Fire Song by Adam Garnet Jones


Content/Trigger Warnings: Loss of a loved one, suicide, grief, depression, cheating, homophobia, violence/gunviolence, drugs/drug dealing, underage drinking, fatphobia, bullying, mention of police brutality, death, misandry, mentions of pedophilia, rape

Friends… I wish I knew how to start this review. I have been conflicted and have been at a loss on how to express my reading experience. For starters, this was the OMG She’s Indigenous July pick! The second thing you should know, I’m not an own voice reviewer for this. Yes, I’m Apache, but I can’t comment on the fact that this takes place on an Anishinaabe reserve. I can’t make comments on the way the community and cultural elements are represented in this book. I can only make comments relating to Apache culture and beliefs. What I can comment on and will be commenting on is the details, the characters, the problematic issues, and just my general reading experience. The other thing you need to know about this book, it’s a film to book adaptation and they might as well be two separate things.

Fire Song follows our main character Shane, who’s still feeling the weight of the loss from the suicide of his sister. With his mother slipping into depression, bills pilling up, and everything around him falling apart, Shane wants nothing more than to leave for Toronto to further his education. To be with his his boyfriend and best friend, David. Things are never that simple. With the community telling him to stay, a girlfriend who’s pressuring him at every corner, Shane comes to a crossroad and will have to make a choice.

Let me start by saying, please practice self-care while reading this book. There are a lot of heavy topics throughout this entire book. There were times where I had to set the book down, take long breaks, and take care of myself. And if you do watch the movie, know that’s a lot darker than the book. I will also be talking about a lot of these things throughout my review. So please, please take care of yourself and your mental health while reading this book, watching the movie, or reading this review.

I’ve seen a lot of reviews and seen a lot of comments about how terrible of a character Shane was throughout this entire book. I’ll be honest, I strongly disliked everyone except Shane. For the entire book, Shane is juggling a large expanse of things. You have to understand that he’s a young adult, taking on so much, and as someone who has gone through a lot of hardships back to back, he was the most relatable character to me as a character. He’s taking care of his mother, he’s trying to figure out a way to repair the roof and manage his home, has an Uncle that constantly makes him feel horrible, a community pressuring him to staying and basically telling him to give up his education, has a “girlfriend” who’s constantly pressuring Shane into things and even has a scene where she rapes him, David is constantly manipulating and emotionally/mentally abusing Shane, he keeps seeing the ghost of his sister, and on top of all of that, trying to come up with the funds to go to Toronto for his education. With all of these things, Shane is emotionally and mentally taking on a lot. He’s forced into situations he’s uncomfortable with, there’s a consistent theme of him feeling backed into a corner, and it ultimately leads to his finally breaking down multiple times.

Maybe everyone else is exactly the same, and he’s the one that’s been exchanged for another version of himself, one that’s attracted to guys, one that sees spirits and deals drugs to teenagers.

As I mentioned, Shane’s “girlfriend”, Tara isn’t that great of a character. We do get some chapters from her perspective and I’ll be frank, I didn’t like spending time in her perspective. Multiple times throughout this book, Shane makes it very clear how he feels about her. Tara is constantly inserting herself into places where Shane never asked her to be. For example, there’s a part in the book where she tells everyone she’s going to Toronto with Shane and in turn, Shane gets very upset by her doing this. I also mentioned that she ends up raping Shane. There’s a few scenes where she tries to pressure Shane into having sex with her to which he challenges with, “Why do you always have to touch me?” Then there’s a scene later on where they both go to this abandon house/shed and when she asked them if they’re going to get intimate, Shane responds with, “Yeah, I guess. I think so.” That’s not consent, bottom line. And I don’t stand for the way that whole entire scene was handled in the first place. She even tries to pressure Shane into saying “I love you” back to her. And later on in the book, even though Shane is clearly not coping well with everything, there’s a moment in Tara’s perspective how Shane owes her and rants about how terrible a person he is, even though he can barely cope with the things happening in his own life. In contrast, the movie portrays Tara in an entirely different light, one that made me extremely uncomfortable and furious.

I could keep going on and on about all the things that were problematic throughout this book. My best recommendation is to go watch the live show we hosted where we talked about movie vs. book. In the live show we go into more details of the issues.

Despite the bad elements about this book (believe me, there’s plenty), there’s a lot of important topics that come up. One of the biggest topics that comes up throughout this book is how we never seem to care enough about people while they’re living, but when they commit suicide, everyone suddenly cares. It’s such an important topic that isn’t often discussed in books and I wish we would’ve had more time spent on that because of how important it is. I also appreciate the author taking the time to show that men are also raped especially due to rarely ever seeing this talked about in media or books.

I also really liked the way grief was portrayed throughout this book. In the times that I’ve experienced grief and witnessed grief, I think it was a brilliant way of showing the reality of grief. We also see the difference of Shane’s grief compared to his mother, Jackie. Jackie’s grief is very passive and quiet, but Shane’s grief starts out very small and turns into something bigger. Think of Shane’s grief like a glass in the sink, while it’s sitting in the sink you have the faucet filling it up with water and then you forget about the turned on faucet and glass. That’s how Shane’s grief is. He becomes so full of emotions and conflict that it starts to pour out of him. It’s kind of the same way the house is too. First, it starts off with small things in the house and then is escalates to a pile up in the sink, no more groceries, and the ceiling falling to shambles. I also loved the way things were handled with moving on from the grief at the end. That really touched my heart and reminded me of the way we do certain things in my family.

