Uncategorized

Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything

GoodReads|Amazon|Barnes&Noble|BookDepository|IndieBound

ALC provided by Libro.fm and Simon Pulse in exchange for an honest review! 

Content/Trigger Warnings: Sexual assault, physical assault, trauma and PTSD, domestic violence, parental death, loss of a loved one (in the past), mentions of deportation, racism, mentions of a car accident, mentions of graphic injuries, harassment, bullying, sexism, mentions of human experimentations, stalking, sex

I had never heard of this release until Libro. fm. I haven’t heard a lot of readers talking about this book, but I did have two friends reading it at the same time as myself. When I saw readers listing this as sci-fi, I got really nervous and I didn’t know what to expect. But I’m so glad that I picked this book up and gave it a listen! This is probably one of the most interesting books I’ve read all year, so far and I hope you all give this book a chance!

Before I start, I just want to say how grateful I am that the author took the time to list content and trigger warnings at the beginning of the book. Not many authors do this, so I really wanted to make a space to show my appreciation and say how important this is. I do have a more thorough breakdown of content and trigger warnings listed above if you need specifics. But truly, this was one of the best things about this book!

Our story follows Sia Martinez, a Mexican-American teen, who’s still grieving the death of her mother, who was deported and died trying to make her way back to America from Mexico. Sia is constantly reminded of as she attends the same school with the son of the officer who deported her mother. She not only has the weight of the grief on her shoulders, but constantly deals with the bullying, racism, and harassment of her peers and the teachers at the school. Until Noah, the new kid, moves to school and suddenly the the things in Sia’s life start to change.

“My grandmother said there were countless worlds in addition to ours. The underworld, the ghost world, the world of beetles and bats and hummingbird moths. There’s a world for warlocks and brujas and one for coconut trees and even a world just for our dreams.”

I really appreciated Sia as our main character. For myself, personally, I think she was a perfect character to show a plethora of emotions and internal feelings in various situations. Most of the time, books don’t always show the full range of emotions teenagers and younger children can experience. Sia’s feelings are layered and deeply intertwined with one another, and I really loved that about her. However, I was hoping Sia would have been more vocal and stood up for herself more. The bond and routine Sia has with her father sort of builds up the idea that Sia would stand up for herself more often, challenge those who look down on her for who she is and her culture, and have a little more fight in her. However, I still enjoyed her character and really loved how we got to see the nerdy sides of her.

One of the biggest themes in this book is the friendship between Sia and Rose. They have been best friends for many years, but we see their friendship face hardships, independent struggles, and grow from those experiences. I find that it’s rare for books to show that friendships have many layers to them and they’re not always perfect. Their relationship felt so real and reminded me of one of my own friendships. With the conflict they encounter, it does take a bit, but eventually, Sia and Rose find their way back to one another and make amends. I also loved how we see the two of them navigate dating and trying to find a way to tell one another, balance time between each other and their relationships.

Speaking of dating, I didn’t read any of the blurbs or reviews for this book before listening to it, but when the SFF elements started appearing in this book, I was clutching my pearls. It made me so incredibly happy to see it. I think this is going to be an element that catches a lot of readers off-guard because it’s such a subtle element. However, I think it was beautifully established and I loved how it was woven into the story.

There’s also a beautiful theme of family throughout this entire book. I mentioned earlier that Sia and her father share a routine of practicing self-defense together. I really loved that little bit that shows that only only are they close, but Sia’s father wants her to be able to protect herself should anything happen when he’s not there. I really loved those moments with them and I loved how we get the widowed father household dynamic. I truly believe with my whole heart that single father households are very underrated in literature and don’t get the attention it truly deserves. So, I really appreciated seeing that element and seeing the bond these two characters have. Also, I really loved how we get constant references to Sia’s grandmother. I could feel the love radiate through the passages where Sia would reflect on something her grandmother said or had taught her. Those passages felt like a warm hug.

“And when we turn the lights out, I look at the stars out the window, wondering about how old they are. Do they fall in and out of love, do they tell stories? And which nebulae are their mothers, and do they long for their mothers so much, they feel like their hearts are breaking at every moment?”

Aside from all of this, the heart of this story is centered around the ways Mexican people view violent immigration and institutions. We also see the reality many immigrants face when someone they love is deported. We see the pain, the grief, and the loss that one experiences, but we also see the lengths someone would go to be reunited with those loved ones. I can’t speak any further on this because I’m not Mexican, Mexican-American, or an immigrant. However, I encourage you all to look at ownvoice reviewers and if you are an ownvoice reviewer, please link your review so I can help boost your voice!

I truly wish I could have given this a full five stars, but there was one thing that really shifted my feelings. This book is very much a genre-bending book! For the first half of this book, it reads like a contemporary book. The first half explores grief, trauma, love, and friendship. While the second half of this book has a lot of action and science fiction elements woven throughout the story. My real struggle was the sudden shift into the sci-fi elements. I’m not much of a sci-fi reader and when I do read sci-fi, it’s usually a struggle for a plethora of reasons. I wish this book would have stayed with the contemporary genre more than adding the sci-fi elements to it because I have no doubt I would have given this five stars. However, with the sci-fi elements, I felt like I was getting whiplash a few times and I started to lose interest in the characters. Whereas before, I was fully invested in the characters, the story line, and what would happen next. I also felt like certain details around the characters and story line got lost on me because of the sci-fi elements. However, I still enjoyed the story despite my conflict with the second half of this book.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and the themes in this book are so important. I truly feel this is an underrated book and not many people are talking about it. If you’re looking for a book that talks about grief, first love, friendships, strong family bonds, has short chapters, mixed with some sci-fi elements, then you should definitely pick this book up.

