June 2021 Reading Wrap-Up

Who else is falling short of TBR goals simply because you’re having one HOT person summer?!?! Well June threw a wrench in my reading goals in the best of ways so there’s no complaining here but I am back on track with my July Possibility Pile. I only read 4 books in June but they were quality reads (one of them is a bit iffy as the days go by lol) I traveled with and enjoyed. I haven’t really been in the Fantasy reading mood lately, leaning instead into Romance & Contemporary Fiction. That being said (Ha!), this weekend during my post work-out soak I started She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan (The Radiant Emperor #1) & already I’m MIND BLOWN (hits shelves 7/20/21) by the vivid imagery and the main character’s self awareness. Drop some love down below in the comment box with what you’re currently reading/watching/listening to ❤ ❤ ❤

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Dial A For Aunties by Jesse Q Sutanto – ✨3.5 𝓢𝓽𝓪𝓻𝓼✨If you can manage to suspend all disbelief, Dial A for Aunties will take you on a WILD hilarious ride! I listened to the audiobook on Librofm and I’m so glad I did, the narrator did such a phenomenal job of making this family feel real. We follow Meddelin Chan who goes on a blind date & somehow accidentally ends up killing her date. When she calls her mom freaking out, her mom calls in the Aunties who quickly come to help cover up & hide the body. Meddelin and her family all are in the family business of weddings & they end up concealing the body on the island where the wedding is taking place. This is a romantic comedy that is laugh out loud & over the top! What I loved? the beautiful descriptions of Chinese-Indonesian culture specifically wedding traditions. Also, the amazing support this family offers one another to ensure they’re all successful in their family business. Lastly, the AUNTIES!!! their in-fightings had me chuckling and shaking my head on more than one occasion. Overall a good time!

Survive the Night by Riley Sager – ✨3 𝓢𝓽𝓪𝓻𝓼✨ Unlike many of my friends who’ve read all of Sager’s backlist, this is only my second read by this author. It’s undeniably a page turner with a unreliable narrator. It has a very dreamlike feel that makes you wonder if the narrator really is hallucinating. I’ve changed my rating several times since reading it & not for the better, it sits at 3 stars because I couldn’t detach from it and ended up binge reading. Would you get in a car with a perfect stranger all the while knowing a campus killer is on the loose? Our MC Charlie is trying to leave campus for good after the murder of her roommate. A chance meeting at the campus ride board leads her to Josh Baxter. Josh who is on his way to care for his sick father and offers Charlie a ride. Set mostly in the car on dark roads, this story will have you flipping pages into the night. Charlie is an unreliable narrator & things get interesting when she begins to think she’s in the car with her roommates killer. It’s a game of cat and mouse that plays throughout the night and you really start to fear for Charlie. The problem is, some pieces don’t fit no matter how you try to make them and doing so will make the writing seem forced…that’s how I felt about the way all was wrapped up.

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid – (My Review) ✨4 𝓢𝓽𝓪𝓻𝓼✨This book hit on a more personal level for me, it didn’t dethrone TJR’s The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo but it does hold a special place in my heart. Overall, this is a story of childhood/sibling trauma and breaking free from the toxic cycles as adults. I love books that remind us how perfectly imperfect we can be, especially when you’re a parent because so often that role is one to look up to. When you fall from that pedestal you’ve been placed on, how you get back up or don’t…can possibly affect your children later on down the road. Nina (the oldest) in some ways was repeating relationship patterns her mother got caught up in. This story is told in past & present tense, in the past we follow Mick Riva and his wife as they struggle through infidelity and drug/alcohol abuse. In the present, it’s all about the Riva kids who are famous because of their father and are hosting their yearly party. Over the course of 24 hours we see them deal with their personal relationships & demons. I docked it one star because of the climax and how much I didn’t really care for it…that is to say, the party itself was just not it for me. it only detracted from what I really cared about and that is the characters themselves. For the most part we see Nina’s character development and then it’s surface level with the other siblings. I’m hoping we get a book following Kit who intrigued me so much! *fingers crossed*

Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé – (My Review) ✨5 𝓢𝓽𝓪𝓻𝓼✨Save the best for last! One of the better debuts I’ve read this year, I honestly couldn’t put it down! This year has been really hard for me to find YA I enjoy which has me being way more selective with what I pick up. Ace of Spades had a little of Gossip Girl mixed with Jordan Peele’s Get Out mixed with Alyssa Cole’s When No One is Watching, check out my recent review in the link above.

