Uncategorized

Her Soul for Revenge (Souls Trilogy #2) by Harley Laroux

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Her Soul to Take (Souls Trilogy #1) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Sexual content, kink/fetish content (see author’s summary or cw/tw page for details), talk of drugs & drug dealing, mentions of adultry, occult themes, alcoholism, death, stalking, talk of hospitalization/institutionalization, loss of a loved one, grief, trauma/PTSD, depictions of blood, knife play, needles, gun play, talk of torture, violence, sex, anxiety, predator behavior (drugging drink), scene of emesis, scene of snuff (sexual arousal/climax by killing/murdering someone)

“Revenge had been a long time coming.”

Friends, I had been looking forward to this book so, so much. I read the first book and absolutely fell in love with it and was eager to continue this series. Plus, any bread crumbs about the third and final book had my motivation spinning into overdrive. However, this book was definitely not what I had expected and I definitely wasn’t expecting to feel the way I did after reading this. There were a lot of surprises, many tears shed, and maybe a few times where I almost threw my tablet across the room (I didn’t, but oh, there’s just some lines you shouldn’t cross). It was all around a rollercoaster of a time.

The Deep One demands it’s sacrifice… The one who got away… Juniper Kynes has other plans than to have her piece of light blown out all because the majority of the people she thought she knew, all seem to want her dead. Ever since that night, Juniper has been fighting for survival, but her fight isn’t lost on watching eyes. Zane is demon who loves things that are fierce, scarred, and have a history to them. So the story of Juniper has caught his interest not only as demon, but as a soul hunter. And oh, he will have Juniper’s soul and he’s willing to wait for as long as it takes until she’s his. Only problem is, every thing comes with a price and sometimes that means putting your life on the line to take on a god and cult out of control.

I absolutely loved Zane and Juniper together. I love them so much more than Leon and Rae. The way Zane feels about her, how he sees her despite everything she’s been through… it was just wow. It truly was everything. It really brings forth that whole theme of ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ and there’s so much emphasis from Zane (through Juniper’s perspective and Zane’s own perspective) of how beautiful he thinks people who have been through trauma and how they move on from that is. And it just hit like a ton of bricks. I don’t think there’s enough words to convey how that all made me feel. Not to mention, that these two together flip roles constantly of who’s the dom and sub. Like, how often do you get to see that in steamy time books? Not that often or at least in my case not that often. So that was a really fun time and the chemistry is so dang good.

One of the things I really appreciated about this whole book, even in the first book, was the trauma/PTSD representation. As someone who has permanent PTSD, seeing that in Juniper (also in Leon from the first book) and how she handles a lot of things, how she views herself and her body, it hit really close to home. I saw a lot of myself in Juniper especially with trying to bury the scars under layers of clothes or tattoo work, even building that hard exterior of showing no weakness. It hit like a ton of bricks. Every time I read a book with good PTSD or trauma rep, I get so emotional because there’s still so much stigma around PTSD and trauma, and trying to have conversations about is never easy. So seeing the author include that in these books and handling it so well just makes my heart feel really warm and full.

“Don’t be ashamed of what you want to say. I’m not going anywhere.” And that was the thing, wasn’t it? That was the spark that lit up my dark, dead, broken soul — he’d seen all its sharp edges and hadn’t left. He’d seen me as broken as I was and wanted me, regardless.”

Despite the many good things in the book like the quotes for days, I had two major issues with this book. The biggest issue of this book is that it reads like the first book of the series and it should have been the first book in the series. Having read the first book in this series and comparing it to this one, it would have been so much better for this book to be first. Even more so timeline wise with events and who’s the last to see whom within the book. And in my opinion, the first book sets things up better for the third and final book in this series. That’s the real kick that kind of gets me and has me feeling a little salty. It was a bit disappointing for me especially as someone who like the timeline of things and can really get sucked into the storyline very easy.

My final issue with a particular scene that’s an intimate scene. Typically, I love a lot of stuff that goes down in sexy time books, but not this, this crosses an uncomfortable line for me. The first scene that bothered me I’ve kind of let slide because looking back and reflecting, it’s not too big of a deal. However, this scene I’m about to talk about is and honestly, I think the author should have outright stated that there was a scene like this instead of not mentioning it at all in their own content warnings. At the 70-75% mark there’s a scene of snuff. Now some of you may be going, “What the hell is ‘snuff’?” Snuff is an extreme sexual act of getting a sexual arousal/climax from murdering someone. Now, I originally thought this was bordering into nercophilia territory and had to do some research because this whole scene didn’t feel right and kind of shocked my system. I also had someone else fact check me before I even made notes about it. Even more so, no one has talked or mentioned this scene, at all. So I’m talking and addressing it so others don’t have to. This is not a good scene, at all. It’s a really messed up scene and the author should have done better to actually make it known that this was in the book. And I really wish I could wipe this scene from my mind, but I can’t and now it lives in my memory with the other things I wish I could forget.

“Survival is messy. Survival has no morals or kindness. Survival isn’t black and white, good versus evil. Survival is shades of red; it’s blood taken and blood lost.”

Overall, what a freaking roller coaster of a book. I cried a lot, I cringed a lot, and I’m still trying to figure out what the hell I just read. There really was a lot of stuff I loved about this book and I think those who like dark romance erotica will also love it. But also, there’s a lot of things that just live in my brain rent free now. Some of them good, others regrets… yeah, lots of regrets. It was still a good read and as I mentioned with the first book, this series would be the perfect read for the fall/spooky season if you’re in need of books to chill your soul.

Buddy Read with Destiny ♥

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ARC Reviews

Eternally Damned (Shallow Cove Dimensions #1) by January Rayne

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ARC was given by the author in exchange for an honest review.

