Spoiler Free Review: Just Your Local Bisexual Disaster by Andrea Mosqueda

Title: Just Your Local Bisexual Disaster

Author: Andrea Mosqueda

Pub. Date: May 24th 2022

Genre: Contemporary YA/Queer

Format: eARC

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Pages: 352

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

Characters: 10/10   Atmosphere: 8/10  Writing Style: 8/10  Plot: 8/10  Intrigue: 0/10  Logic/Relationships: 8/10  Enjoyment: 8/10

Rating: 50/7 =  ☆☆ 4 Stars☆☆╮

Rating system created by The Book Roast 

Maggie Gonzalez gave me a serious case of nostalgia as she helped her sister get ready for her quinceañera, picked a partner to accompany her to the quince and sorted through her messy (relatable) romantic feelings. Growing up in Texas’s Rio Grande Valley, Maggie dreams of one day becoming a music photographer. She’s one of three girls to a single mom/small business owner, they’re bonds with one another are pretty tight. With college right around the corner, we see Maggie struggle with mixed emotions over leaving her family as well as guilt over how expensive a college education can be. Her love life is just as complicated, Maggie is a bisexual teen who is trying to sort out her feelings for her BFF Amanda, ex Matthew and new girl in town Dani. Along the way there’s discussion on stereotypes Bisexual people are met with and the boundaries Maggie learns to set for herself. 

Just Your Local Bisexual Disaster delivered Latinx queer characters that embodied the messy chaos that is being a teenager in love. This is a character driven story where the relationships are well fleshed out. This has led to some reviewers feeling like this could’ve been shorter but personally I enjoyed seeing the history behind these connections. Maggie is Gen Z (even with some pop culture references that were out of place), she smokes weed with her friends, has a Finsta and is exploring hobbies/passions that can turn into a future career. If you enjoy stories with a focus on family bonds, Maggie and her sisters are pretty tight knit. Everyone helps out in the household and family owned business, they know their mom works hard and in many ways the oldest help raise the youngest. What to look forward to? seeing Maggie’s family come together to organize the Quinceñera, Maggie trying to pick an escort to the very special birthday/rites of passage, and LOTS of complicated feelings and blurred lines. I happened to also get a copy of the audiobook and thought the narrator did a good job with the friend group, even the obnoxious temperamental ex 🤷🏻‍♀️ I also can’t end this review without mentioning how yummy this book read haha!  but seriously you’ve been warned, the mention of tacos and other foods is very likely to set your tummy rumbling 😉


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

Title: I’m So Not Over You

Author:Kosoko Jackson

Pub. Date: February 22nd 2022

Genre: Contemporary Romance/LGBTQIA+

Format: eARC

Publisher: Berkley Romance 

Pages: 368

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

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

Rating: 36/5.1 =  ☆☆ 3 Stars☆☆╮

Rating system created by The Book Roast 

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

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


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

Title: Delilah Green Doesn’t Care

Author: Ashley Herring Blake

Pub. Date: February 22nd 2022

Genre: Contemporary Romance/LGBTQIA+

Format: eARC

Publisher: Berkley Romance 

Pages: 384

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*ARC received in exchange for an honest review*

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

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

*Images respectively from Pinterest & IMDB

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

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

Things to look forward to on February 22nd…

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


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February 2022 Anticipated New Releases

What a curious month it has turned out to be with book releases. I had been hearing that it would be a slow month with not much to really get excited for but that doesn’t seem to be the case at all. I started digging months ago but my list kept growing and yet there are still many titles out there, too many to list in this post. These are just the titles that caught my attention, some of which I was lucky to have been granted access to a eGalley copy of for review. Which titles are you excited for? If there are any you’re looking forward to that are not listed here, drop those titles down below no matter the genre <3’s!

A River Enchanted by Rebecca Ross 2/15/22

House of Earth and Blood meets The Witch’s Heart in Rebecca Ross’s brilliant first adult fantasy, set on the magical isle of Cadence where two childhood enemies must team up to discover why girls are going missing from their clan – Goodreads This one is said to be a Scottish Fantasy that will mark the authors debut in the adult fantasy genre. If I had a list of books I’m predicting will be 5 or 6 star reads, this would make the cut since it checks off so many of my boxes. 