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*Confession* I binged all 5 seasons of Workin’ Moms in 48 hours SMH #NOREGRETS I FELT SEEN! LMAO! The title really does say it all, we follow these four ladies as they juggle life with being modern career women. They all have such different approaches that it makes for a very unlikely group of friends but also, I think that’s what makes it work. Everything from marriage to raising tweens and having healthy supportive female friendships is explored. I had a GREAT time, laughed a whole lot and also shed some tears along the way. Come on season 6! 

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PIXAR! why do you always leave me ballin’ my eyes out?!?! Luca and Alberto’s friendship really is top tier, I was smitten with their adventures on land. We follow these two sea monsters as they explore a fishing village that doesn’t like and actually hunts sea monsters for cash rewards. This is a story of acceptance and being judged by those who fear what you are. Disney has received some backlash for Queer baiting as many (including myself) wondered if there was more to Luca & Alberto. Regardless of what was intended, I found their human connection to be beautiful and a story that everyone can appreciate.


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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

 

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“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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Spoiler Free RAVE Review: One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston

 54860443Title: One Last Stop

Author: Casey McQuiston

Pub. Date: June 1st 2021

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Format: eGalley

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

Pages: 544 pages

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

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

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

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


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WWW WEDNESDAY: 3/30/2021

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

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

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

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

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51813582Witches steeped in gold by ciannon smart

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

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

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

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

 

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54304125the final revival of opal & nev by Dawnie Walton

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

 

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55692620the soulmate equation by christina lauren

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

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


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

February 2021 Wrap-Up & Book Haul…

February…the month where everything didn’t go quite as planned. Valentine’s Day weekend my boyfriend had booked us a cabin and the weather seemed to favor it, we were packed up and ready to go. I’d been quarantining at home all year long, working remotely, and pretty much limiting my proximity to anyone. COVID however arrived at my doorstep. It hit us hard for two whole weeks and it ended with a week long hospitalization for myself. It had to be the single most scariest experience I’ve ever been through with the odds stacked high against me making a turnaround. I believe it was a whole lot of faith, strength, and will power coupled with an awesome team of medical professionals that pulled me through. I’m home now where I’m recovering from some tough residual side effects but getting better and stronger each and every day.

I read 5 books in February which is honestly surprising given the level of meds I was on that made it difficult to not see words swimming on the page. I did NOT write reviews for any with the exception of The Project by Courtney Summers since that was an ARC from the Publisher. Instead, I will try to summarize my thoughts in this Wrap-Up for each title. I did watch a couple of good new shows and one Netflix Original movie. Other than this, It was a month to rest and recover while also being thankful for my health and that of my two tiny humans.

Sidenote: Why didn’t anyone tell me Matcha is where it’s at?!?! OBSESSED! How do you like your matcha? I’m looking for new recipes <3’s!

