Spoiler Free Review: Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

55404546Title: Malibu Rising

Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid

Pub. Date: June 1st 2021

Genre: Adult/Historical Fiction

Format: eGalley

Publisher: Ballantine Books

Pages: 384 pages

 

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE | AMAZON | LIBROFM

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The 411..

“She had to choose what, of the things she inherited from the people who came before her, she wanted to bring forward. And what, of the past, she wanted to leave behind.”

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Taylor Jenkins Reid delivered yet another set of characters I found myself easily getting invested in. I spent a Saturday morning binge reading Malibu Rising while at the beach which often can be hard to do, the waves have a way of demanding my full attention. This time, I found myself traveling through history in Malibu as the story unfolds in past & present timelines. There are four siblings who’ve bonded over their love of surfing, each carrying some heavy baggage stemming from childhood. We get an inside look at Mick Riva (their dad) and his marriage to their mom, a toxic one plagued with infidelity which eventually leads to divorce. A mom who has turned to alcoholism to grieve over the life she thought she’d have, that of a happy home with a husband and their kids. We see each of the siblings cope with their abandonment and fend for themselves as they become adults. Nina the oldest of the siblings, finds herself literally walking in her mothers footsteps at the beginning of this journey. However, Nina’s sense of duty and responsibilty keep her bound to her siblings who in many ways she has had to finish raising while also looking after their mom. Tradition is very important to these siblings, and so the present timeline is told over the course of one day at their yearly party. One that started off really intimate between the siblings but eventually morphed into THE party for celebrities from all walks of life. Carrying the Riva name meant fame was their birthright.

CW: Domestic abuse, abandonment, death of a loved one, drug/alcohol abuse, Infidelity

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While The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo still remains my all time favorite, I did really enjoy my time spent in this story. I also found some parts sadly relatable which made me feel more connected to certain characters. I didn’t really care much for the party itself which the story leads up to all throughout. If anything, that took me away from the book more than I would’ve liked and made the main story arc feel a bit disjointed. Things I loved: the sibling bond, atmospheric surfing vibes, women surfers, how compulsively readable it is, the Historical Fiction feel of it all…TJR’s signature writing style really does make you almost believe these aren’t fictional characters. All in all, Malibu Rising is yet another hit for this book lover 🙌🏽


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

 What are you Lovely Book Lovers highly anticipating? 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 my Possibility Pile 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 – 3/23 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 – 3/4 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.  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 on Fable and is back again for Namesake. 

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 with the shadowhunters so yes it’s absolutely on my to-do list this year. If only to justify buying a copy of this beauty *sobs* 

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

THE BONE MAKER BY SARAH BETH DURST – 3/9 “Five warriors—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 doesn’t stop just because someone once said, “the end.” 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 – 3/2 “A female apothecary secretly dispenses poisons to liberate women from the men who have wronged them—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 apothecary’s register.” 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. 

THE FINAL REVIVAL OF OPAL & NEV BY DAWNIE WALTON – 3/30 “A poignant fictional oral history of the beloved rock ‘n’ roll duo who shot to fame in the 1970s New York, and the dark, fraught secret that lies at the peak of their stardom.” 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 reviewThe 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! ❤

THE SONG BOOK OF BENNY LAMENT BY AMY HARMON – 3/16 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 – 3/30 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 love…in all its joy, sadness, and imperfections.” 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. 


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Spoiler Free Review: The Witch’s Heart by Genevieve Gornichec

