Monthly TBR

November 2022 TBR | Native Heritage Month

We’re still here! All you have to do is LOOK!

Wow, I really brought the spice and a TBR post after… months? Months? MONTHS! We love to see it, yes we do! Though I am trying to desperately manifest strong reading vibes after a month worth of slumpy reading energy, not going to lie. But I digress. Not only are we in the autumnal season, but I’m on a really strong, positive reading streak right now (okay, not fully positive, there was one little hiccup) and I want to keep the ball rolling as we descend into November. Also known as, Native American Heritage Month! Yes, yes that’s where my fiery spice came from for this post. Look, I’m not going to sit here and rant, educate, etc… for the millionth time. Go check out my November 2020 TBR post for some links of Indigenous content creators, some educational links, etc… if you’re interested.

This month I’m specifically focusing on Native joy (because let’s be honest, it’s not talked about enough or given enough love) and some amazing Indigenous books that I’m super excited about getting to this month. Technically I could have read these at any given time, but as I mentioned, I spent a whole month in a bad slump and I couldn’t find the motivation to really read. The most I did was one book and then I was solely focused on gaming. That’s basically the whole story of what happened in September. ANYWAY, this month is going to be a good one, I just know it… I can feel it! I quickly want to mention (before we get into this ambitious tbr) that not all the books I want to read are on this list. My tbr for this month is massive because I’ve been essentially hoarding Native/Indigenous books just so I can put a heavy spotlight on them. Plus, books aren’t cheap, so it’s been a gradual build up to this point in time. So without my further descent into chaos, here is my stunning TBR for the month of November!


Venco by Cherie Dimaline
February 7th, 2023 by William Morrow
ARC was given by William Morrow & HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review.
🌻 Empire of Wild ★★★★

This is kind of the book that has sparked this whole tbr and is probably what’s going to shape my tbrs up till February 2023. I really enjoyed Empire of Wild and was really captured by Cherie’s writing style. So I’m really excited that I was sent an arc for this book. If I can’t get to this arc this month, one of the upcoming months will have this on it and it’ll be the biggest priority. Plus, the synopsis sounds so good!

The Star That Always Stays by Anna Rose Johnson
July 12th, 2022 by Holiday House
ARC was given by Holiday House in exchange for an honest review.

Okay, I’m a little late on this one, but to be fair, I didn’t receive my arc copy till end of July/early August and well, you all know what happened with September. So, I’m making this arc a high priority for this month. However, I’m a little nervous going in because I have a feeling I’m going to get really emotional about this book especially being an urban Native. So I’m prepping the tissue boxes for this one!

Night of the Living Rez: Stories by Morgan Talty
July 5th, 2022 by Tin House Books
ALC was given by Libro.fm & Tin House Books in exchange for an honest review.

Another book I’m late to the party on, but thankfully this is an audiobook and I have no doubt that I won’t be able to breeze through it. Yeah, I’m back on my audiobook kick and it feels so good! However, I’m really excited to dive into this read and hopefully, maybe, convince my spouse to come along for the ride on this read with me.

Making Love with the Land: Essays by Joshua Whitehead
November 15th, 2022 by Univ Of Minnesota Press
ALC was given by Libro.fm & Univ Of Minnesota Press in exchange for an honest review.

This is a newly acquired aalc for me! Which if you couldn’t tell, this book will be available this month! I’m so blessed, so privileged to have received an early copy of this book through Libro.fm and this is the other book that has kind of spurred a very massive November tbr. Between this book and Venco, the two of them have kind of kicked me into gear to make an insanely massive tbr and I’m really excited to dive into this soon! It’s also an audiobook and it has me even more excited!

Healer of the Water Monster by Brian Young
May 11th, 2021 by Heartdrum

Though this book released last year, I’m really excited to be getting to this book in the here and now! This book centers around Navajo mythology and so this has a little soft spot in my heart. This has been a story I have been seeing come out more and more, and it fills my heart with warmth to see it. For those who may not know, the Navajo and Apache are consider cousins to each other, and so this make me really happy to see Navajo stories being brought into the spotlight for all to read and enjoy.

A Snake Falls to Earth by Darcie Little Badger
November 23rd, 2021 by Levine Querido
🌻 Elatsoe ★★★★★

This book… THIS BOOK is the crown jewel of this whole entire tbr! As a Mescalero Apache reader, if you haven’t heard me sob, pop off in excitement, or even mention Darcie Little Badger then here it is right here. Ever since I found out there is an Apache author writing ya and middle grade books, winning awards for that literature, you have no idea how emotional it makes me and how much I want to throw my money at any work this author releases. If you would have told a young Malli that I would get to grow up to see an Apache author winning awards for their literature and brings forth Apache stories, I probably would have never believed you because I had never seen it before, ever. Until Darcie Little Badger released Elatsoe. And everything kind of changed after that. So the work Darcie does means a whole heck-a lot to me and while I need to re-read Elatsoe (I honestly might just buy another copy that I can highlight and tab the heck out of) to give a more in-depth review, I will be prioritizing this book greatly.

The Lake House by Sarah Beth Durst
April 25th, 2023 by Harperteen
ARC was given by NetGalley & HaperTeen in exchange for an honest review.
Buddy Read with Destiny & Ashley

While this isn’t a Native/Indigenous read, this is also a priority for my reading in November! Yes, it’s true, Destiny and I are back again with a buddy read, but this time we have Ashley with us! I am so excited about this buddy read with these two lovely souls. Ashley and I have been meaning to buddy read something together for a hot minute and as fate would have it, all three of us had an arc of the same book. So it’s on! It’s so freaking on and I’ve been vibrating with excitement since we all decided to buddy read this together. I’ve really been getting into the spookier, more hauntingly atmospheric reads lately and I feel very privileged and blessed to have an arc of this book.


Whew! Okay, that was a whole lot of books, but just be glad I didn’t list… everything. We might have been here all day going through all the books I want to read for this month. I’m really excited for this month though and it feels good to be making blog posts again, sharing stories, thoughts with everyone once more. I’ve felt like I’ve been holding my breath for so long and I’m just now taking a breath of fresh air. It feels really nice and I appreciate the patience everyone has had with me as life keeps throwing surprises my way. I hope each and every one of you has a lovely November, enjoys the season (whatever season you may be in), and I hope, just maybe, that some of these books caught your eye and you’ll fall in love with more Native/Indigenous literature this year. Until next time friends, I love you! 🧡

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The Adventure Zone: Petals to the Metal by Clint McElroy, Griffin McElroy, Justin McElroy, Travis McElroy, & Carey Pietsch

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Content/Trigger Warnings: Explosions, bombs, death, vehicle accidents

The Adventure Zone: Here There Be Gerblins ★★★★★

The Adventure Zone: Murder on the Rockport Limited! ★★★★★

“For every evil impulse drawn from a tempted heart, there is a heroic deed, spurred on by unimaginable bravery.”

