August 2022 Reading Wrap-Up

  It seems only right that my first wrap up in a very long time coincides with the very first taste of cool weather here in New York City. While it was fun making my own Starbucks Oat milk Shaken Espressos at home, I’m ready for a lower maintenance hot cup of coffee this Fall. August was a month of spending time with friends, family and one VERY LONG road trip that ended up being an awesome time! it was also a month of consistently training my Brittany puppy Reese who is 8 months old and ready to tackle September’s hiking trails. Over on Bookstagram I get a lot of questions about Reese, so far he’s learned the commands sit, stay, drop it, paw, high five, down, and with me. His favorite words are eat, water, Dentastick, outside and go which he translates as run. Potty training was a labor of love but we’ve got him going outside every 8 hours/3x per day with no inside accidents *victory dance*

On the BOOKISH FRONT I surprised myself with reading seven books since I typically don’t really go beyond five or six during the month. Part of this is because physical fitness has amped up my audiobook listening. It’s not always that I want to jump into a book and for those days I’ve started listening to Podcasts. I’ve found some new faves to listen to while also admitting to myself that this is the reason why my TBR is once again bursting at the seams. These are some that I feel do a great job of covering new releases as well as hitting those backlist titles. To name a few: Reading Through life, From The front Porch, The Bookish Banter Podcast, Literally Reading, The Currently Reading Podcast, The Bibliovert Podcast and All the Books! (Book Riot)

My reading was giving off Fall vibes all throughout August, none of these were light in tone or plot but my heart was happy and I have a few new 5 star favorites…

Love in the Time Of Serial Killers by Alicia Thompson – ☆☆Stars☆☆ Overall enjoyable if you can get past the pessimist female lead with a knack for dropping serial killer pop culture trivia more than preferred. The grumpy-sunshine trope is done well, it’ll just come down to how you mesh with Pheobe’s personality, I have a full review here

Just Like Home by Sarah Gailey – ☆☆4 Stars☆☆ a PERFECT add-on to your spooky TBR’s, this was an audiobook listen and I’m of the mind that this is the format to take in this story. I still hear the female lead Vera, bone-chilling and cold are the words that come to mind. The house this story takes place in holds many secrets which the author did a fantastic job of conveying from the very first page. It’s disturbing, the last book that made me feel like this is just wrong! is when I read My Dark Vanessa. The relationship between Vera and her mother is just about as toxic as they come, no love lost between the two. This one is told in dual timelines with Vera recounting childhood interactions with her parents & present time. 

Shutter by Ramona Emerson ☆☆Stars☆☆ sadly I can’t remember too much of this one other than it was slow and the narrator just wasn’t it. I wanted to love it since any stories that feature anything in the realm of forensics almost always piques my interest, but also it’s set in New Mexico’s Navajo Nation. The MC is a forensics photographer who also happens to see ghosts and they almost always need/want her to listen or help in order for their souls to rest in peace. She’s met with one ghost who is very aggressive and won’t be ignored, she wants her murder solved or else. At times gruesome with depictions of bodies that met violent ends, the supernatural aspects were well done. However, I didn’t love that every single one of our MC’s superiors was a disgusting pig who treated her terribly. She doesn’t get much of a reprieve and the ending happened at lightning speed. Not sure if I would try this author again, may just not be for me. 

Spy X Family by Tatsuya Endo – ☆☆5 Stars☆☆ My first MANGA! and I can’t stop singing its praises! Agent Twilight and the family he puts together for the sake of his mission are EVERYTHING! there were so many cute moments with Anya who is his telepathic fake child and bad ass scenes with Yor, his assassin fake wife. I just found out about the first season on Hulu and properly added it to my queue. 

