Spoiler Free Review: The Taking of Jake Livingston by Jake Douglass

39085455Title: The Taking of Jake Livingston

Author: Ryan Douglass

Pub. Date: July 13th 2021

Genre: YA Horror/Queer

Format: eGalley

Publisher: Putnam

Pages: 308 pages

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The 411..

Those that love Horror Noir with atmospheric/creepy vibes may find a new favorite in The Taking Of Jake Livingston, it is intense across the board invoking many emotions all at once. Jake is a black gay Medium who is caught in a life of trauma having to see the death loops of victims that are sort of in limbo. This means his reality bleeds into the spirit world where Ghouls, Demons and Ghosts wander aimlessly. He sees the gruesome ways many have been killed accidentally & those that were not, like the mass school shooting executed by Sawyer Doon. Sawyer, a Caucasian male who was briefly in therapy and mostly at home with a mother who was more ashamed to have a son who struggled with mental health. Sawyer is now haunting Jake and also killing students he wasn’t able to get to before committing suicide at the school. Jake finds himself trying to stop Sawyer while also dealing with racism at his school, bullying, homophobia, and memories of an abusive father who tried to pray away the fact that his son is gay. Told in dual POV, we get to be in Jake and Sawyer’s thoughts all throughout until it’s made clear what it is that Sawyer is after. Haunting and absolutely THE scariest book I’ve read in a long time. 

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I could NOT put this book down! I worried constantly for Jake & how living through the horror of death loops alone would affect his own mental health. Then seeing him in a school where he’s the only black student and how the teachers/students interacted with him, was maddening and heart breaking. We get to live in Jake and Sawyer’s minds, the latter felt like the toughest to read from. Sawyer’s thoughts are from beyond the grave, we’re reading excerpts from his journal and it’s made very clear that Sawyer is aware he’s struggling with mental health. He’s having deeply disturbing thoughts of self harm as well as harming others and it felt as if it was only a matter of time before he gave in and acted on these impulses. We see him go in and out of therapy mainly because his mother feels it brings shame to their family. I can’t say I felt sorry for this character however, I do feel his mother failed him and in doing so contributed to the events that took place at the school. Jake’s POV was also tough for different reasons. I felt paranoid at times which made sense since he couldn’t allow himself to fall into a deep sleep for fear of Sawyer’s ghost killing him. It feels like Jake has become numb to it all but it’s still very shocking to read what he’s witnessing. Towards the last quarter, Jake does have a romance take off (LOVED Alistair) and being that he experienced so much trauma just to exist, I really wanted to see more of him coming into his own. I wouldn’t have minded it being a bit longer just to see more of Jake & Alistair’s relationship really have a chance on the page. All in all I was completely engrossed by this story!

Content Warning: CW: Homophobia, Bullying, Child abuse, off the page domestic violence, Racism, attempted rape, violence, school shooting (graphic), abandonment


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

55518780Title: Ace Of Spades

Author:Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

Pub. Date: June 1st 2021

Genre: YA Contemporary/Queer

Format: eGalley

Publisher: Harper/Usborne

Pages: 480 pages

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The 411..

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

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

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

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

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


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June 2021 Anticipated New Releases

June has seen some dope titles drop and we still have two more weeks of releases to go! I’m currently in the middle of Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké Íyímídé, a June release that you will absolutely want to pick up…I’m not kidding, it’s a compulsive read that is exactly as is described. Get Out meets Gossip Girl and if you were a fan of Alyssa Cole’s When No One is Watching, I’d say go for it! next up on my Possibility Pile, is an eGalley of Survive the Night by Riley Sager that I’m hoping makes me a fan of this beloved author *fingers crossed*

Have you read any of these books? any I left out? Drop them down below in the comments Luvs! ❤

YOUNG ADULT

FIRE WITH FIRE BY DESTINY SORIA“Dani and Eden Rivera were both born to kill dragons, but the sisters couldn’t be more different. For Dani, dragon slaying takes a back seat to normal high school life, while Eden prioritizes training above everything else. Yet they both agree on one thing: it’s kill or be killed where dragons are concerned.” 6/8