We have finally, FINALLY returned to The Adventure Zone! I know, I know… it’s been a hot minutes since I picked up this series, but we’re back and I’ve been eagerly waiting to start this. And what a more perfect season to pick this series back up than the autumnal season?! Truly, I’m thriving and this graphic novel, comic added 10 years onto my life! So grab your snack, sit back, and let’s follow our chaotic trio on a new chaotic adventure!

We once again join our chaotic friends, Magnus, Taako, Merle, and of course the hilarious dungeon master on a whole new adventure. This time our friend are jumping in the race car seats and they prepare to reclaiming The Sash of Gaia! However, they soon find out this won’t be so easy obtaining the artifact, and they’ll have a few close calls along the way. With the help of Hurley, our adventures will do everything they can to save lives and maintain balance, but… sometimes there’s a price to be paid and not even love can stop fate.

This was an absolutely fantastic read! If you don’t know by now, I absolutely love these characters and love following them. So when we’re introduced to Sloane and Hurley, we learn of their story, and their relationship… Be still my beating heart! I loved them, I absolutely loved them. They’re by no means a perfect couple and even the start of their relationship was rocky, but somehow they just work together. Not to mention, the height difference was so glorious to see. We stan tall women with short cuties! We also see some growth and development with our main three characters. We also get some very character specific moments for Taako and Merle, and I was thriving seeing them have their own moments. I wish we could of had a moment for Magnus, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed we’ll see it in the next book.

“I don’t know if you can hear this anymore. But on the off chance you’re listening… on the off chance you’re still you… I wanted to give you fair warning. You’re going to lose tomorrow. And then… And then you’re gonna come home.”

There’s also a lot of hilarious moments, a lot of action packed moments, but most importantly, the freaking ending of this book wrecked me. I was sobbing and getting so emotional over how everything concludes. If there was ever a way to make me realize how attached to these characters, the ending really made me realize that. Even more so for Sloane and Hurley! We only have these two for this volume and everything that we get to learn about those two, it wasn’t enough. I wanted more and despite knowing we’d only have them for this volume, I still got emotional about their whole journey. This is what this series does so well though! It makes you get attached to these characters, no matter how brief or long term, and you just want to see them thrive, and succeed.

If I had to say anything negative about this volume, it’s that I have more questions than I do answers. Volume two of this series already gave us a whole lot of questions that we don’t get answers to and now we’re in the third volume, still without anymore clarity. The ending of this left me with so many more questions than answers and I really wish I had a bread crumb to go off of. Even the small scenes for foreshadowing doesn’t really lead me to a whole lot either. So I’m invested to get my answers, but also I wish we had gotten at least a bread crumb at the end or something.

“Is it for keepsies? Everything is for keepsies if you’re sneaky about it.”

Overall, I always have a blast reading this series and getting caught up on the shenanigans of this family. There were so many funny moments like Merle and the vines, and the introduction of Garyl, too! I need more of this, more of Garyl in general! It was just a fun time and I love a good story that can remind me how much I love and adore my all my nerdy goodness. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves DnD, loves RPG (role playing games), or just want a fast read for any readathons. I do recommend that you read these in order though because, in my opinion, the recaps don’t always give all the best details to give a good overall of what’s happened thus far. So read them in order and have fun while you do!

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House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City #1) by Sarah J. Maas

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Content/Trigger Warnings: Drug use, alcoholism, blood depictions, graphic injuries, gore, grief, loss of a loved ones, loss of a parent (in the past), death, murder, scenes of emesis, PTSD/trauma, slut-shaming, death of a child (pg 255), talk of war, war crimes, bombings, talk of torture, talk of slavery, graphic execution, brief mentions of suicidal ideation & attempted suicide recounted, human experimentation, violence, sex scenes, swearing, abusive relationships, depictions of anxiety & panic attacks

“Through love, all is possible.”

Honestly, this is a long overdue review. This book is the literal reason why I didn’t read a single book for a whole month and it took me that whole month to realize I was in a reading slump because of it. Whew, it has been a wild ride with this book. And if I’m being honest, I don’t know what more I can add into the review pool on this book. Although some feelings have changed, shifted, and after all this time my thoughts still drift back to moments of this book.

When a brutal massacre claims the lives of people close to her, Bryce Quinlan spends two years trying to return her life to normalcy. Until… bodies begin showing up again and the Archangel of Crescent City is knocking on her work’s door. Forced to work with the Archangel’s personal assassin, The Umbra Mortis, they’re time is limited as the next summit is on the horizon and bodies begin piling up.

It’s rare when I say this, but I would ride or die for Bryce Quinlan. Out of all the characters, I was instantly locked into her perspective and I felt very connected to her character. A lot of the ways Bryce carries herself hit really close to home for me especially when it comes to the people she cares about, and yes, that includes the scar. I’m very much one in the same with a lot of it and Bryce is just going to forever hold a special place in my heart. Plus, I feel like no one talks about this, but Bryce is plus-sized and it just makes me love Bryce even more. On the other hand, we also get the perspective of Hunter and I just wasn’t as connected to him as I was with Bryce. However, his perspective was still captivating and even more so as we get towards the end of the book. It was a really interesting perspective to be in and I’m curious to see if we’ll continue with the duel perspective in the next book. And put these two characters together, the banter is delightful, the chemistry is so good, and I really enjoyed how the two of them together aren’t perfect, but somehow suit each other really well. They just click.

“You’re the person I don’t need to explain myself to – not when it matters. You see everything I am, and you don’t run away from it.”

Speaking of characters, Maas has this habit of writing so many side characters that you end up falling in love with and oh, I fell so hard for so many of them. I loved Bryce’s boss and I adored the demon cat (if ya know, ya know), but there is one character aside from Bryce that caused me to sob relentlessly and that was Lehabah, a fire sprite and coworker/friend to Bryce. Lehabah was such a spark during this whole book and even though we don’t see her that much, I absolutely loved her. She captivated my heart and I had to mention her. There are many, many characters to love in this book, both main and side characters, but Lehabah was a blessing and I adored her. I wish we got to see more of her.

“I am a descendant of Ranthia Drahl, Queen of Embers. She is with me now and I am not afraid. My friends are behind me, and I will protect them.”

And while I’m talking about side characters, let me tell you, there are so many villains in this book and every one of those characters who are displayed as a terrible person, are truly terrible! When I say I had my book in a choke hold every time one of these buttmunchers decided to be a little butt… my book almost got chucked across the room a few times. This is actual high praise because only a very small handful of books (3 to be exact) have actually caused me to throw them. This has now been added to that list. The end game had so many good scenes of these villains getting their butts served on a platter to them, which was delightful. However, I’m a little hopeful that we’ll see a little bit of redemption for potentially some of them, but if something tragic happens to them, well… I ain’t crying for them.