THE RAVENS BY KASS MORGAN & DANIELLE PAIGE  ✨3.5 𝑆𝑡𝑎𝑟𝑠✨- 𝑇ℎ𝑒 𝑅𝑎𝑣𝑒𝑛𝑠 was one of the books I read during my hospital stint. I was feeling for a witchy read and this one proved to be fast paced which helped considering nausea limited my reading time. That being said, it could’ve improved upon its character development. Our MC Vivi has always lived life alongside her mother who is very superstitious and makes her living reading Tarot. They constantly uproot their lives and move from place to place to “keep safe” however Vivi doesn’t know from what. Very little answers are provided to her by her mom until she gets accepted to Uni and joins Kappa Rho Nu. Unbeknownst to her, this ambitious smart tough sorority is also a coven of bad a** witches 🙌🏽 we get to meet these other witches and the powers they were gifted (Pentacles, Swords, Cups or Wands) from their family lineage. I didn’t connect with Vivi or really sympathize as much as I believe the authors intended. I actually connected a lot more with each of the the Side characters. There was also an issue with a death of a side character that I felt was a bit glazed over even though it was center stage for the first half of the book. Overall it was a fast enjoyable read albeit these issues, I LOVED the spotlight it gave these Alpha women leaders in the making! Sisterhood is not something we get enough of on the page, I’m glad Fairyloot made this one of their picks! 🖤

THE PROJECT BY COURTNEY SUMMERS (My Review) ✨5 𝑆𝑡𝑎𝑟𝑠✨MIND BLOWN at the amount of research that had to have gone into cults and their inner workings. From how you’re targeted, to isolation, brainwashing and eventually the feeling that you’re indebted to a greater cause. All the while following someone who believes himself to be God. A cautionary tale of sorts is what some may view it as. This is marketed as Young Adult but definitely reads on the more mature end of the scale. Fast paced & character driven, this dark tale will sink its clutches into you.

FIREFLY LANE BY KRISTIN HANNAH  ✨5 𝑆𝑡𝑎𝑟𝑠✨- Firefly Lane provided some comfort in February in its tale of friendship between two girls from the opposite sides of the track. I laughed and cried reading this book and then of course binge watched the Netflix adaptation. Although the show does deviate a lot from the story, many of its core scenes and friendship milestones remained the same. Accompanied by some awesome 70’s music tracks, we follow Kate and Tully as young girls in grade school to life with kids and careers. Kate has the kids and the husband with dreams of one day becoming a published author. Tully has always dreamed and passionately pursued her career as an accomplished news reporter. They see each other through heartbreaks, career wins, and the ups & downs of their Thelma & Louise vibe friendship.

BLACK BUCK BY MATEO ASKARIPOUR 

𝐼𝑡’𝑠 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑑𝑢𝑡𝑦 𝑜𝑓 𝑒𝑣𝑒𝑟𝑦 𝑚𝑎𝑛 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑤𝑜𝑚𝑎𝑛 𝑤ℎ𝑜 ℎ𝑎𝑠 𝑎𝑐ℎ𝑖𝑒𝑣𝑒𝑑 𝑠𝑜𝑚𝑒 𝑠𝑢𝑐𝑐𝑒𝑠𝑠 𝑖𝑛 𝑙𝑖𝑓𝑒 𝑡𝑜 𝑝𝑎𝑠𝑠 𝑖𝑡 𝑜𝑛, 𝑏𝑒𝑐𝑎𝑢𝑠𝑒 𝑤ℎ𝑒𝑛 𝑤𝑒’𝑟𝑒 𝑔𝑜𝑛𝑒, 𝑤ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝑚𝑎𝑡𝑡𝑒𝑟𝑠 𝑚𝑜𝑠𝑡 𝑖𝑠𝑛’𝑡 𝑤ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝑤𝑒’𝑟𝑒 𝑎𝑏𝑙𝑒 𝑡𝑜 𝑎𝑡𝑡𝑎𝑖𝑛 𝑏𝑢𝑡 𝑤ℎ𝑜 𝑤𝑒 𝑤𝑒𝑟𝑒 𝑎𝑏𝑙𝑒 𝑡𝑜 ℎ𝑒𝑙𝑝.”
✨5 𝑆𝑡𝑎𝑟𝑠✨
𝐵𝑙𝑎𝑐𝑘 𝐵𝑢𝑐𝑘
is a satirical take on one young black mans shot to stardom when he gets offered a “once in a lifetime” opportunity while working as a Manager at Starbucks. Darren is 22 years old and unambitious, the former Valedictorian of his class at Bronx Science. His mother who he lives with in their family owned Brownstone in Bedstuy wants nothing more than to see him live up to his potential. Rhett Daniels the CEO of Sumwun, NYC’s hottest tech startup sees that potential and is intent on getting Darren on his team. Darren joins and from day one is met with some quite infuriating white leadership who dish out every single stereotype there is about black people. I’ve lost track of how many times Darren has been asked whether he’s been told by anyone that he looks like MLK or Sidney Poitier. This is the book that had me SMH saying “the audacity” at the things white privileged men felt entitled to say to Darren. Darren’s inner monologue has me smiling at times and other times laughing, fast paced and thought provoking this book explores race and ambition through a different lens.