THE WOLF AND THE WOODSMAN BY AVA REID“In the vein of Naomi Novik’s New York Times bestseller Spinning Silver and Katherine Arden’s national bestseller The Bear and the Nightingale, this unforgettable debut— inspired by Hungarian history and Jewish mythology—follows a young pagan woman with hidden powers and a one-eyed captain of the Woodsmen as they form an unlikely alliance to thwart a tyrant.” 6/8

THE NATURE OF WITCHES BY RACHEL GRIFFIN“For centuries, witches have maintained the climate, their power from the sun peaking in the season of their birth. But now their control is faltering as the atmosphere becomes more erratic. All hope lies with Clara, an Everwitch whose rare magic is tied to every season.” 6/1

MY CONTRARY MARY BY CYNTHIA HAND, BRODI ASHTON, JODI MEADOWS -Aaaaaand they’re BACK! “Welcome to Renaissance France, a place of poison and plots, of beauties and beasts, of mice and . . . queens? Mary is the queen of Scotland and the jewel of the French court. Except when she’s a mouse. Yes, reader, Mary is an Eðian (shapeshifter) in a kingdom where Verities rule. It’s a secret that could cost her a head—or a tail.” 6/22

ACE OF SPADES BY FARIDAH ÀBíKÉ ÍYÍMÍDÉ“An incendiary and utterly compelling thriller with a shocking twist that delves deep into the heart of institutionalized racism, from an exceptional new YA voice. Welcome to Niveus Private Academy, where money paves the hallways, and the students are never less than perfect. Until now. Because anonymous texter, Aces, is bringing two students’ dark secrets to light. ” 6/10

GEARBREAKERS BY ZOE HANA MIKUTA“Two girls on opposite sides of a war discover they’re fighting for a common purpose–and falling for each other–in Zoe Hana Mikuta’s high-octane debut Gearbreakers, perfect for fans of Pacific Rim, Pierce Brown’s Red Rising Saga, and Marie Lu’s Legend series.” 6/29

DARLING BY K. ANCRUM “A teen girl finds herself lost on a dangerous adventure in this YA thriller by the acclaimed author of The Wicker King and The Weight of the Stars—reimagining Peter Pan for today’s world.” 6/22

THE WITCH KING BY H.E. EDGMON“To save a fae kingdom, a trans witch must face his traumatic past and the royal fiancé he left behind. This debut YA fantasy will leave you spellbound.” 6/1

BLACKOUT  (ANTHOLOGY) “Six critically acclaimed, bestselling, and award-winning authors bring the glowing warmth and electricity of Black teen love to this interlinked novel of charming, hilarious, and heartwarming stories that shine a bright light through the dark.” 6/22

BLOOD LIKE MAGIC BY LISELLE SAMBURY – “A rich, dark urban fantasy debut following a teen witch who is given a horrifying task: sacrificing her first love to save her family’s magic. The problem is, she’s never been in love—she’ll have to find the perfect guy before she can kill him.” 6/15

ADULT FICTION

MALIBU RISING – (RTC 4 stars) Malibu: August 1983. It’s the day of Nina Riva’s annual end-of-summer party, and anticipation is at a fever pitch. Everyone wants to be around the famous Rivas: Nina, the talented surfer and supermodel; brothers Jay and Hud, one a championship surfer, the other a renowned photographer; and their adored baby sister, Kit. Together the siblings are a source of fascination in Malibu and the world over–especially as the offspring of the legendary singer Mick Riva.” 6/1. 

