Spoiler Free Review: Wicked Fox by Kat Cho

Title: Wicked Fox (Gumiho #1)

Author: Kat Cho

Pub. Date: June 25th 2019

Genre: YA Fantasy

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

Pages: 429

Format: Physical Copy

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

A fast paced addictive story set in Seoul, a city where grandmothers tell children the tale of the Nine-tailed fox who prey on men. A warning of danger for young men. Miyoung is a 18 year old Gumiho aka Nine-tailed Fox who maintains her immortal life by consuming the souls of wicked men. In doing so, she feels justified and more human in nature because she is contributing to ridding the world of evil. Miyoung’s secret is compromised one night when she stumbles across her classmate Jihoon being attacked by a Goblin. Against her better judgment, Miyoung intervenes and in the process loses her Fox Bead. This is a Gumiho’s soul & what maintains a balance between their human/fox nature. Without it, a Gumiho can lose grip on their humanity.

We follow Miyoung as she adjusts to yet another high school where she doesn’t fit in and prefers to be a loner. Having had to bounce from school to school whenever she is the center of bad attention, Miyoung doesn’t have any friends. Jihoon is quite the opposite, loved by many he is a friend to all and wants to make Miyoung feel welcome. He knows her secret & wants her to know he will protect this information. Both take to each others company not really knowing just how much they have in common. They each have complicated relationships with their mothers & in their own ways have abandonment issues stemming from childhood. Miyoung & Jihoon develop a deeper connection through friendship that turns into a bit more. We then follow Miyoung as she attempts to find a solution to her fox bead which leads to more trouble along the way.

Miyoung – I found our MC to be very lonely, she and her mom don’t really have a close connection. Miyoung’s mom is an ancient Gumiho & often times clashes with Miyoung when it comes to how they maintain their immortality. Her mom has had a rough go in her very long life & because of the bad experiences she’s had, she’s very tough on Miyoung. We see Miyoung struggle to form connections due to the overall mistrust she’s been raised to have towards all humans. Despite her mothers strong opinions, Miyoung fully embraces her humanity & doesn’t enjoy killing.

Jihoon – Generally someone who attracts all types of people because of his positivity. Jihoon has a very tight bond with his Halmeoni (grandmother) & best friend Somin. When Miyoung saves his life, Jihoon decides to befriend her even though she’s not interested at first. Although Jihoon is very charming, he is also soft & instantly had me cheering him on because his intentions are pure.

Somin – The best friend to rival all BFF’s! 🙌🏽 Somin is as tough as they come and not afraid to assert her power when necessary. Somin and Jihoon grew up together and love each other like brother & sister. I LOVED Somin so much because of how fiercely over protective she is towards Jihoon. LOVED seeing the friendship develop with this trio of friends.

Junu – is a honorable mention side character…he’s a Bachelor Goblin who gave me Magnus Bane VibeZ! 🤗 I was actually sad not to have seen more of this character on the page. Junu is very much about self & getting paid, he will however warn you before making a profit from your poor decisions. GQ status, Junu is one character I’d like to see more of in the next books to come.

I love books that manage to suck me in, such was the case with Wicked Fox. I can see why comparisons are made with K-Dramas & this just made me love it all the more! My favorite parts of this story were the chapter breaks where we got some of the Gumiho mythology. We’re made aware of the bad rep Gumihos have acquired but these chapter intros explain why they’ve been villainized. I also really appreciated seeing the relationships between Miyoung & her mother play out as well as Jihoon and his mom. We feel the sense of abandonement these characters have experienced & it almost makes perfect sense why they’d gravitate towards each other. Loved the friendship dynamics & the bits of Korean culture we get sprinkled throughout the story. Kat Cho is a author I now have the privilege of having on my radar. This is the start of a series (unsure of # of books to come) & after that ending I will most certainly be dropping everything when the sequel is released 🖤


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Spoiler Free Review: With The Fire On High by Elizabeth Acevedo

Title: With The Fire On High

Author: Elizabeth Acevedo

Pub. Date: May 7th 2019

Genre: YA Contemporary

Publisher: HarperTeen

Pages: 400

Format: Audiobook/Scribd

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Emoni Santiago goes up against all odds as a High School Senior & single mother to baby Emma aka “Baby Girl.” School has never been a place where Emoni felt successful, struggling with memorization but giving it her all. The kitchen however, is where Emoni’s hands and talent make all the magic happen. With the help of one very caring teacher, a course in Culinary Arts is introduced as an elective & Emoni is hand picked for enrollment. The chance to not only cook under a top Chef but also travel to Spain for a week as part of the course seems like a dream come true. Emoni tries not to get her hopes up seeing as the funds for the trip are not attainable with her part-time job. She has the help of her loving Abuela who does the best she can with her disability check but it’s a tight budget as it is with a baby to take care of as well.