🥀 Eternally Hers: The Prequel ★★★★

Content/Trigger Warnings: Grief, mentions loss of loved ones, brief mentions of witch trials, sexual content

“A vampire can live for an eternity, but eternity comes at a price.”

Wow, wow, wow! I loved everything about this book, possibly more than the prequel. If you haven’t read the prequel yet, do yourself a favor and check that out. I had a really wonderful time reading it. As I’ve already mentioned, books with vampires have been dying for me, but I’ve really been enjoying my time with this series so far. However, this one was so, so good. I adore when books have the storyline and the connection between the two people as a bigger focus than the spicy content. Ugh, it was so good friends! Plus, I feel like this is one of very few books/series that actually pull off the time skips with two point of views really well.

Set is modern day Salem, Massachusetts, we follow Maven Wildes, who sorta new at this whole “living in the present/modern world” thing. Maven is young with one dream set… Buy the Monreaux Estate, fix it up, and finally live in her dream home. The one place where she feels like she truly can call home. To which, Fate is as Fate does, and blessed Maven with the biggest dream she ever wanted. Enter Alexander, who’s been in a coma for what seems like an eternity to him. Yet upon him stirring, things aren’t quite as they seem. Who is this girl on the Monreaux Estate, what business does she have here, and why can’t she see or hear him? One thing is for certain, Alex can’t deny the strong pull he has towards her. Now that the two are so close, both Maven and Alex can’t help the events that begin to unfold between them.

I absolutely adored all of the characters! Not only are our two main characters layered and fully captivating, but some of the side characters are just chef’s kiss! Now, I don’t want to spoil too much for you, but the connection Maven and Alex have is so good and more focused on their connection rather than the spice. We also see Maven developing her powers and learning about them which I adored. I have to say the way the male characters in this series are so devoted to their mates/beloved in this series has been so refreshing truly and of course, Alex is no exception. And we have to talk about Maven’s Papa! There’s a scene at the beginning of this book that was so freaking good. Top favorite moments of this book for sure! Truly, Maven’s Papa just touch a soft spot in my heart that I don’t think I’ll ever get over. And Dottie is such a firecracker! Oh my gosh she’s fantastic best friend to Maven and has so much fire in her personality. I really adored her.

“Dreams are meant to drive the human soul. If we don’t have dreams, we don’t have anything.”

As with the prequel, be prepared to meet new characters and see old faces from the prequel in this book. The author is really lining this series up with so many possibilities, having you wonder who’s going to get paired with who, and where is the author going to takes us next. The possibilities are literally endless and I’m so excited. Plus, the author always ends these books on a note that leaves you craving, wanting more! That’s how I feel right now. Just in a craze to get my hands on the next book in this series.

Overall, I truly don’t want to say too much or spoil too much for anyone. I definitely recommend reading the prequel before reading this book. The prequel did a really good job at setting the stage for all the other books in the series to follow. So go read that first! Otherwise, what a great read. I think these characters just live in my brain now, rent free. They’re just here permanently now. What else can I really say except that I’m having a fangtastic time reading this series and January Rayne feels like an author everyone needs to watch.

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

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ARC Reviews

Unraveling by Brandon Leake

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

ALC provided by Libro.fm and Andrews McMeel Publishing in exchange for an honest review

Content/Trigger Warnings: Themes/Mentions of racism, alcoholism, gun violence, violence, death, anxiety, Acrophobia (fear of heights)

Wow, what a powerful poetry collection. I have sat with this poetry collection for a few days now, sitting with my feelings on this book and my feelings. Let me tell you, how does one even begin to rate a poetry collection. All I know is that with this collection, Leake reveals some of the rawest parts of himself and some of them will stay days after reading this book.

Brandon Leake’s Unraveling is a poetry collection that explores what it means to be a Black man living in America, his faith as a Christian and his relationship with God, and even takes a look at his fears and concerns surrounding fame (a topic which isn’t usually discussed often). Within these pages, Brandon shows the rawest pieces of himself, expressing his love and passions, but also showing us his fears and worries. Bringing some very important topics up and addressing them.

The only thing I will say impacted my reading was the constant religious themes and passages. I’ve said it a few times in other reviews, but I’m not a very religious person. I, personally, have a lot of conflicting feelings and experiences with religion, and so I don’t typically read anything that has a lot of religious themes. This is something to be aware of especially if you’re someone like me who also has very conflicting feelings/experiences.

Overall, this was a really powerful read and I think if you’re looking powerful poetry collections or really good audiobooks narrated by the author (hint, hint, wink, wink) then you should definitely consider picking this book up. It’s been about two-three days since I finished this and I’m still thinking about a lot of the themes within this book and some of my favorite pieces like Trails, Sandcastles, Safe Haven, and a few others. I definitely recommend giving this book a chance!

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Monthly TBR

April 2022 TBR

March was a flop, let’s try this again… But with April!

Yup, you read that right, March was a flop. I struggled with getting anything read for the month of March. I think I read… three or four things which is still good, but I definitely couldn’t get everything I wanted read. So for this month, we’re keeping things light and if I read more then I read more and if not, it’s okay because we’re refusing to put any amount of pressure on ourselves for this month. However, I am really excited about to talk about the books I have picked out for this month. So friends, let’s get our caffeine and dive in!


🌷 Currently Reading 🌷

Eternally Damned (Shallow Cove Dimensions #1) by January Raybe
April 5th 2022 by Raining Romance LLC
Arc provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

If you haven’t seen my review for Eternally Hers: The Prequel, definitely go check that out because I had a blast reading it. I have been so, so lucky to be blessed with an arc copy for the next book in this series and I’m so excited. I’m only a few chapters in, but oh, I’m very excited and that’s all I’ll say.