House of Sky and Breath (Crescent City #2) by SJ Maas 2/15/22

I’m but one of many many book lovers that are eagerly counting down the days until the release of this book. I cannot wait to be back with Bryce, Hunt and other cast favorites. I can’t go into details since this is a sequel but here’s my review for House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City #2)

Scorpica (The Five Queendoms #1) by Greer Macallister 2/22/22

What first caught my interest for the book? I heard it described as the “Female Game of Thrones” 😵 and that is all I needed to hear Book Lovers! haha! 500 years of peace shatters between five queendoms in this matriarchal society when girls inexplicably just stop being born. “Uniting the stories of women from across the queendoms, this propulsive, gripping epic fantasy follows a warrior queen who must rise from childbirth bed to fight for her life and her throne, a healer in hiding desperate to protect the secret of her daughter’s explosive power, a queen whose desperation to retain control leads her to risk using the darkest magic, a near-immortal sorcerer demigod powerful enough to remake the world for her own ends—and the generation of lastborn girls, the ones born just before the Drought, who must bear the hopes and traditions of their nations if the queendoms are to survive.”

The Justice of Kings (Empire of The Wolf #1) by Richard Swan 2/22/22

The Justice of Kings, the first in a new epic fantasy trilogy, follows the tale of Sir Konrad Vonvalt, an Emperor’s Justice – a detective, judge and executioner all in one. As he unravels a web of secrets and lies, Vonvalt discovers a plot that might destroy his order once and for all – and bring down the entire Empire – Goodreads

This book has already received positive feedback from some of the top fantasy reviewers across all bookish platforms. The fact that the MC is the MOST hated character and therefore great at his job as executioner, intrigues me smh. I may just pick this one up this weekend while on the road.

Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson 2/2/22

I just found out there was a signed copy with sprayed edges of this book and a part of me is sobbing over this missed opportunity. Black Cake was a January Book Of The Month pick, based on a traditional black cake, a voice recording and a story left behind by Eleanor Bennett for her two children. From the Caribbean to London and Cali, we follow this story and family lineage uncovering secrets and betrayals the matriarch of this family left behind. I’m looking forward to reading Black Cake over the next couple of weeks.

Finlay Donovan Knocks ‘Em Dead by Elle Cosimano 2/1/22

The sequel to Finlay Donovan is Killing It (my review) is already rumored to be twice as funny as the first book in this series and I’m honestly hoping that it is. I haven’t decided yet whether I’ll be reading it physically or via audiobook but after the cliffhanger ending in the first book, I’m curious enough to continue reading. Finlay’s night time job as a hitwoman may just prove to be lucrative haha!

Circus of Wonders by Elizabeth Macneal2/2/22

Set in 1860’s England we follow a circus of wonders that has begun to recruit “human wonders” like our MC Nell who is known as “Leopard Girl” because of the birthmarks covering her body. Soon Nell’s fame begins to eclipse that of the ring master Jasper Jupiter with Nell knowing her worth and willing to fight for it. Other than Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, I haven’t read a circus story I love but that doesn’t stop me from trying. Also, the cover is beautiful and 1800’s England as a backdrop does sound appealing.

Homicide and Halo-Halo by Mia P. Manansala 2/8/22

The second installment in the new cozy mystery series Tita Rosie’s Kitchen Mystery follows Lila Macapagal in the little town of Shady Palms. The Miss Teen Shady Palms Beauty Pageant has come back around and it’s a topic of contention for Lila (previously won) and her cousin Bernadette. When one of the judges gets murdered and Bernadette is the primary suspect, Lila has to set aside their differences to help her clear her name.

The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley 2/22/22

I’ve seen this thriller make its rounds on all platforms, Lucy Foley seems to be a favorite in the genre. This one centers around Jess who is looking to escape her past and decides to flee to Paris for a fresh start. Her brother Ben has agreed to let her stay with him but when she arrives, he’s nowhere to be found and the neighbors are all an eclectic bunch with lots to hide.

The socialite – The nice guy – The alcoholic – The girl on the verge – The concierge

Everyone’s a neighbor. Everyone’s a suspect. And everyone knows something they’re not telling. 