Storyline wise, it was interesting. Every time I read high fantasy or high sci-fi (basically heavily detailed books), it takes me a hot minute to get into it, but once I’m in it, I’m in it. And that’s how it was for this book. As I’ll mention below, the details of this book didn’t really impact me the way I saw it impacting a lot of readers. There were so many scenes that I felt like I was there, witnessing what was happening. I was pulled into the storyline really easily with this book and it hooked me. There’s also a lot of foreshadowing sprinkled throughout the storyline as well and it kept adding fuel to the flames that just kept me going, wanting to know more.

“That’s the point of it, Bryce. Of life. To live, to love, knowing that it might all vanish tomorrow. It makes everything that much more precious.”

Despite all the things I loved this book there were a few things that just didn’t work for me. My biggest issue was that three of the major “twists” in this book were easily predicted for me. While I did still enjoy the scenes, I feel like I would have loved them more if it didn’t feel obvious with the way the author was going in the storyline. This won’t be the issue for everyone, but for me, it was easily predicted. This also ties in with the ending and I feel like the ending of this book would have hit twice as hard if some of the things revealed didn’t feel obvious in the direction certain things were going to go. My other really issue I can’t really talk about without spoiling anything, but this character soured my taste from the beginning, knew they were horrendously suspicious, and it ties in with one of the big twists. This was so painfully obvious and I was just really irked by how obvious it all was.

With all of that being said, I do want to put in here a little section to emphasize that this reads and feels like a high fantasy book. There’s a lot, I mean A LOT, of details that go into the first chunk of this book to build of the world, give details about the different quarters and the hierarchy, and even give backstory of the war situation. It’s a lot friends, it’s a lot and you should know that considering this is an 800 page book. While this didn’t bother me personally, if you’re not a typical avid reader of high fantasy and sci-fi books then this book may feel like a challenge to trudge through. It may also put you in a reading slump if you’re not a big lover of heavy details. The author does this for all of her books, laced with great detail to make you feel like you’re in the world or at least like you’re vividly experiencing it. So just something to keep in mind if you’ve been feeling a little intimidated by this book.

Overall, I had a really fantastic time reading this book. If you can’t tell in the picture of this review, there’s so many tabs and I took so many notes. This book made me order more tabs because I ended up running out. I was so captivated and enthralled by the story, the characters, and the world that I couldn’t stop reading. I just got caught up in all the details and that’s the case with every book I read from this author. I truly am trash for Maas and I’m not ashamed of this. I don’t think this book will be for everyone, but I recommend this book to anyone who loves this author’s work and loves high fantasy.

Buddy Read with Destiny & Caro

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3 Mini Reviews | Below, Muscles & Monsters, Garlic and the Witch

Salutations friends! I haven’t done any mini reviews in a hot minute, but I’m finally doing one after ages! I think the last one I did was in the winter of 2021. I’m currently on a really strong reading kick and I’ve been cruising through so many great books. This may be due to November looming over my shoulder or it just may be from finding my spark again in books after a month slump. Either way, here are three mini reviews of three recent reads that I loved! ♥


🕯️ Below by Laurel Hightower

Content/Trigger Warnings: Depictions of anxiety & panic attacks, misogyny, talk of divorce, on page vehicle accident, death, talk of grief, talk of nyctophobia (fear of the dark), depictions of blood, graphic injuries, gore, violence scenes of emesis, scene of drowning

“Keep you head down and get out, remember? Doesn’t matter how, just take it and run.”

It has been a week and I’m still thinking about all the ways this book haunts my thoughts. When I heard someone say this has Mothman in it, you bet your sweet booty that I jumped on this train immediately. Plus, seeing my friend’s review for this book also had me running for it immediately. However, I want to state that Mothman isn’t the main focus of this novella. Mothman kind of takes very to the sidelines despite the fact that we have a few select moments with them. But despite knowing this, I was hyped and super excited to dive into this book as soon as my claws were wrapped around this book.

We follow Addy who is recently divorced and is currently traveling through the West Virginia mountains to meet up with her friends. However, her journey goes from okay to pure chaos as a bad snow storm rolls in and the truck driver she met at the diner get into a sudden vehicle accident. Now Addy must decide if she’s just going to spend her time in fear or attempt to help her new friend, even if it means battling her inner monsters, and potentially something more realistically frightening.

“Came outta of nowhere, didn’t it?”

I liked Addy and how imperfect she was. She was angry, anxious, fearful, but also trying to find herself again in the aftermath of this divorce. She’s also very distrusting of men because of all the poor treatment she has had to deal with, not only in life, but in her marriage as well. So we see Addy start off as very anxious, weary, and hurting, but that quickly changes because things in this book escalate rapidly and all you can do is hold on for the ride as we see Addy grow and change.

I’m not kidding when I say thing escalate rapidly. Things pick up pretty fast and I think you’ll find yourself pretty hooked. Even when I wanted to put this book down, I couldn’t because I constantly was wondering what was waiting to happen. However, I did have to stew on this book and my thoughts for a day. Reading this book in less than two hours and you would need to sit on your feelings too.

Overall, I had a really great time with this book and I recommend going in not knowing too much about it. I think a lot of the twists and turns will be better enjoyed that way. If I had to really give issue with this book, it was the lack of Mothman. I think I would have liked Mothman playing a bigger role in this book than was given, but despite that I still loved the author’s interpretation of Mothman. It’s a great atmospheric read and one that I recommend for the fall season!


🕯️ Muscles & Monsters (Leviathan Fitness, #1) by Ashley Bennett

Content/Trigger Warnings: Abusive/toxic relationship (in the past), depictions of anxiety, bullying (in the past), mentions of & scene of fatphobia, body shaming, scene of prejudice towards monsters

“A moment of discomfort is nothing compared to a lifetime of unhappiness. Knowing that it led me to you, I’d make that choice again and again”

Holy cow did I enjoy my time reading this book! I have thirty-seven notes on this book and I’m still thinking about how delightful this was. Wow, wow, WOW. My expectations were blown out of the water for this. I thought it was going to be straight up monster erotica, but there’s so much more to it than that and I enjoyed every second of it.

We get duel perspectives from Tegan, a plus-seized baker, who got tasked with making a wedding cake that’s supposed to be delivered for the mayor’s daughter’s wedding only her assistant called out and now Tegan is struggling until she drops the cake. Enter Atlas Oberon, the werewolf owner of the gym down the street, Leviathan Fitness. Atlas had been on his way into work when he stumbled across Tegan and offered to assist with the cake. Who would of thought a wedding cake would blossom into a romance between these two?

“Well I’m glad you chose what was best for you, Atlas Oberon. And I happen to like that stupid fucking tail of yours. Very much.”

