Spoiler Free Review: Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson

Title: Vespertine

Author:ย Margaret Rogerson

Pub. Date:ย October 5th 2021

Genre: YA Fantasy

Format:ย eARC

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books

Pages:ย 400pages

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๐Ÿ–คARC provided by Publisher in exchange for an honest review๐Ÿ–ค

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We follow Artemesia, a gray sister at a convent who prepares the bodies of the dead to enter the spirit world. She prefers to fly under the radar and have minimal contact with others since doing so often leads to anxiety. Artmesia is walking the path to one day becoming a nun when her convent comes under attack by possessed soldiers forever changing her life course. Within the convent there are Nuns who can wield relics which harness spirits, all know of one powerful Relic that is kept under guard. During the invasion, Artemesia discovers the spirit that is attached to this relic better known as a Revenant. The Revenant is a very powerful being who threatens to possess Artemesia the minute she awakens it. From the minute the Revenant makes it appearance we get the sense it truly hates all Nuns and then the sarcasm begins and it’s made abundantly clear. The dialogue alone provided some of the best on page entertainment I’ve come across. The author best describes this book as a Medieval Venom starring a Nun and a ghost and I think thatโ€™s on point for accuracy๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿฝ being in Artemesiaโ€™s head & hearing the exchanges with the Revenant had me in fits laughing out loud. The Revenant doesn’t let up on the fact that it LOATHES Nuns and makes sure Artemesia knows this while also threatening to take over (possess) if it pleases. Our main character is someone who struggles with mental health tied to a tragic event in her childhood. She doesnโ€™t do well around people in general but gets used to interacting with the Revenant and knows she needs its help to get answers.

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


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Spoiler Free Review: The Inheritance of Orquidea Divina by Zoraida Cordova

Title: The Inheritance of Orquidea Divina

Author:ย Zoraida Cordova

Pub. Date:ย September 7th 2021

Genre: YA Fantasy/Magical Realism

Format: Hardcover BOTM

Publisher: Atria Books

Pages:ย 336 pages

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The Montoya family is used to the oddities that come with having Orquidea Divina for a Matriarch. Theyโ€™ve stopped asking if the fantastical stories she told them were true…how she managed to make a barren land fruitful? or how the pantry never seems to run low? One by one her grown adult children and grandchildren get summoned to their childhood home in Four Rivers for what appears to be her funeral. Orquidea wishes to dine with them and give them their inheritance however when they arrive, they find she has already begun her transformation. She is literally transforming into a large tree with roots when her family arrives with a lot of questions and frustrations. They want answers but Orquidea has never been a woman of many words and will make them all work for the answers they seek. She gives Marimar, Rey and Tatinellyโ€™s small child Rhiannon special gifts that they donโ€™t quite understand. In order to get answers they need to dig deep into Orquideas past which means they must travel to Ecuador. Itโ€™s through this journey that they get to know Orquidea, a woman that didnโ€™t speak much and came across as cold but was filled with magic and mystery.

โ•ฐโ˜†โ˜† โ€œั‚ะฝั” ั•ฯฮนัฮนั‚ั• ฮฑั‚ั” ฮฑะธโˆ‚ ฮฑั‚ั”. ั‚ะฝั” โ„“ฮนฮฝฮนะธg ะฝฯ…ััฮนั”โˆ‚ ั‚ฯƒ ั‚ั”โ„“โ„“ ั‚ะฝั”ฮนั ั•ั‚ฯƒัฮนั”ั•, ั‚ะฝั”ฮนั ฮฑยขยขฯƒะผฯโ„“ฮนั•ะฝะผั”ะธั‚ั•, ั‚ะฝั”ฮนั ฯ‰ฮนะธั•, ั‚ะฝั”ฮนั ฯัฯƒgั”ะธัƒ. ะผฮฑัั‚ฮนะธ ฮฝฮฑะธฮนั•ะฝั”โˆ‚ fฯƒั ฮฑ ะผฯƒะผั”ะธั‚, ั‚ะฝั”ะธ ัั”ั‚ฯ…ัะธั”โˆ‚ ฮฑะธโˆ‚ ั‚ะฝั” ั•ฯƒฯ…ะธโˆ‚ั• ฯƒf ฯƒัqฯ…ฮนฬโˆ‚ั”ฮฑั• fฮฑฮฝฯƒัฮนั‚ั” ั•ฯƒะธgั• fฮนโ„“โ„“ั”โˆ‚ ั‚ะฝั” ะฝฯƒฯ…ั•ั”, ฯ‰ะฝฮนยขะฝ ะฝฮฑโˆ‚ ะฒั”ั”ะธ ั”ะผฯั‚ัƒ ฮฑะธโˆ‚ ั•ฮนโ„“ั”ะธั‚ fฯƒั ั‚ฯƒฯƒ โ„“ฯƒะธgโ€ โ˜†โ˜†โ•ฎ