One Night On the Island by Josie Silver 2/15/2022

One can never have enough forced proximity trope romances especially when they’re set on a remote Irish island. We have two loners who love their solitude, escaping for some R&R when they’re informed they’ve been double booked for the same one-room cabin. They can’t really stand each other but while they wait for the weekly ferry to come back around, they start not to mine one another’s company. I’ll read anything and everything set in Ireland! ❤ 

Not the Witch You Wed by April Asher 2/8/22

A fake relationship between a magic-less witch and a wolf shifter turns to more in the start of a bewitching new paranormal rom-com series- Goodreads 

Say less! 😂 I haven’t read a shifter romance in so long but this one sounds so good! It has the fake dating + second chance romance trope which sounds like a good time. 

Lease On Love by Falon Ballard 2/1/22

Pitched as Beach Read meets The Flat Share, and also set in Brooklyn (my home sweet home) we follow Sadie who is a bit down on her luck. After getting passed up for an overdue promotion and in desperate need of a new place to live, she goes out for some drinks. After a few, she makes the mistake of mixing her roommate finding app with her dating app which leads her to Jack’s doorstep. Jack who has just lost his parents and is grieving but open to the idea of renting Sadie a room. They are the COMPLETE polar opposites but somehow it just works.

Ramón and Julieta by Alana Quintana Albertson 2/1/22

When fate and tacos bring Ramón and Julieta together on the Day of the Dead, the star-crossed pair must make a choice: accept the bitter food rivalry that drives them apart or surrender to a love that consumes them—perfect for fans of Jane the Virgin!- Goodreads

Literally checks off all my boxes for a romance and it’s Latinx! I was actually approved for an eGalley on Netgalley on release day & so I dropped everything I was in the middle of and jumped right into this one. 15% in so far & LOVING it! If you’ve watched the Netflix show Gentefied and are sad about it getting cancelled (like myself), pick this book up 😉

I’m So (Not) Over You by Kosoko Jackson 2/22/22

This is a second chance LGBTQIA+ romance with a bit of fake dating where we follow aspiring journalist Kian Andrews who hasn’t spoken to his ex Hudson in a few months. HE receives a text to meet up at a cafe where he has a favor to ask, that Kian agree to fake date him while his family is in town in exchange for the chance to meet some pretty well known figures in media. This then snowballs into Kian getting invited to Hudson’s sisters wedding as a plus one and that just means more time spent together…sounds like a rekindling Book lovers! I was granted a eGalley and will be reviewing here on the blog 🙂

Delilah Green Doesn’t Care by Ashley Herring Blake 2/22/22

Quite possibly my favorite romance of the year! I was very lucky to have received an eGalley and already have a review scheduled to go live closer to the release date, EXCITED to get my hands on a physical copy. This is a F/F queer romance set mostly in a small town with one of our MC’s traveling to/from New York City. Delilah and Claire have known each other since childhood but never really became close friends, Delilah lost her mom at a young age and moved with her dad to Bright Falls when he remarried. Claire was part of her step sister Astrid’s friend circle which made her keep her distance. Fast forward to the present and they’re all grown up & unrecognizable. Delilah doesn’t want to revisit the town she turned her back on but when Astrid asks for a favor, she gives in. Sexy, fun, atmospheric (small town is charming) and funny! 

 

Ophelia After All by Raquel Marie 2/8/22

In this corner of the interwebz we love Cuban food and Ophelia being a romantic with tons of crushes, a love for rose gardening AND Cuban food was sure to get my attention. Ophelia’s friends and family are used to the many crushes she experiences but when she starts having feelings for Talia Sanchez and thinking less & less of her ex-boyfriend, she has to start discovering who she really is. A queer exploration of character story I just know I’m going to enjoy!

No Filter and Other Lies by Crystal Maldonado 2/8/22

First! can we just take a moment to love on this cover?!?! It’s beautiful 💜 When I read the synopsis, my mouth literally hung open cause I would be mortified if I had gotten myself in a sticky mess like Kat our MC does. Kat has created a persona online known as Max Monroeroe where she shares glam photos, doles out advice and networks with famous influencers. In her real life she’s dealing with unrequited love from her BFF Harri, a bad school year and terrible house parties. When one of her photos goes viral and the person from whom she was stealing photos finds out, her world comes crashing down and she has to figure out how to get out from this web of lies.