There were so many great elements to this read that made these characters so likeable and almost real. I think Tegan is my favorite though. The way the author chose to write Tegan really made the biggest impression with me. Tegan is very body positive in being plus-size, but we also see moments where she has doubts and questions herself. This was handle so well and in a way that I felt was realistic. Being plus-sized myself, I have my moments of ups and downs and seeing that represented in Tegan in this book was really nice to see. Speaking of body positivity and different views of bodies, I thought the way Atlas was handled was a great way to show the opposite spectrum of how you can be healthy, have a well toned body, and still have insecurities about the way you look. I think if anyone were to make this a book club pick, this would be a great way to open the floor to bigger discussions on body positivity, body image and societal views, and learning to love oneself.

Don’t worry, I didn’t forget about the sexy times. The sexy times were actually really great and I mean that in the sense of the before, during, and after. Tegan and Atlas have really strong communication with one another, they care for each other in their own ways, and do what they can to protect each other. And sexy times aren’t excluded from any of that. Tegan is human and Atlas takes such good care of Tegan in the aftermath even when they go to the gym, after their romp, he keeps the routine of the day light and calls it early for Tegan. It was all really sweet and the open communication is fantastic. Plus, there’s a scene that involves icing and I think readers are going to have a blast with it.

Overall, this was a fun time and I read it a lot faster than I thought I would. I wasn’t expecting to get through it as fast as I did and I wasn’t it expecting to have so many different elements stirred in. If you’re a lover of monsters, you definitely want to add this to you list. Plus, the second book recently came out and I’m really excited to continue on with this series!


🕯️Garlic and the Witch by Bree Paulsen

🍄 Garlic and the Vampire ★★★★★

Content/Trigger Warnings: Depictions of anxiety, brief mentions loss of a loved one

I had no idea I was this excited about this sequel until I was ordering it. I fell madly in love with the first book because of the characters, the story, the layers, and just everything, truly. So waiting for this to release felt like trying to run through syrup. And honestly, now that I’ve read the sequel I’m kind of sad that this has come to a close. I don’t think this author has plans for anymore books in this world and just having the chance to read Garlic’s story in this duology feels like such a blessing altogether. All I know is that Bree Paulsen has become a favorite author of mine and I need to keep my eyes peeled for more of their work!

Our story takes place with a step back in time. We get to see how everything began and see how Garlic and the other veggie-people came to be in this world. This is a little treat for us as the reader, as we never get to see this bit in the first book. However, we quickly resume where the first book left off, only this time there are some changes, some unexplainable changes and Garlic seeks the truth of what’s happening to her, to everyone. Witch Agnes has no choice but to reveal her secret, they’re becoming humans!

As with the first book, Garlic is embarking on another adventure, two if you count them becoming human. Garlic must travel to the Magic Market with Count to retrieve some goodies for Witch Agnes and along the way she’ll learn to cope with her anxiety, to have faith in herself and the people who surround her, and trust that everything will turn out okay even if it all seems a little scary. We also find out a little more details about Count throughout this whole story too. Truly, Count just deserves all the love and is such a precious character.

Overall, this was one of the easiest reads I’ve rated all year. I absolutely loved the first book and so it was impossible for me not to fall in love with the second book. How could I not fall in love with these characters, this world, the representation we see?! It was all lovely and I truly mean it when I say I’m truly going to miss these characters and this world if there aren’t any books in this series. I’m not sure what those books would look like considering how this book (and the fact of how hard I sobbed), but if there are more books, then I can’t wait to see the adventures of these characters continue on. If you haven’t checked out the first book or perhaps you’re debating whether or not to get the second book, let this be the sign you need to go pick them up. I promise, you won’t regret it!


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How to be a Good Creature by Sy Montgomery, Illustrated by Rebecca Green

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Content/Trigger Warnings: Toxic relationships, death/loss of animals, death/loss of parents, brief mentions of cancer, grief, depression, mentions and talk of suicidal ideation, spider chapter (pg 62 – pg 79)

“I am still learning how to be a good creature. Though I try earnestly, I often fail. But I am having a great life trying…”

It has been a hot minute since I’ve read a nonfiction book, let alone a book about animals. In fact, I’m pretty sure the last nonfiction book I read about animals was back at the end of 2020 with my review of When Dogs Heal. Which is a book I highly recommend, but I digress. This book was such a lovely breath of fresh air and a great reminder of all the life lessons I’ve learned from animals over the years. And I’m happy to say I’ll be looking into more books by this author.

How to be a Good Creature is a memoir that follows our author, Sy Montgomery, as they navigate the ups and downs through life. Along the way she learns important life lessons from the animals who come into her life. From dogs to emus, all the way to a loving octopus, we get to see and learn about the incredible animals who’ve imparted their wisdom upon Sy.

“Knowing someone who belongs to another species can enlarge your soul in surprising ways.”

Don’t let this cover fool you, this book was such an emotional read for me. Despite all the work I’ve done with animals and continue to do, this book hit me hard in my feelings. I took plenty of breaks reading this book because I was constantly reflecting on the animals that have come out of my life and the lessons they left me with, and how much I miss them. And I definitely recommend giving your pets some cuddles before, during, and after reading this book!

If I had to choose some of my favorite chapters of this book, they’d be the following:

Chapter 2: Bald Throat, Black Head, and Knackered Leg
Chapter 5: The Christmas Weasel
Chapter 9: Octavia
Chapter 10: Thurber

“Being friends with an octopus-whatever that friendship meant to her-has shown me that our world, and the worlds around and within it, is aflame with shades of brilliance we cannot fathom”

Even though this book is a memoir, I think there’s a lot of beauty to be seen through this book and a great way for animal lovers to experience the magic of various animals they wouldn’t. I think the most precious things in life is being able to experience something through someone else’s eyes, to feel that wonder and magic, and then feel inspired to find that magic for our selves. Whether that magic be found with our own animals, rescuing animals or educating others about animals, an so much more. I think it’s books like this that can make the world fall in love with the other creatures we share this life with. And while it’s not always easy, there is love, beauty, and wisdom to uncover in it.

“Teachers are all around to help you: with four legs or two or eight or even none; some with internal skeletons, some without. All you have to do is recognize them as teachers and be ready to hear their truths.”

Overall, I’m sure this review seemed vague, but trust me when I say that this book is beautifully written and holds many lessons that I think it’s better to go into this book not knowing too much. I do recommend checking out my content warnings though because there are some heavy topic throughout this book that could potentially be hard on someone’s spoons, but otherwise it was a fantastic read. As I mentioned, this has me excited to read more books by this author and bring back more animal books back into my life!

Buddy Read with Destiny ♥

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Tags

Life’s a Beach Book Tag!

This tag was created by Lefty (The Left-Handed Book Lover) and I was tagged by Destiny @ Howling Libraries!


Salutations Chapterlings! I haven’t done a book tag in ages and when my lovely friend Destiny tagged me in this, oh ho ho! The cackle that escaped my body should have been illegal, but I digress. Since I haven’t done one of these in a while, I might be a little rusty, but I hope you enjoy this little break in all the reviews!


