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

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*ย 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?ย it’s a coin toss between the tub (bath bomb + wine are invited of course)ย 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 Saftย 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!

ย What are you Lovely Book Lovers highly anticipating?ย 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 myย Possibility Pileย 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 – 3/23ย 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 – 3/4ย 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.ย  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 onย Fable and is back again forย Namesake.ย 

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 withย the shadowhuntersย so yes it’s absolutely on my to-do list this year. If only to justify buying a copy of this beautyย *sobs*ย 

THE MIRROR SEASON BY ANNA MARIE-MCLEMORE – 3/16ย 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 – 3/16ย 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 -3/30ย I’m still not sure where I stand with this title as far as excitement goes. King of Scarsย 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 – 3/2ย 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 invitationย  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 SCHWAB3/2ย 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 QUINCEร‘ERA BY MONICA GOMEZ-HIRA -3/2ย Described as “Jenny Han meets Jane the Virgin” *Gasp*ย 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 Quinceรฑera 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 – 3/23ย 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*ย 

THE BONE MAKER BY SARAH BETH DURST – 3/9 “Five warriorsโ€”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 doesnโ€™t stop just because someone once said, โ€œthe end.โ€ย 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 – 3/2ย “A female apothecary secretly dispenses poisons to liberate women from the men who have wronged themโ€”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 apothecaryโ€™s register.”ย 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.ย 

THE FINAL REVIVAL OF OPAL & NEV BY DAWNIE WALTON – 3/30 “A poignant fictional oral history of the beloved rock โ€˜nโ€™ roll duo who shot to fame in the 1970s New York, and the dark, fraught secret that lies at the peak of their stardom.”ย 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 review)ย The 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! โค

THE SONG BOOK OF BENNY LAMENT BY AMY HARMON – 3/16ย 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 – 3/30ย 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 loveโ€ฆin all its joy, sadness, and imperfections.”ย 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.ย 


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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: Marchย 9th 2021

Genre:ย Contemporary Romance

Format: eGalley

Publisher:ย Avon Books

Pages: 400 pages

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE | AMAZON | LIBROFM

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

Eve Brown hasnโ€™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 doesnโ€™t run the risk of being something she will fall in love with doing. For Eve itโ€™s not just fear of failure, itโ€™s also disappointing her loved ones. Itโ€™s why sheโ€™s floated in between careers and hobbies without ever truly setting roots even though sheโ€™s quite skilled and great at pretty much anything she tries her hand at.