The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea by Axie Oh 2/22/22

Axie Oh’s The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea is an enthralling feminist retelling of the classic Korean folktale “The Tale of Shim Cheong,” perfect for fans of Wintersong, Uprooted, and Miyazaki’s Spirited Away – Goodreads

Ok so to sum this one up as best I can, we have a Sea God who is said to be angry with the people and therefore inflicting them with deadly storms. Each year a young bride is chosen and cast into the sea in hopes he will choose one as his bride and end all of the misery. Our MC has a brother who is set to marry his love, but the girl is chosen to be sacrificed and he does what is forbidden. He walks into the water to interfere which would get him a death sentence. Our MC jumps in to save her brother and gets swept into the Spirit Realm under the sea where with the help of a motley crew of demons, Gods and spirits she will attempt to awaken the Sea God. Sounds HELLA atmospheric 🤗

Extasia by Claire Legrand 2/22/22

It’s been years since I’ve read a Claire Legrand book and since I LOVED Sawkill Girls, hearing of this title was exciting! a queer paranormal horror where the MC joins a coven to root out the evil that is plaguing her village. I’ve seen some early mixed reviews but i’m absolutely checking this one out since I’ve enjoyed this author’s writing style in the past.

Only A Monster (Monsters #1) by Vanessa Len 2/17/22

This is one of my MOST anticipated YA books simply because it has two things, monsters and London. Our MC is a 16 year old who is sent to work the summer in London with her eccentric family. Not just eccentric, they’re monsters with powers and our MC finds out she also has powers. The guy she’s crushing on happens to be a monster slayer…her only ally is another guy who comes from an opposing monster family. Could possibly end up as a love triangle? Not sure but it has all the vibeZ! 

Castles in Their Bones by Laura Sebastian 2/1/22

I actually just got my hold for this book come through from Libby so it’s looking like a February read! We follow three princesses who have all been trained since birth in the arts of deception, seduction, and violence in order to take down Monarchies. Their mother is the mastermind behind it all and plans to one day rule over the continent of Vesteria.  

This Woven Kingdom by Tahereh Mafi 2/1/22

This beautiful book just landed on my doorstep this afternoon and honestly has left me giving kudos to Illumicrate 🙌🏽 they’ve outdone themselves with their special edition! This is the first in a romantic trilogy inspired by Persian mythology where we follow a servant who is an heir to a long forgotten ancient Jinn kingdom. The Prince has heard the prophecy foretelling the death of the king but he never would suspect that it would all come down to this one servant. Said to be perfect for fans of fantasy written by Leigh Bardugo, Tomi Adeyemi, and Sabaa Tahir.


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Review: Olga Dies Dreaming by Xóchitl Gonzalez

Title: Olga Dies Dreaming

Author: Xóchitl Gonzalez

Pub. Date: January 4th 2022

Genre: Contemporary Fiction/LGBTQIA+

Format: Audiobook – Libro.FM & Book Of The Month

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Pages: 384 pages/11 hrs 22 min

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE | LIBROFM | AMAZON

Characters: 10/10   Atmosphere: 10/10  Writing Style: 10/10  Plot: 6/10  Intrigue: 0/10  Logic/Relationships: 8/10  Enjoyment: 8/10