This story was EVERYTHING and so much more than what I thought we were going to get! Iโ€™ve always loved Magical Realism (Iโ€™m lookinโ€™ at you Anna Marie-McLemore) and know that some readers have a hard time suspending their disbelief with this style of writing, however here is a story that makes it easy for you. Each of her descendants ALSO have a hard time digesting what theyโ€™re seeing but they kinda have to because theyโ€™re being hunted and killed off one by one. Cordova takes you by the hand as you travel to Ecuador with this tale of roots, the ties that bind us, and finding where you belong. I wanted to know so badly what transpired in Orquedias past to make her flee the country she was born in. Other thanย The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern,ย I’m not really a fan of circus themed settings so I was a bit hesitant to learn from early readers that we’d be visiting one in this story. Atmospheric and tantalizing, my eyes couldn’t absorb it all in fast enough and those last 100 pages flew right by!ย This was beautifully written and heartfelt, really no surprise to me when the tears started flowing and the page tabs were growing. This is hands down a 6 star read and going on my favorites list for 2021! โคย 


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WWW Wednesday: 9/8/2021

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

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

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

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

I also had the chance to read an early copy of A Curse In Ash by Julie Zantopoulos (my reviewand LOVED it! this was a book I picked up on my day off and read it start to finish in one day. If you enjoy sexy fae times and fantasy that is set in a contemporary world, then this is for you. If you love friendship circles that portray healthy relationships, this is for you. Lastly, if you enjoy a steamy AF Fantasy…I mean all the way off the meter…the meter is broken my loves! then I HIGHLY recommend giving this one a go ๐Ÿ˜‰

Never has a book been easier to select off my shelves than The Inheritance of Orquidea Divina by Zoraida Cordova what better way is there to bring in Latinx Heritage Month (begins September 15th) than with a new book by one of my favorite authors, Zoraida Cรณrdova?!?! this is an adult fantasy that also spends time in Ecuador which is where Cรณrdova was born in. I’ve heard only positive reviews and cannot wait to dive in to the Ecuadorian folklore I’ve heard our author weaves in. My boyfriend also happens to be Ecuadorian and as with most books I read, I’ll be sharing this one with him for thoughts ๐Ÿ˜‰


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Spoiler Free Review: She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan

Title: She Who Became the Sun

Author: Shelley Parker-Chan

Pub. Date: July 20th 2021

Genre: Fantasy/Queer

Format: eGalley

Publisher: TOR Books

Pages: 416 pages

Itโ€™s 1345 and China is under Mongol rule. A famine is killing many, leaving villages with nothing in its wake. To be born male is to be deemed of value and families will sacrifice their daughters in exchange for food and safety from bandits. Weโ€™re introduced to a boy destined for greatness and his sister who is one of the few (if not the only) girls left in her village. A prophecy is issued and the boy is said to be destined for greatness whereas the girl would amount to โ€œnothingness.โ€ When a bandit attack leaves them orphaned, itโ€™s the girl who takes fate/destiny into her own hands. Taking her brotherโ€™s identity, Zhu Chongba begins her journey to greatness. She is 10 years old when she goes to the local monastery with hopes of being allowed entrance as a young novice. She spends several nights at the monasteries gates amongst others who are also trying to gain acceptance, a monastery is said to never go without food. She is beaten and pushed away until eventually she’s the only one left and therefore allowed access. Head shaved and prepubescent, armed with her brother’s identity, Zhu Chongba begins her journey to power. Her ambition and drive will take her to unthinkable heights. For Zhu a life well lived is one of value and accolades, she sees clearly the role that gender plays in politics and uses that insight to rise through the ranks as Zhu Chongba. Driven by purpose, Zhu will stop at nothing to achieve the greatness the prophet once said her brother would attain. 

โ€œMost strong-willed people never understand that will alone isnโ€™t enough to guarantee their survival. They donโ€™t realize that even more so than will, survival depends upon an understanding of people and power.โ€
โ€• Shelley Parker-Chan

I wasn’t expecting to get lost within the power hungry pages of this book but from the moment I picked it up I was transfixed by our main character. In a famine filled world where everyone is fighting to live one more day, our MC has the innate ability to turn the tides in her favor. Zhu is fiercely determined to make her life mean something by any means necessary. With every connection she makes, she strategically advances towards the top. Her biggest enemy is Ouyang, a Eunuch General who has his own agenda and has targeted Zhu as the only one standing in his way. Shelley Parker-Chan gives us a revenge plot along with themes of destiny, gender, power and the ambition to defy that which your gender has predetermined. These characters are ALL morally grey and multi-faceted, often times I found myself rooting for each of their agendas as cut throat as they were. If you love Historical Fiction and/or intricately written political power plays, this can absolutely be your jam! If you enjoy reading characters that have been discarded and despite all odds rise to the top, then this book will more than tick off the box! This book is violent yet engrossing with its animated war scenes and will leave you in awe of our MC. I simply cannot wait for the next book in The Radiant Emperor series.