Content Warning: Death of a loved one & abandonment 

I truly LOVED seeing the support the teachers provided Emoni, knowing her background & never once making her feel less than. Instead of allowing her to block her own blessings, they moved to inspire her to find ways to raise the funds. They encouraged her to nurture her talent but also made sure to call her out when she dismissed the rules of the kitchen. Emoni is a headstrong Afro-Latina with a gift to make those who taste her food, think of their most fondest memories. Her recipes are very much old school in the sense that it’s not a teaspoon of this or a cup of that. There aren’t timers she’s setting to know when the food will be done, it’s when the aroma hits. Reading the passages where she’s struggling to understand why Chef wants her to know the importance of following rules in a kitchen be it your own or not made me think of a meme I had posted on my Facebook…

It’s actually not uncommon at all, I personally cannot go to any of my older relatives asking for a recipe because I’ll get “a pinch of this” or “when you smell this” HAHA! & it makes for some of the BEST food you’ll ever have! This book truly brought back a ton of memories of my childhood watching my own father cook. It was inspiring & packed a strong message of eliminating your own limitations and truly making your own dreams come true.

Emoni is a very inspirational young Afro-Latina who takes pride in two things: Baby Emma (her daughter) & her cooking Skills. She loves her baby girl to pieces & it’s tough seeing her having to get used to co-parenting as a teen mom. She often comes across a bit rough around the edges & a little defensive but that’s because she’s been dodging judgment since the age of 14 when she first became a mom. Emoni isn’t looking for anyone to handle her responsibilities, even with a supportive Abuela she tries not to lean on her too much. I loved seeing her evolve in her Culinary course & put her stubbornness aside for her highest good. Great character development.

Angelica aka “Jelly” is Emoni’s best friend since childhood, these two are inseparable. Jelly is also Lesbian and has a on page girlfriend who she’s head over heels in love with. Where Emoni loves to cook, Jelly loves to draw and these two together have dreams of a better future. Loved seeing how Jelly always had baby Emma in mind & was someone Emoni could trust.

Abuela- MY FAVE CHARACTER!!! Emoni’s grandmother is so lively, supportive, and loving. This is a old school Grandma, the type I had back in Puerto-rico growing up. Loves Emoni to pieces & makes sure Emoni is the one raising baby Emma. She understands the importance of Emoni being a independent mother & will always be there to provide support if need be.

Malachi- The new guy in school & also our love interest. What I loved about this guy is that he never pressures Emoni into anything. He respects her role as a mother & looks for ways to be supportive. Here’s a guy who comes in with all his swag, at once appearing to have that player look but instead takes Emoni by surprise.

I inhaled this book in one day via Audiobook & that’s simply because I cannot resist anything narrated by Elizabeth Acevedo, especially when it’s her own book. I listened while I worked from home & then transitioned into my kitchen to prep a meal where I laughed out loud & got all emotional in other moments. Emoni & Abuela in the kitchen really stirred up some of my own memories & made this book very special for me. I loved seeing Emoni actually go through her culinary arts course and evolve as a young chef & person in general. Emoni is someone who has had to deal with a lot at a very young age. With many obstacles stacked against her she perseveres & a village truly comes through in encouraging her to keep striving to attain all of her goals. In between chapters we get some of Emoni’s “Remixed” recipes & they all sound so tasty! This book will stir your senses & flip some stereotypes on their head while also delivering a positive message on overcoming obstacles. Elizabeth Acevedo has definitely become a auto-buy author for me 🙂


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Spoiler Free Review: Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan

Title: Wicked Saints

Author: Emily A. Duncan

Pub. Date: April 2nd. 2019

Genre: YA Fantasy

Publisher: Wednesday books

Pages: 385

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This may just speak to the dark corners of my soul but once I started reading this book on a flight to New Orleans, there was no other place I’d rather be. Between the pages of this dark gothic fantasy a war is being waged between Kalyazin & Tranavia. Kalyazin, a land of people who still believe in the Gods that ruled them. Gods who have partially retreated their presence but have chosen Clerics to use as messengers and vessels for their power. The war however has pretty much wiped out almost all Clerics & only one really powerful remains hidden in a Monastery to be protected at all costs. The one who is believed to be the end to this war against Tranavia. This is a land of people who have turned their backs on the Gods in favor of free will. Referred to as heretics, Tranavia set out to never to be controlled or be at the mercy of Gods whims. They chose instead to tap into blood magic and cast powerful spells. They’ve eradicated any and all signs of the Gods & made it so that the Gods cannot access Tranavia. We get introduced to 3 pivotal characters who all have a role to play in this war. Their lives somehow interconnected…

“You could be exactly what these countries need to stop their fighting. Or you could rip them apart at the seams.”

Content Warning: War themes, Violence/gore, parental abuse, Self-harm (cutting as part of the magic system), torture, alcohol abuse 

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Nadya Lapteva Our MC is a powerful Cleric chosen by the Gods. She stands out among the few that are left due to her ability to communicate and draw power from all of the Gods. This alone made this character a total bad a** to me! I LOVED how she learned the personalities of all of the Gods she called upon. Which ones to approach with more caution than others. Nadya is dutiful & devout, she takes her role in this war very seriously. My only gripe with Nadya was that she’s got a whole lot of power and wisdom bestowed upon her & yet her judgment is severely clouded in matters of the heart. I don’t just mean with regards to the love interest but also when it comes to the Gods she serves without question. I hope to see some maturity from this character in the follow-up, especially after the way things left off.

