Spoiler Free Review: After Hours on Milagro Street by Angelina M. Lopez

Title: After Hours on Milagro Street

Author: Angelina M. Lopez

Pub. Date: July 26th 2022

Genre: Romance/Latinx

Format: eARC

Publisher: Carina Trade

Pages: 400

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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: 66/9.4 =  ☆☆ 5 Stars☆☆╮

Rating system created by The Book Roast 

*•.¸♡ 𝐘𝐨𝐮 𝐝𝐨𝐧’𝐭 𝐡𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐭𝐨 𝐛𝐞 𝐚𝐥𝐨𝐧𝐞 𝐚𝐧𝐲𝐦𝐨𝐫𝐞. 𝐋𝐞𝐭 𝐦𝐞 𝐭𝐚𝐤𝐞 𝐜𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐨𝐟 𝐲𝐨𝐮. 𝐖𝐞’𝐥𝐥 𝐟𝐢𝐠𝐡𝐭 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐡𝐨𝐦𝐞 𝐭𝐨𝐠𝐞𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫. ♡¸.•*

This book kept me up last night as I was determined to finish it and those final few lines gave me goosebumps!! After Hours on Milagros Street is a romance with mystery, paranormal, and historical fiction aspects sprinkled throughout. I love my romance to be complex and the story line to have some depth, this was just that. We meet Alex Torres as she makes her appearance back in her hometown of Kansas. She’s an Alpha plus size Mexican-American female who has made a name for herself as an in demand bartender. Alex has been summoned by her sisters with hopes of convincing their matriarch of a grandmother to sell them her bar so that she may retire comfortably. The problem is that many in the Torres clan view her as a bit louder than the rest of them and a bit of a loose canon. For Alex, her image is something she plays up for the white people she bartends for. “The world expected an angry black woman, and Alex had let it pay her rent” She plans to use what she’s learned as well as her social media presence to put Kansas/Milagro Street back on the map. The town that for many years has been home to Mexican-American working families is struggling to keep the lights on. Jeremiah Post is renting a room at the bar, he is a white college professor whose own backstory is a mystery to all and he’d rather keep it that way. He loves the Torres clan, grandmother Loretta treats him like one of her own and the many aunts, uncles, and cousins who congregate at the bar daily see him as family too. Alex & Jeremiah’s first encounter is 10/10 spicy and hot. Alex knows exactly what she wants and isn’t afraid to go for it, she absolutely DOES get consent even as she’s going through the motions. I LOVED IT!

Full transparency, it took me a few days to finish this book but I didn’t see it as a negative. The pace is a bit slower than most romance books because of the historical fiction/mystery aspects but the latter half really picks up the pace. I appreciated the character development we see with Alex who goes from wanting to change everything about the bar to wanting to preserve some of what makes it feel like home to many of Freedom’s residents. Also, Jeremiah’s work as an ally helping preserve the Mexican-American immigrant history of the town and the fact that Alex makes sure that he knows she’s not down with the white savior roles perpetuated by many. Jeremiah’s respectful stance in making sure that he remains an ally in the background, his respect towards her family and the towns roots make him a new fave! This book has a whole lot of heart and the characters quickly come to life including our older generations. Last but not least, the supernatural aspects the author introduced to highlight the racism and bigotry surrounding Mexican-Americans bumped this book to a five star read for me. Consider reading if you enjoy romance wrapped in a bit of a mystery, found families that just so happen to be LARGE families, and angry ghosts.

