Spoiler Free Review: Reaper of Souls by Rena Barron

Title: Reaper of Souls

(Kingdom of Souls #2)

Author: Rena Barron

Pub. Date: February 18th 2021

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Format: eGalley/ARC

Publisher: HarperTeen

Pages: 448 pages

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE | AMAZON

“𝐼 𝑤𝑖𝑙𝑙 𝑠𝑡𝑎𝑟𝑡 𝑚𝑦 𝑠𝑡𝑜𝑟𝑦 𝑎𝑡 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑏𝑒𝑔𝑖𝑛𝑛𝑖𝑛𝑔, 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑚𝑖𝑑𝑑𝑙𝑒, 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑒𝑛𝑑. 𝐹𝑜𝑟 𝐼 ℎ𝑎𝑣𝑒 𝑙𝑖𝑣𝑒𝑑 𝑎 𝑡ℎ𝑜𝑢𝑠𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑙𝑖𝑣𝑒𝑠 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑑𝑖𝑒𝑑 𝑎 𝑡ℎ𝑜𝑢𝑠𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑑𝑒𝑎𝑡ℎ𝑠, 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑒𝑣𝑒𝑟𝑦 𝑡𝑖𝑚𝑒 𝐼 𝑑𝑖𝑑, 𝐼 𝑟𝑒𝑙𝑖𝑣𝑒 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑠𝑎𝑚𝑒 𝑚𝑒𝑚𝑜𝑟𝑦.“

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) introduced us to Arrah who comes from a powerful family of witch doctors but for some reason hasn’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 read Kingdom of Souls 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 story💜


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February 2021 Anticipated New Releases

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


YA & SCI-FI

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


YA CONTEMPORARY

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

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

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

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

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


CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE & FICTION

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

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

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

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

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


ADULT FANTASY & SCI-FI

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

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

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

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

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


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January 2021 Anticipated New Releases

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


YA & MIDDLE GRADE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


SCI-FI & FANTASY

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

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


fiction & romance

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

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


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


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October 2020 Wrap-Up

Ever had a month where you simply needed change? change of scenery or routine? That was October for this book lover. Working from home as well as remote teaching can be hella fatiguing without adding all the other day to day tasks. I was craving fresh air, trees, bodies of water and trails. So, I took my physical fitness journey to the trails in Ramapo New York. It was exactly what I needed to reinvigorate me for LIFE in general. Books were read & lots of thinking and self care was done as well, all in a safe space. I find that detaching from my apartment REALLY helps me ground myself & feed my soul.

I wish I’d taken more photos on the trails but tbh, they were intermediate and for someone like myself who has just started doing these…it can be challenging to say the least (short girl short strides problems haha!) I did get an AWESOME sense of accomplishment whenever I reached the top or pushed myself the extra mile. My reading was top quality this month! I’m behind just two more reviews for October but they’re coming I promise. I just thought it best to wrap up October cause we’re already at the end of November smh.


My Spoiler free  reviews are linked down below…

FABLE BY ADRIENNE YOUNG – This was a 4 Star read, I love a good father/daughter story and Adrienne Young is an author who really delivers on familial bonds. I listened to the audiobook on Libro.fm, the narrator nailed female pirate with an air of defiance. The world building was A+ and if you’re a lover of high seas adventures, this one will make you feel like your dead smack in the middle of an ocean aboard their ship. Pacing at times can be a bit off but the story & character development more than make up for it.

SPOILER ALERT BY OLIVIA DADE – 5 Star read which had me smiling & at times giggling at its raunchiness haha! this is one for those who love fanfiction OR fandoms in general. Our MC is plus size & very secure of herself in a way that had me thriving to embody her glow. She’s a fan fiction writer & cosplayer who loves living the geeky life. The male love interest is the star of a Gameofthronesque type show…the same show our MC writes fan fiction for. I gushed all about these characters in my non-spoiler review linked above.