Title: The Witch’s Heart

Author: Genevieve Gornichec

Pub. Date: February 9th 2021

Genre: Norse Mythology/Fantasy

Format: eGalley

Publisher: Ace Books

Pages: 368 pages

GOODREADSBARNES & NOBLE | AMAZON

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

“𝑇ℎ𝑒𝑦 𝑠𝑎𝑦 𝑎𝑛 𝑜𝑙𝑑 𝑤𝑖𝑡𝑐ℎ 𝑙𝑖𝑣𝑒𝑑 𝑖𝑛 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑒𝑎𝑠𝑡, 𝑖𝑛 𝐼𝑟𝑜𝑛𝑤𝑜𝑜𝑑, 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑟𝑒 𝑠ℎ𝑒 𝑏𝑜𝑟𝑒 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑤𝑜𝑙𝑣𝑒𝑠, 𝑤ℎ𝑜 𝑐ℎ𝑎𝑠𝑒 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑠𝑢𝑛 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑚𝑜𝑜𝑛. 𝑇ℎ𝑒𝑦 𝑠𝑎𝑦 𝑠ℎ𝑒 𝑤𝑒𝑛𝑡 𝑡𝑜 𝐴𝑠𝑔𝑎𝑟𝑑 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑤𝑎𝑠 𝑏𝑢𝑟𝑛𝑒𝑑 𝑡ℎ𝑟𝑒𝑒 𝑡𝑖𝑚𝑒𝑠 𝑢𝑝𝑜𝑛 𝑎 𝑝𝑦𝑟𝑒, 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑡ℎ𝑟𝑒𝑒 𝑡𝑖𝑚𝑒𝑠 𝑤𝑎𝑠 𝑠ℎ𝑒 𝑟𝑒𝑏𝑜𝑟𝑛 𝑏𝑒𝑓𝑜𝑟𝑒 𝑠ℎ𝑒 𝑓𝑙𝑒𝑑“

I’m happiest with a slower paced read that pulls me in with lush storytelling and characters I can’t help but get invested in. The Witch’s Heart will appeal to fans of Madeline Miller, Katherine Arden and Rin Chupeco. We follow Angrboda a Giantess who has lived many times over in the Ironwood. She’s been burned by Odin three times and has had her heart cut out, yet she lives. Angrboda is gifted with the magic of Seid, the ability to see the future and essentially the end of the world as the Gods know it. She lives protected and in hiding until the God of mischief Loki stumbles across her cave. This is the story of their complicated love, offspring, and revenge on the Gods who constantly play with the lives of those they consider beneath them. Angrboda is bi-sexual and there’s a beautiful relationship that develops later on in the book, slow burn *𝐶ℎ𝑒𝑓𝑠 𝐾𝑖𝑠𝑠* worth the wait! I went into this story not knowing much other than it was centered on Norse Mythology which is a subject of interest for me. I allowed myself to get swept away by Angrboda’s story and quickly found myself absorbed by these characters lives. There’s a prophecy and there are Gods behaving badly, it just doesn’t get better than that!

There is a fair amount of dialogue in this story which is something I personally enjoy. I’ve seen some reviewers say they were a little thrown off by the dialogue being a bit more modern in comparison to the world it’s set in…honestly, the witty banter between all of the characters is what made this book super entertaining and endearing. Angrboda herself is someone who has lived a few times over and as such she is NOT in any way old fashioned. As a matter of fact she’s quite the opposite! Angrboda is all accepting, she loves who she wants to love and is quick to look you in the eye and ask why you’d assume she preferred one gender over another for her lovers. She’s simply a character I hope to never forget! now, I didn’t think we’d get much from Loki but I was pleasantly surprised by how Gornichec wrote this character. Loki is a multi-faceted character who is very comfortable with his sexuality and wishes only to never be controlled and/or know what the future has in store. We also got an amazing line-up of side characters in Angrboda & Loki’s children but I won’t speak on the why’s since that would be spoilery. Overall, a new favorite for me this year and a mood changer. I’d say this is a medium paced book with lots of character development, witty banter and YES! ROMANCE for the WIN! 🤗


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Top 10 Books of 2020…

Not Lilly starting 2021 with a Top 10 of 2020? *side eye* this post should’ve gone up last week but your girl was enjoying her birthday shennanigans haha! Hello Book Lovers & Happy New Year! I originally was aiming for a Top 20 0f 2020 however as I’m sure many of you can relate to, I found I read a lot less this past year than I ever have. So, instead of reaching to deliver a Top 20 I decided to go with the books I have ZERO hesitations reaching for on my shelf. These are titles that invoked a range of emotions and/or left me with new and memorable characters I’ll be thinking about for quite some time. I would also love to see your favorite books of 2020 posts, drop those links down below <3’s!