SLAY BY BRITTNEY MORRIS  ✨4 𝑆𝑡𝑎𝑟𝑠✨- I inhale read this book and although it be small in page count, it is mighty in its message! a book I will gladly pass down to my Afro-Latinx daughter because it embodies black excellence. Morris gave us black girls in STEM, a detailed layout of the virtual game our 16 year old MC has designed, discourse on black spaces, the importance of not relying on black people to educate you on their experiences, code switching and so much more! Yes, chances are if you love books by Angie Thomas, you will also enjoy Slay. But even more incentive is that Kiera is just a girl who loves video games and geekin’ out with others who just like her have been looking for a space to call their own. There were some cringe worthy moments with regards to Kiera’s boyfriend Malcolm who was the walking definition of toxic masculinity HOWEVER, I found his scenes to be important and insightful. These characters are well fleshed out and multifaceted, by the time I reached the end of the book I was fully invested. I’m absolutely already anticipating Morris’ next book!

FIREFLY LANE | THE GILDED ONES | THE WITCH’S HEART | THE PUSH | THE KINDEST LIE | HONEY GIRL | STAMPED


TO ALL THE BOYS ALWAYS AND FOREVER

The conclusion to the “All the boys” trilogy…or is it? I’ve heard rumblings of a spin-off being considered and I for one would be all on board. Give us Laura Jean in NYC attending NYU. I LOVED this movie but it is the third one so there’s not much I can’t say that isn’t spoilery. However, I will say that it was pretty awesome watching LJ make her own decisions & following her heart when it comes to life after high school.

FIREFLY LANE

After reading Kristin Hanna’s Firefly Lane I jumped right into a Netflix binge of the adaptation. The show definitely stands on its own and changes up a lot of what was in the book but I think that’s because it was intended to have more than one season. If you’ve read the book, then you know there are some major events that would change the dynamic on TV. That being said, I still thoroughly enjoyed the show & seeing the different paths taken. I also LOVED hearing some of the 70’s music tracks mentioned in the books & seeing the flashbacks. UGH! all the geek love for Kate with her Ginormous glasses, bell bottoms and love for Tolkien. Tully, be still my heart! I have a soft spot for this character who is just looking for home & family but keeps finding comfort in her career. The one thing that hasn’t turned its back on her because it’s dependent on her will power, ambition and determination. I hope the show gets a second run, that ending just can’t be it! if you know, you know HAHA!

WANDAVISION

This was a show that felt absolutely trippy! from the black and white “I Dream Of Genie” mixed with “I Love Lucy” and a bit of “Bewitched” styled Pilot episode to the consistent sitcom themed episodes that followed as it made its way to present time. I’ll admit that at first I wasn’t sure at all this was for me however, by the 4th episode I was hooked and had to know what exactly was going on. Trust Marvel to have perfected their formula, at this point there isn’t anything I wouldn’t watch by them. STOKED for Falcon and the Winter Soldier streaming next Friday 3/19/2021!


