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Victor and Nora: A Gotham Love Story by Lauren Myracle & Isaac Goodhart

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ARC was provided by NetGalley and DC Entertainment in exchange for an honest review.

This review is being published after the release date (November 3rd, 2020)

Content/Trigger Warnings: Talk of death, talk of suicide and suicidal thoughts, scene of attempted suicide, loss of a loved one (in the past), loss of a parent (in the past), grief, PTSD/trauma, terminal illness

“So. Fire. Ice. Both hold the power to snuff out life. But love. Stronger than fire, more powerful than ice. Where love surrounds, life abounds.”

I don’t talk about it often, my love and appreciation for one of the saddest love stories in all of the Gotham Universe. While there are many love stories, many ships and pairings that happen, none of them quite compare to the love story of Victor and Nora. Victor Fries/Mister Freeze is probably one of my most favorite Gotham “villains” and truly, he’s just a man on a mission to save the one he loves. Being able to read this graphic novel in advance and see a whole new take on Victor and Nora makes me fall in love with this couple all the more. Also, I now have a deeper appreciation doe these characters and their younger side

Our story follows Victor, a cryogenicist, who’s headed to Gotham Cemetery to visit his brother’s grave, as his grief and trauma weigh heavy on his shoulders. Nora and her family have just moved to a new house in Saint Agnes, to be closer to where her mother is buried. Upon their arrival at the new house, Nora decides to go visit her mother’s grave. Thus, these two characters cross paths and spark a very unusual conversation between one another. From here on out, these two will be pulled two one another and a romance will slowly bloom between them.

When I say I loved these two characters and how they come together, I mean I really loved these two characters come together. Victor isn’t like your typical love interest. He’s very soft spoken, brilliant, and so compacted with love and passion. And Nora, she’s one hell of a firecracker. She’s whimsical, sarcastic, and she brings people out of their shell. These two balance each other out incredibly well. The chemistry shared between them is apparent from the very beginning, despite the unusual conversation. I don’t talk about it enough because it’s such a fifty-fifty chance, but I like to believe there are the cases where two broken people can heal one another, love each other so fiercely and deeply, and make the world seem a little brighter. And I truly believe with my whole and soul that Victor and Nora are one of those relationships.

What I truly love most about Victor and Nora’s relationship is their love. Out of all the love and relationship pairings, none shine quite as bright as this particular relationship. These characters love one another so beautifully, so deeply, and I don’t think here has ever been a relationship in the Gotham Universe that had a more devoted partner than Victor when it comes to Nora. For those who aren’t familiar with the DC Universe or the Gotham Universe, Victor gave up everything for Nora. His love for Nora basically consumed him to the point of the only thing that has ever mattered has been finding a cure for Nora. Victor never cared if he came off as villain or how his actions impacted the those around him, his whole world revolves around Nora and finding the cure. And seeing how Nora and Victor come to love one another in this book, despite knowing everything they both carry on their shoulders, their love for each other grounds them in those difficult times. I really loved that the author included those moments of grounding because it’s so important to show how powerful love truly can be.

“Just, for years I’ve reached out to no one. And if anyone reached out to me… Well, I made sure to keep my heart protected. And then this girl comes along. And… and… She melts me.”

Of course the story itself is very well done. I’m not sure if the author actually researched the story of Victor and Nora, but reading this graphic novel felt like author did. I loved how the author alternated the story between Nora and Victor’s perspective. Most of the graphic novels out there only has Victor’s perspective of everything. So it’s a nice breath of fresh air to see Nora’s side of things. It’s also a nice change to see these this couple in their youth. Before Victor became Mister Freeze and before Nora became frozen. It’s nice to see these two characters in love and being in their relationship with one another. And just the mundane things like hanging out with friends and arguing with family. We also see the harder, more difficult side of things concerning their mental health and Victor who’s coping with his trauma and PTSD. I really appreciated see those sides of Nora and Victor. It’s just nice to see that side of these characters before everything became intense in their story.

And I have to talk about the art because as always, Isaac Goodhart has such a beautiful art style. I really loved seeing the Tim Burton type of twist in the beginning. That was such a pleasant surprise and I think that was my particular favorite. However, the artist has a fantastic way of highlighting these scenes that are softer, kinder and the scenes that are intense like the panels where Nora is seeing the crow. The way those panels were designed with the shading and lighting really made for a great reading experience.

My only real issue with this graphic novel has to be the one key detail that’s always remained true to Victor and Nora’s story line. Victor and Nora were and always have been married when Victor froze Nora. While I’m not sure if this was an intentional change for the story, given the audience this graphic novel is trying to target, but this is one key element that should have been included especially since this could have impacted the way this graphic novel concluded. Even more so, it seems the scene of attempted suicide was included (which has never be a part of Victor and Nora’s story) to replace the fact that Victor and Nora have been married. If you were to really look at the context of the graphic novel, we already see Nora and Victor fight over Victor suggesting he cryogenically freeze Nora until he can find a cure. Then the whole scene of attempted suicide comes in to play. In a way, depending on what you take away from this, all of these events lead to painting Victor in a negative light and making it seem like he was giving Nora no other choice than to be frozen. For my reading experience, personally, I would have preferred if we saw them elope or actually have a wedding ceremony compared to this one tweak of their story line. It comes off as hopeless, very negative way to lead into an ending for this graphic novel and I think it would have really benefitted this graphic novel to have a little more good scenes than fully wrap this graphic novel up on such a heavy note.