Malachiasz Czechowicz a VERY powerful Blood Mage who from the very beginning is hard to read. It’s hard to go into this character without spoiler so I’ll leave it as vague as he was upon first meeting him 😉

Serefin Meleski The crown Prince sent to the front lines as a blood general. Serefin is one of my favorite characters in this story. It couldn’t have been easy being born a more powerful Blood Mage than your father & in turn have him hate you for it. Serafin knows he has a target on his back placed there by his own father. Serefin wants to end the war but he isn’t without his faults.

Although the story is centered around the three MC’s we do get some awesome side characters from both the Kalyazin & Tranavia sides. There are no clear cut good/bad characters. Everyone is fighting for what they believe to be right in order to end this war. I really enjoyed the relationships between all of the side characters as well as seeing the diverse representation. We get POC characters as well as a sexually diverse cast on the page. One of our side characters who plays sort of a right hand role to the Crown prince is disabled. My only hope is to see more of these characters brought to the forefront in the follow-up.

Wicked Saints is just the book I was looking for to get me back in the mood for YA Fantasy. It checked off so many of the things I believe make for a good story. I felt immediately invested in the characters and their relationships with one another. I questioned Nadya’s choices in general but can see this was necessary as a foundation to who she will become. Many have compared Malachiasz to the Darkling from the Grishaverse whom I wasn’t really sold on. Malachiasz however…is 50 shades of messed up! it doesn’t get more darker than this guy right here. Complex characters, interesting blend of religion in a fantastical setting, complete with a magic system I was genuinely intrigued by…This was a 5 star read by the time I’d read the last page & a pre-order for the follow-up is definitely in the future.


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SPOILER FREE REVIEW: DAISY JONES & THE SIX BY TAYLOR JENKINS REID

Title:Daisy Jones & The Six

Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid

Pub. Date: March 5th. 2019

Genre: Fiction/Historical Fiction

Publisher: Ballantine Books

Pages: 368

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I found myself like many others who really enjoyed this story, finding it hard to believe that this band wasn’t real. I satisfied my need for it to materialize by listening instead to the Spotify Playlist created by Taylor Jenkins Reid as inspiration while writing this treasure of a book. Set against the backdrop of the 60’s/70’s when sex, drugs, and Rock n’ Roll was a huge part of American culture, we  get introduced to this fictional band. Told in interview format, we get the story of how this band came together and eventually how they came apart. How Daisy met the six bandmates & the music they went on to create while also getting bits & pieces of actual historical events taking place around this time period. I was immediately swept away by each of these characters lives, their wins & losses. We get what I believe to be one of the BEST EPIC love triangles in Fiction that left me all in my feels days after I’d read the last page. We also get not 1 but 3 feminist AF characters that will leave you feeling empowered every time they walk off the page. TJR explored some hard hitting themes like drug addiction, substance abuse & abortion relevant to this time period without actually glamorizing any of it. These bandmates are a family I got to intimately know, making this a story I was truly invested in from start to finish.

Content Warning: substance abuse, abortion, addiction, cheating

Whenever I think back to my experience with this book, the characters are what come to mind first. Wonderfully fleshed out, complex, raw, and unapologetic these characters feel authentic. Of course I have my favorites but they all brought their unique voice to the story. Daisy Jones is a character who from a very early age was left to her own devices by her parents & as a result prematurely discovered the L.A. night life. Known for her free spirited personality & strikingly beautiful blue eyes, Daisy quickly became sort of an icon. Daisy is a beautifully broken character you can’t help but love. There was no taming anyone could impose on Daisy who has a take it or leave it attitude. I ABSOLUTELY LOVE Daisy Jones! as destructive as she could be at times, she still had a limit which made me appreciate her all the more. Billy Dunne who is the lead singer & star of the show (before Daisy came along) is a character I had a love/hate relationship with. Billy is used to getting his way & being the main attraction. This at times can get frustrating & we see power struggles at play between bandmates. What I loved about Billy however, was his love for Camila who is sort of the unofficial bandmate. Billy struggles with his demons (alcohol & women) & is far from perfect but he so desperately wants to be THAT guy for Camila, the one he thinks she deserves.

“Love is forgiveness and patience and faith and every once in a while, it’s a gut punch. That’s why it’s a dangerous thing, when you go loving the wrong person. When you love somebody who doesn’t deserve it. You have to be with someone that deserves your faith and you have to be deserving of someone else’s. It’s sacred” 

Camila Martinez better known as the glue that keeps this band together is hands down my FAVORITE character in this book. A LATINX feminist who loves unconditionally & never gives up on those she loves.  Camila is legit the definition of strength, she believes whole heartedly in the love she shares with Billy but she isn’t blind to the reality of their situation. Some of my favorite scenes featured Camila and every time I placed myself in her shoes my heart ached.

Karen is the one deeply understated character who had a ton of depth. Married to her musical career, she doesn’t see herself settling down to start a family anytime soon. Perhaps the most feminist character in this book, Karen is way ahead of her times making her role all the more important.

I truly loved everything about this cast of characters so much so that I can’t get them out of my head. I fell deeply in love with this story & each of its characters, returning for a re-read is inevitable!

