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Tiger Honor (Thousand Worlds, #2) by Yoon Ha Lee

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Arc was given by Disney Hyperion & NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

This review is being published after the release date (January 4th 2022)

🌠 Dragon Pearl ★★★★

Content/Trigger Warnings: Violence, severe injuries, talk of death, grief, mentions of abandonment (near end of book), hostage situation, attempted forced exorcism

“By the White Tiger of the West, I swear to serve the clan in all matters.”

Creature Factions:
✨ Dragons – Enormous, uses weather magic, can terraform planets
✨ Goblins – Ability of invisibility, mostly secret agents, can also summon food with their wands
✨ Ghosts – Spirits that have unfinished business, most likely haunting someone/something
✨ Tigers – Large in size, strong, fierce, feared by everyone, Sebin and their family
✨ Shamans – Healers, help ghosts crossover
✨ Humans – Like you and me
✨ Fox Spirits – Bad reputation, considered myths, extinct, Min and her family

Other Factions:
✨ Dragon Council – Galactic government
✨ Space Forces – Military, to protect the people and the different worlds
✨ Mercenaries & Pirates – Factions of all kinds trying to survive by whatever means

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it feels so good to be back in this world! I have missed this world dearly and I had been wondering where or more specifically who would come next in this series. I’m pleasantly surprised by the faction we got to follow and how everything seem to come full circle. Now, I’m just eagerly waiting to see what Yoon Ha Lee has in store for us next!

Our story follows Juhwang, Sebin, who’s been training to enter the Space Forces, in hopes of one day becoming a captain of their own ship like their uncle. In the midst of training and hoping to here back from the Spaces Forces, on whether or not they’ve been accepted into the program, tragedy strikes. Sebin is not only given the good news of being accepted into the program, but now their loyalty will be tested as their beloved uncle has committed treason, and is on the run.

“The White Tiger had told me, pay the price for breaking your oath, but pay it willingly.”

I love the themes we get to see so heavily engraved in this series. There is a strong, consistent theme of family and what it means to love your family so deeply, and at what lengths you’ll go to find out the truth of what’s happening with your family. Looking back on Dragon Pearl, we saw the main character go to great lengths to find out the truth about her brother. Now, we get to see our new character Sebin, not only seeking the truth, but having that inner struggle of loyalty to your family or doing the right thing to prevent others from getting hurt or potentially innocent lives being lost. And one of the most beautiful parts of this theme has been the character growth for the main characters. These family themes are not only consistent int he book, but they’re also key elements to watching the main character grow and come into their own.

Another favorite part of this book was seeing characters from Dragon Pearl return to this one. I loved seeing our favorite gumiho come back and I adored the way Sebin and Min clashed. One of my favorite things is seeing the “enemies to friends” relationship blossom and grow, and the author delivered. Its not a perfect friendship and there was a lot of miscommunication between the two of them, but it was wonderful to see them slowly come to understand one another and the hardships they both had to endure.

“It must be a hundred times worse to have to conceal something so fundamental about yourself.”

Also, I wanted to add a little side bit. I did this in Dragon Pearl and I really wanted to state it with this book as well. There’s a lot of Star Trek vibes throughout this entire book. Dragon Pearl had a lot of scenes where it felt like it may have been Star Wars inspired or even pulled inspiration from Mulan or Lilo & Stitch, but in this book, if you’re a Star Trek lover, this book feels like there’s a lot of inspiration pulled from it.

I think the most interesting part of this book was watching Sebin’s character development. We didn’t just see them come into a role of their own as a cadet, but we also see the conflicting feelings they have about many things relating to their uncle. Truly, I think one of the most beautiful things this book did was put an emphasis on how you can still love someone despite the bad things they’ve done, despite how imperfect they are, but still recognizing there’s a right and a wrong, and that its okay to have a lot of conflicting feelings about it as a whole.

“Losing him as a hero was more painful than an injury I had received.”

Of course, we see a lot of diversity throughout this book as well. There’s a few side characters who are non-binary, but our main character Sebin is also non-binary and uses they/them pronouns. We also have a side character who uses sign language. And speaking of disabilities, there’s a normalization of required sign language interpreters by the Space Forces, which I find isn’t often shown in books. It was handled in a very respectable way and I really appreciated that included aspect.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I feel like a power read this book so fast. That might be why I gave it four stars was from this book feeling short compared to the first book in the series. Either way, it was a fantastic read. I recommend this to anyone who’s a sci-fi lover for sure. I’m actually in the process of trying to get my significant other to read this series and they’re a die hard sci-fi lover. Anyway, I really enjoyed it and I think many readers will find themselves falling in love with this world all over again with this sequel!