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TAKE A HINT, DANI BROWN BY TALIA HIBBERT (SPOILER FREE REVIEWThis book will forever go down in the books as having the MOSt swoon worthy couple EVER! I fell head over heels for both Dani & Zaf who are complete polar opposites that compliment each other. Dani is a daughter of Oshun, a witch who is fiercely independent & closed off to the idea of love. Zaf listens to romance books, helps youth males shed toxic masculinity through his foundation, and worships the ground Dani walks on. Sexy AF couple GOALS Bookworms!

THE INVISIBLE LIFE OF ADDIE LARUE BY V.E. SCHWAB (SPOILER FREE REVIEWI allowed myself to get swept into this Historical Fiction story of a girl born way ahead of her times. Addie seeks to escape a life of domesticity she will certainly be tied to when married off by her parents. A prayer made at night and heard by the wrong God grants her the chance to strike a deal. Immortality of sorts, her soul to be rendered to Lucifer once she tires of it. The deal is made with stipulations, Addie will not be remembered by anyone once she is out of sight even if for a few minutes. This book had me up at all hours of the night thinking about the footprints we leave behind. Yes, I absolutely was left heartbroken at the very end.

SUCH A FUN AGE BY KILEY REID (RTC) This was my last read of 2020 thanks to my good friend Taylor at NerdNarration who gifted me a copy. I also listened to the audiobook which delivered an A+ performance. I can’t think of a better time to have read this book than in 2020, the year that many were forced to take off their rose colored glasses and see their own internalized racism and microagressions. Told in dual POV we follow Emira who is a young black woman working as a sitter for a white family. Emira is asked to do the family a favor and take their little girl for a walk (in the middle of the night) while they sort through some things at home with the police. Emira is then approached by a neighborhood Karen at the Supermarket and accused of having possibly kidnapped the child in her charge. It’s not meant to make you comfortable, it’s one of those reads I’ll never forget.

ANXIOUS PEOPLE BY FREDRIK BACKMAN (RTC) I went in blind to this book and honestly feel like this is the BEST way to go in! I listened to the audiobook which starts off with a bank robbery gone wrong but also in the BEST of ways LOL smh. I have yet to write my review but that’s because I loved it so much and don’t feel I can do it justice. All I will say is that in 2021 I will be making my way through Fredrik Backman’s books.

MEXICAN GOTHIC BY SILVIA MORENO-GARCIA (SPOILER FREE REVIEWHAUNTING AF! Also the book that has sent me on a “MUST buy all Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s books” quest #noregrets This Gothic Noir story transports you to High Place, a sort of mansion where Noemi our MC has arrived in search of answers. Noemi’s cousin who has married and left to High Place has been sending Noemi strange letters that are concerning. Is she ill or are there nefarious acts afoot at High Place? This was a ride! I didn’t expect where it took me but I was engrossed in the atmospheric setting nonetheless. This is not just horror written for the scare factor, there are also themes of eugenics and colonization weaved into this story that speak to Silvia Moreno Garcia’s level of craft.

INCENDIARY BY ZORAIDA CORDOVA (SPOILER FREE REVIEWI actually laughed out loud when I started typing for this one simply because I would NOT call it a night until I read the last page of this book. I remember my boyfriend giving me that look and the scream/jump I gave when I read the last line…Yeah it was a cliffhanger! the MOTHER LOAD of all cliff hangers at 2am smh! I love Zoraida Cordova and found that compared to the Brooklyn Brujas trilogy, I much prefer the older side of YA writing delivered in this book. Set during the Spanish Inquisition in a Fantasy world where magic is deemed a disease, we meet Renata who can steal other peoples powers. She is taken at a young age and weaponized until she matures into a young woman and crosses over to the rebel side. A more twisty YA Fantasy I haven’t read in a long time & the crew of characters will be a hit for those who enjoyed Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo.