“But I don’t care. I’m just happy to be alive. Happy to be in love.”

Overall, I really enjoyed myself reading this graphic novel. I definitely think the marriage panel could have been added in to help balance the heaviness of the ending and to also stay semi-true to Victor and Nora’s original story. Also, I think this graphic novel shouldn’t have been so heavy with the death and suicide elements. If this graphic novel is targeting a younger audience, I’m not sure if going the darker route was the best path to take especially when it concerns those who are typically reading middle grade level books. However, I really liked this. It was so refreshing to see these characters outside of their usual setting, you know, Victor being a villain and Nora being fully frozen. And if you couldn’t tell, I just really love and appreciate the love story that is Nora and Victor’s. My heart felt so full reading this. And I have to mention the mental health and trauma/PTSD representation was very well done. I really liked how we got see those pieces throughout the book. I definitely recommend this to those who enjoy the DC Universe or even the Gotham Universe. I especially recommend this to those who love Victor and Nora’s relationship like I do. And of course, if you need a quick read or you’re look for a new graphic novel to pick up then I have to recommend this graphic novel!

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

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A Few Things I’m Enjoying in Self-Isolation | Part II

Salutations friends! I hope you’re doing well, staying hydrated, and fully prepared for spooky season! I know I took the majority of last week off and only gave a few small allusions to what’s been happening via social media. To be as open as I can be, there’s a lot of medical emergencies happening within my family. So that’s been consuming a lot of my attention right now. If you’ve been here a while then you know family is everything to me and no matter what it is, I would drop everything to be there for them. Truly, I would move earth and sky to be there for my family.

Anyway, I wanted to return to my blog with something positive and to just talk about some of the things I’ve been enjoying while in self-isolation. I think back in the late spring, early summer I posted my first article with just a few small things. However, I wanted this one to be a little bit different than that article. I wanted to break this article down into bookish things and non-bookish things. There have been quite the few things that have been making isolation a little better and bright. So with any further delay, here are some of the things I’ve been enjoying!


🍂 Bookish 🍂

🍂 Notion
If you haven’t heard about Notion by now then I don’t know where you’ve been hiding. Notion has been taking the book community by storm. I recently talked about how helpful Notion has been in my note taking article, where I mention how helpful it’s been with getting organized. Even more so when it comes to arcs. Notion has really been helping me organize and prioritize my arcs. I also created a template that helps with tracking upcoming releases as well. I’ve really been having fun with it and exploring the different templates, how to customize and personalize it to fit my own needs, and if you haven’t checked it out already, I definitely recommend giving this site a chance!

🍂 Wick and Jane Candles
I feel like I don’t emphasize it enough of how important it is to shop small and support small businesses. Wick and Jane is a small candle business, run by Jane, who is the sweetest and one of the most delightful souls I’ve met in the book community. Ever since I placed me first order from Jane, they’re the only candles I ever buy anymore. These candles have amazing throw (I’m talking I can smell it on the other side of my home kind of throw), named after some of our favorite book characters, and the candles themselves are so beautiful. She also has other products such as lotion, roll on perfume, and I believe body spray now. So check out the shop and if you’re in need of some candles, maybe place an order!

🍂 Cook books
Since being home and isolating, I’ve been doing a lot of home cooking and that means breaking out cook books, family recipes, and all things that contain deliciousness! One of the cook books I’m really enjoying has been the Overwatch The Official Cookbook. I did get to see my family over the weekend and they dropped off very belated birthday gifts for my spouse and I, and one of those presents was this cookbook. I’ve been wanting this cookbook for so long and I haven’t stopped looking over all the recipes in it. I’m currently planning to make two of the recipes and I’m eager to try some of the others like the Deadeye drink!


🍂 Non-Bookish 🍂

🍂 Squishables
If you didn’t know, I very much love plushies. They are one of my greatest comforts and mental health helpers. In my current journey of healing and rediscovery of my love for many things, I realized how many things I was suppressing or trying to fit into such a small enough box due to convincing myself there wasn’t as much room in my life because of reading. So when a very dear, long life friend of mine sent me a package of Squishables, I was in tears. The ones I received reminded me of how much I love this company, loved the community, and reminded me how important they are to me.

🍂 Video Games
I talk about video games all the time whether in reviews or just chit-chatting here on the blog. Recently I’ve been doing some late night gaming and have fallen into two spooky season events. One for Overwatch and the other for Killing Floor 2. I’ve also been really excited to try Phasmophobia, as well. A lot of gaming streamers I typically watch have been streaming this game and ever since I’ve been hooked, eagerly wanting to give it a try. Also, there’s my highly anticipated game, Monster Prom 2 Monster Camp coming out this month and I’m eagerly waiting to get my hands on it so I can start playing. And of course, I’m always lurking in the rabbit hole that is Animal Crossing. I’ve really been falling in love with gaming again and having a blast.

🍂 Davids Tea
As much as I love coffee, I love tea just as much. After we drank so much of the tea we have, I had to place another order for tea. Usually I drink a lot of Harney & Sons, but I wanted to branch out and try other brands this time. A fellow member of the book community recommending trying Davids Tea and I’m pleasantly surprised with how much I’ve been loving the tea. I definitely wish I had branched out sooner, but I’m really glad to be drinking their tea now!