โ€œ๐‘Š๐‘œ๐‘Ÿ๐‘˜ ๐‘ค๐‘Ž๐‘  ๐‘ ๐‘œ๐‘š๐‘’๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘–๐‘›๐‘” ๐‘ฆ๐‘œ๐‘ข ๐‘‘๐‘–๐‘‘ ๐‘ก๐‘œ ๐‘ก๐‘Ÿ๐‘ฆ ๐‘Ž๐‘›๐‘‘ ๐‘“๐‘’๐‘’๐‘™ ๐‘ข๐‘ ๐‘’๐‘“๐‘ข๐‘™โ€”๐‘ข๐‘›๐‘ก๐‘–๐‘™ ๐‘ฆ๐‘œ๐‘ข ๐‘“๐‘ข**๐‘’๐‘‘ ๐‘–๐‘ก ๐‘ข๐‘. ๐‘Š๐‘œ๐‘Ÿ๐‘˜ ๐‘ค๐‘Ž๐‘  ๐‘ ๐‘œ๐‘š๐‘’๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘–๐‘›๐‘” ๐‘ฆ๐‘œ๐‘ข ๐‘‘๐‘–๐‘‘ ๐‘ก๐‘œ โ„Ž๐‘’๐‘™๐‘ ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘’ ๐‘๐‘’๐‘œ๐‘๐‘™๐‘’ ๐‘Ž๐‘Ÿ๐‘œ๐‘ข๐‘›๐‘‘ ๐‘ฆ๐‘œ๐‘ข ๐‘ข๐‘›๐‘ก๐‘–๐‘™ ๐‘ฆ๐‘œ๐‘ข ๐‘ค๐‘’๐‘Ÿ๐‘’๐‘›โ€™๐‘ก ๐‘›๐‘’๐‘’๐‘‘๐‘’๐‘‘ ๐‘Ž๐‘›๐‘ฆ๐‘š๐‘œ๐‘Ÿ๐‘’. ๐‘Š๐‘œ๐‘Ÿ๐‘˜ ๐‘ค๐‘Ž๐‘  ๐‘›๐‘œ๐‘ก ๐‘ ๐‘œ๐‘š๐‘’๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘–๐‘›๐‘” ๐‘ฆ๐‘œ๐‘ข ๐‘’๐‘›๐‘—๐‘œ๐‘ฆ๐‘’๐‘‘ ๐‘–๐‘› ๐‘Ž๐‘›๐‘‘ ๐‘œ๐‘“ ๐‘–๐‘ก๐‘ ๐‘’๐‘™๐‘“, ๐‘๐‘’๐‘๐‘Ž๐‘ข๐‘ ๐‘’ ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘Ž๐‘ก ๐‘ค๐‘œ๐‘ข๐‘™๐‘‘ ๐‘œ๐‘›๐‘™๐‘ฆ ๐‘š๐‘Ž๐‘˜๐‘’ ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘’ ๐‘ ๐‘–๐‘ก๐‘ข๐‘Ž๐‘ก๐‘–๐‘œ๐‘› ๐‘ค๐‘œ๐‘Ÿ๐‘ ๐‘’ ๐‘คโ„Ž๐‘’๐‘› ๐‘’๐‘ฃ๐‘’๐‘Ÿ๐‘ฆ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘–๐‘›๐‘” ๐‘๐‘œ๐‘™๐‘™๐‘Ž๐‘๐‘ ๐‘’๐‘‘.โ€œ

Jacob has just suffered an injury (won’t say how cause spoilers haha!)ย 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?ย *wink eye wink eye*ย 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*

Thereโ€™s so much we get to unravel with Eve as a main character, someone who is so giving of herself but doesnโ€™t see much of a return. This was really a story of self worth and setting boundaries that I heavily could relate to. Itโ€™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:ย 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.

โ€œYour abilities lie in the places people usually overlook, so youโ€™ve been convinced you donโ€™t have any at all. But youโ€™re smart, and youโ€™re capable, and if people struggle to see that, itโ€™s their problem, not yours.โ€

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 partnerย ย 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 within๐Ÿ’œ


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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 ofย The Project by Courtney Summersย 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?ย I’mย looking for new recipes <3’s!

THE RAVENS BYย KASS MORGAN & DANIELLE PAIGEย  โœจ3.5ย ๐‘†๐‘ก๐‘Ž๐‘Ÿ๐‘ โœจ-ย ๐‘‡โ„Ž๐‘’ ๐‘…๐‘Ž๐‘ฃ๐‘’๐‘›๐‘  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 couldโ€™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 โ€œkeep safeโ€ however Vivi doesnโ€™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 ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿฝ we get to meet these other witches and the powers they were gifted (Pentacles, Swords, Cups or Wands) from their family lineage. I didnโ€™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, Iโ€™m glad Fairyloot made this one of their picks! ๐Ÿ–ค

THE PROJECT BY COURTNEY SUMMERS (My Review) โœจ5ย ๐‘†๐‘ก๐‘Ž๐‘Ÿ๐‘ โœจMIND BLOWN at the amount of research that had to have gone into cults and their inner workings. From how youโ€™re targeted, to isolation, brainwashing and eventually the feeling that youโ€™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 HANNAHย  โœจ5ย ๐‘†๐‘ก๐‘Ž๐‘Ÿ๐‘ โœจ-ย 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 ASKARIPOURย 