1 – The Sand: A book that stuck with you long after you finished reading it

The Sacrifice by Rin Chupeco literally haunts my thoughts. It’s been weeks, almost a month and I’m still thinking about this book, about these characters, and just everything about this book. While this book doesn’t come out till October 2022, it was such an atmospheric read and probably one of my top 5 favorite books of 2022.


2 – The Sun: A book that burned you

I’m kind of wincing as I write this because this is a very fresh, recent read for me and I feel like this book has slapped me in the face so much that I’m still a little shell shocked. Darling by K. Ancrum was one of my most anticipated reads, but this book not only has a very hurtful scene towards Indigenous people, but still has the ghost fingers of trauma gripping around my heart. If you haven’t read my review, I highly recommend checking it out for more details. Needless to say, this book has me hesitant to pick another book by this author.


3 – The Waves: A book that calms you down after a long day

Honestly, I don’t think I have a book that calms me down and I typically don’t reread books that often. Soooooo… NEXT!


4 – The Bathing Suit: A book with a pretty, summer-y cover:

I’m going to hit two-birds with one stone and give you that end of summer, beginning of fall vibes! Cafe Con Lychee by Emery Lee not only has that beautiful cover, but also has a lot of school scenes which is perfect for the month of August. With everyone trying to get in their final summer trips and preparing for school/college, this is a perfect book about family, delicious food, and a brewing romance!


5 – The Birds: A book that’s everywhere

I feel like everywhere I look, this book has been making waves in the book community. On IG, Booktok, blog posts, book twitter, etc… Everywhere I go, everyone is talking about Wild Is The Witch by Rachel Griffin and it’s well deserved. I literally read this book in one day because it was so good and every time I’d sit the book down for a break, I kept thinking about what was going to happen next. If you haven’t checked this book out yet, I highly recommend it!


6 – The Company: A book with wonderful characters

This was a recommended book and let me tell you, if you thought I wasn’t going to put a graphic novel on this tag then you would be wrong! This was such a cute, adorable graphic novel about produce characters. Garlic and the Vampire by Bree Paulsen is such a wholesome read and made me feel all the things. If you’re looking for a cute read with a lovely art style, look no further!


7 – The Ice-Cold Drink: A book you absolutely gulped down

I’m sorry, but I had to throw a paranormal, dark romance on here, with sexy demons! I couldn’t resist the temptation, okay?! But seriously, Her Soul to Take by Harley LaRoux was so freaking good! This was a buddy read and when I say it was so hard not to read ahead, I’m not kidding. If you haven’t checked this series out and you like a book with some demon action, highly recommnend. Just make sure you check out content/trigger warnings in advance. This book is not for the faint of heart.


8 – The Fun Memories: A book you can’t wait to return to

I feel like this ties in with rereads and as I mentioned,. I don’t do rereads that often. Due to my backlist being huge and out the wahzoo, but I digress. I’m going to go with a series that I’m eager to get back to. I’m really excited for the third book in the Souls Trilogy to release. I finished the second book back in May and I’m eagerly anticipating for the third book to drop. I miss these characters, the small down vibes, and the demon smexy goodness. The third book is following two characters I’m eager to learn more about and hopefully, this will be a buddy read with my best friend so we can conclude this trilogy together!


Okay, I think that covers all the parts of this tag. I think! I hope you all enjoyed seeing some of my book recs and just a bit of a recap of some recent reads for me. Honestly, I miss doing tags and maybe a book tag every once in a blue moon wouldn’t be so bad, and a great way to break up the constant flow of reviews. Anyway, I hope you all enjoyed and until next time, stay hydrated! ❤️

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ARC Reviews

A Taste of Gold and Iron by Alexandra Rowland

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This post contains affiliate links; if you use these links to make a purchase, I may earn a commission. Thanks for reading!

ARC was given by NetGalley & Tordotcom in exchange for an honest review.

This review is being published before the release date (August 30th, 2022)

Content/Trigger Warnings: On page depictions of anxiety & panic attacks, depression, loss of loved ones, scene of physical & verbal abuse, graphic violence, depictions of blood, graphic injuries, attempted drugging, scene of kidnapping/abduction, on page racial slur (often used towards Muslims)

Oh boy, where do I even begin with this book, this review, and just… everything. This was not it, friends. I feel like the only person in the room who dislikes this book because every review I see is four or five stars, everyone raving of how amazing this book is. I feel like I’ve read an entirely different book and usually with my romance reads, I devour them in a day or so. Nope, nope, nope, big ole’ NOPE! That was not the case and at the end of reading this book, I feel disappointed and frustrated. So much happens and yet absolutely nothing happens! This book could have been everything, but it fell short for me, greatly.

After a hunting trip gone horribly wrong, Kadou, the prince of Arasht, finds himself feeling lower than he’s ever felt in a long time. Feeling distant from his sister and in a sense, banished from court after this incident, Kadou takes on proving his loyalty to his sister by investigating a break-in at one of their guilds. What Kadou uncovers is much more than just a simple break-in. With his newly appointed body guard, Evemer, they’ll dig deeper into a thickening scheme and maybe even find themselves more drawn to each other than they originally thought.

I really loved a lot of the side characters. The side characters were fantastically done. A lot of these side characters stood out more than our mc and love interest. Kadou’s sister and sultan, Zeliha was a force that commanded attention every time she was in a scene and you could constantly feel the tug-o-war she was having with making certain decisions. Eozena was a really great character that stood out a lot, as well. Captain of the core guard and a close family friend to Kadou and Zeliha, Eozena was delightful to have in scenes. And the banter that would often take place was so good. And probably my favorite, Tenzin, who’s introduced way later in the book was a freaking riot. Tenzin is a truth telling witch and the funny moments she brings to the table was absolute bliss. I adored her so much especially when we get the scene with her and everyone walking back to the palace, pure gold moment! I wish we had been introduced to her far sooner than just getting a few pages with her around. And don’t even get me started on how wonderfully delightful Evemer’s mother was. She was a treat of a side character and definitely underrated!

“I’m getting paid as we speak,” she said with a grin, slouching down into her chair and crossing her arms. “I’m getting paid in chaos.”

The other thing I really loved about this book was the accurate portrayal of anxiety and panic attacks. We see these attacks from both Kadou’s perspective and we can see a lot of the outside perspective from Evemer. I really loved the duel perspectives in this case because you could see how things would begin to unfold within Kadou, but then in Evemer’s perspective we would see how those who are closest to Kadou would feel and see them go from not understanding the situation to doing whatever they can to help. It was really well done and the detail of these scenes was really set the tone so the reader could feel what these characters were experiencing.

However, these were the only redeemable qualities of this book I took notes on. And the more I sat on these notes and processed how this book left me feeling, there were so many problems. The issues from itty-bitty to big were stacked high and I couldn’t just overlook them. So I want to address them and hopefully prepare anyone who’s considering picking this book up.