Content warnings (as provided by the author):
* Dysphoria
* Pre-existing non-consensual castration
* Misgendering
* Internalised homophobia
* Life-altering injury (amputation)
* Ableist language
* Non-graphic depictions of death by torture
* Major character death
* Offscreen murder of a child
* Scenes depicting extreme hunger/starvation
* Graphic depiction of a person burning to death


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Spoiler Free Review: A Curse in Ash by Julie Zantopoulos

Title: A Curse in Ash

Author: Julie Zantopoulos

Pub. Date: October 5th 2021

Genre: Contemporary Fantasy/Romance

Format: eGalley

Publisher: Atmosphere Press

Pages: 392 pages

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ARC received from author in exchange for an honest review

Aisling Quinn has created a semi-normal life alongside humans, she’s a half Fae Witch who has learned how to make a living from her witchy abilities. The Veil exists to keep Fae from crossing over however those keeping tabs on her can’t really be stopped by the Veil. Aisling is a consultant to the Supernatural Police Department and a Tarot Reader on the side, she has her friend group cheering her on in life when said life gets turned upside down. When a sexy tattooed Irish stranger comes to town unintentionally activating their bond and her Fae Fiancรฉ refuses to leave her side while she’s under attack….things get hot and interesting! Aisling is the epitome of an independent sexy resourceful bad a** who sets boundaries while also having two men willing to throw down for her! and even accept each others role in her life…mhmmm this gave me major Polyamory vibeZ and I for one was there for it. Aisling knows what both these men need emotionally and cares for them both deeply. How she managed to get them to coexist is still beyond me but it was super enjoyable seeing their interactions play out when fiercely protecting her. 

Riordan is bonded to Aisling which intensifies their connection and the sexual attraction that was already there before their bonding. Riordan never wanted a bond, he has serious opposition to it because of the the role it has played in robbing him of his loved ones. That all changes when the inevitable happens and he begins to live and breathe Aisling. 

“sex between bonded pairs had been the cause of power outages, freak storms, and changing tides. It was powerful magic, and she was curious as hell about it” – On sex with a Ravdi aka the person bonded to a witch

Brynach is the Dark Prince of the Unseelie Court and as Aisling’s betrothed, he must ensure her safety at all costs. Brynach has grown up with Aisling which means there’s history and tenderness there. Although they’ve never kissed and at one point it was thought to be a case of unrequited love, all cards are on the table now and he is out to earn her love before they wed. 

โ€œHe knew her favorite foods, knew her preferences without having to ask. Thatโ€™s what a shared history could do. Again, she was reminded that life would be so much easier if she could love him the way everyone wanted her to. All she had to do was give herself permission to fall. She just had to dive in, no looking back.โ€ – Brynach

This book had me from the minute Riordan rode into town…I figured I was going to lose an afternoon but a whole day?!?! compulsively UNPUTDOWNABLE! These characters suck you in and before you know it, you’re invested in their whole backstory and what it is they deeply desire. When reading Fantasy/Romance, I tend to either really love the female main character or her love interest(s), but never both or in this case all three. I absolutely LOVE Aisling with her potion making skills, Tarot reading side job and loyal supportive BFF ways. She was well fleshed out which makes it hard not to root for her getting BOTH fellas, jussayin! haha! Brynach and Riordan are the both sweet and swag rolled into one and the way they love left me at times nodding my head in approval. Especially Riordan who knows how to self love and therefore is unwilling to do anything that compromises that, truly a dream! The sex scenes were off the meter, I was at times sitting at my desk very aware of this being A+ quality content haha! The world building was *Chefs Kiss*ย on both sides of the veil. I was living my best life Readers. Visually descriptive scenes of Aisling collecting herbs for her potions and the gates to the Unseelie Court opening only once they’ve tasted the blood from your finger prick and identified you, leave you engrossed in this world. This book is beautifully diverse and filled with loving connections.The friendships that make up Aisling’s circle are some of the best I’ve seen on paper. They check on each other and at times check each other if they step out of line, they’re healthy and exactly what we all look for in our friend groups. I’m ready for the next installment and even have a few theories I’d like to see come to fruition ๐Ÿ˜‰ย 

Content Warning: Homophobia, death of a parent/loved one, Panic attacks, mention of drug addiction, fire/burning, Cancer, PTSD, anxiety


A Curse In Ash hits the shelves October 5th 2021! โค โค โค


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August 2021 Anticipated New Releases

I’m making up for skipping out on my July Anticipated Releases post with this nice and LONG early list of anticipated August New Releases. There’s a little of everything for everyone and while gathering these titles I realized I have some books to read ASAP since this month is sequel heavy! *sideways glance at Raybearer*ย I have been blessed by the Book Gods with early access to some of these titles (Currently Reading: Velvet Was the Night)ย and will be sharing my reviews for them here on the blog. Not sure how my internal bookish clock just knows that it’s August and even though I don’t ever pre-plan on participating in ARC August…it always ends up happening that I do, possibly cause Netgalley guilt is a real thing *silent nod*ย Anyways let’s get to it, If there are any titles I’ve left out please drop them down below in the comments <3’s!