Read for Latinx Book Bingo 🧡

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

|GoodReads|Instagram|YouTube|Wishlist|Kofi

Uncategorized

Scorpio Hates Virgo (Signs of Love #2) by Anyta Sunday

GoodReads|Amazon|Barnes&Noble|BookDepository|IndieBound

☄️ Leo Loves Aries ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
☄️ Leo Tops Aries ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Loss of a loved one, grief, abandonment, homophobia, mentions of a heart stroke, alcoholism, allusions to toxic relationship, sex

If you couldn’t tell, I’ve fallen in love with Anyta Sunday’s writing and the characters she creates. Not only the characters, but how everything is beautifully woven together. I really enjoyed the first book and a half of this series so far and I’m eager to keep continuing on with this series. They’re always so charming, so fluffy, and just a really fun time. Plus, this is a self-published author and I really want to make sure I’m supporting more self published authors.

Percy Freedman has moved back to the cul-de-sac, to the only warm and welcoming home he’s every know, his Aunt’s house. Though the circumstances are far from good. Percy returns to the hollow home, after his Aunt’s passing, deciding the only way to get on with life is to the sell the home and put this all behind him as soon as possible. Though denying the grief, Percy is determined to flee as soon as possible. Only Percy’s denial of grief can’t fool his nemesis, Callaghan Glover. And even though Percy is determined to sell the house, he gets lured into a game of Sherlock Gnomes. Maybe, just maybe, Percy might realize he’s always had a place to call home and it really is the grief talking.

“I want to feel everything you´re willing to give me, and I hope you´re willing to give me everything”

Callaghan has been going to college for paleontology masters or as Percy likes to call it, “Jurassic Park studies”, but recently moved back home to be with his family, after his father abandoned his mother and siblings. Cal is also Percy’s nemesis or at least according to Percy, anyway. Cal has never seen their relationship as that dynamic. Anyone in the neighborhood could tell you that Cal cares about everyone especially when it comes to Percy. So after Percy moves back home after the passing of his aunt, Cal does everything he can to show Percy how much he cares and is really there for him. But Percy in convinced that they’re only nemesis.

I loved the dynamic between Percy and Cal. It’s not only an enemies to lovers situation, but the slow burn was done to perfection. I mean, it’s a real slow burn. Up until 70% of the way through, it’s banter for days and endless subtle flirting. Percy is not only grieving the loss of his aunt, but recently got out of a bad relationship, a relationship that was trying to chain him down during his grieving. And after everything that happens with his cousin, Percy is very vulnerable and truly believes no one will every love him. So Percy really has is guard up with Cal. However, in my opinion, Cal is very obvious with how he feels about Percy, how much he cares, and I loved the everything Cal did traced back to his love for Percy. I really loved some of their moments together like the Zombie Apocalypse game. That whole entire section was so good! It was just really wonderful to see the pull that they had to one another throughout this entire book.

Now, it’s stated from the beginning that Percy is gay, but we don’t know Cal’s sexual identity until closer to the end. And I don’t want to say he’s discovering his sexual identity throughout this book because during the section where Percy and Cal are discussing their sexual orientation, Cal seems somewhat aware that he’s demi-pan. I think this is the first book I’ve read with demisexual-pansexual representation, as well. I really appreciate that the author chose to include a character like Cal especially since pansexuality and demisexuality aren’t often represented in books. I just really appreciate seeing that. Also, I loved that they had so many moments where they were vulnerable with one another, but I really appreciated that particular moment between them. It was probably one of my favorite moments shared between Cal and Percy.

“I guess we really are earth and water.”
“Because together we’re mud?”
“Together we stick.”

I also loved that the author gave us so much more outside of the romance. I loved the theme of community in this book. I loved how the neighborhood came together, not just with the Sherlock Gnomes game, but also when Percy needed help. I really loved seeing those moments. We also have found family in this book. Although, it takes Percy forever to realize he’s always welcomed in the Glover’s home. The fact they actually sit down and have dinners together made my heart so warm and full. But the theme I loved the most was the grief; how you can move on, recover from loss without entirely leaving your old life behind. I really loved that theme with my whole heart and soul. And I think many readers will appreciate that.

Overall, I think I loved this book more than I did the first book. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the first book, but I just loved this book so much. I really enjoyed my time reading this book and seeing how little things from the first book were connected to this book. I loved the main character and love interest so much in this book. I think some readers might not like this book as much as the first because this book is a true slow burn romance, but if you’re lover of slow burn romance with good banter then you’ll probably enjoy this book. I definitely love it and I picked up Gemini Keeps Capricorn right after I finished.

|GoodReads|Instagram|YouTube|Wishlist|Kofi

Uncategorized

Space Battle Luchtime Vol. 1: Lights, Camera, Snacktion (Space Battle Lunchtime #1) by Natalie Riess

GoodReads|Amazon|Barnes&Noble|BookDepository|IndieBound

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

Content/Trigger Warnings: Scene of abduction, mentions of cannibalism, allusions to death

I’m not going to lie, when I saw that Carey Pietsch had a blurb for this graphic novel, I knew I had to read it. I’m so glad that I did! The synopsis alone will have you curious what lurks within the pages of this graphic novel. This was such a cute and creative read that combines space and cooking competitions in one. I have no doubt that many readers will enjoy this story and I’ll be over here, waiting for Space Battle Lunchtime Vol. 2 to float my way!

Our story follows Peony, who works in a small cafe, until one day a unique stranger strolls in asking if she’s ever dreamed of being a cooking competition. Suddenly, Peony is whisked away to the set of Space Battle Lunchtime, a competitive cooking competition, where each round in judged and whoever has the lowest score is dismissed. Peony not only gets to experience space, but encounters various alien species as she cooks against the galaxy’s top chefs. But among all of the hustle and bustle of the competition, something strange seems to be happening and Peony is going to find out first hand.

