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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Spoiler Free Review: The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood

Title: The Love Hypothesis

Author:Ali Hazelwood

Pub. Date: September 14th 2021

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Format: Physical Book

Publisher: Berkley Books

Pages: 384 pages

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Olive is a third year PHD candidate focused on science and not quite sure if she’s interested in love. In fact she’s questioning everything about how she views attraction, sex, and romance. Olive’s best friend Anh on the other hand is a romantic at heart and it just so happens that she has amazing chemistry with Jeremy who is Olives ex. She feels terrible for having these feelings and decides to keep them hidden but everyone in their friend circle can see they’re perfect for one another. Olive truly didn’t have any deep emotions for Jeremy but convincing Anh that she’s more than OK with them dating is proving to be challenging. The only way would be if she can show Anh that she’s since moved on into a new relationship. The idea of fake dating someone doesn’t have much time to brew in her mind before she finds herself ambush kissing Professor Adam Carlsen. The professor known to break the hearts of budding scientists leaving them in tears and rethinking their entire career paths. What’s even more surprising is that the forever grumpy Adam surprises her by agreeing to an arrangement that would help them both.
🔬🧪💞
*•.¸♡ ωнαт ι ℓσνє∂ ♡¸.•*
🧪Women in STEM
🔬Queer and diverse characters
🧪Positive healthy female friendships
🔬Academic settings
🧪Forced proximity situations that’ll have you blushing alongside our MC
🔬Flirting & banter *Chefs Kiss*

I don’t think I ever really considered the Fake Dating Trope to be one that I’d be totally into but it absolutely is now! I lost count of the times I found myself blushing and smiling from second hand embarrassment. We also get the Grumpy/Sunshine Trope which I’ve personally always enjoyed. Does it help that as soon as I heard this story is Kyloren Fanfic inspired, that I immediately envisioned Adam Driver as the lead male interest? ABSOLUTELY! he perfectly fits the description and mannerisms. I’ll admit I wasn’t too keen on the premise of a best friend falling for the other friends ex however, I felt Olive’s feelings on the whole thing were very well explored. She has a moment of introspection that even though it wasn’t spelled out on the page, I understood it to be that Olive may be Asexual. I appreciated reading a character’s POV who experiences love and sexual attraction differently than what we’re used to seeing in books.

I also LOVED how well balanced this read was with regards to the science in an academic setting and the actual romance. There was an emphasis on highlighting the many hurdles women in STEM go up against in a field where their counterparts are predominantly Caucasian males. Olive’s BFF Anh is a Vietnamese PHD Candidate who is very driven to creating more resources for BIPOC women in STEM. These themes were woven in organically which I feel is probably because the author themselves is a Neuroscientist with plenty of time in an academic setting. There’s honestly so much to love here! last but not least…The STEAM factor was so satisfying! It is well deserving of my 6 star rating simply because I am STILL thinking of these characters and the *Chefs Kiss* flirting that took place. 


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WWW Wednesday: 9/8/2021

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Title: She Who Became the Sun

Author: Shelley Parker-Chan

Pub. Date: July 20th 2021

Genre: Fantasy/Queer

Format: eGalley

Publisher: TOR Books

Pages: 416 pages

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

“Most strong-willed people never understand that will alone isn’t enough to guarantee their survival. They don’t realize that even more so than will, survival depends upon an understanding of people and power.”
― Shelley Parker-Chan

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

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


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Spoiler Free Review: A Curse in Ash by Julie Zantopoulos

Title: A Curse in Ash

Author: Julie Zantopoulos

Pub. Date: October 5th 2021

Genre: Contemporary Fantasy/Romance

Format: eGalley

Publisher: Atmosphere Press

Pages: 392 pages

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ARC received from author in exchange for an honest review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


A Curse In Ash hits the shelves October 5th 2021! ❤ ❤ ❤


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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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The 411..

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

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

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


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June 2021 Anticipated New Releases

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

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

YOUNG ADULT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ADULT FICTION

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

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

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

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

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

ADULT ROMANCE

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

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

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

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

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

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


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May Wrap-Up & Book Haul…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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CRUELLA (IMDB)

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

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VIRGIN RIVER (IMDB)

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


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Spoiler Free Review: 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

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE | AMAZON

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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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