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

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For The Wolf (The Wilderwood, #1) by Hannah Whitten

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Content/Trigger Warning: Talk of human sacrifice, paternal abuse & neglect, death, talk of loss of loved one, grief, depictions of wounds and blood, gore, self-harm, violence, anxiety & panic attacks, emesis, hallucinations (visions)

“This ends in roots and bones. For all of you. It always ends in roots and bones.”

What can I say? I’m a sucker for retellings! However, I went into this only knowing that it was a retelling and bless my friend for recommending this as a buddy read. I spiraled so hard for this book and even when I set it down to do other things, I found myself thinking about it. It’s been a while since a retelling weaseled its way inside my head and had me thinking about it for days after reading it. Truly, if you’re a lover of retellings then I have to recommend this book to you, hands down.

Our story follows the Second Daughter, Redarys, who’s accepted her fate, waiting to be given to a dark forest as a human sacrifice or as the legend/prophecy claims, for the Wolf. While Red has accepted her destiny, her sister, Neve refuses to accepts this and begins plotting a plan to save Red from this path of darkness. Yet when Red is delivered to the Wilderwood and finally meets the Wolf, everything she thought she knew is not what it seems and soon finds an entirely different story altogether.

“Well, damn the myths. She was just as much a part of those stories as he was, and if her destruction was imminent, she’d rather be the architect than a bystander.”

The amount of finger snapping I have done over Red’s character should be enough to have broken my fingers. Truly, I loved Red’s character with a fiery passion. Red not only accepts her fate, but she is stubborn like there’s no tomorrow and bares her teeth to the maker like she was placed in this world like she had no other purpose. I’ll admit, Red almost feels like a morally grey, but I’m incredibly hesitant to say that. If anything, Red’s sister Neve is the most morally grey character throughout this entire book (but will get to that later). Red is a character who has such a fire in her soul, but we get to see all her moments of doubt, of weakness, and she’s just that kind of character you don’t want to lose focus on because you want to see what they’ll do next.

Oh ho, if you thought I forgot about The Wolf then you’re wrong. Out of all of the characters in this book, The Wolf or Eammon is my absolute favorite, mores so than Redarys. And no, it’s not due to Eammon coming off as having lots of inspiration from Adam Driver! As a reader, I very much become found of characters who have similar personalities to my own and while I want to say I love Eammon and Redarys equally, that would be a lie. Eammon is a very self-sacrificing character, one who would rather suffer than watch their loved ones suffer. And that is something the resonates very deeply with me as a person. Not only does Eammon do a lot of sacrificing, but he’s the only character in the book who have visible scarring, which made me a hard stan for The Wolf.

“I want the roots…I understand what it means, and I want them anyway, because I am for the Wolf, and the Wolves are for the Wilderwood.”

Though this is a retelling, there are some hidden gems of themes throughout this book. One of my favorite tropes is found family and there’s very much what Redarys finds when she enters the Wilderwood. She finds love and friends who not only want to protect her, but want to fight alongside of her. The way she connects with these people isn’t linear and it has those moments of holding your breath, but the way all of them come together and realize how much they care for one another really warms my heart.

While we’re talking about family, there’s also a theme of neglectful/abusive family in this book. How those who we’re related to can be cruel or hurtful, and despite that, how we can mourn them. We can mourn the ones who have hurt us because we can mourn the things that could have been if things were different. We see a different side in Neve’s perspective as she mourns the sister she lost, yet knows is still alive. And again, the way grief is shown in this book is good. Grief is never linear, it takes on many faces, and this might be the first book I’ve read that tells you, “Hey, you can mourn the people who hurt you because you’re grieving a life, you’re grieving what could have been.” The way the author laced this theme throughout this book is so beautiful and I thought it was really well done, but it may just be due to reading this book when I needed to have this theme in my hands.

“Sometimes you don’t mourn people so much as you mourn who they could’ve been.”

Though there were many things I loved like how this is a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood and Beauty and the Beast, there were some things I didn’t love. The one issue I had with this book was repetitiveness. There’s a lot of times throughout the entire middle of this book where things felt repetitive or it had a de ja vu effect. As a reader, one of the biggest things I can’t overlook is repetitiveness. No matter how it’s written, no matter if you change wording or try burying it among action packed scenes; if anything feels like it’s repeating too much, my brain will zone in on it. The beginning, climax, and ending of this book was fantastic, but throughout that middle there were a lot of repeating themes that just weren’t necessary.