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Spoiler Free Review: Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

Title: Such a Fun Age

Author: Kiley Reid

Pub. Date: December 31st 2019

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Format: Audiobook

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Pages: 310 pages

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In the middle of the night, white blogger Alix Chamberlain and her husband are experiencing a crisis in their home. They call their African American babysitter Emira asking her to come over and take their baby girl Briar Chamberlain for a walk to distract her while they handle the events that have transpired in their home. Emira who is off the clock and at a friends birthday party decides to do this favor for her employer. While walking through the local supermarket in the Chamberlain’s neighborhood with 2 year old Briar, things quickly take a left turn. We have what we now have come to call a “Neighborhood Karen” raise what she thinks are concerns for the safety of Briar to the security guard at the market. It’s quickly implied that a white child wouldn’t be out late at night with a black girl who claims to be said child’s babysitter. One thing leads to another and Emira sees herself accused of kidnapping Briar and isn’t allowed to leave until contact is made with her employer. THIS BOOK!!!! WOW! I was NOT prepared for the rollercoaster of emotions I sat and listened through. This most certainly was a read-in-one-sitting type of book. I felt all things from anger to empathy to disgust watching Emira navigate through the racism and microagressions in her life.

“I don’t need you to be mad that it happened. I need you to be mad that it just like… happens.” – Such a Fun Age

Emira is 25, the age where many find themselves wondering what to do with their life. She isn’t sure what path to take career wise or even what her skillset is really valued at. We see her sort of just go with the flow of things while Alix Chamberlain adopts this really weird obsession with all things Emira. Alix is a white woman who at one point in her life decided to change her name to make herself sound more sophisticated. She’s made a career of writing eloquent persuasive letters that in turn get her free products to review. Alix belongs to this circle of women who are very judgmental and toxic towards one another. This character literally got under my skin, she had this really awkward way of going about making sure Emira sees her as different than most white women. She becomes obsessed with trying to befriend Emira al the while Emira is very aware that they could never be friends. Alix would never treat Emira like she treats her own wealthy friends from New York. There are moments where Alix finds herself both surprised and embarrassed at being taken aback at hearing Emira using words in her vocabulary that don’t align with her listening to rap music. She acknowledges to herself that it shouldn’t come as a surprise since Emira is a college graduate but still she harbors these thoughts. Bookworms! this book will have you shaking your head but the truth is we all know an Alix in real life.

There’s so much to unpack in this book but at its core it’s a book about racism, microagressions, social class, parenting and racial fetishization. These characters seriously had me back and forth with my feelings when it came down trying to figure out if their actions/thoughts were ill intended or not. The idea of the white savior comes into play from the very start when Emira’s white employers are called before releasing her and then continues all throughout.  There were a few twists that I didn’t see coming and seriously had me eyes wide open with anticipation at what could come next. While there are very serious hard hitting themes that play center stage, this book never once felt preachy yet (actually some parts were fun as odd as that may sound) it managed to give a huge SMH at the ignorance Emira had to deal with. The writing invoked emotions that go hand in hand with what 2020 brought to the surface.  A more satisfying ending I did not read in all of 2020, a read I’ll never forget. Kiley Reid’s debut is simply phenomenal! One of my Top 10 of 2020 that I will continue to recommend to all my friends!


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Spoiler Free Review: Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

Title: Anxious People

Author: Fredrik Backman

Pub. Date: September 8th 2020

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Format: Audiobook

Publisher: Atria Books

Pages: 341 pages

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE | LIBROFM (MY REFERRAL LINK)

My First Backman!!!

I’ve been hearing about Fredrik Backman’s curmudgeonly characters and tear jerker story lines for a few years now but decided to end 2020 with seeing for myself. Whelp! no lies detected Bookworms, this book broke me and left me sobbing tears of happiness? sadness? I still don’t know. I opted to listen to the audiobook after hearing many rave reviews on the narrators performance, this I can also attest to. I also think this is the type of book you want to walk in blind to as I did. From the very start we are thrust into a botched bank robbery and our MC is the perpetrator who in an effort to escape stumbles into an apartment open house. What our MC finds is possibly the worse group of hostages ever but for the reader it proves to be a good time haha! Yes, there is humor all throughout which does a nice job of balancing out the more hard hitting conversations between these hostages. We meet a retired couple who seek fixer uppers in an effort to find common ground in their stale marriage, a lesbian couple who are about to have their first child even though they can’t seem to agree on much, a wealthy woman banker who has been consumed by wealth so much so that she’s lost touch with humanity and love and a 87 year old woman who could not be less fazed by the gun wielding bank robber. This is a story about every day people trying their best to get it right but oftentimes discovering that the road is paved with many bumps along the way. It was beyond eye opening and heartwarming to see how human empathy can really make those differences that set us apart seem really minuscule in the grander scheme of things.

