Spoiler Free Review: Witches Steeped in Gold by Ciannon Smart

51813582Title: Witches Steeped in Gold

Author: Ciannon Smart

Pub. Date: April 20th 2021

Genre: YA Fantasy

Format: eGalley

Publisher: Harper Teen

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🖤

The 411..

This Jamaican-inspired Young Adult Fantasy follows two enemy witches who must form an alliance in order to take down the Queen. The Obeah ruling family (Iraya’s people/natural born magic) has been killed and their people enslaved by the Alumbrar (Jazmyne’s people/Use of magic via Conduits.)  Jazmyne happens to be the Queen’s daughter, only she doesn’t agree with how the Queen rules the people and hopes to overthrow her and take up the throne. Jazmyne is active in a rebel group plotting to eliminate the Queen when she hears of Iraya having survived her parents assasination. The last remaining heir of the previous ruling family, Iraya is a witch who was born with natural powers. See, in this world there are two ways to come about magic and that’s either through conduits to syphon it OR you’re naturally born with it. We first meet Iraya at the start of this story as she sits in jail plotting her vengeance on the Alumbrar Queen and whoever else played a part in killing her loved ones. Jazmyne plans to utilize Iraya to kill her mother, Iraya plans to allow herself to be used whilst carrying out a plan of her own. 

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I’ll preface my thoughts by saying that I am not an Own Voices reviewer for this story however I do encourage you seek them out. Joel from FictionalFates on Booktube gave it a 5 star rating and is an Own Voice reviewer for the Jamaican representation. I gave this a 3 star rating which means I enjoyed many aspects however there were a few things I wish had been ironed out. The world building is where I struggled quite a bit and that isn’t because of its complexity, I love my Fantasy to be meaty and in depth. However, the first half of this book doles out a ton of information and I felt it threw off the pacing. I’ll admit to even being confused for about 40% of the story while trying to take notes. The magic system is very interesting considering magic is attainable through other means if you’re not born with it.  We don’t really get to see them in action much since the Obeah’s abilities are being surpressed by the Alumbrar. Some of the history that lead to the suppression of Obeah magic doesn’t get explained till much later in the story. Also, the Obeah aren’t the only people seeking to overthrow the Queen so there are a few power pieces on the board closing in on her that I would’ve liked to see more of. There’s a ton of plotting, scheming and double dealing which I happen to love in my Fantasy reads. There are characters who have good intentions but end up losing themselves along the way, I did enjoy Iraya’s POV more than Jazmyne. However, by the end of the story Jazmyne managed to get my attention back as I wondered what fate awaits her. All in all, I’m looking forward to the sequel and seeing if these characters can coexist.


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Spoiler Free Review: Down Comes the Night by Allison Saft

Title: Down Comes the Night

Author: Allison Saft

Pub. Date: March 2nd 2021

Genre:YA Fantasy/Queer

Format: eGalley

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Pages: 400 pages

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

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

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

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

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

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


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March 2021 Anticipated New Releases

March, when the weather starts to change up here in NYC and the book releases start to double! One day I’m layering up at home and the next I’m sporting beach wear *queue the random snow flurries* Ordinarily this is also the time of the year when I’d go find a cozy cafe to go sit and read. Instead, I’ve taken to substituting reading on my commute and in cafes for a favorite room in my apartment paired with Tik Tok recipes of lattes. As for my favorite room? it’s a coin toss between the tub (bath bomb + wine are invited of course) OR a spot on the couch along with my fuzziest blanket and tea. Audiobooks is where I change things up a bit since I cannot sit still while listening to a book, my attention will go everywhere else. I really enjoy listening to a book while cooking, doing laundry or working out. Currently I’m finishing up Down Comes The Night by Allison Saft and I feel almost like I have too many books I want to read next smh, stay tuned for a Friday Reads post this week <3’s!

 What are you Lovely Book Lovers highly anticipating? I read across most genres, I say most because I’ve yet to venture into Historical Romance but I’m getting there *grin & nod* SO drop those I may have missed down below. Tackling my Possibility Pile is about to get a whole lot bigger and more innnnneresting with the titles listed below hitting shelves this month…


YA fantasy/SCI-FI/Middle grade/Contemporary

LOST IN THE NEVER WOODS BY AIDEN THOMAS – 3/23 Aiden Thomas is releasing the first book he wrote prior to Cemetery Boys & I’m here for it! this is a Queer Peter Pan retelling about grief and after loving Cemetery Boys so much, I have zero doubts Thomas will deliver another 5 star!