The biggest issue was Neve’s perspective. If I’m being honest, I strongly disliked Neve’s perspective. This is truly a first for me because anytime there’s sibling themes, I usually love them and I always want to take time to talk about that. However, there’s a first time for everything and this was definitely a first. I should state that Neve is a morally grey character. Out of all of the characters in this book, Neve truly is the most morally grey character. I’ll just be honest, I disliked everything about Neve and Neve’s perspective. Personally speaking, I think I dislike her character so much because Neve is the older sibling and I’m also the oldest sibling in my family, and everything Neve does just goes against what you should be doing as an older sibling, in my opinion. She has no fire in her, she doesn’t question anything even though things are very obviously wrong, despite her constantly saying she “cares” about Red or is doing something for Red’s “benefit,” Neve does absolutely nothing to protect her or even support Red. I just really don’t like Neve, every time I think of her character I get a headache, and even though I know why we have her perspective, I wish we didn’t.

Overall, I really loved this book. I took so many notes, pulled so many quotes, and the fact that I’ve been thinking about this book for so long just shows how much I enjoyed it. The world building was incredible, I love when an author builds up a world you can practically envision really existing. There’s so many characters to fall in love with and there’s some important themes that can’t be ignored. Again, if you’re a lover of retellings then I recommend this book with my whole chest.

Buddy read with Destiny from Howling Libraries 💜

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When Snowflakes Fall (The Graysons #1) by Tara Wyatt

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Content/Trigger Warnings: Sexual scenes, talk of divorce, mentions of mental and emotional abuse, mentions of harassment, talk of online harassment, mentions of doxing, hospital themes

“He felt like he was losing himself in the shining depths of her eyes, like he was being pulled in and that if he looked away, everything around them might come crashing down.”

Yes friends, it’s true, I’m on a holiday read kick and I have to say, if you haven’t added this novella to your winter tbr yet then you need to fix that right away. If you’ve been here a while, then you know how much of a sucker I am for read that have single parent households and on top of that, this is a romance novella. Yes please! I was here for this story from the first few lines of the novella’s description. Truly, I loved this story a heck-a-ton!

Settled in Cheyenne, Wyoming, Luke Grayson is doing what any single father is trying to do, be the best dad he can be to his son, Ethan, to make up for the absence of Ethan’s mother. So when Luke receives a call that his son is in the hospital with a potential concussion, the last thing Luke was anticipating was to find love, that is until he meets Christie. Christie Harmon has had a rough past. Forced to leave her hometown and start life anew, Christie refuses to have history repeat itself. There’s just one problem, one very handsome, charming, problem. Luke Grayson. Two people with rocky pasts will come together to chip away at each other’s walls and find out what true love really is like.

I adored the characters in this book. I think this is one of the things I say the most, but anytime there’s characters who come across as morally grey or imperfect, the more realistic feeling, I absolutely fall in love. Both of these characters have their flaws and we get to see both of these characters work through the doubts, chasing what will make them happy. Even in the dark times, they work through it even if it’s a little messy or the voices inside them are telling them ‘no’.

I think one of the biggest things I loved about this theme is the small town vibes and the sense of importance of family. Yes, this is a holiday read, but I loved that there were so many things centered around family. Speaking of family, if I haven’t mentioned already, Luke is actually a single father. I love every time an author decides to take the ‘single family’ route and even more so when it’s a single father. Single fathers just don’t get the attention they deserve in literature and every time I find a story with that little gem inside, it makes my heart warm and fuzzy. Not like single family household themes don’t already give me the warm fuzzies, but I always want to show my appreciation for those themes.

“Use the peoples who love you as your mirror. Not the people out to cut you down. The reflection they’re showing you is tainted and not worthy of your time.”

There’s also a heavy theme of how heavily our past can weigh on us and impact our present and future. How, despite handling everything the best we can, it can come full circle or still weighs us down even when we’re starting anew. I really appreciated the author taking that theme and really showing us that you can have anchors that pull you, but you can still find happiness, you can still keep healing in the now. And most importantly, I think the author did a wonderful job of expressing how the people who caused you harm aren’t a reflection of you as a person. The author really took the time to express that the people who you love and choose to surround yourself with will always reflect your heart’s intentions.