Okay, friends! Those are some of the things I’ve really been loving and enjoying in isolation right now. A lot of this has been a piece of my healing and rediscovering things about myself that I’ve missed, pieces of myself I loved, and being at peace with myself. I hope you all enjoyed this little post. Do you have some favorites you’ve been enjoying in self-isolation? Come chat with me in the comments below. Until next time, remember to be kind to yourself! I love you! 🧡

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Sweet on You: A Filipino Christmas romance by Carla de Guzman

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ARC was provided by NetGalley and Harlequin – Carina Press in exchange for an honest review.

This review is being published before the release date (October 19th, 2020)

Content/Trigger Warnings: Loss of a loved one (in the past), sexism, mentions of divorce (in the past), abandonment, mentions of body shaming (in the past), sex

Oh, I loved this! I loved this so much, with my whole heart and soul. I’m a big softy for books that involve coffee shops, cafes, and bakeries. There’s something that reminds me of home when these elements are thrown in. Throw in the sibling bonds and the importance of family, *chef’s kiss* perfection! Truly, this is sure to make it onto so many reading lists as we approach closer to the holidays. It truly is an adorable read!

Set in the Philippines, Sweet On You follows two shop owners forming a rivalry between each other. When the empty store next to Sari’s cafe sells, Sari doesn’t like the thought of competition or change one bit. Then she meets the owner, Gab, the baker extraordinaire, and in that moment their rivalry is set in stone. Soon, the prank wars begin! But while these two are lost in the tide of pranks, everyone around them begins to question on whether or not this is actually a courtship. And that might be true! Even though they’re knees deep in pranks, they just can’t help themselves from flirting with one another.

🧁 Sari Tomas – The cafe owner of Tomas Coffee Co., who doesn’t like change and tries to avoid it at all cost. But over the next ten days leading up to Christmas, big changes throw her into a whirlwind. It started with Sunday Bakery opening next door, then her younger sister, Sam announced she’s moving out. With all these changes, Sari can’t help feeling everything is moving on with life, everyone except her.

“But the Laneaways had wriggled its way into his heart, and the person standing across from him was one of the biggest reasons why.”

🧁 Gabriel Capras – The owner of Sunday Bakery, who’s been trying to prove to his father that he can be professional and financially successful baker. With big dreams and goals keeping him motivated, Sunday Bakery is his first step to making those dreams come true. There’s just one problem, he never expected someone like Sari Tomas to wiggle their way into his heart.

Amidst all the pranks, these two rivals will start to find it impossible to spend their days without thinking of one another. Every thought with flash to some moment of the time these two have spent together, spicing up each others days. Even the hard days will be a little less hard. After all, baked goods and coffee speaks volumes to the soul!

I really loved our two main characters! Their personalities were absolutely fantastic and you could instantly tell the chemistry these two characters had. Both of these characters are like wizards in their own kitchens and the scenes we get of them making coffee or food were fantastic. Also, I really enjoyed the way these two characters talked about their siblings, how much love radiates from them throughout this book, and I loved seeing our main characters reconnecting with their siblings and family. It really warms my heart and I couldn’t help feeling soft, and a bit sappy about it.

“But most of all, I can’t imagine being here without you. You’re home to me now.”

And the way these characters fall in love with one another is hilarious yet so wholesome. They try so hard not to fall for each other and seeing them come together was so sweet. There’s something about a slow fall and then fast that really lures me in. The way the author wrote it, gave me everything I wanted from their romance. They had some hilarious moments, but they had some really endearing moments. The really steamy moments were perfect and there were some moments in those steamy scenes that got me a little choke up. I will say, if you’re not a fan of sexy times in books then this might not be the book for you. There are at least two major sexy moments in this book and if that impacts your reading, just know that those are in this book.

Of course, there’s the food featured in this book. A book has never made me look up so many foods that quickly. If someone were to open my browser right now, they’d just find countless pages of all the Filipino food. The way food is talked about in this book is so heavenly, so deliciously, that I recommend you read this on a full stomach. Otherwise, you’re going to be sitting there wanting to take a bit out of your book. I also loved the way Gab named some of his baked goods after his siblings. I thought that was the sweetest thing and I’m not going to lie, a little swoon worthy.

Overall, I had such a great time reading this snuggly, cozy, holiday romance! I loved so much about this book and I think many readers are going to enjoy curling up with this book. I think this book will really make the reader want to travel and I know this makes me eager to pick more books up by this author. I really loved the culture throughout this book and I’m excited to see what her other books have in store especially if its romance! I definitely recommend picking this book up during this holiday season especially if you’re looking for a book to brighten you day up!

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

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Ghost Squad by Claribel A. Ortega

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Content/Trigger Warnings: Mentions of bullying, talk of death, mentions of loss of a parent (in the past)

“Four basic rules for ghost hunting according to Babette…
1. Be prepared.
2. Don’t go alone.
3. Respect the dead.
4. Always have a cat.”

This is such a cute read that filled my heart with so much warmth. Truly, I’ve been in the mood for cozy yet spooky family reads and this middle grade was perfect. This was book truly is a treat and it’s so wholesome. I think many readers are going to adore curling up with a cup of tea and reading this book!

Lucely is happily living with her father and the ghosts of her family. However, when Lucely over hears a conversation her father has, Lucely realizes that money is tight and they might have to move. Given only one chance with one of their ghost tours, Lucely father hopes to gather the funds necessary to save their home. But things go wrong and things continue to go wrong as her family’s ghosts start to act strange, losing their light. Teaming up with her best friend Syd, they’ll work together to come up with a solution to not only save Lucely’s ghost, but prevent her from moving, but they’ll soon learn there are darker forces at work and they might be in over their heads.