LEGENDBORN BY TRACY DEONN – 5 EPIC STARS!!! yet I’m still sitting here wondering why this one made a splash pre-release yet I haven’t seen many reviews out there for it. Those reviews I have seen on Bookstagram from black readers & POC have been rave reviews and I LOVED to see it! This is the ONLY Arthurian re-telling? continuation? I really care for this year. We get a MC who has suffered a very traumatic loss at the start & so her grief is integral to this story. She finds her way into a secret society of the descendants of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. There’s blood magic & a war brewing but it’s all linked back to the racism & generational trauma experienced by the MC’s ancestors. This one moved me on a soul level and is exactly the type of Fantasy I want to read more of.

BLACK SUN BY REBECCA ROANHORSE – 4 Stars & I’m prepared to read more by Rebecca Roanhorse ASAP! this is the start to a new adult fantasy series set in a world inspired by the Pre-Colombian Americas, we follow the Sky Made Clans who are prepping for Winter Solstice. Ya’ll ever read a book with a jaw dropping first passage? cause this one had me shaking my head like, what did I just get myself into? HOOKED! Ok. There’s a prophecy, a clan of Crow people who have been wronged, retribution, Queer characters (one who just so happens to be sort of a siren), multiple POV’s and so much more.

GROWN BY TIFFANY D. JACKSON – 5 Stars simply put this was a Gut wrenching audiobook. Our MC is a teenage black girl who aspires to have a singing career. Her path unfortunately crosses with a narcissistic predator who dangles promises but only seeks to control her mind and body. We see her innocence stripped away while he works to isolate her from a family who loves her and has only sought to take care of her. Many have linked this book to the singer R.Kelly but the author has previously stated that this is not that but is it’s own story. Either way, it was at times disturbing to read and others just sad because too often black girls are subjected to having to grow up way before they’re meant to. HIGHLY recommend to those seeking to read & connect with stories/characters outside of their own culture, ethnicity or youth experience.

AMERICAN DREAMER BY ADRIANA HERRERA – 5 GLORIOUS STARS!!! In this corner of the interwebz we LOVE Adriana Herrera and whatever she writes I will buy and support. Also listened to this on Libro.fm while cooking & doing laundry. We follow our MC who is a Dominican Gay man leaving NYC and moving to Upstate NY in hopes that he can turn his Afro-Caribbean food truck into a restaurant. When he arrives he meets Jude, the cute librarian guy who is a bit shy but also very curious about Nesto’s confidence and swag. Filled with yummy food descriptions and a crew of fellas who are #BFFFriendGoals I ate this book up! haha! Cannot wait to continue on with this series.


Lovecraft Country

This was just about the only TV show I managed to watch in October but WOW! Quality streaming content book lovers! I’m not yet finished, I’ve watched 9 episodes and have been staying away from Twitter spoilers. I hear the ending will break me and I’m just bracing for that. Sci-fi Horror which starts off with a black man who goes on a road trip with his Uncle and friend through 1950’s Jim Crow America. Each episode has you clutched in fear for these characters whose lives are constantly in peril between racist America and the actual monsters/demons which I took to be physical manifestations of the hatred steeped in our history/present day.


I hope you’re all doing well during these tough times, finding things that bring joy and peace to your lives. Big or small, whatever brings your soul joy I hope you’ve found it or are on your way to finding it. I’d LOVE to hear all about what ya’ll have been reading or spending time on/with. Drop some love down below <3’s!

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Spoiler Free Review: Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade

Title: Spoiler Alert

Author: Olivia Dade

Pub. Date: October 6th 2020

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Format: eGalley

Publisher: Avon

Pages: 416 pages

🖤ALC & Galley provided by Publisher in exchange for an honest review🖤

This may just be the book responsible for me dipping into the world of fan-fiction, I had an absolute blast reading from the POV of April & Marcus. If like myself you’re someone who didn’t quite get on board with the finale of Game of Thrones or Dexter (haha), possibly even thought you could’ve written a better finale? then this book is for you! Set in a post Gameofthronesque (totally made this word up #noshame) world we follow April a plus size fan-fiction writer for the show Gods of the Gates.  April has just tweeted out a photo of herself in a self made/designed Lavinia Cosplay who is one half of the show’s OTP. When her photo goes viral it captures the attention of many a troll as well as that of Marcus Caster-Rupp who plays main guy Aeneas AKA the other half of this beloved OTP. One twitter exchange leads to another and Marcus sees himself asking April out on a date to spite the nasty trolls who are body shaming her on social media.