 Jade War by Fonda Lee – ☆☆5 Stars☆☆ I hadn’t stopped thinking of the Green Bones since reading 𝗝𝗮𝗱𝗲 𝗖𝗶𝘁𝘆 last December, their fates and fortune always at the back of my mind. This book is THICK! and not a single page was unecessary, not a single stone was left unturned bookworms! I enjoyed highlighting and annotating her pages with predictions and WTF moments. The stakes are even higher. The Weatherman has upped their strategic skills and our Pillar has fully stepped into his role. The war on the streets for Jade has now seeped into foreign countries…as in we’ve gone INTERNATIONAL!!! *please use the maps Fonda Lee has gifted us* good lawd, I almost turned my workspace into a war room to keep track of all the alliances and enemies closing ranks. EPIC and truly unforgettable, I think I’m ready for Jade Legacy

Nettle & Bone by T. Kingfisher – ☆☆5 Stars☆☆ I am guilty of picking up this book solely to sate the curiosity of meeting the wild chicken mentioned by every reviewer who’s read this book. Mystery solved and I too couldn’t get enough of said chicken or Bonedog! Every single character in this book brought me pure satisfaction and joy to meet on the page. If you’re a lover of quests, animal companions, found families, and the take down of abusive men then this is the book for you. Marra is the third born Princess who was sent away to a convent while her sisters were married off to a Prince for political alliances. A prince who is abusive and quietly manhandles them until the shy and introverted Marra spots traces of his abuse. She seeks out a wise old gravewitch with hopes of being given the way the kill the Prince. On her quest she’s soon joined by a reluctant and funny God Mother, a handsome loyal knight, a loving bone dog and a sassy chicken. This a genre bending (a lil bit of fantasy/horror), character driven, atmospheric and just all around fun time! I’ve already reserved a copy of T.Kingfisher’s What Moves the Dead on Libby

After Hours on Milagro Street by Angelina M. Lopez – ☆☆ 5 Stars☆☆ I really enjoyed this story and will be on the lookout for more from this author. This is  a Latine story with a plus size Mexican American female lead who goes back home to Kansas in hopes of taking over the bar owned by her grandmother. Alejandra or “Alex” has acquired some social media fame as a trendy bartender in the bigger cities and is hoping to bring some of her style to the family bar. What she wasn’t expecting was to be met with a matriarch who isn’t ready to be told what to do with her business and in fact is asking that they prove why they make the best choice to sell to. It is a romance so what you can expect is the grumpy sunshine trope paired with close proximity and oh was it steamy AF! check out my full review here


 

Why this movie didn’t get the massive Netflix marketing that some others received is beyond me! I LOVED it so much that I made it my second (the first goes to Always Be My Maybe) favorite feel good flick. This is a rom-com that is family centered and filled with many laugh out loud moments. There’s also great commentary on what makes someone successful in life and whether that factors into your partner in marriage. Soon after I discovered the series Indian Matchmaking on Netflix and I’m currently still watching, top tier! 


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Spoiler Free Review: The Dead Romantics by Ashley Poston

Title: The Dead Romantics

Author: Ashley Poston

Pub. Date: June 28th 2022

Genre: Contemporary Romance/Paranormal

Format: eARC

Publisher: Berkley

Pages: 368

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

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

Rating: 68/9.7 =  ☆☆ 5 Stars☆☆╮

Rating system created by The Book Roast 

★彡 𝐄𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐲𝐨𝐧𝐞 𝐬𝐚𝐢𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐰𝐡𝐞𝐧 𝐚 𝐃𝐚𝐲 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐛𝐨𝐫𝐧, 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐲 𝐰𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐚𝐥𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐝𝐲 𝐰𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐟𝐮𝐧𝐞𝐫𝐚𝐥 𝐜𝐥𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐬. 𝐖𝐞 𝐭𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐭𝐞𝐝 𝐝𝐞𝐚𝐭𝐡 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐝 𝐨𝐟 𝐜𝐞𝐥𝐞𝐛𝐫𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐦𝐨𝐬𝐭 𝐩𝐞𝐨𝐩𝐥𝐞 𝐨𝐧𝐥𝐲 𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫 𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐞𝐫𝐯𝐞𝐝 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐥𝐢𝐟𝐞. 彡★