Rating: 52/7.4 =  ☆☆ Stars☆☆╮

Rating system created by The Book Roast 

☆☆ “𝐋𝐢𝐤𝐞 𝐬𝐡𝐞’𝐝 𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐞 𝐭𝐨 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐞𝐧𝐝 𝐨𝐟 𝐚 𝐒𝐜𝐨𝐨𝐛𝐲-𝐃𝐨𝐨 𝐞𝐩𝐢𝐬𝐨𝐝𝐞 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐩𝐮𝐥𝐥𝐞𝐝 𝐨𝐟𝐟 𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐨𝐰𝐧 𝐦𝐚𝐬𝐤, 𝐫𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐚𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐚𝐥𝐥 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐭𝐢𝐦𝐞 𝐬𝐡𝐞’𝐝 𝐛𝐞𝐞𝐧 𝐩𝐥𝐚𝐲𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐩𝐚𝐫𝐭 𝐨𝐟 𝐇𝐚𝐩𝐩𝐲-𝐆𝐨-𝐋𝐮𝐜𝐤𝐲 𝐏𝐚𝐫𝐭𝐲 𝐏𝐥𝐚𝐧𝐧𝐞𝐫 𝐰𝐡𝐞𝐧 𝐢𝐧 𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐥𝐢𝐭𝐲 𝐬𝐡𝐞 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐫𝐢𝐟𝐲𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐄𝐝𝐮𝐜𝐚𝐭𝐞𝐝 𝐖𝐨𝐦𝐚𝐧 𝐨𝐟 𝐂𝐨𝐥𝐨𝐫” ☆☆╮

Olga Dies Dreaming is a dual point of view story that toggles between present day and timelines that date back to the early 2000’s. We follow Olga and Pedro aka “Prieto” Acevedo as they navigate their lives and careers while also dealing with an absent mother who makes her presence known through letters and visits from fellow associates. Blanca abandoned her children when they were very young to fight for a liberated Puerto-Rico, never making her whereabouts known since she’s the leader of a small group of liberation radicals known as the “Pañuelos Negros” who are akin to the Black Panthers. Olga has made a career out of wedding planning for the elite in NYC Manhattan while also keeping love and romance at arms length. She’s out to break stereo-types as a Latinx business owner and has turned her back on ALL things related to her mom & issues plaguing Puerto-Rico. Olga’s brother Prieto is a popular Congressman in a rapidly gentrifying Brooklyn neighborhood who is torn between being present as a good father for his daughter vs. wanting to protect Puerto-Rico from exploitation. Prieto is flawed there’s no denying that, his intentions started off good as he struggled with finding his role and how to do his part in helping the island. Ultimately I found his actions in politics to be very spineless and damaging to the island.

Whenever I pick up a book by a debut author, I’m looking to see if they’re characters are compelling enough for me to get invested in their back stories. Gonzalez delivered top tier character development and gave each one a distinctive voice, down to the absentee mother whose presence was felt through a series of evocative letters.  Both siblings have serious abandonment issues that are in need of healing as it continues to play a role in the decisions they make with their loved ones and in their respective careers. They both seek validation from a mother who abandoned her role in their lives and lives/breathes her cause, something they still can’t accept.

This book won’t be for every reader especially since woven in the text is a lot of history centered around the Puerto-Rican diaspora. There is a heavy emphasis on politics both in gentrifying NYC neighborhoods as well as the relationship between the mainland United States and Puerto-Rico. I can appreciate this since so much went down when Hurricane Maria made landfall in 2017 leaving the island in the dark and many of us outsiders with family on the island, feeling helpless and frantic. PREPA and the shady political behaviors by the Governor which we watched in real life get exposed, are mentioned in this book which may shed some light to those who didn’t know much about it. The conclusion wrapped up a bit too quick for my liking for a book that mostly was medium paced with many complex layers to unravel. I listened to the audiobook and gave the performance 5 stars, the narrator knocked it out the park. I felt the audiobook specifically, really brought Blanca’s letters to life and made her passionate pleas to rally up more powerful. There were scenes I found hard and heavy to get through, especially when Prieto visits the towns in Puerto-Rico and speaks to citizens who are exhausted and feeling forgotten without water or light. Overall, it was an impactful memorable read that has placed Xóchitl on my radar for any future releases.

