SPOILER FREE REVIEW: PRIDE BY IBI ZOBOI

Title: Pride

Author: Ibi Zoboi

Pub. Date: September 18th. 2018

Genre: YA Contemporary/Re-telling

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/Harper

Pages: 304

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE | AMAZON

    

BUSHWICK BROOKLYN MURAL (Photo = link to source)

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

There’s so much good to say about Ibi Zoboi’s Pride and why it’s such a relevant read for readers living in New York City or any major city for that matter. This is a Pride & Prejudice re-telling of sorts or as Zoboi calls it, a ‘Remix’ 🖤 but at its heart it’s a story about one girls love for her neighborhood and the effects of Gentrification. We meet Zuri Benitez, a young Afro-Latina (Haitian-Dominican) who loves slam poetry and everything about Bushwick Brooklyn. Zuri lives with both her parents and three sisters on a city block where everyone knows everyone and they treat each other like family. Her mother nurtures her daughters and the neighbors through her cooking and block parties bring everyone together with food and music.

Things in the neighborhood start to shift when a abandoned house across the street from Zuri gets turned into a mini mansion. Zuri and her sisters watch as movers move in pieces of expensive furniture and artwork all the while wondering what kind of family would be occupying this mansion. Zuri is very protective of her neighborhood and the people who have roots there, meeting this new family has her apprehensive. The Darcy family moves in, mom + dad with their two handsome young black sons. Zuri’s sisters immediately introduce themselves but Zuri isn’t trying to be welcoming. For Zuri, this family moving in means a change in dynamics for her neighborhood. All around her are the remnants of gentrification, changes that have changed the landscape of her home. We follow Zuri and her sisters as they navigate college life, college applications, crushes on cute boys, and their identity within the community they were born and raised in as it transforms.

It wouldn’t be a Pride & Prejudice remix without the romance of course & that we do get with THE hate-to-love of all ages! 🖤 Zuri may not be acceptant of the Darcy family moving in but she’s also very aware of just how attractive Darius Darcy really is. It’s the pride for the neighborhood she grew up in that keeps her from seeing Darius and his family in a more positive light. Weaved in throughout Pride are themes of Socioeconomic diversity, race, stereotypes, and gentrification that are quite relevant & currently being talked about within many New York City communities.

Ibi Zoboi writes amazing, authentic three dimensional characters with rich voices I just can’t get enough of. Our MC Zuri is passionate about everything & everyone she loves. She values the culture within her community & doesn’t want to see it washed away by gentrification. The dialogue between her and her friends & family felt like home to me as a fellow born & raised Brooklyn native. I love how fiercely protective Zuri is of her sisters and neighbor. Her rose colored glasses have long been gone & she is able to pick up on the stereotypes and issues many in the minority class face. Some of my favorite parts with Zuri are the moments of introspection we get to see through her Slam Poetry.

There are so many characters we meet along the way but I LOVED the focus on family and the relationship between all of the siblings. We get to see Zuri interact and cope with seeing her older sister leave for college while she is in her last year of High School herself. We get some humor & overall silliness from Zuri having to now step up as the big sister in house to her younger twin sisters who are a bit of a handful. Zuri is well loved & respected within her community, her good reputation is something she’s proud of as one of the Benitez girls. The community plays its own character as well as they watch over these girls making sure they stay on the right path.

Last but not least are the Darcy boys who move into a neighborhood they really don’t know much about. Their family is well off financially and were able to buy the mansion across the street from Zuri’s brownstone home. I don’t believe Darius ever truly understood why Zuri was so proud & passionate about her community & in many ways came off as privileged. It wasn’t Zuri’s job to educate him on his surroundings (although that she did MANY times) but she often found herself trying to make him see that the walls that make up his home don’t change what’s outside. Realizing the Darcy family moving in does serve as a catalyst for change, is perhaps the toughest thing Zuri has had to face. So many interesting characters bring this Bushwick remix to life! ❤

Although we see the Pride & Prejudice influence in Pride, this story stands on its own as a modern day tale of maintaining your identity in a ever changing city. There’s so much to appreciate in this story, from the authentic dialogue to the relevant issues currently affecting those who live in major cities. Zuri’s community reminds me of the one I grew up in which is but a few blocks away from Bushwick. Community gatherings & block parties where the parents fed the neighborhood was very real. Looking up and seeing the one Grandmother who watches everyone’s kids & worrying about whether she’s going to tell your parents about that boy/girl she saw you flirting with was VERY real haha! but also, the reality of receiving an offer by a landlord to move you out in order for them to sell to a developer for a lump sum is also VERY real. The neighborhood I grew up in no longer looks like what I remember & the debate on whether that’s a good or bad thing is still going strong. Regardless of it all, home is where your loved ones are & this story although bittersweet is one way of looking at a brighter side of things 😉


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September Monthly Wrap Up

September was such an odd month having just returned from vacation during the very first week, I was riding a happiness HIGH! Many asked me where I’d gone to which I responded “The happiest place on Earth” YES! Orlando Florida/Disneyland. See, this was my first vacation in over 10 years and I had no clue how badly I needed it till my first morning of waking up without an alarm clock.  Best of all was our trip to Universal Studios aka home to Harry Potter aka the land of endless Butterbeer *heart eyes* I’ve told this story here before but, I met my hubby when I walked into my 1st day of work at my then office, carrying Goblet of Fire. He was holding a copy of Deathly Hallows & we gravitated towards each other in true Nerd love haha! It was nice getting to experience & share our love for a fandom that lives near & dear to our hearts. Although it did rain all the while we were there, that didn’t stop us from seeing all there is to see in HP world. We finished our trip by getting our wands & having lunch at the Three broomsticks #BLISS! 🙂