THE MAIDENS BY ALEX MICHAELIDES“Edward Fosca is a murderer. Of this Mariana is certain. But Fosca is untouchable. A handsome and charismatic Greek Tragedy professor at Cambridge University, Fosca is adored by staff and students alike—particularly by the members of a secret society of female students known as The Maidens.” 6/15

SURVIVE THE NIGHT BY RILEY SAGER“It’s November 1991. George H. W. Bush is in the White House, Nirvana’s in the tape deck, and movie-obsessed college student Charlie Jordan is in a car with a man who might be a serial killer.” 6/29

THE CHOSEN AND THE BEAUTIFUL BY NGHI VOImmigrant. Socialite. Magician. Jordan Baker grows up in the most rarefied circles of 1920s American society—she has money, education, a killer golf handicap, and invitations to some of the most exclusive parties of the Jazz Age. She’s also queer, Asian, adopted, and treated as an exotic attraction by her peers, while the most important doors remain closed to her. But the world is full of wonders: infernal pacts and dazzling illusions, lost ghosts and elemental mysteries. In all paper is fire, and Jordan can burn the cut paper heart out of a man. She just has to learn how. Nghi Vo’s debut novel The Chosen and the Beautiful reinvents this classic of the American canon as a coming-of-age story full of magic, mystery, and glittering excess, and introduces a major new literary voice. 6/1

DEAD DEAD GIRLS BY NEHESA AFIA“The start of an exciting new historical mystery series set in 1920s Harlem featuring Louise Lloyd, a young black woman caught up in a series of murders way too close to home…Harlem, 1926. Young black girls like Louise Lloyd are ending up dead. Following a harrowing kidnapping ordeal when she was in her teens, Louise is doing everything she can to maintain a normal life. She’s succeeding, too. She spends her days working at Maggie’s Café and her nights at the Zodiac, Manhattan’s hottest speakeasy. Louise’s friends might say she’s running from her past and the notoriety that still stalks her, but don’t tell her that.” 6/1

ADULT ROMANCE

TRYST SIX VENOM BY PENELOPE DOUGLAS(F/F BULLY NEW ADULT ROMANCE) “Marymount girls are good girls. We’re chaste, we’re untouched, and even if we weren’t, no one would know, because we keep our mouths shut.
Not that I have anything to share anyway. I never let guys go too far. I’m behaved. Beautiful, smart, talented, popular, my skirt’s always pressed, and I never have a hair out of place. I own the hallways, walking tall on Monday and dropping to my knees like the good Catholic girl I am on Sunday. That’s me. Always in control. Or so they think. The truth is that it’s easy for me to resist them, because what I truly want, they can never be. Something soft and smooth. Someone dangerous and wild.” 6/3

REEL BY KENNEDY RYAN – 
Award-Winning Wall Street Journal Bestselling author Kennedy Ryan launches a brand new series with a Hollywood tale of wild ambition, artistic obsession, and unrelenting love.
One moment in the spotlight. For months I stood by, an understudy waiting in the wings, preparing for my time to shine.
I never imagined he would watch in the audience that night.
Canon Holt.
Famous film director.
Fascinating. Talented. Fine.
Before I could catch my breath, everything changed.
I went from backstage Broadway to center stage Hollywood.
From being unknown, to my name, Neevah Saint, on everyone’s lips.
Canon casts me in a star-studded Harlem Renaissance biopic, catapulting me into another stratosphere. But stars shine brightest in the dead of night.
Forbidden attraction, scandal and circumstances beyond my control jeopardize my dream. Could this one shot—the role of a lifetime, the love of a lifetime—cost me everything?” 6/8

CLAIMED BY J.R. WARDA heart-pounding new series set in the Black Dagger Brotherhood world, with a scientist fighting to save the timber wolves—and getting caught in a deadly trap herself…

Lydia Susi is passionate about protecting wolves in their natural habitat. When a hotel chain develops a tract of land next to the preserve, Lydia is one of the most vocal opponents of the project—and becomes a target.” 6/27

NEON GODS BY KATEE ROBERT“He was supposed to be a myth. But from the moment I crossed the River Styx and fell under his dark spell… he was, quite simply, mine. Society darling Persephone Dimitriou plans to flee the ultra-modern city of Olympus and start over far from the backstabbing politics of the Thirteen Houses. But all that’s ripped away when her mother ambushes her with an engagement to Zeus, the dangerous power behind their glittering city’s dark facade.” 6/1

