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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Spoiler Free Review: House of Blood and Earth (Crescent City #1) by Sarah J. Maas

Title: House of Blood and Earth (Crescent City #1)

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Pub. Date: March 3rd 2020

Genre: UrbanFantasy

Format: Hardcover

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing

Pages: 803 Pages

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLES | AMAZON

I contemplated writing a in depth review but opted instead to keep this one more loose in format. I’ll start off by saying I absolutely LOVED this first installment in the Crescent City series! I honestly feel that it’s a step in the right direction for Maas who is known for her Young Adult Throne of Glass series which definitely reads a bit more mature than most YA books. This book didn’t have a ton of steamy scenes however it did have a generous amount of mature content that I quite enjoyed. Our main characters Bryce & Hunt really are a case of like attracts like in my opinion. They both carry with them a lot of emotional baggage and have their defenses built pretty high. Bryce is a half Fae female who works for a very old Sorceress who guards an ancient library & collects creatures. She’s indebted to this Sorceress & has grown accustomed to the daily threats of being turned into one of her collected creatures if she’s even late to meet a client. Bryce passes her days in the very old library of banned books accompanied by Lehabah a Fire Sprite who I’ve given a spot in my honorary hall of fame for awesome side characters. Whats not to love about a tiny Fire Sprite who is bashful & loves watching Fangs & Bangs? 🤗😂

Crescent City: House of Earth & Blood
Fan art Credit: Melanie T Illustration

When we first get introduced to Bryce, she’s living a chill life between the antiques shop/library & the dating scene. Her BFF/roommate Danika is leader to the wolf “Pack of Devils” & daughter to Sabine who is the Alpha of all packs. These two party hard & have their share of recreational drugs while at it. Things take a grim turn when Danika is murdered by a demon (included in the synopsis) & Bryce is recruited by the Angel task force in charge of the investigation. Bryce is suffering from PTSD after seeing the bloody scene of the crime & is determined to find the demon responsible. The thing is, Bryce doesn’t really do well with being micromanaged or rules. Hunt is one of the MOST powerful angels & he’s been assigned to work with Bryce as well as protect her. Hunt has fallen from grace for having been at the helm of a failed rebellion, he is now enslaved to the very Archangels he tried to overthrow. Bryce & Hunt would fall into the classic “hate to love” trope and I for one loved every second of it! 🔥 I especially loved how all of Hunts perceptions of Bryce as a superficial party girl were deconstructed bit by bit.

Fan art credit: Adrielle Eispu

Coming in at 800+ pages, this first installment is massive in every which way. Having read the Throne of Glass Series, I was expecting to get introduced to a multitude of characters & was not disappointed. I’ve always admired how well Maas can weave a story & tie in a slew of characters without skipping a beat. This is the Urban Fantasy story I didn’t know I so badly needed haha! seriously though, wolves, vamps, fae, fauna, sprites, angels & the list goes on! we get a murder investigation, back story on a very old war against the oppressive archangels, and a slow burn hate to love romance. If you haven’t had the chance to check out some of the artwork already out, what are you waiting for?! 🔥😍🔥

Fan art credit: Adrielle Eispu

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FRIDAY READS & THANGS

WHIMSICAL ILLUSTRATIONS BY ESRA RØISE

It’s Friday Book Lovers & I for one couldn’t be more thankful! last weekend I was in Philadelphia with my boyfriend, a city that’s quickly becoming a favorite for its rich history, food, awesome human beings & of course home of Rocky! 🥊 this weekend however is going to be more chill, staying local with a trip to one of my tiny humans favorite parks that offers up some good waterside scenic paths to ride bikes. I anticipate some down time (perhaps a smidge haha!) where I can squeeze in reading, most likely while meal prepping. I’m trying to get into the habit of always having an audiobook playing while multi-tasking & so far its been fun & productive. This week was pretty big for the YA publishing world with the release of SJ Maas House of Earth and Blood & Cassandra Clare’s Chain of Gold! 🤗 although I can’t partake in the Chain of Gold excitement just yet since I’ve yet to read Lady Midnight, I am wishing all those who are, a great reading experience! 🖤

AN ANONYMOUS GIRL By the time this post goes live I’ll probably have finished listening to this audiobook from Libby. For the most part I enjoy choosing thrillers blindly since Synopsis tend to give away too much. This has been an interesting listen, not at all what I expected & I’m not sure yet if that’s a good or bad thing. This is a heavy on narcissism read where the MC becomes extremely co-dependent in a sick twisted triangle of sorts. Not in a romantic way at all but in a sick twisted spider caught in a web sort of way, my thoughts will be delivered in a spoiler free mini review.