Once back in New York I dived back into my books since I didn’t necessarily miss them (1st vacay & all) while away but once back I wanted to read them all. I joined #Contemporaryathon to keep it light but I did manage to squeeze in two amazing Fantasy books & one beautiful anthology. All in all, it’s probably one of the MOST fun reading months I’ve had all year long…

 

The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson✨5 STARS 

I didn’t know what to expect going into this one but it was hands down one of the best adult fantasy books I’ve ever read. This was the book chosen by Melanie from Meltotheany for her Birthday Read along & I’m so glad I decided to participate. There’s a ton of political strategizing & ruthlessness to spare but I still believe this one is best to go into blind. If you’re a fan of Game Of Thrones, this will most likely appeal to you 😉

Check Out Mel’s Review here

As She Ascends (Fallen Isles #2) by Jodi Meadows (Review✨5 STARS 

This is the sequel to top all sequels! I absolutely devoured this read and loved every minute of it. If you read Before She Ignites and enjoyed it but wished there’d been more action & more DRAGONS! please pick this one up! Meadows knocks it out the park and really fleshed out all her characters. Side characters step up and the dragons have personalities & just gahhhhh! I could be here all day gushing about this one haha 🙂

Unbroken: 13 Stories Starring Disabled Youth (Review✨4 STARS 

This is an anthology I was sent for review and another one I am so glad to have had the privilege of reading. I think this collection is SUPER important & very much needed. This is a Own Voices collection, I’m unsure if each of the authors represent the exact disability their own story was based off of. There’s a variety of disabilities/mental health rep in this collection that I loved to pieces!

Fight or Flight by Samantha Young (FULL RTC)✨3 STARS

Sooo this is where it got interesting haha! I won’t lie and say I wasn’t flipping pages at the speed of light.This was honestly one of those rare moments where I picked up a Contemp. Romance & thought I was enjoying it but something was niggling me that just couldn’t be ignored. The Male love interest, ahhhh! he wasn’t the nicest & often left me with a bad taste in my mouth. I have a full review coming to the blog this Sunday 10/14/18.

The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory (Review✨4 STARS

If you read & enjoyed The Wedding Date earlier this year, I’d say it’s a safe bet you will also enjoy this companion novel set in the same world. TBH, I enjoyed this one wayyyyy more than TWD. From the minute we were introduced to Carlos in TWD, I knew I wanted a full backstory to this character! with only a few bumps in the road, I can honestly say I was satisfied with this arc. Also, if you enjoy books with food and culture weaved in then I’d say you’re in for a real treat with this one 😉

Blue Is The Warmest Color by Julie Maroh (Graphic Novel)✨5 STARS

Goodness! I really didn’t think I’d end up crying with this one. As a matter of fact I was wondering whether I was just dead inside and couldn’t see what everyone else was seeing. Whelp! those last few pages REALLLLLY got me & sure enough the tears flowed easily. This is one that stays with you way after you’ve finished reading. I fave a mini-spoiler free review coming but If you decide to give this one a go, content warning for Homophobia & cheating

Pride by Ibi Zoboi (FULL RTC)✨5 STARS

Saved the best for last here really! Keeping it short because I have a full on GUSH review coming on all the reason why this book is making my best of 2018 list. I also HIGHLY recommend the audio-book as it is narrated by Elizabeth Acevedo the author of The Poet X. This is a Pride & Prejudice “Remix” set in Brooklyn. The MC is Afro-Latinx & the very relevant topic of Gentrification within the city boroughs is woven all throughout. This book only further solidified my love for this author & I truly look forward to whatever she writes next.


I Hope you’re all having a wonderful day! we’re finally beginning to see Fall weather here & there in New York. I am so READY to pull out my sweaters, candles, and tea mugs *heart eyes*

I did want to let you know that I am running a GIVEAWAY over on my Instagram (IG link listed below) for a 2019 ARC of Four Dead Queens!!!!! head on over to the original IG post for the rules of entry & may luck be ever in your favor <3’s!


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WWW Wednesday 10/10/2018

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?

Happy Hump Day Bookworms!!! I feel like I’m always saying it’s been a minute on these weekly reading updates but that’s only because I’ve been binge reading w/out stopping for air. I have a stream of reviews coming to the blog over the next few days. Some of them are Pride by Ibi Zoboi, For a Muse Of Fire by Heidi Heilig, and What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli & Adam Silvera. It’s been a FAB start to October with great reads & I’m going to tell on myself a bit here cause I’m sure a lot of you can relate…It’s only the 10th. but the amount of good books streaming out have had my pockets crying! The only comforting thought in all of the spending has been that they are all Own Voices books which honestly makes my heart deliriously happy 🙂

What If It’s US by Becky Albertalli & Adam Silvera

I am currently at the 80% mark and really enjoying this collaborative story told by BFF’s Becky & Adam. I am a BIG Silvera fan & was a bit weary of setting my hopes too high for a slam dunk…happy to report this to be a total hit in my corner. I have a ton of thoughts & I will say that it isn’t without its flaws but overall I can’t deny my enjoyment levels are high. I recently caught wind of it being adapted for the big screen & my heart did a little back flip cause I’m long overdue for a good Rom-Com/Meet Cute. The fact that it’s set in NYC aka MY CITY haha! is awesome & now I will have my eyes peeled for any yellow Movie Filming signs posted all over Times Square *eyes wide open*