๐ผ๐‘กโ€™๐‘  ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘’ ๐‘‘๐‘ข๐‘ก๐‘ฆ ๐‘œ๐‘“ ๐‘’๐‘ฃ๐‘’๐‘Ÿ๐‘ฆ ๐‘š๐‘Ž๐‘› ๐‘Ž๐‘›๐‘‘ ๐‘ค๐‘œ๐‘š๐‘Ž๐‘› ๐‘คโ„Ž๐‘œ โ„Ž๐‘Ž๐‘  ๐‘Ž๐‘โ„Ž๐‘–๐‘’๐‘ฃ๐‘’๐‘‘ ๐‘ ๐‘œ๐‘š๐‘’ ๐‘ ๐‘ข๐‘๐‘๐‘’๐‘ ๐‘  ๐‘–๐‘› ๐‘™๐‘–๐‘“๐‘’ ๐‘ก๐‘œ ๐‘๐‘Ž๐‘ ๐‘  ๐‘–๐‘ก ๐‘œ๐‘›, ๐‘๐‘’๐‘๐‘Ž๐‘ข๐‘ ๐‘’ ๐‘คโ„Ž๐‘’๐‘› ๐‘ค๐‘’โ€™๐‘Ÿ๐‘’ ๐‘”๐‘œ๐‘›๐‘’, ๐‘คโ„Ž๐‘Ž๐‘ก ๐‘š๐‘Ž๐‘ก๐‘ก๐‘’๐‘Ÿ๐‘  ๐‘š๐‘œ๐‘ ๐‘ก ๐‘–๐‘ ๐‘›โ€™๐‘ก ๐‘คโ„Ž๐‘Ž๐‘ก ๐‘ค๐‘’โ€™๐‘Ÿ๐‘’ ๐‘Ž๐‘๐‘™๐‘’ ๐‘ก๐‘œ ๐‘Ž๐‘ก๐‘ก๐‘Ž๐‘–๐‘› ๐‘๐‘ข๐‘ก ๐‘คโ„Ž๐‘œ ๐‘ค๐‘’ ๐‘ค๐‘’๐‘Ÿ๐‘’ ๐‘Ž๐‘๐‘™๐‘’ ๐‘ก๐‘œ โ„Ž๐‘’๐‘™๐‘.โ€
โœจ5ย ๐‘†๐‘ก๐‘Ž๐‘Ÿ๐‘ โœจ
๐ต๐‘™๐‘Ž๐‘๐‘˜ ๐ต๐‘ข๐‘๐‘˜
is a satirical take on one young black mans shot to stardom when he gets offered a โ€œonce in a lifetimeโ€ 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 ofย Sumwun, NYCโ€™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. Iโ€™ve lost track of how many times Darren has been asked whether heโ€™s been told by anyone that he looks like MLK or Sidney Poitier. This is the book that had me SMH saying โ€œthe audacityโ€ at the things white privileged men felt entitled to say to Darren. Darrenโ€™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 MORRISย  โœจ4 ๐‘†๐‘ก๐‘Ž๐‘Ÿ๐‘ โœจ- 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 geekinโ€™ 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 Kieraโ€™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. Iโ€™m absolutely already anticipating Morrisโ€™ 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”ย 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: Reaper of Souls by Rena Barron

Title: Reaper of Souls

(Kingdom of Souls #2)