LOBIZONA BY ROMINA GARBER (SPOILER FREE REVIEW) This one raised the bar for me when choosing YA Fantasy to read. I was blown away by how Romina Garber managed to portray the feelings of displacement felt by many young immigrants. Our MC Manu is caught between two worlds, an immigrant from Argentina living in hiding in Miami Florida she stumbles into a world of magic. Witches, werewolves, a magical school with their own sport paired with important themes of gender identity and immigration  made this one an absolute favorite of the year!

HOUSE OF BLOOD AND EARTH BY SARAH J. MAAS (SPOILER FREE REVIEWI picked this one up on release day which was back in March before the country shut down and all ish hit the fan to be quite honest. SJM provided the escapism I so desperately needed at the time. By now we all know what to expect when reading a book by SJM, characters you can’t help but get invested in & a compulsivly readable plot. Do not read the synopsis on GR if you plan on reading this book! it’s super spoilery and you’ll be robbing yourself of the heartbreak everyone else experienced who didn’t read the synopsis. Angels, Fae, Wolves and a lovable Fire Sprite who loves watching Fangs & Bangs…mhmmm it’s exactly what you’re thinking LOL!


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Spoiler Free Review: The Invisible Life of Addie Larue By V.E. Schwab

Title: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

Author: V.E. Schwab

Pub. Date: October 6th 2020

Genre: Historical Fiction/Paranormal/LGBTQIA+

Format: eGalley

Publisher: Tor Books

Pages: 442 pages

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE | AMAZON

🖤ALC & Galley provided by Publisher in exchange for an honest review🖤“𝑇ℎ𝑒𝑟𝑒 𝑖𝑠 𝑎 𝑟𝑦𝑡ℎ𝑚 𝑡𝑜 𝑚𝑜𝑣𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑡ℎ𝑟𝑜𝑢𝑔ℎ 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑤𝑜𝑟𝑙𝑑 𝑎𝑙𝑜𝑛𝑒, 𝑦𝑜𝑢 𝑑𝑖𝑠𝑐𝑜𝑣𝑒𝑟 𝑤ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝑦𝑜𝑢 𝑐𝑎𝑛 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑐𝑎𝑛𝑛𝑜𝑡 𝑙𝑖𝑣𝑒 𝑤𝑖𝑡ℎ𝑜𝑢𝑡, 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑠𝑖𝑚𝑝𝑙𝑒 𝑛𝑒𝑐𝑒𝑠𝑠𝑖𝑡𝑖𝑒𝑠 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑠𝑚𝑎𝑙𝑙 𝑗𝑜𝑦𝑠 𝑡ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝑑𝑒𝑓𝑖𝑛𝑒 𝑎 𝑙𝑖𝑓𝑒”

There aren’t very many books I’ve read that have moved me to tears and introspection, the last one I can recall is 𝑇ℎ𝑒 𝑆𝑒𝑣𝑒𝑛 𝐻𝑢𝑠𝑏𝑎𝑛𝑑𝑠 𝑜𝑓 𝐸𝑣𝑒𝑙𝑦𝑛 𝐻𝑢𝑔𝑜. Addie is a very different read but it absolutely broke me in much the same way. I’ve had moments when I’ve felt as if life was passing me by much too quickly. When I’ve asked myself, what am I leaving behind in this world? faced fear of living a life without finding my souls purpose or simply not being seen. Not being enough. To see characters on the page who want more out of life whether by way of experience or human connection is something we can all probably relate to.

For our MC Addie, living a simple life wasn’t something she could commit to. She sought a way to break free of what was traditionally expected of her but it came at a steep price. A deal struck with Lucifer aka Luc, her soul when she tires of it…immortality with a definitive ending. Addie lives many lives in the span of 3oo years, lives that take her across many countries and continents. The subject of many art pieces, songs, and unintentional heartbreak that is at once forgotten. The deal stipulates that she may have this immortality however she will not be able to form long lasting human connections. She will not be able to utter her real name or write her story…she will love a few but will quickly be forgotten. This all changes the day she meets Henry at a bookstore because unlike all the others, Henry does remember her.

