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Get A Life Chloe Brown (The Brown Sisters #1) by Talia Hibbert

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Content/Trigger Warnings: Chronic pain, abandonment, anxiety, domestic abuse, minor talk of imposter syndrome

“Bravery wasn’t an identity, so much as a choice.”

I feel like my heart might combust from how much I loved this book. Setting this book down, only when I needed sleep. I mainly picked this book up because of the representation in this book, but I wasn’t expecting to fall in love with this book so hard. My first Talia Hibbert book and I’m completely hooked!

Get A Life Chloe Brown is an ownvoices story about a a main character named Chloe Brown, a plus-sized Black woman who has fibromyalgia and chronic pain. After having a near death accident, Chloe has decided that it’s high time she gets a life. Thus, her ‘Get a Life’ bucket list was born! So she packs up and moves to an apartment complex. The complex is the perfect fresh start to her ‘Get a Life’ bucket list, but there’s just one problem… his name is Red Morgan. Leaving the past behind him, Red just wants to start over and heal from the aftermath of his past abusive relationship. He’s handsome, charming, and the superintendent of his best friend’s apartment complex building. Everyone seems to love him, everyone except Chloe. Then one day, fate makes their paths cross in the unlikeliest way (with one cat stuck up in a tree) and soon they’ve worked out a deal. Chloe will build Red a website and in exchange, he helps her with her ‘Get a Life’ list.

I loved Chloe Brown as a main character! Not only is she’s so brilliantly smart, but she’s brave, sassy, and such a nerdy gamer girl! It was impossible for me not to love her especially as the female love interest. But the main reason I took such an interest in wanting to read this book was the chronic illness and pain representation. I’ve mentioned this a few times, but I do live with chronic pain and chronic illness. Seeing the way the author handled chronic pain and chronic illness in this book with Chloe, it’s so spot on. I haven’t really read any books that have really show how people living with chronic pain and illness live day to day, how they feel, and the reality of how it impacts relationships. I felt so scene and every time something would happen with Chloe, it hit me in all the soft spots of my heart.

“When she was sick and tired of being sick and tired, she clung to moments like this : The first shower after a flare-up.

Bliss should be held on to with both hands.”

Also, can we take a moment to appreciate the plus-sized representation in this book? As a plus-sized reader, I loved the way the author took time to really show Chloe is confident in her body size, how she’s desired by the love interest by her curves, but I think the most important thing I really loved about this book is zero moments of Chloe’s size holding her back or impacting her negatively. I adored how the author handled the plus-sized representation and this is probably going to be one of my favorite plus-sized representations in romance, thus far!

If you’re a lover of enemies to lovers relationships, then you’re going to love this book. I think enemies to lovers is one of my favorite tropes and Hibbert executes it so well. When I say it was near impossible to put this down because of the banter, the chemistry, and the misunderstandings, it was so good. Also, I loved the way it took a cat being stuck in a tree for them to start getting closer. The best way to really hook me, include any situation with a cat. That’s all you need to know.

I also really loved Red’s character. He’s very much a “bad boy”, but the way the author wrote him just stole my heart. He’s a complete cinnamon roll who takes great care about Chloe’s limitations. He’s never possessive or has a toxic demeanor about him, despite him coming off as intimidating and the hardships he’s experienced. He’s charming, respectful and he still visits his mother to check in on her. My heart! Plus, the banter he shares with Chloe and his nickname for her, all the love arrows in my soul!

“You were hurt, and you reacted. You were in an unhealthy situation in more ways than one, and you panicked and cleansed everything with fire. Don’t dismiss your emotions and your self-protection as just a fucked-up decision. Don’t reduce something so complex and real and important to nothing.”

I also want to take a moment to talk about the fact that Red’s character is healing and rebuilding after the trauma of his past abusive relationship. As someone who has survived many traumas, the way Red will have moments where he remembers the past or how he’ll compare Chloe to his ex, it’s all very accurate and well represented. What I loved most was how it not only addresses that the abuser in the relationship was Red’s ex-girlfriend (even more so since those relationships often get overlooked), but also that it shows that while someone can hurt you to the point of feeling broken in all the ways, someone can come along and help heal you from that. I also liked how the author included a flashback scene as well to show that domestic abuse can sometimes overlap into PTSD territory.

And of course, this wouldn’t be one of my true reviews if I didn’t talk about the family dynamic. I loved how Chloe’s family is so close and how they all try to look out for one another. I loved how Eve and Dani check in on Chloe, try to spend time with her, and just have that usual sisterly banter. I also loved how Chloe sought out wisdom from her grandmother, Gigi, for advice on love. Something about the elderly giving their wisdom to the younger generations just always melts my heart. And I loved how we see the family come together at the end. It really fills my heart with so much warmth to see the family dynamics in the book.

Overall, if you couldn’t tell, I’m head over heels for this book. I can’t wait to continue this series especially since there’s nothing but good things being said about the next book in the series. I had such a wonderful experience reading Talia’s book that it has me hooked on wanting to look into more of her books. If you were thinking about trying this series out, let me tell you, it’s worth it. It’s so, so worth it and I have no doubt you’ll love these characters as much as I do.

“Love is certainly never safe, but it’s absolutely worth it.”

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Beneath the Sugar Sky (Wayward Children, #3) by Seanan McGuire

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🚪 Every Heart A Doorway – ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

🚪 Down Among the Sticks and Bones – ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Talk of body image, fat phobia, talk of death, talk of murder, loss of a loved one, discussion of sex and nudity, mentions of racism, anxiety and panic attacks

Dearest readers, this was another fantastic book in the Wayward Children series! We get to see some of our favorites again, travel to new lands, and experience so much diversity. I had such a wonderful time reading this for Pride month and I truly enjoyed the whole experience reading this. If you haven’t started this series or heard of the Wayward Children series yet, then let this be the reason that you need to go check it out!

“There is kindness in the world, if we know how to look for it. If we never start denying it the door.”

If you’re new to the Wayward Children series, this series is based on portal fantasy, one of my favorite fantasy themes. We, as the readers, follow children who have traveled to the magical lands the doors conceal, but somehow found their way back into our world. Once back in our world, the majority of these children want nothing more than to return to the magical lands they once called home, thus Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children comes into the picture. A place where these children can either adapt to being back in our world or they simply wait for their doors to return, to call them home again. In this particular book, we’ll travel through various worlds, see some familiar faces, and meet some new characters we never had the chance to meet before.

“He liked the excuse to talk to people about their shared differences, which became their shared similarities when held up to the right light. They had all survived something. The fact that they had survived different somethings didn’t change the fact that they would always be, in certain ways, the same.”