You know, one of my favorite things is family, family bonds, found family, etc… So naturally I loved everything in this book that involved family. First, can we take a moment to appreciate the dynamic of Lucely and her father! I have such a soft spot for single parent homes and I loved how close Lucely is with her father. Single father homes don’t get the spotlight they deserve in literature, often. So seeing this family dynamic really warmed my heart and those close bonds just make it extra special. We also have the found family element with Lucely and Syd’s family. When Lucely talks about how she feels close to Syd, it melted my heart. That kind of love and bond is something fierce, something special, and I just melted into a puddle when that conversation popped up.

“Maybe family is more than who you’re related to. It’s also the people you find and love along the way.”

I also want to talk about the ghosts. The family ghosts were so individual, you could easily tell who was who, and I was pleasantly surprised. Normally when you add so many side characters like that, characters can sometimes get muddled together or easily forgotten, but the author made sure to make each one unique. Not to mention the support system Lucely has with them. It was so heartwarming, but it’s also sad when we learn Lucely’s father can no longer see them. It’s an all around unique dynamic and I really loved it.

This book has such an incredible atmosphere, as well. I’m not kidding when I say this is cozy yet spooky. There were a lot of times where I had chills running up my spine or my hairs were standing on end. The author did a fantastic job on creating a story line that pulls the reader in, but also created a spooky energy that’s the kind of subtle that sneaks up on you. I really enjoyed it and I wish it would’ve been raining when I was reading this.

Overall, I think this is a perfect spooky season read. If the family dynamics and bonds don’t lure you in, I hope the spooky atmosphere does. It was so hard to put this book down and I’ve heard really good things about the audiobook. If you’re looking for something that’s cozy, spooky but not too spooky then I definitely recommend picking this book up. It’s super cute and sure to make your autumnal reading even better!

Buddy Read with Kayla 💜

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Weathering with You, Vol. 1 by Makoto Shinkai & Wataru Kubota

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ARC was provided by NetGalley and Vertical Comics in exchange for an honest review.

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

Content/Trigger Warnings: Homelessness, physical assault, gun violence, mentions loss of loved ones

Did I request this manga because I loved Your Name? Yes. Did I completely fall down a rabbit hole reading this manga and therefore need to know what’s going to happen next? Also, yes! I really loved Your Name. It was a very emotional, whimsical series and movie. So naturally my interest was at an all high when I saw this was available for request. And this book didn’t disappoint! It fully captured my heart and I think many manga readers are going to fall in love with this series, if they haven’t already!

We follow a boy named Hodaka, who’s run away from the island he grew up on, fleeing to the Kabukichō neighborhood of Tokyo to start a new beginning. However, Hodaka finds himself struggling to adjust to the new city and all the gloomy weather. Until he comes across a girl named Hina, who has a the special ability to bring out the sun, also known as a sunshine girl. Together they’ll turn Hina’s ability into a means of helping Hina gather funds to support herself and younger sibling, but Hodaka is keeping secrets and Hina is keeping her own.

“All this time, I think… I was chasing the light that you bring, Miss Hina.”

I loved these characters so much. They’re not your typical main characters who are fierce warriors or magical beings. They’re just two kids who come from rough backgrounds, trying to survive in the big world. I love when characters are just like everyone else, but we get to see their hardships, they’re struggles. It makes those characters feel more realistic and easier to connect to. And of course, the story line that pulls these two characters together is so beautifully woven. I loved seeing the small pieces of Japanese myths and legends tie in to the events happening and the characters.

Just like Your Name, Weathering with You has underlying themes to it. Looking at Hina’s character in this book, he character is designed to show the weight that women often carry. Women are often expected to provide warmth, comfort, and happiness, more time than most being the caregiver of the household. Now, I don’t want to spoil too much (especially for the anime), but the author does a brilliant job of showing this and how if affects women, how much energy the deplete from themselves, and the toll it begins to take on their bodies. I thought it was so beautifully done and I think this book shows the beginning of that process really well.

And of course, I have to talk about how stunning the art style is because it is gorgeous! The beginning of this arc we have one to two pages of colored art and it is everything. That alone had me gasping for breath. It so beautiful and I wish more manga had more little glimpses into colored panels. Even the black and white panels just really had an extra emphasis on the events happening throughout the book. The illustrator of this book is truly talented and I can’t wait to see what they’ll do next!

Overall, I really enjoyed this manga with my whole heart. I think the story line does a fantastic job hooking the attention of the reader, pricking the curiosity of those who want to know more. It truly is a beautiful story and I can’t recommend this graphic novel enough. I hope my fellow manga readers will be picking this series up and if you haven’t checked out this series yet, please do. It truly is wonderful!

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

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Lost Girls Go Everywhere: Poetry & Prose by Azzurra Nox

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ARC was provided by NetGalley and Victory Editing NetGalley Co-op in exchange for an honest review.

This review is being published after the release date (October 6th, 2020)

Content/Trigger Warnings: Mentions and allusions to rape and assault, mentions of death and loss of a loved one, grief, depression, mentions of suicidal thoughts, mentions of physical violence, toxic relationships, mentions of blood, body shaming, mentions of slut shaming, alcoholism

I always find rating poetry really difficult. I don’t say it often enough, but I’m a firm believer poetry and works of literature come into our life when we need them the most. So maybe I went into this collection with high expectations or maybe I was wanting something more from within these pages. Either way; I wanted to love this book, I wanted to enjoy this book, but I’m sad to say that wasn’t the case with this book. I’ll be honest, I’m disappointed and maybe, this book wasn’t meant for me.