Florence Day is a ghostwriter for a prolific romance writer who happens to be on a deadline. After a very rough break-up, Florence can’t find it in her to write about love, she no longer believes in it. She’s on her way to meet her new editor and pitch him the idea for a book outside of the romance genre. She wasn’t anticipating him being an incredibly sexy “mountain of a man” or that he would deny her pitch at another book. The pressure is on and when Florence gets a call from her mother to come home because her dad has just passed…she has to return down south to a town that ran her off ten years ago. Florence sees ghosts, more specifically she sees those that need help crossing over. Her family runs the towns funeral parlor and the only other person who shared her gift was her dad. Ten years ago she helped solve the murder of a boy with the help of his ghost and that made headlines. Now back in town, she answers the funeral parlors doorbell only to find the ghost of her very handsome editor and his unfinished business. The one to make her question her new stance on love.

THIS BOOK!!! Yes, I’m a sucker for father/daughter stories but I bawled my eyes out while smiling and laughing all at the same time. Having lost my own dad, whenever I find one in the pages of a book with as much character and life as my own had…it’s a 5 star read. Although the reason for which Florence returns to her hometown is sad, it’s also treated as a celebration of life. Her family after all is in the business of death and preparing send offs, her father made sure that his is befitting that of his life. The whole family is awesome and supportive, quirky and honest. They have their issues like every family but they hash it out. The neighbors/town come to life and you get all the southern charm both good & bad. The romance was sweet, slow burn and hopeful! it doesn’t get better than a love interest who also loves reading romance novels and restores faith in love. Last but not least there’s a funeral parlor setting, Adams Family vibes, and queer siblings who fight and make up that made this a fun read with tons of personality! 🖤

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Spoiler Free Review: Set On You by Amy Lea

Title: Set On You

Author: Amy Lea

Pub. Date: May 10th 2022

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Format: eARC

Publisher: Berkley Books

Pages: 384 pages

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

Fitstagrammer Crystal Chen has built her platform by breaking gym stereotypes and throwing positivity at the haters who can’t help but troll her posts. She’s just experienced a break-up that’s left her feeling like setting some boundaries. Tired of having surface level flings and craving a deeper connection, Crystal is on high alert for any guy with red flags. To top it off she finds herself in squat wars with the new guy at the gym who she’s dubbed The Squat Rack Thief. This guy doesn’t follow any of the gyms unspoken rules leaving Crystal both appalled and determined to beat him to the squat rack each night. Soon a tit-for-tat type relationship develops and with it, a whole dose of sexual chemistry. 

Hopefully Dear Reader, you haven’t read the Goodreads synopsis for this book since I feel it gives away a bit too much and I’m glad I went in with very minimal info. For starters, we don’t get Squat Rack Thief’s name right away and I felt this added a fun mystery and led to a surprising reveal. These characters face a couple of challenges before their romance takes off but nothing they couldn’t get through, it was more of a battle of wills playing out. Crystal isn’t trying to become anyone’s rebound (again) and she’s also fiercely and proudly protective of her followers. She dedicates her time to working privately with clients and posting motivational videos/captions that we get to read in the book. We also get to see both the positive & negative comments she gets daily and how she handles having a large platform as a plus size Chinese American Fitstagrammer. Squat Rack Thief is described as looking like Chris Evans and having killer abs but he also deals with some stereotypes and Crystal brings those to the surface. 