🍬 Cora – Plus-sized, has anxiety, comes from the mermaid land, Beneath the Lake.

🍬 Nadya – Missing an arm, has an adoptive family, from the drowned world, Belyyreka.

🍬 Christopher – Mexican-American, had cancer, from the skeleton Underworld, Mariposa. (Off topic, but I love Christopher, I loved how he came into play in Every Heart A Doorway, and I’m hoping he gets his own book! I just want to see this cinnamon roll happy!)

🍬 Rini – Japanese, from a Candy Land/ Wonderland world, Confection.

🍬 Kade – Trans, from a warring Fairyland, Prism! (Another favorite that I hope we get to see so much more of! Can this cinnamon roll be happy too?!)

“It was like they had all learned to be a little kinder, or at least a little more careful about what they based their judgments on.”

As I mentioned, this book has a lot of portal worlds. Though we dabble in a few of them, a good portion of this book takes place in Confection, Sumi’s and Rini’s portal world. It’s a world that’s based off Candy Land, but has the same nonsense that Wonderland often displays.

Also, if you noticed my character breakdown, we have a wide variety of diversity and representation from the main characters just like in the first two books. From discussions of body image, race, physical disabilities, mental illness, sexuality, even religious representation, the Wayward Children series has everything you could want in it. And it’s woven so beautifully into each book. Each topic is always handled with love, care, and great knowledge. It never feels exploitative or degrading in any way. As a plus-size reader, I loved the way Cora talked about being plus-sized. It’s some of the best plus-sized representation I’ve seen in a while. Not going to lie, I shed a couple of tears because it felt like I was being seen with this book and I appreciated Cora’s character even more.

“That’s why people shouldn’t get too hung up on labels. Sometimes I think that’s part of what we do wrong. We try to make things make sense, even when they’re never going to.”

Overall, I truly loved this book with my whole heart. It’s whimsical, magical, full of moments that lighten the mood, acceptance and love, but just the right amount of importance. All the things you need to steal my breath and soul away. We also have some nods to Greek/Roman mythology with Hades and Persephone in this book, my soul just about died with the amount of love. I can’t wait to continue this series, to meet more characters, to travel through more doors, and to keep loving this series with my whole soul!

“There’s always more than one way to find something out. People only say there’s only one way when they want an excuse to do something incredibly stupid without getting called on it. There are lots of ways to find out, and some of them even involve not pissing off a man who goes by ‘the Lord of the Dead.”

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Lobizona (Wolves of No World, #1) by Romina Garber

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ARC was provided by NetGalley & Wednesday Books in exchanged for an honest review.

This review is being published before the release date (August 4th, 2020)

Content/Trigger Warnings: Anxiety, talk of claustrophobia, xenophobia, sexism, discussion of menstruation, bullying, drug trafficking, drugging, talk of postpartum depression, trauma, misogyny, scene of attempted sexual assault, forced marriage, minor homophobia

“I come alive on the full moon.”

Dearest readers, I’m so thankful that I received an arc of this book. Not to mention that I was able to buddy read this book with so many of my fellow friends and partners at the Social Distance Book Fest. This book was captivating, unique, and I literally took a couple of weeks just to put my thoughts in order, to write this review and tell you all about it.

Our story follows Manuela Azul, an undocumented immigrant, who had her whole life turned upside down. Secrets are now coming to light, with her grandmother in the hospital and her mother taken into custody, Manu has no other choice other than to run. Only fate will lead her to a place that allows her to be herself, trace her heritage, and uncover her own story.

I loved Manu as a main character. She’s very strong, independent, and even though it’s not shown enough (in my opinion), she’s very family oriented. She also has this free spirit about her that I absolutely adored. The way Garber shows Manu’s vulnerability with being so uncertain, not wanted people to get in too deep with her situation, and the scene where she tries to push everyone away… I couldn’t stop appreciating that side of her and those vulnerabilities really resonated with me. I’m very much a person who wants to protect the ones she loves and cares about. So seeing Manu’s internal conflict about what she should do and how she do it, it really hit my soft spots.

“Because you can’t be invisible when your irises are yellow suns and your pupils are silver stars.”

The side characters were fantastic. I loved the way there were so many different personalities and how they all meshed so well with one another. What I really loved about these characters was how a small handful of them had Manu’s back despite everything. I loved how Cata and Saysa were willing to help Manu stay in the bruja part of the school, but what I loved the most is how Cata and Saysa both represented the angel on one shoulder with the devil on the other. Not to mention, we’re made aware of it later on in the story, but they’re both in a secret relationship with one another. And I think the thought of their different personalities coming together in a relationship really made me love them even more. Then we have Tiago and this poor boy couldn’t catch a break. Manu kept cutting him off left and right. It about killed me having to watch this boy get crushed so many time especially after a special scene that shows us the feelings growing between Tiago and Manu. Plus, his personality mixes so well with the way Manu’s personality is throughout this story. It was great chemistry and I truly felt that they were a perfect match for one another.

I also loved the way the magic was shown throughout this book. For my reading experience, the magic and the world felt very ancient, something alive and breathing. That feeling became even more solid after Manu is told Lunaris is the home of all magic and how Lunaris ends up having a real conversation with Manu. Ten years were added to my life by all of this. And I truly believe it was a clever idea to give Lunaris the ability to have a persona and the ability to communicate. And can I talk about this world building for a second?! I loved the world building in this book. I’m very picky about fantasy and world building. If a book can’t rope me in within the first five chapters, I will probably struggle with reading the book. However, for my experience, Romina Garber really gave me a vivid experience. It felt like I was walking right beside Manu as she moved from different areas in the book. I adore and crave books that can give me the vivid experience. And I think the author did a marvelous job delivering that expectation for me.

“You seek to discover your true home, yet you no longer have one… You have two.”

This book also addresses many important issues, as well. There’s a huge discussion of immigration and about ICE which overlaps a lot with what’s happening in today’s time. I don’t want to speak too much on that because that’s not my story to tell. However, if this is an own voices read for you and you have a review for this book, talking about your own experiences, please send me a link so I can help boost your voice and story. This book also addresses the topic of gender and gender identity. This is another important topic that sparks many arguments and conversations today. Even though there has been so much progress, there’s many places where gender restrictions is still a thing or an issue. In the the same area, we have the relationship with Cata and Saysa where they have to hide their love and relationship because it’s illegal for them to be open about it. Once again, even though the lgbtqiap+ community has made great strides and helped the world progress so much, there are many places in the world where it’s illegal to be open about same sex relationships. So I really appreciated Romina Garber adding these topics in because they’re still important issues that exist today and it’s not talked about enough.