I really liked Peony as our main character. I think she’s very cute, sweet, and creative. I feel like she’s the type of character who makes friends really easily, connects with people through the food she makes, and has a positive energy about her. I also liked that Peony’s skills were put to the test. Even though she’s thrown into a situation where she doesn’t know how everything works, she’s able to think quick of her feet and we see her creative skills put to the test. And I just loved how that didn’t dissuade her from giving it her best effort.

I also have to put in here that I absolutely love Peony and Neptunia together. Neptunia is one of the contestant chefs on the show. Neptunia is very much a lone wolf, has that vibe of being very mysterious, but there are a few moments that kind of give it away that Neptunia is a cinnamon roll. I think they balance each other out really well and I think the slow burn of their connection is fantastic. And we already have a ship name, Petunia! I really hope the next volume will have more of them and maybe we’ll see a little development with them. Seeing them work together in the competition and the subtle way Peony asked Neptunia out to dinner filled my soul with so much warmth. I truly love them so, so much!

The art style is absolutely beautiful. The coloring is vibrant and there are particular moments where those vibrant colors really highlight and emphasize that moment. It reminds me of a few graphic novel series I read and I find that I really enjoy when there’s vibrant colors, but not to the point where it feels too busy. There was a good balance and I think many readers will enjoy the coloring as well.

Despite the things I loved in this graphic novel, I had a few issues. For starters, this graphic novel felt too short and the storyline felt like it rushed everything. I think this graphic novel would have benefited if it went into the 200 page mark. I say this a lot especially with graphic novels, graphic novels benefit really well from extra details. For example, Peony has never seen aliens before or knew they existed, Peony never has never heard of the show and it gets brushed off with a short response, and there’s also gaps of information where it concerns the chef Peony replaced. It that extra page or two with those type of details that can make a difference with the reading experience.

My other struggle with this graphic novel was the villain was made too obvious. I counted close to ten times it was made painfully obvious who the villain was and the connections to the shady things happening in the book. When I read a book that involves shady dealings, sabotage, and characters vanishing, I don’t like the answer to be shove into face right from the beginning. I think the storyline would have done better, not only with extra details, but if we saw more allusions and mystery around who was doing everything. This is incredibly important because there are four to five times stated throughout this book that everyone knows who is responsible for these things happening yet no repercussions happen.

Overall, I truly had a fun time reading this. I think it really would have benefited from extra details, extending the length of the book, and making certain things less obvious. I’m curious to see how volume two will play out. The ending of this graphic novel does end on a cliffhanger and I’m eager to know what Peony will do. I definitely recommend this for those who are just looking for a fun, quick read. This is a graphic novel that’s very much designed to be more entertainment and to be consumed in a short amount of time. So keep that in mind when picking this graphic novel up.

|GoodReads|Instagram|YouTube|Wishlist|Kofi

Uncategorized

Leo Tops Aries (Signs of Love #1.5) by Anyta Sunday

GoodReads|Amazon|Barnes&Noble

☄️ Leo Loves Aries (Signs of Love #1) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Sex

This was such a cute and steamy novella to follow up the first book in this series! In case you’re not familiar, the first book follows Theo and Leone who are trying to find amazing dates for one another after they both suffered their partners cheating on them. When Jamie Cooper comes back into Theo’s life, Theo tries to set Jamie and Leone up, only he doesn’t realize Jamie is into him and Theo might be falling for Jamie, as well.

This novella was super steamy, precious, and will have you clutching your pearls. Theo and Jamie have a little wager to see who can hold out the longest. Things are tense between the two and the banter to push each other to the edge will have you clutching your pearls. But neither Theo nor Jamie are ready to throw in the towel. And we see these two stubborn partners push each other to their limits.

I really loved how tense things were between Jamie and Theo. The stakes felt very high and there were so many moments where I thought one or the other was about to give in. From their morning wake up to cherry picking with Leone and Sean, they can’t get enough of each other and you see how deeply they’re attracted to one another. Their chemistry is like a flame and it burns so brightly throughout this novella.

What I wasn’t expecting was to encounter Jamie’s ex-boyfriend again. However, I really loved the aftermath of that encounter. The heartfelt moment Theo and Jamie share was so heart warming. I really loved how they talked about the situation and how vulnerable we got to see them with one another. I really love moments that are like this and the transition from this moment to the ending was absolutely flawless.

Overall, this was a fun novella to follow up the first book to this romance series. It was steamy, spicy, pearl clutching, and just so, so good! I don’t know if I mentioned this before, but Anyta Sunday is a self published author. I highly recommend checking out her books and supporting her especially if this series has caught your attention. So far I’ve really been enjoying my time in this series and can’t wait to continue on!

|GoodReads|Instagram|YouTube|Wishlist|Kofi

Uncategorized

A Princess in Theory (Reluctant Royals, #1) by Alyssa Cole

GoodReads|Amazon|Barnes&Noble|BookDepository|IndieBound

Content/Trigger Warnings: Death of parents (in the past), loss of a loved one (in the past), grief, abandonment, racism, sexism, talk of animal death and experimentation, disease epidemics, stalking, mentions of gaslighting, colonialism, mentions of colonization, brief mentions of sacrifice, trauma, and poisoning

“If only these pesky spam emails would stop showing up in her inbox, claiming an African prince wants to marry her…”

I mentioned this before in my review for When No One Is Watching, I never read anything by Alyssa Cole before. In fact, I started both of these books at the same and ended up really enjoying both experiences! A Princess in Theory was such a fantastic read. I was pleasantly surprised and I really had a fun time getting to know these characters. I’m even more excited to say that I’m eager to continue on with the rest of the series because of my reading experience was so enjoyable. This book was funny, spicy, enthralling, has important topics, and all packed into this one book!