Author:ย Rena Barron

Pub. Date:ย February 18th 2021

Genre:ย Young Adult Fantasy

Format: eGalley/ARC

Publisher:ย HarperTeen

Pages:ย 448 pages

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE | AMAZON

โ€œ๐ผ ๐‘ค๐‘–๐‘™๐‘™ ๐‘ ๐‘ก๐‘Ž๐‘Ÿ๐‘ก ๐‘š๐‘ฆ ๐‘ ๐‘ก๐‘œ๐‘Ÿ๐‘ฆ ๐‘Ž๐‘ก ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘’ ๐‘๐‘’๐‘”๐‘–๐‘›๐‘›๐‘–๐‘›๐‘”, ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘’ ๐‘š๐‘–๐‘‘๐‘‘๐‘™๐‘’, ๐‘Ž๐‘›๐‘‘ ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘’ ๐‘’๐‘›๐‘‘. ๐น๐‘œ๐‘Ÿ ๐ผ โ„Ž๐‘Ž๐‘ฃ๐‘’ ๐‘™๐‘–๐‘ฃ๐‘’๐‘‘ ๐‘Ž ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘œ๐‘ข๐‘ ๐‘Ž๐‘›๐‘‘ ๐‘™๐‘–๐‘ฃ๐‘’๐‘  ๐‘Ž๐‘›๐‘‘ ๐‘‘๐‘–๐‘’๐‘‘ ๐‘Ž ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘œ๐‘ข๐‘ ๐‘Ž๐‘›๐‘‘ ๐‘‘๐‘’๐‘Ž๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘ , ๐‘Ž๐‘›๐‘‘ ๐‘’๐‘ฃ๐‘’๐‘Ÿ๐‘ฆ ๐‘ก๐‘–๐‘š๐‘’ ๐ผ ๐‘‘๐‘–๐‘‘, ๐ผ ๐‘Ÿ๐‘’๐‘™๐‘–๐‘ฃ๐‘’ ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘’ ๐‘ ๐‘Ž๐‘š๐‘’ ๐‘š๐‘’๐‘š๐‘œ๐‘Ÿ๐‘ฆ.โ€œ

Reaper of Souls was one of my MOST highly anticipated sequels to look forward to in 2021 and I can honestly say it was worth the wait. Kingdom of Souls (My Review)ย introduced us to Arrah who comes from a powerful family of witch doctors but for some reason hasnโ€™t come into her own powers. After the catastrophic events we left off in Kingdom Of Souls, Arrah finally has the gift of magic but it came about in a terrible way. Returning from exile, we see Arrah go after those who have taken her people from their tribal lands. What she soon discovers is that this is a war between the Orishas and their demon children and caught in the middle are mortals. The Character development alone was phenomenal & the world building/magic system is very richly woven and inspired by folk magic. Arrah is discovering along the way the many secrets she unknowingly carries within. A deeper connection to it all. A sort of forbidden love. A choice to make. The inevitability of it all.

Rena Barron has delivered such a rich and beautifully written Fantasy where the lives of our key characters are constantly haunted by the mistakes and transgressions of their parents and ancestors. Will they choose to repeat those mistakes OR course correct for the good of their people? This story is told in multi-POV format between Arrah, Rudjeck and a third entity that for spoiler free reasons I won’t disclose. If you love character driven stories that are more slower paced with a big reward at the end, then this is absolutely a trilogy worth giving a go. Seeing as it had been some time since I had readย Kingdom of Soulsย I would’ve loved it if there had been a Legend/Key at the very start. There are a handful of Orishas and their history is fleshed out in the first book but this follow-up goes even deeper into their history and conflicts with one another. Pacing can seem a bit off at times but I chucked that off to Arrah’s own personal journey to self realization which in my opinion was done perfectly! If you’re expecting NOT to be left reaching for more after this book, you are sadly mistaken! I cannot wait for the conclusion to this fantasy/love story๐Ÿ’œ


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Spoiler Free Review: Remote Control by Nnedi Okorafor