My very first Taylor Jenkins Reid novel & I can honestly say I was left blown away! I read a physical copy & really enjoyed the interview format used to narrate this story however, some have found this to take away from their enjoyment of the story. I am currently listening to the audiobook version & HIGHLY reccomend to those who couldn’t get into this story in physical format. The full cast of characters production has brought this story to life in a whole new way & I am LOVING it! the writing brought the 60’s/70’s to life & I felt as if I was standing on the Sunset Strip watching a young Daisy find her way into bars/clubs. Lastly, the inclusion of the songs written by Billy & Daisy is BRILLIANT! not only are they well crafted songs but they ignite the raw emotion that was being felt between the characters stuck in this love triangle. I may have just found my new favorite author & will most definitely continue to read TJR published books as well as anything written in the future.


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SPOILER FREE REVIEW: THE PROPOSAL BY JASMINE GUILLORY

Title: The Proposal

Author: Jasmine Guillory

Pub. Date: October 30th. 2018

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Publisher: Berkley Books

Pages: 336

Buddy Read: Melanie, Stephanie, and Leigh

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

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The Proposal is a companion novel to The Wedding Date, a Contemporary Romance released earlier this year. In TWD, we meet Carlos who is the best friend to the male protagonist and who also frankly inadvertently stole the show in my opinion. It’s rare that I find a male lead I get so attached to 💓that I want to see more of their story but such was the case with everyones favorite Pediatrician Carlos Ibarra. When Nikole Patterson begrudgingly attends a ball game with her actor boyfriend and his buddies, she wasn’t expecting to look up & see her name misspelled on the jumbotron. She also wasn’t expecting it to be a proposal from the guy she’d only been dating a couple of months. Stuck in an awkward situation in front of millions world-wide, she tries to talk some sense into him. Meanwhile Carlos & his sister who are sitting behind Nik, come up with the idea of rescuing her from the most humiliating situation as it unfolds. Pretending to know Nik, they whisk her away from the reporters who are quickly approaching to interview the woman who turned down a very public proposal.

*Photos from Pinterest*

What started off as a act of kindness turns into a sexy friends with benefits arrangement with both parties on the same page. Of course, we all know these types of arrangements can turn messy when one person starts to blur the lines and break the rules 😌 We follow Nik & Carlos as they get to know one another through group friend dates, food dates (OMYGAHH! you can taste the food right off the pages! 😋), sexy nights, and unexpected events that make it hard to stick to the rules.

Content Warnings: Grief, Talk of death of a loved one, Racism (Challenged), pregnancy complications and miscarriage, talk of past verbal abuse (non-main character)

When I first caught wind of Carlos getting his own POV story I jumped for joy and hugged my pillow! I mean, could it be I was getting THE story I so badly wanted when I first met this handsome Mexican Pediatrician in The Wedding Date?!?! 😍😍😍 Why YES! YES it was happening and I was so on board! To be honest, I wasn’t a fan of Drew the MC in The Wedding Date & found him to be a bit of an a** but his BFF Carlos, now there was a guy I’d date and here’s why…

Carlos No longer practicing medicine much, Carlos is now the Assistant Director of a teen clinic where he counsels youth. Carlos has a HUGE heart & has stepped into the role of Patriarch after his fathers passing. With many women in his family to look after, he pretty much has made it so that he doesn’t have time for dating. He knows that the day he meets THE ONE, he will give her 100% of his time & that just isn’t something he sees s possible. I love this character so much but he isn’t flawless by any means, at times his protectiveness can come off as being pushy but he is quick to catch himself in those moments. Overall, Carlos is someone who wears his heart on his sleeve & given how saturated books are with toxic masculinity (not to mention IRL) he was refreshing to get to know.

Nik Fiercely independent & I wouldn’t go as far as calling her a commitment phobe but she’s not trying to get attached any time soon. Having just come from one awkward as hell situation with the last boyfriend, Nik is just going for light & fun. No strings attached. She’s a journalist with pieces published in a few major publications & writing is where her heart is at. I enjoyed Nik’s character for many reasons but the feminist in her really called out to me most. I loved seeing her interact with her friend group & also the coverage she gave a small gym owned by a woman who had a second chance in life after leaving a controlling abusive marriage (loved the message behind this characters intro). I loved the passion she has for her work & her overall helpful nature with those she cares about.

Nik’s friends Dana & Courtney Usually friend groups offer up a few good scenes & laughs but Dana & Courtney really raise the bar. Super supportive, these friends aren’t the type who’ll just say they’ll be there for you whenever you need them. They are present in Nik’s life and empower one another. Whether it’s joining a self defense class in solidarity or saving a batch of cupcakes from their shop for you on a day when you need it most, these are your ride or die friends.

Fun, sexy, filled with food and good times against the backdrop of Los Angeles; It’s my opinion The Proposal is more enjoyable than its predecessor. I rated this a high 4 stars simply, I honestly wanted Nik’s background\family life a bit more fleshed out. Told in multiple POV’s we get to see Carlos’ family & his awesome sibling relationship. Although we do see Nik’s friend group, we don’t get any of her family background. Nik is a strong independent woman & I would’ve loved to dig into her backstory a bit. Also, although I loved Carlos & still do, I almost felt his actions towards the end didn’t quite fit his personality at all. It just didn’t make sense considering how he met Nik & so I felt a bit resentful towards him for that reason alone. Last but definitely not least, I will continue to read all that Jasmine Guillory writes because of how beautifully diverse all of the characters are. The Proposal is a Contemporary Romance between Carlos a LATINX/Mexican man & Nik a black woman but we also get Courtney a Korean plus sized woman & Dana a black lesbian woman. The diversity and important topics woven in throughout Guillory’s books set them apart & will always make them a go-to for this bookworm 💜