Speaking of the ending, I really loved the ending of this book. I think the ending of this book is very underrated. You really feel that sense of family, the sense of love, and I just had a deep appreciation for how it played out. It was the positive note that this book really needed. There were parts at the end that reminded me of my own family and it was just one of those ends that touched a little piece of my heart.

Overall, I don’t want to waste more time talking about this. There’s so much to unpack with this book, with the movie, and we would be here all day with my ranting. There were things that I loved, appreciated, but it wasn’t enough to be the focus of this review. Just a reminder, while I’m Apache, I can’t comment on the Anishnaabe cultural elements in this book and if you’re not Anishnaabe, you shouldn’t be making comments about it either. Also, I’d like to recommend checking out our live show because we do go into further details about the book and the movie that aren’t in this review.



The Year Shakespeare Ruined My Life by Dani Jansen


ARC was provided by NetGalley and Second Story Press in exchanged for an honest review.

This review is being published before the release date (September 22nd, 2020)

Content/Trigger Warnings: Anxiety, minor manipulation, racism, toxic masculinity, internalized homophobia, cultural insensitivity (from the teacher)

Oh jeez, friends… I wish I could say that I enjoyed this book more than what I did, I really do. I have sat on my feelings about this book for a couple of days and I still feel conflicted with this book. Let me start by saying, I love a good retelling and I love, love the fact that this is a retelling of one of my favorite plays, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I mean, who doesn’t love a good Shakespeare retelling especially of one of the plays that often gets overlooked? But friends, let’s dive into this review and then you’ll understand what I mean.

β€œπ‘»π’‰π’Šπ’π’ˆπ’” π’˜π’π’ 𝒂𝒓𝒆 𝒅𝒐𝒏𝒆; π’‹π’π’šβ€™π’” 𝒔𝒐𝒖𝒍 π’π’Šπ’†π’” π’Šπ’ 𝒕𝒉𝒆 π’…π’π’Šπ’π’ˆ.”

– π‘Ύπ’Šπ’π’π’Šπ’‚π’Ž π‘Ίπ’‰π’‚π’Œπ’†π’”π’‘π’†π’‚π’“π’†

The Year Shakespeare Ruined My Life follows our main character Allison, who desperately wants to end her high school year as Valedictorian. And sometimes when you wish so badly for something, you get roped into co-producing the school’s play of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Along the way she’ll learn how to balance the show, battle the never ending school working, being a friend to her friends, and possibly find a romance along away that she might not be ready for.

For starters, I love the representation that’s in this book. I haven’t seen many readers talk about this, but there’s a good chunk of diversity within this book. Our main character Allison is lesbian which also leads to our main sapphic romance for this book. We also have a pansexual side and we have a male male side relationship, as well. Plus, there’s a Korean-American side character and a Moroccan side character too. I wish there had been just a little more diversity, but overall I think many reader’s will appreciate the representation in this book. A side note, there’s a male corgi featured in this book and his name is Princess Sunshine!

I also have to talk about family dynamics for a second. Allison’s parents are the cutest thing! You all know I’m a sucker for family dynamics and the way family dynamics happen in books. So the fact that Allison’s parents are so nice and open minded really warmed my heart. I really appreciate seeing open minded parents in books especially since far too often do I find books where there’s a parent or parent that has issues with their children coming out to them. And I think it’s so important to show the the positive along with the bad. So I really loved seeing that in this book.

Also, I really loved the newfound family and the way the author shows the importance of friendship throughout this book. This is a dynamic that I really love and I wish books did the found family more often. What I love most about this is the overall setting because I truly believe plays and projects can really bring people closer together. So seeing that in this book and the fact that this book concluded with the found family, it really warmed my heart.

β€œIf you’re going to do a Shakespeare play, it may as well be A Midsummer Night’s Dream, right? I mean, all those crazy love triangles have got to keep the audience interested. She loves him, but he loves her, and they all end up in the woods together with some fairies! The story may be weird, but it’s not boring.”

However, despite all the good thing this book offers, there were a few issues that I couldn’t look past. For starters, the main character is supposed to be lesbian and while I know in the real world, no has to use a label if they don’t want to. However, I feel like it would have been more beneficial if the main character actually referred to themselves as lesbian more than the three times that I actually saw them referencing themselves as a lesbian. A speaking of representation, I wasn’t a fan of the stereotype used for the one character. Using the stereotype of the womanizer for a character only for them to turn out to be a closeted gay just wasn’t something I’m a fan of especially the way the sexuality was used as a plot device. And there’s also the fact that this character put the openly gay character through absolute hell. All of this felt like a set back of YA to about five-six years ago.