I think my only issue with this book was how short it was. I’m not going to lie, I wanted a little bit more from this novella. Give me 40-50 more pages and I probably would have been content. However, I recognize that this is a novella, but still, I was craving more details with this read.

Overall, this was a really cozy, holiday read to snuggle up with. I enjoyed grabbing a cup of hot chocolate and snuggling down to get in the holiday spirit with this book. Plus, it’s such a fast read and perfect for getting in end of the year reads. And again, single parent theme! It’s an absolute must read for your holiday tbrs!

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2 Manga Mini Reviews | With You and the Rain Vol. 1 & Anyway, I’m Falling In Love With You Vol. 1

Salutations friends! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday, that everyone stayed safe! I wanted to do another bundle of reviews since so many liked the first one. This time we’re looking at two manga arcs given to be by Kodansha & NetGalley in exchange for an honest reviews of each manga. I’m excited to finally get these reviews up and I hope that one of these manga will spark your interest! 💙


With You and the Rain, Vol. 1 by Ko Nikaido

Arc was given by Kodansha & NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

For the fans and lovers of ‘slice of life’ styled manga, this is right up your alley! As a manga reader, I feel that I’m always in the romance genre of manga. You know, really romance heavy manga. It’s rare when I’m reading slice of life books or manga, but ironically, I watch a lot of ‘slice of life’ anime. So reading this manga was a nice breath of fresh air for me. Plus, there’s a tanuki! I love tanukis especially when they’re the center of attention for storylines.

With You and the Rain is a manga series that follows a young woman, who’s attention is stolen on their way home from work one day. It’s raining really hard and she stumbles upon a little cardboard box with a creature that looks closely to a dog, but is actually a tanuki. After some persuading from the tanuki, the young woman and the tanuki start their new adventure together.

I really enjoyed reading this manga. I thought it was really cute seeing the two of them go about their life together. Seeing them build their friendship and how their friendship impacts those around them. It’s a very calming read for when you don’t want anything too heavy. Perfect for light reading! As a little side note: if you’re familiar with the manga Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku then you might enjoy this kind of manga due to them having similar atmospheres.

My only issue with this manga is the lack of details. Most ‘slice of life’ manga at least give us some bread crumbs concerning details like character names, setting, etc… You know, the details that make us invested, but this manga was definitely lacking in that department. The only thing we really get is a nickname for the tanuki from the young woman’s father who calls the tanuki, Angel-chan. I wish we had more names to put with faces or even names for settings, but we’re not really given much.

Overall, I did enjoy this manga quite a bit. For myself, personally, this was the type of book I needed to read to feel a little lighter. I needed that slice of life even if there wasn’t a lot of details to keep me fully invested. I think readers who are familiar with this type of style will enjoy it, but I think many readers will feel a mixture of feelings because of the lack of details. However, I still encourage everyone to read this. I’m actually eager for the next volume to come out and I can’t wait to see what our two main characters get up to next!


Anyway, I’m Falling in Love with You., Vol. 1 by Haruka Mitsui

Arc was given by Kodansha & NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Content/Trigger Warnings: Mentions of a pandemic, astraphobia (fear of thunderstorms), trauma, loss of a parent (in the past), grief

Remember when I said I spend a lot of time in romance manga? Yeah, this is one of those times and I’m so excited for the next volume to come out! Look, look… I love a book who loves to kick the door in with a controversy! And this manga, this freaking manga, delivered with the goods, my friends. Truly, this manga gave me the burst of serotonin that I have been craving lately.

The year is 2030, Mizuha is celebrating another bad birthday when she suddenly remembers another bad birthday ten year prior to this one. Though being surrounded by all of her childhood friends at the time, this was probably one of her toughest birthday thus far. Not only has her crush turned her down and said some mean things to her, but no one of her childhood friends is trying to change their friend group by confessing his love to Mizuha. All of this causes a mixture of feelings with her along with trying to deal with celebrating yet another birthday without her mother.

Truly, the blessing that is this manga because it gives us all the fluff we could want. If you want fluffy goodness then you’re going to love this manga. The author really said give them all the sweetness. One of my favorite themes and tropes within books always has to do with childhood friends. I think my favorite part is how supportive they all are to one another. Always looking out for each other and doing little acts of kindness to help. Not only do we get childhood friendships, but the childhood friendships are built around a reverse harem theme. There’s also the childhood friend to lover trope slowly coming into play, as well. Though everything is such a slow burn and I think that’s the best part. The slow burn hooks you only to pull you into a love triangle. It gave me butterflies on how everything was going to play out.