𝗧ropes: close proximity, opposites attract, hate-to-love, grumpy sunshine

Content Warnings: mention of alcoholism, racism, bigotry, microagressions


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Review: I’m So Not Over You by Kosoko Jackson

Title: I’m So Not Over You

Author:Kosoko Jackson

Pub. Date: February 22nd 2022

Genre: Contemporary Romance/LGBTQIA+

Format: eARC

Publisher: Berkley Romance 

Pages: 368

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

Characters: 7/10   Atmosphere: 5/10  Writing Style: 7/10  Plot: 5/10  Intrigue: 0/10  Logic/Relationships: 5/10  Enjoyment: 7/10

Rating: 36/5.1 =  ☆☆ 3 Stars☆☆╮

Rating system created by The Book Roast 

What would you do if your ex sent you an urgent text to meet him at a café post break up? Kian Andrews has had many thoughts and emotions since last seeing his ex Hudson Rivers. Could he possibly be having second thoughts about their break-up? or an apology? What he wasn’t expecting was for Hudson to ask a huge favor, to fake date him for the sake of getting his wealthy parents off his back. Hudson hasn’t given into his family’s wishes of joining their business, instead he’s chosen to carve his own career path. His relationship with Kian was something his parents not only accepted but praised him for. 𝗜’𝗺 𝗦𝗼 𝗡𝗼𝘁 𝗢𝘃𝗲𝗿 𝗬𝗼𝘂 is a queer second chance romance paired with some fake dating that is set between New York City and Georgia. Our MC’s are from very different socioeconomic backgrounds and are night and day in personalities making a strong case for opposites attract. We follow this couple as they revisit old wounds and decide whether or no their relationship deserves another go around.

This is one romance I wish had been more fleshed out since it featured the second chance trope. I really wanted to know why Kian and Hudson broke up in the first place…was it differences in socioeconomic class? Kian’s constant commentary on these differences? or was it something entirely different? I still feel the reason was needed before plunging into the fake dating negotiations that took place. 𝗪𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗜 𝗟𝗼𝘃𝗲𝗱? I enjoyed Kian’s sarcasm and dry humor when met with Hudson’s southern charm, their on the page chemistry that made for *chefs kiss* steamy scenes, a supportive friend group, the presence of strong sibling bonds, and female side characters who are driven and fiercely independent. There was enough witty banter and intriguing side characters in this book to guarantee I pick up whatever Kosoko Jackson writes next 🖤


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Spoiler Free Review: Delilah Green Doesn’t Care by Ashley Herring Blake

Title: Delilah Green Doesn’t Care

Author: Ashley Herring Blake

Pub. Date: February 22nd 2022

Genre: Contemporary Romance/LGBTQIA+

Format: eARC

Publisher: Berkley Romance 

Pages: 384

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*ARC received in exchange for an honest review*

Twelve years have passed since Delilah Green turned her back on Bright Falls and started a new chapter of her life in New York City. The small town holds a lot of memories, many of them sad and painful. After the loss of her mother, Delilah’s father re-married and that came with a step-sister she never quite felt comfortable around. When her estranged step-sister Astrid comes looking to hire her as a photographer for her wedding, Delilah is torn between ignoring the request or returning to a place she had sworn away. Life as a waitress/wedding photographer sustains her real dream which is art through a lens that focuses on queer people. She can’t really pass up the chance to make some real money from Astrids gig so she decides to go with no real plans to stick around. That all changes when she crosses paths with Astrid’s “stuck-up” BFF Claire Sutherland and decides to place a bet with her step-sister who is super protective of her besties. 

Claire Sutherland is a single mom raising a an 11 year old girl who also runs the towns local bookshop. In between dealing with her ex and his unreliability, she hasn’t had much time for dating and she doesn’t do random hook-ups. Her relationship with her child’s father has left her with some trust/abandonment issues. She most certainly doesn’t think someone like Delilah Green who is flighty & into casual sex, is a good idea to start something up with. Wedding preparations along with some sideline hijinks to stop Astrid from marrying the absolute biggest chauvinistic jerk on the planet, force these two to work together. It’s definitely a case of instant sparks flying paired with undeniable chemistry that WORKED! 