I also had an issue with the the relationship between Allison and Charlotte. Right of the back we’re given instant “she’s not like other girls” vibes and that is one of the tropes that I’m not the biggest fan of. There was also so much idolization from Allison and how she viewed Charlotte that it was hard to read through at times. We also have the fact that these two characters barely interact and the few times that we do get them interacting, it’s mostly through texting. Also, they only go on one date, very instantly lovey vibes, and at some point they have this big fight which felt forced, unnatural, and very unbelievable. And I say this statement because there was hardly any build up that would make us suspect a fight was coming. It got to a point where I just didn’t care about them anymore. I found myself more interested in the side characters or how the book would conclude than what would happen with these two characters.

And I have to mention how I wasn’t a fan of how self-destructive Allison’s character was throughout this book. There are countless moments where she pushed away the people who care about her and then acts shock when those loved ones are mad, upset, or hurt by her. And while I love what rom-coms usually do, the execution of things is what I pay attention to and this wasn’t it. The amount of selfishness and self-destructive behavior was so overwhelming that it impacted my mood while reading. It also felt like it dragged the plot into a more negative mood. Not to mention all of this paints Allison in a negative light that can make a reader dislike her or not feel any connection to her character at all.

Overall, this book had a lot of good and a lot of bad. There were things I loved and thing I wished were given more time to be developed or flushed out a little better. I recognize that this is a debut novel by this author so I hope my critique of this book was fair and highlights everything, both good and bad. I think many readers who love retellings and rom-coms will enjoy this book. And if sounds like a book that might be down your reading genre, I definitely recommend giving it a try!

The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.



Each of Us a Desert by Mark Oshiro


ARC was provided by NetGalley and Tor Teen in exchanged for an honest review.

This review is being published before the release date (September 15th, 2020)

Content/Trigger Warnings: Depictions of graphic violence, graphic injuries, death, allusions to an animal death, emotional and mental abuse, domestic abuse, grief, alcoholism, child abuse, trauma

Friends, I have to admit something… I have never read a book by Mark Oshiro until now. Okay, I said it! However, this book was so good though and now I have a mighty need to pick up anything by Mark Oshiro. There’s something about fantasy books that combine survival, deserts, and semi-apocalyptic elements that lures me in. Or perhaps it was the synopsis about a main character who deserves happiness. Either way, I was blown away by this book!

Our story follows Xochitl, the la cuentista of her village, Empalme, taking the stories of her villagers and returning them to Solis. Until one day, Xochitl decides to keep a story and nothing is ever the same. When Julio, the murderous man who has has conquered their town, unleashes his wrath like never before and Xochitl’s secret has been revealed, she has no other choice, but to leave her village into the unforgiving desert, to find a kindred spirit who will understand her.

“Solo quiero ser vista. I only want to be seen.”

I truly loved the experience and the way Oshiro built the world in this book. You feel the heavy sense of how harsh the environment is and how sacred water truly is. You have areas that have been scorched or turned to ruin. It really adds to the apocalyptic elements of the world. You also get to experience the mythology Oshiro built surrounding cuentistas. As Xochitl is traveling throughout this book, she encounters various people from many different places who have different relations, experiences, and stories of cuentistas. These challenge the beliefs that Xochitl has always been told and we see, despite the differences, how those beliefs can coexist without there being a default “right” or “wrong” way.

I also really loved the relationship between Xochitl and Emilia. Both of these young women are trying to find their place in the world after each of them have experienced so much. Somehow, despite all the pain they’ve experienced, held back from others, they find comfort within the company of one another. Their relationship isn’t the main focus of this novel, but it’s a consistent slow build throughout the whole book. And if you’re fan of slow burn romances, with slight elements of enemies to lovers, then you’re going to love these two. I also want to take how throughout this book, LGBTQ+ relationships were normalized through this book. There’s no pain, no hardships, you just get these glimpses of them being with one another and living in that moment of happiness.

There’s also a huge theme of community and togetherness throughout this book. Whether it’s through the storytelling or when Xochitl and Emilia are traveling through the desert. There’s just a large sense of connection to everyone and everything. It made my heart so warm and causes the reader to pause to cherish the stories that have been passed to them whether through family, friends, or your relationships.

“We’re shaped by the experiences that we live.”

Also, let me say how much I loved the Spanish included throughout this book. I don’t say it enough, but it truly is a breath of fresh air to see an author speak their native language or a language that’s a huge part of them. I think for many readers who aren’t familiar with Spanish, never learned Spanish, it might be hard to understand certain parts throughout the book. However, it truly makes for an exceptional experience and makes this book an even better read.

Overall, I really loved this story and so many elements this book holds. The journey in itself and the many messages this book holds are unforgettable. I have no doubt that this book is going to impact so many readers. I can’t wait to read more from Mark Oshiro and see where they’re next book takes them! I also want to recommend that if you’re reading this review, then please make sure you look up Latinx book reviewers for their thoughts on this book. I’m not Latinx so I can’t comment on the cultural elements laced throughout this book. But if you are Latinx, please let me know so I can link you.

Below I’m including some reviews from other reviewers that really touched my heart, but you should also read and support them as well!

🏜️ Emily

🏜️ Adri

🏜️ Alyssa

🏜️ Liv

🏜️ Sofi

🏜️ Zuz

The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.