FANTASY & SCI-FI

DEVIL IN THE DEVICE (GODDESS IN THE MACHINE #2) BY LORA BETH JOHNSON – The sequel to Goddess in the Machine which I have not yet read, follows Andra in the year 3102 as she awakens from a cryonic sleep only to discover that all of her friends and family have died while she survived. The descendants of those that have passed see her as a deity and she’s game to play the part if it means finding answers and making her way back to Earth. The sequel Devil in the Device hits shelves on 8/24/2021

THE SECOND REBEL (THE FIRST SISTER TRILOGY #2) BY LINDEN A. LEWIS – Geared towards fans of The Red Rising series, The Handmaid’s Tale and The Expanse.ย The original, The First Sister follows a Priestess of the Sisterhood as she travels alongside soldiers from Mars & Earth. When her former captain abandons her and she’s forced to stay aboard the ship with no friends or power alongside a new captain, she is commanded to spy for the Sisterhood. Complications arise when she finds herself falling in love. The sequel The Second Rebel hits shelves on 8/24/2021

THE WITCH HAVEN BY SASHA PEYTON SMITHThe Last Magician (Gasps) meets The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy. A Historical Fantasy following a young woman who discovers she has magical powers and is thrown into a battle with witches and wizards. Oh, and it’s set in 1911 New York City. That is ALL I need to know tbh. 8/31/2021

THE PARIAH (THE COVENANT OF STEEL #1) BY ANTHONY RYAN – Set to be an EPIC Fantasy trilogy, we follow an Outlaw living amongst thieves until an act of betrayal sets him on a new path of vengeance and living a soldier’s life in the Queen’s army. He will be up against both human and arcane forces as he is forced to decide whether he can be a warrior or forever an Outlaw. Orbit NEVER fails to deliver heavy hitters – on shelves 8/24/2021

A LESSON IN VENGEANCE BY VICTORIA LEE – “For fans of Wilder Girls and Ninth House comes a dark, twisty, atmospheric thriller about a boarding school haunted by its history of witchcraft and two girls dangerously close to digging up the past”-Goodreads …Witchery & a Boarding school? SIGN ME UP! – 8/3/2021

REDEMPTOR (RAYBEARER #2) BY JORDAN IFUEKO – A HIGHLY anticipated sequel and yea shame me now for not having read Raybearer but I promise it’s happening SOON! Raybearer follows Tarisai who longs for the warmth of family. Raised in isolation by a mysterious and often absent mother called The Lady, she is sent to compete with other children for a chance to be chosen to join the Crown Prince’s Council of 11. Why? because The Lady has a magical wish Tarisai is compelled to obey: Kill the Crown Prince. The Sequel Redemptor hits shelves on 8/17/2021

THE SISTERS OF RECKONING (THE GOOD LUCK GIRLS #2) BY CHARLOTTE NICOLE DAVIS –ย The sequel to The Good Luck Girls which is described as Westworld meets The Handmaid’s Tale. A western with a sisterhood of queer girls who are sold to a “Welcome House” as girls, branded with cursed markings. Setting off on a dangerous escape to freedom, the girls are up against a country who doesn’t want them to have freedom and forces both human/inhuman. The sequel The Sisters of Reckoning hits shelves on 8/10/2021

CAZADORA (WOLVES OF NO WORLD #2) BY ROMINA GARBER – The follow-up to Lobizona & YES I absolutely did read and LOVE Lobizona! (My review) Argentinan Folklore weaved in with real world issues make this Fantasy a MUST read! We get witches and wolves in a magical school setting. The sequel Cazadora hits shelves on 8/17/2021

ROMANCE

THE DATING DARE (SWEET MESS #2) BY JAYCI LEE – I have been meaning to read the first book in this cute new series but it doesn’t seem like you have to read them in order. Here we have Tara Park who doesn’t hop into bed with perfect strangers but then she meets Seth Kim. Her friends new brother-in-law who is very tempting, handsome and charming. A game of truth or dare leads these two to a four date arrangement. Doesn’t seem like this fling with no strings attached is set to be very successful, not when they find each other to be the perfect package- 8/3/2021

BATTLE ROYAL (PALACE INSIDERS #1) BY LUCY PARKER – OK! baking rom-coms are my WEAKNESS BOOK LOVERS! a hate-to-love rom com where we meet Sylvie, she once was a contestant on a hit baking show where her creation of a glittery unicorn went sideways. Dominic, a judge on the panel was quick to vote her off but Sylvie still uses her platform to open up her own magical bakery. Fast forward to present time where the the royal family is having a wedding and the Princess wants both Sylvie and Dominic to compete for the opportunity of making the royal wedding cake. This just sounds like a fun time! 8/17/2021