A TRIAL OF SORCERERS BY ELISE KOVA – 3/4 I shamefully own some of Kova’s books but have yet to read them SMH, this author is known for scoring such STUNNING covers! This is the start of a new YA Fantasy series that I’ve heard may actually take place in the same world as the Air Awakens series but can be read on its own.  Described as a “tale of competition, coming of age, distant lands, elemental magic, and romance. It’s perfect for fans of the Legend of Korra, Truthwitch, and A Sorcery of Thorns.”

NAMESAKE (FABLE #2) BY ADRIENNE YOUNG – 3/16 The sequel to Fable (my review) , a duology following a female Pirate on a quest to find the father who abandoned her. There’s a crew and a high seas adventure, treachery and what could possibly be the beginning of a romance? I’m curious enough to want to find out! also, Young has a real talent for writing familial connections that leave you all in your feelings. If you love a good audiobook, the narrator Emma Lyssy NAILED the performance on Fable and is back again for Namesake. 

CHAIN OF IRON (THE LAST HOURS #2) BY CASSANDRA CLARE – 3/2 I have nothing to say other than I’m a slacker AND all I can do is watch from the sidelines as everyone gets to read this book! I have yet to start Lady Midnight but that’s where I left off with the shadowhunters so yes it’s absolutely on my to-do list this year. If only to justify buying a copy of this beauty *sobs* 

THE MIRROR SEASON BY ANNA MARIE-MCLEMORE – 3/16 Here in this corner of the interwebz we stan Anna Marie-McLemore, they are an auto-buy author for me and I already have a copy of this book arriving tomorrow. We have a MC who goes to a party and is the victim of assault along with a boy she barely knows. This causes her to lose her gift for making enchanted pan dulce. The neighborhood itself starts to mysteriously change and the boy who was assaulted with her shows up at her school with no recollection of the night they were both harmed. She then decides that in order to protect him she must hide the truth from him. THIS is going to break me! I just know it.

FIRE KEEPER’S DAUGHTER BY ANGELINE BOULLEY – 3/16 A debut that has been making its rounds on the gram and the blogs & was selected for Reese’s Book Club. A mystery/thriller that follows a young bi-racial MC as she investigates a string of crimes plaguing her community using her knowledge of chemistry and traditional medicine. This is one that’s going to be heavy in its subject matter, readers should seek out content warnings. I pre-ordered my physical copy and also was granted access to a complimentary copy from Libro.fm, I will absolutely be reviewing here on the blog.

RULE OF WOLVES (KING OF SCARS #2) BY LEIGH BARDUGO -3/30 I’m still not sure where I stand with this title as far as excitement goes. King of Scars which I did not really enjoy…so much so I didn’t even review it. If I’m being quite honest, it’s the excitement of the Grishaverse coming to Netflix that has me considering picking up a copy of this sequel. I am however here for more Nina Zenik AKA The Queen of Mourning!

DOWN COMES THE NIGHT BY ALLISON SAFT – 3/2 a Gothic Paranormal Romance (My current read) set during a time of turmoil and war. We have a bisexual MC who has magic in her blood, she’s a healer for her country’s military but she lacks the favor of her aunt the Queen. Dismissed from the Queen’s Gaurd and out of options to redeem herself, she accepts an invitation  to Colwick Hall to cure a servant from a mysterious illness. The mansion feels haunted with its closed off and crumbling wings and the host is eccentric and restricting. This also reads as a mystery as our MC sets out to uncover what nefarious dealings are afoot.

BRIDGE OF SOULS (CASSIDY BLAKE #) BY VICTORIA SCHWAB3/2 A middle grade series I haven’t started yet BUT the fact that it’s set in New Orleans with a MC who is a Ghost Hunter makes it a MUST read!

ONCE UPON A QUINCEÑERA BY MONICA GOMEZ-HIRA -3/2 Described as “Jenny Han meets Jane the Virgin” *Gasp* a YA Latinx Contemporary with a MC who is stuck spending her summer in an unpaid internship where she must wear a ballgown and perform. When her company gets hired to work her cousins Quinceñera and she’s paired off with her ex as a dance partner, things get complicated. She wants nothing more than to leave her past in the past, hoping it’s as fun as it sounds haha!


Adult Fantasy & SCI-FI

THE UNBROKEN BY C.L. CLARK – 3/23 Queer Sci-Fi Fantasy with a MC whow was stolen as a child and then raised to kill and die for the empire. When her company is sent back home to stop a rebellion she has to decide where her loyalties lie. We get a romance between our MC Touraine and Luca who is determined to get her uncle off the throne …that sounds so bad a**!!! HIGH hopes this will be a favorite of 2021 *fingers crossed* 

THE BONE MAKER BY SARAH BETH DURST – 3/9 “Five warriors—one broken, one gone soft, one pursuing a simple life, one stuck in the past, and one who should be dead. Their story should have been finished. But evil doesn’t stop just because someone once said, “the end.” THIS standalone Fantasy has all the makings of a EPIC read! we get heroes who fought and lost their lives to defeat a evil bone maker 25 years ago…possibly come back from the dead?!? IT GETS NO BETTER THAN THAT AMIRGHT?