A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow


Content/Trigger Warnings: Racism, misogynoir, death, murder, trauma/PTSD, loss of a loved one/parent, anxiety, bullying, police brutality, public humiliations

Fellow readers, this was on my anticipated releases for 2020 and I’m happy to say that for the most part, I enjoyed this book. You know me, if someone were to say the floor is mythical creatures, I’m diving into that immediately. Plus, there’s found sisterly love!

A Song Below Water follows Tavia and Effie, two Black teenage girls who are best friends, but considers each other to be more like sisters. Throughout this book we see both girls trying to navigate the waters of family issues, past hardships, secrets, and unwavering anger against injustice and unfairness. In Portland, Oregon, they attend the local school, trying to survive the ever constant drama brewing and come face to face with the struggles for the mythical creatures attending.

β€œI’m not a monster because I live in a world that gives me impossible choices.”

As I mentioned, this book is very relevant to a lot of the things that have been happening in the media, but also have always been happening. It addresses a lot about police brutality, racism towards the black community, and how this is always happening outside of the “trends” you see so often on social media. Honestly, reading this a month after it’s release, and it’s been an interesting experience. This book released during the time where everyone was talking about the Black Lives Matter movement, everyone from all corners of the world were talking about, if you went to any social media you would see something about the Black Lives Matter movement. So reading it a month later, mid-July and seeing how no one is talking about it anymore has been an experience. However, this book specially shines a light on misogynoir and the treatment of Black women in the Black Lives Matter moment, how Black women who are wronged by actions of police brutality don’t get the same amount of attention or shared as loudly the way a story of a Black man will, and how Black women are often treated in social settings such as school.

I say this all the time, but I adore different family dynamics. For starters, I love the relationship between Tavia and Effie. The way they connect, how they’re protective of one another, how they care and worry for one another, and just how they look after one another is absolutely everything. And even though they’re best friends, the way they constantly consider each other as sisters just warms my heart. Now, I love found family and I love seeing different family dynamics. So the found sisterly love filled my heart so much. They also use ASL from time to time as a means of communicating with one another and it was fantastic to see that representation, even though neither of the characters suffer from hearing loss. I really appreciated how we learn about Effie’s family dynamic and how she came to living with Tavia and her family. I loved that and I loved seeing all the references to Effie’s grandparents. I love seeing the grandparents family dynamic in the book.

Despite how much I loved the things I loved, my biggest issues with this book has made me reevaluate how I really felt about this book and reexamine my own notes. This book is very strong and powerful in the contemporary genre, but it’s very weak in the fantastical and mythological elements. This book takes place in our own world, only with mythical creatures like gargoyles, sprites, mermaids, etc… yet we never receive any rules, any connection between the two worlds, or their place in our world. One of the opening statements is β€˜myths are not to be trusted’ but then the author goes on not to explain any further context of that statement. We are thrust into this magical world, which can be fun, but it felt like these magical elements were just scattered throughout the book and never given the time they deserved. One of my biggest reasons of why I was excited for this book was many readers and the author stating there were gargoyles in the book. Gargoyles are one of my favorite mythical creatures, like top five mythical creatures. So when the gargoyle (singular, not plural) was introduced, it was underwhelming and a part of my excitement had died down. This character alone didn’t get the detail attention I was looking for. You also have an element with the sirens in this book. They have an incredible allegory throughout this whole book for the misogynoir, but also get a lot of different elements like how they’re all connected, how they exist in our world, and it never felt like like we were given enough context to connect everything together to form the bigger picture.

β€œThe danger is as much a part of home as community is. The fear gets quiet, but it doesn’t disappear, and that might be what sets us apart. When we smile, or we dance, or we march, or we win, it isn’t because we didn’t have a reason we didn’t have a reason to be afraid. It isn’t because the uncertainty is gone. It’s because we did it anyway. Because we cannot be exterminated.”

My other issue with this book was the ending of the book. It felt very rushed and I wasn’t amused with how things were handled with Effie’s father. What really frustrated me was how after everything was addressed with him about his actions, Effie somehow trusted him and we as the readers were expected to trust him, and respect Effie’s choice. It didn’t sit right with me especially since Effie never knew this man until literally the end of the book. I wish we had seen more build up about him or had a scene with Effie and her grandparents actually sitting down to talk about things. I think that little detail would have made a big difference with that ending.

Overall, I really liked this story and it’s so, so powerful, important. I think many readers will appreciate the things this book addresses and sheds light on. However, I truly think this book would have benefited from being a bit longer, having that extra time taken on the mythological elements, and just adding some extra details to build that bigger picture. And give me more gargoyles dangit! But the theme is very loud and clear. And I want to put a soft reminder here to all my Black friends and fellow readers to please practice self-care while reading this book. Your mental health is important and you are allowed to rest.

Buddy Read with Kayla from Books and Blends πŸ’œ

Below I’m including some reviews by Black book reviewers that you should also read and support as well! Make sure you lift their voices up!