For A Muse Of Fire by Heidi Heilig

This dark dark book wasn’t what I expected but then again I really didn’t know what I was getting into. I ended up being enthralled by this one tbh & even did a couple of updates on Instagram stories sharing my thoughts. This is 100% a dark fantasy about Necromancy starring a girl who can call on souls and place them inside her shadow puppets or inanimate objects. The world it’s set in is inspired by South East Asia & France, and we definitely see elements that feel familiar but are very much their own. We get some mental health rep through our MC who is Bi-polar and is traveling with her parents to find a “cure.” All the while there is a war going on with soldiers vs. rebel groups and our MC is caught somewhere in the middle. This story is unique but will appeal to readers who really enjoyed Rin Chupeco’s The Bone Witch, full RTC 😉

The Lost Sisters (The Folk Of The Air #1.5) by Holly Black

12am sharp, my pre-order downloaded onto my kindle and I’d like to say I stayed awake but who am I kidding? This gal went for the beauty sleep instead BUT 1st thing in the AM I grabbed my mug of coffee and phone glued to face, I inhale read this baby! gahhhhh! Holly Black is a new to me author this year with The Cruel Prince snatching my life but I can already tell she will be joining the ranks of my favorite authors. Told from the POV of Taryn who I call The Bitter Sister *side eye*  we get to see her account of things unfold & maybe this novella was meant to sway your opinion or play devils advocate but I just couldn’t be moved to have any sympathy for her. I highlighted so many lines where she goes full on dark, this girl is something else! If anything, this made me love Jude all the more cause those daggers were coming from every direction even from her own sister!

Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand 

It wouldn’t be October without the spooky reads, Sawkill girls is serving up all the seasonal vibes and I’m just so ready to dive right in! I’ve purposely limited my knowledge of the premise because Legrand is such a unique writer who has yet to disappoint me. I’m expecting this one to be hella atmospheric with some creepy vibes along the way. Some of my closest bookworm friends have had some really polarizing thoughts on this one but all seem to agree that I would really like it…*raised eyebrow* haha! we shall see 😉

The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware

Thrillers will always make an appearance here on the blog around this time of year but this time it’s also for a special reason. On Friday 10/12 I’ll be joining the month long October Readathon #FridayFrightaThon hosted by Melanie, Amy, Jen, and Chelsea. The breakdown for the Readathon can be viewed by clicking on any of the host links. I’m super excited for The Death Of Mrs. Westaway! I picked it up a few months ago while browsing the shelves at Barnes & Noble. Legit stopped in my tracks while reading the blurb seeing that the MC is a Tarot card reader. Yes. Yes I am a lover of the mystical and I just knew I had to have this one. I’m glad I saved it for this month & that it’s one of the picks for this Readathon. A Tarot Reader who receives a letter of inheritance in error but still decides to show up at the funeral when her senses go off & tell her that something is amiss…yes please! ❤


I hope you’re all having a wonderful Spooktober filled with all the cozy atmospheric reads! or like me, squeezing out your last summer meet cute haha! I haven’t asked this in a while: What’s on your nightstand (be it real or digital)? Sound off in the comments below 😉


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SEPTEMBER BOOK HAUL

Hello Bookworms! I haven’t done a book haul since July here on the blog (book buying never stopped) & that’s because during the end of August/beginning of September I was on vacation. My first one in over 10 years & it was the most magical & happiest place on earth…more to come -pictures too- in my Wrap-Up. In September I got two subscription boxes and one Exclusive Box. My Kindle probably saw the most love during September & I’m kind of happy it worked out that way cause I’m way overdue for a un-haul & cleansing of my physical shelves. I’m really excited for the books that I did haul, they’re titles I have been eagerly anticipating and can’t wait to dive into. We’ll start this haul off with a little Gosling appreciation *heart eyes*

Image result for i see books memes

 

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From Here To You | Unbroken 13 Stories Starring Disabled Youth (my review)| City Of Ghosts | For A Muse Of Fire (Litjoy Crate) | Darius The Great Is Not Okay | Vengeful (Owlcrate Exclusive Edition)| Mirage (Fairyloot)| Archenemies (#Booksfortrade)| Shadowhunters & Denizens of The Downworld | City Of Bones 10th Anniversary Edition (Gift from the hubby)| Runaways Vol 1

FAIRYLOOT

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Mirage (my review) by Somaiya Daud

I read Mirage as part of a ARC Buddy read & was surprised in a good way to find that it’s a Sci-Fi Fantasy. I wasn’t expecting the sci-fi aspects but loved every bit of the world building this 1st book delivered. As for the FL box, with the exception of the shoelaces (major side eye) I’m really satisfied with the contents of their September box. My fave items are the art prints, notebook, and candle…although if I’m being honest I can’t smell anything from these teeny tiny candles so it’s more for the label *shrugs*

Fairyloot art prints & apron with quote

Owlcrate Vicious & Vengeful Exclusive Edition

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BOOK OF THE MONTH

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The Silence Of The Girls | The Mermaid And Mrs. Hancock

*Making an active effort to read these sooner rather than later 😉

KINDLE & AUDIBLE

The City Of Brass | The Last Namsara | Evidence Of The Affair | Atheists Who Kneel and Pray | The Poet X (Audible) | Pride (Audible)

*Review for Pride goes live on 10/4*

eGalleys

Enchantée | 99 Percent Mine | The Devil’s Thief (Blog Tour & Giveaway!!!!) | The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried | Slayer | Crown Of Feathers | Serious Moonlight | The Kingdom Of Copper


Hello Bookworms! I hope you’re all having a wonderful day with your next best read ❤ The next two weeks are HUGE in the publishing world with so many great new releases what are some you’re excited to see hit the shelves? Sound off in the comments down below 😉


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Blog Tour: The Devil’s Thief by Lisa Maxwell Spoiler Free Review + Giveaway!!!