Adult Fiction & Romance

THE LOST APOTHECARY BY SARAH PENCER – 3/2 “A female apothecary secretly dispenses poisons to liberate women from the men who have wronged them—setting three lives across centuries on a dangerous collision course. Rule #1: The poison must never be used to harm another woman. Rule #2: The names of the murderer and her victim must be recorded in the apothecary’s register.” Excited to see this one as a Book of the Month March pick, I’m a sucker for Historical Fiction set in London and this one just sounds right up my alley. 

THE FINAL REVIVAL OF OPAL & NEV BY DAWNIE WALTON – 3/30 “A poignant fictional oral history of the beloved rock ‘n’ roll duo who shot to fame in the 1970s New York, and the dark, fraught secret that lies at the peak of their stardom.” Another Book of the Month March selection I was looking forward to especially after hearing it’s written in the same oral format as Daisy Jones and the Six!!! a girl can only dream *heart eyes*

ACT YOUR AGE, EVE BROWN BY TALIA HIBBERT – 3/9 (My reviewThe third and final book in The Brown Sisters trilogy & I LOVED IT! I was granted access to a eGalley from the publisher which made my January all the better. This is Eve’s story, the youngest of the Browns who has been adrift when it comes to settling down whether it be career or relationships. Her parents put their foot down and cut off her access to her trust fund until she can show them she can adult. This leads her to working as a chef at a B&B and we get a close proximity hate-to-love romance with Jacob, an autistic man with a curmudgeon like personality. Be still my heart! ❤

THE SONG BOOK OF BENNY LAMENT BY AMY HARMON – 3/16 Historical Fiction set in 1960’s featuring a MC who plays the piano and writes songs, his father is also deeply connected to the mob. When his father introduces him to a singer with a powerhouse voice, they become an unstoppable duo both on and off the stage. This is also a romance between an interracial couple that spotlights a lot of the issues black people were experiencing during the 60’s in NYC. My copy arrives tomorrow & I have already planned to squeeze it into my March reading.

WILD WOMEN AND THE BLUES BY DENNY S. BRYCE – 3/30 In a stirring and impeccably researched novel of Jazz-age Chicago in all its vibrant life, two stories intertwine nearly a hundred years apart, as a chorus girl and a film student deal with loss, forgiveness, and love…in all its joy, sadness, and imperfections.” Not a book set in 1920’s Chicago! *arms extended* saved the best for last here because I’ve truly been counting down the days for this one. I read the Goodreads synopsis after seeing this stunning cover pop up in a magazine ad and I got such Evelyn Hugo vibes which only got me more stoked. High hopes. High hopes. 


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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: The Project by Courtney Summers

Title: The Project

Author: Courtney Summers

Pub. Date: February 2nd 2021

Genre: Young Adult Thriller

Format: eGalley

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Pages: 352 Pages

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE | AMAZON

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

“𝑊ℎ𝑜𝑒𝑣𝑒𝑟 𝑤𝑖𝑙𝑙 𝑙𝑜𝑠𝑒 ℎ𝑖𝑠 𝑙𝑖𝑓𝑒 𝑓𝑜𝑟 𝑚𝑦 𝑠𝑎𝑘𝑒 𝑤𝑖𝑙𝑙 𝑓𝑖𝑛𝑑 𝑖𝑡“

𝑇ℎ𝑒 𝑃𝑟𝑜𝑗𝑒𝑐𝑡 𝑏𝑦 𝐶𝑜𝑢𝑟𝑡𝑛𝑒𝑦 𝑆𝑢𝑚𝑚𝑒𝑟𝑠 is the story of two sisters who experience the tragic death of their parents in a car accident at a very early age. Lo almost lost her life alongside her parents that same night. Her sister Bea was left praying for a miracle when a mysterious man presents himself to her at the hospital. Bea believes him to have healed her sister and so she decides to follow him back to the Unity Project, cutting off ties with her loved ones as is required from all of their members. The Unity Project is widely known and loved in most of the Upstate New York region for its charitable endeavors and shelters they’ve opened for women and children. Years pass by and Lo goes in search of her sister, she isn’t convinced the Unity Project is all that it portrays. When a man accuses the Project of killing his son, Lo takes that and runs with it determined to get her sister back. The Project is a medium paced character driven story that chronicles the inner workings of a cult from recruitment to the inception of its members and later the psychological effects on those who have left the cult.