πŸ§œπŸ½β€β™€οΈ Myonna

πŸ§œπŸ½β€β™€οΈ Ashley

πŸ§œπŸ½β€β™€οΈ Ms. Woc

πŸ§œπŸ½β€β™€οΈ Camryn

πŸ§œπŸ½β€β™€οΈ Lucie



Lore (Chapter Sampler) by Alexandra Bracken


Chapter Sampler was provided by NetGalley, Disney Publishing Worldwide, and Disney-Hyperion in exchanged for an honest review.

This chapter sampler review is being published before the release dateΒ (January 5th, 2021)

Content/Trigger Warnings: Death, murder, graphic injuries, loss of a loved one, grief

“A new age was in reach, waiting to be seized by one strong enough to dare.”

Friends and fellow readers… Wow. This was only a six chapter teaser of this upcoming book and it stole my breath away. I lost count of how many times my breath hitched, how often I was clutching my fists in anticipation of the next page, and just really impressed that I’m now hooked. And now begins the long, long wait of waiting till 2021 to actually get a finished copy of Lore. My retelling-loving soul needs this book now! I have to know what’s going to happen next! I have no doubt that this is going to make my top books for 2021.

Thousands of years ago, nine godsβ€”Athena, Artemis, Poseidon, Dionysus, Apollo, Hermes, Aphrodite, Hephaestus, and Aresβ€”staged a failed revolution against Zeus. As punishment, they are doomed to face the Agon every seven years: they will walk the earth as mortals, and if they’re killed by a hunter, they forfeit their immortality.

In present day Manhattan; we follow Lore, a young woman who fights as an underground fighter to cope after the loss of Iris, a woman who was like a grandmother to her. With the past slaughter of her family and the being the last mortal living member of The House of Perseus, she carries a great deal on her shoulders. But when a ghost of a familiar face brings her a warning during one of her fights and she comes home to one of the nine gods waiting for her, Lore will be thrust back into a ruthless world she longed to escape and has no desire to return to. That is… until an offer is made that she can’t resist.

“I will kill the false Ares in you name… If you swear you will aid me… If you vow to bind your fate to mine…”

Let’s just get this out of the way. The intense screeching that took place while reading this chapter sampler. I love mythology and I love it even more when, it’s not only a retelling, but actually done well! Just from the little bit that we receive in this chapter sampler, I’m excited and head of heels. Also, when I say this is a retelling, I’m not kidding when I say this is a Medusa retelling. Yes, that’s right, Medusa retelling! Medusa is such an underrated monster of Greek mythology. She may be one of the most famous monsters from Greek mythology, but we don’t see enough of her in fantasy novels. So I’m really excited to see more authors giving her some spotlight especially with the way the author is choosing to retell Medusa’s story.

This is only a six chapter sampler and it’s such a fast paced read. You can tell that this book is going to be fast paced from all the action, the little details that can really make a scene unforgettable, and the way the mythological tidbits come into play. I’m incredibly excited to get a finished copy of this book, to read my first work by Alexandra Bracken, and to see how this Medusa retelling is spun. And before I forget, so far we haveΒ several BIPOC characters that have been introduced, one of whom is gay and of South Korean descent.Β Miles is Lore’s best friend, a pure cinnamon roll, has such a contrast in personality compared to Lore’s intense personality, and is probably going to play a much larger role in this story.

β€œYou can gain immortality by becoming a god, but you can also gain it through glory.Β KleosΒ is the honor that comes from becoming a legendβ€”someone others keep alive through stories and songs. Your body can die, but your name will live forever.”

Overall, I’m truly excited for this release and I can’t wait to explore this story further, to watch it unfold. And I’m excited to see how Miles will bloom and grow in this story, as well. As a novice to Bracken’s work, I can’t wait to experience her writing style and knowledge of Greek mythology to deliver us a captivating tale. My soul is ready for 2021 to be here to deliver this release. And if you have the opportunity to read the chapter sampler, definitely give it a chance because it hooked me from the very first page! My biggest prediction, this is going to be my top book for 2021. There, I said it and it’s out in the universe now! Now the wait begins!

The quotes above were taken from a chapter sampler and are subject to change upon publication.



Pillow Thoughts (Pillow Thoughts #1) by Courtney Peppernell


Content/Trigger Warnings: Mentions of self-harm and suicide

“Life is unpredictable, and I’d rather play every card as honestly as I can than have a deck full of regrets and what-ifs.”

Friends, I say this all the time especially when it comes to poetry (and even more so when it comes to pets). I truly believe all of these things come into our lives when we need them the most or in certain times of our life where we didn’t know we needed them. Would I read this poetry collection a year ago? Three years? Five? Probably not. However, this poetry coming into my life right now while the world is on fire and I’m home, missing my family more than ever… Yes, this poetry collection hit home with really hard blows.

“May your weapon be kindness. Your shield compassion. May flowers grow again , to sprout love from all this sadness.”

I’ll be honest, I don’t think many readers will enjoy this poetry collection. It’s classified as modern day poetry, but I think many readers (myself included) will feel at times, this book feels more like a motivational book or book of inspiration. I also want to say that this book is divided into sections and I love when a poetry collection divides itself into sections.