*Images respectively from Pinterest & IMDB

CW: Cancer, death of a parent(s), grief, cheating, misogyny, abandonment

I’ve never been one to fan cast while reading any book but these characters were so well fleshed out that only Christina Hendricks (Mad Men) & Laura Prepon (OITNB) came to mind. From the vintage pin-up style Claire so flawlessly executes to Delilah’s more wild devil-may-care attitude, these two had chemistry that jumped off the page. I LOVED them both and got so invested in their lives and the baggage they each were carrying. At its core we have a story about acceptance and learning how to allow yourself to be loved both romantically and platonically. The female friendships go back for these women to their childhood days and tied to that are feelings of being excluded and made out to feel like an outcast. Some of these characters (including supporting cast) are working through grief, co-parenting relationships, toxic relationships, feeling like they have to seek validation, and abandonment issues. Yes it’s absolutely a full on romance but it also has a huge emphasis on friendship which made it all the more sweeter. When I was in the book I didn’t want to put it down & when I was away from it, all I thought about was my next free moment to jump back in. I’m 100% the type of bookworm who loves character driven books but I was pleasantly surprised by the subplot and how much fun it added to the main storyline. Also! I can’t not mention this. The love shown to a woman’s body post having had a child was SUPER appreciated by this bookworm and just downright beautiful to see on the page. This is my first read from Ashley Herring Blake and I can already tell I may have found a new favorite author. There’s an excerpt to the next book in this series which follows one of the characters in this book and even that was *Chefs Kiss* enough to keep me holding on haha! 

Things to look forward to on February 22nd…

📚An Idyllic small town with a cute Bookstore
📸Single Mom finding love
📚Bookworm MC’s
📸A tight knit female friend group
🏳️‍🌈Sapphic main characters
📸Photography explored
📚Co-Parenting ups/downs
📸Complex sibling relationship
📚Campsite Pranks
🌶Steamy AF sex scenes


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Spoiler Free Review: Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao

Title: Iron Widow

Author: Xiran Jay Zhao

Pub. Date: September 21st 2021

Genre: YA Sci-Fi

Format: eARC

Publisher: Penguin Teen

Pages: 400 pages

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*•.¸♡ ᴍᴀʏʙᴇ, ɪғ ᴛʜɪɴɢs ᴡᴇʀᴇ ᴅɪғғᴇʀᴇɴᴛ, ɪ ᴄᴏᴜʟᴅ ɢᴇᴛ ᴜsᴇᴅ ᴛᴏ ᴛʜɪs. ʙᴇɪɴɢ ᴄʀᴀᴅʟᴇᴅ ɪɴ ʜɪs ᴡᴀʀᴍᴛʜ ᴀɴᴅ ʟɪɢʜᴛ. ʙᴇɪɴɢ ᴄʜᴇʀɪsʜᴇᴅ. ʙᴇɪɴɢ ʟᴏᴠᴇᴅ. ʙᴜᴛ ɪ ʜᴀᴠᴇ ɴᴏ ғᴀɪᴛʜ ɪɴ ʟᴏᴠᴇ. ʟᴏᴠᴇ ᴄᴀɴɴᴏᴛ sᴀᴠᴇ ᴍᴇ. ɪ ᴄʜᴏᴏsᴇ ᴠᴇɴɢᴇᴀɴᴄᴇ. ♡¸.•*

This turned out to be the Feminist AF Sci-Fi story I needed to reignite my craving for SFF as a whole! It also made one thing very clear and that’s that I enjoy a good revenge plot especially when it’s executed by a female MC who feels she has nothing to lose. Zetian has been groomed from birth to accept her role in society as the weaker gender, her sole purpose if enlisted to fight in the war against the Hunduns (evil robots) is to serve as sort of an amplifier/conductor of Qi (spirit pressure) for the males. Accurately pitched as Red Rising meets Pacific Rim, in this world we have our main characters fighting in giant Chrysalis robots against the Hunduns over the wall. A Chrysalis is controlled by a male pilot and his female “Concubine.” While in battle, their bodies remain dormant in the husks of the Chrysalis while they battle using spirit pressure. Many times, the males thoughts & feelings will overwhelm his concubine and kill her. This is understood and accepted by all, until Zetian comes along with a mission to avenge her sisters death. What begins as a plot for revenge against one pilot turns into a much greater mission to strike against the patriarchy and question a system designed to keep women subservient and/or dead.