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. Is it suitable for Young Adult readers? I believe it to be if viewed as a cautionary tale of sorts since cults do exist and many fall victim because they lack the knowledge on how they work. It is a very emotionally heavy read that does a fine job of tackling tougher topics such as religion, faith and those in positions of power within religious groups. This absolutely reads on the more mature end of the Young Adult scale with its dark tones in manipulation and abuse. Personally, I couldn’t stop reading this book and I’m glad I have a copy of Sadie by this author to hold me over until their next published book. There are a slew of content warnings that I encourage you to review, I’m adding those provided by the lovely Melanie from Meltotheany down below:

Content and Trigger Warnings: abandonment, loss of loved ones, sleep paralysis, grief, depression, panic attacks, hospitalization, talk of death of child in past, physical abuse, torture, emotional abuse, manipulation, gaslighting, blood depiction, complications with childbirth, murder, child abuse, captivity, and cults.


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Spoiler Free Review: Reaper of Souls by Rena Barron

Title: Reaper of Souls

(Kingdom of Souls #2)

Author: Rena Barron

Pub. Date: February 18th 2021

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Format: eGalley/ARC

Publisher: HarperTeen

Pages: 448 pages

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE | AMAZON

“𝐼 𝑤𝑖𝑙𝑙 𝑠𝑡𝑎𝑟𝑡 𝑚𝑦 𝑠𝑡𝑜𝑟𝑦 𝑎𝑡 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑏𝑒𝑔𝑖𝑛𝑛𝑖𝑛𝑔, 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑚𝑖𝑑𝑑𝑙𝑒, 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑒𝑛𝑑. 𝐹𝑜𝑟 𝐼 ℎ𝑎𝑣𝑒 𝑙𝑖𝑣𝑒𝑑 𝑎 𝑡ℎ𝑜𝑢𝑠𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑙𝑖𝑣𝑒𝑠 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑑𝑖𝑒𝑑 𝑎 𝑡ℎ𝑜𝑢𝑠𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑑𝑒𝑎𝑡ℎ𝑠, 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑒𝑣𝑒𝑟𝑦 𝑡𝑖𝑚𝑒 𝐼 𝑑𝑖𝑑, 𝐼 𝑟𝑒𝑙𝑖𝑣𝑒 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑠𝑎𝑚𝑒 𝑚𝑒𝑚𝑜𝑟𝑦.“

Reaper of Souls was one of my MOST highly anticipated sequels to look forward to in 2021 and I can honestly say it was worth the wait. Kingdom of Souls (My Review) introduced us to Arrah who comes from a powerful family of witch doctors but for some reason hasn’t come into her own powers. After the catastrophic events we left off in Kingdom Of Souls, Arrah finally has the gift of magic but it came about in a terrible way. Returning from exile, we see Arrah go after those who have taken her people from their tribal lands. What she soon discovers is that this is a war between the Orishas and their demon children and caught in the middle are mortals. The Character development alone was phenomenal & the world building/magic system is very richly woven and inspired by folk magic. Arrah is discovering along the way the many secrets she unknowingly carries within. A deeper connection to it all. A sort of forbidden love. A choice to make. The inevitability of it all.

Rena Barron has delivered such a rich and beautifully written Fantasy where the lives of our key characters are constantly haunted by the mistakes and transgressions of their parents and ancestors. Will they choose to repeat those mistakes OR course correct for the good of their people? This story is told in multi-POV format between Arrah, Rudjeck and a third entity that for spoiler free reasons I won’t disclose. If you love character driven stories that are more slower paced with a big reward at the end, then this is absolutely a trilogy worth giving a go. Seeing as it had been some time since I had read Kingdom of Souls I would’ve loved it if there had been a Legend/Key at the very start. There are a handful of Orishas and their history is fleshed out in the first book but this follow-up goes even deeper into their history and conflicts with one another. Pacing can seem a bit off at times but I chucked that off to Arrah’s own personal journey to self realization which in my opinion was done perfectly! If you’re expecting NOT to be left reaching for more after this book, you are sadly mistaken! I cannot wait for the conclusion to this fantasy/love story💜


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February 2021 Anticipated New Releases

Who thought February was going to be a slow publication month? THIS Gal right here! It took me by surprise when I looked at my Notes app and realized I had 22 titles listed for this month and that’s not including any of the BIG hyped up releases (lookin’ at you SJM) but I wanted to spotlight those many may have not heard about. As always, I scout out as many of the BIPOC books hitting the shelves in hopes you too will be as stoked as I am to read these new stories. Yesterday I actually finished reading one of the books on this list (The Project by Courtney Summers) and your girl is still shooketh! I also just received my copy of Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers in the mail from Book of the Month & will be squeezing it into my February “Possible Reads” If you make it to the end of this post, drop some love in the comment box. What new releases are you MOST excited for? any that aren’t listed here? Curious Bookworm here 😉


YA & SCI-FI

MUSE BY BRITTANY CAVALLARO (2/2) – YA Historical set in 1893 during the World’s Fair, we follow Claire who is the daughter of a famous genius inventor. Her father believes that her touch is what has granted him this gift and plans to use her as St. Cloud prepares for war however, Claire plans to claim her life for herself.