🌷 The TBR 🌷

The Poison Heart by Kalynne Bayron
June 29th 2021 by Bloomsbury YA

Part of my 12 Challenge, this is on the tbr for April. The only thing I know about this book is that it’s a Medusa retelling and that’s it. That’s also the main reason so many friends recommended this book to me. I love retellings especially mythological retellings. I’m so here for this!

Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant
November 14th 2017 by Hachette Audio

It’s freaking happening okay! I failed at reading this for my March tbr, but it’s happening immediately. I’m really excited about this especially because my spouse is waiting to hear my thoughts on it before they pick it up. So I really want to listen to this as soon as possible.

Her Soul for Revenge (Souls Trilogy #2) by Harley Laroux
October 30th 2021
Buddy Read with Destiny 💜

I absolutely fell in love with Her Soul to Take! What a freaking fantastic read for my spooky little soul. Granted, this isn’t a series for everyone, but personally, I’m head over heels for it. Even more so after the author announced the third and final book in the series. I’m freaking hyped! Anyway, I have another buddy read with my lovely friend and I’m really excited. She always has the best recommendations and just gets my taste for books.

Twisted Love (Twisted #1) by Ana Huang
April 29th 2021

A few friends have recommended this series to me and with the first three book loaded into my kindle library, I think I started on this series. Look, I don’t know much about it only that a few of my friends really adore this series. So I’m hoping I can read this first book and find out how I feel about it.


I feel really content looking at the list. I feels like a very achievable reading tbr and I’m excited to dive in. And who knows, maybe I’ll end up reading way more than I plan. These next few months are going to be a bit tricky reading wise due to so many things happening, but I’m excited. Maybe you’ll see more audiobooks on my tbrs in the future just due to everything. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this list and until next time, stay hydrated, I love you! ♥

Have an April tbr you want you share? Read any of these books? Tell me all about it in the comments below!

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Uncategorized

Pisces Hooks Taurus (Signs of Love, #4) by Anyta Sunday

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

✨ Leo Loves Aries (Signs of Love #1) ★★★★★
✨  Leo Tops Aries (Signs of Love #1.5) ★★★★★
✨ Scorpio Hates Virgo (Signs of Love #2) ★★★★★
Gemini Keeps Capricorn (Signs of Love, #3) ★★★★

Content/Trigger Warnings: Brief scene of aracnophobia (fear of spiders), mentions of bullying (in the past), mentioned horseback riding accident (in the past), brief discussions of death, talk of divorce, talk of adultry (cheating), sexual content

“You hooked me at Toy Story.”

We’re finally back with the fourth book in this series! This was an absolutely adorable slow burn romance! There were so many details that had me smiling and geeking out over what was about to happen next. We get to see cameos of previous characters from the past books which is always such a joy to see. It was just a really great to return to this series and meet some new characters while seeing the ones we’ve met along the way.

“People can be complicated. We can also be ridiculously simple.”

We follow Zane Penn, who’s a little in over his head. Not only is he in a bind of trying to find a new place to move into, but at the end of the month his green card is about to run out and he’ll have to return to New Zealand. Unless he can get married, that is. Enter Beckett who graciously opens his home and offers Zane a place to take harbor. Beckett is a professor at the local collage and is still healing from a divorce, but Zane is determined to help Beckett heal and believe in love again. Even if it means he loses his heart and falls head over heels for Beckett in the process.

I really enjoyed Zane and Beckett as our main characters. They might just be my favorite out of this whole series. They have amazing banter and the chemistry between them is so thick you could cut it with a knife. There were so many memorable moments between that really stuck out with me. I think my favorite would have to be the cinnamon standoff. That was such a fantastic scene that I don’t think I’ll ever get over. I truly believe these two characters were meant for each other. And can I just say how rare it is that we get romance stories where one of the characters is a divorcee. It’s so rare to have story like that and I’m really glad the author decided to take that and make it a part of this story.

Some of the themes in this book were fantastic like Zane discovering his self-worth and leaving an employer who constantly put Zane down about his work. Zane did a lot of work to figure out his own worth and chase after what he really wanted. Even by the end of the book he was still working on himself. I think my favorite theme has to be the one centered around Beckett. There’s a whole theme of of healing after you’ve been devastatingly hurt by someone you once loved. Beckett’s theme constantly sucked the air out of my lungs because watching everything unfold, watching Beckett rediscover love, and watching him a safe harbor with Zane was absolutely everything. And seeing Zane be patient, never giving up on Beckett was literally everything. The soft, healing moments Zane and Beckett have with one another was so wholesome, and everything.

“I was supposed to be charming your pants off. Yet you’re literally charming off mine.”

I did have some issues with this book though. I think the biggest thing was this book really being a slow burn and it was even emphasized throughout the book that it was a slow burn. Most of the steamy, spicy scenes didn’t happen probably till the 75% mark within this book. That’s how much of a slow burn this is. I think that was my most frustrating thing about this book because it just gave a feel of running circles around the actual romance and chemistry. The other thing I struggled with, that I actually had to research and ask a few people about, was the constant reference of ‘Kiwi’ throughout this book. I was so confused and I’m glad I actually researched and talked to a few people because I probably would have been very clueless if I hadn’t. For those who don’t know, like myself, Kiwi is in reference to those who are from New Zealand. I had no idea about this and now I do, but oh, I was so lost and confused for a hot minute with that being constantly repeated throughout the book.

Overall, I really enjoyed my time reading this book. As always, I have a wonderful time reading about this characters, reading their independent stories and seeing the cameos, and of course, I’m eager to finish this series. I think we have one last book in the series to read (excluding the novellas in between each book). If you haven’t checked out this series, I strongly recommend doing so. There’s so much lgbtqiap+ representation throughout this series and I just love this series with my whole chest.