CW: Suicide, suicidal thoughts, depression, death of a loved one, infidelity, divorce

Zara, Roger, AnnaLee, Roe, Julia, Estelle and our MC aka the Bank Robber are some of the MOST unforgettable characters I’ve come across in fiction. Each one of these characters left their mark when sharing insight on their lives, the wins and the losses. There are secrets, love affairs, grief, sadness, fears that all get laid out on the table in the nooks & tiny closet of this small apartment. I predict Fredrik Backman will become one of my favorite story tellers of all time simply because I love character driven stories and he so masterfully creates people who you can connect with on a soul level. This is the type of book you should go into blindly & allow yourself to get wrapped up in. I guarantee that in no time you’ll be deeply invested in each of these characters stories. Backman is an author I’ll be revisiting in 2021, I’ve already secured a copy of A Man Called Ove from my library but I have a feeling I will be buying myself a copy real soon 🙌🏽


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Spoiler Free Review: When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole

Title: When No One is Watching

Author: Alyssa Cole

Pub. Date: September 1st 2020

Genre: Fiction/Suspense/Horror Noir

Format: ALC

Publisher: William Morrow

Pages: 368 pages

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

Hi hello, Latinx Brooklynite here👋🏽specifically Williamsburg where gentrification swept through and forever changed the neighborhoods I called home. Alyssa Cole gives us Sydney Green, a Black woman who loves her community in Brooklyn but is seeing it erased with each passing day. Major developers buying houses & converting them into condos. The beautiful brownstones where her neighbors have lived for generations sold. Sydney is feeling very paranoid & questioning the whereabouts of those familiar faces. After experiencing a neighborhood tour where the hostess pointed out ONLY the Caucasian history, Sydney decides to start up her own. Theo, a white newcomer to the neighborhood is experiencing relationship issues. He knows he wants to help Sydney in her research as an ally but has to prove his intentions are good. Theo’s girlfriend is racist & constantly referring to them as superior to the black people in the community they’ve moved into. We follow Sydney & Theo as they set out in starting up her tour company. There are times where I wondered if Sydney was an unreliable narrator. She’s a woman determined not to lose her home or her history. In many ways this book felt like Horror Noir & I LOVED it!!! The Goodreads synopsis mentions the movie Get Out by Director Jordan Peele & that’s exactly the vibes I got while listening to the audiobook. Loved listening to the excerpts from “The Hood” app where many of the “Karen” type characters really displayed their micro-aggressions & were checked by black residents in the neighborhood.

CW: alcohol abuse, sick parent, cheating, gentrification, microagressions, death of a parent, panic attacks, gaslighting, anxiety, abduction attempts, involuntary medical experimentation

I’m no thriller expert and so I won’t pretend to know what makes a good thriller. What I do know is that if you go into this read and treat it as you would a horror, then it will meet those expectations. Otherwise, the plot pacing will seem off which is in large part what many readers have said they found issue with. I urge you to seek out reviews by black content creators who have been vocal about how realistic they found the fear & anxiety Sydney was experiencing. What I can say is that as a Latinx woman who has seen my childhood neighborhood torn down, redesigned and sold to the highest bidder…I found this book extremely relatable. I’ve seen whole families disappear at times rather abruptly after being offered a big check to leave their homes. Other times they’re met with uncooperative landlords who make it so they have no choice but to leave the community.