All images originate from Pinterest

CW (some of which are mentioned in the author’s note): Cheating, Cancer, death of a loved one mentioned, cyberbullying, fatphobia, references to racism, fitness/diet culture

At its core this book carries such a strong message on what exactly “body positivity” really is on an individual basis and what confidence and self-worth really looks like on the daily. Any book that can make me self reflect is one I’ll recommend and this is one I feel did that and more. Personally, my fitness journey like crystals stemmed from wanting to find my way back to a more confident ME. It’s not tied to a number on the scale but rather a feeling of happiness and comfort in my own skin. There’s also the fact that Crystal doesn’t have a traditional job or career, she has built a strong following and with it acquired some endorsements. Her loving traditional self-made father struggles with her choices and that too was interesting to see play out. All in all, we have a independent woman who has worked hard to achieve success, confidence and up her self worth but that doesn’t mean every day is a good day.

“I don’t think confidence and self-worth is something you magically attain. And you don’t simply hold onto it forever like a tangible object. It’s fluid. You can be confident in every aspect except one. Or something could happen and all your confidence can be shattered in an instant.”

The journey Crystal is on is hella relatable down to setting healthy boundaries with the male love interest. Yes there were moments where they bent the rules & gave into their cravings but there was also a clear line of communication. I really would’ve loved for this to have been multiple POV cause I was dying to know what Squat Rack Thief was thinking. Especially during the last 15% where that communication they maintained all throughout was put on pause. Otherwise this was a laugh-out-loud funny, sexy, empowering, and at times five chili peppers steamy read. There’s a strong cast of supporting characters made up of family members and friends, each of them well fleshed out with tons of personality. Something to look forward to? possibly? well, Crystal’s sister is introduced as a Bookstagrammer/Nurse and I’m more than READY for her story! One can hope amiright?!? Set on You by Amy Lea hits shelves May 10th!

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Spoilery GUSH Review: Jade City by Fonda Lee

Title: Jade City

Author: Fonda Lee

Pub. Date: June 26th 2018

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Format: Hardcover

Publisher: Orbit

Pages: 560 pages

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

Rating: 70/10 =  ☆☆ 5 Stars☆☆╮

Rating system created by The Book Roast 

☆☆ “𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐜𝐥𝐚𝐧 𝐢𝐬 𝐦𝐲 𝐛𝐥𝐨𝐨𝐝, 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐏𝐢𝐥𝐥𝐚𝐫 𝐢𝐬 𝐢𝐭𝐬 𝐦𝐚𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐫. 𝐎𝐧 𝐦𝐲 𝐡𝐨𝐧𝐨𝐫, 𝐦𝐲 𝐥𝐢𝐟𝐞, 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐦𝐲 𝐣𝐚𝐝𝐞.” ☆☆╮
Jade City was one of my last reads in 2021 and thank the Universe for that! It was everything I was told it would be and more, simply intoxicating being in this world. If you’re a fan of Godfather type stories or just gravitate towards age old feuds paired with cut throat politics doused with some magic, the Green Bone Saga is a MUST read! The island of Kekon is ruled by two crime syndicates, the Kaul family run the No Peak Clan who are considered royalty; and its rival the Mountain Clan. These clans at one point in time operated as one in the best interest of Kekon however, after a fall out between the original leaders they separated and each claimed businesses and districts to protect. The island is rapidly changing and attracting attention from foreigners due to being the only site of Jade production. Jade, the green magical gems that grant superhuman abilities to those with the right training and heritage is HIGHLY coveted and fiercely protected. The Kaul family is of the mind that Jade needs to stay within Kekon since it’s not only dangerous in the wrong untrained hands but also the core of their culture. Kungfu is taught in the academy that churns out street soldiers with each of the clans has their own school with competitive training. To be trained in Kung Fu and placed as first a “Finger” who can rank up to a “Fist” working for the “The Horn” is an honor and aspiration for many young men. Jade distribution is carefully monitored with knowledge that there is a black market set on making it accessible to the outside world. The Mountain and its “Pillar” who is their leader, is of the mind that Jade is already being illegally sold so why not make it so they sell and control its distribution for the good of Kekon. We have two Pillars from opposing clans with differing views on the future of their island. A peace treaty of sorts is in place at the start of this story however greed and a lust for power soon ends that treaty and fills the streets with blood.