👑 Naledi Smith – After the passing of her parents, Ledi grows up in foster care with faint, distant memories of the family she once knew. Starting a promising future in New York, as a grad student majoring in epidemiology, she somehow manages to find the balance between working non-stop in the lab, waitressing, and studying.

👑 Prince Thabiso – An actual prince from Africa and the sole heir to the throne of Thesolo. With his parents badgering him to settle down and start a family, Thabiso has been unable to forget the girl who was promised to marry him, who has been absent for most of his life.

These two characters finally come together when Thabiso and Likotsi, Thabiso’s assistant, end up tracking Ledi down to New York. Thabiso decides to travel to New York, not just to handle some business, but to find Ledi and confront her. The moment they meet, sparks fly and from there we see a slow burn romance blossom.

“Everybody wants something from you, but sometimes there’s a person you want to give to. Sometimes what you give them makes you better for having given it. And it makes having to give to everyone else not so bad.”

I loved Naledi as our main character. She was such an easy character for me to fall in love with. From working hard to wanting to succeed in her career, she stole my heart from page one. Despite the hardships she’s endured, she still has a kindness about her and I loved how she kept two lab mice. I thought it was the most precious thing. Thabiso was a character I struggled to warm up to. The moment he lied about his identity, it put me on pins and needles. I found myself siding with Likotsi a lot during parts of Thabiso’s povs in the beginning. However, as we get further into the story, I started to appreciate how Thabiso handled the political game and how we get to see him show his caring side.

The chemistry between these two characters was so good! Ledi and Thabiso click from the moment they meet, and the author does an amazing job at creating a slow burn romance between them. I also loved how we got to see Ledi fall in love with Thabiso, but I also appreciated how Thabiso refused to give up on her. The moments of deep conversation they got to share were some of my most favorite moments throughout this book.

Aside from the romance, we have a lot of important topics being addressed throughout this book. One of the biggest topics we see immediately in this book, is the racism and sexism Ledi endures while she works towards her dream. Every time Ledi is in the lab, Ledi’s white male supervisor constantly puts Ledi in a position of picking up extra tasks and project to pick up the slack from her other colleague. This does get challenged later on in the book and it was pretty satisfying to see Ledi stand up for herself.

Then we have a topic that hit really close to my heart and I did get a little emotional reading some of these parts. Ledi has to experience what it’s like to grow up apart from a culture she’s never known. She sees the imbalances between Thabiso and her family backgrounds. From wealth and power to everyone having more knowledge of the story, her parents, etc… than she does. This hit so close to home for various reasons and I really loved how Alyssa Cole packed so much feeling behind those moments.

“It’s hard losing a friend.” Ledi said quietly. “If it’s your significant other, you’re allowed to grieve. But people act like best friends are a dime a dozen, and if you lose one you can just replace them with another.”

And of course, I have to talk about how well the grief handled in this book. Grief is very much laced throughout this book and I loved how Alyssa Cole added so many sides to that grief. We have Ledi who still feels the absent of her parents and feels the weight of that loss. On the opposite side, we Thabiso and Likotsi experience the grief instantly upon learning about the passing of Ledi’s parents. Then we have the Queen of Thesolo. I think she was my favorite because we usually never see the angry side of grief in books and we never see how those two emotions come together when someone lashes out. We see the Queen target Ledi and treats her unfairly because of her grief and her pain, but that behavior is always challenged and we get a moment between Ledi and the Queen that made me so emotional. I think Alyssa Cole did an amazing job with the grief representation in this book.

Overall, I could probably keep talking about this book with a couple more paragraphs, but I will spare you all! This was such a great read and written so beautifully. There’s so much packed into these pages like the asking for consent, the conversations around colonization, and the bond between Ledi and Nya. Plus, Nya is a side character who’s chronically ill. There was just so many wonderful things that I love. I think many romance readers are going to love this book and be eager to read this series. And I’m so, so thankful that many of my friends recommended I jump on this series!

|GoodReads|Instagram|YouTube|Wishlist|Kofi

Uncategorized

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

GoodReads|Amazon|Barnes&Noble|BookdDepository|IndieBound

Content/Trigger Warnings: Misgendering, transphobia allusions to dead-naming, depictions of gender dysphoria, loss of a parent (in the past), loss of a loved one, death, grief, references to blood magic and cult themes, ritualistic self-harm, abandonment, bullying, kidnapping, brief mention of racial profiling, mentions of deportation, mentions of child abuse

“Don’t mourn me.
If you cry for me, I grieve your pain.
Instead, if you sing to me, I’ll always live and my spirit will never die.”

Before reading this review, please check out Adri’s review, their full vlog, and their interview with Aiden Thomas! They’re content for this book is the reason I became even more hyped about reading this book. So please check those links out!

I knew I was going to love this book with my whole heart. Also, I had a feeling it would make my favorite books of 2020 and I predicted it was going to be a five star read. What I didn’t predict was being surprised with how long it took me to realize the Mayan mythology, the way so many of the themes hit close to home, and I certainly didn’t expect to be sobbing my eyes out for an hour after finishing this book. This truly is a beautiful debut novel and I hope everyone picks this book up soon!

Yadriel wants nothing more than to be accepted for who he really is by his traditional Latinx family. With the help of his best friend Maritza to preform the ritual and sets out to help his family locate the ghost of his cousin Miguel. Except, Yadriel summons the wrong ghost. When Julian Diaz appears instead of his cousin, Yadriel thinks he can help him move on, but Julian isn’t going to go quietly and might be the only link Yadriel has to what happened to Miguel. This unlikely pair will team up to get what they want, but sometimes he worst thing isn’t summoning the wrong ghost, it’s falling for one.