“Fierro valued every life, wanted the best for everyone no matter if they were lobizones, brujas, or humans.”

I also want to mention that any reader should practice self-care while reading this book. There are a lot of content warnings, but I want to point out that there is a scene of attempted rape and as a rape survivor myself, that scene left me very uneasy and how it went unchallenged. I would have liked to see it challenged more or see some form of punishment happen. While I realize this is to show how society handles sexual assault and rape situations, I feel like it could have been challenged more. As I mentioned, just practice self-care and step back when you need to while reading this book.

I think the biggest issue I had with this book and the reason why I couldn’t give this a full five stars was the translated Spanish. And what I mean by that is Romina Garber’s personality is very un-apologetically Latinx, but when you read this book, it’s anything but. Now, I’ve seen many authors who are un-apologetically whatever heritage they are in books. Julie Kagawa is one of the of the best examples I can think of because she uses a lot of Japanese words and saying in her books, but she doesn’t explain it every time she uses them in her Shadow of the Fox series. She has a glossary in the back of her book for readers to constantly reference. Then you also have the matter of Google which is there for a reason. Now, I could understand if the author was explaining the sentences to add to the world building, however, I thought the world building was beautifully done. So the fact that every time there’s a Spanish sentence spoken and then immediately translated right after it’s said was very surprising for me. I truly would have loved to have seen the author run wild with the Spanish, without translating it, and leaving a glossary or dictionary piece in the back of her book. I would have loved to have seen the editing process for this book because I truly believe the translations didn’t need to be added. In my opinion, the world building speaks for itself and I would rather have the author be un-apologetic about their heritage and culture then see them feel obligated to translate it.

Overall, I really enjoyed my time reading this Lobizona. I loved how there was such emphasis on family and how important it is, I fell madly in love with the world building and characters, and I think many readers are going to be putting this on their top books for 2020. I’m truly hoping more readers will pick this book up, preorder it, and get as excited as I am about this book. However, now that I’ve finished reading the first book, I need the second one immediately. Can I have it already?!

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

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Soul of the Sword (Shadow of the Fox #2) by Julie Kagawa

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🌸 Shadow of the Fox – ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Death, murder, graphic violence & injuries, grief, loss of a loved one, death of a animal, war themes, threats of torture, and much more!

“All souls have a destiny. Some are simply brighter than others.”

It’s no secret that I fell in love with Julie Kagawa and her captivating writing in 2019 when I first read Shadow of the Fox. I loved it so much that I knew from the moment I read the first page that I would be continuing the series. And I’m so glad that I did! Book Two had so many surprises, a lot of tension, and many question on how the end game will conclude. Needless to say, book two was everything I wanted and more!

Just when she thought it couldn’t get any worse, Hakaimono has returned and Tatsumi is gone. After saving Master Jiro, everything seems to have taken a turn for the worst. Our band of heroes now knows Yumeko’s biggest secret, Hakaimono has been unleash into the world, and they seem further away from completely their goal then they ever could have imagined. Despite the challenges they face, they will continue to travel and fight side by side. But in the shadows, a dark presence is rising and will stop at nothing to have all pieces of the Dragon Scroll.

👹 Yumeko – Raised by monks in the Temple of the Silent Winds, half kitsune, who is a lot better at illusions than she gives herself credit to. Soon she finds her life thrown into chaos as her only home is ripped away from her by the destruction of an army of demons. Now she will embark on a quest to a hidden temple to bring half of the ancient scroll to safety.

👹 Tatsumi – Samurai/Shanobi of the Shadow Clan, one of the most feared and deadliest warriors and demon slayers ever, even though he is very young. Wielding the blade of Hakaimono, a sword sealed with one of the most deadliest demon generals of his time, Kamigoroshi, Tatsumi is constantly tested with how strong his will is. Sent on a mission by his clan to retrieve a piece of the ancient scroll by any means, instead he finds Yumeko and makes a promise to deliver her to the hidden temple in exchange for the scroll. Only now, Tatsumi has been completely taken over by Hakaimono because love can make even the most disciplined person crumble.

👹 Suki – Bits and pieces of her were sprinkled throughout the first book, but now we see her playing a roll in this book as well. Daughter of a celebrated flute maker, Suki is shipped off to work as the new maid for the favored concubine of the emperor to live a better life than running his shop. Suki was turned into a sacrifice, now a spirit that continues to cling to the mortal world, only she’ll play a much larger role than she ever imagined.

👹 Seigetsu – We meet Seigetsu in the first book when he first encounters Yumeko and saves her from a terrible situation. Now, we see him playing a bigger role in book two. He’s still a mysterious person, but we now come to know that he’s a master of shogi and is able to know about events in the future with his companion, Taka.

👹 Hakaimono – The sealed within his own sword, Kamigoroshi, Hakaimono was one of the deadliest demon generals of his time. And now he’s finally on the rise after he’s possessed Tatsumi’s body.

👹 Reika – The priestess from the Sun Clan’s territory. Agreed to come along with Yumeko and the others to find Mast Jiro, and save him from whatever trouble he would be in. Now, she travels to ensure the piece of the Dragon Scroll is delivered to the Steel Feather Temple.

👹 Master Jiro – Head priest of the temple in Sun Clan territory. Ended up being taken captive in the first book. Now he travels with Yumeko, Reika, and the others to lead the way to the Steel Feather Temple.

👹 Okame – Often referred to as Ronin, but is actually the sweetest and a damn good shot in archery. Originally a bandit, but changed his tune after Yumeko showed him kindness, compassion, and understanding. Having nothing better to do, he decides to join the team. He’s snarky, witty, and secretly a cinnamon role.

👹 Daisuke – A noble who was once as a great samurai who fought fighters for passage on a bridge, but after meeting Tatsumi, he was unable to fulfill the greatest battle of all. Now, he travels with this unlikely group of friends. Even after finding out Yumeko is a kisune, he still swears his sword to her and promises to protect her as she travels to the Steel Feather Temple. He’s also a complete romantic and is sweet on one of the traveling companions.

I love these characters with every fiber in my being. Even Hakaimono has a piece of my heart and I know he’s one of the deadliest demon generals, but… I just love him and despite it all, I bet he’s a secret cinnamon roll (probably not, but one can hope). Every part with these characters is just fantastic, including when we flash from the three povs. Each pov was executed so well and no matter who’s perspective we were in, as the reader, we get to see the full picture with all the side characters.

Speaking of the characters, Daisuke and Okame threw me for a loop! They couldn’t be more different from each other, but they both shine in their own ways. However, I never realized how well their conversations between one another melt together so well. And their scenes together are so good. There’s warmth, there’s tension, they challenge each other, and they’re just an all around good time!