The first thing I want to point out is something minor, but also a huge issue that had no place being used in this book. About 21% into this book, a racial slur is used that is very often used and offensive to Muslims. I really don’t care if the excuse is, “Oh, the MC was drunk, was trying to start a fight, and so they’re going to say these kind of things.” I really don’t care what excuse someone tries to use to justify this because it doesn’t take away the fact that this word is completely unnecessary and hurtful/harmful, but also the fact the author specifically chose this word despite there being plenty of other options instead. It was a lot cringe for me and it soured my reading mood pretty early on in the book.

“The knowledge that one wrong word spoken in fear to someone offering comfort could send shock waves through the whole, like ocean waves after an earthquake.”

My biggest issue with this book has to do with the writing and the duel perspectives. I’m really hoping in the final version of this book, these issues will be done a bit better or even more fleshed out. Usually, I don’t mind books that have two or more perspectives, but it bothers me immensely when the two perspectives blur together and it takes two to three pages before you realize you’re in a different perspective. Typically, perspectives are broken up into their own chapters, sometimes even labelled from who’s perspective you’re in. This is also done very often with books that flash between past and present. However, this is not the case in this book. One chapter holds both duel perspectives and are only broken up by dotted breaks. Sometimes it can take a couple of paragraphs to even a few pages before any distinction is made of who’s perspective you’re reading from. This at times ruined the reading experience for me because it was so hard to tell who’s point of view I was in. A lot of the time the perspective of Kadou and Evemer blended together because some of the time this blending of perspectives would happen in the same space and time as certain events were unfolding. It was really frustrating and it made it hard to enjoy the reading process.

Speaking of characters, this was another issue for me. If you noticed, I never mentioned anything I liked about our MC or the love interest. That’s due to not liking either of them, at all. I found no redeemable qualities for either of them. While I love the accurate portrayal of anxiety and panic attacks in Kadou, that doesn’t make up for everything else about him. Kadou was like watching a train wreck happen. With how much he boasts about all the education he received and how he was trained into being a weapon if necessary, we see those skills one time. Otherwise, we spend countless of moments of him scrambling, not thinking things through, and even causing scenes where he literally causes dangerous situations to unfold because he refuses to actually think and plan. Evemer, on the other hand, felt like a brick wall and it didn’t help that he spent 75%-80% of the book constantly trying to shut down his feelings, his emotions, kept his speech more on the professional side of things, and also spent probably 50%-60% of the book judging everyone except Zeliha. This made it really hard to connect with him or even feel any empathy towards. I did like he was a hard worker and dedicated to his job, but that’s all I really liked about him.

While I really don’t like ranting or complaining about books, since we’re already here, I might as well mention that the people behind everything is revealed pretty early on. Actually, they were revealed just slightly before the 50% mark and kind of killed the entire mystery that was behind the guild break-in. We also have an entire magic system that is never flushed out, we get glimpses of people who have special abilities, and that’s about it. We never see these abilities come into play in big scenes and if they do, the scenes are always very brief and we never really see the full extent of that kind of magic/abilities. Which the world building was even more hard to get behind because it often times felt like it was trying to do too much at once and felt confusing. With that being said, I think that played a huge part it why this book was such a slow read and why I skimmed sections because things felt very dragged out or even at times, an information dump zone.

“I don’t expect I’m going to stop wanting you.”

I also want to take a moment to address the romance in this book. I know a lot of readers say it’s a slow burn and yes, it’s a slow burn alright. The romance is so slow that nothing exciting or even romantical actually happens with Kadou and Evemer until the 70%-75% mark. Although, I wouldn’t even really classify this book as a slow burn romance or even a romance in general. You can’t take the last 30% of a book and call it a romance. For the majority of this book, there was no chemistry with either of these characters. And as I already mentioned with the characters, love and attraction was the furthest thing from both Evemer and Kadou’s minds until the 70-75 percentage way I just mentioned. It just wasn’t what I expected for a romance and for me personally, it was very lacking and at times the romance felt more lust driven than love driven.

Overall, as I mentioned in the beginning, so much happened yet nothing happened all at the same time. Honestly, I wish I could go back in time when I hit the 50% mark, convince myself to ‘dnf’ this book to save myself the trouble of reading this book like I was originally going to. This just wasn’t the book for me, but it really could have been everything and it just missed the mark horrendously. But hey, I read this book so you don’t have to! And if I’m being fully honest, I don’t recommend this book. I think there are other fantasy and romance books that are out there that have better established magic systems, have better slow burn romances than this one does, and don’t leave you with more questions than when you started.

Buddy Read with Destiny ♥

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

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Monthly TBR

July 2022 TBR

Buddy reads, book recommendations, and earcs, oh my!

Salutations friends! It seems like it’s been a hot minute since I’ve done a tbr post and honestly, they’re probably going to become more selective just due to straying so far from tbrs and setting a general list of books to read. I really am turning into a big mood reader! But this post is super exciting because I’m doing something I’ve never done before…

Best friend recommendations!!!

Yes, I finally decided I wanted to try a dedicated tbr specifically to my best friend, Destiny‘s recommendations! I sat on this for a long time and over the past couple of months, as usual, Destiny has given me nothing but outstanding recommendations of books I need to read. And let me be frank, Destiny always has great recommendations and knows my taste in books fairly well. So I’m excited to reveal, not only our buddy reads, but the books she personally picked out for me. So without any further delays, here is my tbr for July, based around my friend’s book recommendations!

Disclaimer: Not all of the books are pictured because this is a chonky tbr, but all of the books will be listed!


A Taste of Gold and Iron by Alexandra Rowland
August 30th 2022 by Tordotcom
Buddy Read with Destiny

I’m very excited for this arc and buddy read! I think I’m about 40% in and so far I’m very curious on the direction this book is going to go. I can say that the on page anxiety and panic attacks feel very accurate, very realistic, and have me completely stunned by the amount of time and detail the author has put into this.

The Sacrifice by Rin Chupeco
October 4th 2022 by Sourcebooks Fire

Rin Chupeco has easily become one of my favorite authors and you can anticipate seeing quite a few reads, and reviews for her books in the coming months. However, focusing on just this arc, I’m very excited to have an earc of this book. The synopsis is ultimately what drew me in with the cover coming at a strong second. Both of these two things combined and I have been caught; hook, line, and sinker!

Darling by K. Ancrum
June 22nd 2021 by Imprint
Buddy Read with Destiny

This shouldn’t come at a surprise to anyone. I forever worship at the alter of K. Ancrum and after putting it off for so long, this read is happening. And I get to buddy read this with my wonderful friend. Plus, if you didn’t already know, this is a Peter Pan retelling. So if you love a good retelling, you should put this on your radar!

Night of the Mannequins by Stephen Graham Jones
September 1st 2020 by Tor.com

This is another long overdue read and it’s no surprise to me that Destiny recommended this book to me. I have sang praises for The Only Good Indians for who knows how long and I’m honestly surprised I haven’t read this sooner. So it’s happening, it’s really happening. I’m going to be sitting down this month and reading it, and I already know I’m going to fall in love with it.