Title: Remote Control

Author:ย Nnedi Okorafor

Pub. Date:ย January 19th 2021

Genre: Science Fiction Fantasy

Format: eGalley

Publisher: Tor.com

Pages: 160 pages

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE | AMAZON

โ€œ๐ผ๐‘› ๐‘†๐‘Ž๐‘›๐‘˜๐‘œ๐‘“๐‘Žโ€™๐‘  ๐‘ฆ๐‘’๐‘Ž๐‘Ÿ๐‘  ๐‘œ๐‘› ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘’ ๐‘Ÿ๐‘œ๐‘Ž๐‘‘, ๐‘ โ„Ž๐‘’โ€™๐‘‘ ๐‘™๐‘’๐‘Ž๐‘Ÿ๐‘›๐‘’๐‘‘ ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘Ž๐‘ก ๐‘๐‘’๐‘œ๐‘๐‘™๐‘’ ๐‘ค๐‘’๐‘Ÿ๐‘’ ๐‘๐‘œ๐‘š๐‘๐‘™๐‘–๐‘๐‘Ž๐‘ก๐‘’๐‘‘. ๐‘‡โ„Ž๐‘’๐‘ฆ ๐‘ค๐‘œ๐‘Ÿ๐‘’ ๐‘š๐‘Ž๐‘ ๐‘˜๐‘  ๐‘Ž๐‘›๐‘‘ ๐‘”๐‘ข๐‘–๐‘ ๐‘’๐‘  ๐‘ก๐‘œ ๐‘๐‘Ÿ๐‘œ๐‘ก๐‘’๐‘๐‘ก ๐‘œ๐‘Ÿ โ„Ž๐‘–๐‘‘๐‘’ ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘’๐‘–๐‘Ÿ ๐‘Ÿ๐‘’๐‘Ž๐‘™ ๐‘ ๐‘’๐‘™๐‘ฃ๐‘’๐‘ . ๐‘‡โ„Ž๐‘’๐‘ฆ ๐‘Ÿ๐‘’๐‘–๐‘›๐‘ฃ๐‘’๐‘›๐‘ก๐‘’๐‘‘ ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘’๐‘š๐‘ ๐‘’๐‘™๐‘ฃ๐‘’๐‘ . ๐‘‡โ„Ž๐‘’๐‘ฆ ๐‘‘๐‘’๐‘ ๐‘ก๐‘Ÿ๐‘œ๐‘ฆ๐‘’๐‘‘ ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘’๐‘š๐‘ ๐‘’๐‘™๐‘ฃ๐‘’๐‘ . ๐‘‡โ„Ž๐‘’๐‘ฆ ๐‘๐‘ข๐‘–๐‘™๐‘ก ๐‘œ๐‘› ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘’๐‘š๐‘ ๐‘’๐‘™๐‘ฃ๐‘’๐‘ .โ€œ

Nnedi Okoraforโ€™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 doesnโ€™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.ย 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 Controlย was my first venture into Afro-Futurism but it won’t be my last! If anything, Okorafor has awakened my interest in this genre.ย I look forward to reading more from this author and in fact have already hauled the Hugo and Nebula Award winner Bintiย trilogy๐Ÿ–ค


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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 ๐Ÿ˜‰


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 BYย  ROSE SZABO (2/2) – YA Horror/Paranormal pitched as perfect for fans ofย 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 asย The Cruel Princeย meetsย City of Bones,ย 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 toย *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 RENร‰E 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 ofย Sadie.ย 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 ๐Ÿ˜‰

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, whoโ€™ve avoided each other for most of their lives, both suspect that the feud stems from feelings much deeper than friendly competition.”ย 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.” –ย 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 endingsโ€ฆthese are the things Annika Dev believes in. Her app, Make Up, has been called the โ€œGoogle Translate for failing relationships.โ€High efficiency break-ups, flashy start-ups, penthouses, fast carsโ€ฆthese are the things Hudson Craft believes in. His app, Break Up, is known as the โ€œUber for break-ups.โ€

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 ๐Ÿ˜‰

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

THE BLACK COAST (THE GOD-KING CHRONICLES #1)ย  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 Caldwellโ€™s award-winning research. Sheโ€™s patient and gentle and obedient. Sheโ€™s everything Evelyn swore sheโ€™d never be. And sheโ€™s having an affair with Evelynโ€™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. ”ย 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 byย Sam @ Taking On a World of Wordsย and to participate all you have to do is answer the three Wโ€™s listed below. Once youโ€™ve posted your WWW, drop a link to your post in Samโ€™s comments <3โ€™s!