And can I take a moment to talk about the illustrations? Not going to lie, those jellyfish illustrations were not only beautiful, but also really calming and soothing. I read this poetry collection after some really terrible things happened and the amount of stress, anxiety, and panic I had eased a bit while reading this book and a lot of that is contributed to the fact of the illustrations. Jellyfish exhibits are some of my favorite sections go to at an aquarium and just some of my favorite videos to watch. So I really loved how the jellyfish were included.

“You stole so much of me, more than I had ever planned. But it is a new day and I feel like coming home. Back to all the parts of me I’d forgotten, the part that I don’t feel so alone.”

Overall, I really connected with a lot of this poetry collection and it came into my life at a moment where I was feeling very broken, very twisted up inside, and shrinking into myself. Since reading this poetry collection, things don’t feel as terrible and I’m slowly finding my way back to myself. As I have said, I never would have read this a few years ago, but it came into my life when I needed a little beacon of light to help guide me back to feeling semi-okay and that makes all the difference.

“You’re still here, you know; under all the messy things, under the stress, the anxiety, the sadness, you’re still you.”

Special thank you to the anonymous gifter who sent me this book!



An American Sunrise: Poems by Joy Harjo


Content/Trigger Warnings: Death, loss of a loved one, grief, colonization and oppression, transgenerational and intergenerational trauma

Friends and fellow readers, what an incredible read. This was such an impactful reading experience. How often do you hear someone talk about the various Trail of Tears and the way Native Americans have been impacted throughout history? Not very often. While this book is ownvoices for the Mvskoke representation (the author is Mvskoke), I can’t speak for this experience. I’m not Mvskoke, I’m Apache and so please take my opinions with a grain of salt. But I truly loved this book and I think many readers who want to diversify their reading and hear one voice about one of the many Trail of Tears, this is a great book to start with.

β€œThe heart is a fist. It pockets prayer or holds rage.”

This book is a collection of poems and history woven together about the early 1800s when the Mvskoke people were forcibly removed from their homes, their original land, just east of the Mississippi, to the Indian Territory which is now part of Oklahoma. Harjo ends up returning to her homelands and discusses an abundance of emotions, about her family, and history.

When I say this book took a piece of me, I mean it truly chipped a piece of my soul and kept it for itself. The swirl of emotions and feelings I felt while reading this were enough to sink a whole ship. There is so much hardship, grief, a large sense of loss and heartbreak, but there’s also love and hope laced throughout this book. This was the first work by Harjo that I have read and after reading this, I just want to pick up even more of her work.

Some of my favorite pieces from this book are the following:

πŸŒ„ Once I looked at the moon

πŸŒ„ Rising and Falling

πŸŒ„ Falling from the Night Sky

πŸŒ„ Rabbit Invents the Saxophone

πŸŒ„ Let There Be No Regrets

πŸŒ„ Tobacco Origin Story

πŸŒ„ Beyond

β€œI was taught to give honor to the house of warriors. Which cannot exist without the house of the peacemakers.”

Overall, I enjoyed this and as I mentioned, if you’re looking for books by Native American authors talking about The Trail of Tears, this is a great book to start with. The author weaves such an important picture for those who have never done any independent research of The Trail of Tears or looked for those talking about their family’s history with The Trail of Tears. The Trail of Tears is one of the most important pieces of colonization of the United States and I can’t express enough how important it is to listen to First Nation voices of their experiences.

Special thank you to Donna from Momsbookcollection for gifting this book!



The Wives by Tarryn Fisher


Content/Trigger Warnings: Domestic violence, stalking, graphic discussions of miscarriage and stillbirth, polygamy, references to child abuse, references to murder and suicide, infertility, gun violence, murder, mentions of clausterphobia, trauma, and much more!

Friends, this wasn’t it for me. I don’t know where to begin with this. How to express how many times I cringed, to talk about how this book affected my mental health, or the fact that after I finished reading this book I felt completely drained and left on a terrible note. This is my first Tarryn Fisher book and honestly, I’m disappointed.

Our story follows our main character, twenty-eight year old Thursday, who’s married to Seth. Seth has two other wives besides Thursday. She doesn’t know anything about these other wives, but one day, everything changes when Thursday finds something. Something that’s going to wake her up to something horrifying.

The best place I can start with this is the beginning. Despite the slow build, I was really enjoying the the beginning. With that kind of beginning, the author could’ve taken it in a really dark and creative path. So I liked how the foundation to our story was being built. It was really promising which makes the rest of this even more disappointing.

The other thing I want to address is the way miscarriage and mental health have gone hand in hand in this book. Despite the fact that the author took these to the extreme, I’m glad that the author showed how miscarriages can impact someone’s mental health and how hard it is to come to terms with that kind of loss.