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Review: Unbroken 13 Stories Starring Disabled Youth

Title: Unbroken 13 Stories Starring Disabled Youth

Authors: Marieke Nijkamp, William Alexander, Fox Benwell, Keah Brown, Dhonielle Clayton, Corinne Duyvis, Keah Brown, Heidi Heilig, Kody Keplinger, Katherine Locke, Karuna Riazi, Francisco X. Stork, Kayla Whaley, Kristine Wyllys

Pub. Date: September 18th. 2018

Genre: YA Contemporary/Anthology

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Pages: 320

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

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This Anthology holds such a special place in my heart, I found myself taking my time with each story many of which moved me or empowered me. Many left me in tears while others left me with hope. These stories are filled with strong characters who really just want to be seen and heard for the person they are rather than their disabilities be it it physical or mental or both. I am on my own personal journey with mental health, this collection felt very therapeutic to read & ultimately kept me company on days I needed it most.  Told by authors with disabilities, these stories are important and I for sure have found some new to me authors I look forward to read more from.

*Note: I’m not sure these stories are inspired by the various authors specific disabilities as it isn’t indicated. 

The Long Road by Heidi Heilig: 3.5 STARS

About a Chinese Protagonist with mental health disability who travels with her parents to Persia in search of a “cure” (mental health disability) & along the way discovers the possibility of finding others that are doing to same for their loved one(s). I loved seeing super supportive parents & also the acknowledgment that change to a more clean/healthy lifestyle can be costly.

Britt And The Bike God by Kody Keplinger: 5 STARS

Loved this story so much! Keeping in step with the first story, this also features a supportive parent. The MC has Retinitis Pigmentosa, a condition that causes the gradual loss of vision. Dad share a love of bikes with Britt, his daughter. He starts a Cyclist club since Britt’s school doesn’t have any “blind friendly sports club” & makes it all inclusive. All ages welcome with the only exception being that each gets trained to ride a tandem bike when they join & volunteer to Captain for Britt. There is a romance with a POC character (F/M) & it’s super cute! I loved the inclusivity of the bike club & that Britt is able to physically take part in the sport she loves.

The Leap and the Fall by Kayla Whaley: 3.5 STARS

Carnival stories always make for eerie settings, throw in a aggressive ghost/possession, some tarot cards and we have ourselves one atmospheric short story! This one stars a girl in her wheelchair and her BFF who she’s started to grow feelings for (F/F), this one could’ve definitely benefited from being a full length novel. The progression from long friendship to romance is hard to dive right into in such a short period of time.

Per Aspera Ad Astra by Katherine Locke: 4.5 STARS

A Sci-Fi short story starring a female coder who has panic attacks. MC lives and studies from her room not having stepped outside in months. This all changes when her world is attacked & at war, she must decide whether she can step out & offer her coding expertise to save the planet. I’m a big supporter of ALL women in STEM so this one definitely captured my interest. I also loved the supportive side character who doesn’t sweep the MC’s feelings of anxiety & fear under the rug.

Found Objects by William Alexander: 3 STARS

Latinx MC (gender not mentioned) who has idiopathic pain. This one threw me for a loop, I don’t think I fully grasped what was going on but I didn’t dislike it if that makes any sense? MC has a passion for performance art & there’s a conversation between the MC & their deceased grandfather where the issue of casting disabled people as villains is briefly mentioned. There’s also discussion of chronic pain & feeling like you can’t really talk to anyone about your pain because of the stigma. I’m not quick to label anything as being Magical Realism but this one did have an element of MR that gave off very vivid imagery.

Plus One by Karuna Riazi : 4 STARS

MC goes on her spiritual journey aka Hajj, along the way she battles against “IT” this is a presence the MC feels, sees, and tries to escape. We see her struggle with religion as well, feelings of inadequacy at not experiencing a huge transformation by the end of her Hajj. Feelings of not being devout enough all the while dealing with her plus one that only she can see. I feared for the MC at the airport where customs is known to flag people down for wearing a Hijab. I feared they wouldn’t offer up any understanding for someone struggling with mental health just because they’re wearing a Hijab. I felt this story the hardest & would love to read more from Karuna Riazi.

The Day The Dragon Came by Marieke Nijkamp: 4 STARS

This one tells the story of a girl with a cane who is treated poorly by the towns people who view her disability as a curse. She wishes to leave her town and travel/see the world. She then meets a Carpenter boy (may be Trans) who feels quite the opposite for the town they live in. He enjoys being a part of building the churches and other buildings. He also understands what it feels like to live somewhere that doesn’t accept you for who you are. A friendship turned romance story with a touch of dragon lore.

Captain, My Captain by Francisco X. Stork: 4.5 STARS

Latinx MC hears a consistent voice in his head that encourages him to liberate himself from the responsibilities that keep him by his sisters side. This voice very much tries to influence the MC’s every move. Evaluated in a school setting and said to have a “intellectual & development disability” his options for work limited. He has a sister and baby nephew he stays with along with a mother & siblings in Mexico he helps out with. His sister is in a abusive relationship & he fears what will happen if he leaves. Sibling bond is strong in this one.