CW: Death of a loved one, domestic violence, murder, attempted rape, alcohol abuse, suicidal thoughts, misogyny, war themes, descriptions of forced foot binding, and organ removal

This book was hella quotable with social commentary delivering truths on the patriarchy and I absolutely loved it! My rating is a 4.5 only because the finale didn’t match up with the level of climax built up, it felt just a smidge rushed towards the very end.  This still wasn’t enough to take away from the story, I found myself fully invested in the characters and overall world building. I’m not yet sure if I’d consider Zetian an unlikeable character, she harbors a ton of anger which I found justified given the crummy deck of cards girls are dealt from birth. We see her experience emotional and verbal abuse from her father as well as the physical pains of having her feet bound at the age of five. Zetian is always in a state of pain and in many ways she uses that as fuel to power through her quest for revenge. From the start when we meet her she makes it clear that she will not consider anyones life (including/especially family) who at some point treated her own life as dispensable. Zetian’s hate/love relationship with Li Shimin was well developed, I honestly felt at some points that they’d never get on the same page. I enjoyed seeing Zetian come to certain realizations with regards to the world they live in and the whole Pilot/Concubine set-up. There were some awesome discoveries at the end that really set-up for the next book in this series. This is a fast action packed Sci-Fi with bits of romance sprinkled throughout haha! it’s def more plot heavy. Our main characters are all queer, the Polyamorous relationship that developed was *Chefs Kiss*! it legit was the perfect balance of sweet and rough around the edges. I have some theories as to where the story will go next and hope to the Book Gods that at the very least we get a cover for the follow-up early in 2022 *fingers crossed*


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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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Review: The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

The Upside of Unrequited

Published by: HarperTeen

Publication Date: April 11th 2017

Genre: YA Contemp/LGBTQIA/Diverse

Pages: 338 pgs

Format: eGalley

Rating: ★★★★★ (5 STARS)

*HUGE thanks to Balzer & Bray/HarperTeen, Edelweiss, and Becky Albertalli for the eGalley of The Upside of Unrequited in exchange for a honest review. All opinions are my own.

Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love. No matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. If Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back.

There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker, Reid. He’s a chubby Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him.

Right?

Honestly, a more Feel Good plot I have NOT come across! Molly Peskin-Suso is many things: a fraternal twin to Cassie, prone to harboring a high # of secret crushes, a DIY Queen, Pinterest aficionado, and baker who also happens to be plus size. Molly’s best friend is her twin sister Cassie, they are inseparable & with their twin bond, they hold no secrets from each other. When Molly introduces Cassie to a girl she meets in the bathroom; who she thinks would make a perfect match for Cassie…she never would’ve guessed they’d fall in love. Both Molly & Cassie see their relationship shifting and with it comes a fear of losing their bond. Cassie tries to play match maker in hopes that it will help Molly feel less lonely. The issue with this is that although Molly has had plenty of crushes, she hasn’t actually dated or kissed anyone. In fact, for Molly it’s all about that feeling that you get when you have a crush…

“And it’s a little different with every guy, so it’s kind of hard to generalize—but if I had to describe the feeling of a crush, I’d say this: you just finished running a mile, and you have to throw up, and you’re starving, but no food seems appealing, and your brain becomes fog, and you also have to pee. It’s this close to intolerable. But I like it.”
Becky Albertalli, The Upside of Unrequited