THE QUEER PRINCIPLES OF KIT WEBB BY KAT SEBASTIAN“Critically acclaimed author Cat Sebastian makes her trade paperback debut in a stunning historical romance about a reluctantly reformed highwayman and the aristocrat who threatens to steal his heart. Kit Webb has left his stand-and-deliver days behind him. But dreary days at his coffee shop have begun to make him pine for the heady rush of thievery. When a handsome yet arrogant aristocrat storms into his shop, Kit quickly realizes he may be unable to deny whatever this highborn man desires.” 6/8


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Spoiler Free Review: Black Water Sister by Zen Cho

55119872Title: Black Water Sister

Author: Zen Cho

Pub. Date: May 11th 2021

Genre: Fantasy/Queer

Format: eGalley

Publisher: Ace Books

Pages: 384 pages

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🖤eGalley provided by Publisher in exchange for an honest review, all quotes come from an advance copy and may not match the final release🖤

The 411..“𝑻𝒉𝒆 𝒖𝒏𝒄𝒍𝒆𝒔 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒂𝒖𝒏𝒕𝒊𝒆𝒔 𝒘𝒆𝒓𝒆 𝒂𝒍𝒍 𝒖𝒏𝒒𝒖𝒆𝒔𝒕𝒊𝒐𝒏𝒊𝒏𝒈𝒍𝒚 𝒔𝒖𝒑𝒆𝒓𝒔𝒕𝒊𝒕𝒊𝒐𝒖𝒔. 𝑻𝒉𝒆𝒚 𝒕𝒂𝒍𝒌𝒆𝒅 𝒂𝒃𝒐𝒖𝒕 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒔𝒖𝒑𝒆𝒓𝒏𝒂𝒕𝒖𝒓𝒂𝒍 𝒘𝒊𝒕𝒉 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒔𝒂𝒎𝒆 𝒎𝒊𝒙𝒕𝒖𝒓𝒆 𝒐𝒇 𝒎𝒂𝒕𝒕𝒆𝒓-𝒐𝒇- 𝒇𝒂𝒄𝒕 𝒂𝒄𝒄𝒆𝒑𝒕𝒂𝒏𝒄𝒆 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒄𝒂𝒖𝒕𝒊𝒐𝒏 𝒘𝒊𝒕𝒉 𝒘𝒉𝒊𝒄𝒉 𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒚 𝒅𝒊𝒔𝒄𝒖𝒔𝒔𝒆𝒅 𝒑𝒐𝒍𝒊𝒕𝒊𝒄𝒔, 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒇𝒐𝒓 𝒎𝒖𝒄𝒉 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒔𝒂𝒎𝒆 𝒓𝒆𝒂𝒔𝒐𝒏- 𝒚𝒐𝒖 𝒏𝒆𝒗𝒆𝒓 𝒌𝒏𝒆𝒘 𝒘𝒉𝒐 𝒎𝒊𝒈𝒉𝒕 𝒃𝒆 𝒍𝒊𝒔𝒕𝒆𝒏𝒊𝒏𝒈.“

Black Water Sister is set in Malaysia where we follow our main protagonist Jessamyn who is returning with her parents for the very first time since leaving the country when she was only a toddler. Jessamyn has just graduated college and is in that weird stage of life trying to figure out which path to take. She’s also queer and in love with her girlfriend who she’s trying to maintain a long distance relationship with. Jessamyn isn’t out to anyone really and the stress of this alone is enough to make her believe that the voices she’s begun to hear are all in her head. When her Ah Ma aka Grandmother starts appearing and sort of demanding Jess help her with some unfinished business, things really get interesting for her. When Ah Ma was alive, she was the Medium for a feared and mysterious deity called the Black Water Sister. A gang boss has offended the God and Ah Ma is set on settling the score to appease her and also to transition in the afterlife. This Zillennial Paranormal Urban Fantasy has a little of everything! ghosts, spirits, mob bosses, invasive aunties, and also some heavier topics. There’s attempted rape and sexual assault as well as mention of domestic violence and homophobia. Jess also mentions not wanting to introduce her Indian girlfriend to her parents for fear of racism towards her. These complex relationships are center stage and felt easily relatable all the while taking you on a wild ride through the streets & temples of Penang.