CONTEMPORARY YA

HOW MOON FUENTEZ FELL IN LOVE WITH THE UNIVERSE BY RAQUEL VASQUEZ GILLIAND – THE HATING GAME meets I AM NOT YOUR PERFECT MEXICAN DAUGHTER;ย a YA Romance starring a Mexican American teenager who discovers profound truths about the universe as she spends her summer on a road trip across the country – 8/10/2021

EDIE IN BETWEEN BY LAURA SIBSON –ย Described as a modern dayย Practical Magic,ย we meet Edie one year after the death of her mother. But her ghost never left. According to Edie’s GG, it’s tradition for the dead of the Mitchell family to linger with the living. Edie stumbles upon the diary of her mother along with some talismans that transport her to different times in her mother’s life where Edie witnesses her mom experience love, loss and hope. Edie is still grieving her mother’s death and hopes she can find a way to make peace with her loss and put the past to rest – 8/24/2021

ADULT FICTION/THRILLERS

VELVET WAS THE NIGHT BY SILVIA MORENO-GARCIAThis is 100% a SMG STAN BLOG! I nearly fell off my chair when the Publisher granted my request and I’m currently reading this title, too early to speak on thoughts. This one is for lovers of Noir, Historical Fiction, Mystery/Thrillers. We follow Maite in 1970’s Mexico City where she is a secretary who loves reading Secret Romance. In the backdrop there is political unrest with students protesting and taking over the city. Maite escapes into her romance reads until her next door neighbor Leonora goes missing & Maite goes searching for her. Meanwhile, she’s not the only one searching for the missing woman. We have a shadowy figure who runs goon squads that target political activists and stopping them. Elvis is one of the goons and he LOVES movies & Rock n Roll…he comes to observe Maite from a distance and grows obsessed with her, the woman who shares his taste in music is also lonely- 8/17/2021

THE HEART IS A CHAINSAW BY STEPHEN GRAHAM JONES“Alma Katsu calls My Heart Is a Chainsaw โ€œa homage to slasher films that also manages to defy and transcend genre.โ€ On the surface is a story of murder in small-town America. But beneath is its beating heart: a biting critique of American colonialism, Indigenous displacement, and gentrification, and a heartbreaking portrait of a broken young girl who uses horror movies to cope with the horror of her own life.” Goodreads8/31/2021

A SLOW FIRE BURNING BY PAULA HAWKINS – “When a young man is found gruesomely murdered in a London houseboat, it triggers questions about three women who knew him. Laura is the troubled one-night-stand last seen in the victimโ€™s home. Carla is his grief-stricken aunt, already mourning the recent death of yet another family member. And Miriam is the nosy neighbor clearly keeping secrets from the police. Three women with separate connections to the victim. Three women who are โ€“ for different reasons โ€“ simmering with resentment” – 8/31/2021


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May Wrap-Up & Book Haul…

Hola Hola Book Lovers! May was somewhat of a return to normalcy month for me after a rocky couple of months caused by health concerns. I kept my reading light (with the exception of one book that I mentally prepared for; The Mirror Season by Anna-Marie McLemore) and instead leaned more towards small towns both on Netflix and in real life. Road trips with the windows down paired with good music were my lifeline. New York City put on its best Spring dress after a long period of hibernation and like many others, I welcomed it with arms wide open (safely of course). Mother’s Day was SUPER special thanks to two tiny humans and my boyfriend who really marked the day with a variety of heartfelt gestures and gifts. Winter clothes officially went in drawers and out came my Spring/Summer dresses, shorts, skirts and sandals. My fridge is stocked with fruits for all your fruit bowl/smoothie/juicing needs. Last but not least, I went from drinking my Cafe Bustelo to Starbucks Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew cause ya girl is too hot to be drinking hot coffee. Summer is almost here Luvs!!!

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The Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren (my review) -*4 Stars* The Romantic Comedy that had me once again pulling out all of my unread Christina Lauren books with plans to read this summer. Hate to love (sort of) romance, dating apps, BFF who writes the MC into her Romance novels, and super supportive grandparents. I smiled more times than I could count whenever Jess & Fizzy sat at the cafe talking about the odds of GeneticAlly truly finding their soulmate. This is one I’d watch a movie adaptation of in a heartbeat!  

 The Mirror Season by Anna Marie-McLemore – *5 Stars* I have yet to write my review and have no real promises to make. This was the hardest read I’ve picked up from one of my all time favorite YA authors. The subject matter being rape that is detailed on the page is utterly heartbreaking. To then read the afterward and see that it’s based on real life events the author and a friend lived through was devestating. This was still playing out in court in an open case at the time of publication and truly speaks to the strength of the author to bring awareness to something that many teens have experienced. I fully advise looking into content warnings. 

Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala – *4 Stars* My very 1st cozy mystery and it did NOT dissapoint! I was excited to see the author’s cover reveal of the sequel (Homicide and Halo-Halo) that’ll be releasing in February 2022. Arsenic and Adobo was a fun murder mystery set in a small town, following a Filipino MC who is trying to find her path after a rough break-up. She returns home where her many aunties descend and begin to apply some pressure with a lot of love. Fun & addictive!

Black Water Sister by Zen Cho (my review) -*3.5 Stars* We follow 23 year old Jessamyn who has left the states with her parents to return to Malaysia and find her footing. Jess is a stressed out Zillenial Queer trying to maintain a long distance relationship with her girlfriend who no one in her family knows about. That is why when she begins to hear voices she thinks it’s a byproduct of those stressors and NOT the ghost of her Ah Ma who she never met. Ah Ma is her grandmother who when alive, was a Medium for a quiet and mysterious spirit called Black Water Sister. Ah Ma needs Jessamyn’s help in settling a score on behalf of this God or risk her wrath. Dark but also well balanced with snark and humor between Jessamyn and her Ah Ma. I’d also advise looking into content warnings.

One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston (my review) – *6 EPIC STARS* Save the best for last amiright?!? Truly wasn’t expecting this since I admittedly fell into the unpopular opinion of not really loving Red, White, and Royal Blue. I ADORED this book to pieces and the fact that it dropped on June 1st, the first day of Pride month is 100% apropos! If I start writing I’ll never stop so instead I ask that you click on my review link so that you can read my GUSH review on the Q train. That is all. 

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ARIADNE | THE HUNTING WIVES | LAST SUMMER AT THE GOLDEN HOTEL | REALM BREAKER | ILLUSIONARY | THE PRISON HEALER | SON OF THE STORM | BLACK WATER SISTER | THE INHERITANCE OF ORQUรDEA DIVINA (ARC)

It was a heavy on the Fantasy type of haul with the exception of my Book of The Month picks. Realm Breaker by Victoria Aveyard is very special being that it is the first Bookish Mother’s Day gift I received from my little human, she went straight towards the sword on the cover which made me so proud haha! Then I was sent a ARC copy of The Inheritance of Orquรญdea Divina from Atria Books (very thankful), Zoraida Cordova is a favorite author of mine so this was an exciting package to open. I LOVE the Fairyloot edition of The Prison Healer with its beautiful purple sprayed edges *heart eyes* Son of the Storm was an impulse buy while on a road trip, book store sighting always is a good reason to pull over. My review for Black Water Sister is linked up above in the Wrap-Up.

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CRUELLA (IMDB)

WOW! I should’ve known once I saw Emma Stone was chosen to play Cruella that it would be a solid performance. I was not prepared for this villains backstory but it is absolutely the BEST one I believe Disney has produced! While writing this post I had to stop and hop over to Spotify to download the soundtrack which was ON POINT! as were all of the costumes Cruella dons throughout the movie. The duality of this character is so well delivered that I honestly will always see this version as THE story of how she came to be who we all know. HIGHLY reccomend for those who love a good villain rising backstory, however It may throw off some of the younger viewers who only know the 101 Dalmations version. Still! This was EPIC!

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VIRGIN RIVER (IMDB)

My go-to for whenever I need a pick me up, are books and movies/tv shows that are set in small towns with a cast of characters that feel like family. This was it! Jess over at Litnoob on Bookstagram recommended Virgin River and from the very first episode I knew I would be binge watching the first two seasons on Netflix. We follow a nurse who has just lost her husband and decides to sell her house in L.A. and relocate to a remote Northern California town. The job ad she responds to online however, isn’t quite what it claimed to be. Instead she arrives at a beat down cabin, a curmudgeon doctor/employer, and a town full of neighbors who are ALL up in one another business haha! I LOVED it! anxiously anticipating season 3 streaming in July.


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Spoiler Free Review: Witches Steeped in Gold by Ciannon Smart

51813582Title: Witches Steeped in Gold

Author:ย Ciannon Smart

Pub. Date:ย April 20th 2021

Genre: YA Fantasy

Format:ย eGalley

Publisher:ย Harper Teen

Pages:ย 544 pages

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE | AMAZON

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

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)ย has been killed and their people enslaved by the Alumbrar (Jazmyne’s people/Use of magic via Conduits.)ย  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.ย 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.ย 

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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. ย 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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Spoiler Free Review: Down Comes the Night by Allison Saft

Title: Down Comes the Night

Author: Allison Saft

Pub. Date:ย March 2nd 2021

Genre:YA Fantasy/Queer

Format:ย eGalley

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Pages:ย 400 pages

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE | AMAZON

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

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.