Ok so I’m just going to start off by saying I was Molly Peskin-Suso sans her craftiness lol. I too carried on way too many crushes & gave them all pseudonyms for easy recollection lol. That new crush feeling she describes? yea all too familiar smh, and I also never found the courage to say anything to said crushes *awkwardly looks away from screen* lol. Molly’s character brought back some fun memories and as a plus size gal myself, I found I could relate to her even as a grown adult. Her honesty about the feelings she has rang true to me. Molly has moments where she doesn’t feel comfortable with her weight, she doesn’t want to be just “the girl with the very pretty face”. At the same time, she has moments of empowerment & never once feels the need to be thin just to get a boyfriend. Molly has the same thoughts we’ve all had about our bodies & her inner monologues mirrored my own at that age. Needless to say, I LOVED Molly! I also really enjoyed reading her twin sister Cassie who is the complete opposite of Molly. Cassie & Molly have a great sibling relationship & because they’re twins (same age haha) they have the same circle of friends. Cassie is the extroverted twin, described by Molly as being very attractive & also happens to like girls. Seeing Cassie fall in love while still trying to be there for Molly and even play match maker was super cute. Molly and Cassie also spend time with their cousins (same age) over Skype videos & YAY for female friendships and seeing more of that in our books! *whoop whoop*  

I realize this is getting lengthy but Albertalli really knows how to make you fall head over heels with all of her characters. Last but not least are the AMAZING parentals! Molly’s moms are in tune with their kids and by no means are they your traditional types. I loved seeing their genuine interest in seeing their kids happy. They aren’t holding tight leashes on their kids but instead trust them enough to right. Some may think they were a bit too understanding but when it mattered they stepped in. Also loved seeing each mom’s personality pop on the page. They weren’t just background characters, their own experiences are woven into the story which gives you a more well rounded look at this family.

This is my 1st Albertalli book & I’m quickly making her an auto-buy author. I have Simon waiting for me on ibooks & can’t wait to see what the buzz is with that guy. Simon does do a cameo in this book & that Becky knew what she was doing! I need to know more about Simon!!! haha! this was a fun feel good contemporary. I smiled from start to finish and loved all of the diversity and plus size representation in Upside. Also in the mix, Albertalli found a way to include a quick conversation between Molly, Cassie, & friends on a comment made by another and how it is considered problematic. This then led to a healthy discussion and I found it refreshing to see how it was handled. Upside of Unrequited is now a top 2017 fave & will probably make the cut at the end of year for top 10. I can’t recommend this book enough! PLEASE BUY IT. PLEASE READ IT. PLEASE LOVE IT. 😉

Have any of you wonderful bookish peeps read The Upside of Unrequited? fave character? quote? I mean Molly did have quite a few good lines lol…



Review: Gilded Cage by Vic James

30258320Gilded Cage (Dark Gifts #1) by Vic James

Published by: Del Rey Books

Publication Date: February 14th 2017

Genre: YA Fantasy/Sci-Fi/Dystopian

Pages: 368 pages

Format: eGalley

Rating: ★★★★ (4 STARS)

*Click on cover for Goodreads

I’d like to thank Del Rey Books, Netgalley, and Vic James for providing a eGalley of Gilded Cage in exchange for an honest review.

goodreads-synopsis-2

Not all are free. Not all are equal. Not all will be saved.

Our world belongs to the Equals — aristocrats with magical gifts — and all commoners must serve them for ten years. But behind the gates of England’s grandest estate lies a power that could break the world.

A girl thirsts for love and knowledge.

Abi is a servant to England’s most powerful family, but her spirit is free. So when she falls for one of the noble-born sons, Abi faces a terrible choice. Uncovering the family’s secrets might win her liberty, but will her heart pay the price?

A boy dreams of revolution.

Abi’s brother, Luke, is enslaved in a brutal factory town. Far from his family and cruelly oppressed, he makes friends whose ideals could cost him everything. Now Luke has discovered there may be a power even greater than magic: revolution.

And an aristocrat will remake the world with his dark gifts.

He is a shadow in the glittering world of the Equals, with mysterious powers no one else understands. But will he liberate—or destroy?