Title: The Devil’s Thief

Author: Lisa Maxwell

Pub. Date: October 9th. 2018

Genre: YA Historical Fantasy

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Pages: 704

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

WEBSITE (BUY LINKS) | MAIN WEBSITETWITTER | GOODREADS | INSTAGRAM

    

In this spellbinding sequel to the New York Times bestselling The Last Magician, Esta and Harte set off on a cross-country chase through time to steal back the elemental stones they need to save the future of magic.

Hunt the Stones.
Beware the Thief.
Avenge the Past.

Esta’s parents were murdered. Her life was stolen. And everything she knew about magic was a lie. She thought the Book of Mysteries held the key to freeing the Mageus from the Order’s grasp, but the danger within its pages was greater than she ever imagined.

Now the Book’s furious power lives inside Harte. If he can’t control it, it will rip apart the world to get its revenge, and it will use Esta to do it.

To bind the power, Esta and Harte must track down four elemental stones scattered across the continent. But the world outside the city is like nothing they expected. There are Mageus beyond the Brink not willing to live in the shadows—and the Order isn’t alone in its mission to crush them.

In St. Louis, the extravagant World’s Fair hides the first stone, but an old enemy is out for revenge and a new enemy is emerging. And back in New York, Viola and Jianyu must defeat a traitor in a city on the verge of chaos.

As past and future collide, time is running out to rewrite history—even for a time-traveling thief.

Click on photo for source link

I’m just going to preface this review with a whole lot of thanks to the publishers for inviting me on this tour! The Last Magician was one of my top favorite books of 2017 & ever since then my heart has been eagerly awaiting any bit of news I could get for a sequel. The Devil’s Thief was everything I could’ve asked for in a follow-up & it will for sure be on my list of top favorite reads for 2018! ❤

Lisa Maxwell can continue writing books set in this world with these characters for the rest of eternity & I’d never tire! I thought it couldn’t get better than The Last Magician which was EPIC, atmospheric, full of action and that 1920’s NYC magic (see my review here)….coming in at 704 pages, The Devil’s Thief not only holds it’s weight, it DELIVERS!!! full of those plots twists that made it’s predecessor a page turner, The Devil’s Thief hits the ground running. This time around we get introduced to a couple of new characters along with our beloved crew of misfits. Esta and Harte are back & legit my heart could not be filled with more happiness to get more of one of all time favorite ships!<3 If you’re like me & you wished to have had more backstory to some of the side characters from The Last Magician, this book will give you all that and much more! Both Viola & Jianyu get more page time & seeing them more fleshed out only further grew my attachment to this cast of characters. Maxwell is one of those authors that gets multiple POV’s right! I love reading fantasy books in this format but find that often the characters just blend into one another. Here we have distinct voices that carry their personality all on their own, this matters when reading a behemoth of a book.

While I felt The Last Magician balanced action/plot + Character development really well, this sequel is a lot for focused on the characters. Of course I didn’t mind since I LIVE for books with characters like these but for those who love a good plot driven story, this might be a bit of a change of pace. This isn’t a bad thing in my opinion, there were still many parts that I found myself not being able to put down the book. However, we do get some slower pacing & to be honest, I for one was a bit thankful since we do get a ton of time travel between centuries and different cities. I praised Maxwell’s world building in the first book but I was left shooketh with The Devil’s Thief! I legit felt I was in St. Louis during the World’s Fair in the 1900’s so much so that returning to my every day tasks felt like a chore. I constantly wanted to be immersed in this world.

A+ world building, character development and beautiful story telling to ignite the imagination are just some of the main reasons to pick these books up! If you love Diverse Fantasy that comes off the pages organically, look no further! Maxwell has characters in her books from all walks of life, they are layered and three dimensional. One of my favorite characters to come out of these books is Viola, I wished so hard to get more from her & that wish was granted. We get a beautiful F/F romance that only further solidified Viola as my all time fave. I also enjoyed each of the new characters introduced & already am highly anticipating book 3! *adds St. Louis to list of places to see*

Lisa Maxwell is the New York Times Best-Selling author of THE LAST MAGICIAN. Also of UNHOOKED, SWEET UNREST, and GATHERING DEEP. When she’s not writing books, she teaches English at a local college. She lives near DC with her very patient husband and two not-so patient boys.

 

 


Grand Prize for the Tour Participants:

Signed copy of The Devil’s Thief

pavé snake bracelet

character art

signed swag

Runners Up (2)

Character art

signed swag pack

THROW YOUR 🎩 IN THE RING FOR A CHANCE TO WIN HERE

GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS 


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SPOILER FREE GUSH REVIEW: THE SIMPLE WILD BY K.A.TUCKER

Title: The Simple Wild

Author: K.A. Tucker

Pub. Date: August 7th. 2018

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Publisher: Atria Books

Pages: 388

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

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE | AMAZON

    

Whenever K.A. tucker writes a book I stop whatever I’m doing to read said book & gahhhh! I’m always left with a book hangover but it can’t be helped. I LOVED The Simple Wild & felt the relationships that formed all throughout the very depths of my soul. This is the story of Calla Fletcher who we meet in the process of losing her 9 to 5 office job. She lives at home with her mom and supportive Stepdad Simon while also running a lifestyle blog on the side with her best friend. One day she gets a call from a woman asking her to fly to Alaska to see her dad who is terminally ill. Calla feels so many things at once for the man who stayed behind when she was just 2 years old & her mother decided she wasn’t cut out for Alaskan life. Feelings of abandonment, detachment, and also a need to have her questions answered.  Calla doesn’t know very much about Alaska other than the stories & descriptions her mother has shared, none have been very pleasant. She isn’t prepared for the change in lifestyle or the people who will become like a second family to her while she gets to know her estranged father.