The Kaul family legit came across as all too real, they were fleshed out to the point it felt as if you were at their dinner table about to throw down! There’s a lot to take in with regards to family history and old alliances. The Kaul’s Pillar is the Grandfather who is now experiencing the start of Dementia and is transitioned out of his role. His grandchildren Lan (next Pillar), Hilo (The Horn), and Shae (sister who left Kekon in search of her purpose outside of the family) are the next generation of leaders who are learning the ropes and trying their best to fill some very big shoes. This of course means that they’re bound to disagree and bump heads and I absolutely LOVE books featuring sibling dynamics! Shae & Hilo who are already multi-faceted characters deliver when it comes to showing the good, bad, and ugly of sibling relationships. This is the type of Urban Fantasy I eat up, where the author does such a stellar job at vividly painting you a picture of what it feels like to walk down the street in their city that all the work is done for your imagination. There are some scenes that just stick out in my mind and one of them is definitely Shae’s return cause it was so bad a** and feminist AF! she is the wild card in the deck and I couldn’t get enough. Only one word comes to mind when I hear Hilo’s name and that is LOYALTY! now I don’t know if that changes later on but at the moment he is one of my favorite characters. Also, it takes a real brave one to kill off your favorites and Fonda Lee has now joined the ranks of such authors. I am proceeding with caution as I ready up to start Jade War *wish me luck*


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Spoiler Free Review: Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson

Title: Vespertine

Author: Margaret Rogerson

Pub. Date: October 5th 2021

Genre: YA Fantasy

Format: eARC

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books

Pages: 400pages

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

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We follow Artemesia, a gray sister at a convent who prepares the bodies of the dead to enter the spirit world. She prefers to fly under the radar and have minimal contact with others since doing so often leads to anxiety. Artmesia is walking the path to one day becoming a nun when her convent comes under attack by possessed soldiers forever changing her life course. Within the convent there are Nuns who can wield relics which harness spirits, all know of one powerful Relic that is kept under guard. During the invasion, Artemesia discovers the spirit that is attached to this relic better known as a Revenant. The Revenant is a very powerful being who threatens to possess Artemesia the minute she awakens it. From the minute the Revenant makes it appearance we get the sense it truly hates all Nuns and then the sarcasm begins and it’s made abundantly clear. The dialogue alone provided some of the best on page entertainment I’ve come across. The author best describes this book as a Medieval Venom starring a Nun and a ghost and I think that’s on point for accuracy👌🏽 being in Artemesia’s head & hearing the exchanges with the Revenant had me in fits laughing out loud. The Revenant doesn’t let up on the fact that it LOATHES Nuns and makes sure Artemesia knows this while also threatening to take over (possess) if it pleases. Our main character is someone who struggles with mental health tied to a tragic event in her childhood. She doesn’t do well around people in general but gets used to interacting with the Revenant and knows she needs its help to get answers.

This may come across as an unpopular opinion but having read Sorcery of Thorns (my review) and now Vespertine, I’m of the mind that this book is the stronger of the two with regards to character development. That being said, the plot towards the end of this book threw me off a bit and that’s why I docked it. Not sure if it was a me thing but I felt I lost sight of it and had to backtrack.
Otherwise, it was so damn good! Funny, witty, epic battle scenes and tragic at times. The world building was also very intriguing with Rogerson breaking down how certain spirits are manifested. Whether it was a violent death on a battlefield or the death of a child, the way a person loses their life determines the spirit left behind. There are religious themes explored along with possession that may or may not be to your liking. Personally, I don’t gravitate towards books with religious themes however the dialogue and witty banter between Artemisia and the Revenant all throughout had me giggling more times than I could count. I’m looking forward to the next book in this world seeing as the author introduces others spirits that are on the same level of power as the Revenant and would spell trouble if they were to gain their freedom. I’m curious to know whether the audiobook narrator nailed the performance of the Revenant and will most likely re-read in this format before the next book is released. 