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If the book has a healthy dose of snark and witty banter, I’m always game! this time though it’s not between two love interests. Instead, we get Jessamyn and the ghost of her deceased Ah Ma who she had never really met before her death. Ah Ma is tough as nails and that’s because she didn’t have it easy in life or in love, her kids were also estranged from her. Through Ah Ma, Jess is able to finally answer some questions she’s had about her own relationship with her mother who is Ah Ma’s daughter. I found myself easily invested in these characters and hoping that by the end, they’d bridge some of the gaps keeping them apart. This definitely leans towards the darker side of fantasy due to the heavy dose of violence but it’s balanced out with Ah Ma’s personality. Ah Ma left me shaking my head smiling one too many times with her disbelief at getting stuck so to speak with her granddaughter for a Medium. I absolutely LOVED the snark between her and Jessamyn, it was so much fun to go along with these two! When I first heard that this would be set in Malaysia I immediately added it to my TBR hoping that soon I’d get to dive in and be transported to a country I really didn’t know much about. Although we see Jess in action at the temple of the Black Water Sister, we don’t really see her exploring beyond the home she’s a guest in and the Uber to the temple. There’s mention of her work with photography and I sort of hoped we’d get to see some of Malaysia through her own sorting out of which career path to take post Harvard. Nonetheless, there’s tons of action to keep you on your toes with undeniably witty characters. I will absolutely read whatever Zen Cho writes next!


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Spoiler Free RAVE Review: One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston

 54860443Title: One Last Stop

Author: Casey McQuiston

Pub. Date: June 1st 2021

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Format: eGalley

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

Pages: 544 pages

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🖤eGalley provided by Publisher in exchange for an honest review, all quotes come from an advance copy and may not match the final release🖤

The 411..

I will preface this review with first asking that you read this book when it hits the shelves next Tuesday June 1st! That it just so happens to be the very first day of Pride month makes this pure PERFECTION! This is a SUPER SEXY, Queer, time-slip Contemporary Romance filled with all the found family feels and New York City History. Specifically the history of the Queer community and the challenges they faced as well as the many strides made leading up to present day. We meet twenty-three year old August who is quite cynical and doesn’t believe in much. She’s spent most of her life assisting her mom in trying to crack a missing persons case and decides it’s time for a change. Moving into a New York City apartment with three other queer roommates and working the night shift at a 24 hour pancake diner fast track August on becoming a true New Yorker. Always on the go. The chances of meeting the same girl on the Q train every day at the same exact time seem almost too good to be true. Yet there Jane is, on the exact morning that August is having a bad start to her day offering her a red scarf to help cover up a coffee stain. Jane, a Chinese Lesbian wearing a leather jacket with 70’s pins. She’s cool and laid back yet charming, sexy and mysterious AF! August CANNOT get her off her mind and thus begins her every morning routine ensuring she gets on the same car train at the exact hour of their first meet. This is NOT for the feint of heart Book Lovers! *turns mini desk fan on* 