This book is broken into two parts, part one is poetry and part two is prose. There were a few pieces of part one that I enjoyed or felt a small pull to, but for the most part I felt nothing. I felt detachment and I found myself wanting more emotional pull, more connection. A lot of this portion paints all men in a terrible light, how they’re entitled, take what they want, or how they’re always causing more harm than good. There was nothing positive to be said, not even once. Honestly, it felt like I was reading passages by someone who hates all men and that’s not my cup of tea. I’ll also make the statement that this can happen the other way around and it does happen. There’s also a lot of references as to wanting to harm them back, to the point of potentially killing them. There’s actually a passage in one of the poems that references twisting a knife repeatedly into a man’s chest because he enjoys it and the blood. Needless to say, I was completely turned off. Not to make this about me, but I like to think I’m a very open person about you should always defend yourself and only do harm if it’s necessary to your survival. I have said this a few times in past reviews, if it’s not in self-defense or in a situation of life and death, physical violence should always be a last resort otherwise it’s not necessary. This entire poem alone, turned me off from the rest of the book.

“I got so much misfortune that I’m bathing in my bad omens.”

The second portion of this book was probably my least favorite. The entire second half felt like I was sitting down with someone I had just met and they thought the best way for us to get to know one another was to break out a rollodex of all the bad, toxic, or loveless relationships they had been in. I felt completely detached from this entire portion of the book. I think I read about five of these short stories before I started skimming. As I mentioned, I wanted more pulling, something that would jab at my emotions, but I didn’t feel anything, no spark. This portion of the book really dragged on for me especially since these short stories were two to three pages long. There needed to be something to capture the reader’s attention.

Overall, I wish I had a more positive experience with this book. I felt really underwhelmed and felt this book was a big rant of some sort. And there were so many other issues with this book. I definitely felt like this book needed to be balanced with some poems or short stories of hope, signs of life improving, or something to lighten things up. As an avid poetry reader, I wanted so much more from this book and unfortunately it fell flat for me.

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

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Gemini Keeps Capricorn (Signs of Love, #3) by Anyta Sunday

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☄️ Leo Loves Aries (Signs of Love #1) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
☄️  Leo Tops Aries (Signs of Love #1.5) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
☄️ Scorpio Hates Virgo (Sign of Love #2) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Cheating, homophobia, death of a parent (in the past), mentions of heart failure (in the past), alcoholism, stalking, sexContent/Trigger Warnings: Cheating, homophobia, death of a parent (in the past), mentions of heart failure (in the past), alcoholism, stalking, sex

“I need to espresso love by whatever beans necessary.”

What can I say? I’m addicted to this series! However, I feel like I’ve been bouncing back and forth on my feelings about this book. Maybe I’m just being indecisive or perhaps I’m being a bit biased because I’m a Gemini as well. There was so much that I loved about this book and I love the trope we see happen in this book, but I hope I can convey my feelings for this book well and just know, I’m still going to continue this series.

We follow Wesley Hidaka, a Gemini, who’s currently a law student working through his last year in college, but also juggling multiple responsibilities like being a barista and flirting with his dorm’s RA, Lloyd. Lloyd Alexander Reynolds is a stern Capricorn and the dorm’s RA, who has no time for shenanigans and can’t keep another RA, Gavin, off his back about the this year’s big party. When one night Lloyd and Gavin are arguing, Weasley gets a concerning phone call that involves his younger brother skipping classes. Enlisting the help of Lloyd, Weasley sets out to figure what’s happening and soon this unlikely pair are all kinds of tangled up in each other’s lives.

“I want us to make rules together.” Lloyd pressed the softest kiss to his mouth. “I want us to break them together, too.”

I really liked Lloyd as our love interest. Lloyd is very sarcastic, logical, but also really caring about those around him. He reminds me a lot of my own spouse and there were a lot of moments where I was chuckling because of that. Weasley was a harder character for me to get into and that’s really saying something. I think I went into this book with the expectation that I would love Weasley’s character and click really well with the way his personality was written, but unfortunately that wasn’t the case. Even though Weasley is 21-years-old, he acts very immature and there’s certain situations I wish he had handled differently. However, when these two come together, surprisingly, they balance each other out so well. Lloyd really grounds Weasley and becomes a sort of anchor for him in this book. Whereas Weasley helps lift Lloyd up and encourages him to enjoy himself a little more. They have some really sweet moments that were so sweet and even though this is a slow burn romance, they work well together.

We also see Theo and Jamie make an appearance in this book, as well. If you haven’t read this series yet, Theo and Jamie are from the first book. Jamie is actually one the teachers working at the college Weasley and Lloyd attend. Lloyd is trying to get in the good graces of Jamie and is hoping to be picked to study under them. We get a few moments sprinkled throughout this book and there’s one moment in particular that made me so, so happy. It’s so nice to see them thriving in their relationship. Although I’m a little sad we didn’t get a cameo of Percy and Cam.

“Hundreds of fights are ahead of us, Weasley. I’ll still want you around at the end of them.”