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

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 Bookstagramย for some time now, then you know I read books by BIPOC authors all year long (as one should)ย 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 ofย Sumwun, NYCโ€™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”ย 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 @Meltotheanyย 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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Spoiler Free Review: Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas

Title: Concrete Rose (The Hate U Give #0)

Author:ย Angie Thomas

Pub. Date:ย January 12th 2021

Genre:ย Young Adult Contemporary

Format: Audiobook

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Pages:ย 360 pages

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE | AMAZON | LIBRO.FM (MY REFERRAL LINK)

In 2017 Angie Thomas introduced us to Maverick Carter in The Hate U Giveย as the father of Star, Seven & Sekani Carter. Inย Concrete Roseย we get Mavericks story on his upbringing, young adult life, and the circumstances that eventually led to him becoming a father of two at the age of 17. This was a fast paced character driven emotionally charged story. Maverick is in High School when we meet him, he’s living with his mother and his father is incarcerated. Watching his mother hold down a job to put food on the table, Maverick joins the King Lords. The same gang his father belongs to and has gained much notoriety in. This is how Maverick goes about bringing a second stream of income while being a student. Things get further complicated when a girl he slept with turns out to be pregnant with his first born. Maverick must decide whether he will continue to live life earning money on the streets seeking drugs or take an out that is being offered to him. An opportunity to get his life back on track and provide for his three month old son Seven. Working in the neighborhood store/garden, going to school and selling drugs while being a father is more than what maverick can handle. Something has to go.

We see Maverick’s internal struggle with the loyalty he feels to King, the friend who brought him into the street gang & leaving it all behind. We also see him come into his own as a young single father who has to juggle his responsibilities. I LIVED for the nurturing moments he has with his baby boy Seven. Even while feeling overwhelmed and as if he wasn’t cut out for parenthood, he never gives up on trying to get it right. Concrete Rose advocates for young black men, we simply do NOT have many (If any) books on our shelves with this representation. In many ways Maverick is healing generational trauma by choosing a different path even if it is by way of tough love from his Mom. Maverick’s mother is a beacon of light in the storm. She isn’t going to do the work of raising Seven but she’s going to make sure Maverick aka her baby, knows she’s there for support. I ABSOLUTELY LOVED to see the bond between mother and son! He may trip up a few times but his mother never gives up on him. It wasn’t an easy journey to the Maverick we meet as Star’s father, but just like Star he knows what it’s like to get caught in the middle of two worlds. If you’ve read The Hate U Give and/or watched the movie, I feel this book gives some much needed insight on the Carter family.


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Spoiler Free Review: Wings of Ebony by J. Elle

Title: Wings of Ebony

Author:ย J. Elle

Pub. Date:ย January 26th 2021

Genre:ย Young Adult Fantasy

Format:ย eGalley

Publisher: Simon Schuster Books

Pages:ย 368 pages

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE | AMAZON

๐Ÿ–คeGalley provided by Publisher in exchange for an honest review, all quotes come from an advance copy and may not match the final release๐Ÿ–คโ€œ๐ผ๐‘กโ€™๐‘  ๐‘›๐‘œ๐‘ก ๐‘—๐‘ข๐‘ ๐‘ก ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘’ ๐‘๐‘ข๐‘ง๐‘ง๐‘–๐‘›๐‘” ๐‘š๐‘Ž๐‘”๐‘–๐‘๐‘Ž๐‘™ ๐‘’๐‘›๐‘’๐‘Ÿ๐‘”๐‘ฆ ๐‘๐‘ข๐‘š๐‘๐‘–๐‘›๐‘” ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘Ÿ๐‘œ๐‘ข๐‘”โ„Ž ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘–๐‘  ๐‘๐‘™๐‘Ž๐‘๐‘’ ๐‘™๐‘–๐‘˜๐‘’ ๐‘’๐‘™๐‘’๐‘๐‘ก๐‘Ÿ๐‘–๐‘๐‘–๐‘ก๐‘ฆ. ๐ผ๐‘กโ€™๐‘  ๐‘›๐‘œ๐‘ก ๐‘—๐‘ข๐‘ ๐‘ก ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘Ž๐‘ก ๐‘›๐‘œ ๐‘œ๐‘›๐‘’ โ„Ž๐‘’๐‘Ÿ๐‘’ ๐‘™๐‘œ๐‘œ๐‘˜๐‘  ๐‘™๐‘–๐‘˜๐‘’ ๐‘š๐‘’ – ๐‘๐‘ข๐‘ก โ„Ž๐‘–๐‘š. ๐ผ๐‘กโ€™๐‘  ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘Ž๐‘ก ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘–๐‘  ๐‘–๐‘  ๐‘›๐‘œ๐‘ก ๐‘š๐‘ฆ โ„Ž๐‘œ๐‘š๐‘’. ๐‘‡โ„Ž๐‘’๐‘ ๐‘’ ๐‘Ž๐‘–๐‘›๐‘ก ๐‘š๐‘ฆ ๐‘๐‘’๐‘œ๐‘๐‘™๐‘’.โ€