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Gilded Cage is a dystopian Fantasy set in an alternate England where all (no matter the color of your skin or your financial status) are expected to complete 10 years of slave life at a time of their choosing. The people are governed by the Equals who have Skill, abilities they are born with that for the most part only the wielder knows it’s full potential. Skill isn’t something spoken about freely & most among the Equals consider it taboo to discuss at all. The Equals control the Skill-less by imposing  Slave Days which are typically carried out in slave towns monitored closely. Life in these slave towns proves to be very difficult due to 6 day work weeks, small food rations, and often beatings from the patrolling security guards. We are introduced to a family of five: Mom, Dad, Oldest Daughter Abi (medical student), Son Luke (middle child), and 10 year old Daisy. The parents have been convinced by their eldest daughter Abi to submit an application to carry out their slave days at the Kyneston estate belonging to one of the top most powerful family of Equals. She is absolutely certain that they each can offer up a service that would make them ideal to be accepted at the estate as opposed to the slave towns. What Abi never expected was for the application to be accepted for all except her brother Luke. The family is immediately picked up & separated from Luke who is taken to the slave towns. From this point on Abi & Luke’s paths are divided and their experiences vastly differ from one another. Told in third person narrative, each character gets a chapter and we the reader get a dose of life through Luke and Abi’s eyes as well as the Equals. Luke is recruited by a small group of characters that are determined to bring an end to slave days. through a series of “jobs” they slowly begin to tear at the seams of injustice. One thing is for certain…the revolution has just begun.

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Luke may have entered the slave town a teenager but he is quickly gaining wisdom and perspective that provide him with a purpose. The friends he makes are characters who just like him, have been cherry picked for their knowledge and skill-less abilities. I enjoyed seeing the character development with Luke since I didn’t think he had it in him to survive in the slave town. I also enjoyed Reenie, the first friend Luke makes and also his recruiter into this rag tag team of misfits. Reenie is described as a POC not much older than 13 years of age who appears to have been in the slave town’s for way longer than laws permit. There’s still a lot to learn about this character, I got the feeling we’ll get her background later on in the series. On Abi’s end we get the sense that she has regret over ever applying to have their days carried out at the estate. She blames herself for Luke’s predicament & sets out on a mission to gather information to get him brought to the estate. Abi has potential to grow into a strong character & her development was nice to see as well. I definitely like the Abi we see in the end better than the one we meet in the beginning.  On the other side of the spectrum we have the Equals who we get to follow & get to know individually in each of their chapters. The Jardine’s: Lord Whittam Jardine, Gavar Jardine, Jenner Jardine, and Silyen Jardine are owners of the Kyneston estate and also one of the most powerful families of Equals. Lord Whittam is a power hungry man who doesn’t deem any of his sons fit to inherit his estate. Gavar Jardine is said to have uncontrollable skill, a great amount difficult to harness. This is made all the more difficult by his temper, he is not the nicest of the bunch lol. Jenner is my favorite, he also happens to be skill-less. I enjoyed this character the most because of all the Jardines, he was sympathetic to Abi & her family making sure they stayed out of harms way. Last but not least we have Silyen, he is an oddball and I haven’t decided whether to like him or not. He also has immense power behind his skill but what his intentions are, it’s too soon to tell. Silyen plays his cards close to his chest and I can’t wait to discover more of what he’s up to. There are also some power players in the story like Gavar’s soon wife-to-be Bhouda. This character has every intention of one day sitting in a position of power & can talk politics with the best of them. She’s also colder than ice and someone to keep an eye on at all times. With many pieces on the board, I  commend Vic James for giving each of these characters their own distinct voice in each chapter. I was never confused and found their stories easy to follow which is alway good in a fantasy series with many players. Also, in case some readers are wondering some of the Equals in power were described as people of color. In this world, you were either born with skill or not. The color of your skin did not determine your fate.

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The world building in Gilded Cage was impressive on the slave town side of the story. I did however, wish to have seen a bit more on the skill of each of the Equals we were introduced to. I’m not sure if the author purposely chose to leave that obscure til the next book or not but there were hints of this throughout the book. In the next book I hope to gain some clarity on the Jardine brothers Skill. This being book 1 in a series, I felt that it set down a solid foundation. The writing itself was enjoyable and never boring, I always found myself wanting to pick this book back up. With a plethora of characters, I enjoyed the short chapters and felt that it carried the story along at steady pace. I’m looking forward to reading the second book in the Dark Gifts series & returning to these characters lives.