There’s also a lot of themes of family throughout this book. I love that Lloyd comes from a single mother home. This was another reason I loved Lloyd and connected with his character so much. Lloyd’s mother is so sweet, so charming, she’s hilarious, and I just really adored her. She reminds me of my own mother and it just made me feel soft and sappy. On the other hand, Weasley comes from a family who still feels the absence of his father. There’s also found family themes, but it’s more subtle and it didn’t overshadow the main family themes.

While I appreciate the widower family element, Weasley’s mother was a huge issue for me and probably the biggest issue I had throughout this book. Weasley’s mother is very homophobic and her dialogue is probably why I feel so at odds with this book. Throughout this book, anytime we’re with Weasley’s mother in a scene, she constantly says “doing the gaying”. Never in all my years of life and encounters of homophobia have I ever heard someone say this. It was something that always caught me off guard throughout this book and it made me feel very weird about the homophobia representation. She comes off as a parent who infantilizes her children as though they’re not able to make their own choices and there’s multiple moments in this book where it’s implied. It just really rubbed me the wrong way.

Overall, I did really enjoy this book, but I think I expected a little bit more than what was given with this book. I wish the situation with the mother had been handled differently, as well. I think this was a cute read, I loved how Weasley looked out for his brother, and I adored the corny barista dad jokes made on each chapter. I think if you’re new to this series, you should definitely give it a chance.

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Black Sun (Between Earth and Sky, #1) by Rebecca Roanhorse

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ARC was provided by NetGalley and Saga Press in exchange for an honest review.

This review is being published before the release date (October 13th, 2020)

Content/Trigger Warnings: Ritual disfigurement, cult themes, poisoning, abandonment, mentions of homophobia, mentions of slavery, death, mass murder, suicide, death of a parent, loss of a loved one, grief, graphic violence, graphic injuries, beheading, trauma, mentions of human sacrifice, physical assault, brief mentions of prostitution, allusions to rape, mentions of anxiety, alcoholism

“A man with a destiny is a man who fears nothing.”

What a wild ride of a read! I have been sitting on my thoughts and feelings for a good chunk of time. I feel that anything I try to write in my review about this book will pale in comparison to the actual contents of this book. Truly, this is a fantastic read and as a reader new to Roanhorse’s writing, I’m very impressed. I also want to put emphasis on a few things before diving into my thoughts. For starters, please practice self-care when reading this book because there are a lot of content warnings (as you can see listed above). These content warnings start from chapter one and proceed throughout the book. The other thing to keep in mind is I’m not an “ownvoice” reviewer for this book. I’m Apache, a Native American reader and reviewer, but this book has pre-Columbian cultures such as Yutatec Maya, Tewan, and Aztec cultures, and I cannot speak about those cultural elements and representation. So please do your own research on those cultures and also read the acknowledgements page.

Set in a high fantasy world with a civilization inspired by pre-Columbian Americas, Black Sun follows four characters who have destinies all intertwined with one another. In Tova, the holy city, Winter Solstice usually means a time of renewal and celebration among all, but this year is different. This year’s winter solstice converged with the solar eclipse, a rare celestial event that dictates unbalance. Here, our story begins with Xiala, a disgraced Teek woman, who has been tasked with an important mission to cross dangerous waters to deliver a supposedly harmless passenger to Tova in time for the Convergence.

✨ Xiala – The bisexual (possibly pansexual), disgraced Teek woman our story begins with, is the hired captain of a ship and tasked with the important mission to deliver Serapio to Tova. Though she originally didn’t want to take on this mission for various reasons, she’s been given too many reasons why she should.

“She instinctively reached for her Song the way another woman would reach for a weapon. She no longer had a dagger at her waist, but even if she had, her Song would have come first.”

✨ Serapio – Stripped of his childhood and destined to become the Crow God, Serapio is placed upon Xiala’s ship, to seek passage straight to Tova for Convergence. Despite everything he’s been through, everything he’s been taught, his time spent on Xiala’s ship and in her company leaves his wondering of what life would be like if he didn’t have a prophecy to fulfill.

✨ Naranpa/Nara – The Sun priest, where we experience the more political side of this world. Nara is in a vulnerable position as the Institution is loosing respect, and will sooner learn there’s a lot more at steak in the game of politics than Nara originally believed.

“She wished that power allowed her to divine her own future, or the future of any of the priests. But it was forbidden, and that was one rule she would never break.”

✨ Okoa – A character that comes into to play later on in our story. Okoa is first introduced to us when we learn about the matron/leader of the Carrion Crow clan being dead. He is oldest child of the leader, who left home to train to become a great warrior. He swift learns that things might not be all it appears to be and returns home to get to the bottom of what has really been happening in his clan since he’s been away.

All of these characters will intertwine throughout this story of destiny, dark magic, prophecy, and sacrifice. They will struggle along the way, face hardships, and try to fill their roles the best they can. For some, they’ll think of what life would have been like if they weren’t walking the path they’re currently on.

“The costliest mistake one can make is to underestimate one’s opponent through low expectations.”

I love the way Roanhorse has crafted and built up her characters. None of these characters are good or evil, they’re simply morally grey. I say it all the time, I love morally grey characters. When characters have multiple layers to them, complex feelings, and backstories that make you crumble. Each pov for the four main characters was designed to build a bigger picture of where they came from, what their objective is, and the events that are currently taking place in that time frame. I definitely think two of the main characters were stronger than the other two and there’s also a lot of things we learn about in each pov that doesn’t have an answer, doesn’t clarifies on certain moments, and definitely leaves the reader wondering. I think the two weaker povs are designed to be more mysterious and I’m hoping we’ll see a little more insight in the second book in this trilogy because there’s some parts I need answers to!

