the blogs & was selected for Reese’s Book Club. A mystery/thriller that follows a young bi-racial MC as she investigates a string of crimes plaguing her community using her knowledge of chemistry and traditional medicine. This is one that’s going to be heavy in its subject matter, readers should seek out content warnings. I pre-ordered my physical copy and also was granted access to a complimentary copy from Libro.fm, I will absolutely be reviewing here on the blog.

RULE OF WOLVES (KING OF SCARS #2) BY LEIGH BARDUGO -3/30 I’m still not sure where I stand with this title as far as excitement goes. King of Scars which I did not really enjoy…so much so I didn’t even review it. If I’m being quite honest, it’s the excitement of the Grishaverse coming to Netflix that has me considering picking up a copy of this sequel. I am however here for more Nina Zenik AKA The Queen of Mourning!

DOWN COMES THE NIGHT BY ALLISON SAFT – 3/2 a Gothic Paranormal Romance (My current read) set during a time of turmoil and war. We have a bisexual MC who has magic in her blood, she’s a healer for her country’s military but she lacks the favor of her aunt the Queen. Dismissed from the Queen’s Gaurd and out of options to redeem herself, she accepts an invitation  to Colwick Hall to cure a servant from a mysterious illness. The mansion feels haunted with its closed off and crumbling wings and the host is eccentric and restricting. This also reads as a mystery as our MC sets out to uncover what nefarious dealings are afoot.

BRIDGE OF SOULS (CASSIDY BLAKE #) BY VICTORIA SCHWAB3/2 A middle grade series I haven’t started yet BUT the fact that it’s set in New Orleans with a MC who is a Ghost Hunter makes it a MUST read!

ONCE UPON A QUINCEÑERA BY MONICA GOMEZ-HIRA -3/2 Described as “Jenny Han meets Jane the Virgin” *Gasp* a YA Latinx Contemporary with a MC who is stuck spending her summer in an unpaid internship where she must wear a ballgown and perform. When her company gets hired to work her cousins Quinceñera and she’s paired off with her ex as a dance partner, things get complicated. She wants nothing more than to leave her past in the past, hoping it’s as fun as it sounds haha!


Adult Fantasy & SCI-FI

THE UNBROKEN BY C.L. CLARK – 3/23 Queer Sci-Fi Fantasy with a MC whow was stolen as a child and then raised to kill and die for the empire. When her company is sent back home to stop a rebellion she has to decide where her loyalties lie. We get a romance between our MC Touraine and Luca who is determined to get her uncle off the throne …that sounds so bad a**!!! HIGH hopes this will be a favorite of 2021 *fingers crossed* 

THE BONE MAKER BY SARAH BETH DURST – 3/9 “Five warriors—one broken, one gone soft, one pursuing a simple life, one stuck in the past, and one who should be dead. Their story should have been finished. But evil doesn’t stop just because someone once said, “the end.” THIS standalone Fantasy has all the makings of a EPIC read! we get heroes who fought and lost their lives to defeat a evil bone maker 25 years ago…possibly come back from the dead?!? IT GETS NO BETTER THAN THAT AMIRGHT?


Adult Fiction & Romance

THE LOST APOTHECARY BY SARAH PENCER – 3/2 “A female apothecary secretly dispenses poisons to liberate women from the men who have wronged them—setting three lives across centuries on a dangerous collision course. Rule #1: The poison must never be used to harm another woman. Rule #2: The names of the murderer and her victim must be recorded in the apothecary’s register.” Excited to see this one as a Book of the Month March pick, I’m a sucker for Historical Fiction set in London and this one just sounds right up my alley. 