Wings of Ebony is a debut YA Fantasy set between the mortal world in Houston and the magical world of Ghizon. Our MC Rue has just witnessed her motherโ€™s murder when a father she never knew comes to take her away. Rue is a Demigod. Her sister Tasha who has a different father, is not. Separated from her sister & the only home sheโ€™s known, Rue must adapt in Ghizon. She has a whole lot of bottled up emotions and sheโ€™s done holding back. On the one year anniversary of her motherโ€™s death she breaks Ghizon law by returning to Houston to see her sister. She finds that her sister & other black & POC kids from the neighborhood have unwillingly been roped into street crime & violence. This book tackled some hard hitting issues affecting inner city youth, specifically black & POC families. Kids whose parents work long hours to survive while the neighborhood looks after one another. โ€œIt takes a village to raise a childโ€ is a quote that comes to mind when reading Wings of Ebony and Rue loves her village. Sheโ€™s angry at how the youth are portrayed whenever the news covers a shooting, and at how cops turn the other way. I was rooting for Rue, Tasha & all the neighborhood kids to take back their home. Rue is a no nonsense straight shooter who is loyal to her roots, sheโ€™s unapologetically going to take back what was once taken from her and for that alone, she is a stand-out memorable kick a** MC!

Wings of Ebony will absolutely appeal to fans of Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Giveย and Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone,ย written in a raw authentic voice that invokes a range of emotions. J. Elle puts a spotlight on the issues plaguing black and brown communities in cities like Houston. Families that are forced to make a choice between staying home to watch the kids or put food on the table. The concept of the neighborhood’s older grandmothers watching over the youth is a very real one that I for one can relate to having been raised by two working parents with no child care. The frustration Rue feels, her mixed feelings when it comes to asking for help from the cops is as real as it gets. I felt the author captured what inner city life looks like for a lot of working families in these neighborhoods.

This story however takes place between two worlds, it’s a Fantasy set in Ghizon AND Houston. Here is where I felt the story took some hits, the pacing was off and so the time we actually spend in Ghizon is limited. I would’ve gladly read this book if it were 500 pages if it meant that Ghizon were more fleshed out and the magic system better explained. Things take a ย turn around the 65% mark for the better but by then I did feel we were rushing towards a conclusion. We get introduced to a love interest in the midst of a revolution which I personally could’ve done without OR seen it introduced in the next book. I also wish the relationship between Rue and her father was better explored, it’s understandable she has a TON of mixed emotions towards him…we just don’t see enough father/daughter relationships in books. Although I felt the Fantasy aspects of this book were a bit under developed, I honestly feel based off the last 40% that the follow up will build on what we’ve seen here. I did secure a finished copy from Barnes & Nobles which is offering bonus content I feel would be a shame to miss out on because they’re letters from Rue’s Dad & Book Lovers! I balled my eyes out!!! the letters also include some sketches that are pretty dope!ย 


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