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ARC Reviews

Sakura’s Dedication, Vol. 1 by Fuyu Yukimiya

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

ARC was given by NetGalley and Kodansha in exchange for an honest review.

This review is being published after the release date (February 22nd, 2022)

Content/Trigger Warnings: Mentions of cheating, scenes of brief verbal abuse

Calling all lovers of the manga Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku and just any slice of life manga! Put this manga series on your radar because this was really cute and I couldn’t help thinking about some of my favorite manga that’s more slice of life. Yet, this manga also gave me very brief vibes of Ouran High School Host Club. Look, if you know, you know. I really enjoyed my time reading this and it was a nice pick me up when I needed something light yet sweet, borderline wholesome.

We follow Sawa Hanasaki, a high school girl, who recently broke up with her boyfriend after finding out he was cheating on her. While she’s still trying to work out her feelings, Sakura Yuma has decided to confront Sawa to ask her to be his girlfriend. Despite rejecting him, Sakura is even more determined he can be the boyfriend that she needs.

“I feel like you’ll get lost and I don’t want to let go of you.”

I feel like my opinion is going to be on the minority side of things, but I actually enjoyed Sawa and Sakura together. In the aspect of them acting like high schoolers, still navigating feelings, and even learning what it means to find true, genuine people who care about you is hard. I think the mangaka did a fantastic job of translating all of this into the manga itself. I think readers, like myself, who’ve been out of school for a while sometimes forget how much a whirlwind high school really was and some of the things that we endured during that time. And I truly believe with my whole chest that the mangaka really brought that to life in this book. Even more so when it comes to navigating the waters of love.

There’s also this whole minor theme of appreciating the little things. You all know, I love a good sprinkling of appreciating the little things in anything I read. And oh, it was delivered so beautifully for us in this manga. Not to the point that it’d be really obvious or overwhelming, but just the right amount that when you do notice, it’s such a burst of warmth. I think we need more literature that has this theme casually sprinkled throughout it.

“But I find myself wanting to touch him like this longer.”

The main theme, though, is what really caught my attention. As I mentioned earlier, there’s a whole theme of discovering what it truly means to be loved, to be valued as you are, and what that can look like when you finally find those genuine caring people. I think Sawa and her relationship with Sakura is such a good example of what it means to truly navigate leaving behind someone who was clearly very toxic, potentially abusive, or even an absolute jerk of a person and find people who value you as you are. It’s not an easy thing to do. I think this manga was a great example of showing a very realistic relationship of love and self value, but the relationship shows us a bit of Sakura and how new it is for him to be with a person he cares so much for. I really loved this theme a lot and this is the main reason why I can’t wait for the next volume.

I will say, I did have one issue with this manga and to be fair, it’s still the first volume. There could still be more on the horizon that we as the readers are unaware of. I really wanted to see more of the scenes with the ex-boyfriend. The few scenes we get of him show that he’s a bit of a verbal abuser, but I also feel there’s a whole lot more to things with him. Even more so with the very first scene we have with him and Sawa. I’m not going to lie, I was on the edge of my seat, but I wanted more. I really wanted to see how those scenes would play out just to get a better feel for his character as a whole. I’m really hoping in future volumes we’ll see little more details.

Overall, I had a really fun time reading this manga. I feel like I say this a lot, but I’m not the biggest slice of life manga reader, but when I do pick them up, I typically enjoy them. Again, I’m really excited for the next volumes and really eager to see what the mangaka has for us. So far, I haven’t seen any announcements on the next book or anything, but you bet I’m keeping my eyes peeled for any bread crumb of news!

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

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Misc.

Discussion | My Book Blogging Pressures & Tips to Lessen the Pressure

What’s blogging without chaos and stress?

Chapterlings, it’s time for another discussion post. Honestly, this has been a blog post idea I’ve had saved in so many places. Notion? In all capital letters! A sticky note? You betcha! Several different drafts and saves on pre-typing this post? Oh heck yes! Needless to say, this is something I wanted to talk about for a while now. So today we’re going to do just that. We’re going to talk about some of my blogging pressures and how I manage the stress that comes along with being a book blogger.

For starters, I’m a naturally stressed out and anxious person. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t stressed, worried, or anxious. Maybe when I’m sleeping? It’s a mystery the world may never know! However, I like to think I’m a person to who has high-functioning stress. I feel like I’m my most productive when I’m stressed. And this includes blogging.

Despite the stress and the pressure that comes along with blogging, I still love to do it. I enjoy planning posts and working on content for my blog or even just in general. But I noticed that over the time I’ve been blogging, I’ve developed some unhealthy habits and in recognizing those habits, I’ve developed ways to lessen the stress and feel lighter when blogging.


1 – Feeling like you have to read all the books and request all the arcs

My #1 stress of all time when it comes to blogging is the fact that there’s a huge pressure to read all the books, request all the upcoming releases, constantly hauling books, keeping up on upcoming releases… the list just goes on and on. Along with all of this, there’s also a huge pressure to read all of the popular books that have or are being released. If for some reason you don’t read them, review them, post or talk about them then you’re not relevant. It sucks, but it’s the truth.

I’ve talked about how hyped books impact me and how I usually don’t touch them with a 10-foot-pole. And if I do, most times they don’t make it over a 3 star rating for me. So I get very hesitant about hyped upcoming releases and even writing reviews for them make me nervous because I’ve seen people get attacked over their reviews for those type of books, and I’ve received that kind of hate just from receiving arcs. It’s freaking scary out there friends!