WHAT BIG TEETH BY  ROSE SZABO (2/2) – YA Horror/Paranormal pitched as perfect for fans of Wilder Girls this follows Eleanor who has been estranged from her wild family for some years. When an incident takes place at her boarding school she is forced to return home where she struggles to fit in with her monstrous family.

DARK AND HOLLOW STAR BY ASHLEY SHUTTLEWORTH (2/23) – YA Fantasy pitched as The Cruel Prince meets City of Bones, an Urban Fantasy set in the magical world of Toronto. We follow a queer cast of characters racing to stop a serial killer whose crimes threaten to expose the Faerie world to humans. THAT COVER!!! I’m glad this is one I know for sure will be in one of the book boxes I subscribe to *books shimmy*

ALL THE TIDES OF FATE (ALL THE STARS AND TEETH #2) BY ADALYN GRACE (2/2) – This is the sequel to All the Stars and Teeth (My Review) which was one of my favorite YA Fantasy books in 2020 & had I been able to come up with 20 faves in 2020, it would’ve certainly made the cut! Mermaids, Pirates, curses and a bad a** female heroin who trying to protect her Queendom. Amora is the unlikeable character I absolutely wanted more of, STOKED to pick this one up!

THE GILDED ONES (DEATHLESS #1) BY NAMINA FORNA (2/9) – West African inspired YA Fantasy, we follow a 16 year old MC who prays her blood will run red on the day of her ceremony. When it runs gold (the color of impurity) she must decide whether to stay in her village & live through the consequences or leave and join the emperors army of girls just like her. Near immortals with rare gifts who are the only ones able to stop the threat to the empire.

YESTERDAY IS HISTORY BY KOSOKO JACKSON (2/2) – I heard time travel featuring a m/m romance and decided that was all I needed to know! we have a MC who receives a liver transplant and before he knows it, is time traveling between present day Boston and 1969 where he meets his love interest. The family of the donor explains that time travel is a gift attached to the liver! Can anyone say ORIGINAL?!?! Hella intrigued!

REAPER OF SOULS (KINGDOM OF SOULS #2) BY RENA BARRON (2/18) – I have a non-spoilery review coming later this week but gahhH! if like me you loved Kingdom of Souls then this is an absolute MUST! it’s beautifully written with even more in depth unraveling of the Gods. This was an emotional rollercoaster with many twists and turns, slow to start but when it takes off there’s no getting off the ride!


YA CONTEMPORARY

LOVE IS A REVOLUTION BY RENÉE WATSON (2/2) – STOKED! a story where our female plus size black MC finds self love! Yes she does so while sorting out some lies she told her love interest who is an activist but STILL, we do NOT have enough or any self-love stories in YA. I’m READY!

FAT CHANCE, CHARLIE VEGA BY CRYSTAL MALDONADO (2/2) – Keeping on with the self-love reads, this a Latinx coming of age story where we follow a brown skinned fat MC who is done having to fit into the image everyone else has for her. Her BFF is the only one who fully accepts her for who she is but things get complicated when Charlie gets asked out by cutie in class Brian. The problem being that Brian asked Charlie’s BFF out first which now brings forth so many questions.

THE INITIAL INSULT BY MINDY MCGINIS (2/23) – First, let it be known I’ll read anything by Mindy Mcginnis! but to be blessed with a Duology is a real treat and to have it be inspired by Edgar Allen Poe? are we even worthy?!? Set in Ohio this one follows Tress & Felicity whose paths are bound to cross and it all is linked back to the disappearance of Tress Montor’s parents. Told in alternating POV’s this dark thriller sets the stage for an unraveling of a friendship that I’m sure I’ll be left reeling from.

THE PROJECT BY COURTNEY SUMMERS (2/2) – I was very lucky to have received a eGalley of this highly anticipated new book by the author of Sadie. HAUNTING AF Bookworms! SMH I have a full review coming over the next few days with a massive amount of content warnings. I haven’t read Sadie yet but after reading this book, I will absolutely read anything by Summers. If you’re interested in Cults & their inner workings as well as the emotional toll many people experience while being indoctrinated then this is a solid read. I gave it 5 stars but will save my thoughts for my review 😉

A PHO LOVE STORY BY LOAN LE (2/9) – The minute I saw this cover I thought about Tweet Cute which I adored! and then I read the synopsis & it was a no brainer, I NEED this book in my life! Really just pass along any baking/Foodie books because they offer up so much comfort. Here we have two MC’s who are complete opposites as they both work in their families respective Pho restaurants. “For years, the Mais and the Nguyens have been at odds, having owned competing, neighboring pho restaurants. Bao and Linh, who’ve avoided each other for most of their lives, both suspect that the feud stems from feelings much deeper than friendly competition.” THIS!


CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE & FICTION

IT’S BEEN A PLEASURE, NONI BLAKE (2/23) – “Of all the women and men Noni Blake has pleased in her life, there’s one she’s often overlooked–herself. After the end of a decade-long relationship, Noni decides it’s time for that to change. She’s finally going to prioritize her wants and desires and only do things (and people) that feel good in the moment.” – This bit right here had me stop dead in my tracks! Having personally seen myself embark on a similar journey, this is one I had to add to my TBR. A 30 something year old woman who sees herself starting over while traveling around the world. This promises to be hilarious and relatable, sign me up!

FIRST COMES LIKE (MODERN LOVE #3) BY ALISHA RAI – This is here solely because I’ve just started reading The Right Swipe and can already tell I’ll definitely be binge reading this series in 2021. This one promises a Catfishing story between our love interests & I’m a sucker for a good love story over the interwebZ haha! Beauty Influencer meets Bollywood Soap Opera Star…BUT WAIT! he doesn’t know who she is or rather who would use his name to woo her over the net!

MAKE UP BREAK UP BY LILY MENON (2/2) – Second chance romance trope?!?! YES PLEASE! a Las Vegas fling between two dating app developers that ends up turning into a competitive race to win a contest that if won can keep their apps afloat. “Love, romance, second chances, fairy-tale endings…these are the things Annika Dev believes in. Her app, Make Up, has been called the “Google Translate for failing relationships.”High efficiency break-ups, flashy start-ups, penthouses, fast cars…these are the things Hudson Craft believes in. His app, Break Up, is known as the “Uber for break-ups.”

SERENA SINGH FLIPS THE SCRIPT BY SONYA LALLI (2/16) – A story about an independent strong woman who is trying to prove to her family and many aunties that domestic bliss is not needed in order to have a happy life. We follow Serena who works at a firm in DC as she navigates friendships and reconnecting with family & even her ex-boyfriend while also trying to hold onto her own self-reliance.

HONEY GIRL BY MORGAN ROGERS (2/23) – I’m MOST Stoked for this new release and have since adjusted my expectations to understand that this is NOT a Romance. It’s more of a late coming-of age story set in NYC after our MC impulsively marries another girl while on a girls trip to Vegas. I will MOST likely be reading this book this month cause the anticipation is KILLIN me!


ADULT FANTASY & SCI-FI

WINTER’S ORBIT BY EVERINA MAXWELL (2/2) – A SCI-FI Romance featuring A M/M romance between Royals marketed for fans of Red White and Royal Blue. Early reviews have this one described as more of a Romance set against a Sci-Fi back drop which is something to keep in mind if you’re looking at this as more of a Sci-Fi focused book cause that it is not. I just got my copy from Illumicrate & can’t wait to dive in!

THE WITCH’S HEART BY GENEVIEVE GORNICHEC (2/9) – Norse Mythology I HAVE MISSED YOU! this one is pitched for fans of Madeline Miller’s Circe which I’ve shamefully NOT yet read. We follow a Giantess who falls in love with the legendary trickster Loki and conceives three “unusual children” each with a. secret destiny. Since I scored a eGalley for this one I will be powering through this one later this week with a full RTC 😉

FIREHEART TIGER BY ALIETTE DE BODARD (2/9) – A Sapphic Novella (by Tor!) pitched as “The Goblin Emperor meets Howl’s Moving Castle” Mhmm! need I say more?!? I’m READY!

THE BLACK COAST (THE GOD-KING CHRONICLES #1)  BY MIKE BROOKS (2/18) – A new EPIC Fantasy series that promises War Dragons! This is a story about two different cultures who have to come together to maintain peace. This is a multiple POV Fantasy featuring queer characters and conversation on gender roles and sexuality. This is one I have high on my TBR.

THE ECHO WIFE BY SARAH GAILEY (2/16) – Pitched for fans of Big Little Lies? why, yes! Yes I am said fan *arms extended* Martine is a genetically cloned replica made from Evelyn Caldwell’s award-winning research. She’s patient and gentle and obedient. She’s everything Evelyn swore she’d never be. And she’s having an affair with Evelyn’s husband. Now, the cheating bastard is dead, and the Caldwell wives have a mess to clean up. Good thing Evelyn Caldwell is used to getting her hands dirty. ” This honestly sounds like it would also make for a dope book to movie adaptation.


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WWW WEDNESDAYS 2/3/2021

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?