Are any of my bookish peeps planning on reading Gilded Cage? For those who already have, link that review down below & I’ll swing by 😉

Review: Gemini by Sonya Mukherjee

Gemini by Sonya Mukherjee
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: July 26th 2016
Format: e-ARC (NetGalley)
Page Count: 336 pages
Rating: ★★★ 1/2

Goodreads Synopsis:

 Seventeen-year-old conjoined twins Clara and Hailey have lived in the same small town their entire lives—no one stares at them anymore. But there are cracks in their quiet existence, and they’re slowly becoming more apparent.
Clara and Hailey are at a crossroads. Clara wants to stay close to home, avoid all attention, and study the night sky. Hailey wants to travel the world, learn from great artists, and dance with mysterious boys.
As high school graduation approaches, each twin must untangle her dreams from her sister’s, and figure out what it means to be her own person.


I’d like to thank Simon & Schuster for approving me to receive an arc of Gemini via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. This also happens to be my very 1st arc & I’m glad that it was Gemini.

Gemini turned out to be a very fast read for me, which is to say kudos to the author for the pacing which was on point. I enjoyed being given a seat at the table with Clara & Hailey; a set of conjoined twins in their last year of high school, and all of their friends. When we first meet Clara & Hailey, the author lets us know that they are polar opposites. Whilst Clara is more subdued, into the sciences, enjoys blending in as much as possible…Hailey is more of an extrovert with pink hair & black eyeliner, a very talented artist with a wanderlust soul. The girls are very much in sync in more ways than one. Although they are only attached by their lower spinal region (each has their own unattached set of legs), the twins share sensations from the torso down. If Clara were to stub her toe, both she & Hailey would feel the pain.

The setting for the most part is the twins high school in a small town where they share a group of girlfriends. Hailey & Clara’s parents are two college professors who left L.A. and relocated to the small town of Bear Pass in an attempt to give the twins a quiet & less complicated life. In the small town of Bear Pass, everyone knows each other & for the most part have gotten used to seeing and being around the twins. One of the best parts of this book had to be the twins support system within their small circle of friends. Juanita (twins’ BFF) was a Godsend, she never treated the twins any differently & was always a great listener, even when she had issues of her own to deal with. Friends like Juanita are one in a million.

Clara & Hailey are in their last year of high school & with graduation right around the bend, came a lot of anxiety over identity. The girls have an amazing bond and each one wants the other to live the life they always dreamed of yet it all seems impossible to attain. They tackled the topics of dating, college, living independently, the possibility of having the very risky surgical procedure to separate them, and lastly the financial costs. In the background we are introduced to their parents and we learn a bit about their lives before the twins & what led them to move away from a big city. Although the interactions between the twins and their dad were brief, I really enjoyed his parts and could tell that he was more open minded. The twin’s mom on the other hand, had pretty much become a master of all trades. Besides being a professor, she tailors all of Hailey & Clara’s clothing, maintains an active role/presence in their school to make sure they have everything they need and drives them to/from school in a van that accommodates them. Mom is also fixated on watching videos of unsuccessful surgical procedures of conjoined twins in an effort to reassure herself that she made the right decision when she opted to keep them together in their infancies. Their portrayal of concerned parents who have sacrificed a lot for the love & safety of their children felt authentic.

I gave this book a 3.5-star rating only because I struggled with telling the twins voices apart. The book is divided by the twins in alternating chapters & as much as they are described to be polar opposites, I couldn’t differentiate between the two and often found that I had to go back to the beginning of the chapter to see whose perspective I was reading from. Since I was already invested in the story & was rooting for the girls, I put in the bit of effort to look back and see whose narrative I was reading but I can see how it may affect others reading experience.

Overall, I really did enjoy this story and the fact that the ending was not made out to be some sort of happy ending but instead felt like  a new beginning for Hailey & Clara. I would recommend Gemini to a friend.