Gallant by V.E. Schwab
March 1st 2022 by Greenwillow Books

This is another amazing recommendation from Destiny! For starters, the minute mixed media was mentioned, my attention was hooked. Plus, the cover is absolutely stunning. Even if Destiny never would have recommended it to me, this book would have eventually ended up on my radar.

Nine Moon in a River of Stars: Phase One by Xen
January 30th 2022

Destiny spoke to me about this book many moons ago, but I have had this sitting on my kindle shelf ever since she recommended it to me. So I’m super excited to have this on my tbr for July and also fully prepared to get emotionally wrecked! Plus, the cover is really beautiful and it makes me eager to write a review for it!

Cheer Up!: Love and Pompoms by Crystal Frasier & illustrated by Val Wise
August 10th 2021 by Oni Press

Do I know anything about this comic? No, but my guess is lesbian cheerleaders. And no, I haven’t read the synopsis because I like to believe some books are best going into them with no hint at all.

Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson
October 5th 2021 by Margaret K. McElderry Books

Look… LOOK! I know what this looks like! Yes, technically it’s another book I placed on a past tbr I didn’t read, but it’s here now! Okay? So sh sh sh! It’s fine and it will be read, and yes, I’m still excited about it!

Finlay Donovan is Killing It by Elle Cosimano
February 2nd 2021 by Minotaur Books

I know absolutely nothing about this book! However, if I know Destiny, this is probably a mystery, thriller, or horror book. Which is really exciting! I don’t read enough horror or thriller books. So I’m eager to see what this book is about!

Comfort Me With Apples by Catherynne M. Valente
November 9th 2021 by Tordotcom

I would be lying if I didn’t say I was nervous about this book. Not from the religious aspect, but from the synopsis. It has me nervous on where I’m going to fall on the spectrum with this book. Whether I’ll love it or end up disliking it, I’m not sure.


Phew, that was a lot of books to list and technically, I left three books off of this list just due to the size of this month’s tbr. However, one of the books I left off the list is a manga and it’s of an anime series I’ve recently gotten into. So I’m excited to see how the manga compares to the anime series. Otherwise, the other two will be set for a different tbr when I’m not trying to be an over-achiever. I’m so excited for this month of reading though and I can’t wait to see which books I’ll end up enjoying the most! Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this list and until next time, stay hydrated, I love you! ♥

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Uncategorized

Cafe Con Lychee by Emery Lee

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This post contains affiliate links; if you use these links to make a purchase, I may earn a commission. Thanks for reading!

Final review copy sent by Harper Collins in exchange for an honest review.

Content/Trigger Warnings: Brief mentions of divorce, racism, homophobia, toxic relationships, mentions of cultural appropriation, panic/anxiety attacks, scene of ableist speech

“It’s weird, like fate is constantly trying to make us dance together, but no matter what I do, I can’t get past my two left feet.”

Friends, this was such a cute and delightful read! And let me just add, if you’re going on vacation or doing some traveling, this is the perfect book to pick up. I was completely surprised that I was able to read this within two days while on vacation and I couldn’t find the means to set this book down (except for, you know, sleep). I was was really into the story, but this is an enemies to lovers and let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a good enemies to lovers book?

The Mori family and the Moreno family have been rivals for a long time now, but when a new fusion café threatens everything, the sons of both families step up to the plate to do whatever they can to save the businesses. Despite having a strong desire to escape, Theo hatches a brilliant plan to help his family make enough money to pay rent and stay a float. Meanwhile, Gabi Moreno is struggling to come up with anything and when he hears Theo has been work hard on a side business, Gabi wants to know more. Together, they might just be able to save their parents’ businesses and in the process, learn more about each other.

Can I just taker a moment to screech from the roof tops that there are a lot of Romeo and Juliet vibes to this story? Oh ho, friends, there are so many moments that make me think about the the Montagues and the Capulets that I geeked so hard. Now, I’m not saying this is a retelling, far from it. There’s just a lot of scenes and moments that feel very reminiscent to Romeo & Juliet. Plus, I feel like we never really see many books that have the Montagues and the Capulets feel to it anymore. I don’t think this was the author’s intention, but it was just a really neat thing I wanted to address.

I really liked the build to Theo and Gabi liking one another, and I enjoyed how we got to see both sides of those feeling. Yes, it’s true, we have duel perspectives and can see everything from Theo and Gabi’s perspective. Which was a great move on the author’s part and really allows us to see how these two develop feelings for one another. Theo and Gabi have the grumpy sunshine vibe about them for a lot of the book and I think a lot of readers will enjoy seeing their dynamics collide. Even more so with the almost-kiss scenes! And if I haven’t mentioned already, Theo and Gabi are an interracial couple which, let me tell you, we need more of and it was so nice to see that in this book. But, there was chemistry lacking from both of them and I wish the author would have done more to make it feel like Gabi and Theo had a real connection with each other.

“He’s got that goofy grin on his face as he stammers out an apology like he doesn’t run me over every other practice.”

Despite the things I really loved and enjoyed about this book, there were a lot of things I didn’t like about the book. Actually, I found it was a lot of little things that kind of just added up over the time of reading this book. Usually little minor things don’t bother me that much, but some of these things just couldn’t be ignored.

My biggest issue is on page 25 of this book. There’s a scene where Theo mentions his uncle watching videos of, and I quote, ‘barely legal girls’. Though age is never specified, this single sentence made me really uncomfortable and it was the kind of sentence that I couldn’t get out of my head because it bothered me so much. Not to mention, I felt that this was a detail that didn’t need to be added into the story. As the reader, we can telling right from the beginning how terrible the uncle is and we just didn’t need that minor detail added.

To add to the list of things that could have been handled better, literally all the characters could have been done better. There’s no growth of any of the characters. Actually for the majority of the book, a lot of the characters are just really horrible. Theo is the biggest example that I can think of. Theo is just constantly filled with anger and takes that anger out on everyone. We never see any personal or emotional growth on his part, and at the end he’s just magically not angry anymore. Same goes for Gabi. Gabi never speaks up for himself and never calls his friend out on her crummy attitude, and how poorly she treats him throughout the entire book. Gabi stays timid and constantly comes off as a people pleaser, who refuses to get mixed in confrontation. Even the parents don’t really tickle my fancy. Actually, I’m pretty sure I disliked both families the most out of all the characters. They almost come off as neglectful parents because they’re very passive, they don’t communicate with their children, Gabi and Theo receive no support from them in anything they do, and the list goes on. We see no growth from them as side characters. However, I will give credit where credit is due and we do learn that Theo’s mother constantly loves and supports Theo by standing up to her family, and protecting Theo from that homophobia. And we do have a scene where Gabi’s father apologizes for his homophobic remarks and does states that they’re going to trying to be more accepting.

“I know I can’t fix everything, but if it takes losing one dream to save another, I guess that’s a trade I’m willing to make.”