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Spoiler Free Review: The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood

Title: The Love Hypothesis

Author:Ali Hazelwood

Pub. Date: September 14th 2021

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Format: Physical Book

Publisher: Berkley Books

Pages: 384 pages

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Olive is a third year PHD candidate focused on science and not quite sure if she’s interested in love. In fact she’s questioning everything about how she views attraction, sex, and romance. Olive’s best friend Anh on the other hand is a romantic at heart and it just so happens that she has amazing chemistry with Jeremy who is Olives ex. She feels terrible for having these feelings and decides to keep them hidden but everyone in their friend circle can see they’re perfect for one another. Olive truly didn’t have any deep emotions for Jeremy but convincing Anh that she’s more than OK with them dating is proving to be challenging. The only way would be if she can show Anh that she’s since moved on into a new relationship. The idea of fake dating someone doesn’t have much time to brew in her mind before she finds herself ambush kissing Professor Adam Carlsen. The professor known to break the hearts of budding scientists leaving them in tears and rethinking their entire career paths. What’s even more surprising is that the forever grumpy Adam surprises her by agreeing to an arrangement that would help them both.
🔬🧪💞
*•.¸♡ ωнαт ι ℓσνє∂ ♡¸.•*
🧪Women in STEM
🔬Queer and diverse characters
🧪Positive healthy female friendships
🔬Academic settings
🧪Forced proximity situations that’ll have you blushing alongside our MC
🔬Flirting & banter *Chefs Kiss*

I don’t think I ever really considered the Fake Dating Trope to be one that I’d be totally into but it absolutely is now! I lost count of the times I found myself blushing and smiling from second hand embarrassment. We also get the Grumpy/Sunshine Trope which I’ve personally always enjoyed. Does it help that as soon as I heard this story is Kyloren Fanfic inspired, that I immediately envisioned Adam Driver as the lead male interest? ABSOLUTELY! he perfectly fits the description and mannerisms. I’ll admit I wasn’t too keen on the premise of a best friend falling for the other friends ex however, I felt Olive’s feelings on the whole thing were very well explored. She has a moment of introspection that even though it wasn’t spelled out on the page, I understood it to be that Olive may be Asexual. I appreciated reading a character’s POV who experiences love and sexual attraction differently than what we’re used to seeing in books.

I also LOVED how well balanced this read was with regards to the science in an academic setting and the actual romance. There was an emphasis on highlighting the many hurdles women in STEM go up against in a field where their counterparts are predominantly Caucasian males. Olive’s BFF Anh is a Vietnamese PHD Candidate who is very driven to creating more resources for BIPOC women in STEM. These themes were woven in organically which I feel is probably because the author themselves is a Neuroscientist with plenty of time in an academic setting. There’s honestly so much to love here! last but not least…The STEAM factor was so satisfying! It is well deserving of my 6 star rating simply because I am STILL thinking of these characters and the *Chefs Kiss* flirting that took place. 


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WWW Wednesday: 9/8/2021

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Spoiler Free Review: Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

55518780Title: Ace Of Spades

Author:Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

Pub. Date: June 1st 2021

Genre: YA Contemporary/Queer

Format: eGalley

Publisher: Harper/Usborne

Pages: 480 pages

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The 411..