April has no idea that Marcus has a secret online persona he uses to write fan-fiction of his own. Gods of the Gates Fan Fiction that contractually he needs to not be linked back to. In this fandom he’s known as Book!AeneasWouldNever, an anonymous writer who gets to take out his frustrations with the show he works in. Little does Marcus know but he and April have a ton in common, April is Unapologetic Lavinia Stan in the Gods of the Gates Fan Fiction world. Furthermore, they have actually been friends all along but Marcus can’t let her know his real identity. For Marcus, the acting career he’s worked so hard to build means everything to him & he’s not ready to risk his contract. However….staying away from April is just simply NOT something he can do.

Content Warning: body shaming, toxic parent relationships, fat shaming

April AKA Unapologetic Lavinia Stan- Honestly represents everything I wish I was a few years ago. April is an empowered woman who is tired of hiding the parts of herself that make her phenomenal. She wants to live her geektastic life out in the open! meet her online friends IRL & last but not least, find the man who will love every inch of her beautiful body inside and out. We get a glimpse of the toxic relationship she had growing up with her parents that shaped her into the woman she is at the start of our story. April is body positive & won’t allow anyone, be it friend or family to body shame her.

Marcus AKABook!AeneasWouldNever – THIS MAN! getting to know him meant falling in love with this character. He appears to the masses as this vain persona but in reality he’s protecting the softer intellectual he truly is. Also stemming from a toxic childhood, Marcus isn’t living in his truth at the start of the story. He’s hiding just how amazing he truly is and relies on his fan fiction to express himself authentically. The way he loved up on April in every which way is EXACTLY what I LOVE to see!

Was I expecting to love a book based on fan-fiction culture? No. Was I sucked in & left cheesy smiling? YES! April is beautiful, sexy, smart, creative, and a true friend. She’s not apologizing for her body size, nor should she have to! I smiled and nodded YES every time she stood up for herself and claimed her power and femininity. The contrast between who she really is and what Marcus pretends to be is something that really stands out and makes these characters memorable. They both bring a level of healing into each others lives I don’t imagine they expected. LOVED to see it! This book was such a fun time, one of my favorite aspects being the excerpts we get from their actual Fan-Fiction. A lot of it being outright silly in its raunchiness HAHA! I’m now eagerly anticipating the next book by Dade which I believe will be based on a fave character of mine in this book! *fingers crossed*


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August 2020 Book Haul

It’s Friday & I’m not posting a Friday Reads & Thangs because lots of non-bookish things are happening this weekend in my little corner. However, I come to you late my friends with my August Book Haul! This is actually one of my favorite stacks I’ve hauled in quite some time. I’m almost done un-hauling books from my shelves *book shimmy* that I’ve lost interest in, I’m sticking to only buying books that I’ve either read/loved OR have a STRONG inclination that the book will be a favorite new read. In this stack I have already read & 5 starred You Had Me at Hola (my review) & Lobizona (my review), these would be great additions to your TBR/shelves in the support of Latinx Heritage Month. Also, I am currently a host for a Latinx Heritage Month Giveaway over on Bookstagram. This is a weekly giveaway running through September, the winners are announced every Friday. To enter, keep an eye out for the Monday morning post each week 🙂

For more Bookish photos & to enter the Latinx Heritage Month Giveaway, click on the photo to follow LairOfBooks on Bookstagram

HANDS DOWN | YOU HAD ME AT HOLA | VICIOUS SPIRITS | STAR DAUGHTER | RAYBEARER | THE FIRST SISTER | LOBIZONA | HOOD FEMINISM  (gift from Brittany over @DippedinColor)


WITCHES STEEPED IN GOLD | THE PROJECT | MUSE

Super thankful to Epic & Fierce Reads for the Edelweiss/Netgalley approvals, these are titles I’m looking forward to reading & reviewing here on the blog. Witches Steeped in Gold is already getting some early praise which absolutly heightens my curiosity.