โ€œI need you by my side. And there Wren would stay, even if it she couldnโ€™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.โ€

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 ifย  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.ย  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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March 2021 Anticipated New Releases

March, when the weather starts to change up here in NYC and the book releases start to double! One day I’m layering up at home and the next I’m sporting beach wear *queue the random snow flurries*ย Ordinarily this is also the time of the year when I’d go find a cozy cafe to go sit and read. Instead, I’ve taken to substituting reading on my commute and in cafes for a favorite room in my apartment paired with Tik Tok recipes of lattes. As for my favorite room?ย it’s a coin toss between the tub (bath bomb + wine are invited of course)ย OR a spot on the couch along with my fuzziest blanket and tea. Audiobooks is where I change things up a bit since I cannot sit still while listening to a book, my attention will go everywhere else. I really enjoy listening to a book while cooking, doing laundry or working out. Currently I’m finishing up Down Comes The Night by Allison Saftย and I feel almost like I have too many books I want to read next smh, stay tuned for a Friday Reads post this week <3’s!

ย What are you Lovely Book Lovers highly anticipating?ย I read across most genres, I say most because I’ve yet to venture into Historical Romance but I’m getting there *grin & nod* SO drop those I may have missed down below. Tackling myย Possibility Pileย is about to get a whole lot bigger and more innnnneresting with the titles listed below hitting shelves this month…


YA fantasy/SCI-FI/Middle grade/Contemporary

LOST IN THE NEVER WOODS BY AIDEN THOMAS – 3/23ย Aiden Thomas is releasing the first book he wrote prior to Cemetery Boys & I’m here for it! this is a Queer Peter Pan retelling about grief and after loving Cemetery Boys so much, I have zero doubts Thomas will deliver another 5 star!

A TRIAL OF SORCERERS BY ELISE KOVA – 3/4ย I shamefully own some of Kova’s books but have yet to read them SMH, this author is known for scoring such STUNNING covers! This is the start of a new YA Fantasy series that I’ve heard may actually take place in the same world as the Air Awakens series but can be read on its own.ย  Described as a “tale of competition, coming of age, distant lands, elemental magic, and romance. It’s perfect for fans of the Legend of Korra, Truthwitch, and A Sorcery of Thorns.”

NAMESAKE (FABLE #2) BY ADRIENNE YOUNG – 3/16 The sequel to Fable (my review) , a duology following a female Pirate on a quest to find the father who abandoned her. There’s a crew and a high seas adventure, treachery and what could possibly be the beginning of a romance? I’m curious enough to want to find out! also, Young has a real talent for writing familial connections that leave you all in your feelings. If you love a good audiobook, the narrator Emma Lyssy NAILED the performance onย Fable and is back again forย Namesake.ย 

CHAIN OF IRON (THE LAST HOURS #2) BY CASSANDRA CLARE – 3/2 I have nothing to say other than I’m a slacker AND all I can do is watch from the sidelines as everyone gets to read this book! I have yet to start Lady Midnight but that’s where I left off withย the shadowhuntersย so yes it’s absolutely on my to-do list this year. If only to justify buying a copy of this beautyย *sobs*ย 

THE MIRROR SEASON BY ANNA MARIE-MCLEMORE – 3/16ย Here in this corner of the interwebz we stan Anna Marie-McLemore, they are an auto-buy author for me and I already have a copy of this book arriving tomorrow. We have a MC who goes to a party and is the victim of assault along with a boy she barely knows. This causes her to lose her gift for making enchanted pan dulce. The neighborhood itself starts to mysteriously change and the boy who was assaulted with her shows up at her school with no recollection of the night they were both harmed. She then decides that in order to protect him she must hide the truth from him. THIS is going to break me! I just know it.

FIRE KEEPER’S DAUGHTER BY ANGELINE BOULLEY – 3/16ย A debut that has been making its rounds on the gram and the blogs & was selected for Reese’s Book Club. A mystery/thriller that follows a young bi-racial MC as she investigates a string of crimes plaguing her community using her knowledge of chemistry and traditional medicine. This is one that’s going to be heavy in its subject matter, readers should seek out content warnings. I pre-ordered my physical copy and also was granted access to a complimentary copy from Libro.fm, I will absolutely be reviewing here on the blog.

RULE OF WOLVES (KING OF SCARS #2) BY LEIGH BARDUGO -3/30ย I’m still not sure where I stand with this title as far as excitement goes. King of Scarsย which I did not really enjoy…so much so I didn’t even review it. If I’m being quite honest, it’s the excitement of the Grishaverse coming to Netflix that has me considering picking up a copy of this sequel. I am however here for more Nina Zenik AKA The Queen of Mourning!