Dear Nora James, You Know Nothing About Love by Dhonielle Clayton : 5 STARS

MC has a love & dating advice column for other teens, a idea she got from her grandmother who she admires. MC has never actually been in love & so it adds a bit of humor to this short story. This character has
episodes of irritable bowel disorder that keep her from being social & she also has anxiety. I actually would’ve loved a full length meet cute out of this short.

A Play In Many Parts by Fox Benwell: 4 STARS 

This short story was told in different formats, parts read like a screenplay and others are being narrated. Our MC is non-binary and
uses They/Them pronouns. MC walks with a cane and suffers from chronic pain. At first I was a bit intimidated by the format of this story but ended up really enjoying it. There’s a love for theater & the arts, and a teacher who has a passion for creating. The teachers husband may have dementia & the final act saw me unexpectedly teary eyed.

Ballad Of Weary Daughters by Kristine Wyllys: 3.5 STARS

Bi-racial MC (Native American) who has to grown up way too fast when her father up & leaves with his mistress. A hardworking mother is left to pick up the pieces of a broken home by working long hours in order to provide. MC steps up as a mother for her siblings all the while trying to cope with Bi-Polar II Disorder. There is a romance (F/F) with a Cuban girl who is super supportive and is also dealing with her own issues at home.

Mother Nature’s Youngest Daughter by Keah Brown: 5 STARS

I LOVED this one to pieces! which really doesn’t surprise me since Fantasy is my genre of choice. This short stars a MC with Cerebral Palsy who is being bullied in school. MC has hidden powers as do her siblings & her mother, she isn’t supposed to use them for wrong but makes an exception to get even with her harassers. I rooted for her of course! but it didn’t go unpunished by her mother. Each of the family members can control a different element of weather/nature & I am legit interested in a full length anything with this family! ❤

One, Two, Three (re-named “A Curse, a Kindness”)by Corinne Duyvis: 5 STARS

This in my opinion was the best story to close off this collection. A autistic girl finds herself cursed after bearing witness to a accident. MC is a young girl when she witnesses the accident & isn’t able to respond to a call for action at the moment. Autistic, young, and in shock she is approached by a mysterious man who places a curse on her life. She must grant 3 wishes to whoever shows her a kindness for the rest of her life. A chance encounter with a girl in a parking lot has the potential to change her life. F/F romance that left me smiling.

Content Warning: Death, Physical abuse, misgendering, anxiety, adultery

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🐉Spoiler Free Review: As She Ascends by Jodi Meadows🐉

Title: As She Ascends (Fallen Isles #2)

Author: Jodi Meadows

Pub. Date: September 11th. 2018

Genre: YA FANTASY

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books/Harper

Pages: 560

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

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE | AMAZON

    

The sequel I’ve been anxiously awaiting is FINALLY here & it was everything  I was hoping it would be! If Before She Ignites was the breaking down of Mira’s reality, then As She Ascends lives up to it’s name with Mira rising like the Dragon Queen she really is! In the previous book we meet our Protagonist as she come across the cold hard truth about the government in Fallen Isles. A world entrusted by the Gods to take care of their children the dragons, has turned their backs on these creatures. Mira believes whole heartedly in The Great Abandonment, the belief that if the dragons aren’t fiercely protected, the Gods would truly abandon their people and devastation would spread across the islands. The problem is, not everyone believes in The Great Abandonment. Dragons are mysteriously dissapearing  from their sanctuaries due to unexplained illnesses and acts of violence. Mira and friends are being hunted by Altan & his group of Drakon Warriors (Once were in a position of honor for being protectors of the Isles) all the while they search for truths & a way to save all Dragons.

Mira’s character is one that I hold near & dear to my heart for so many reasons. Mira struggles with anxiety and OCD, we see her thrown in a jail cell without access to her medications in the last book and the effects that had on her. Here Mira is learning how to cope with her anxiety and find peace within the chaos her life has been turned into. I’m glad to see her mental health challenges weren’t written away, instead Meadows gives us a very realistic MC who isn’t made of Teflon. Mira’s strength comes from deep within, she’s caring and loving to her friends and has a maternal love for dragons that even they can sense. To see that even those saving the day in our books, can struggle with mental health issues is appreciated & frankly something we need to see more of. Seeing Mira experience many of the episodes I myself deal with felt relatable. Seeing her have a support system of friends who understand & help her through them send such a positive message.

There are so many great characters to love in this book besides Mira but I have such a soft spot for Aaru. Silent in movement & speech, this Idrisi has stolen my heart. Strong in his beliefs & unwilling to bend or break his faith, Aaru finds himself unable to stay away from Mira. This character intrigued me so much in Before She Ignites, so much so that when I realized Meadows had given him his platform to tell his story through a series of flashbacks I was elated. I figured Aaru had to have had a difficult past but I just didn’t imagine how hard its been. On Aaru’s Island, women aren’t allowed to work and are though of as the lesser sex. This is something he can’t wrap his head around & seeing him fight for what he believes in made me respect and appreciate him all the more. Aaru is the calm Mira seeks, when they’re together the whole world is a much quieter place where Mira feels at peace.