We also branch away from the Tatsumi perspective and instead get Hakaimono. Now that was a wild ride. I’ll admit, I was secretly hoping Kagawa would take this series it there and have Hakaimono take full control of Tatsumi’s body, but the way she made Hakaimono’s point of view so enthralling, we love to see it. We also see what Tatsumi is like since Hakaimono has taken over his body. When Yumeko goes to find Tatsumi’s soul in the dream world, we see how much Tatsumi has suffered. That was the moment, the moment I realized I want Tatsumi to be happy and to watch him flourish into everything he could be outside of his clan.

“But then, he let out a breath, and it seemed to release all the fear, uncertainty, horror and doubt of the past nightmare. He crushed me to his chest, clinging to me like a lifeline, like I was his sanity and he was afraid I would abandon him.”

I also loved how we see Yumeko really come into her kitsune side. Yumeko clings to her humanity in this series, but in Soul of the Sword, her character development is fantastic. In the first book, Yumeko was very timid and didn’t use her powers that often. In this book, that isn’t the case. Yumeko does whatever she can to keep her friends safe, she learns how powerful and deadly her powers can be, and she uses them to save Tatsumi. I have no doubt that in the final book we’ll see her be taken to a whole new height as she’s forced to use ever ounce of kitsune magic to protect her loved ones and the entire country.

Also, how dare Kagawa give us an ending like that! I think I choked on my drink several times reading the last handful chapters. I knew things were going to get really intense, but I never thought it would go the way that it did. This is probably one of my favorite endings in any series I’ve read so far. True blessings for such high stakes and surprises. And I’ll admit that there were a few parts I should have seen coming, but I was so wrapped up in all the chaos and Tatsumi/Hakaimono that I was hardly registering anything else.

I truly loved everything about this book and I don’t want to reveal too much especially if you haven’t read the first book yet. However, if you were expecting this book to follow the romance between Tatsumi and Yumeko, then you’re going to be disappointed. The romance has never been the main focus of this series, but it’s a key factor in the story-line. I went in knowing that it wasn’t focused on the romance and I still loved it so much. I still have questions I want answers to! Don’t get me wrong, I love a good romance, but the story-line, plot, and world building is so good that it doesn’t matter to me if there’s a romance or not. If you think you need the romance to keep you motivated to read this book, the romance is still there, but it’s not so heavily focused or even as obvious as it was in book one.

“My master used to say, sometimes a whisper is all that is required to calm a storm, but when words fail, sometimes you need the thunder.”

Overall, I have heard the good and bad about this book, but I still fell in love with it just like the first book. I loved the world building, I see every ounce of Japanese mythology that went into this, and I just really, really love this series. If you haven’t picked this series up then let me tell you that you should. Even if you’re not much of a fantasy reader, I believe any kind of reader can find something that they’ll really love and appreciate in this series.

Read for the Asian Readathon 🏮

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The Perfect Hope (Inn Boonsboro Trilogy, #3) by Nora Roberts

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💐 The Next Always (InnBoonsBoro Trilogy, #1) | ⭐⭐⭐⭐

💐 The Last Boyfriend (InnBoonsBoro Trilogy, #2)| ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Death, loss of a loved one, talk of cheating & adultry, toxic relationship, talk of parental abuse, scene of assault, scene of graphic war themes (Ryder’s dream)

We have finally reached the end of this trilogy. I just don’t want this series to end, ever. I love these characters, this town, and just every bit that went into making this trilogy. I say this all the time, but this really is a great series to read if you’re new to Nora Robert’s work. I truly love this series and it will always have a piece of my heart.

If you haven’t guessed by now, we’re following Hope Beaumont and Ryder Montgomery in this book. Hope was recruited by Avery MacTavish and Clare Brewster to move to BoonsBoro to be the inn keeper at Inn BoonsBoro. Even though her friends are happy to have her and Justine is thrilled to have such a confident inn keeper, Ryder Montgomery is anything but happy about it all. Of all the Montgomery boys, Ryder is the hardest nut to crack. He’s anti-social and can’t see Hope as anything other than a city girl. But after a New Year’s kiss, things have somehow shifted between the unlikely pair and soon they’ll realize what their hearts’ desires are.

“Time with a friend was as refreshing as a nap.”

💐 Hope Beaumont – The inn keeper for the newly redesigned Inn BoonsBoro by the Montgomery. Recently moved to BoonsBoro for a fresh start and the former manager of a D.C. hotel. She’s confident, independent, and right where she wants to be in life…except for in the love department. And constantly sparring with Ryder Montgomery.

💐 Ryder Montgomery – The hardest, most stubborn, alpha male of the Montgomery family. He’s anti-social and hard to figure out, but he’s honest and fair. But there’s only one person who gets under his skin and her name is Hope Beaumont.

💐 Elizabeth/Eliza – The spirit who lives at the historical inn the Montgomery family is fixing up. Waiting at the inn for her Billy to return to her.

💐 Justine Montgomery – Sassy mother of the Montgomery brothers and the head boss over every project the Montgomery boys take on.

💐 Beckett & Own Montgomery – Brothers to Owen Montgomery, Beckett the architect and husband to Clare Brewster/Montgomery, father of three boys and Owen the organizer of the Montgomery family and engaged to Avery MacTavish.

💐 Clare Brewster/Montgomery & Avery MacTavish – Best friends to Hope. Clare is the wife of Beckett Montgomery, mother of three boys with an exciting bundle of love on the way and Avery is the fiance of Owen Montgomery, owner of MacT’s Restaurant and Tap Room.

I say this all the time as well. I love these characters. They’re fantastic and I swear, Justine is such a delightful, sassy, take no b.s. character that I absolutely love. They’re wonderful in their own ways and they’re always there for one another. Even more so in this book. We really see how everyone rallies to Hope and how Ryder stands by her in very specific moments.

“It’s never simple.” Avery slid an arm around Hope’s waist. “It shouldn’t be. Because being with someone should matter enough to be at least a little bit complicated.”

I’m not going to lie, I loved the way Hope and Ryder somehow balance each other out and are exactly what one another need. Hope can handle herself and throw it right back at Ryder when he’s being alpha. She challenges him, gets under his skin, but despite all that, she’s drawn to him because he’s stable and honest. Ryder drives Hope up a wall, always assumes she’s just a city girl, but he’s drawn to her for her strong will and independence. Not to mention, their intimacy and chemistry is 10/10.

Of course, I have to talk about the sense of family and community in this book. Being that this is in a small town setting, it’s very much small town vibes. I really wanted to point this out because even though Hope has Avery and Clare, she’s essentially still on her own in a new environment. So when a certain incident arises in this book, we really see how the Montgomery family flocks to her defense and surrounds her in that family love. I love books that that sense of family and community, the way they rally to someone who has carved out a space of importance.