“Life up here may be simple but it’s not easy, and it’s not for everyone. Water runs out; pipes freeze; engines won’t start; it’s dark for eighteen, nineteen hours a day, for months. Even longer in the far north. Up here it’s about having enough food to eat, and enough heat to stay alive through the winter. It’s about survival, and enjoying the company of the people that surround us. It’s not about whose house is the biggest, or who has the nicest clothes, or the most money. We support each other because we’re all in this together.”

We follow Calla as she settles into her dad Wren’s home, they’re strangers sharing a house for the bit of time she is visiting. I loved that Wren wasn’t written to be the type of dad who right off the bat wanted to justify his decision to stay behind while she was raised without him. He’s a quiet man full of regrets but he also understands that Calla flying to Alaska to see him is a big move on her behalf. While navigating the awkwardness around seeing her dad for the very first time, Calla also has to deal with the tall, rugged, unshaven yet handsome, proud Alaskan neighbor. Jonah has been her dad’s right hand man in a small yet profitable charter plane business. He loves everything about life in Alaska and in many ways is a younger version of Wren. Calla is a trendy city girl who has had a moderately easy life back home. Jonah sees Calla as attractive but he also has a ton of reasons (mostly Calla in his opinion being high maintenance) for which he’d never act on anything. This is definitely hate to love & I LIVED for every moment of this romance! 💓

*Content Warning: Death, Cancer, abandonment, grief 

Calla, I feel was dealt a hard hand. Not only does she have to face her dad with all her feelings of abandonement but she’s also uprooted and very far from home in a state that isn’t accommodating to city lovers. She then meets Jonah who although she’s sexually attracted to, finds that he can’t stop giving her a hard time. Calla loves to dress in the latest fashion and trying out new hair/makeup products. I saw nothing wrong with trying to maintain some level of norm while being in a place that demands you shed your past life. I loved that Calla was the complete opposite of her mother, she didn’t allow her mother’s experience to taint her view of Alaska. She’s open minded & willing to put in the work. At her very core, I felt Calla had Alaska running through her blood 🖤

Jonah as rugged as they come, but he’s honestly all bark and no roar 😂 Jonah has a huge heart & he’s very vulnerable when it comes to those he loves. Wren is someone he views as a father figure and just wants to make sure he’s well taken care of. Jonah loves piloting planes and is the very definition of a space cowboy. He isn’t without purpose though, life isn Alaska is all about community & he loves to help out whenever/wherever he can. I was bothered a bit by how hard he got on Calla over her wanting to do her makeup/hair, it just shouldn’t have mattered & I’m glad that ultimately it didn’t. Besides that, it’s safe to say I swooned hard for this guy 💓

Wren aka Calla’s Dad a man of very few words who fell in love with Calla’s mother but knew deep down she’d never be happy living in Alaska. Respectful and regretful all at the same time, Wren knows he could’ve been a better dad. Seeing the subtle way he showed Calla that he was happy to have her there warmed my heart. Ultimately my heart went out to Wren who although it may appear he continued living after Calla’s mom left, really has just been holding onto them both from afar.

Calla’s Mom Perhaps my least favorite of all the characters. I can understand making mistakes in life & doing what’s in your best interest. I get it. When Calla’s mom decided life in Alaska wasn’t for her & she had to get back to life in Toronto, she got to take Calla with her. My biggest issue with Calla’s mom is that she continously harps on how miserable she was during her time there. This happened up until the very last minute of Calla packing to go to Alaska. Then she persistently called Calla in what felt like she was hoping Calla would feel the same way & hate it there too. Lastly, although I know this happens, I am never comfortable with it. Calla is clearly still emotionally attached to Wren & there’s mention of years past where she very much could’ve left Simon her current husband, for Wren. I feel this was emotional cheating 101 & Simon just didn’t deserve it.

Simon aka Stepdad SUPER SUPPORTIVE! is very well aware of the feelings that still linger between his wife & Calla’s dad yet that never changes how good of a stepdad he is to Calla. Simon is a Psychiatrist & listening to Calla comes as second nature. He is by all definition a real dad to her, Simon definitely deserved a better love than Calla’s mom but that’s just my opinion 🤷🏻‍♀️

K.A. Tucker’s characters always manage to linger in my thoughts way past the last page. It’s not just the MC & their love interest, it’s the way she brings in side characters you begin to think of as family. I LOVED all of the characters Calla met in Alaska and often wonder about their lives only to have to remind myself that they are fictional characters. Alaska really did come to life on the page and it just seems like Tucker really did her homework on the way of life all throughout the state. I enjoyed seeing the trips Jonah took on his small aircraft into the more rural parts of Alaska where medical help & supplies are needed. The Simple Wild will transport you into it’s cold atmospheric setting but I guarantee you won’t want to leave once you meet the hard-working & neighborly people who will treat you like family…


Happy Sunday Bookworms! by the time you’re reading this i’ll probably be on my 2nd cup of coffee 🖤 but I’d love any RECOMMENDATIONS for contemporary romance books with atmospheric settings…


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Top Ten Tuesday: Books By My Favorite Authors That I Still Haven’t Read

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. This weeks topic spotlights the top 10 unread books by your favorite authors. I typically like to read my faves as they are released but this year saw me collecting them & not reading them? yea It’s this new thing where I find myself avoiding book hangovers by not reading my faves 🤦🏻‍♀️ this will be changing in 2019 though that’s for sure. Watch me play catch up 😉

*These are in no particular order*

September 25th: Books By My Favorite Authors That I Still Haven’t Read

Strange The Dreamer by Laini Taylor– Strange made an appearance in my TTT last week as will others because I will be reading them this Fall/Winter season. Laini is my #1 favorite YA author of all time, this book is going to break me with its beauty & I’m finally ready to embrace all of it!