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August 2020 Wrap-Up

The last official month of Summer has come & gone leaving me sitting here drafting up a wrap-up in warm fuzzies while sipping on my coffee. My reading in August was very scattered and looking back that was probably because I was anticipating September too hard to even focus. I’m a type A personality who organizes & plans for things and so most of my focus was in preparing for a more stress free work from home/remote learning set-up in my apartment. I did still squeeze in a few more trips to the beach in an attempt to stretch out the golden tan I worked so hard for smh. This all is the reason for which I listened to 4 audiobooks & read 3 physical books. Although I found some new authors I’d like to read more from, the only read to truly blow me away was Lobizona by Romina Garber & this now being September aka Latinx Heritage month, I hardcore recommend this read my friends! ❤

THE ROOMMATE BY ROSIE DANAN – (MY REVIEW)✨4 STARS✨FUN, STEAMY & SEX POSITIVE

THE VOTING BOOTH BY BRANDY COLBERT – (MY REVIEW) ✨4 STARS✨ A TIMELY READ THAT BRINGS ISSUES WITH VOTER SUPPRESSION TO THE FOREFRONT

FAITH TAKING FLIGHT BY JULIE MURPHY – (MY REVIEW) ✨3.5 STARS✨CUTE QUEER STORY ABOUT FRIENDSHIPS WITH SOME PACING ISSUES THAT MADE IT CHAOTIC TOWARDS THE END

ONE TO WATCH BY KATE STAYMAN-LONDON -(MY REVIEW)✨5 STARS✨ AUDIOBOOK WAS THE WAY TO GO! QUITE THE ADDICTIVE READ WITH A PLUS SIZE MC ON A DATING SHOW WHO FACES MUCH ADVERSITY & CRUELTY. THIS WAS AT TIMES HARD TO LISTEN TO BECAUSE IT WAS TRIGGERING, STILL ONE OF MY FAVES THIS YEAR

THE FAITHLESS HAWK (THE MERCIFUL CROW #2) BY MARGARET OWEN – (MY REVIEW) ✨ 5 STARS✨ THIS BOOK! AHHH! ALL THE FEELS, TRULY LEFT ME BAWLIN’ MY EYES OUT ON THE VERY LAST PAGE. THIS DUOLOGY  IS NOW SITTING NEXT TO MY MY SIX OF CROWS DUOLOGY AS FOREVER FAVORITES

HIS & HERS BY ALICE FEENEY – (MY REVIEW) ✨ 4 STARS✨ONCE AGAIN LIBRO.FM CAME THROUGH WITH A BONE CHILLING ALC! TOLD IN MULTIPLE POV WITH ONE OF THE 3 NARRATORS USING A VOICE CHANGER…COULDN’T LISTEN TO THOSE CHAPTER AT NIGHT JUSSAYIN.

LOBIZONA BY ROMINA GARBER – (MY REVIEW) ✨5 STARS✨ROMINA GARBER DELIVERED SUCH A SOLID STAND OUT DEBUT! IF YOU’RE LOOKING FOR SOMETHING TO REPLACE SHE WHO SHALL NOT BE NAMED…LOBIZONA WILL DEF GIVE YOU HP VIBES.

PROJECT POWER EXCEEDED EXPECTATIONS, SET IN NEW ORLEANS WE FOLLOW A TEEN WHO TEAMS UP WITH A COP & EX SOLDIER TO GET TO THE BOTTOM OF A VERY SERIOUS DRUG THAT HAS HIT THE STREETS. A DRUG THAT GIVES YOU UNPREDICTABLE SUPER POWERS FOR 5 MINUTES.  HIGH ADRENALINE DELIVERED BY JAMIE FOX WHO HAS YET TO DISAPPOINT ME.