Of course I have to talk about this single parent household theme. I think one of the most commonly, overlooked themes in books in the single parent household theme. Maybe I’m just a sucker for single parent households because I, myself, am from a single parent household. However, single father households, in my opinion, are so uncommon and deserve to be recognized. I believe with my whole chest that single father households deserve the spotlight because often times we see the single mother household, but rarely ever see the father side of things. The author really captured what it’s like to have that single parent household and even though they’re only glimpses, it warms my heart to see this theme in another manga I enjoyed.

I think my only issue with this manga was how short it was. Now look, I know some of us can read a manga like it’s no one’s business, but this just felt shorter to me. It felt like there could have been more details packed in or even an extra 40-50 pages into this manga. Normally, I spend about an hour reading a manga book, but I flew through this book in thirty minutes. It made being invested in the characters really hard especially when it came to the childhood friend group. It would have been nice to see more of that or get a feel for how everyone views Mizuha, not just her crush or the guy from her childhood friends.

Overall, I think this is a really light-hearted read despite the content warnings. As I already mentioned, I flew through this manga and I wish there were more pages because I have no doubt I would have been more in love with this book, enjoyed it even more. If you’re a manga reader or you’re looking for something that’s fluffy and sweet then I definitely recommend picking this manga book up!


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Paper Girl and the Knives that Made Her by Ari B. Cofer

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Arc was given by Central Avenue Publishing & NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

This review is being published before the release date (January 4th 2022)

Content/Trigger Warnings: Mental health conditions, suicide/suicidal ideation, self-harm, talk of depression, sexual assault, gun violence, violence against poc, brief mentions of body dysmorphia, brief mentions of drug and alcohol abuse, grief, loss of loved ones, heartbreak, talk of medication, trauma/PTSD, and much more!

“I hold my breath because I’m afraid of losing what’s left of you in an exhale.”

In a room full of books, this is one of the loudest books in that room. Truly, this book is filled with raw emotions, very dark topics, but so important. There aren’t enough enough words to say how emotional I felt reading this poetry collection and I truly believe, with my whole chest, that this is such an important read. We need more books with the voices of those and their own experiences because there is always someone out there who needs to hear those perspectives. And as someone who has gone through similar hardships, I really appreciated reading about another person’s experiences and being reminded that healing is never linear.

Some of my favorite poems include:
The fairytale becomes a memory
Sacrifices
What do you think the birds are saying when they sing?
Heavy
When it feels too much
The garden that bursts with wanting
Juxtapose
Welcome Home

Overall, I think anyone who picks this book up is in for an emotional ride, but a ride that is so heartbreakingly beautiful and important. Though I feel there’s so much I could say about this poetry collection, I feel I don’t need to say anything because this poetry collection speaks volumes for itself. And if you’re a poetry lover like myself, then I want to encourage you to add this one to your ‘to be read’ piles.

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

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Shortbread Shakedown by Sofia Aves

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Arc was given by The Wild Rose Press & NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

This review is being published after the release date (November 16th 2021)

Content/Trigger Warnings: Trauma/PTSD (flashbacks, night terrors), brief/vague mentions of fatphobia

“All I wanted was to find the honey-blonde curls of a woman who had ghosted into my life and disappeared.”

This was the perfect read to snuggle up with. Seriously, I loved curling up with this short, wholesome read. I think far too often we see the typical holiday romance stories, but never enough of them that revolve around military members. I’ve only mentioned it a few times, but my own spouse served this the military. So this novella has a soft place in my heart. Truly, this was everything I could have wanted for a holiday read.

Dominic Cage has just returned home from deployment and things seem, feel different, and wants nothing more than to continue filling up the holes in his life with work. Until a beautiful honey-blonde woman rushes into his life at the airport. Now the remnants of this brief encounter have the ghost of this woman filling up his thoughts and Cage is determined to track her down. As fate would have it, they meet a lot sooner than he expected.

With my whole chest, I can’t say how much I loved these characters. Our main character Dominic is suffering from PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorder, that develops from exposure to traumatic events (war, abuse, traffic collisions, etc…), and he’s struggling with adjusting to anything that’s related to civilian life. Dominic will constantly talk about him not deserving of love, happiness, or even building a life for his own outside of the military. Truly, Dominic as the main character was a excellent perspective to read this book through. There’s also our mystery lady, Violet. Violet is absolutely precious. She’s one of those characters who sees the good in everyone and no matter their flaws or hardships, loves them anyway. I want to add a little side note that she is plus-sized. It’s never directly stated, but from her own dialogue it’s hinted that she’s plus-sized.