Last but not least, for those who wanted to see more dragons in Before She Ignites Meadows delivers & honestly has me obsessing! 😍 Not only are Lala & Crystal back 🐉💓🐉 but we get introduced to more amazing majestic dragons along the way. Lala & Crystal are given personalities and we get to see Mira & her BFF/Wing Sister train & take care of them.

There’s so much positive to say when it comes to this trilogy, mental health rep being at the forefront. Having a strong support system & practicing self-care even when you think it’s not possible. I love these characters with all of my heart & every time I step into this world is a real treat. Hella diverse, our MC is a POC as is her love interest and this time around we also have a Lesbian relationship between two of the supporting characters. The character growth is A+ if you’re looking at Before She Ignites as Mira hitting rock bottom. As She Ascends sees Mira finding real confidence, growing, and breaking away from those who’ve lied to her. Surrounding herself with genuine people & discovering inner strength. Aaru also had deep character growth while some of the others found new meaning & purpose in life.

The World Building was EPICCCC!!!! between the dragons & the culture/history we got from each of the Islands and the Gods that represent them/their people, I don’t know what I enjoyed most. This time around we see how these Gods affect the people & the power/strengths they draw from their Gods. I can picture the Fallen Isles so vividly & the ending left me with chills!!! to say that I miss this world having just been in it would be the understatement of the year for this bookworm. I am so curious to see where Mira goes next & the dragons she discovers along the way…


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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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July Wrap Up

Hello Bookworms! It’s the start of the weekend for me & on the agenda is getting some reviews posted here on the blog. I had one of the MOST fun reading months in July & pretty much picked up one book after another with no brakes. I also participated in  #Smutathon & read some awesome Contemporary titles, special thanks goes to Melanie for keeping us on track with them buddy reads haha! ❤ I also found myself reading books that I’d typically pick up in the Fall & I think that’s just my subconscious prepping for the season of warm sweaters, colorful leaves, and hot tea *bring it* In the month of July I truly tried to read whatever my heart desired seeing as the rest of the year is pretty booked with new ARCS & releases I have on deck to review. Looking down at my collage of book covers I’m smiling seeing the variety so this is one happily satisfied bookworm!

Grace & Fury by Tracy Banghart 3 STARS I really enjoyed this tale of two sisters switching places however I ended up being interested & invested in one sister more than the other. There were some pacing issues however, the ending is soOo promising of what’s to come & I am definitely going to p/u the sequel to this duology.

The King Of Bourbon Street by Thea De Salle– 4.5 STARS✨ (RTC) This is the first Naughty read on Lair Of Books & I could NOT be more happier with it! well…I could have been hype as all hell had it been a plus sized gal up on the cover but more to come on that in my review. This was steamy & all around AMAZING with body positivity (except for the cover) & LGBTQIAP+ Rep. I look forward to continuing on with the rest of this series 😉

The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory 4 STARSA Contemporary with important topics woven into the story. I LOVE the female MC however I wasn’t fond of the male interest, his attitude towards women left much to be desired. 

Check Please! by Ngozi Ukazu ✨5 STARS✨ (Mini RTC) This has to be the cutest web comic turned Graphic Novel EVER! well it’s the first I’ve read & has me officially HOOKED! I debated on whether to give this 4 stars cause I really wanted more of the romance but then again the friendships REALLY are AMAZING! Bitty stole my heart with his pie baking skills & I just need more of his college experience & Vlogs 💓

Strange Grace by Tessa Gratton5 STARS✨ (RTC) A Pleasant & unexpected surprise this was! I thought I’d be creeped the heck out by Strange Grace but instead I ended up being entranced by this dark and beautifully written Polyamorous read. More thoughts to come in my review next week 🖤

Scream All Night by Derek Milman4 STARS✨ Quirky, odd, sad, and a times very funny all rolled into one is what I described this one as in my review. Scream All Night feature a MC who has had to emancipate himself at the age of 12 in order to get away from an abusive father. Now 17, Dario returns to the castle/studio where the worse of his memories still reside in order to be present for his father’s last wishes. This one read very different that anything I’ve ever read & it worked, I was engaged all throughout & enamored by Moldavia studios and its inhabitants 🖤

Josh and Hazel’s Guide To Not Dating by Christina Lauren4 STARS✨ (RTC)  There’s so much to love in this story! from the Korean culture we get from Josh to the fierce independence we see in Hazel. I had SO MUCH fun reading this & found myself falling in love with their love story, easily one of the best I’ve read!  More thoughts to come next week 🖤

The Black God’s Drum by P. Djèlí Clark 5 STARS✨ (RTC) I just need this to be made into a full length novel cause it absolutely left me wanting more from this world. Most intriguing is how I managed to get so interested & invested in these characters in such a short period of time since this is a novella but I did! If you enjoyed Children of Blood and Bone for its Orisha aspects then this is a MUST read 😉

I think it’s safe to say now that you’ll be seeing quite a few reviews start to trickle out here on Lair Of Books 😂 they are for the most part ARCS that are set to be published in September. Since I was on a roll with my reading, everything else pretty much took a back seat & that includes TV & Netflix. I did however go on a date with hubby & we watched…

ANT-MAN AND THE WASP

Paul Rudd & Evangeline Lilly were the PERFECT duo on the screen! Where Scott/Ant-Man fell short, Hope/The Wasp more than made up. Action packed scenes infused with the ol’ Wasp humor, enhanced suits, and old friends = a VERY good time!  I rated this one 5 STARS!