Addie Larue-I honestly feel Addie took me by the hand to experience the world through her eyes and make me understand why she would sacrifice so much. At first I just couldn’t…the thought of having my loved ones forget I ever existed and therefore have to let them go seemed too much to even fathom. In truth, Addie was a young woman born in the wrong time period. She was progressive and in many ways a feminist at heart, her soul craved experiences outside of what was deemed appropriate at the time. Domesticity would’ve been a slow death for Addie who is able to flow through the centuries with a sense of timelessness. I wasn’t expecting to love Addie by the end of my time with this story but somehow she managed to steal my heart.

Henry-the cute bisexual bookshop guy who is also in a sense trying to acquire as many life experiences as possible. However, whereas Addie is going about it at a leisurely pace…Henry feels like there just isn’t enough hours in the day. Henry is the guy who you won’t catch living a repetitive life, but this is just what’s surface level with Henry. I connected with Henry on a soul level and I think many readers will find him most relatable.

Luc- Our master of night, the one they warn you about when they tell you not to pray once the sun goes down. Luc is always present even when Addie can’t see him which kind of made me feel like I was waiting with her in anticipation for their encounters. Their relationship is very toxic seeing that it’s very co-dependent because Luc has made it so. We get to know his temperamental ways & I came to fear what new ways he’d come up with to make life all the more difficult for Addie.

Would you trade your soul to live many lives and see/experience what the world has to offer? Would you trade your soul to finally be enough? To be loved simply for being you? these are the exact questions that ran through my mind as I read this book. Personally, that feeling of life seeming like a series of snapshots that capture fleeting moments is something I’ve felt deeply. I’ve at times struggled to connect with V.E. Schwabs other fictional characters but this book gave so much character development & atmospheric writing that I found myself carried away with the story. It’s beautiful and heartbreaking, truly one that will remain imprinted in my soul.


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July 2020 Book Haul

July will forever be marked as the month of endless summer nights turned into trips to the book store. Nights curled up with a good book under the night sky was where I found my zen this year. This also means that I more than made up for my sort of book buying ban in June, let’s be real not a month goes by where I don’t one click some Kindle deal or another. July was also the month where I purchased sequels to series I’m currently reading & really enjoying. I finally dived into The Daevabad Trilogy (My review) & continued in the world of the Brown sisters with Take a Hint, Dani Brown (My review). It also marks the month that I started to request on Netgalley again after a long hiatus of about 2 years. I’ve been blessed by the book Gods with some EPIC titles I’m already reading and will be reviewing both here & on my Bookstagram. August will be a MUCH slower book buying month, if I buy any at all simply because September in the bookish world is known as being big on releases.

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KOMI CAN’T COMMUNICATE VOL. 2 | TAKE A HINT, DANI BROWN (THE BROWN SISTERS #2) | AVATAR THE SHADOW OF KYOSHI (THE KYOSHI NOVELS #2) | THE DAMNED (THE BEAUTIFUL #2) | THE EMPIRE OF GOLD (THE DAEVABAD TRILOGY) | DARKDAWN (THE NEVERNIGHT TRILOGY #3)| SEX AND VANITY | RAGE OF DRAGONS (THE BURNING #1)| THE YEAR OF THE WITCHING


Kindle Steals

I’m actually really proud of myself in not going click happy in July! these are the only 4 I downloaded for either $1.99 or $2.99 which is pretty hard to resist. I’ve heard only the best of things about all 4 titles & hope to get to them in the very near future.