2 – Consistency and delivering perfect content

It’s no secret that consistency is key to success. If you’re posting consistently, on a regular basis, readers are going to see your content and that’s going to encourage them to come visit your posts and your blog. This results in comments from your readers, new readers who are discovering your content for the first time, and so on.

However, if you’re like me, this can come with a heavy weight to carry. I’m a workaholic at heart and any time I take a single day off from blogging, anytime I decide on a self-care or mental health day, just anything in general that puts me first feels like I’m failing. I talk a lot about how much I love content creation, but the dark side to that is I take it seriously and sometimes I put a lot of pressure on myself for making sure I’m delivering lengthy reviews, making sure my posts are the way I want it, if I make a grammar error it feels like the whole world is shattering.


3 – Having to be everywhere all the time

I love multitasking as much as the next person, but that’s just it… I’m one person. It can be the sweetest dreams or the more terrifying nightmare. I love to comment on blog posts, engage with people, sharing in topics that resonate with me… Sometimes I just can’t do it.

Keeping up with things is incredibly hard especially when fellow bloggers put out more than one blog post a day or perhaps you don’t want to miss a single comment and you want to engage with your community. It is a struggle. It can be the most rewarding, but it can destroy the spoons you have. This is a double-edge sword and where there is good, there is always the bad.


4 – I need to take better care of myself

Recently, in some of my latest posts, you may have seen me airing out the closet about some of my dark truths. Consider this post almost as an extension of all of that. The truth is a lot darker than you think. That wasn’t supposed to be as ominous as it sounded.

I became so obsessed with devoting large amounts of time to blogging and poured ungodly hours of hard work into the blog posts that I was creating. Again, I am a workaholic and sometimes I don’t know when to quit. My physical and mental health hit a peak of just deteriorating, and I got really, really sick. Here’s the thing, when you have chronic illnesses, getting sick is the last thing you want to have happened to you. And it took me a while to fully recover from that and feel 100% again.


How to lessen the pressure

Look, I’m not an expert and these tips aren’t going to be a cure all to the problems you may be facing. If I had all the answers and solutions, do you think I’d be the gremlin the hoodie, hunched over their laptop, trying to get things done? No, the answers is no and I definitely wouldn’t look like that.

However, these have been things that have helped me come back to blogging stronger, has helped preserved my love and happiness for blogging, and just breathe easier at the end of the day.

➼ Make schedules!

Truly, scheduling things and pre-planning things have helped a lot with the pressure of blogging for me. Also, setting cutoff times with your scheduling makes a huge difference! All those hours I’d spend into the dawn of next day has been thrown out the window.

Scheduling can take on many forms. Maybe it looks like planning posts or perhaps this means organizing when you need certain posts to go up and you’re checking when you can devote time to that particular post. Scheduling can even take on the form of when you devote time to respond to comments or even looking at blog posts, engaging with other bloggers.

➼ Take the break!

Sshh ssshhh sssshhhhh! I know this is going to be the thing you hear the most from other bloggers or even those in your personal life. Listen. LISTEN. It really can help. I think this advice gets such a bad rep due to seeing the time constrictions. Maybe you’re thinking I’m going to tell you to take a short break or I’m going to tell you to take a month off from blogging.

Well, you’re wrong. I’m not going to tell you any time restrictions because I don’t think breaks are something that should have time restraints on. If you need to take a break, you take that break, but you come back when you’re ready. And I’m telling you this because this is what happened to me. A lot of people told me to take a month hiatus or just take a short two week break and those time restrictions stressed me out. Before I knew it, I vanished from the book community and blogging for almost an entire you. Only occasionally popping in to fill in some of the gaps. This is one of those gaps. If you take a break, you are the wielder of your time and return to blogging, no one else.

➼ Do things that bring you joy!

This is a really obvious tip. Like, really freaking obvious. However, I think this is one of the most powerful tips I can give you.

Kurt Vonnegut once said, “Enjoy the little things in life for one day you’ll look back and realize they were the big things.” And I firmly believe that. Those little things bring us joy, make a moment more special, make something memorable, and I believe they have the power to calm even the stormiest mind when under pressure.

➼ Read & comment of posts that genuinely interest you!

It took me a long time to realize I didn’t have to comment on every single blog post and that I could respond to the posts that particularly caught my interest. I used to fill myself with so much guilt about not commenting on every single post my favorite bloggers would put out and I would get really twisted up inside.

Making yourself stressed out, filling yourself with guilt for not commenting all the time, or forcing myself to reading all the posts isn’t healthy for you. You don’t have to do this. There are plenty of ways to support your favorite bloggers or interacting with your favorite bloggers without putting yourself in a state of internal guilt or stress.


So… that was a lot to unpack. These may or may not be the pressures you’re dealing with and these tips may not be the cure all to your stresses. Everyone is their own unique self and experience things differently. My experiences are my own experiences and some of these may be normal or even something you don’t have to worry about. A lot of this post is me saying to myself, “You can breathe again.” And in a way, making peace with the old and putting some skeletons to rest. I do hope that some of these tips do help you and maybe make things a little easier for you. Maybe you just needed someone to tell you to breathe and try these tips. ♥

What things stress you out as a blogger? What kind of things do you do to lessen the pressure? Come chat about it with me in the comments! ♥

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Uncategorized

Her Soul to Take (Souls Trilogy, #1) by Harley Laroux

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

Content/Trigger Warnings: Sexual content, kink/fetish content (see author’s summary or cw/tw page for details), anxiety, captivity/enslavement (demon mc), talk of torture, indications of trauma/PTSD, cult themes, brief mentions of underage drinking, death, murder, talk of suicide, graphic gore & violence, depictions of blood, scene of decapitation, brief mentions of drug use (in the past), attempted drugging (drugged drink), scene of emesis, scene of needles

Side Note: Please check out the author’s personal content warnings for the kink/fetish play within this book for more details before reading!