Day 3 of a snowy wintry setting in NYC and although I’m working from home, I’m still feeling that cold air in my apartment. Cozy socks & coffee are on, my window blinds are open while I watch the neighborhood help each other dig their cars out of the snow. I also have an ongoing list of “Possible Reads” cause who am I kidding with TBR’s at this point? absolutely no one smh. February is Black History Month however if you’ve been following my blog and/or my Bookstagram for some time now, then you know I read books by BIPOC authors all year long (as one should) and promote their works. I didn’t join any of the Readathons this year since reading has been touch & go for me while I juggle life and physical fitness but my intention is to amp up my reading this month. In case you’re interested in any of these Readathons (run by some of the MOST down to earth people!) I’ll bless ya with the links here:

Black Author Readathon (Check out Steps Romance Book Talk announcement Video)

Blackathon (Check out Jesse @BowtiesandBooks announcement video)

Black buck by mateo askaripour

I’m 30% into this audiobook from Libro.fm and I’ve already had some “the audacity” moments! this 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 1 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. 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.

the project by courtney summers

I actually had started my eGalley before getting swept up in Black Buck so it’s on a slight pause for now. I’m sure when I do pick it back up I will breeze right through it since it’s based on cults and YA Thriller/Suspense novels tend to be inhale reads for me. I’ve never read anything by Courtney Summers but I do own the Sadie audiobook I shamefully have procrastinated on starting SMH! Hopefully it’s as good as many of my bookish friends are anticipating it to be *fingers crossed*

winter counts by david heska wanbli weiden

Also a audiobook from Libro.fm that is fantastically narrated! I finished listening to this one on Sunday morning and immediately 5 starred it on Goodreads & Story Graph. Set on an Indian Reservation in South Dakota, we follow Virgil Wounded Horse a biracial Lakota local enforcer who is hired to take care of criminals when the tribal council & American legal system look the other way. Things hit close to home when his 14 year old nephew gets swept up in the middle of cartel drug wars. Virgil must find a way to get him out and get rid of these bad guys who are selling heroine & hard pills to the youth on the reservation. This was a DARK challenging read at times that is mostly character driven. I have a full review coming here on the blog next week but also have a post up on Bookstagram.

Continuing on with my list of “Possible Reads” pretty much makes any of these three a contender for my next read. However, I will definitely be starting The First Sister by Linden A. Lewis next week since it is a buddy read with Melanie over @Meltotheany that I’m really looking forward to. Chances are this may change mid week since I have a couple of library holds that are looking mighty close to coming through…I’m looking at you The Right Swipe & Ring Shout cause y’all are about to throw a wrench in my reading plans haha!


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Spoiler Free Review: Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas

Title: Concrete Rose (The Hate U Give #0)

Author: Angie Thomas

Pub. Date: January 12th 2021

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary

Format: Audiobook

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Pages: 360 pages

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE | AMAZON | LIBRO.FM (MY REFERRAL LINK)

In 2017 Angie Thomas introduced us to Maverick Carter in The Hate U Give as the father of Star, Seven & Sekani Carter. In Concrete Rose we get Mavericks story on his upbringing, young adult life, and the circumstances that eventually led to him becoming a father of two at the age of 17. This was a fast paced character driven emotionally charged story. Maverick is in High School when we meet him, he’s living with his mother and his father is incarcerated. Watching his mother hold down a job to put food on the table, Maverick joins the King Lords. The same gang his father belongs to and has gained much notoriety in. This is how Maverick goes about bringing a second stream of income while being a student. Things get further complicated when a girl he slept with turns out to be pregnant with his first born. Maverick must decide whether he will continue to live life earning money on the streets seeking drugs or take an out that is being offered to him. An opportunity to get his life back on track and provide for his three month old son Seven. Working in the neighborhood store/garden, going to school and selling drugs while being a father is more than what maverick can handle. Something has to go.

We see Maverick’s internal struggle with the loyalty he feels to King, the friend who brought him into the street gang & leaving it all behind. We also see him come into his own as a young single father who has to juggle his responsibilities. I LIVED for the nurturing moments he has with his baby boy Seven. Even while feeling overwhelmed and as if he wasn’t cut out for parenthood, he never gives up on trying to get it right. Concrete Rose advocates for young black men, we simply do NOT have many (If any) books on our shelves with this representation. In many ways Maverick is healing generational trauma by choosing a different path even if it is by way of tough love from his Mom. Maverick’s mother is a beacon of light in the storm. She isn’t going to do the work of raising Seven but she’s going to make sure Maverick aka her baby, knows she’s there for support. I ABSOLUTELY LOVED to see the bond between mother and son! He may trip up a few times but his mother never gives up on him. It wasn’t an easy journey to the Maverick we meet as Star’s father, but just like Star he knows what it’s like to get caught in the middle of two worlds. If you’ve read The Hate U Give and/or watched the movie, I feel this book gives some much needed insight on the Carter family.