“Julian was the most alive person he’d ever met. Even as a spirit, he was bright and full of constantly moving energy. A sun crammed into the body of a boy. Yadriel didn’t want to see him without his light.”

I really loved Yadriel as our main character (though I love Julian just as much). First off, Yadriel is a precious cinnamon roll and you can’t tell me otherwise. However, I loved how Yadriel being trans is so closely tied to the story and the magic system. I’m not trans or Latinx myself, so I can’t speak about either of those representations. However, I appreciate intimacy and how meaningful it was to have an inside look at what life is like for a trans person especially a trans POC. I also loved how the negative got balanced out with the good. Yes we see the hardships Yadriel experiences, but we also get to see Yadriel be loved, cherished, and valued for who they are by people who care about him. I love that we have that balance because it’s so important to show the bad with the good. And honestly, it might be my favorite thing about this whole book next to the family dynamics. I’m really glad Aiden put both is this book and wove it so beautifully throughout this story.

Of course I have to take a moment to talk about Julian, my other favorite cinnamon roll of this book. Julian is your classic case of a kid with a rough background, who’s fiercely loyal and protective of the ones he cares about, and who everyone else (like teachers and a certain brother) have given up on. Julian is a character I could connect with immediately because I’m a person who’s fiercely loyal and protective of those I care about. He’s such an endearing character and the way he slowly falls in love with Yadriel was just beautiful, heart warming, and I’m super soft knowing these two cinnamon rolls found such a deep love with one another.

Circling back, one of the most clearest messages throughout this entire book is the emphasis of tradition and acceptance. There are countless references to various Latinx cultures and how Yadreil, though loved by his family, isn’t truly accepted by his family as a whole because they don’t adhere to the cultural traditions. This leads to a lot of internalized hurt and conflict about their feelings toward their family. There was a quote that really stuck out to me and really hits close to home. I debated on including it, but I feel that it’s too important not to include. However, by the end of this book we see the growth and we see the family begin to be more accepting, realizing you can have traditions and have space for acceptance and change.

“But belonging meant denying who he was. Living as something he wasn’t had nearly torn him part from the inside out. But he also loved his family, and his community. It was bad enough being an outsider; what would happen if they just couldn’t–or wouldn’t–accept him for who he was?”

Of course I have to talk about family dynamics and how big a theme family is throughout this book! Aiden truly gives us the full diversity of family dynamics. Yadriel comes from a large Latinx family. However, Yadriel is technically from a single parent home, more specifically a single father home. I can’t begin to express how important this representation is. Far too often, we rarely see the single parent household in books and when we do, it’s usually the single mother household. This is probably my second or third book I’ve read that has the single father home dynamic and I know there’s going to be readers out there who will feel seen by that representation. We also have the older sibling taking care of the younger sibling home dynamic and the found family dynamic. Julian comes from the home life of just him and his brother against the world. On top of that, Julian has a found family among his group of friends that often stay with Julian and his brother, Rio. I loved this so much and I think this is one of the more underrated family dynamics that I wish we saw more often in books.

“​Growth isn’t a deviation from what we’ve done before, but a natural progression to honor all those who make this community strong.”

Overall, I could write a dozen wonderful things this book does, about all the things that were done right and how much I loved them. I think the best way to go into this book is to know how deeply loved it is by some many people in the book community, how much good this book is going to do for trans youth everywhere, and just the beautiful way Aiden writes. Truly, this is an incredible book that I love with my whole heart. And if there’s one thing you take away from my review, it’s this… I don’t read overly hyped books often, I’m not a person who’s often on the hype train of books by certain authors, but this book truly is worth all the hype and I love it, with my whole heart and soul. The representation throughout this book is incredible and I hope so many readers fall in love with this book.

Buddy Read with Robin at Paperbacks and Planners 🧡

|GoodReads|Instagram|YouTube|Wishlist|Kofi

Uncategorized

Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku, Vol. 1 (Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku #1-2) by Fujita

GoodReads|Amazon|Barnes&Noble|BookDepository|IndieBound

Content/Trigger Warnings: Mentions of sexual harassment, mentions of anxiety, alcoholism

Friends, this was the absolute cutest! I had a fantastic time reading this and I had such a hard time setting this down. This is such a whimsical, charming, and perfectly geeky book for those who are looking for a book to brighten their day up. And you might just laugh yourself silly like I did. This manga has also been made into an anime, you an watch the trailer HERE.

We follow Narumi, a secret fujoshi who seems to be down on her luck with relationships. Until one day, she reconnects with her childhood friend Hirotaka, a secret hardcore gamer, at their office job. This sparks Narumi suggestion they should go out for drinks to catch up with one another. And while they’re catching up, Narumi reveals to Hirotaka how hard it is to find someone who accepts her for who she truly is. To Narumi’s surprise, Hirotaka offers a solution. And this is their story.

This manga focuses on two different relationships. The main relationship this manga focuses around is Narumi and Hirotaka. Not only do they work together, but when they’re together they’re absolutely precious. Since they’ve known each other for such a long time, we see soft moments like when they can tell the other is upset or aren’t acting like themselves. We also get some really great moments where we see their personalities show a different side compared to when they’re in the work place. The other relationship this manga also focuses on is between Kabakura and Hanako, friends and coworkers to Narumi and Hirotaka. Their relationship is intense, they fight almost constantly, and the tension between them is so thick you could cut it with a knife.

“We’re together because I love you and I like seeing you doing things that make you happy.”