“Change didn’t come easily to me, but she had slipped into my meager existence, nestling in as though there’d always been a place reserved for her in it.”

This book is so beautifully written and has some of the best themes I’ve read in a book all year. This novella is about adjusting to new environments and life after experiencing traumatic events. It’s about finding love in the unlikeliest of places and learning that no matter how broken we may feel, we are deserving of love and happiness. And I just want to say, as someone who lives with PTSD, I thought the trauma and PTSD representation was handled very well, and accurately. It felt so real, from the small parts we get. That alone makes me want to shove this book into everyone’s hands.

The love in this book is very much insta-love. Now, those who know me know I’m not the biggest fan of instant love. I think I’m just too picky on how it’s done, but I really loved the way the romance blossomed in this book. And I want to say, if you’ve never dated or married someone who’s in the military then the insta-love my feel weird or off to you, but I can say as someone who has, this is very accurate for relationships with military members, at least in my experiences. With someone in the military, tomorrow is never guaranteed (there’s always another deployment around the corner or they’re being shipped off to another base and you can’t go with them) and so time is of the absolute importance.

Overall, I truly loved this novella. I wish I had more words to sum up how much I loved it, but I think keeping it simple is the best way to say I adored it. With the holidays right around the corner, this book holds such a soft spot in my heart and is probably my favorite holiday read of 2021. And if I didn’t mention already, this is a short book. You’re bound to fly through this one. So if you’re looking for a holiday short-story, then please add this one to the list. Truly, in my opinion, I feel like we never get many holiday romance stories revolving around military members or veterans and I just think this is a really great book to add to one’s tbr pile this winter season.

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

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Kisses and Lemon Snowflake Cookies (Christmas Cookies) by N. Jade Gray

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Arc was given by The Wild Rose Press & NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

This review is being published on the release date (December 6th 2021)

Content/Trigger Warnings: Talk of cheating and womanizing

I must be in the mood for wholesome, cute, and romantic holiday read because I adored this read! I had my cup of coffee, my fuzzy socks on, and devoured this book in one sitting. Truly, I was geeking out over how precious this book was. Maybe it was from the small town vibes or maybe it was the fact the two main characters were so… so perfect for one another. Whatever the reason was, I was swooning and enjoying my time cozied up with this read.

Dustin Keith has always been a shy kind of person and the last thing he expected was, after doing the fire departments year calendar, women would be coming out of the woodwork, taking an interest in being “Ms. July.” More importantly, he never expected that after getting a call, one morning about a certain donkey on the loose, he’d end up meeting Lauren Badini. Lauren just came to Cedar Bend to help her aunt with her bakery. After having her heart and trust broken back in Denver, getting away from everything was exactly what she needed. But little did she know that coming to Cedar Bend would hold a lot more than just helping her aunt with the bakery. And she certainly wasn’t expecting “Mr. July” to show up in the bakery kitchen one morning. To think, it all started with a loose donkey and some protesting gingerbread men!

“He wanted a relationship like theirs. Someone who got him, just the way he was.”

I absolutely adore the main characters of this book. Dustin is very much the silent knight, dark horse kind of character, who you really want to get to know and see their personality unfold. However, Lauren is the character I feel dominates this book. Though we get both perspectives from both main characters, we learn so much more about Lauren than we do Dustin. Yet we these characters come together, I feel like we can truly see the kind of person Dustin truly is. And the quote above is probably my most favorite line Dustin says throughout this whole book, truly.

I think my most favorite part about this story was the themes of found family and new beginnings. I won’t give anything away, but truly this book has lovely themes in it. The found family Dustin has with his most closest friend is so wholesome and would warm any heart. And though there are many new beginnings, Lauren is the one character who stands out the most for the new beginnings. As she works through her trust hardships, she’s given opportunities that are paving a path for her to have a new, happier future.

“Legend has it if you kiss someone under the branches of the tree, you’re destined to fall in love with that person.”

There’s also the little legend of the “Kissing Tree” in this book. I thought this was such a lovely little detail and addition to the story. Not to mention with this being a holiday book, instead of the typical mistletoe, there’s this tree, the oldest tree that has a legend of love surrounding it. And every year this town holds a little holiday market around this tree. You all know how much I love small town vibes and anything that shows off small towns. This truly left me missing my own hometown and the little things it would do for the holiday season.

“The black denims she wore held a dusting of two man-sized flour handprints on her butt.”