“𝑬𝒗𝒆𝒏 𝒕𝒉𝒐𝒖𝒈𝒉 𝑰 𝒌𝒏𝒐𝒘 𝑰 𝒔𝒉𝒐𝒖𝒍𝒅𝒏’𝒕 𝒄𝒂𝒓𝒆, 𝒊𝒕 𝒂𝒏𝒏𝒐𝒚𝒔 𝒎𝒆 𝒕𝒉𝒂𝒕 𝒘𝒉𝒆𝒏 𝒈𝒊𝒓𝒍𝒔 𝒌𝒏𝒐𝒘 𝒘𝒉𝒂𝒕 𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒚 𝒘𝒂𝒏𝒕 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒉𝒐𝒘 𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒚’𝒓𝒆 𝒈𝒐𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒕𝒐 𝒈𝒆𝒕 𝒊𝒕, 𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒚’𝒓𝒆 𝒔𝒆𝒆𝒏 𝒂𝒔 𝒄𝒐𝒄𝒌𝒚. 𝑩𝒖𝒕 𝒈𝒖𝒚𝒔 𝒘𝒉𝒐 𝒌𝒏𝒐𝒘 𝒘𝒉𝒂𝒕 𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒚 𝒘𝒂𝒏𝒕? 𝑻𝒉𝒆𝒚’𝒓𝒆 𝒄𝒐𝒏𝒇𝒊𝒅𝒆𝒏𝒕 𝒐𝒓 𝒔𝒕𝒓𝒐𝒏𝒈.“

I first heard this book described as 𝐆𝐞𝐭 𝐎𝐮𝐭 meets 𝐆𝗼𝐬𝐬𝐢𝐩 𝐆𝐢𝐫𝐥 which is on point as far as comparisons go. If you enjoyed Alyssa Cole’s 𝐖𝐡𝐞𝐧 𝐍𝗼 𝐎𝐧𝐞 𝐢𝐬 𝐖𝐚𝐭𝐜𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠, I would absolutely pick this one up! Compulsive, addictive and relevant…I couldn’t put it down for too long. Our MC’s Chiamaka Adebayo and Devon Richards are the only two black students at Niveus Private Academy, a private elite school. They come from completely different socioeconomic backgrounds and don’t really run in the same circles. That changes when they find themselves targeted by an anonymous identity known as “Aces” their secrets blasted to the entire school and their reputations smeared. We follow Chiamaka and Devon as they try to unmask Aces while dealing with their own personal relationships outside of the school. Devon is a black gay boy living with his mother and brother. His mom has to work long shifts as a nurse in order to sort of stay afloat and keep Devon at Niveus Private Academy. Devon is a latchkey kid who finds ways to bring extra income to the home by selling drugs in the neighborhood. Being queer in this neighborhood is generally not acceptable, Devon is basically in to completely different worlds on the daily. His approach in school is basically to keep his head down & out of the spotlight. Chiamaka is bi-racial (Nigerian/Italian) and comes from a wealthy family, we see her cope with being disconnected from family who don’t approve of her parents interracial marriage. This while also trying to be the Queen Bee at Niveus Private Academy where having flawless fashion sense is a MUST and dating the popular guy in school doesn’t hurt.

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“The people at the top in high school get into the best colleges, get the best jobs, go on to run the country, and win Nobel Prizes. The rest end up with dead-end jobs, heart failure, and then have to start an affair with their assistant to create some excitement in their otherwise dull lives.”  

I read this book in physical form and lost count of the number of tabs I used and the hours I spent binge reading in mostly one sitting. I felt Àbíké-Íyímídé really showed us the contrast between Chiamaka and Devon and how ultimately their differences didn’t mean anything because it’s the color of their skin they’re being judged on. Both these characters receive ill treatment across the board and it literally feels like the odds are stacked against them. Even though their social conquests differ, they’re both trying to be the best at their craft academically. Niveus is an Academy known to churn out super successful people but it is very cut throat as in the real world. I can’t go into deets about Aces because that would be spoilery but I will say that what made it so frightening is that it isn’t far fetched at all in my opinion. Book lovers, this was a page turner of a debut that I ate right up! HIGHLY recommend adding this book to your TBR’s *book shimmy*

𝐂𝗼𝐧𝐭𝐞𝐧𝐭 𝐖𝐚𝐫𝐧𝐢𝐧𝐠: homophobia, Stalking, Violence, outing of a queer character, racism, gaslighting, classism, death of a parent 


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