“A COVERT TEAM OF IMMORTAL MERCENARIES ARE SUDDENLY EXPOSED AND MUST NOW FIGHT TO KEEP THEIR IDENTITY A SECRET JUST AS A UNEXPECTED NEW MEMBER IS DISCOVERED” I HAD NO IDEA THIS ORIGINATED FROM A COMIC BUT I WAS LEFT WITH A NEED FOR MORE! I TRULY WISH THIS HAD BEEN MADE A SERIES BUT THAT COULD JUST BE MY BIAS TOWARDS ANYTHING HAVING TO DO WITH IMMORTALS. LOVED THESE CHARACTERS (NOT ENOUGH TIME) AND THEIR OLD TIES TO ONE ANOTHER. AGAIN, JUST WISH WE GET MORE.


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Spoiler Free Review: Lobizona by Romina Garber

Title: Lobizona

Author: Romina Garber

Pub. Date: August 4th 2020

Genre: YA Fantasy

Format: eGalley

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Pages: 400 pages

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE | AMAZON

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

“I am that leftover ace of diamonds. I don’t fit into any of the groupings around me, and the things that make me different always seem to count against me”

Lobizona tells the story of Manuela Azu aka Manu as she lives a quiet sheltered life in Miami alongside her mother. Manu has been on the run from her father’s Argentine crime family since birth. Now she hides from ICE raids in the United States by blending in as best she can. For Manu this means homeschooling from Perla, sort of an adoptive grandmother who shares a lie for literature with Manu. Perla has also shared folklore from their mother country of Argentina. One of the superstitions Manu has always felt a connection with is that of the 7th consecutive sons & daughters born in Argentina being either a wolf or witch. This story starts with Manu’s menstruation, a painful time for Manu directly correlated with the moon cycle. Manu’s mother gives her a sedative which puts her to sleep through the majority of her cycle. She remains indoors most of the time but when she does go out she wears shades to cover her unnaturally yellow as the sun eyes. Manu follows her mothers rules in order to keep from being detained & deported but she yearns for freedom and friends her age.

Manu’s entire life course is upended when her mother is detained by ICE & she finds herself on her own. Searching for answers with little to go on, she manages to stumble upon a group of teens off the side of the road. What at first seemed like just group of teens ends up looking a lot more like the Argentine Folklore passed down to her by Perla. Could Perla, the adopted grandmother have been trying to tell her something about her origins? or was it just superstitions passed down from her mother country? Could these people have answers to questions she hasn’t thought to ask? We follow Manu as she dares to uncover secrets and lay claim over her very existence.

It’s been about two weeks since I finished this book & I still remember the raw emotions it stirred up in me. During a time in the United States where we’ve seen children torn away from their families, this one hits hard! Manu left Argentina at the age of 5, on the run from her father’s crime family. Life in Miami has been spent mostly within the walls of her home building. Her very existence is deemed “illegal” in Argentina & in the U.S. and the author made sure to convey Manu’s feelings of displacement. I LOVED the magic in this world! in many ways this has all the elements of a Fantasy set within a school with even their own magical sport. There are witches being trained to use their elemental magic as well as wolves training in physical strength. There’s discussion on gender & identity, the fact that their world is stuck in rigid antiquated beliefs. Their laws make it so they cannot move beyond a binary system & therefore who they may love is also dictated by the assigned sex at birth. I felt this opened the floor for discussion and also set up the foundation for the next book. Manu is reclaiming her identity & with that comes hope for change within their world. I felt so many emotions reading this book but also hope because it feels like Manu’s journey will be one where she fights for equality.