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I’ve been waiting to find a 6 star read this year and it being days away from June, I was breaking a sweat thinking it just wasn’t going to happen. This book changed that and I’ll be the first to admit I wasn’t expecting it to. Although I enjoyed McQuiston’s Red, White & Royal Blue I didn’t exactly claim it as a favorite in 2019. One Last Stop however, was the EXACT level of romance, steam, and comedy that I crave whenever I pop into the Contemporary genre. This was also a love letter to NYC, the city I was born and raised in and was able to visualize while riding the Q train with these characters. I’ll also never tire of the found family trope because it’s one that I can relate to personally with my own group of life long queer besties. The side characters were also center stage and I loved this so much! they were each so deeply fleshed out and just what August needed as a welcoming committee to the city of NY. She’s a Bisexual 23 year old paving her own way in life and that can be quite scary to do alone…except she doesn’t have to do it alone. She has Niko, the Trans Psychic Latino who read her aura and pretty much decided she had a home with them from the minute they met. Myla, a queer electrical engineer/artist who has habit of inventing weird in-home games that often take a turn for the worse. Wes, a queer Jewish tattoo artist who is in love with their neighbor but can’t muster up the courage to act on it. We get it all in this book! NYC, one hot steamy romance, time jumps to the 70’s, pancake goodness and drag queens my luvs! I can go on for days but part of the fun is getting to know these characters and falling in love with each and every one of them. I’m ready for whatever McQuiston writes next! ❤

P.S. for those thinking of giving the audiobook a go, I’d highly recommend it! the narrator was on point and I have a referral link to Librofm if you find that you’re interested <3’s!


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Spoiler Free Review: The Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren

55692620Title: The Soulmate Equation

Author: Christina Lauren

Pub. Date: May 18th 2021

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Format: eGalley

Publisher: Gallery Books

Pages: 368 pages

 

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🖤eGalley provided by Publisher in exchange for an honest review, all quotes come from an advance copy and may not match the final release🖤The 411..

Single mom Jess Davis is a statistician convinced that the dating scene is just not for her. She’s felt abandoned way too many times and doesn’t want to put her daughter through that again. Jess and her BFF Fizzy hear about GeneticAlly a match making company that is in its early stages of testing. Finding a soulmate through DNA sounds far fetched and she thinks her odds are low. That is until she matches at 98% with one of the app developers!!! 😮 the same guy who walks into the coffee shop every day with ZERO social skills. The guy who is hot AF but is always on the go to even consider his surroundings. Sort of hate-to-love if you can actually hate someone you don’t really know? Think more along the lines of modern day heartwarming tale on the lower end of the steam scale between two individuals who would make quite the odd pairing if you’re only matching by personality. Jess is super relatable as a single mom who is struggling financially to make ends meet even though she’s quite good at what she does for a living. She also happens to have a strong support system between her grandparents and best friend. Jess isn’t fully convinced that GeneticAlly is accurate, she entertains it with skepticism, intrigue, and sarcasm all at once. Dr. River Pena has invested everything into GeneticAlly, it’s basically his baby and although he also doesn’t believe he could’ve matched correctly with Jess…in order to protect the integrity of his research, he has to be willing to date her.

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I didn’t really go into this expecting a steamy romance, my hopes were that I’d walk away with a new favorite Rom-Com and I feel that’s exactly what I got. Besides the developing romance, we get to see a positive f/f friendship where the BFF is more like family. I ADORED Fizzy! a romance writer who has even written a character based off of Jess and honestly every time she threatened to kill her off, I giggled thinking of my own best friend. I would absolutely read a spin-off based on Fizzy’s own escapades which we get a slight glimpse to in this book. Even seven year old Juno was fun to get to know on the page, she’s got such an inquisitive mind and loves the library. Our love interest is just about the only aspect I wish was a bit more fleshed out. We get to know him through his research but it isn’t until the last quarter of the book where we get to see some of his personal life influences like his family. This is also where we learn he’s Latinx which tbh, I would’ve loved to have learned from the very beginning. A more balanced approach towards the main characters is something I find helps me get more invested in their lives. That being said, my heart melted every time Dr. River Pena interacted with little Juno! his respect for women and just his whole love language was *chefs Kiss* perfection!

The Soulmate Equation hits shelves next week Tuesday May 18th


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Spoiler Free Review: Witches Steeped in Gold by Ciannon Smart

51813582Title: Witches Steeped in Gold

Author: Ciannon Smart

Pub. Date: April 20th 2021

Genre: YA Fantasy

Format: eGalley

Publisher: Harper Teen

Pages: 544 pages

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🖤eGalley provided by Publisher in exchange for an honest review, all quotes come from an advance copy and may not match the final release🖤

The 411..