CRIERS WAR (CRIERS WAR #1) | RADIANCE (WRAITH KINGS #1) | THE BLACK PRISM (LIGHTBRINGER #1) | THE WOLF OF OREN-YARO (CHRONICLES OF THE BITCH QUEEN #1)


Dipping my toes slowly into requesting on Netgalley & Edelweiss again since I still want to continue reading through my back-list books. Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse was actually a wish granted on Netgalley which made my month all the better. These are 6 books I’ve been HIGHLY anticipating & will be reading throughout the next couple of weeks starting with Fable by Adrienne Young since it will be hitting shelves on September 1st! *book shimmy*

BLACK SUN (BETWEEN EARTH & SKY #1)| THE ROOMATECRAZY STUPID BROMANCE (BROMANCE BOOK CLUB #3) | FABLE (FABLE #1) | LEGENDBORN (LEGENDBORN #1) | BLAZEWRATH GAMES


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Spoiler Free Review: Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Title: Mexican Gothic

Author: Sylvia Moreno-Garcia

Pub. Date: June 30th 2020

Genre: Gothic Horror/Latinx/Mystery

Format: Physical

Publisher: Del Rey

Pages: 301 Pages

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE | AMAZON

“𝑨 𝒘𝒐𝒎𝒂𝒏 𝒘𝒉𝒐 𝒊𝒔 𝒏𝒐𝒕 𝒍𝒊𝒌𝒆𝒅 𝒊𝒔 𝒂 𝒃𝒊𝒕𝒄𝒉, 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒂 𝒃𝒊𝒕𝒄𝒉 𝒄𝒂𝒏 𝒉𝒂𝒓𝒅𝒍𝒚 𝒅𝒐 𝒂𝒏𝒚𝒕𝒉𝒊𝒏𝒈: 𝒂𝒍𝒍 𝒂𝒗𝒆𝒏𝒖𝒆𝒔 𝒂𝒓𝒆 𝒄𝒍𝒐𝒔𝒆𝒅 𝒕𝒐 𝒉𝒆𝒓”

𝑴𝒆𝒙𝒊𝒄𝒂𝒏 𝑮𝒐𝒕𝒉𝒊𝒄 is set in 1950’s Mexico, a Gothic Horror that follows our mid-twenties socialite Noemi (gave me young Evelyn Hugo vibes) who has been directed by her father to go check up on her cousin Catalina. Catalina the cousin who has always been a nurturing role model, married in haste & not much is known about her new husband. It is thought that perhaps there were financial motives driving her fiancé to seal the deal but distance has taken Catalina away from home. Now relocated to a more remote area where communication is lack, Catalina is a source of worry when her letter is received & in it she speaks of a haunted house and whispers within the walls. Noemi strikes a deal with her father, in exchange for enrollment in the University of her choosing she will travel to Catalina to secure her mental state. Noemi is a character way ahead of her times in many ways with a wide array of interests. She steers clear of getting emotionally attached to her love interests & instead feeds her unquenchable this for knowledge. Often times thought of as fickle for starting & ditching different subject matters, Noemi is a force to be reckoned with. Quick witted, fiercely independent, charming, headstrong with a dose of class that drips cool. Noemi is the type of character you’ll never forget. High Place, the big house she travels to is a place you’ll never forget. A place where Noemi will question not only the sanity of her cousin but her own as well. A place that has a lot of history, secrets & pain hidden within its walls. In many ways, High Place is a main character in this story…

Atmospheric & haunting this is a slow burn tale that will raise the hairs as you read. It is a mystery with smart writing in which Moreno-Garcia weaves in themes of eugenics, misogyny, racism, and colonization. It is character driven & has the ability to transport you out of your own surroundings. I read this on the beach and was easily transported to High Place which is the big house this story is set in. I got the same vibes I’d get whenever reading anything by Edgar Allen Poe which left me shook! I don’t ever run to pick up horror but I’d been hearing about this author for quite some time & decided it was time to see for myself. I devoured this book, engrossed & invested in every single page. Unable to put this one down I even read it while accompanied by Sylvia Moreno-Garcia’s Book Playlist on Spotify for this book. I was instantly sucked in by Noemi’s charm, seeing her work her way around the people living in the house while she tries to extract any bit of info. The creepy AF vibes you get while she wanders the halls & speaks to the residents who seem off and strange. Everything about this book was strange but in such a good way! Noemi didn’t shy away from any challenging topics & seeing her handle certain topics had me admiring her at many points throughout the story. This may be my first Moreno-Garcia book but it certainly won’t be last especially since I currently own a couple of her previous works. I’m looking forward to continue falling in love with this authors work, discovering more Latinx characters in the wide variety of genres she has written in.