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September 2020 TBR

Fall is absolutely in the air, it’s been a long time since I’ve braved posting a TBR here simply because the past 2 years have been mood reading heavy. Unintentionally this TBR is giving off major fall vibes & I am here LIVING for it! although I’ve found a new love for Summer, the Fall season will always be my one true love. It’s when I do the most reading, rock the cute hoodies, and drink all the seasonal drinks…I’m looking at you Starbucks Irish Cream Cold Brew 😉

By the time this post goes live I’ll be in the process of reading 2 or maybe 3 of these titles, one is definitely an audiobook. All of the titles listed below are eGalleys/ARCS/ALCS I am very thankful to have received & will be trying to review within this month. If I manage to make my way through these, I have a few add-ons to choose from but ummm…


Crazy Stupid Bromance (Bromance Book Club #3) by Lyssa Kay Adams-Lyssa Kay Adams can continue writing in this world & I will buy all of her books. Here we follow Noah Logan the unofficial Bromance Book Club member who is a tech savvy nerd/hacker. As with all of these books there’s a guy who is in need of better understanding the female love interest. I’m only 15% into this book & already it’s getting hard to stop reading so fast. I love that we follow the important themes discussed in the previous book with sexual harassment at the work front. The men are still hard at work shedding toxic masculinity seen first hand at the very start when we learn that Liv (previous female love interest) has entrusted all wedding arrangements to her fiancé Braden Mack. Braden has gathered his book club to make paper carnations & GAH! I LOVE these characters so friggin much!

Horrid by Katrina Leno-In the spirit of continuing to read Horror, this could not have come at a better time. Set during the Autumns season we see a girl whose father has passed away & with her mom returns to her home town. Creepy vibes in this house where there’s a “storage”room that runs out to be a little girls bedroom. Our MC also faces bullying in this town & from what I can gather, this may come down to grieving & mental illness or something actually dark & secret. I’m intrigued but will definitely be reading this with the lights on & no my Kindle back light won’t cut it 🙂

Fable (Fable #1) by Adrienne Young-Pirates are my drug of choice but give me female pirates & now I don’t know how to act. I LOVED Adrienne Young’s Sky in the Deep & jumped at the chance of reading this on Netgalley. After losing her mother to the Sea, our MC is left to be raised by her father who in turn abandons her. Left alone to fend for herself, she sets out to make her way back to her father to convince him that she is worthy of being a member of his crew. What she doesn’t know is that during the time she was away from him, he’s picked up quite the rivals in his trade business. No one is to be trusted & nothing is as it seems…

A Deadly Education (Scholomance # 1) by Naomi Novak-I am about 15% into this book & I in NO way am here to support she who shall NOT be named. However, this book really does feel like the Slytherin story I never got. This I guess in many ways is Dark Academia with a MC who to many will come across as unlikeable. I happen to LOVE this type of character, her inner monologue has me wicked chuckling smh. She has all this dark power within her & can cast some powerful spells but doing that would bring about destruction. While others are working simpler spells to make life easier, she can’t summon anything basic. In many ways she comes across as a Bitter Betty but I can’t help LOVING her!

When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole-Thought this was just a thriller but early reviewers are saying this leans more towards Horror. This is the year where I’ve started to take an interest in horror so I’m here for it! I’ve already started the audiobook via Libro.fm (my referral code) & the narration is A+! set in Brooklyn we meet a MC who is in the midst of watching her neighborhood go through the changes imposed by gentrification or is it? did the neighbors really relocate to the suburbs? I hear our MC may be a bit of an unreliable character & I love me a paranoid MC! here for it!

Kingdom Of The Wicked (Kingdom Of The Wicked #1) by Kerri Maniscalco-My! My! MY! I have yet to read a Kerri Maniscalco but this author has remained intriguing AF to me. Happy to satisfy my curiosity with this tale of twins, one Is gruesomely murdered & the other is left to find her murderer and avenge her death. Somehow, she gets thrown into meeting one of the Princes of Hell who is in charge of investigating the deaths of numerous women?!? Dark Romance?! HELL YES!