While this book has wholesomeness and is easy to curl up with, there’s plenty of steamy moments. And let me tell you, the author delivers right from the beginning with sparks flying. While I can’t speak for other readers, I love when my romance books have sparks flying, almost immediately. The slow build to streamy moments is well worth the wait. I think my only complaint about this has been the fact that this book is so short and there could have been more sexy, steamy moments added in. Despite that, I really loved the intimate moments between the two main characters.

Overall, I had a wonderful reading this book. I enjoyed curling up with my coffee being able to sink into this lovely little town with these two delightful characters. As I said, the connection these two characters have is immediate and it really kicks your drive to read through, to find out what happens next. And with this book being so short, it makes for a quickly holiday read to unwind with at the end of day. Truly, I can’t recommend this cozy little book enough!

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

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The Moon Resides in Her Heart by Isabel Scheck

Amazon|Barnes&Noble

Arc was given by BookBuzz & NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

This review is being published after the release date (November 28th 2021)

This was probably the hardest poetry collection I’ve had to rate. Honestly, my feelings with this collection was very torn. Not just with the contents of the book, but how I wanted to rate this and whether or not I actually enjoyed my time reading this poetry collection. Ultimately, I decided that this collection wasn’t for me. I really wanted to love this and maybe the reason why I didn’t connect with this was due to setting my expectations too high. But I digress.

The Moon Resides in Her Heart is a sapphic poetry collection about crushes and unrequited love. What it means to love someone so much, but to become heart broken because they don’t see you that way. These haikus are very short, three lines per page. With that being said, this makes for a very fast read. Also, there’s matching imagery to represent the haikus.

I will say, some of these haikus are very relatable. Whether you’ve dealt with an unrequited love or perhaps you loved someone so much that you thought entire universes lived within them. It’s very easy to feel connected to them and enjoy the underlying message of these haikus.

“Stars in her ribcage. Moon residing in her heart. Galaxies love her.”

However, despite the haikus being relatable and descriptive enough to enjoy them, there were two major flaws that prevented me from truly being able to enjoy this book the way I hoped. My biggest issue was repetitiveness. This is something that I can usually overlook at times, but the theme was very repetitive on multiple pages which made it incredibly hard to overlook. It didn’t help that this book is so short. Which leads me into the second issue with this book, the length. Fifty-six pages long with repetitive haikus, and themes. It was really difficult to enjoy this book with these two elements. I think if this book had been longer, add another fifty or so pages and I think the repetitiveness would have been easier to overlook or even be more forgivable.

Overall, this just wasn’t the kind of poetry collection I was looking for. It’s definitely relatable and I truly believe there will be others who may find joy in this collection. Sadly, the repetitiveness and the short length of this book made it very hard to enjoy. However, I still recommend this book. Even though it wasn’t for me, I truly believe someone else may enjoy it more than I did.

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

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Chef’s Kiss by Jarrett Melendez

GoodReads|Amazon|Barnes&Noble|BookDepository|IndieBound

Arc was given by Oni Press & NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

This review is being published before the release date (March 1st 2022)

Content/Trigger Warnings: Stress about unemployment, depictions of aggression, pressure and guilt trips from overbearing parents, manipulation attempts from overbearing parents, subtle homophobia

Oh my goodness, I didn’t think I would push this review out right away, but oh, sweet friends, I adore this graphic novel and I had to come shout about it from the roof tops! I adore this graphic novel so, so much. It’s charming, pure, and will leave you on the edge of your seat, waiting for what’s about to happen next. There’s so much good in this book and honestly, this is probably my favorite graphic novel that hasn’t been released yet. Hands down, a new favorite of mine.

Chef’s Kiss follows our main character, Ben Cook, who’s recently graduated college, moved in with his best friends, and now finds himself struggling to find a job. With overbearing parents breathing down his neck, Ben is feeling the claws of defeat, frustration, but mostly, unemployment scraping at his walls. When his eighteenth interview doesn’t go as plan, Ben stumbles upon a hiring sign for a restaurant and suddenly, the future is looking a lot brighter… and conflicting.

“It’s a tale as old as time. You’re falling in love for your mentor!”

Truly, with my whole chest, I can’t say enough how I loved the cast of characters (except you, Ben’s parents). The cast of main and the side characters are so diverse with BIPOC characters, different professions, and a plethora of personalities. And despite his aggressive tendencies, I actually like Chef Davis with his banter and his love for the taste testing pig, Watson. Yes, you heard me correctly, taste-testing pig. And the fact that Watson has his own personality and a mischievous side to him just fills my heart with so much euphoria.