THE FINAL REVIVAL OF OPAL & NEV BY DAWNIE WALTON – 3/30 “A poignant fictional oral history of the beloved rock ‘n’ roll duo who shot to fame in the 1970s New York, and the dark, fraught secret that lies at the peak of their stardom.” Another Book of the Month March selection I was looking forward to especially after hearing it’s written in the same oral format as Daisy Jones and the Six!!! a girl can only dream *heart eyes*

ACT YOUR AGE, EVE BROWN BY TALIA HIBBERT – 3/9 (My reviewThe third and final book in The Brown Sisters trilogy & I LOVED IT! I was granted access to a eGalley from the publisher which made my January all the better. This is Eve’s story, the youngest of the Browns who has been adrift when it comes to settling down whether it be career or relationships. Her parents put their foot down and cut off her access to her trust fund until she can show them she can adult. This leads her to working as a chef at a B&B and we get a close proximity hate-to-love romance with Jacob, an autistic man with a curmudgeon like personality. Be still my heart! ❤

THE SONG BOOK OF BENNY LAMENT BY AMY HARMON – 3/16 Historical Fiction set in 1960’s featuring a MC who plays the piano and writes songs, his father is also deeply connected to the mob. When his father introduces him to a singer with a powerhouse voice, they become an unstoppable duo both on and off the stage. This is also a romance between an interracial couple that spotlights a lot of the issues black people were experiencing during the 60’s in NYC. My copy arrives tomorrow & I have already planned to squeeze it into my March reading.

WILD WOMEN AND THE BLUES BY DENNY S. BRYCE – 3/30 In a stirring and impeccably researched novel of Jazz-age Chicago in all its vibrant life, two stories intertwine nearly a hundred years apart, as a chorus girl and a film student deal with loss, forgiveness, and love…in all its joy, sadness, and imperfections.” Not a book set in 1920’s Chicago! *arms extended* saved the best for last here because I’ve truly been counting down the days for this one. I read the Goodreads synopsis after seeing this stunning cover pop up in a magazine ad and I got such Evelyn Hugo vibes which only got me more stoked. High hopes. High hopes. 


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Spoiler Free Review: Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert

Title: Act Your Age, Eve Brown

Author: Eve Brown

Pub. Date: March 9th 2021

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Format: eGalley

Publisher: Avon Books

Pages: 400 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🖤

Eve Brown hasn’t quite found her footing in life when her family decides to stage an intervention. The wealthy Brown family love their daughters but realize that Eve is a bit lost and hesitant to set off in the world. Cutting her off of her trust fund and pushing her to set some goals turns out to be the push she needs to discover some things about what is holding her back. She stumbles into a Bed and Breakfast that is looking to hire a Chef, the owner Jacob is an autistic man who is everything Eve has stayed away from. Organized, meticulous, a bit rigid and a stickler for rules Jacob sees Eve as a tornado come at the wrong time. Eve personally applies for the job because she thinks it doesn’t run the risk of being something she will fall in love with doing. For Eve it’s not just fear of failure, it’s also disappointing her loved ones. It’s why she’s floated in between careers and hobbies without ever truly setting roots even though she’s quite skilled and great at pretty much anything she tries her hand at.

“𝑊𝑜𝑟𝑘 𝑤𝑎𝑠 𝑠𝑜𝑚𝑒𝑡ℎ𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑦𝑜𝑢 𝑑𝑖𝑑 𝑡𝑜 𝑡𝑟𝑦 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑓𝑒𝑒𝑙 𝑢𝑠𝑒𝑓𝑢𝑙—𝑢𝑛𝑡𝑖𝑙 𝑦𝑜𝑢 𝑓𝑢**𝑒𝑑 𝑖𝑡 𝑢𝑝. 𝑊𝑜𝑟𝑘 𝑤𝑎𝑠 𝑠𝑜𝑚𝑒𝑡ℎ𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑦𝑜𝑢 𝑑𝑖𝑑 𝑡𝑜 ℎ𝑒𝑙𝑝 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑝𝑒𝑜𝑝𝑙𝑒 𝑎𝑟𝑜𝑢𝑛𝑑 𝑦𝑜𝑢 𝑢𝑛𝑡𝑖𝑙 𝑦𝑜𝑢 𝑤𝑒𝑟𝑒𝑛’𝑡 𝑛𝑒𝑒𝑑𝑒𝑑 𝑎𝑛𝑦𝑚𝑜𝑟𝑒. 𝑊𝑜𝑟𝑘 𝑤𝑎𝑠 𝑛𝑜𝑡 𝑠𝑜𝑚𝑒𝑡ℎ𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑦𝑜𝑢 𝑒𝑛𝑗𝑜𝑦𝑒𝑑 𝑖𝑛 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑜𝑓 𝑖𝑡𝑠𝑒𝑙𝑓, 𝑏𝑒𝑐𝑎𝑢𝑠𝑒 𝑡ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝑤𝑜𝑢𝑙𝑑 𝑜𝑛𝑙𝑦 𝑚𝑎𝑘𝑒 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑠𝑖𝑡𝑢𝑎𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛 𝑤𝑜𝑟𝑠𝑒 𝑤ℎ𝑒𝑛 𝑒𝑣𝑒𝑟𝑦𝑡ℎ𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑐𝑜𝑙𝑙𝑎𝑝𝑠𝑒𝑑.“