DOWN COMES THE NIGHT BY ALLISON SAFT – 3/2ย a Gothic Paranormal Romance (My current read) set during a time of turmoil and war. We have a bisexual MC who has magic in her blood, she’s a healer for her country’s military but she lacks the favor of her aunt the Queen. Dismissed from the Queen’s Gaurd and out of options to redeem herself, she accepts an invitationย  to Colwick Hall to cure a servant from a mysterious illness. The mansion feels haunted with its closed off and crumbling wings and the host is eccentric and restricting. This also reads as a mystery as our MC sets out to uncover what nefarious dealings are afoot.

BRIDGE OF SOULS (CASSIDY BLAKE #) BY VICTORIA SCHWAB3/2ย A middle grade series I haven’t started yet BUT the fact that it’s set in New Orleans with a MC who is a Ghost Hunter makes it a MUST read!

ONCE UPON A QUINCEร‘ERA BY MONICA GOMEZ-HIRA -3/2ย Described as “Jenny Han meets Jane the Virgin” *Gasp*ย a YA Latinx Contemporary with a MC who is stuck spending her summer in an unpaid internship where she must wear a ballgown and perform. When her company gets hired to work her cousins Quinceรฑera and she’s paired off with her ex as a dance partner, things get complicated. She wants nothing more than to leave her past in the past, hoping it’s as fun as it sounds haha!


Adult Fantasy & SCI-FI

THE UNBROKEN BY C.L. CLARK – 3/23ย Queer Sci-Fi Fantasy with a MC whow was stolen as a child and then raised to kill and die for the empire. When her company is sent back home to stop a rebellion she has to decide where her loyalties lie. We get a romance between our MC Touraine and Luca who is determined to get her uncle off the throne …that sounds so bad a**!!! HIGH hopes this will be a favorite of 2021 *fingers crossed*ย 

THE BONE MAKER BY SARAH BETH DURST – 3/9 “Five warriorsโ€”one broken, one gone soft, one pursuing a simple life, one stuck in the past, and one who should be dead. Their story should have been finished. But evil doesnโ€™t stop just because someone once said, โ€œthe end.โ€ย THIS standalone Fantasy has all the makings of a EPIC read! we get heroes who fought and lost their lives to defeat a evil bone maker 25 years ago…possibly come back from the dead?!? IT GETS NO BETTER THAN THAT AMIRGHT?


Adult Fiction & Romance

THE LOST APOTHECARY BY SARAH PENCER – 3/2ย “A female apothecary secretly dispenses poisons to liberate women from the men who have wronged themโ€”setting three lives across centuries on a dangerous collision course. Rule #1: The poison must never be used to harm another woman. Rule #2: The names of the murderer and her victim must be recorded in the apothecaryโ€™s register.”ย Excited to see this one as a Book of the Month March pick, I’m a sucker for Historical Fiction set in London and this one just sounds right up my alley.ย 

THE FINAL REVIVAL OF OPAL & NEV BY DAWNIE WALTON – 3/30 “A poignant fictional oral history of the beloved rock โ€˜nโ€™ roll duo who shot to fame in the 1970s New York, and the dark, fraught secret that lies at the peak of their stardom.”ย Another Book of the Month March selection I was looking forward to especially after hearing it’s written in the same oral format as Daisy Jones and the Six!!! a girl can only dream *heart eyes*

ACT YOUR AGE, EVE BROWN BY TALIA HIBBERT – 3/9 (My review)ย The third and final book in The Brown Sisters trilogy & I LOVED IT! I was granted access to a eGalley from the publisher which made my January all the better. This is Eve’s story, the youngest of the Browns who has been adrift when it comes to settling down whether it be career or relationships. Her parents put their foot down and cut off her access to her trust fund until she can show them she can adult. This leads her to working as a chef at a B&B and we get a close proximity hate-to-love romance with Jacob, an autistic man with a curmudgeon like personality. Be still my heart! โค

THE SONG BOOK OF BENNY LAMENT BY AMY HARMON – 3/16ย Historical Fiction set in 1960’s featuring a MC who plays the piano and writes songs, his father is also deeply connected to the mob. When his father introduces him to a singer with a powerhouse voice, they become an unstoppable duo both on and off the stage. This is also a romance between an interracial couple that spotlights a lot of the issues black people were experiencing during the 60’s in NYC. My copy arrives tomorrow & I have already planned to squeeze it into my March reading.

WILD WOMEN AND THE BLUES BY DENNY S. BRYCE – 3/30ย In a stirring and impeccably researched novel of Jazz-age Chicago in all its vibrant life, two stories intertwine nearly a hundred years apart, as a chorus girl and a film student deal with loss, forgiveness, and loveโ€ฆin all its joy, sadness, and imperfections.”ย Not a book set in 1920’s Chicago! *arms extended* saved the best for last here because I’ve truly been counting down the days for this one. I read the Goodreads synopsis after seeing this stunning cover pop up in a magazine ad and I got such Evelyn Hugo vibes which only got me more stoked. High hopes. High hopes.ย 


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