I really enjoyed Hirotaka and Narumi together. Their interactions with one another were so cute and wholesome, but they have a deep understanding of each other. They have some really precious moments that really show how much they care about one another, not only as couple, but also as two individuals who have been friends for such a long time. I really loved that. I also really appreciated how we see both couples in this manga on double dates. I rarely see the double dating in books. So that was a pleasant surprise that I really enjoyed. I also really adored how close Hanako and Narumi are in this manga. They cosplay together and seem really protective of one another. I’m always here for a friendship that’s positive especially between two women.

I only had two issues with this manga. The first one was with the second relationship, the one between Hanako and Kabakura. I felt like we never got to see them be soft and gentle with one another. For the majority of this book, they’re constantly arguing at each others throats, insulting one another, and there’s even a scene where Hanako tries to pressure Kabkura into cosplaying when he specifically says no. We see maybe one or two moments between them where they’re being gentle to one another, but the majority they’re fighting with one another. I’m hoping in future books, we see more moments shared between them where they’re being kind to one another or loving.

My second struggle with this manga was no solid story line or plot. It felt like there were outlines of a plot or story line, but for the most part it felt like this manga was just sharing moments between Hirotaka and Narumi. It felt very repetitive because of no solid story line or plot. With that being said, I’m hoping in future volumes we’ll see change of scenery and things won’t have a repetitive feeling to it. We’ll see an actually story form of how their love is growing, maybe we’ll see some character development, and maybe we’ll see some end goal within this book.

“If my smile could reach the person I love… I think I’d explode with happiness.”

Overall, I really did have a fantastic time reading this book. I loved how we follow two geeky people who’ve been friends since childhood form a relationship. They’re incredible sweet to one another and Fujita has an incredible way of capturing that. I also really enjoyed the art style. Fujita has a way a capturing the emotions of characters and make a panel play to the moment. And the way Fujita writes has such a subtle way of saying so much meaning with saying very little, I really loved that. It was just a really great times reading this manga. I’m really eager to give the anime a try and see how similar it is to the manga. But if you’re looking for something funny, charming, and wholesome then I can’t recommend this manga enough!

Buddy read with Kayla from Books and Blends 🧡

|GoodReads|Instagram|YouTube|Wishlist|Kofi

Uncategorized

Well Played (Well Met, #2) by Jen DeLuca

GoodReads|Amazon|Barnes&Noble|BookDepository|IndieBound

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

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

🌹 Well Met ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Talk of loss of a loved one (in the past, to cancer), talk of fertility hardships, talk of heart attacks (in the past), a lot of talk and thoughts of body image, depictions of anxiety, and catfishing

“It all started with a necklace.”

I’m back again with more of the wench life! But seriously, I absolutely adore Renaissance Festivals and actually, I usually attend the Maryland Renaissance Festival almost every year. Every time fall rolls around, I would automatically be plotting, planning when my trip of the year would happen. And of course I would dress up in costume. You can’t go to the Maryland Renaissance Festival without getting into a costume (usually in Elven attire). However, with the pandemic happening, this might be the first year I don’t attend Renn. Fest. and my heart is truly saddened by that thought. So being able to read the next book in this series has brought some comfort and happiness into that hole that’s formed in my chest.

Our story follows Stacy, the other tavern wench from the first book. If you remember in the first book, faire was starting to hit that point of the last round before it closes for the year. And this is where we pick up in book two. As faire is beginning to end, Stacy finds that she’s eager for some change and we quickly discover her friends with benefits relationship with Dex, one of the brothers from the Dueling Kilts, who preform at the Willow Creek Renaissance Festival every year.

But that’s the trouble with faire coming to a close, everyone gets back to their normal routine and that means the Dueling Kilts move onto the next big gig, usually the Maryland Renaissance Festival. So when Stacy is thrust back into her usual routine; working in a dentist office as a receptionist, living the cozy life in her studio apartment, and coming home to the only guy who seems to love her unconditionally (a.k.a. Benedick the cat), Stacy begins to reevaluate her life. After college, Stacy had left her small town life behind and moved to New York where she was going to pursue her passion for fashion, but when her mother started having health complications, Stacy dropped everything immediately to be where she was needed most, with her family.

“And together, that flickering light and that sense of yearning made me want something new. A life on the road. A life somewhere other than here.”

With all of her friends, who have left Willow Creek behind, starting their lives (thanks to social media) and the realization she’s entering her later twenties still single, Stacy begins to feel the weight and pressure of society’s expectations. So one night when she’s missing her summer fling something fierce (and maybe the wine had a little extra help in this), Stacy gets the courage to write up a message to Dex, on the Dueling Kilt’s band page. After waking up with a killer hangover and a lot of mortification, Stacy soon realizes she’s received a response.

One message turns into two, two turns into a week’s worth of messages, and soon we see Stacy live her life through a year while texting the guy she’s falling for. We see Stacy help Emily with planning her wedding, join a book club, and of course, keep cracking jokes with Mitch. We also see Stacy help a lot more with the prepping of the Willow Creek Renaissance Festival, but despite all these wonderful things happening, with the anticipation at an all time high, Stacy begins to question a lot of things.

You’ll just have to pick up this book come this September if you want to know what happens with Stacy because going any further would just spoil the book. If you’re looking for a cute romance with that amazing small town setting (of course, the Renaissance Festival setting too) and the deep roots of community then I can’t recommend it enough! Of course, the romance is super cute too. I really enjoyed the romance and there’s some really good banter in this book. Stacy is also plus sized and she talks about her body, her body image, and her journey with her confidence. I really appreciated that especially myself being plus sized, I have a deep appreciation when plus size representation is done well.

“His words squeezed my heart, and I couldn’t take a good deep breath.”