It would have been fantastic if the author actually cared enough to list content/trigger warnings. Now, speaking about the miscarriage and mental health, I had so many issues with this. Let me make one thing clear, I have had two miscarriages in the past, have fertility issues, and have struggled with mental health for years. So I’m going to expressing how a lot of this really sent me for a loop. Starting with the mental health, the author took the mental health to the absolute extremes in this book and getting closer to the end of the book kept repeatedly stating how those who are mentally ill, those who are in mental institutions are “crazy”. This is extremely harmful terminology and as someone who has battled against their mental health for years, when I read that it felt like someone had crushed my soul. This is very problematic and degrading, bottom-line. Reading those sections, you can feel how much the author believes that and it’s when authors paint representation like this that it becomes harmful, it can influence others to believe this, and nothing good comes from any of this. If you’re going to write about mental health, do your research and represent it properly because this wasn’t it. As for the miscarriage, the whole book revolves around the miscarriage. So if this is a sensitive topic for you, don’t pick it up. The miscarriage is used as a whole plot device and it’s a lot to try to read through. We get a scene where the husband, Seth may have caused two miscarriages, but we never find out the answer to that and yet it’s hinted that he did, but never elaborated on. For the most part, it felt like the miscarriage was used for shock value or to help push the story forward. The whole thing was handled really poorly and with no sensitivity towards those who have suffered miscarriages.

β€œAmazing how once you open a door for something, there’s no going back. All you can do is brace yourself as you get sucked in, deeper and deeper.”

I wish I could stop there, but there’s other things that need to be addressed. For example, the mental institution representation. Completely non-believable. It’s very clear the author never did any research on this because actual mental hospitals have tight regulations, security that won’t quit, and nurses that have eyes like hawks. And when all else fails, most doors in mental hospitals only work with keycards or a physical key. It almost felt like author decided to create their own Arkham Asylum. The author also thought it was productive to include a whole bit about how “if you pretend” to get better then you’ll get out faster. This was a huge slap to the face of professionals who work in mental wards, mental institutions, and have made it their job to help those who struggle with mental health. It was literally like saying they’re not observant enough to notice when one of their clients isn’t actually improving or may be acting along. As I said, most people who make this their profession in life have eyes like hawks.

And there’s plenty other issues with this book. I’m not a big thriller or horror reader, but even I know that every cliche trope from those two genres have felt like they were thrown into this book. The plot holes still plague my mind and I still wish I had answers. We also get little scraps of Mormonism in this book and when you think we might see some insight to those religious beliefs or something, we get nothing. We also have a racist jab at Hispanics and a scene with a transphobic remark. Then there’s the fact that throughout this entire book all you feel is hatred. You feel hatred for the husband, for the other wives, for the ex, for the parents, for the coworkers, a little hatred towards the best friend, and even self-hatred from the main character. It was a never ending river of hatred. That amount of hatred this book has is enough to make someone sick.

Overall, I don’t want to waste more time talking about this book than what I already have. I understand why this book would appeal to mystery/thriller readers, but you need to understand that there’s no social awareness and that a lot of the content in this book is extremely harmful, problematic, and degrading. This book didn’t work for me, it wasn’t it, and I want to bleach the memory of this book from my mind.

Buddy read with Destiny at Howling Libraries | Her Review πŸ’œ



The Tea Dragon Tapestry (Tea Dragon, #3) by Katie O’Neill


ARC was provided by NetGalley and OniPress in exchanged for an honest review.

This review is being published before the release dateΒ (September 1st, 2020)

πŸ‰ The Tea Dragon Society | Review ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

πŸ‰ The Tea Dragon Festival | Review ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

🐚 Aquicorn Cove | Review ⭐⭐⭐⭐

🐚 Dewdrop | Review ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Grief, depictions of depression, and loss of a loved one

“Every Dragon is different, too. And Ginseng Dragons are known to be very loyal.”

Friends, are you really surprised that I fell in love with another book by Katie O’Neill? I loved the first two books and have loved other works by Katie O’Neill. When I found out about The Tea Dragon Tapestry, I instantly knew I wanted to read it as soon as possible. The fact that this is supposed to be a conclusion to this series has me wanting even more from this world. Keeping those fingers crossed for more book featuring Tea Dragons and new characters to fall in love with!

Our story brings all the characters we’ve met from the first two books together, but also introduces us to a new character, a master blacksmith, who comes to seek the work of Greta. Our cast is so delightful, voice their challenges or personal struggles, and wonderfully diverse. And of course, so many important topics are discussed and addressed in this book.

“You feel like you’ve lost your path. It’s natural to be sad. It’s alright to let those feelings wash over you, and give them time to soak into the earth. That’s when things start to grow again.”

I really loved that we get to see more of Minette and her journey. If you remember from the last book, Minette seems to have some memory loss and also the new owner of Chamomile. We see how Minette handles feeling like she’s strayed off her path and how she finds her way back to feeling like herself. Speaking of which, I loved the moment she shared with Eric and gave a bit a wisdom that really had an impact with Minette. And that leads me to believe the first series topic that you can see so much of throughout this book is a feeling of being lost or missing something that was once something that sparked life in your soul.

Of course, I have to talk about grief and loss of a loved one. While it’s a more subtle theme, we see how grief and death impacts someone, and those around them. When Ginseng was first given to Greta in the last book, we learned that Ginseng previous owner had died. We knew Ginseng was grieving, but we never got more insight to it. However, this book shows Ginseng grieving and the depression that can come along with that. So we get to see both sides of the grief that’s taking place in this book. There’s a moment where Greta is trying to get Ginseng to eat something which leads to a moment of both parties feeling emotions of sadness and loss. When Greta’s Papa came into the picture, they spoke a truth that hit so deep within my soul. That very moment is so powerful, so important, and I think one of the best scenes in this entire book.