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Review: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Title: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid

Pub. Date: September 3rd 2019

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Publisher: Atria Books

Pages: 391

Format: Physical Book

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE | AMAZON

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is one rare gem of a book! I can confidently say it’s my favorite read of the year & I doubt anything will top this. It’s also the book that gifted me a new auto-buy favorite author & a cast of characters that are truly memorable. Many have reviewed & gushed about just how amazing this story is, I’ve read eloquent reviews & watched countless booktubers sing its praises. The book that took the Bookish community by storm deserves all the love it continues to receive. The story of Evelyn Hugo born Evelyn Herrera to Cuban immigrants will lead you to believe you’re reading about a actual real life person and not a fictional character created by Taylor Jenkins Reid. Evelyn Hugo is a perfectly flawed Hollywood actress in her late 70’s who just wants to bare her truths and tell her story. She’s lived a very glamorous life and paid a heavy price to achieve true stardom.  Now that all of her loved ones have passed away and she doesn’t have much to live, Evelyn wants the world to see her for who she really is. A bi-sexual Latinx woman who sacrificed major parts of her identity in exchange for fame, wealth, and power. After all, 1950’s Hollywood wasn’t a safe and accepting time for people in the LGBTQIAP+ community. Neither was it a thriving time for a Latinx woman trying to start their career in acting. Evelyn knew she was destined for more & ambitiously set out to become what she dreamed of.

“When you’re given an opportunity to change your life, be ready to do whatever it takes to make it happen. The world doesn’t give things, you take things. If you learn one thing from me, it should probably be that”

Evelyn Hugo seeks out Monique Grant, a bi-racial journalist who is stuck writing “puff pieces” for Vivant. Recently separated from her husband & on her way to divorce, Monique is feeling very underused at Vivant. When the invitation arrives from Evelyn Hugo explicitly requesting her, no one would’ve guessed it was for a ground breaking/career making opportunity. Evelyn Hugo wants to have her Biography written by Monique Grant but the reasons behind it will remain undisclosed until the right time. It is through these interview sessions between Evelyn & Monique that we get a first hand account of all the glam, first loves, secrets, lies and heart breaks. We learn of each of Evelyn’s husbands, all very different from one another. The role they played in Evelyns career & the real story behind what was printed on the covers of glossy magazines. There’s one part early on in their sessions that sticks out in my memory the most. Monique asks Evelyn whether she’s ready to come out as a gay woman to which Evelyn responds with such powerful & moving words…

“I’m bi-sexual. Don’t ignore half of me so you can fit me into a box, Monique. Don’t do that”

This truth is one she’s had to live privately & so delivering her most authentic self in her biography was key. We go on to learn what becomes of Evelyn once she leaves her first husband in Hell’s Kitchen & gets her first gig in a movie. We see her as a victim of domestic violence in her second marriage & how that affects her going forward. She takes full control of her life & gives the media/world the image they crave. Highly intelligent, Evelyn knew how to mold herself. She kept her real life very private & delivered the version that would get her the highly coveted roles. There was no such this as bad publicity & when she found herself in a negative light, it was only a matter of time before she rebounded into a better position.

“I’m not saying the gossip columnists printed what they knew to be a lie. I’m simply saying they were all too happy to believe the lie I was selling them. And of course, that’s the easiest lie to tell, one you know the other person desperately wants to be true” 

This book truly had it all & has left such a lasting impression on me. I was deeply invested in Evelyn’s story and the small circle of loved ones she kept near and dear to her heart. I loved that this read as a historical fiction novel with glimpses into 1950’s Hollywood. We follow her career throughout the years, not just the behind the scenes takes as an actress but also politics & the LGBTQIAP+ community. As the story unfolds, we learn many shocking truths and ultimately discover the reasons for which Evelyn sought out Monique. I lost count of the times I felt raw emotion & stopped to highlight passages/quotes.  Having read Daisy Jones & the Six earlier this year, my only hope is to continue to meet more complex realistic characters on the page I can grow attached to. I can honestly say I’ve never read anything like a TJR novel, such unique plots & story telling skills! There is absolutely no doubt in mind I will be following Taylor Jenkins Reid throughout her literary career.