Wonder Woman by Leigh Bardugo– My Dark Queen has written two books that I haven’t read but know that I’m going to LOVE! I actually learned about this book from Leigh Bardugo while listening to her speak at a signing at NYC Strand. It wasn’t news in the bookish community so it was a real treat to get the 411 straight from Leigh Bardugo. Definitely reading WW this season.

The Language Of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo– This book is STUNNING both inside & out with eye popping illustrations. I meant to read this last Winter just cause it has cold season vibes but that didn’t happen. This Winter season I will be reading this collection.

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff– Jay Kristoff won me over with The Illuminae Files & since then I’ve just wanted to read all of his books. I also own The Lotus War trilogy that I’d really like to get to but Nevernight has 100% of my interest for next Kristoff read.

Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare– It’s been a while since I’ve been in the Shadowhunter world & returning to it this Fall will probably be a bit nostalgic. I have a ton of good memories buddy reading TMI & TID with my hubby. Since he’s already read Lady Midnight, I will have someone at home to bounce my thoughts off of 😂

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman– Uncle Gaiman as I affectionally have dubbed him here on the blog, wrote a book and I haven’t read it 🙈 what’s worse is that I love anything Greek or Norse Mythology so I really don’t have any excuse. I’m a big fan of Gaiman’s audiobooks, he has one of my favorite narrating voices & it always feels like I’m getting a bedtime story. This is a collection of short stories so I may just read it along with another book.

Wire and Nerve by Marissa Meyer– This Illustrated Graphic Novel has been sitting on my shelves for far too long! I loved The Lunar Chronicles & Iko was my fave character along with Captain Thorne of course. Iko as a lead though is all my heart could’ve hoped for so it’s time I give this one a go.

Until It Fades by K.A. Tucker– K.A. Tucker holds a special place in my heart as the first New Adult author I ever read. I’m so happy it was Tucker cause since then I’ve been OBSESSED with anything she writes. Until It Fades gave me darker vibes though but that might just be my perception. Either way, having just recently finished The Simple Wild by Tucker, I want nothing more than to read those books I have yet to get to by this author.

Vicious by V.E. Schwab – I actually received my Owlcrate exclusive edition box for the sequel Vengeful earlier today & it was EVERYTHING I could’ve hoped for 🙌🏽 I LOVED The Monsters of Verity Duology so much last year that I just simply couldn’t resist! Most bookworms love the Darker Shades Of Magic books & although I didn’t become obsessed after reading the 1st book, I haven’t quite given up on them either 😂 I will be reading Vicious sometime in October.

The Winds Of Winter by George R.R. Martin – Sort of cheating here since this isn’t out in the world for me to read but I feel putting it out in the Universe may make it actually happen in my lifetime #jussayin 🤷🏻‍♀️ We keep getting other books in this EPIC world & I welcome them all but I just really need book 6 like yesterday 😂


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Spoiler Free Review: Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren

Title:Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating

Author: Christina Lauren

Pub. Date: September 4th. 2018

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Publisher: Gallery Books

Pages: 320

Content Warnings: Homophobic slur referenced & cheating on behalf of a background character

Buddy Read: Mel from Meltotheany

🦋 ARC received in exchange for an honest review 🦋  

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE | AMAZON

    

I’m newer to the Contemporary Romance genre than most of my Blogger friends but Christina Lauren is a name I’ve heard float around since the beginning of my blogging journey. I came across Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating on Bookstagram & of course the colors caught my attention for a potentially fun read 💓 Happy to report that it is most definitely one of the MOST fun reads I’ve read in a long time. I laughed & giggled so much and also just rooted for a new found favorite character. Hazel & Josh are the definition of night and day but also give truth to the saying “Opposites attract.” I enjoyed getting to know these two characters over the course of several bad double dates and shook my head so many times reading my first ever friends to lovers romance. Funny & a downright blast to read, I’d easily recommend this book for a good time. Weaved throughout the story is a awesome F/F friendship, A+ sibling relationship, and Korean-American rep.  I also might be a little biased only because Hazel reminded me SO much of Polly Prince from Along Came Polly who I absolutely ADORE for all her unapologetic quirks and eccentricities 🙌🏽

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Image from Coolspotters.com

These characters were so much fun getting to know and although Hazel and Josh are the MC’s, I also included a side character. Emily is BFF to Hazel & also Josh’s sister & many times fills the role of translator between the two. Emily knows her brother & BFF better than they know themselves and really does have both their best interest in mind. One of the best examples of F/F friendship #GOALS I’ve found on the page.

Hazel– Quirky, eccentric, free spirited, feminist AF, and openly admires Josh which really made for some of the funniest lines. Hazel is a teacher & everything from her quirky clothing to her love of animals make her the complete opposite of Josh who she’s known since college. Hazel’s unbending will to stay true to herself made her an instant fave for me & I just LOVED the message she sends out with regards to self acceptance 🖤

“The world seems full of men who are initially infatuated by our eccentricities, but who ultimately expect them to be temporary. These men eventually grow bewildered that we don’t settle down into calm, potential-wifey girlfriends.”

Hazel’s mother is also briefly mentioned but we get enough to know where Hazel’s beliefs come from. Having a mother who was unhappily married to a man who never accepted her quirks, Hazel looks up to her mom for having the strength to move away from that. It isn’t about changing the person you’re with, it’s about loving them for all of the things that make them stand out 🖤

“I realize that finding the perfect person isn’t going to be easy for me because I’m a lot to take” she says, “but I’m not going to change just so that I’m more dateable.”