Gentrification is a complex subject and the ramifications it has on those who experience this won’t be the same for everyone. Sydney is a black woman who is made to feel paranoid. She encounters Theo’s girlfriend Kim who basically spews out any & all microagressions you can think of. What once was familiar territory is now a place where she has to watch over her back. Sydney is also experiencing a higher level of harassment from debt collectors, her stress levels are through the roof. All of which when put together, paints a picture of someone who may or may not be stable. That’s what made this book unputdownable for me! the fact that everything she was experiencing can and HAS happened. That ending was chefs kiss perfection! I smirked and nodded my head up & down as I stood in solidarity. This may be Alyssa Cole’s first book outside of the Romance genre but WOW! it is a solid entry into Horror Noir, I personally am excited to see more genre exploring from this author.


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June 2020 Monthly Wrap-Up

Hola Bookworms! It’s finally Friday and I’m very much looking forward to unplugging this weekend. I took today off from work (this post was scheduled) to get away for a bit since we’ll be experiencing a heat wave in New York City. I’ve got two cute new bathing suits I’m pretty stoked to try out, a new found love for Roscato sweet red wine & Playa Bowls (pictured below). Currently I’m reading Forest Of Souls (Shamanborn #1) by Lori M. Lee (Really enjoying this slower paced world building but then again that’s my thang haha!) and obsessing over John Legend’s new album Bigger Love. July is already proving to be a quality reading month with some 5 star reads. In the month of June I threw myself into reading even more diverse black voices & spent less time blogging. I’m just now getting caught up with reviews but figured I should probably wrap up the month seeing as we’re already in mid-July. Drop some love down below, how are you spending your weekend? reading? watching? writing?

The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta – ✨4.5 STARS✨ I still stand by my original thoughts on this book, it is one of the MOST raw coming of age stories I’ve ever read. Written in verse, this is the story of Michael who is Jamaican and Greek living in London being raised by his mother. His mother is Greek, a single parent who is very supportive and loving to both Michael and his sister. Growing up in a predominantly white neighborhood & attending a school with mostly white children, Michael faces many challenges being a queer black boy. We follow his journey to finding himself and the freedom he obtains on that journey. I listened to the audiobook on Libro.fm & personally I loved getting the story narrated by the author. I listened in one sitting! ❤

The Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon – ✨3 STARS✨After hearing many of my friends in the Book community express their thoughts, I adjusted my expectations on this one. I already had a Book of the Month copy as well as the audiobook from Libro.fm. I loved the friendship aspects of this story where we follow our MC as she meets two other women that happen to be dating the same man she is. An unlikely confrontation leads to a friendship which I enjoyed seeing develop. What I didn’t love so much was the romance seeing as it has the whole undercover angle & that took away from any chemistry I may have felt between the two love interests. I’d still be interested in reading possibly a story arc following the other friends *fingers crossed*

The City Of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty -✨4 STARS✨ (My Review) LOVED the world building & plot! captivating and truly memorable however I didn’t fall in love or grow attached to any of the characters. Sure I had one that stood out but that was iffy too. Character growth is on the page & I do have high hopes for the sequel being a 5 star read.

I Killed Zoe Spanos by Kit Frick – ✨5 STARS✨ (My ReviewYA Thrillers! people sleep on them but truly they are something to explore! Kit Frick held me from the very first page & I could only imagine what the experience would’ve been like if I had listened to this in audiobook format since it does have a podcast feel. LOVED the unreliable narrator & the interviews throughout the book with neighbors & friends. Lastly, I’ll say that I did NOT see that ending coming & was left with my jaw hanging smh.

Abbott – ✨4 STARS✨My only wish is that this had more issues but I can’t find any info online as to whether there will be. We follow a Journalist in Detroit who is investigating a series of murders that seem to have a paranormal twist. I was hella intrigued by our MC who is a black bi-sexual divorced woman with a bit of a brooding side she settles into each night with a glass of whiskey.