“… but within those pages, in the dark, those golden eyes still shone.”

Look, are you really surprised I found myself in this rabbit hole? Are you really surprised? It was bound to happen eventually! It has demons, Lovecraftian themes, the female lead is a paranormal investigator for Pete’s sake! The banshee screeches that have erupted from me from having this literature at my finger tips has been nothing short of an experience, to say the least. Truly, it’s been a while since I’ve had a piece of literature that felt very on brand to my soul. I loved this, I loved this so much. I had to sit a think about my rating because I was very torn and I just have to be honest, I really freaking loved this book and this might be my favorite series to have demons in it thus far.

We follow the perspective of Leon, a demon who’s summoned and held captive by the local cult of Abelaum, Libiri, run by Kent Hadleigh, the head of one of the founding families in this small town. With the grimoire, the last known book with a physical record of Leon’s name, in Kent’s hands, Leon is forced to do the cult’s bidding. That’s until the grimoire goes missing. Enter our second perspective of paranormal investigator, Rae. A college student moving back to her hometown after being gone for seven years. With the promising potential of paranormal activity and whispers of strange creatures being seen in the local woods, Rae is determined to catch real paranormal activity on camera to help boost her blog and of course, finish her last year at university. So when her best friend, Inaya hands her a grimoire, suddenly Rae may be having second thoughts of being thrown into the world of the paranormal… or she just might be falling pretty damn hard in love with it.

These characters were absolutely fantastic read about! The duo perspective in this book definitely added to my enjoyment of these characters. Between our two main characters, Leon stood on the most to me. Not only is his personality very attention catching, but there were so many passages in this book that just hit home for me. When Leon would talk about wanting to find the grimoire and how much he values his freedom, it instantly, made me think of Genie from Aladdin. In the movie, there’s a conversation between Aladdin and Genie about the wishes and Aladdin asks Genie what they would wish for to which Genie responds with, “Freedom. But, oh, to be free! To be my own master. Such a thing would be greater than all the magic and all the treasures in all the world.” It made me really connect with Leon’s character, really love and appreciate his character build, and I don’t think that was the author’s intention when writing Leon’s character, but oh I couldn’t help myself from seeing the resemblance. On the other hand, Rae was an okay character for me. Honestly, I thought I would enjoy her character more, but there were parts in this book where I was just like, “I can’t deal with you.” I do like that she’s a paranormal investigator and how passionate she is about that, and I adore her cat, Cheesecake.

“I’ll rip Heaven and Hell and this goddamn Earth apart before I let them steal you from me.”

Speaking of characters, there’s some really amazing side characters we get to witness in this book. I freaking adore Zane. Zane is like a calmer, more level headed demon compared to Leon. However, Zane’s relationship with Leon was perfection. I’m very hungry for a novella talking about their past and their relationship to one another because they’re such a dynamic duo in their own way. There’s also Inaya, she’s not only best friends to Rae, but she runs her own bookstore, Golden Hour Books. Her character was absolutely wonderful and I would have loved to see more of her in this book. Plus, the few times we do meet her, you can tell how much she cares about all of her friends and just how far she’d go for them. And of course, I have to mention Everly because I just want to know so much more about her. I mean, she’s a witch and she’s here to rock this world! Before I forgot, I need to talk about Kent. Kent is a terrible character and he reminds me so, so much of Joseph from Dream Daddy. If you know, you know. Kent just gives me all the bad vibes and honestly, he made for a good villain in this book.

I want to circle back to Leon and his constant focus on his freedom. Not only is there such a heavy emphasis on demons valuing their freedom, but with Leon there’s an underlying theme of trauma/PTSD. Not just that trauma, but how after all of that you can still find love, happiness, or contentment. We see this theme unfold from both perspectives. We have Leon who has spent centuries being tortured and used only to find sanctuary with Rae. Rae’s side of things is different because she’s just dealing with a break up, but we see this escalate with how everything unfolds for Rae throughout this book. We see how this very snarky demon becomes a sanctuary for her in the chaos of all of this. I think the trauma/PTSD representation is done very well even though it’s subtle and not many readers have picked up on it. And I want to say that this is one of those relationships where two broken individuals can heal one another and have a good relationship with one another.

There’s also an entire theme of consent throughout this book. I don’t know who needs to hear this, but consent is super attractive. From the very beginning, Leon constantly asks if Rae is okay with the things they do intimately and constantly makes sure she knows the safe word before anything even happens. I don’t know about anyone else, but I love characters who check to make sure they’re comfortable or they’re okay with proceeding into more spicy things. It’s super attractive and often times in a lot of romance or erotica they’re just instantly jumping into the sheets. I really enjoyed how the author gave us spice, but also made sure to sprinkle the consent in throughout this book.

“You’re a light in the dark, and I’ve been in the dark a vert long time.”

Speaking of spicy scenes, this book has a lot of spicy scenes, If you thought there were only going to be a few scenes sprinkled in then guess what, that’s not the case here! It was a fun time for me and the entire time I was just hyped. However, I will say the scene where Leon was giving Rae her piercings was not my thing. For me, that was very triggering just due to my own bad experience, but I do like how the author tried to give this scene balance of it not only being about the that whole commitment, but Leon and Rae becoming closer to one another. So I think this will be one of those hit or miss things for many readers.