Jacob has just suffered an injury (won’t say how cause spoilers haha!) and doesn’t have anyone that can help run his B&B the way he is accustomed to on such short notice. He gives in and posts a flier looking to hire a Chef temporarily and Eve is who comes in for an interview. We get a hate-to-love romance with plenty of steam to accompany the dishes they’re serving! + who doesn’t love the proximity trope? *wink eye wink eye* UGH! just when I thought it couldn’t get better than Dani & Zaf from Take a Hint, Dani Brown (my review) Hibbert swoops in with the next all star couple *heart eyes*

There’s so much we get to unravel with Eve as a main character, someone who is so giving of herself but doesn’t see much of a return. This was really a story of self worth and setting boundaries that I heavily could relate to. It’s also not a Talia Hibbert book without A+ humor and banter, Eve & Jacob had me laughing for the entirety of my one sitting read of this book. I created a playlist of songs Eve listens to while she works and enjoyed my time with these characters. Character quirks I loved: Jacobs maddening inner monologue on how Eve drives him up the wall had me giggling for hours. His need for control and icy reserve slowly coming apart whenever he entered the kitchen and saw Eve in her element. Eve who is completely oblivious at just how magnificent she is…I LOVE HER! I lived for those moments when Eve delighted in the joy she got from making Jacob blush with her sexual innuendos. I love all of the Brown sisters but Eve is just so full of personality and a nurturer in ways she herself hasn’t acknowledged. Eve is a multi-talented, plus size, sexy, fun tee-shirt wearing woman with great taste in music and a big heart.

“Your abilities lie in the places people usually overlook, so you’ve been convinced you don’t have any at all. But you’re smart, and you’re capable, and if people struggle to see that, it’s their problem, not yours.”

Jacob is 100% supportive and in doing so helps Eve come to the realization that she is a phenomenal woman. They also share a lot more in common than meets the eye, won’t say what cause that would definitely be spoilery. I just honestly believe Talia Hibbert knows how to deliver a male love interest you can’t help but love! They’re in no way perfect but Red from Get a Life Chloe Brown, Zaf from Take a Hint, Dani Brown and now Jacob from Act Your Age, Eve Brown Come close to ideal when thinking of a life partner  This is the conclusion to the Brown sisters and although bittersweet, I am beyond happy to have met all of these characters on the page. These are character driven stories filled with humor and strongly independent female leads paired with awesome male partners. Best of all is the humor, diversity, and body positivity they all carry within💜


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Spoiler Free Review: Remote Control by Nnedi Okorafor