One of the things I really enjoyed about this book was the world building. In high fantasy, I love the details of the world and the way it gets built up and this book hit a lot of marks for me. Roanhorse did an outstanding job on the world building. There’s so much detail in the world, the history, even with the character development there was such great detail. It truly feels like the author poured a lot into this book to deliver a world that the reader will never forget. Not to mention, the ending of this book, the cliffhanger that it was, fantastic and I’m still not over it. I’m still thinking about how this book ended.

I also have to talk about the representation throughout this book. We are given so much representation and the author does a phenomenal job. I mentioned with Xiala that she’s bisexual (possibly pansexual). As the reader, we learn Xiala has sept with women, but we also see a lot of feelings brewing between her and Serapio. It’s also hinted that Serapio is also bisexual/pansexual. During a flashback and briefly mentioned, Serapio has a relationship with one of his mentors and how special that mentor was to him. Of course, we see the feelings forming for Xiala and him wondering what it would be like to truly be with her. There’s also the past relationship between Nara and Iktan, which I believe was a female and nonbinary relationship. There’s also a transgender side character. We also have disability representation throughout this book. Serapio is blind, Xiala is missing limbs, and Nara’s brother walks with a limp. So if you wanted diversity, Roanhorse delivered in so many ways.

“If your stories are of the glory of war, then I will know you value power. If your stories are of kinship, then I know you value relationship. If your stories are of many children, I know you value legacy. But if your stories are of adaptation and survival, of long memory and revenge, then I will know you are a Crow like me.”

I also want to remind you, as the reader, to please practice self-care. I don’t think I can emphasize this enough. There are a lot of dark themes throughout this book and it starts immediately in chapter one. There’s a lot of heavy chapters because of the dark themes you have to read through. I’m very much a fantasy reader, I can devour a fantasy, especially a high fantasy, like it’s no one’s business, but this took me longer to read than I expected. There were times where I felt overwhelmed by a lot of the dark themes in this book. I’ve also had a few conversations about this because there were some readers who were genuinely concerned for their mental health. I think as of right now, I’m the only reader who has gone to the extent of being specific with the content/trigger warnings in this book. So please look over them, make sure you’re in the right head space, and take care of yourself while you read this book.

I think my biggest struggle with this book is the multiple povs. I say this so, so much. Multiple povs is not my strong suit with reading. I can handle three max, but once a book goes past that, it becomes a little dicey. That isn’t to say books with multiple povs are bad. For me as a reader, sometimes those povs can bleed together or feel like the book is dragging on more than it needed to. And it definitely affected my reading. So, between the multiple povs and the dark themes, I had to dock a star because it impacted my reading and enjoyment.

“I am the only storm that matters now, and there is no shelter from what I bring.”

Overall, I’m so grateful I got to read an arc of this book! I really enjoyed this book as a whole. I think Roanhorse did a fantastical job creating a world many readers are going to fall into, really enjoy, and there was so much that blew me out of the water. I’m really impressed especially as someone new to her writing. I think my true love lies within the characters because I can’t resist a morally grey character, it’s a weakness of mine! I have no doubt this is a book that’s going to take readers by storm and I have no doubt will end up on many top 2020 lists!

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

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Alaskan Christmas Redemption (Home to Owl Creek Book 3) by Belle Calhoune

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ARC was provided by NetGalley and HARLEQUIN Romance in exchange for an honest review.

This review is being published after the release date (September 29th, 2020)

Content/Trigger Warnings: Death of a parent (in the past), loss of a loved one (in the past), grief, abandonment, mentions of multiple accidents, mentions of kidnapping and abduction, trauma, mentions of heart attack (in the past)

“I want to help you save the diner.”

In my true bad reading habits fashion, I read the the third book in this series and I have zero regrets. Seriously, this romance hit me in all the soft spaces of my heart, friends! Truly, this was such an emotional read and I loved this book so much. I’m not sure if you should or can read these book out of order. Even though this is the third book, I’ve never heard of this series before or this author, but this book has enough details that you understand the side characters and being new to this series, I had so much appreciation for that. After experiencing this author’s writing, I’m excited to explore more of this series and more of Calhoune’s writing!

Alaskan Christmas Redemption follows the story of two childhood best friends finding their way back to each other after four years of being part. Piper has spent these last four years carrying a great weight on her shoulders and now with her family diner at risk, she needs to find a solution to save it or close the doors to the Snowy Owl for good. Braden has just returned to Owl Creek after spending four years running away from his past. When Piper contacts him, asking for help, Braden ends up doing everything he can to help her, despite the secrets he’s keeping from everyone. The two estranged friends will work together to save the diner and maybe lose their hearts to one another along the way.

🦉 Piper Miller – After inheriting her family’s diner, The Snowy Owl, Piper has spent the last four years grieving the death of her father, but The Snowy Owl is in a lot of trouble. With a debt that was covered up by her father, Piper is struggling to come up with a way to save the diner without having to close the doors for good. She reaches out to her childhood best friend, Braden to assist her in saving the diner, but after four years of being apart, she can’t help wishing they could be close again or noticing Braden is hiding something.

“There was no one in the world who could replace Piper. She was one of a kind and as unique as an individual snowflake.”