Overall, this wasn’t a terrible book and there’s a lot of good within this book. However, I wish I could have given this a higher rating or loved this book more, but realistically this book didn’t live up to my expectations. I think there are going to be many readers who fall in love with this book for so many reasons and the little issues won’t matter as much to them. However, I think that for some readers they’re going to want more from these characters or want just a dash more of chemistry. For me, personally, I still recommend this book because there’s diversity we don’t often see in literature, as I mentioned that grumpy sunshine vibe, and that’s not even counting the Romeo & Juliet vibes too! I did enjoy this book for the most part, but definitely wish some things were done differently.

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ARC Reviews

The Woman in the Woods and Other North American Stories edited by Kate Ashwin

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This post contains affiliate links; if you use these links to make a purchase, I may earn a commission. Thanks for reading!

ARC was given by NetGalley & Iron Circus Comics in exchange for an honest review.

This review is being published after the release date (April 5th, 2022)

My heart, my freaking heart is so damn full right now! There aren’t enough words to convey how happy I am to have an arc of this graphic novel anthology right now. I ended up missing out on requesting an arc for this anthology and had it wish-listed, and as fate would have it, while on vacation I was surprised with this sliding into my library. If you haven’t heard me talk about how emotional I get every time I get a book by a Native/Indigenous author/s then here it is right here. I’m so emotional, so so grateful, and very privileged to have this right now.

As an Apache reader, book blogger, this anthology means the world to me just as all literature I receive by Native/Indigenous authors. If you would have told a very young, child Malli that I would be able to see more Indigenous people in literature that isn’t from a stereotypical lens and actually by Indigenous authors, I probably would have laughed and then broke down into sobs. Growing up as an urban Native and as someone who has spent years reconnecting with one’s heritage; you end up missing a lot of things, you can’t always go to PowWow, your elders aren’t always available to teach you, you have to devote large portions of time to learning your dialect (in my case, Eastern and Western Apache), and so on. So receiving this anthology, seeing stories I recognize, having heard these stories from my elders or others of my own age, it just means everything to me. It is everything.

As always for my anthology reviews, I have mini reviews for all the short stories where I talk about my thoughts, feelings, and include content/trigger warnings.

As It Was Told To Me by Elijah Forbes (Odawa) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

This is a story about creation and The Creator, and about life. This story had me super emotional because I couldn’t help thinking about a similar story I was told from my Auntie. It got me really emotional and soft thinking about her and when she told me about how creation was a sort of awakening, how Creator created other gods/deities, and the way everything came into being. Reading this story, I just felt instant connection and just reminded that even if the story is slightly different, all tribes are connected to each other because of a story like this one.

“They were the most sacred being, feminine and masculine. Not in parts, but both at the same time.”

Chokfi by Jordaan Arledge & Mekala Nava (Chickasaw) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

This story is about how animals became vain because of their coats. Chokfi being a very proud rabbit, became curious after hearing about Otter’s coat being the most beautiful and his plot to make Otter’s coat his. I think the Trickster stories are always my favorite stories to hear from my elders because each story is different depending on the tribe. For example, a lot of Apache trickster stories revolve around coyote (which I feel in modern day is used, along with foxes, as trickster icons). Look, I’m not saying I’m biased, but this was one of my favorite stories from this anthology.

White Horse Plains by Rhael McGregor (Métis/Cree) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Brief mentions of starvation, brief scenes/mentions of violence, and brief scene of implied death

Honestly, this was the story that held my attention the most. This story revolves around the growing conflict between the Sioux & Assiniboine and the Cree. I find that so many stories in literature (in general) constantly revolve around the colonization and the wars that constantly broke out during that whole time period, but we never see the struggles and conflicts between different tribes very often. And for me, this story was the main reason this anthology caught my attention in the first place. I had only heard faint whispers about the White Horse Plains, but never had a chance to ask anyone about it or get the chance to research into the story itself to learn more. And this was both sad, tragic, but understandable and beautiful in some ways.

“It’s believed the spirit of the bride resides within him, helping steer those who are lost or misguided onto the right path so that they do not fall into a tragic fate.”

The Rougarou Maija Ambrose Plamondon & Milo Applejohn (Métis) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Mentions of killing animals, mentions loss of loved one (in the past), grief

I think this one surprised me the most out of all these stories. The stories of the Rougarou are something that I’m very partial too and I guess in a way, I connected with this particular story on a very deep, emotional and personal level. This story is about a young child to encounters a Rougarou and befriends the Rougarou, and the story behind this child’s Rougarou friend. This story, though short, has beautiful themes and I cried reading this whole story. I think this is going to be my most loved and preferred story of the Rougarou thus far.

“You put yourself in potential danger because you could sense help was needed. Facing your fear is a great sign of bravery.”

Agonjin In The Water by Alice RL (Ojibwe) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

If there was ever a story to remind you of how sacred water is, let this one story be it. If you don’t know, water is very sacred to Native/Indigenous people especially the plains tribes because droughts can be intensely rough to get through. This story does a fantastic job of emphasizing the importance of water and also the importance of story telling. And the artwork really helped paint a vivid picture for the reader.

“I cherished these stories and would love to share them with others as I grew older. And as I grew older, the water, our source of life, began to change.”

The Woman In The Woods by Mercedes Acosta (Taino) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Honestly, my breath hitched reading this story. For starters, this was my first time reading any story from the Indigenous people of the Caribbean. However, everything about this story was just so beautiful and the artwork really added to the beauty of this story. I wanted a few more pages of this story because I was just fully enthralled by everything, but I’ll settle for the few in this anthology. It was just so good and so breath-taking.

“Be careful of what you accept from spirits. Accepting their gifts binds you to them. Though some of us were never meant to be with anyone else.”

Into The Darkness by Izzy Roberts & Aubrie Warner (Navajo) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

If there was one story I wasn’t expecting to encounter, it was this short story right here. And I should have known from the synopsis of the book, too! However, I ignored my gut feeling and thought, “No, it wouldn’t possibly be…” and then it was. I bamboozled myself! But in all honesty, just the fact that I know what this story is about and how vividly remember my aunties and uncle telling me about this… Shivers and chills, down my spine. If you know, you know, and if you don’t then count your blessings.

By The Light Of The Moon by Jeffrey Veregge & Alina Pete (S’Kallam) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Again, this seems like an obvious story I’d love, but any stories that revolve around the moon and I just immediately swoon. This story is about how the Moon fell in love with the Octopus Queen, and how some marine life became bioluminescence. I loved this story, from start to finish. I think starting the story from the perspective of two divers and concluding the way it did was chef’s kiss. This is definitely another favorite that now lives in my brain, rent free.

“Her movements were a ballet that spoke directly to the Moon’s soul.”


I gave The Woman in the Woods and Other North American Stories five stars overall, because out of the possible 40 stars (5 stars being possible for all 8 stories) this anthology accumulated 40 stars (100%)!

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

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