CW: Death of a parent, rape, suicide, cheating, divorce, cancer, serophobia, gentrification, abandonment, drug addiction, homophobic slurs, racism


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Spoiler Free Review: A Lot Like Adios by Alexis Daria

Title: A Lot Like Adios

Author: Alexis Daria

Pub. Date: September 14th 2021

Genre: Contemporary Romance/Queer/Latinx

Format: Paperback

Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks

Pages: 381 pages

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Gabriel Aguilar aka Gabe left his childhood home in the Bronx when he wast 18 years old to make a life for himself on the west coast. A major part of that decision was to put space between him and his family, specifically his father who wanted him to focus his efforts into taking over the family business. Gabe recognized he was stuck in a cycle of seeking validation and allowing others to steam roll him into making decisions that weren’t aligned with his true purpose. For Gabe, his dreams were with physical fitness and going to school to one day open his own gym/rehabilitation for athletes. He’s got a business partner he can count on and call family with which he’s successfully opened and managed one of LA’s hottest celebrity gyms. When his partner Fabian who finds himself overwhelmed with the expansion of his own family asks Gabe to spearhead the expansion of their Gym in New York City, Gabe is SUPER hesitant. When Fabian tells him he’s already reached out to a up & coming marketing solo agent to help with their rebranding, Gabe isn’t expecting it to be Michelle Amato AKA Mich…

Michelle Amato has just quit her job and is trying to venture off independently as a freelance graphic designer. She doesn’t have it all figured out just yet but is eager to find her true purpose in life without the stress of her Puerto-Rican/Italian family who are truly trying to see if she’s dating and on the way to someday starting a family. When she gets an email from Fabian hiring her to help with the gym and sees Gabe’s name attached to the email as co-owner, she feels a mixture of emotions all at once. Gabe, her best friend from childhood who walked out of her life 13 years ago without a word. Gabe who she one day thought would end up with and instead left her with a ton of unresolved feelings. She takes it as an opportunity to finally get answers from him whether he likes it or not. Mich will take on the campaign as long as Gabe is willing to agree to some terms. Some of these do require them spending time alone as they work on this campaign. This is a friends-to-lovers romance that will have you rooting for the couple till the very end! 

 

There really is so much to love about A Lot Like Adios and I’ll go as far as saying, it’s tons better than You Had me at Hola! Both of our main characters are Bi-sexual, Mich specifically is working through her sexuality and admits to not having it all figured out quite yet. I loved seeing the honesty and vulnerability when she talks about her dating life. Mich also struggles with anxiety for which she does take medication. She’s someone who is self-aware and knows that in order to make progress emotionally, she’s going to have to address the open wounds between her and Gabe. Gabe is equally self aware but has the opposite approach in order to protect his peace and make his own decisions, he’s chosen to run away from it all. It’s an interesting push and pull dynamic between the two as they seek to mend their relationship as well as work on the external factors that played a part in the distance. As always, Alexis Daria knows how to deliver on what being a part of a Latinx family feels and looks like. I loved the importance given to self-care and mental health and the different ways of coping. Also, being first generation myself and understanding that my immigrant parents had a very different more traditional approach to careers made seeing Gabe & Mich’s story that much more relatable. For those who enjoy mixed media, Gabe & Mich had a fan-fiction web comic when they were teens and we get to see their chat messages when they were piecing together that story. The romance/steamy scenes were satisfying and passionate, Gabe really enjoys proving to Mich that he knows his way to woman’s orgasm. He is a very generous lover as well as super confident which honestly is part of his sex appeal. It was a good time all around! I’m looking forward to more stories within the Primas of Power universe *fingers crossed*


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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* I have been blessed by the Book Gods with early access to some of these titles (Currently Reading: Velvet Was the Night) 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* 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. 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 – 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; 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 – Described as a modern day Practical Magicwe 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 “a homage to slasher films that also manages to defy and transcend genre.” 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 victim’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 – for different reasons – simmering with resentment” – 8/31/2021


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

39085455Title: The Taking of Jake Livingston

Author: Ryan Douglass

Pub. Date: July 13th 2021

Genre: YA Horror/Queer

Format: eGalley

Publisher: Putnam

Pages: 308 pages

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

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

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


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Spoiler Free Review: Black Water Sister by Zen Cho

55119872Title: Black Water Sister

Author: Zen Cho

Pub. Date: May 11th 2021

Genre: Fantasy/Queer

Format: eGalley

Publisher: Ace Books

Pages: 384 pages

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

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

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

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


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Spoiler Free Review: Down Comes the Night by Allison Saft

Title: Down Comes the Night

Author: Allison Saft

Pub. Date: March 2nd 2021

Genre:YA Fantasy/Queer

Format: eGalley

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Pages: 400 pages

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

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

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

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

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

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


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