 

 


Hope you’re all having a FAB August! It’s setting up to be an exciting month for me with my first vacation in over 10 years! LOOOOOONG overdue but oh how sweet it will feel taking that ride on the Hogwarts Express?!?! 😱😱😱 I know I’m a bit late with this wrap-up so instead I’ll end this by asking, what books are on your night stand? 💓


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THE RAGING ONES BLOG TOUR!!!🚀

Title: THE RAGING ONES

Author: Krista Ritchie & Becca Ritchie

Pub. Date: August 14th. 2018

Genre: YA Sci-Fi

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Pages: 352

Content Warnings: Physical Violence, Torture, Suicidal Thoughts and Drug Use

*Thank you Wednesday Books for the ARC copy in exchange for an honest opinion

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE | AMAZON

    

The Raging Ones truly caught me by surprise in that I wasn’t expecting it to make me the 4th person in the bond our main protagonists share! Told in multiple POV, we get introduced to Court Icecastle and Mykal Kickfall first as they’re preparing to enroll for consideration into the Space Program that would allow them  to keep their secret. In a world where everyone is given their Death Day at the time of their birth, there are also classifications:

Influentials: their life expectancy surpasses 100 years of age which marks them for greatness. They get the best educations because it is believed their contributions to the world are of high value. Most are adopted into families in other countries that can provide them with as much. Influentials are the elite, wealthy, and basically V.I.P.’s in this world.

Fast Trackers: have a life expectancy between 13-29 years of age. When born they are returned to their mothers to live free & fun lives. They are most commonly recognized for their colorful hair, piercings, slang, addiction to certain drugs…they live fast & hard in the little time they have.

Babes: life expectancy is between infancy and 12 years of age. They also are returned to their mothers to live innocent lives never leaving their childhood.

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Court Icecastle is a Fast Tracker raised by Influentials, he is able to pass as a Influential himself and hopes to use this as a way into the StarDust Space program. Court Icecastle’s Death Day has come & gone leaving him very much alive with many questions and much more guilt. To make matters even more interesting, Court is bonded to Mykal Kickfall. Bonded in a way that lets them feel everything the other is feeling no matter the distance. Mykal has also survived past his Death Day & life brings these two together, Mykal a “Babe” comes from a distant land. He’s had a completely different upbringing & is a bit rough around the edges. Court makes it his mission to educate & train Mykal who he is now connected to for the StarDust enrollment exams. Years pass & the date quickly approaches for the entrance exam when all of a sudden both Court & Mykal feel a third connection. Franny Bluecastle is at deaths door when her connection to Court & Mykal activates. Franny a Fast Tracker living fast & hard is ready to die, it’s her Death Day after all and all she wants is to spend her savings on a room in one of the most well known hotels for V.I.P’s. Things don’t go quite as planned for Franny who is overcome with emotions, thoughts, feelings, and sensations that are not her own when she meets Court and Mykal. From this point on it’s edge of your seat, pulse pounding action with a Romance to satisfy all those who live for that A+ TOP quality angst! *need more 🤗*

Court Icecastle- has a ton of secrets, never smiles, and carries a whole lot of pain buried deep within. Court is a Fast Tracker who can pass for a Influential and really only has 1 goal in mind. That is until he meets Mykal, it’s more than just a bond…Mykal is his soulmate & there are reasons for which he can’t quite act on these feelings 😉

Mykal Kickfall- A Babe who lived past his death date & comes from a land where people still hunt for their food. He’s most comfortable in the outdoors chopping wood. Mykal is all physical strength but he also has a HUGE heart & in it he’s managed to find a special place for Court. I LOVE MYKAL TO PIECES! he accepts Court as he is but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t enjoy trying to get him to smile 💓 Also, Mykal is the one to come running whenever he smells danger to either Court or Franny, fiercely over protective in the best of ways!

Franny Bluecastle- A Fast Tracker who pretty much fits all of the stereo types known for FT’s & doesn’t know what to make of being linked to Mykal & Court. She has a different relationship with them both & I love that she never gives up on Court when it comes to getting him to lower his walls.

There’s so much to love in The Raging Ones but my favorite aspects of this book had to do with the bond these three shared. It wasn’t just talked about,   Krista & Becca Ritchie took us through the good, bad, and the ugly with these characters. The moments that should remain private but instead are shared 3 ways and the complications that arise when they come into physical contact with one another. The confusion that comes into play when you have 3 different personalities feeling everything the other is feeling and wondering if that was your own emotion or not. The world building was A++ and by describing each of the different types of people in this world we got a more fleshed out look as to what’s valued most & what is considered expendable. The romance is by far one of my favorites this year!!! there is so much angst for some very valid reasons but I was seriously shipping hard at the start of this book! Underneath it all, we also get a look at a society intent on putting their eggs all in 1 basket…in the hands of Influentials. All others are seen as lesser than because of the short lives they are destined to live. The ending left me with eyes WIDE open! to say that I am HIGHLY anticipating the sequel has to be the understatement of the year! I can’t wait to be reunited with Court, Franny, and Mykal & see what and where their adventure takes them next…


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