Legendborn (Legendborn #1) by Tracy Deonn– Southern Black Girl Magic? sign me up! Queer characters & secret societies within a school setting? with magical weapons? HIGH hopes! early reviews are all leaning towards this being a potential 5 star *fingers crossed*

Wayward Witch (Brooklyn Brujas #3) by Zoraida Córdova– The 3rd book in the Brooklyn Brujas trilogy & we finally get Rose Mortiz as the main POV! the littlest sister who is a rebel at heart, I’m beyond stoked! won’t go into deets cause spoilers but this is such a awesome Latinx trilogy to get into filled with magic and adventure.


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Spoiler Free Mini Reviews: Faith Takes Flight & The Voting Booth

Title: Faith Takes Flight

Author: Julie Murphy

Pub. Date: July 7th 2020

Genre: YA Contemporary/Queer

Format: Audiobook ALC

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Pages: 304 Pages

GOODREADSBARNES & NOBLE | LIBRO.FM| AMAZON

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

Faith Herbert in many ways is your average teenager living in a small town dealing with friendships, crushes, volunteer work & more. It’s easy to fall in love with Faith who is a plus size teen with a well known fan blog for The Grove, a popular tv series. Faith lives with her grandmother who she loves dearly & is one part of a trio of friends who are queer and super supportive of one another. This is her senior year in High School & things get a bit complicated when The Grove starts filming in her hometown. Faith finds herself having more than one crush, Johnny is very much the boy next door who is trying to get Dakota to notice him. Dakota Ash is the star of The Grove who also has her eyes on Faith & sets out to take her out on a date.

This was a cute superhero story that had its pacing issues & felt like two different books in one. The first half doesn’t see much plot movement, it really is just small town life as Faith goes about volunteer work at the Vet clinic & dating Dakota. The second half takes off at lightning speed with all sorts of new things introduced to the plot including missing teens, pets & a criminal operation. I’m still unsure about how Faith got a handle on her superhero powers & wished that we’d gotten more on that. What I loved about Faith is that she’s not your typical slim female superhero in tights. Faith is not only plus size but she also dates both genders & explores her sexuality, questioning herself at times but never labeling herself. I felt this came across as authentic for her age when really that’s exactly what is happening, self discovery. I did have some issues with how Faith handled her friends when consumed by her love life but I’m glad things get sorted out on the page. The friend trio itself is #Nerdgoals I LOVED them to pieces, especially Ches who is a queer witch that isn’t above lighting some sage to clear the room of negative energies! LOVED!


Title: The Voting Booth

Author: Brandy Colbert

Pub. Date: July 7th 2020

Genre: YA Contemporary

Format: Audiobook ALC

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Pages: 304 Pages

GOODREADSBARNES & NOBLE | LIBRO.FM | AMAZON

🖤ARC provided by author/Libro.fm in exchange for an honest review🖤

If ever there was a timely read, this is it! at its core, The Voting Booth is about voter suppression in black communities. We meet Marva Sheridan, a black teen who has a passion for politics & making sure voter rights are upheld and protected. She is an activist who knows her life has a purpose, to make a difference in the world. Duke Crenshaw is a bi-racial teen on his way to cast his vote before class & also comes from a family who take voting pretty seriously. However, they also had a son who was an activist, who is no longer with them. This is something that Duke carries with him & has created an aversion to politics. As a son of divorced parents, Duke has had to relocate a few times and because of that, voting at the school he is registered under has now become a challenge. Marva steps in to assist Duke throughout the course of one entire day, met with many obstacles but never once being deterred. At the start of their story, Marva is dating someone who she has just found out has opted to not vote at all. She’s completely thrown off & diverts her energies towards helping Duke & in turn spends the day getting to know him. I was very grateful to the author in their decision to not throw Marva into Dukes arms. Boundaries were respected leaving me with the MOST satisfying of endings.

Interwoven throughout this story there’s discussion of police brutality, interracial dating & moments where the characters themselves question their identities within the black community. There’s Duke who until this day hasn’t really wanted to focus too much on his brothers political activism. Then there’s Marva who is attending a white school & recognizes her privilege. There’s so much to unpack but one thing rings loud & clear, that’s the need to end voter suppression. The importance of casting your vote & the change that is needed within communities of color where it is made most difficult to exercise this right.


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