Title: Remote Control

Author: Nnedi Okorafor

Pub. Date: January 19th 2021

Genre: Science Fiction Fantasy

Format: eGalley

Publisher: Tor.com

Pages: 160 pages

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“𝐼𝑛 𝑆𝑎𝑛𝑘𝑜𝑓𝑎’𝑠 𝑦𝑒𝑎𝑟𝑠 𝑜𝑛 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑟𝑜𝑎𝑑, 𝑠ℎ𝑒’𝑑 𝑙𝑒𝑎𝑟𝑛𝑒𝑑 𝑡ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝑝𝑒𝑜𝑝𝑙𝑒 𝑤𝑒𝑟𝑒 𝑐𝑜𝑚𝑝𝑙𝑖𝑐𝑎𝑡𝑒𝑑. 𝑇ℎ𝑒𝑦 𝑤𝑜𝑟𝑒 𝑚𝑎𝑠𝑘𝑠 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑔𝑢𝑖𝑠𝑒𝑠 𝑡𝑜 𝑝𝑟𝑜𝑡𝑒𝑐𝑡 𝑜𝑟 ℎ𝑖𝑑𝑒 𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑖𝑟 𝑟𝑒𝑎𝑙 𝑠𝑒𝑙𝑣𝑒𝑠. 𝑇ℎ𝑒𝑦 𝑟𝑒𝑖𝑛𝑣𝑒𝑛𝑡𝑒𝑑 𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑚𝑠𝑒𝑙𝑣𝑒𝑠. 𝑇ℎ𝑒𝑦 𝑑𝑒𝑠𝑡𝑟𝑜𝑦𝑒𝑑 𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑚𝑠𝑒𝑙𝑣𝑒𝑠. 𝑇ℎ𝑒𝑦 𝑏𝑢𝑖𝑙𝑡 𝑜𝑛 𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑚𝑠𝑒𝑙𝑣𝑒𝑠.“

Nnedi Okorafor’s Remote Control is an Afro futurism novella featuring a seven year old Sankofa aka The Adopted Daughter of Death as she travels down the winding roads in Ghana after a tragic accident that changed her life. Sankofa travels alone with the exception of a fox who never leaves her side for long. Wherever she goes, death follows. Her touch can destroy towns as well as grant death to those ailing or diseased. Sankofa doesn’t have many answers but she does set out to find the object that fell from the sky. In this Novella we see Sankofa grow into a woman who has learned to observe those around her. Humans deep reliance on technology and what fear can inspire in others. Our MC has experienced a deep and tragic loss before the start of her journey. She then goes on to experience trauma at the hands of strangers who either fear her or see her as a literal remote control they can wield for their own benefit. This was my first time reading Nnedi Okorafor, I found Okorafor’s writing style easily transported me to the winding roads of Ghana. I smelled the shea butter tree and cream Sankofa used on her skin. I heard the slap of her sandals on the ground and the rustle of tree leaves. There was one morbid scene that had my stomach turned inside out but it also left me in awe. I was blown away at how much was delivered in this 160 page novella and the fact that it still delivered a satisfying ending. Sankofa is a memorable character that I wouldn’t mind coming across again if the author were to revisit her story. Remote Control was my first venture into Afro-Futurism but it won’t be my last! If anything, Okorafor has awakened my interest in this genre. I look forward to reading more from this author and in fact have already hauled the Hugo and Nebula Award winner Binti trilogy🖤


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February 2021 Anticipated New Releases

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


YA & SCI-FI

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


YA CONTEMPORARY

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

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

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

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

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


CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE & FICTION

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

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

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

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

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


ADULT FANTASY & SCI-FI

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

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

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

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

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


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WWW WEDNESDAYS 2/3/2021

WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted 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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January 2021 Anticipated New Releases

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


YA & MIDDLE GRADE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


SCI-FI & FANTASY

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

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


fiction & romance

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

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


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


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Spoiler Free Review: Blazewrath Games by Amparo Ortiz

Title: Blazewrath Games (Blazewrath Games #1)