If I had to fault this book on anything, it would have to be Rae’s character. Look, it has to be said, Rae made some really questionable choices and acted really reckless a lot of the time. Actually, I liked Rae’s character up until the last handful of chapters. It was like the closer it got to the end of the book, Rae just got more naive and was making really poor choices. It was frustrating a lot of the time and as I mentioned earlier, it made it really hard to like her character. Also, it almost painted Rae in a light of hypocrisy because she’s not only a paranormal investigator, but she’s also a horror lover and the way she acts is entirely different to most horror and paranormal lovers I know. I think a lot of readers are going to feel frustrated with her character and wish that she had been structured different especially near the end of this book.

“But with your soul, death can’t touch you. The God can’t touch you. Nothing, nothing will take you from me.”

Overall, I had a really fun time buddy reading this with my friend. It was such a captivating read and I love the pre-setup we get to see for the second book in this series. I’m just hyped about this whole series, okay! I usually don’t read a lot of dark romances, but if and when I do, I always want them to have snarky demons in it. I think many lovers of dark romance are going to enjoy this book and this whole series. I hear book two has to do with Zane and I can’t begin to express how excited I am about this!

Buddy Read with Destiny

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ARC Reviews

Unlock Your Storybook Heart (You Are Your Own Fairy Tale, #3) by Amanda Lovelace

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

ARC was given by NetGalley and Andrews McMeel Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

This review is being published on the release date (March 15th, 2022)

Break Your Glass Slippers ★★★★
Shine Your Icy Crown ★★★

Content/Trigger Warnings: Loss of a parent (in the past), grief, sexism, depression, talk of death, queerphobia, talk of fatphobia, talk of eating disorders, sexual harassment, self-harm, suicide, mentions of intrusive thoughts, mentions of toxic and abusive relationships

Wow. What can I say fellow readers other than wow. What a way for me to end this poetry collection. It’s been a while since a poetry collection left me completely… underwhelmed. Honestly, I’m a little salty I didn’t connect with any piece of this collection other than the two-three pages talking about cats. As always, I say literature comes into our life when we need it the most and maybe that’s why I’m so underwhelmed. Maybe this wasn’t my time of needing this collection because I already know all the things that this collection has to offer or perhaps, it was something else.

This collection is the third and final installment in the You Are Your Own Fairy Tale trilogy. Like the rest of the books in this series, this collection is broken into three parts and beautiful illustrations that divide the sections. Lovelace went above and beyond to make sure the readers of this collection has access to content/trigger warnings in advance so you know what to expect going into the collection. Lovelace does this with every collection which is a nice little touch to show the author cares about their reading audience and their mental health.

“Let no book collect dust. You never know which one will heal wounds you never knew you had.”

I would say that my favorite parts of this book had to be the illustrations. I always enjoy when authors add their own artwork into their books and Lovelace is no exception. If I remember correctly, each illustration is drawn by the author themselves and in a way, you can almost get a feel for the things this author enjoys, what they love to draw the most, and the full colored panels were a fantastic touch. There’s a lot of coziness to the full colored panels and there’s little details in them that make me wonder if the author actually has a little corner like that in their own home. The full illustrated panels are also a nice break from a lot of the themes in this collection. Those panels are there to say, “Hey, take a break. Take a moment to come down and breathe.”

I mentioned before that I really enjoyed the few pages we had about cats, but I also enjoyed the few passages we received about books. Now, I know the parts are titled in reference to books, but more so the pages that talk about books healing wounds or helping you to escape reality for a little while. As a consumer of books, and for you too book lovers, I think these sections will touch your soul and remind you how important books are. I think it was a great way for the author to nod at their readers and the book community.

“Some change happens gradually, some changes happens in the blink of an eye, & some change manages to do both at the same time.”

Despite the good things I found within this book, there was a lot of issues with this book that I just couldn’t look past. The biggest things for me that made it really hard to enjoy this book was the constant whiplash and jumping around. In past books, the author had some solid organization and structure to help with the flow of the book, but with this book in particular it felt like there was no consistent flow. You would constantly have these moments where it would be talking about good things and then it would thrown in a page or two that was talking about something negative like toxic relationships or self-harm. If anything, the one consistent thing this book does is give you the choppy flow of giving you large doses of feel good, uplifting passages and then smack you in the face with dark, negative passages. This made it really hard to focus on the content within the book and had a desire of wanting to skip pages build up inside of me. Also, just for reference, ever book up until this particular book had a good steady flow of working through the bad into the good. That’s the kind of writing style the author normal put into their books and we just don’t get that in this book. This would have probably stood stronger if the author had kept that structure to this book.

My other issue and struggle with this book was the repetitiveness throughout this books. I think I talked about this in my last review for this series, for the second book, as well. The things being written in this book literally feels like passages from previous books just being rewritten in a different manner. There were a lot of times where I was reading this book and I’d sit here, asking myself, “Have I read this before? This feels familiar.” Usually, I don’t mind a little repetitiveness, but consistent repetitiveness just doesn’t work for me.

The most minor issue I had was the fact that this collection felt like there were passages just thrown in there that had nothing to do with the overall theme of this book. Honestly, I was expecting this trilogy to consist of them not only coping with the loss of their mother, but also their relationship with their partner. And while we get bits and pieces of that, there were passages thrown in that had nothing to do with these themes. It’s not a huge issue, but this does circle back to how the pacing of this book felt so off and had that choppy flow to it, making it hard to focus to read this book.

“& if she had a choice, things would be different.”

Overall, this isn’t a bad read, but it definitely wasn’t for me. Again, maybe it wasn’t my time to have this piece of literature come into my life or maybe it’s something else. I think there are a lot of stand out passages that surround finding love, loving oneself, passages that deal in grief – many passages I think many readers may potentially connect with. However, the reading pace/flow of this book was really rough and choppy, and I think I would have enjoyed a little more structure when it came to the pacing. I still recommend this collection because I know that even though I haven’t connected with this book, I know someone out there will. So if you enjoy poetry, I still want to encourage you to pick it up.