Josh/Jimin- a Korean-American doctor Hazel went to college with but has since lost touch with. Once she recognizes him as the guy she sort of had an embarrassing encounter with & that he’s her BFF’s brother, the fun really begins haha! Josh is legit the complete opposite of Hazel & often looks upon her with awe although he’d never tell her as much 😂 Josh is reserved and quiet, he has a rough start in the beginning of this story as he navigates a long distance relationship gone cold. Josh is also traditional & very close to his parents who he hopes to one day take care of as the only son which is also a part of Korean culture. The moments Josh found himself admiring Hazel were some of my fave parts…

“I could never quite tell whether she was oblivious or just didn’t care what people thought, but no matter how chaotic she was, she always managed to give off an innocent, unintentionally wild vibe”

Emily- I realize I started this segment of my review talking about Emily for being such a FAB friend to Hazel & caring sister to Josh but she really does deserve her own spot here. Emily truly cares about Hazel & accepts her as she is. Knowing how different & sometimes vulnerable Hazel can be, seeing Emily talk to Josh and question him to make sure he doesn’t do something he may later regret was really indicative of the kind of friend she is.

“I think that’s the one thing that could dim her light. We both know Hazel is a butterfly. I think you have the power to take the dust from her wings.”

This being my first Christina Lauren read, I can now say it won’t be my last. I actually already have a copy of Roomies on deck I can’t wait to get to & I’m sure will also love. This was the perfect read this Summer & also a perfect pick for #SMUTATHON which was a read-a-thon hosted by Lainey from GingerReadsLainey & Riley from RileyMarie that was SOOO much fun to participate in! This book had me in stitches at some points while in others I was red in the face embarrassed for Hazel’s predicaments haha! It was a fun  slow burn/friends to lovers read that kept me flipping pages through the night. The two reasons I docked a star was for the fast paced ending that didn’t match the tempo of the book as a whole & made it feel a bit rushed. Lastly, there is a conversation that takes place where a character mentions how a homophobic slur was used. Although it’s made clear that it was used in a negative light, it did leave me bothered to read it on the page and made me question the need for it in this story. It didn’t really serve a purpose at all & it was someone who isn’t a character in this book who said to begin with…just seemed like something that could’ve either been challenged by a character in the book or just completely left out. Overall I HIGHLY enjoyed this book, characters, and writing! Christina Lauren has now joined the ranks of my fave Contemporary Romance authors & I will most certainly read whatever they write next 🖤

🦋 Quotes taken from ARC/pre-publication & may be subject to change


Hey Bookworms! This little Bookworm is struggling a little on day 1 of being back from vacay & would LOVE it if you could drop down into the comments with YOUR fave friends to lovers recommendations, I’d love you FOREVER! Well I already do but you know 💓


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Spoiler Free Review: The Black God’s Drums by P. Djèli Clark

Title: The Black God’s Drums

Author: P. Djèli Clark

Pub. Date: August 21st. 2018

Genre: Sci-Fi/Steampunk/Fantasy/Novella

Publisher: Tor.com

Pages: 110

Content Warnings: Death, Slavery, War themes, racism

Buddy Read: Mel from Meltotheany

GOODREADS | BARNES AND NOBLE | AMAZON 

🖤 ARC received in exchange for an honest review 🖤

    

Black God’s Drums takes place in a alternate New Orleans in the late 1800’s, two decades since a slave uprising against the Confederates which led to their freedom. The slaves & “Free Coloured Militias” joined forces against the Confederates in a all out war that resulted in New Orleans getting assistance from Haitian, British, and French airships. From this a Truce was signed & New Orleans was made a neutral and open port. Our MC Jaqueline aka Creeper roams the docks picking pockets in order to feed herself.

Image from Pinterest, not my own

Creeper is also blessed & chosen by the Goddess Oya, ruler of the winds. Oya is one of many Orisha aka Black Gods known to live among the people although they can’t be seen. Oya makes her presence known to Creeper in her own language & living in alignment with her sister God is key to living a less chaotic life. I love reading anything about the Orishas & seeing them come to life on the page really enhanced my reading experience. They weren’t in the background, one God/Goddess can recognize when another human comes with another Orisha link and since the Orishas themselves have history, it doesn’t always make for a pleasant experience. One thing is for certain though, the Orishas want to help these people and they don’t want to see New Orleans succumb to terror & war at the hands of the Confederates or any other group of people who can’t accept emancipation.

Always silently sneaking in & out of places, trading in secrets for her survival, Creeper does stumble across some information that put New Orleans in danger. Her path crosses with Ann-Marie, a female lesbian Captain with a disability who Creeper thinks would be interested in buying said secret. Ann-Marie is a Privateer who ships cargo…well she also has a side job helping “General Tubman” smuggling slaves out and helping with the war against the Confederates. This makes Ann-Marie the ideal person to sell this secret to. Of course Ann-Marie is far from naive & decides she’s going to need to hear it from the horses mouth. Thus begins Creeper & Ann-Marie’s journey to uncover the threat hanging over New Orleans.

The Characters we meet along the way made me wish so hard for this to be turned into a full length novel! How can I get so attached to them in so little time?!?! Maybe because just like New Orleans, they come full of personality & life 🖤 I giggled a few times when we met the Nuns who know EVERYTHING & do a bit more than pray for New Orleans. We get a bit of alchemy in the mix that left me giving these characters a nod cause I really didn’t know what to expect.