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Spoiler Free Review: Wings of Ebony by J. Elle

Title: Wings of Ebony

Author: J. Elle

Pub. Date: January 26th 2021

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Format: eGalley

Publisher: Simon Schuster Books

Pages: 368 pages

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE | AMAZON

🖤eGalley provided by Publisher in exchange for an honest review, all quotes come from an advance copy and may not match the final release🖤“𝐼𝑡’𝑠 𝑛𝑜𝑡 𝑗𝑢𝑠𝑡 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑏𝑢𝑧𝑧𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑚𝑎𝑔𝑖𝑐𝑎𝑙 𝑒𝑛𝑒𝑟𝑔𝑦 𝑝𝑢𝑚𝑝𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑡ℎ𝑟𝑜𝑢𝑔ℎ 𝑡ℎ𝑖𝑠 𝑝𝑙𝑎𝑐𝑒 𝑙𝑖𝑘𝑒 𝑒𝑙𝑒𝑐𝑡𝑟𝑖𝑐𝑖𝑡𝑦. 𝐼𝑡’𝑠 𝑛𝑜𝑡 𝑗𝑢𝑠𝑡 𝑡ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝑛𝑜 𝑜𝑛𝑒 ℎ𝑒𝑟𝑒 𝑙𝑜𝑜𝑘𝑠 𝑙𝑖𝑘𝑒 𝑚𝑒 – 𝑏𝑢𝑡 ℎ𝑖𝑚. 𝐼𝑡’𝑠 𝑡ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝑡ℎ𝑖𝑠 𝑖𝑠 𝑛𝑜𝑡 𝑚𝑦 ℎ𝑜𝑚𝑒. 𝑇ℎ𝑒𝑠𝑒 𝑎𝑖𝑛𝑡 𝑚𝑦 𝑝𝑒𝑜𝑝𝑙𝑒.”

Wings of Ebony is a debut YA Fantasy set between the mortal world in Houston and the magical world of Ghizon. Our MC Rue has just witnessed her mother’s murder when a father she never knew comes to take her away. Rue is a Demigod. Her sister Tasha who has a different father, is not. Separated from her sister & the only home she’s known, Rue must adapt in Ghizon. She has a whole lot of bottled up emotions and she’s done holding back. On the one year anniversary of her mother’s death she breaks Ghizon law by returning to Houston to see her sister. She finds that her sister & other black & POC kids from the neighborhood have unwillingly been roped into street crime & violence. This book tackled some hard hitting issues affecting inner city youth, specifically black & POC families. Kids whose parents work long hours to survive while the neighborhood looks after one another. “It takes a village to raise a child” is a quote that comes to mind when reading Wings of Ebony and Rue loves her village. She’s angry at how the youth are portrayed whenever the news covers a shooting, and at how cops turn the other way. I was rooting for Rue, Tasha & all the neighborhood kids to take back their home. Rue is a no nonsense straight shooter who is loyal to her roots, she’s unapologetically going to take back what was once taken from her and for that alone, she is a stand-out memorable kick a** MC!

Wings of Ebony will absolutely appeal to fans of Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give and Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone, written in a raw authentic voice that invokes a range of emotions. J. Elle puts a spotlight on the issues plaguing black and brown communities in cities like Houston. Families that are forced to make a choice between staying home to watch the kids or put food on the table. The concept of the neighborhood’s older grandmothers watching over the youth is a very real one that I for one can relate to having been raised by two working parents with no child care. The frustration Rue feels, her mixed feelings when it comes to asking for help from the cops is as real as it gets. I felt the author captured what inner city life looks like for a lot of working families in these neighborhoods.

This story however takes place between two worlds, it’s a Fantasy set in Ghizon AND Houston. Here is where I felt the story took some hits, the pacing was off and so the time we actually spend in Ghizon is limited. I would’ve gladly read this book if it were 500 pages if it meant that Ghizon were more fleshed out and the magic system better explained. Things take a  turn around the 65% mark for the better but by then I did feel we were rushing towards a conclusion. We get introduced to a love interest in the midst of a revolution which I personally could’ve done without OR seen it introduced in the next book. I also wish the relationship between Rue and her father was better explored, it’s understandable she has a TON of mixed emotions towards him…we just don’t see enough father/daughter relationships in books. Although I felt the Fantasy aspects of this book were a bit under developed, I honestly feel based off the last 40% that the follow up will build on what we’ve seen here. I did secure a finished copy from Barnes & Nobles which is offering bonus content I feel would be a shame to miss out on because they’re letters from Rue’s Dad & Book Lovers! I balled my eyes out!!! the letters also include some sketches that are pretty dope! 


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