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

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Misc.

5 Books I Want to Read Before 2022 Ends

Salutations Chapterlings! How are you doing? I hope you’re doing well and staying hydrated! I have a bit of a confession… This was technically a draft I had saved for 2021 that never got published and now I’m repurposing it for the year of 2022. This time, I’m getting it posted with some books that I really, really want to read before this year ends. And in a way, posting it now is a way to hold myself accountable for this mini tbr. Actually, this is a bit of a secret tbr and I hope you enjoy what I’m about to share! ♥


You’ve Reached Sam by Dustin Thao
“Seventeen-year-old Julie has her future all planned out—move out of her small town with her boyfriend Sam, attend college in the city, spend a summer in Japan. But then Sam dies. And everything changes.

Heartbroken, Julie skips his funeral, throws out his things, and tries everything to forget him and the tragic way he died. But a message Sam left behind in her yearbook forces back memories. Desperate to hear his voice one more time, Julie calls Sam’s cellphone just to listen to his voicemail.

And Sam picks up the phone.

In a miraculous turn of events, Julie’s been given a second chance at goodbye. The connection is temporary. But hearing Sam’s voice makes her fall for him all over again, and with each call it becomes harder to let him go. However, keeping her otherworldly calls with Sam a secret isn’t easy, especially when Julie witnesses the suffering Sam’s family is going through. Unable to stand by the sidelines and watch their shared loved ones in pain, Julie is torn between spilling the truth about her calls with Sam and risking their connection and losing him forever.”


Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice
“With winter looming, a small northern Anishinaabe community loses communication. Days later, it goes dark. Cut off from the urban realm of the south, many of its people become passive and confused. They eventually descend into panic as the food supply dwindles, with few hunters left in the First Nation. While the band council and a pocket of community members struggle to maintain order, an unexpected visitor arrives from a city in the south to escape a crumbling society. Soon after, others follow.

The community leadership is faced with the dilemma of allowing the urban refugees to live with them on their territory. Tensions rise, and as the months pass, so does the death toll due to sickness and despair. Frustrated by the building chaos, a group of young friends and their families turn to the land and tradition in hopes of helping their community thrive again, while they grapple with a grave decision.

Blending action and allegory, Moon of the Crusted Snow upends our expectations. Out of catastrophe comes resilience. And as one society collapses, another is reborn.”


The King of Burbon Street (NOLA Nights #1) by Thea De Salle
“Hotel chain mogul Sol DuMont is about to learn that some of life’s biggest surprises come in deceptively small packages—namely a petite heiress named Rain who’s hell-bent on upsetting her family’s expectations—in this first book in the all new series by Thea de Salle, set against the sultry backdrop of New Orleans.

Thirty-seven-year-old Sol DuMont is a divorcee and the owner of a mid-sized hotel chain in New Orleans. Since Hurricane Katrina, his father’s death, and the decision that he and his ex-wife Maddy are far better off friends than lovers, he’s lost interest in almost everything he held dear—parties, people, and pushing limits.

All his limits.

Then Arianna Barrington checks into his hotel.

Twenty-four-year-old Arianna “Rain” Barrington could have been society’s sweetheart. Her family is moneyed, connected press darlings, and make sweeping headlines from coast to coast for reasons both good and bad. But when her mother shoves her at Charles Harwood—the obnoxious, entitled heir of Harwood Corp—to cement a billion-dollar business merger, Rain does the only thing she can think of to escape: she creates a scandal so big Harwood doesn’t want her anymore before fleeing to New Orleans for much-needed rest and relaxation.

All she wants is jazz piano, beignets, and to sail the Mississippi. What she gets is Sol DuMont, a whirlwind affair, and a hands-on education in sex, power play, and pushing limits.”


Night of the Mannequins by Stephen Graham Jones
We thought we’d play a fun prank on her, and now most of us are dead.

One last laugh for the summer as it winds down. One last prank just to scare a friend. Bringing a mannequin into a theater is just some harmless fun, right? Until it wakes up. Until it starts killing.

Luckily, Sawyer has a plan. He’ll be a hero. He’ll save everyone to the best of his ability. He’ll do whatever he needs to so he can save the day. That’s the thing about heroes—sometimes you have to become a monster first.

Stephen Graham Jones returns with Night of the Mannequins, a contemporary horror story where a teen prank goes very wrong and all hell breaks loose: is there a supernatural cause, a psychopath on the loose, or both?”


Darling by K. Ancrum
“On Wendy Darling’s first night in Chicago, a boy called Peter appears at her window. He’s dizzying, captivating, beautiful—so she agrees to join him for a night on the town.

Wendy thinks they’re heading to a party, but instead they’re soon running in the city’s underground. She makes friends—a punk girl named Tinkerbelle and the lost boys Peter watches over. And she makes enemies—the terrifying Detective Hook, and maybe Peter himself, as his sinister secrets start coming to light. Can Wendy find the courage to survive this night—and make sure everyone else does, too?

Acclaimed author K. Ancrum has re-envisioned Peter Pan with a central twist that will send all your previous memories of J. M. Barrie’s classic permanently off to Neverland.”


Whew! I feel like this is a powerhouse of a list, don’t you think? I hope you enjoyed this list and maybe some of these books caught your eye. I truly, truly am keeping all my fingers and toes crossed that I’ll be able to read all of these before the end of 2022. It’s just time to get them read and clear a little space on my tbr. Until next time friends, I love you! ♥

Are any of these books on your radar? Have a/any books you’re hoping to read before 2022 ends? Come tell me about it the comments below! ♥

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