Author: Amparo Ortiz

Pub. Date: October 6th 2020

Genre: YA Fantasy/Latinx

Format: eGalley

Publisher: Page Street Kids

Pages: 368 pages

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE | AMAZON 

🖤eGalley provided by Publisher in exchange for an honest review🖤

“𝑇ℎ𝑒 𝑡ℎ𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑎𝑏𝑜𝑢𝑡 𝑝𝑒𝑜𝑝𝑙𝑒 𝑖𝑠 𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑦 𝑡𝑒𝑛𝑑 𝑡𝑜 𝑙𝑜𝑣𝑒 𝑢𝑠 𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑖𝑟 𝑤𝑎𝑦, 𝑛𝑜𝑡 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑤𝑎𝑦 𝑤𝑒’𝑑 𝑤𝑎𝑛𝑡 𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑚 𝑡𝑜 𝑙𝑜𝑣𝑒 𝑢𝑠. 𝑊𝑒 𝑐𝑎𝑛 𝑡𝑒𝑙𝑙 𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑚 𝑙𝑜𝑎𝑑𝑠 𝑜𝑓 𝑡𝑖𝑚𝑒𝑠. 𝑊𝑒 𝑐𝑎𝑛 𝑑𝑟𝑎𝑤 𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑚 𝑎 𝑏𝑙𝑜𝑜𝑑𝑦 𝑚𝑎𝑝. 𝑆𝑜𝑚𝑒𝑡𝑖𝑚𝑒𝑠 𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑖𝑟 𝑤𝑎𝑦 𝑖𝑠 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑜𝑛𝑙𝑦 𝑤𝑎𝑦 𝑡ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝑚𝑎𝑘𝑒𝑠 𝑠𝑒𝑛𝑠𝑒 𝑡𝑜 𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑚. 𝑂𝑢𝑟 𝑣𝑜𝑖𝑐𝑒𝑠 𝑎𝑟𝑒 𝑗𝑢𝑠𝑡 𝑤ℎ𝑖𝑡𝑒 𝑛𝑜𝑖𝑠𝑒”

Blazewrath Games is described as “How to Train Your Dragons” meets “Quidditch through the Ages” and I’d say that’s about right with the exception that this book actually brings forth a ton of representation. It is the first Young Adult Fantasy I’ve seen hit the shelves with Latinx characters straight from the island of Puerto-Rico. The Spanish language is used all throughout, bringing the terms of endearment we use for one another as well as the pride we have for our Island to the page. The Blazewrath Games themselves are sort of like the Olympics with representation from all countries. One of the countries introduced has a team made up of ALL members of the LGBTQIA+ community. Within team Puerto-Rico we also have Queer rep which made my little heart very happy to see! Our MC Lana faces some challenges getting chosen as a Runner for the team since she has spent many years away from the island. She feels displaced & is met with some opposition along the way.

Lana is passionate about Blazewrath & Puerto Rico, she sets out to prove she’s worthy of her place on the team. In this world dragons bond with the humans they choose to participate in the Blazewrath Games. The Dragons are full of personality & love for their Riders but there are also Unbonded Dragons. These dragons are deemed volatile to civilians and our villain who was a former dragon cursed into human form sees an opportunity to gain control. Dragon sanctuaries are being burned down in protest of the Blazewrath Games. Lana and her teammates are thrust into solving a complex conspiracy while also trying to win the Cup for their Island of Puerto Rico. If you’re looking to discover new diverse YA Fantasy with dragons, wizards, witches and adventure this is one worth giving a shot.

Content Warning: Mention of domestic violence, Cancer, death of a parent

Blazewrath Games is Amparo Ortiz debut YA Fantasy, one that I was heavily looking forward to since seeing Ortiz speak on a panel earlier this year for Diversity in YA. Our MC Lana who was born in Puerto-Rico but has since relocated with her mother after their parents separation is experiencing a sense of displacement. She yearns to reconnect with her roots and also with her father who she maintains a close long distance relationship with. I’ve always had a soft spot for father/daughter stories since they take me back to my own and so I was hoping to see Lana’s more fleshed out. Her dad seems to be someone she has a deep bond with but for the majority of the story he’s M.I.A. Although his absence is explained on the page, I wished we’d seen more of him and less of what seemed to be a very tense relationship with her mom. Blazewrath is a fast paced adventure with a conspiracy at its core, if you’re a fan of dragons and magical settings this is a solid read. Team Puerto-Rico is a tight knit crew we get to know as Lana interacts with them in her training. More focus however is placed on the dragons, their abilities which are developing and their personalities. I LOVED all of the dragons with a special place in my heart for Daga the youngest and easily excited of them all. I’m very curious to see where Ortiz takes this story next in Bloodbath Ring (Blazewrath Games #2) which doesn’t have a release date yet but I’ve already added to my TBR.


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