All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson – ✨5 STARS✨ (My ReviewMy BEST read of the month! One that I will not stop recommending! I listened to the author narrate his own essays in this audiobook via Libro.fm & was absolutely invested start to finish. I said in my review that it felt like I was at the kitchen table with George hearing stories of his youth as if he were a friend. This is how I’ll aways remember my time with this book. The importance of reading stories that feature intersectionality is something I’ll always stress. This is the story of George M. Johnson a young queer black man growing up in America.

June was a e-book heavy month for me & as I’m still donating books from my shelves I didn’t purchase any physical books. I can tell you now that this is not the case for July smh but at least I have plenty of shelf space to house my new babies. The books down below were all Kindle deals mostly $1.99 at most $3.99, I went click happy because there were so many great titles on sale so here goes…

ONLY FOR A NIGHT (LICK #1) | PATRON SAINTS OF NOTHING | THE WEIGHT OF THE STARS | THE FOUNTAINS OF SILENCE | QUEEN MOVE | THE STORM RUNNER | FORTUNA SWORN | TRISTAN STRONG PUNCHES A HOLE IN THE SKY | RACE TO THE SUN | THE BOOK OF LOST SAINTS THE HOUSE IN THE CERULEAN SEA

For many years I’ve heard Guy Ritchie get much acclaim as a director but for me personally it was seeing this movie that really caught my interest. The minute I saw the cast of characters…Matthew McConaughey, Charlie Hunnam, Colin Farrell, Hugh Grant I KNEW I had to watch! Initially it was set to be a date night at the movies but Rona put a stop to that & I waited for it to be made available on Fandango Now. We follow McConaughey who is an American expat trying to sell his very profitable Marijuana empire in London. This of course captures the attention of many of his enemies & triggers many attempts to steal his business before he can sell. TONS of action, schemes, and yea even a few laugh out loud moments. Overall a good time!


June was an intense month in the world, i was proud to see many of my bookish friends in the community amplify black voices all throughout. The efforts to bring diverse stories to our shelves continues. i’ve always read diversely with an emphasis on intersectionality but i will be amping that up further on this blog.happy reading <3’s!


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Spoiler Free Review: All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson

Title: All Boys Aren’t Blue

Author: George M. Johnson

Pub. Date: April 28th. 2020

Genre: YA LGBTQIA+ Memoir

Format: Libro.fm/audiobook

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Pages: 304 Pages

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It’s no surprise to me by now the level of procrastination I take on whenever I’m to review a favorite book. I listened to this memoir told in a series of personal essays on Libro.fm & strongly believe this was the best way to go. I love when authors narrate their own books & this truly felt like I was sitting at the table with George listening to him recount stories from his childhood/young adult years. Going back to his childhood days spent with his grandmother & cousins, we see the support he received as he embraced his sexuality. We Journey with him as he goes through the awkward dating years & then ventures into the rites of passage that comes with Fraternities in college. George starts his story in New Jersey discussing some of the issues he experienced as a queer black boy. The shedding of toxic masculinity as well as exploring gender issues & the decision to change his name are just a few of the things shared in this memoir. There were also some personal essays on his first sexual encounters, the topic of consent, and the boundaries he learned to create while learning his body. Some of  my favorite essays were those that gave us an inside look to some of the cherished family members who supported George from the very beginning. They say it takes a village to raise a child & we definitely see that when meeting family & friends who left a lasting impression.

It is important when reading Queer Lit that we’re looking to also read books that speak on intersectionality. This memoir gives us a look at what it’s like to navigate the challenges of being a queer black man in America. There were moments I smiled at fond memories shared while other times I felt the pangs of grief when speaking on the loss of a loved one. I don’t believe I have ever personally read a memoir written for Young Adults but after reading All Boys Aren’t Blue, I wondered out loud how many teens could’ve found wisdom and/or solace in these stories. These often untold stories are the ones I want on my home shelves. Although I listened to this on Libro.fm (phenomenal service btw), I most definitely am hauling my own physical copy <3’s!


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