I also really loved the master blacksmith, Kleitos. I thought they were a fantastic character to introduce into this story. I liked how they’re a character who seems to be around the same age range as Erik and Hesekiel. And I loved how Kleitos talks about how losing the passion and inspiration for their blacksmithing. I loved those scenes where Kleitos is figuring things out and how sometimes you need to take a step back or to take a break from it all. Greta and Kleitos also shared a moment and I quote, “Looking at this work, I see that you have much to learn… but I also see that I do too.” When I read that, my heart filled with so much warmth. Even though Kleitos is a master blacksmith, felt like they lost their passion and love for their work, that single moment shows that you can still learn in your craft, there are still things that can surprise you, and rekindle that flame within you. A fantastic character to add into this book!

“My dear, that is something you cannot control. When someone is grieving, the best thing you can do is let them heal on their own, and show them that you’ll be there for them.”

Overall, this book is soft, filled with many important topics, of course wonderful family dynamics, but fills the soul with so much warmth and wholesomeness. Tea Dragons are probably my favorite dragons now, thanks to Katie O’Neill. And as I mentioned, I truly hope we see more of this series, these characters, and this world. I feel like there’s so much that hasn’t been explored yet. I can’t wait to see what O’Neill comes up with next and hopefully we’ll see more Tea Dragons soon! If you were thinking about picking any of these book, I highly recommend them. They’re soft books laced with important topics that everyone needs to read about. Plus, the illustrations are always stunning!

The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.



The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones


ARC was provided by Stephen Graham Jones in exchanged for an honest review.

This review is being published before the release date (July 14th, 2020)

Content/Trigger Warnings: Talk of drug and alcohol abuse, graphic deaths of animals, graphic injuries, murder, loss of a loved one, grief

“For them, ten years ago, that’s another lifetime.
For you it’s yesterday.”

My heart, my whole damn heart is filled with so much appreciation for this book. Growing up with a mother who is horror obsessed, it’s been a while since I read a book that chilled my core. I wish my schedule hadn’t been so busy outside of reading this book because I have no doubt that I would have power read this book in two-three days. Also, this is an ownvoices horror novel for the Native American representation. I can’t even begin to express how much this means to me as an Indigenous reader and reviewer. To have an arc of this book, I’m forever grateful and this is something I’ll cherish with my whole soul.

Our story begins with the prologue as it sets the tone for the rest of the novel. We follow Ricky, the first of the four Blackfeet men to encounter the Elk Woman, an entity born from a violent incident on scared ground. Once the news of Ricky reaches his friends, only Lewis begins to wonder if there’s more to what happened than another Native man dying in a bar fight. But soon, they’ll all see how powerful suffering and vengeance really can be.

🦌 Ricky – After leaving the reservation, works for a contracting company, the first to encounter the Elk Woman and die.

🦌 Lewis – Left the reservation to marry his wife, Peta, still works for the postal office, liked to read books, thinks often of “that day“.

🦌 Gabe – Gabe Cross Guns still lives on the reservations and looks after his father, the fighter/troublemaker of the group, uses jokes redirect conversations and hard topics, and father to Denorah.

🦌 Cass – Cassidy Sees Elk still lives on the reservation with Gabe, living with his girlfriend, the serious one of the four friends

🦌 Denorah – Gabe’s daughter, the reservation basketball star, the underdog of this story.

“It was so easy. He was so fragile, so delicately balanced, so unprepared to face what he’d done.”

The author has an incredible way of writing. The way this book is written in a way that leaves you wondering if the Elk Woman who’s inflicting the wrath upon these men is their guilty imagination or something more real. There’s also a constant theme of grief laced through the entire novel. You have these passages where we see things from, not only the four men, but also the Elk Woman and there’s such a heaviness of loss. Stephen did an incredible job weaving such a powerful emotion throughout this book and really shows how grief can manifest in so many different ways for people.

“We’re from where we’re from. Scars are a part of the deal, aren’t they?”

I also have to take a moment to say that this book addresses so much when it comes to Blackfeet culture and beliefs, talks a little bit about elk ivory, gives you glimpses of what reservation life is like, how if you’re of color you’re treated differently and have to work twice as hard, and so many other important topics that aren’t often talked about. There were so many moments in this book that addressed many of these topics and the truth that’s woven into this book… how could I not get emotional about it?

And the ending of this book what just a shock to the system. I loved it so much! Denorah is such an underdog, but I loved reading things from her perspective. She’s very determined, headstrong, and so courageous. I think many readers will fall in love with her and her actions. I think she’s my favorite character and dare I say she deserves a spin-off book.

Overall, I really liked this book. I want to say so much more about this book, but I think anyone who picks this book up should go in with as little information as possible. I loved how the uncertainty, the horror, and confusion of the characters translated on the page. All the side characters brought so much to the table for the story development, the personal interactions between the main characters, and making this book feel like a horror movie for your brain. If you’re a lover of horror, looking for books by Native American authors to diversify your reading, or if you enjoy supernatural/paranormal novels then recommend picking this novel up!

The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.