🦉 Braden North – After leaving Owl Creek four years ago, Braden has finally come home to be with his family, but the weight of the past is weighing heavily on his mind. When Piper, his childhood best friend reaching out to him, seeking his help with saving the diner, despite wanting to keep his distance, Braden agrees to help and comes up with a brilliant plan to save The Snowy Owl. But as Braden spends more time with Piper, he’s not only falling for her, but he’s struggling to confess the real reason he left Owl Creek four years ago.

Together Piper and Braden will make a dynamic duo that’ll turn The Snowy Owl into the hottest spot in Owl Creek for the holiday season. Along the way, these two characters will learn to find the hope in situations out of their control, unravel the secrets of the past, discover what it means to fall in love with someone you’ve known all your life, and be forgiving even when we’re our most vulnerable.

“Remember when a chocolate cherry shake would make everything feel better? I miss those days”

We follow the perspective of both Piper and Braden throughout this story. I really loved Piper as a character. She’s confident, sweet, loving, and has a charismatic charm about her that I couldn’t resist. Plus, her love for Christmas just really warmed my heart. We also see a lot of Piper’s grief through her perspective. Braden, on the other hand, wasn’t my favorite perspective. A lot of his perspective is through internal struggle and seeing his thoughts on how he’s handling things. Together, I think the perspectives balanced the story out nicely and it paints that full picture of what happened with both characters in certain moments.

There’s also a huge theme of family throughout this book and I crumbled so much with this that theme. I always say my loyalty and family are my Achilles’ heel, and they truly are. And the whole sense of family throughout this book just hit so close to home. Piper is carrying the knowledge of what’s happening with the diner, and refuses to tell her brother and mother what has been occurring because she knows how hard they’ve recently struggled. On top of that, her whole family is still feeling the loss of Jack Miller, Piper’s father. There’s also the rekindling of family bonds on Braden’s side of this story. Braden’s younger sister was kidnap as a baby and now that they’re both home, under the same roof, they’re trying to find a way to connect with one another. But under all of that, there’s a deep sense of not wanting to disappoint your family or let them down because of hardships, feeling like you’re not measuring up to expectations, and it plays an important role in the lives of our two main characters throughout this book. And since this is a small town, we have the small town vibes and close knit community. So it feels like one big family and it’s like being wrapped up in a warm, fuzzy hug.

“His mother had once told him that even when you lost a person you loved, memories of them were everywhere you turned.”

Even though this is a holiday romance, there are heavy themes of grief and loss of loved ones in this book. And even though this is suppose to be a holiday romance, this is the first holiday romance I’ve read that addresses the amount of loss and grief you can feel around the holidays. I find not many authors show this side of the holidays, but it’s such an important perspective to show especially during the holidays. A we see a wide plethora of that through this book with many side characters. We also have multiple conversations surrounding that grief and remembering those loved ones. As I mention all the time, family is everything to me and this book really touched parts of my soul when it comes to that topic. But even though we have themes of grief, there’s also themes of hope throughout this book. I think the author did a beautiful job at pairing the two alongside one another. These two feelings go hand in hand with one another so often and I really appreciated that we see both sides.

Overall, this book made me really soft and sappy. I was crying on and off through this book because of so many themes throughout this story. I think many readers are going to fall in love with this story, with the characters, and the Alaska setting is just stunning. I’m truly excited to pick up the other books in this series and I’m eagerly awaiting future books for this series because this was such a great read. I read this book in one whole day and every time I set it down, I had to pick up back up immediately. Truly, I hope more readers pick this book up because is such a great read and it touched all the soft spots of my heart!

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

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The Legend of the Golden Raven (The Wicker King #1.5) by K. Ancrum

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👑 The Wicker King (The Wicker King, #1) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Mentions of divorce, neglect, hallucinations, mental illness, allusions to institutionalization

“Remember to be kind, bunny.”

Did I immediately pick this novella up after I finished reading The Wicker King? Yes, yes I did and I’m living my best life right now! This was such an important piece to add to The Wicker King because we never see Jack perspective of things. Sure, we had the mixed media, but we never got to see the things exactly like Jack was. And this novella gives us that experience. It’s very much Alice in Wonderland vibes and if you read this novella, you know what I mean.

I loved this novella so damn much! The Legend of the Golden Raven is a retelling of The Wicker King told from Jack’s perspective, where we really get to see the fantastical world that Jack sees coexisting with our own. As I mentioned, this will feel similar to Alice in Wonderland and it’s such a unique feeling especially with the way Ancrum wrote this novella. In this novella we see the way Jack sees August, the way he loves him, and we see them reuniting. And we also get Rina. If you’re like me who fell in love with Rina in The Wicker King, then you’re going to love seeing her in this novella! When she plays her viola for Jack while he climbed into bed with August, I completely lost it! She is my new fictional crush. She truly is a beacon of light for these two boys.

“You’re the love of my life, you know,” he said bravely. August just looked at him and shrugged. “I know.”

I think my only complaint is the shortness of this novella. I know it’s supposed to be a novella, but I feel like we could have received a more pages with some extra details. I also think many readers will dislike the two parallel worlds which has two different writing styles. I think many readers will be confused by that or not enjoy this novella as much.

Overall, I really enjoyed this. I think I will always want more with these characters especially Rina. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that one day she’ll get her own novella one day. And of course, I’m going to recommend this novella and anything by K. Ancrum because their writing is fantastic. Truly, no one is out here doing it the way K. Ancrum is and I don’t know what we did to deserve her, her writing, and the stories that are created, but it truly is a blessing!

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