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SEPTEMBER BOOK HAUL

Catch me on a Sunday morning in my laundry room reading & sipping on some coffee. Today however, I’m doing the laundry & scrolling through my blogger feed catching up with my fellow content creators & readers. September was perhaps the ONLY month where I didn’t go overboard on hauling books. I definitely didn’t do it intentionally…it sort of just happened. I also only read 4 books in September but they were EPIC reads! I’ll also talk about this a little more in my wrap-up but I spent the month soaking up some life experiences, enjoying good company, creating beautiful memories and enjoying the last of the warmer weather.That being said, I’m so excited to have these new reads on my shelves! ❤

Paper Girls

There’s a cute story behind how I came to own these copies that will probably be in my September Wrap-up post soon to come. These were gifts from my boyfriend who took me to what had to be the BEST comic bookstore I’ve ever been to. I previously owned the 1st volume which I just finished & have already started the 2nd volume. So far, I have to agree that these will appeal to fans of Netflix Stranger Things. I LOVE the artwork & sci-fi feels as well as the humor. That being said, there are some trigger warnings worth checking out on Goodreads. I will most likely review these in 2 separate posts since there are 6 volumes at this present moment.

The Downstairs Girl by Stacey LeeBy day, seventeen-year-old Jo Kuan works as a lady’s maid for the cruel daughter of one of the wealthiest men in Atlanta. But by night, Jo moonlights as the pseudonymous author of a newspaper advice column for the genteel Southern lady, “Dear Miss Sweetie.” When her column becomes wildly popular, she uses the power of the pen to address some of society’s ills, but she’s not prepared for the backlash that follows when her column challenges fixed ideas about race and gender. ”

Dominicana by Angie Cruz “Fifteen-year-old Ana Cancion never dreamed of moving to America, the way the girls she grew up with in the Dominican countryside did. But when Juan Ruiz proposes and promises to take her to New York City, she has to say yes. It doesn’t matter that he is twice her age, that there is no love between them. Their marriage is an opportunity for her entire close-knit family to eventually immigrate. So on New Year’s Day, 1965, Ana leaves behind everything she knows and becomes Ana Ruiz, a wife confined to a cold six-floor walk-up in Washington Heights. Lonely and miserable, Ana hatches a reckless plan to escape. But at the bus terminal, she is stopped by Cesar, Juan’s free-spirited younger brother, who convinces her to stay.”

This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger (For fans of Before We Were Yours and Where the Crawdads Singz) “1932, Minnesota—the Lincoln School is a pitiless place where hundreds of Native American children, forcibly separated from their parents, are sent to be educated. It is also home to an orphan named Odie O’Banion, a lively boy whose exploits earn him the superintendent’s wrath. Forced to flee, he and his brother Albert, their best friend Mose, and a brokenhearted little girl named Emmy steal away in a canoe, heading for the mighty Mississippi and a place to call their own.”

My Book Of The Month Referral Link (Disclaimer: Although I do not receive any monies if you decide to use my link, I do receive one free book through BOTM)

 

The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd Jones

The September Owlcrate box SCREAMS Fall/Halloween vibes! I gave it 3.5 stars which is a good rating, I just happen to base it on the usability of the items themselves. I was very happy to see this STUNNING copy of The Bone Houses as their selection, anything centered around the undead is a MUST read! the fingerless skull gloves & Skull detailed enamel are my favorite additional items. However, since I’m not a fan of candy corn…the “Caramel Corn” flavored coffee is a pass. I’m not yet sure what I’ll do with the little dish but it does have a neat quote on it. Overall, it’s an aesthetically pleasing box.


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