“But you stand up for me. You tell me the truth. You make me laugh, and you make me want. You let me be and feel who I am. And you fell in love with me even when you didn’t want to.”

We finally get a conclusion for Eliza and Billy in this book. We learn all about them, their story, and we receive a final closing moment with Eliza and all the main characters. While I’m still not a fan of the paranormal element, I liked how their story was wrapped up.

However, I do want to take a moment to address Ryder’s dream though. First, please make sure you practice self-care when you read that section. Most importantly, this is probably the most conflicting thing that could have been added into this book. Despite the paranormal element and how I dislike it, I liked that so much more than this one scene. Now, it might be reading too much into it, but this was an indirect way of trying to represent trauma and possible PTSD. Basically, Ryder is “dreaming” yet he’s really reliving someone’s trauma and death during the war. For those who don’t know, those who suffer with PTSD or trauma can have flashbacks while they sleep. After this dream concludes, Ryder exhibits all the reactions of someone who just had a flashback. He’s woke up drenched in sweat, his heart was pounding, even when he talks with his family later on he says it felt so vivid, like he was living through it. I completely understand why we learned about this person’s death through Ryder’s “dream.” However, a character shouldn’t be having traumatic or PTSD flashbacks if they have never experienced trauma or have PTSD. There has never, ever been any indication that Ryder experienced something traumatic and there has never, in the whole trilogy, been a statement that Ryder has PTSD. So, I was not a fan of this particular scene and truly wish that whole scene had be executed in a completely different way.

Overall, I still enjoyed this book despite the paranormal element and despite the conflict with the trauma/PTSD representation in this book. The epilogue in this book is also lovely. It’s about Avery and Owen’s wedding. However, I’m still holding on to a glimmer of hope that one day we’ll get a novella about Hope and Ryder’s wedding. Fingers crossed. But I can’t recommend this trilogy enough. I love it with my whole heart and I’m constantly recommending it to fellow readers.

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The Last Boyfriend (Inn BoonsBoro Trilogy, #2) by Nora Roberts

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💐 The Next Always (Inn BoonsBoro Trilogy, #1) – ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warning: Loss of a loved one, minor obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), talk of cheating/adultry, talk of abortion, talk of divorce, grief

Friends, this is probably my favorite out of all three of the books in this trilogy. I usually don’t like having favorites when I a trilogy or series, but this book just has my whole heart, and hits so close to home. And even though there’s the paranormal element in this book, it doesn’t have such a huge role in this books as it does with the other two books. And I just really love how Avery and Owen remind me of the way my spouse and I came into each other’s lives. I just love this book so, so much!

💐 Avery MacTavish – Owner of the popular pizza place, but has plans to run her own restaurant one day and wants nothing more than to play her part in helping the Montgomery family. Only she never planned for her feelings for Own Montgomery to be in the picture.

💐 Owen Montgomery – The softest, most organized boy and probably my favorite Montgomery boy. He has minor OCD and shows how things have to be done a certain way or it’s the highway. And in all his organization and needing to have a plan for everything, he never planned for Avery MacTavish to shake things up every plan he’s ever had.

💐 Elizabeth/Eliza – The spirit who lives at the historical inn the Montgomery family is fixing up. Waiting at the inn for her Billy to return to her.

💐 Justine Montgomery – Sassy mother of the Montgomery brothers and the head boss over every project the Montgomery boys take on.

💐 Beckett & Ryder Montgomery – Brothers to Owen Montgomery, Beckett the architect and husband to Clare Brewster/Montgomery, father of three boys and Ryder the muscles, the alpha male, of the Montgomery family.

💐 Clare Brewster/Montgomery & Hope Beaumont – Best friends to Avery. Clare is the wife of Beckett Montgomery, mother of three boys with an exciting bundle of love on the way and Hope just moved from D.C. to BoonsBoro, who now works as the inn keeper.

“Love runs the engine”

We follow Avery MacTavish who has never had any time to slow down. She runs the local pizza shop that always seems to be busy and every once in a while does she get a short pause to enjoy the little things in life. With a plan in mind, she wants nothing more than to take over an empty lot, the Montgomery family purchased, to turn into the restaurant of her dreams. But despite all of her planning, she never imagine Owen Montgomery, her lifelong crush, to play such a huge roll in her future. Owen Montgomery has had everything planned down to the final details with a backup plan in store. While the inn keeps him busy, he can’t stop his eyes or his mind from wandering to Avery MacTavish. Despite all of his fine planning, he never imagined Avery coming into to life and shaking up every plan for the future he’s ever had. Together, they’ll navigate what it means to be in a relationship and show each other that their future plans can include one another.

I said this before with the first book, but I’ll say it again here, I love all of these characters. They’re so thoroughly developed and you really get a feeling of who they are as individuals, but also when certain characters come together into the relationships forming. I also really love how we have a character who has some obsessive compulsive disorder aspects. Even though it’s minor, it’s still nice to see that kind of representation.

Of course, I have to talk about the family dynamics. Oh wow, when I say this book hits close to home, damn if it doesn’t hit close to home. For starters, Justine Montgomery is a character that deserves so much praise. Not only is she a widow and raise her three boys into wonderful men, but she’s a business woman and doesn’t tolerate any b.s. from anyone. She also talks about what it means to want companionship after the death of her husband. This leads to her having a conversation with Owen about her expressing her feelings and how she wants to have some fun in her life again, with a certain Will B. MacTavish, Avery’s father. Speaking of the MacTavish family, Avery’s mother walked out of her life at a very young age and was raised by her father, Willy B. Every time I read about Avery being raised by her father, my heart gets all warm for all the dad parents out there who are doing it all on their own. Single dads don’t get the spotlight they truly deserve and I’m glad we have such a strong, positive father-daughter relationship in this book. And when I mean this book hits close to home, even though I was raised in a single mother household, my father walked out on my life at a young age too. So it lands a certain way especially after Avery’s mother does come back into the picture and boy, it hit so hard. So you really see some great family dynamics in this book and I’m just really appreciative that there’s so much positivity, but it also shows the reality and the hardships that come with them.

What I love most about this book is the way Owen and Avery balance each other out. They’re so similar, yet so different in so many ways. Together, they’re like this unstoppable force that keep each other held together with love and determination. Without Owen, Avery would probably run herself into the ground and without Avery, Owen would never branch outside of his plans. Out of all of the couples in this trilogy, I truly love and appreciate the way Owen and Avery work. Plus, their conversations and the way their intimate scenes are set up, they hit all my expectations. And I also have to appreciate the way Avery’s father reminds Owen that even though she has the nickname, “Little Red Engine,” she still has bruises deep within her and Owen really provides a space where Avery can drop all her barriers, to show her vulnerable side.