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

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


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WWW WEDNESDAY: 3/30/2021

WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On a World of Words and to participate all you have to do is answer the three W’s listed below. Once you’ve posted your WWW, drop a link to your post in Sam’s comments <3’s!

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

Book Lovers, Is it really only Wednesday? this is one of those weeks where there just aren’t enough hours in the day. Coincidentally it’s also the week I return to work after some rest and recovery. The icing on the cake literally is my little girl turning 10! so yea, I’ve been donning my Wonder Woman cape to make it all happen and ending my nights with either a good book or episodes of Ginny & Georgia on Netflix which I sure do hope gets a second season *fingers crossed* By the time this post goes live I’ll probably be refreshing my USPS app in hopes that my copies of Wild Women and the Blues by Denny S. Bryce AND Rule of Wolves (King of Scars #2) by Leigh Bardugo arrive sooner than later *shimmies in chair*

What is the highlight of your week? not having a great week, plans for the weekend? perhaps new releases you’re looking forward to? Drop some Luv down in the comments <3’s!

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51813582Witches steeped in gold by ciannon smart

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“This Jamaican-inspired fantasy debut about two enemy witches who must enter into a deadly alliance to take down a common enemy has the twisted cat-and-mouse of Killing Eve with the richly imagined fantasy world of Furyborn and Ember in the Ashes” – Goodreads

I’m only a few pages into this highly anticipated Fantasy and even though I can’t really say much about my enjoyment, I will say that this style of writing is what I gel with best. I’m hoping it delivers on the character development front and that each sisters voice is distinct and well fleshed out. I’ve never read a Jamaican-inspired Fantasy and would love for this to be a new favorite, I’ll have a full review up here on the blog next week.

23766634._SY475_a court of wings and fury (a court of thorns and roses #3) by Sarah J maas

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I’m not one to read two books at a time in the same genre but the audiobooks for the ACO series are pretty hard to stay away from for too long. Feyre is in full spy mode here and has since acquired a new title, I’ll not spoil that for those who haven’t had a chance to get to this series but would like to. I also just got in the mail my new book sleeves from Illumicrate & GAAASSSSP! STUNNING! I’ll be posting photos over on Bookstagram as I make my way through the books.

 

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54304125the final revival of opal & nev by Dawnie Walton

Earlier this week I finished & 4 starred The Final Revival of Opal & Nev which hit shelves yesterday March 30th. I have a full review here I would recommend it to anyone who loved Daisy & the Jones and the Six but gets that although this shares many similarities…it stands on its own and has a whole different unique vibe. The characters will stay with you, good luck not googling them to see if they actually exist in real life *yes. yes I did* If audiobooks are your thing, I hear this has a FULL cast! I’m tempted to use my Librofm credit for a re-read. 

 

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55692620the soulmate equation by christina lauren

goodreads-badge-add-plus-71eae69ca0307d077df66a58ec068898 “Single mom Jess Davis is a data and statistics wizard, but no amount of number crunching can convince her to step back into the dating world. Raised by her grandparents–who now help raise her seven-year-old daughter, Juno–Jess has been left behind too often to feel comfortable letting anyone in. After all, her father’s never been around, her hard-partying mother disappeared when she was six, and her ex decided he wasn’t “father material” before Juno was even born. Jess holds her loved ones close, but working constantly to stay afloat is hard…and lonely.” 

I’ve only ever read one other book by Christina Lauren and have checked out the synopsis to a few others with no genuine interest up until now. The premise of this single mom entering a science experiment/dating app that matches you with someone based on your DNA is super intriguing. That it so happens to be the creator of the app only doubles my interest! I’m hoping this is the book that drives me to give some of their other books a shot. I will be reading this as soon as I’m done with Witches Steeped in Gold since it is a May release and I have a Netgalley ratio to work on.