I also have to talk about the family aspect of this book. There’s definitely a of subplot in this book that focuses on family, family expectations, and how hard it can be to leave your family especially when you feel like they need you to be close. But we also see the other side of that where your family wants you to live your life and chase down your dreams. There was a moment between Stacy and her mother, and I just felt the biggest surge love for the relationship these two characters have. I ended up really missing my own family after that and I ended up sending off a bunch of emails to them. There’s so many moments about family in this book that hit close to home and I really loved that about this book.

I think held back from the full five star this time for plethora of reasons. There were a lot of times reading this book where it felt like Stacy had to do a lot of the work. Relationships are hard, but it’s not a two way street and both people have to make an effort to make it work. I just didn’t see that happening on the love interest side of things. In all honesty, it felt like there was an over-use of the excuse “but I’m not like so-and-so” to not do the work that builds the foundation of the relationship. On the topic of relationship foundation, I definitely felt like there was a huge lack of communication and honesty between Stacy and the love interest. There were times where big, important things felt like they were forgiven too quickly or swept under the rug to escalate their relationship quicker. I think for myself, I would have liked to have seen a more in depth conversation happen between the two, but that might be the married person in me talking (so take this with a grain of salt). And as much as I enjoyed Stacy, there were a lot of times where she felt dated. There were times where I forgot that she was twenty-seven and I just wanted to see her do something that wasn’t predictable.

“You’ll never be alone. Not if I have anything to say about it.”

Overall, I really enjoyed my time reading this book! This was exactly what I needed to feel a bit better with cancelling my Renaissance Festival plans for this year. Also, I didn’t mention this anywhere else in this review, but I freaking adore Stacy’s cat, Benedick. That cat was fantastic, Stacy dresses him up with dragon wings, and I just love that ball of floof so darn much! Anyway, I’m super excited because after I finished reading this, I went to check to see if there was another book in this series. Now, I was saying this for the last handful of chapters of this book and I swear, the screech that left my body was loud enough to make the whole neighborhood wake up. Well Matched, the third book in this series, is April and Mitch’s book and my heart, my soul, and my mind have all abandoned me and are waiting for 2021 to hurry up! I’m so excited and I truly cannot wait for this book!

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

|GoodReads|Instagram|YouTube|Wishlist|

Uncategorized

The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar

GoodReads|Amazon|Barnes&Noble|BookDepository|IndieBound

Content/Trigger Warnings: Racism, xenophobia, homophobia, bullying, character being outed, mentions of divorce

“When matters of the heart are involved, it’s difficult to be careful.”

My heart it hurts, in all the best ways! I wasn’t expecting this book to hurt me the way that it did and I knew I would love this book from the start, but oh how I loved the experience of reading this book. This book is so beautifully written and it’s so much more than a cute romance of “enemies to lovers”. It’s so much more than that and it truly touched a piece of my heart.

We follow a Bengali girl named Nishat, who just came out to her parents and now feels the heavy weight of their rejection of her lesbian identity, and to prevent herself from crumbling in the process. On top of this harden silence, Nishat has to deal with the racism and homophobia at her school, while dealing with the culture appropriation happening during her business class’s competition by the girl she has a crush on.

I loved Nishat as our main character. She’s so unapologetically herself in a world that constantly tries to bend and break her. She’s fierce and she has no problem speaking her voice. I truly appreciate how the author took the time to pay attention to the little details with Nishat and her personality. The pay off is just beautiful, heartbreaking, and I think many readers are going to fall in love with her because of those details.

“What I want more than anything else in the world is to feel like being myself isn’t something that should be hidden and a secret.”

Throughout this book we see many relationship, many family dynamics. So let’s start with the family dynamics first. I loved Nishat’s family and how big it is. I love how we get moments with Nishat’s grandparents. I love seeing those bonds in book. We also have the family dynamic with Flávia. Flávia is from a single mother home and you know, I have a super soft spot for that family dynamic. Reading the experience Flávia’s mother went through made my heart turn to an absolute puddle.

As for the relationships, there’s two that really stuck out to me. The first relationship is between Nishat and her younger sister, Priti. I loved this sibling bond. You know I’m a soft heart for sibling relationships and the way these two love each other despite the hardships, just warmed my heart. This relationship spoke the loudest to throughout the whole book. There were times where the romance felt like it fell in the shadow of the sibling bond. The second relationship was between Flávia and Nishat. This romance was so precious and there were many times where I really wanted them to be together. There’s so many layers to their relationship and watching them come together was just a lovely experience.

However, this story is far from cute. If anything, the romance is cute, but this book deals with a lot of important topics. There’s a lot of talk of racism and homophobia laced throughout this book and all of it intertwines with Nishat’s culture, culture appropriation, and those making a profit off that cultural appropriation. Not only does the author handle this in many layers, but does it in a way where it gets the point across. The author also adds additional content to lighten the mood with lighthearted content and I really appreciated how well everything balanced out.

“Maybe… sometimes people don’t see the things they do as wrong, but they can see the wrong in what other people do – especially if it’s done to someone they care about.” I say “When it happens to someone else, it doesn’t feel as important as when it happens to someone we love.”

I can’t speak for the representation in this book, but I will link some reviews below that you should check out. What I can speak on is my own coming out. I was really blessed to not had a parent who was homophobic or reject my bisexuality in the way Nishat’s parents reject her. However, I’m Apache and coming out to my aunts and my uncle as two-spirited, it was something that still impacts me now. They still have a hard time processing that I like both men and women, they constantly have homophobic slip ups, and I constantly get questioned on my choice for not marrying someone who’s also Native. So seeing Nishat’s grief of having to hide who she is and feel her heartache echoing through these pages just rippled through my soul, and I could relate so much to Nishat in those moments.