“I want you to be careful with her, Owen. She’s had other boyfriends, but you’re different. You’ve got history and connections, and she’s had a sweet-on going. She’s tough, my girl, but she’s got places that bruise easy. It’s easy to forget that, so…don’t. I guess that’s it.”

This book also tackles so many important things that I don’t often find in the romance books I read. We really see Avery and Owen try to navigate what it means to love someone since childhood into adulthood and more so from Avery’s part, but trying to believe you’re worthy of love when someone who should have loved you and been there for you, rejects you. Now, I also want to state a warning, there is also a scene where abortion is talked about and it brings up a lot of discussion of pro-choice, pro-life, and when we should or shouldn’t include someone in these situations. I’m not going to talk about my feelings or opinions on that one, but there’s a whole scene of that in the book and it’s there to spark neutral discussion. I’ll just say this, there’s a lot of themes revolving around Avery’s mother that are there to spark discussion among readers.

“No matter how bad things are, and sometimes they were bad in our house, you want your mother to be there, to love you. And when she doesn’t, you feel . . . less.”

The only reason this book didn’t get the five stars is of course, the paranormal element. I truly believe this would have been better without the paranormal element. While it doesn’t bother me that it’s there, it feels like it’s unnecessary at times. However, I understand why the paranormal element was thrown in and I know many readers love it. For this particular series, the paranormal element just doesn’t work for me. If you’re not a fan of paranormal elements, out of all the books in this trilogy, this book has the least amount of paranormal in it.

Overall, I love this series so much and I really love this particular book. I just really love the positive representation of family dynamics, the way Owen and Avery mesh so well together, and of course, Justine Montgomery throwing her wild business plans all over the place. It’s just a really fun time and it’s just my favorite of all three of these books. I mentioned in my review of the first book that I get asked about Nora Roberts all the time and I truly think this is one of the best series you should read if you’re new to Nora Roberts. It’s just a great way to be introduced to her writing and the way she tends to write couples. Ugh, I truly love this series with my whole heart.

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The Adventure Zone: Murder on the Rockport Limited! by Clint McElroy, Griffin McElroy, Justin McElroy, Travis McElroy, & Carey Pietsch

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🗡️ The Adventure Zone: Here There Be Gerblins – ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Talk of death, murder, depiction of decapitation, swearing

Friends, if you thought I was just going to stop with the first book of this series then you thought wrong! My inner nerd is screeching at high levels because of this book, for so many reasons. My number one, favorite thing in adventure books is a good murder mystery. Needless to say, I was hooked from the very title and it just gets better the minute you open the page. I’m not kidding, if you have checked The Adventure Zone out yet, then you need to go look into it, immediately!

If you couldn’t guess by now, this book follows our main characters after they decided to join The Bureau of Balance, to help save the world and maintain, well, balance. Our heroes have been made reclaimers, they retrieve artifacts that could threaten the very existence of the world they live in. Upon receiving their new jobs, they are thrust into a new mission, to locate and retrieve a new artifact that’s more dangerous than the last they encountered. Now they’re on the Rockport Limited trying to locate the artifact only to be thrown into a murder mystery. Not only will they have to protect the world this time, but they’ll have to protect the innocent passengers of the train from a serial killer

🚂 Griffin McElroy – Dugeon Master; podcasting, karaoke, weaving a rich tapestry of drama

🚂 Magnus Burnsides – Human Fighter; battle, carpentry, everything else…apparently

🚂 Taako – Elf Wizard; spell-casting, transmutation, gastronomy

🚂 Merle Highchurch – Dwarf Cleric; healing…supposedly, now specializes in nature domain

From the dungeon master to our side characters, you will absolutely fall in love with each and every one of them. In the first book we were introduced to our main characters, Magnus, Taako, and Merle, but now we have an array of different characters. In the beginning of this book, not only do we get a recap of everything that happened, but we get reintroduced to The Director who is the head of The Bureau of Balance and Killian, the orc warrior we met in the first book. While they only play minor roles in this book, they’re both important characters to the overall story. Our side characters, however, are fantastic! Many readers are going to fall in love with Angus McDonald (the world’s greatest detective), Graham (a human wizard with an obsession of trains), and Jess the Beheader (prized fighter, weilds an axe that’s soul bound to her). They all great characters in their own way and I absolutely adored the various personalities they added into this adventure.

“Like I said, I am the world’s greatest detective and I am on the trail of a serial killer named… the Rockport Slayer.”

I think I say this all the time with any nerdy read, but this graphic novel was like coming home. This is a series filled with content that I’m more than familiar with. I play video games, I do LARPing, I do cosplay, I have also played plenty of D&D in my time, and reading The Adventure Zone reminds me of how much I love all of those things. So yes, every time I open the pages to these books, it’s like opening the front door and greeting my family, saying I love you to the person I am, and just acknowledging that these are things that I love, and I don’t want to lose that feeling, ever. So, I think for many readers who have a nerdy side to them, who love D&D, love a wild adventure that will hold your attention for days, I think readers will fall in love with The Adventure Zone as much as I have. Plus, dad jokes!

“Admittedly… This looks cool… But STILL! This is stupidly dangerous and he’s probably gonna die! That’s our boy!”

Of course, like the first book, this book is filled with so many things hilarious things and though book two has some serious elements, I still found myself wrapped up in giggles. There are so many great moments that are hilarious, awe striking, and moments that will twist your gut, but you can’t help loving it all. It’s the perfect balance of so many good elements and I think it’ll be easy for many readers to get wrapped up in this story.

And if you haven’t seen the stunning art for this series yet, then you really need to pick up a physical copy! The art style is absolutely stunning and constantly keeps my attention on the pages, lingering just a little longer before turning the page. I truly believe the art is one of my favorite things about this series and it’s so easy to feel a certain way on each panel. It’s perfect in every way and choosing one panel to love more than the other is so so difficult. It truly is enthralling.

Overall, I love this series and I’m patiently waiting for the third book to come out. Yes, that’s right, book three is coming out in July of this year! I’m so excited and I can’t wait for it to be here! We don’t have any details on what it’s about, but hopefully all the questions we had from this book will be answered in the next. Seriously, I can’t recommend this series enough. It’s a piece of my heart and I truly hope you’ll pick it up as soon as you can!