HOUSE OF EARTH AND BLOOD – This beauty is FINALLY out in the world & yes I’ve dropped all other physical reads to dedicate my time to this story. I’m not very far in it at all but I do now have a Kindle copy which will make it easier to read on my down time. This is SJ Maas’ first adult Fantasy & so far I’m getting all of the Urban Fantasy vibeZ I’ve been craving with complex world building for the win. High hopes here Book Lovers! HIGH hopes *fingers crossed*

DOCILE

There is no consent under capitalism

Docile is a science fiction parable about love and sex, wealth and debt, abuse and power, a challenging tour de force that at turns seduces and startles.

To be a Docile is to be kept, body and soul, for the uses of the owner of your contract. To be a Docile is to forget, to disappear, to hide inside your body from the horrors of your service. To be a Docile is to sell yourself to pay your parents’ debts and buy your children’s future.”  —I’ve heard from a few trusted friends that this is quite the compulsive read & I’ve really been craving my next sci-fi read. I’ve also heard this deals with very murky consensual sex

DEMON SLAYER VOLUME 1 – While In a Philly comic shop I was on my phone looking for some top Manga recommendations when I came across Demon Slayer. Instantly sucked in by the sibling relationship portrayed on the cover I went looking for the 1st volume which was sold out! turns out it’s a hit manga that’s already on Hulu & now I was set on getting my hands on it. I ended up getting a copy at a Barnes & Nobles where I read the first 20 pages & grew attached to the MC Tanjiro. More thoughts to come, I may just review this manga in batches as I go through the volumes which I predict will happen rather quickly 🙂

Gentefied (Season 1) was mentioned to me by Jessica a Bookstagrammer (Litnoob) I enjoy watching for their stories & in depth bookish thoughts. Gentefied is about three cousins with many differences who come together to save their grandfather’s taco shop (YUM!) which is struggling in a LATINX community faced with gentrification. I was looking for my next Netflix binge & am so very thankful for this recc! ❤


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Waiting On Wednesday

Devils & Thieves (Devils & Thieves #1) by Jennifer Rush

Publisher: Little Brown Books

Publication Date: October 3rd, 2017

Genre: YA Urban Fantasy

Pages: 336 pages

*click on cover for Goodreads

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event that is hosted by Jill at @Breaking The Spine, which spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

 thrilling new urban fantasy filled with magic and motorcycle gangs from Jennifer Rush, author of the Altered saga–perfect for fans of Beautiful Creatures.

Eighteen-year-old Jemmie Carmichael has grown up surrounded by magic in the quiet town of Hawthorne, New York. In her world, magic users are called “kindled,” and Jemmie would count herself among them if only she could cast a simple spell without completely falling apart. It doesn’t help that she was also recently snubbed by Crowe, the dangerous and enigmatic leader of the Black Devils kindled motorcycle gang and the unofficial head of their turf.

When the entire kindled community rolls into Hawthorne for an annual festival, a rumor begins spreading that someone is practicing forbidden magic. Then people start to go missing. With threats closing in from every side, no one can be trusted. Jemmie and Crowe will have to put aside their tumultuous history to find their loved ones, and the only thing that might save them is the very flaw that keeps Jemmie from fully harnessing her magic. For all her years of feeling useless, Jemmie may just be the most powerful kindled of all.

No idea how Devils & Thieves managed to slip from under my radar but it did & so now I sit and wait til release day lol. A motorcycle crew that just so happen to wield magic? YES PLEASE! Set in a quiet New York town? aka my home city? YES PLEASE! threat of forbidden magic aka black magic? MHMMM, I’LL TAKE THAT! a main protagonist with untapped/unknown magic of her own? MY KRYPTONITE! As a big fan of the AMC tv series Sons of Anarchy, this book is practically shouting for me to read it & I shall heed the call 😉

Honestly, they had me atthrilling new urban fantasy filled with magic and motorcycle gangs”  I’m hoping to love this 1st installment because I’ve been missing Sons of Anarchy something bad & the thought of those guys having magic at their disposal is a scary yet humorous thought. I’d welcome this new series (if I enjoy the 1st book) to fill the void SOA left in my little ❤ 😉

Any readers out there who have read Jennifer’s Altered series? I’m curious about her writing style & very excited to read Devils & Thieves *insert excited emoji*