I think one of the things I truly loved the most about this graphic novel is the friendship Ben has with all of his roommates. What made me love these friendships the most was how the author displayed how messy friendships can be, but also the healthy side of friendships, where you address the issues that have happened or where someone was being a not so good friend and work through it. Every time I see healthy friendships in a any kind of book, I get all soft and mushy inside. And I really loved the support this group of friends have one another despite the hard moments that happen.

This graphic novel addresses what it means to be someone fresh out of college, looking for work and not having experience. How frustrating, tiring, and stressful it can be especially when you’re trying to carve your own path as an adult. It’s also about doing what’s best for you and asking yourself “what do you want” instead of constantly catering to what everyone else wants especially when it comes to our own personal happiness. I really appreciated how beautifully and realistically the author wove these themes into the story. It felt so real and I know for my case, these themes were something that weighted heavy on me. So seeing that being represented in a graphic novel was such a big thing especially you don’t see them shown in literature that often.

Of course, I have to gush about the art and the illustrations. If the cover of this book hasn’t sunk it’s claws into yet, wait till you actually open this graphic novel. It’s simply stunning. At times it reminded me of other graphic novels I’ve read. I think that’s why I was so easily captured by the art because every time I see this art style, I know I’m going to fall in love.

Overall, I’m just really in love with this graphic novel. I don’t think I could make it any more simple. I truly, most ardently, love this graphic novel. I wasn’t kidding when I said this was going to be one of my favorite reads. 2022 never looked brighter and I can’t wait for more readers to pick this graphic novel up.

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

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Starry Night, Blurry Dreams by Henn Kim

GoodReads|Amazon|Barnes&Noble|BookDepository|IndieBound

Arc was given by Andrews McMeel Publishing & NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

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

“Who are you when you’re alone.”

Friends, I’m not going to lie to you… This cover and title got to me. Don’t ask me how, don’t ask me why, but yeah, I got really emotional when I stumbled across this arc on NetGalley. I’ve said it a few times before, but I’ll say it again, I truly believe, with my whole dang chest, that pieces of literature come into our lives when we need it the most. And for whatever reason, somewhere in the catacombs of my mind, a piece of me was screaming that I needed to read this book. As fate would have it, the NetGalley gods smiled down upon me and blessed me with this arc. And wouldn’t you know, I consumed the contents of this book immediately.

Starry Night, Blurry Dreams is a collection of poems playing with words and their representation with imagery. The poems are short, incredibly short. Sometimes the lines are about one to two lines and may only have a couples words to them. Which is why it was so easy to read through it. This book truly is a quick read and perfect for light reading during your morning routine or when you’re trying to unwind at night.

If I had to describe this collection with one word, that word would be ‘human.’ Henn Kim’s writing pulls from dreams, love, heartbreak and sadness, and just life in general, as a whole. Despite the simplicity of this collection, it was very easy to feel a connection or have certain poems or imagery resonate with with oneself. And I think that’s what I love most about this book. Even though it’s a fast read, it was so easy to feel seen or feel the tickling of something familiar about it all. Whether it was through the poems itself or the illustrations throughout this book.

And speaking on the illustrations, they’re stunning. There’s so much details and sometimes I found myself staring at them, wondering if they’d reveal any hidden easter eggs within them. Each images could be seen as individual pieces of art, hanging in a museum on display for the world to see, with their own story to tell. Yes, I think that’s probably the best way I can describe it. Like an art gallery and you can’t help being overcome with ‘awe.’ And I think any first time readers of this collection will fall in love with the artwork throughout this book. Truly, they fit so beautifully and honestly, I don’t think I can picture this book without these illustration in it.

“A heavy heart is hard to carry.”

If I had to point out one thing that impacted me and my reading of this book, I’d have to say repetition. There’s a definite cycle within the pages of this collection and at times poems seem to repeat or feel very similar to one another. It may be the repetition of themes or maybe an emotion, but I think for many readers, myself included, that feeling of repetition is going to be a struggle.

Overall, I enjoyed this poetry collection very much. As I mentioned before, I truly believe pieces of literature come into our life when we need it the most and I definitely needed this book. And I think there will be many readers who will fall in love with this collection, whether it be for the poetry or the illustrations. Truly, it flows so nicely, like a calm river. And if you’re in search of a quick read then I definitely think this is one book to put on your to be read pile.

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

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