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The Next Always (Inn BoonsBoro Trilogy #1) by Nora Roberts

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Content/Trigger Warnings: Death/loss of a loved one, grief, assault, talk of domestic violence, misogynistic language, sexist language, stalking

“I’ve wanted to be with you when I didn’t have the right to.”

Friends, if you’ve been here a while then you probably already know I’m a reader of Nora Roberts. Yes, yes, I know. I have heard it all. That’s not the point. I grew up on Nora Roberts. In fact, I’m a third generation reader of Nora Roberts so it’s only natural that I would read her books. So if you’re one of many who have followed me from the very beginning, then you probably already know what I’m about to say. That I love the Inn BoonsBoro series with my whole heart and soul, and if you were thinking about trying to read some books by Nora Roberts, the Inn BoonsBoro trilogy is a perfect place to start!

💐 Beckett Montgomery – Architect in the Montgomery family, social life consists of talking shop over pizza and beer with his brothers, and has been waiting to kiss Clare Brewster since they were sixteen.

💐 Clare Brewster – Widowed mother of three, Harry, Liam, and Murphy, runs the town bookstore, and absolutely in love with the inn the Montgomery family is fixing up and might be falling in love with a certain architect.

💐 Sam Freemont – The antagonist, a know womanizer and abusive partner known among BoonsBoro town folk, has his eyes set on Clare and refuses to take the hint of rejection, but soon starts forming a plan.

💐 Elizabeth – The spirit who lives at the historical inn the Montgomery family is fixing up.

💐 Justine Montgomery – Sassy mother of the Montgomery brothers and the head boss over every project the Montgomery boys take on.

💐 Owen & Ryder Montgomery – Brothers to Beckett Montgomery, Owen the organizer, the softest boy, and Ryder the muscles, the alpha male, of the Montgomery family.

💐 Avery MacTavish & Hope Beaumont – Best friends to Clare Brewster. Avery owns the local pizza shop and Hope just moved from D.C. to BoonsBoro for a fresh start.

I love all of these characters (except Sam Freemont)! They’re wonderful, they truly paint the picture of a family who takes care of one another no matter what. It was everything my heart needed and loves to read about! Plus, the family dynamics are wonderful and shows them in such positive lights.

“That’s possible to likely. We’re involved, you and me. I’m telling you what I’m going to do because I figure when people are involved, when they matter, they tell each other.”

The Next Always follow our two main characters, Beckett Montgomery and Clare Brewster, as they navigate the challenges in their life, but navigate the road of romance to find one another. Beckett is trying to manage the challenges that come with rebuilding an inn, but also navigating the heart of a widowed mother who is too busy to consider love and romance. Clare is a busy mom of three sons, the owner of the local bookstore, and dealing with a creep who won’t take no for an answers. The last thing Clare has on her mind is starting a romance with anyone, let alone Beckett Montgomery, but sometimes the heart wants what it wants.

I say this all the time, I love this trilogy, the characters, the world building, and relationships. For those who didn’t know, the inn that’s talked about throughout this whole trilogy is an actual inn in BoonsBoro, Maryland that you can stay at or tour. While I haven’t been there myself, just from the photos alone and their website, it looks like an absolute dream!

This book also discusses many topics. For example, what it means to leave home to start a family and when it feels like you have no place to go, you can always go back home. That’s one of the main themes throughout this book, no matter what, you can always go home. This book also talks about what it means to be a single parent and how there are many challenges a single parent faces. I do say it often, I am from a single parent home and I watched my parent struggle with fiances, dating, and feeling like the only person they could rely on was themselves. And I think Clare’s character really opens the floor up for discussion for single parents and the hardships they may face.

“Harry, I promised you something. I said I’d clear it with you before I asked your mom to marry me. I need you to tell me it’s okay if I do.”

I also really love how you get the true feeling of small community and small town vibes with this book. When you read this book, you get a sense of everyone looks after one another. Also true to small towns, you pick up on how fast “gossip” flies around BoonsBoro in this book. Not only that, the description of the book store, the pizza shop, and the inn are so vividly described that it feels like you’re walking around BoonsBoro.

I also want to take a moment to talk about the problem with Sam Freemont and the way Clare handles the situation with Sam Freemont. I think this might be something that causes a lot of readers to have an issue with this book or cause dislike. So, I thought I would come in and give a little perspective from someone who has experienced the things Sam Freemont does is this book. Of course, please make sure you practice self-care while reading the sections. Sam Freemont is a character in this book who has always been given everything he wants and if he can’t have it, he takes it. Sam’s character starts off as a narcissist, but over time escalates to stalker, but eventually develops to showing signs of psychopathic traits. Sam refuses to hear Clare’s rejects, refuses to take a hint, and it has been indicated that Clare has been hiding the situation from everyone, including her best friends. As someone who has gone through having a stalker and people in my life showing psychopathic traits, Clare’s action or natural response is an accurate representation of those who have gone through these situations. It’s not the correct response, but it is accurate and valid because most of the time, you convince yourself it’ll stop all on it’s own.

Despite all the things that happen within this book, I think the part that dulled my experience was the paranormal element in this book. When I first read this book, I was head over heels and while I still love this trilogy, the paranormal element wasn’t my favorite part. I think if it was removed, I would have been able to give this the five stars I had originally gave it.

Overall, this was a reread for one of my favorite series and even though it only got four stars, I still love this series. I’m always asked what is the best place to start with Nora Roberts books and I will always say this series. The family dynamic will have you falling in love, small town vibes, there’s an inn involved, and characters you will love with your whole heart. There’s something in here for everyone and I just can’t stop recommending it.

Read for the Stay Home Reading Rush 📖

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Down Among the Stick and Bones (Wayward Children #2) by Seanan McGuire

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🚪 Every Heart A Doorway | Review ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Brief talk of infertility, mysophobia, germaphobia, fat shaming, death, murder, grief, narcissistic personality disorder, blood/gore

Friends, this might be my most favorite book of this whole series so far! How does one express how deeply a book can touch your soul? There are no words. This book touched my soul, found the softest bits of my core, and now lives there. Truly, this book is a gift and I don’t know why I put off reading this book for so long.

While I loved Every Heart A Doorway, Down Among the Sticks and Bones just resonated with me on so many levels and I truly enjoyed this one more than the first. I have read this book in less than four hours and then went back and relistened to the whole book over again. Never wake up at the crack of dawn to tackle your ‘to-do’ list and listen to a book that will leave you on the ground, in a puddle of your own tears.

“Some adventures require nothing more than a willing heart and the ability to trip over the cracks in the world.”

Before I start this review, let me say that you need to read the first book to know who these characters are. While I believe this book could be a standalone, it is better to read this series as a whole. And the experience is one you truly won’t forget. However, if you have read the first book, then you know this follows the story of Jack and Jill. To fill you in, Jack is probably my favorite character through this whole series so far. So you can understand the pterodactyl screeches that escaped my mouth once I had that knowledge.