My only grievance if that, would be that this book really deserves to be a full length novel 🖤 Clark fleshed out these characters so well they are still fresh in my mind a month after having read the last page. The world building had me in its clutches cause who doesn’t love airships, lesbian captains, Black Gods/Godesses and a all black main cast of characters?!?! I need more 🤗 & cannot stress enough how important it is to get these Own Voices diverse stories  🖤


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SPOILER FREE REVIEW: TO BE HONEST BY MAGGIE ANN MARTIN

Title: To Be Honest

Author: Maggie Ann Martin

Pub. Date: August 21st. 2018

Genre: YA Contemporary/Romance

Publisher: Swoon Reads

Pages: 304

Content Warnings: eating disorders, fat shaming, emotional abuse, cheating, anxiety/panic attacks

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE | AMAZON

    

🖤 Thank you Swoon Reads for the ARC copy in exchange for an honest review 🖤

We meet Savvy as she and her mom are taking her sister Ashley to her dorm in college & there are a lot of feelings from the start. Savvy does struggle with anxiety & having such a tight bond with her older sister made separating all the harder. Besides not having her very best friend around anymore, she also has to deal with a difficult, strained, and just plain toxic relationship with her mother. Savvy’s mom went through a life changing event after her husband/Savvy’s dad cheated on her with her best friend. Her mom won a spot on a weight loss TV show & was flown across the country for intense weight loss training. Upon her return, her whole outlook on weight was toxic and Savvy was unfortunately the person she affected most. We see Savvy miss the relationship she used to have with her mother  prior to the drastic weight loss. Savvy is vocal with her thoughts on the unhealthy weight loss these TV shows promote which causes her to butt heads more often with her mom.

“It took everything within me not to add some extra hashtags, like #LoveYourBody or #AllBodiesAreGoodBodies. I walked such a fine line with her because, yes, she was my mom, but I also did not agree with her views on her body and my body, for that matter”

That being said, Savvy really does love her mom & since it’s just the two of them home now, she tries her hardest to not cause friction or let her mom’s comments get to her. We follow their relationship & the very real fights that take place leading to days of silence. Maggie Ann Martin also did a A+ job of showing us Savvy’s mom & her battle with body image. I felt terrible for her mom because you know she’s a good mom but life’s curve ball really threw her off & her self esteem really took a hit. I wanted so badly to see her mom get the help she so desperately needed & be a positive role model for Savvy.

Savvy is in High School & we also get to follow her life outside her home which balances out against her home life. Savvy has an amazing best friend who she enjoys spending time with. She’s also a math tutor on the side but her real passion is journalism. There’s a a really caring teacher who encourages her not to drop out of working on the school’s paper & it leads to the sub-plot of this book. We see Savvy uncovering some under the table dealings with one of the athletic departments. We also see her tutoring turn into something more than 😉 & I cannot tell you the number of times I found myself smiling for Savvy 💓

Savvy- Our MC stole my heart! she’s her own level of cool & doesn’t even realize it. Savvy is fat, tall, blue eyed and blonde with no interest in losing weight in the same unhealthy manner her mother has. She definitely has her inner monologue of self doubt running in the background but she knows that to love her is to love ALL of her & nothing less will do! This made her all the more relatable cause we all have those moments of self doubt but to see her love the skin she’s in meant everything to me 💓 Savvy is also very funny, knows all the lyrics to every Eminem song, and is a math wiz even though she’d much rather be writing to make a difference in the world of journalism.

Ashley- aka Big Sis 💜 I LOOOOVE the sibling relationship between Savvy & Ashley who is now in college & trying to be there for Savvy even while college life is taking place. Ashley is described as being tall, slender, and a beauty by Savvy herself but never does Ashley make Savvy feel anything less than a beauty herself. Ashley is Lesbian & seeing Savvy encourage her to show interest in her college crush was the sweetest! 💜

Grace- Savvy’s best friend & partner in crime when it comes to journalism. Grace is Colombian & part of a BIG family who has welcomed Savvy into their circle whole heartedly. What I loved MOST about Grace is how supportive & in tune she is with Savvy when it came to her anxiety/panic attacks and general discomfort. She also isn’t afraid to give it to Savvy straight when she sees her bestie self sabotaging her own chances. Grace legit got Bestie Award Of The Year from me at the very end when they went shopping for Homecoming dresses…😉

George- The love interest here who also happens to be Grace’s cousin. I knew this guy was going to be a favorite of mine the minute he corrected Savvy for thinking he wasn’t part of the family based on his more Caucasian appearance. George is also blonde, tall, and slender and very much Columbian 🙌🏽 George is tutored by Savvy in math & all throughout we see him take a real interest in Savvy. Legit I wish I had a George in my life at 17 😩😂🙌🏼💓🙌🏼

To Be Honest (see what I did there? 😂)this book hit very close to home, I wasn’t expecting it to stir the feelings that it did in me but by the end I was left asking where was this book when I needed it MOST?!?! growing up as a plus sized gal myself. This book introduced me to Savvy, a fat MC who isn’t fiercely confident in the skin she’s in but she isn’t NOT confident either if that makes any sense. Well it did to me since this was the attitude I adopted in High School, I was Savvy & the things she experiences in this book with her mother and even in her love life, are things that feel all too familiar to me as a grown woman looking back. I wish this book had existed back when I found myself in a toxic home & turned to books as a way of comfort. Within these pages I see strength & courage for those who just want to love themselves but keep getting dissuaded at every turn. I see a MC who although she battles internally with what others may think…knows that she won’t allow anyone to love her any less. This book handled a variety of topics well, body image & mental health being at the forefront. I couldn’t have chosen a better time to read this book as I am currently on my own personal weight loss journey. This book lifted my spirits & reinforced my confidence in my own path to healthy 💞


Hello Bookworms! Hope you’re all having a wonderful weekend! To Be Honest will be hitting shelves this coming Tuesday August 21st, 2018 & I cannot wait to pick up my copy to display on my shelf of positive rep 💜 If any of you lovely Bookworms have recommendations for plus sized rep books, please drop them in the comments down below 💞


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