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Continue reading “WWW WEDNESDAY: 3/30/2021”

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

Title: The Final Revival of Opal & Nev

Author: Dawnie Walton

Pub. Date: March 30th 2021

Genre: Adult Fiction

Format: eGalley

Publisher: 37 INK

Pages: 400 pages

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE | AMAZON | LIBROFM

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🖤eGalley provided by Publisher in exchange for an honest review, all quotes come from an advance copy and may not match the final release🖤

The 411..

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

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

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

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

The Final Revival of opal & Nev

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


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Spoiler Free Review: Down Comes the Night by Allison Saft

Title: Down Comes the Night

Author: Allison Saft

Pub. Date: March 2nd 2021

Genre:YA Fantasy/Queer

Format: eGalley

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Pages: 400 pages

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🖤eGalley provided by Publisher in exchange for an honest review, all quotes come from an advance copy and may not match the final release🖤

A Gothic Bi-Sexual Fantasy/Murder Mystery with a hate-to-love romance?!?! sounds too good to be true but Allison Saft truly delivered. MC Wren Southerland is orphaned at a young age and taken in by her aunt (The Queen) as a healer in the Queen’s Guard. While in the military she falls in love with Una Dryden, a career ambitious general who loves her in return but will always choose her rank and service to the Queen over Wren. There is a long lasting war between the Danubians (Wren’s People) and the Vesrians while the Cernosians remain neutral and apart from their war. The body count is rising and soldiers have begun to go missing while on guard. Una is the sole reason for which Wren continues in the military, she is ill suited for the jobs more harsh requirements when handling enemy hostages. Wren has a couple of infractions for displaying what is considered to be too much empathy.

“I need you by my side. And there Wren would stay, even if it she couldn’t always stomach what at any and all costs entailed. She cursed the empathy that flowed in her blood as surely as her healing magic did.”

Dismissed from the Queen’s Guard, Wren decides to accept a mysterious invitation from an eccentric reclusive Lord. He writes of a sick member of his staff and the urgency with which he seeks out Wren’s medical expertise in exchange for assistance with her dilemma. She arrives at his estate to find a cold and crumbling mansion, the Lord welcomes her in his study with a contract for her to sign should she accept his terms and conditions. All seems quite odd but given her predicament and desire to redeem herself with the Queen, she accepts. The identity of the patient poses a HUGE conflict of interest for her and the ultimate test of empathy. Things begin to unravel at Colwick Hall, Wren is determined to uncover the truth behind her missing comrades and exactly what role the Lord of Colwick plays in the war.

Content Warning: War themes, gore, murder, kidnapping, detailed surgical procedures

Haunting and at times disturbing, this slower paced Gothic Mystery sometimes left me cringing at the medical procedures described. In some ways it reminded me of Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Mexican Gothic which also took place in a Gothic styled mansion. In this stand-alone Fantasy there are Danubians and Vesrians who have been gifted with magic and the Cernosians who are a people without this gift. The magic system is where I would’ve like to have seen more exploration. Other than Wren who has healing magic and one other MC who has a different type of magic, we don’t really get discussion on the different types of existing magic in this world. Otherwise, I’d say this is one super atmospheric character driven story that would be perfect for the Fall/Winter seasons. I enjoyed the romance even if  many scenes were fade to black (expect a ton of sexual tension), it is still Young Adult and my guess is that it was written with that in mind.  Would I have read an adult version of this story? ABSOLUTELY! our MC Wren craves real genuine connection and affection, seeing her navigate her own feelings/emotions leaves you with a deep sense of yearning. I empathized with this character who at every turn was told to stop feeling so much and basically go against what is second nature to her. I won’t go into too much detail on her love interest(s) since I consider that to be spoilery but I was very pleased to get a complex character who was trying to atone while also acknowledging that their transgressions can’t be erased. I love who Wren ultimately ends up with simply because that person made her feel seen and appreciated those qualities that others tried to root out of her. A solid debut Book Lovers! I’ll be on the lookout for Allison Saft’s next book.


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