In the first book, we learned that Nancy’s door led her somewhere cold and still, but the twin sisters’ door is different. The twins find themselves in the Moors, a place of neutral territory filled with werewolves, vampires, gargoyles, the sirens or the Drowned God worshippers, and even other monstrous creatures that lurk in the shadows of this place. All under the watchful eye of a crimson red moon! And naturally, there are many who reside in this world that are thrilled when children through their portal into this world of nightly terrors.

“The Moors were beautiful in their own way, and if their beauty was the quiet sort that required time and introspection to be seen, well, there was nothing wrong with that. The best beauty was the sort that took some seeking.”

When their twelve-years-old, Jack and Jill find themselves stumbling down the path to the door that leads them to the other world. The twins will stay for five years, though they desperately wish to stay forever. In this world, they’ll discover themselves, who they want to be, and even find the love they crave. In this world of frights and darkness, these twins will thrive because the most power thing a person can be is themselves, not what is forced upon them.

The atmosphere of this book is richly eerie, dark, but also something beautiful as McQuire’s writing threads together the world building. Reading this book, I had constant chills and various emotions running through me as I imagine the world coming to life on these pages. Just for the atmosphere alone, I loved it!

“Give ten children a toy box, and watch them select ten different toys, regardless of gender or religion or parental expectations. Children have preferences. The danger comes when they, as with any human, are denied those preferences for too long.”

There’s also a heavy theme of gender roles through out this book. We see how forcing these roles onto children can cause a lot of turmoil and stress on them as they try to fit into these molds. It’s okay to be a tom-boy, it’s okay to be a girly-girl, and more importantly, it’s okay to fall somewhere in between and be both. We should never feel like we’re defined by the world’s stereotype of genders. Growing up, when I was discovering myself, I was non-binary for a couple years of my teens. Not only that, by I struggled with realizing that I could be girly and tom-boyish. I could write on this topic for an eternity and just barely scratch the surface, but Seanan McGuire does such an excellent way of tackling this topic and approaching it with care, love, and a deep understanding.

While I have seen this in movies or on t.v. series, this is the first book I’ve read to have representation for Mysophobia/Germaphobia. This hits very close to home as one of my good friends does suffer from these phobias and from my experience with them, I can say that this is accurate to what I have witnessed and experienced with my interactions with my friend. I will also admit that there was a time in my life where I went through five and a half months of Mysophobia/Germaphobia. All I fully remember from that time was scrubbing myself raw until my skin would split open or I would wear gloves and hoodies because I didn’t like being touched or touched by anyone. So, I think if you want a book that shows good representation for these phobias, this is a good book to start off with.

And of course, there’s a lesbian romance in this book. What I didn’t expect was how much I would fall in love with that romance. The way Jack and Alexis loved one another. It was so wholesome, so pure , and despite their differences, they loved one another and their guardians loved them being together. It filled my heart with so much warmth and I want every book to have a wholesome romance like this one!

“The Moors exist in eternal twilight, in the pause between the lightning strike and the resurrection. They are a place of endless scientific experimentation, of monstrous beauty, and of terrible consequences.”

I truly, deeply, loved this book and the contents within these pages. The Moors is a piece of my own spooky heart and reading this book felt like a piece of home. And reading about two interesting characters, one of them being after my own heart, how could I not be enthralled with their story. I an’t wait to read the next book in the series and I have so many hopes, so many expectations, but I have no doubt that I will fall madly in love with it just as I have done with the first two.

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Well Met (Well Met #1) by Jen DeLuca

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Content/Trigger Warnings: Talk of loss of a loved one (non-hodgkins lymphoma), grief deception, depression depiction, abandonment, and anxiety

“I didn’t choose the wench life. The wench life chose me.”

My heart, my heart can’t get over this book! Everything I wanted, everything I needed was right here in this book! Now I’m kicking myself because I waited so long to read this book. I’ll let you in on a little secret, I’m obsessed with anything that’s Renaissance Festivals. Whether it’s in a book or out in the physical world, I love Renn Fest so much. I attend it every year and it’s just the biggest highlight to my fall bucket list. So when I found out that there was a contemporary-romance that takes place during a Renaissance Fair, my heart was over the moon. And I’m still in love with this book!

🌹 Emily – 24, leaves her past behind and travels across the country, to a small town in Maryland, to help her sister and niece while her sister recovers from an accident. Her niece, Caitlin, wants nothing more than to join her friends in the the Renaissance Festival, but she can only join if a parent or guardian volunteers as well. Soon, Emily goes from being the newcomer to Emma the tavern wench.

🌹 Simon – 27, a high school English teacher, protective of his town’s Renaissance Festival, that he helps run every year to help continue the legacy, while he transforms into the famous Ian Blackthorn, the sexiest pirate at the whole fair!

I loved these characters and I loved the way they fit so well with one another. From their very first encounter, the tense build between them was so good. However, as individual characters, they were just as amazing. Watching them go through everything and reading their character development just made me the happiest reader ever. It was so hard not to fall in love with them.

“Like the stars, your love should be a constant source of light, and like the earth, a firm foundation from which to grow.”

One thing that really struck me was that this takes place in a small town, in Maryland. This book hit so close to home for so many reasons. One, I’m originally from a small town. So I understand how word travels and how the sense of community can be great, but also feel like a heavy anchor at times. And secondly, I currently reside in Maryland. So that fact that there are references to the Renaissance Festival that literally happens in the state I live in, it made me feel a certain kind of soft and sappy.

And of course, I have to talk about the family dynamics and the amount of family love this book has! As I mentioned, this book had so many of my favorite elements and that includes all the family goodness. I loved that there was a strong unconditional love between Emily and her sister, April. I loved that in their times of need, they both rallied for one another, to take care of one another. It filled my heart with so much love. I also really loved that we saw the positive side of small towns with how every rallied to Emily, to take care of her while she was hurting. I really loved that and as I said, family elements are one of my favorite things a book can have.

“Let us love you, and remind you that you’re worth it until you figure out what you’re going to do next.”

Overall, I an’t believe I waited so long to read this, but I’m so happy that I finally read it. I laughed, I swooned, and I cried for this book, these characters. I think I love every inch of this book and it was the perfect book that lifted my heart in so many ways. From the romance, to the setting, to all the family dynamic love, my soul feels very complete after reading this book. I’m excited for book two and if you’ve been thinking about picking this book up, please do. I promise, there’s so much to love about this book!

Buddy read with Drew from Drew the Reader ❤️

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