I think the main reason why this wasn’t a full five stars was due to some missing details. I feel like we didn’t see enough of Nishat’s friends. I know they’re side characters, but I feel like there should have been more engagement in conversation between them than what we really got in this book. The other issue I had was how Nishat’s parents all of a sudden started to support Nishat and her lesbian identity. I think I just wanted more conversations to happen between Nishat and her parents, but I did appreciate that we see Nishat’s parents taking the time to try and learn.

Overall, I really loved this book and even though I only gave it four stars, it’s still getting placed on my top books for 2020. This book has so many important topics and they deserve to have the spotlight that they deserve. I loved how deep this story dived and I loved the growth of the relationships and connections throughout this book. And I’m not going to lie, finally seeing the racism being challenged in this book made my heart swell. I truly loved this book and I think many readers are going to fall in love with this book, see themselves within the pages of this book, and I can’t wait to see what else this author has in store for us.

Below are some reviews to take a look at, but you should uplift their voices and support them as well!

🏵️ Fanna’s Review

🏵️ Zaheerah’s Review

🏵️ CW’s Review

🏵️ Jaime’s Review

🏵️ Sabrien’s Review

Read for Dragons & Tea Book Club August 2020 Pick 💚

|GoodReads|Instagram|YouTube|Wishlist|

Uncategorized

The Language of Ghosts by Heather Fawcett

GoodReads|Amazon|Barnes&Noble|BookDepository|IndieBound

ARC was provided by Harper Collins in exchange for an honest review.

This review is being published before the release date (September 8th, 2020)

Content/Trigger Warnings: Loss of a parent, grief, murder, death, scenes of spiders (for those with arachnophobia), human experimentation

I’m pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed this book! Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect from this book. All I needed to know was magic and a sea serpent that loves cake! What more could you possibly need? Apparently, we needed more because this book delivers so much more than those two elements.

“It was the raspberry sundae that did it.”

Our story follows Noa Marchena, an ex-princess who only wants two things; to restore her family to the throne and to prevent her brother, Julian, from being consumed by the dark powers he wields. Though these things are easier said than done. With her hands full from babysitting and a cake loving sea serpent, it makes being a royal advisor to her brother that much harder. And now that they know their enemies are searching for long-lost magical languages, Noa’s job just got that much harder.

Noa is quite the main character to follow. She’s the middle child of the the three siblings in this book and she’s quite the strategist of the family. Noa always seems to have her hands full with writing in the Chronicle, a book of record, and having to babysit her younger sister, Mite, when Julian isn’t teaching Mite how to practice her magical abilities or doing the important duties required of a ruler. Noa is the only one who doesn’t have any magical abilities or at least, she thinks she doesn’t. Once she uncovers she can speak one of the long-lost magical languages, Noa’s personality starts to change and we begin to see the flaws. And you know how I loved flawed characters.

This book is also broken down into three sections; Astrae, Evert, and Whelm. So below I’m going to give a spoiler free summary of each section.

Part I: Astrae

Astrae is actually a moving island that you can steer by a ship wheel and is also the island Noa and her siblings fled to for safety. Here the Marchena siblings have found refuge and made the island their base of operations to plan to reclaim their home, Florean. Even though Julian has bound a sea serpent to their island and has allies on the island who are willing to help, this doesn’t stop their enemy forces from finding a way to impact their defenses and cause chaos. After a batch of mysterious mangos arrive on the island, suddenly defenses are becoming corrupted and the enemies armies have found their new safe haven. And now it’s up to Noa to save the whole island or be destroyed by the enemies who have taken everything away from them.

“That was when she realized two things at once: One, she was reading a magical language. And two, the man in the gray robe was standing right in front of her.”

Part II: Evert

After the chaos the enemy armies have left, Noa, Julian, and Mite walk around the island to assess the damage that’s been done. The outcome isn’t good, but despite the damage, they were able to learn that the enemy forces are searching for the lost magical languages. So they set sail for an unmarked island known as Evert to find one of the lost magical languages. And once they uncover it, Noa’s curiosity gets the better of her, only leading to a great discovery. We also see Noa’s personality begin to change which seems to put her into some dicey situations.

Part III: Whelm

Once Noa gets out of a really dangerous situation, she seems to find herself in another difficult situation. This time, she ends up losing one of the lost languages and thus, the enemy soon descends upon them. And the final battle will be one you’ll never forget!

I truly loved the world building throughout this book. I especially loved the way the magic languages came to life throughout this book. There’s a lot of mystery and something so exciting about it all. And can I take a moment to appreciate the otters in this book?! They’re the cutest and I loved how the author made them to be fluid between words, how they’re the only creature with that ability. I love that so, so much!

And of course, I have to tell you how much I feel in love with the sibling bonds. Despite how much they get on each others’ nerves, at the end of the day they would do anything to protect one another. And it felt like a true sibling relationship between all three of the Marchena siblings. They annoy each other, they get frustrated with one another, and they love each other so much that they do things to protect each other. We also see how they feel disconnected from one another and I really appreciated that.

My one real issue with this book was Mite’s chapters of her point of view. We only receive a few of these chapters and I felt like we could have done without them. Not to mention, for those who have a fear of spiders like myself, these chapters are laced with spider content. So I’m not the biggest fan of these, personally, but I think many readers will appreciate. Just know these chapters do have spider content.

Overall, I really enjoyed this. As I mentioned, I didn’t know what to expect going in except magic and a sea serpent. I just loved it and it’s such a fast read! I wasn’t it expecting it to fly by so fast. There’s definitely a presence of needing to know what will happen next and I think many readers are going to love this book come fall. And there’s also an old, lazy dragon who acts like a cat! Come on, content for the heart! Truly, a great read for those who like fast paced fantasies!

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

|GoodReads|Instagram|YouTube|Wishlist|