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The Language of Ghosts by Heather Fawcett

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

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

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

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

“It was the raspberry sundae that did it.”

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

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

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

Part I: Astrae

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

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

Part II: Evert

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

Part III: Whelm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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In an Absent Dream (Wayward Children, #4) by Seanan McGuire

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🚪 Every Heart a Doorway – ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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

🚪 Beneath the Sugar Sky – ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Bullying, sexism, loss of a loved one, death, abandonment, and scene of child abuse (slapping of a child)

“Sometimes ‘fair’ is bigger than just you. Sometimes ‘fair’ has to think about what’s best for everyone.”

I think my heart truly melted for this story. As much as I fell in love with Down Among the Sticks and Bones, this might be my new favorite for the series. Who am I anymore?! I truly fell in love with this book though. Something about this book speaks to me on so many levels and if you’ve been here for a minute, I’ve been falling in love with this series so hard. This might be an all time favorite series of mine now!

Our story follows Katherine Lundy, you may remember her as the therapist who leads the group sessions in Every Heart A Doorway. She was placed as Elanor’s second in command, though she looks to be about eight-years-old, she claims to actually be eighty years old. This is her tale, the story of how everything began with a door and the goblin market.

“When a very serious little girl finds a magical door in the woods, she decides to leave behind a life of loneliness to go off in search of adventure, never expecting to find a mystical Market on the other side—where anything can happen, as long as you pay your debts.”

When Lundy is eight-years-old, she already knows how the rest of her life will be. She will be studious, quiet, and do what is asked of her. And if all goes according to her plan, one day she’ll become a librarian (she’s loves books something fierce) and then maybe one day, she’ll be a wife, and maybe a mother. This was the dream or at least the one that her parents wanted for her. But this isn’t the dream that feels right to Lundy and one day, she’ll find that glittering door on an old trail, and her life will never be the same again.

📜 Rule One – Ask for nothing
📜 Rule Two – Names have power
📜 Rule Three – Always give fair value
📜 Rule Four – Take what’s offered and be grateful
📜 Rule Five – Remember the curfew

“Your name is your heart, and you don’t give your heart away.”

Being a child who enjoys knowledge, she learns a wide plethora in the goblin market about who she is as a person and who she truly wants to become. Lundy has been given the gift of traveling back and forth between the goblin market throughout this book. We see glimpses of different time periods in Lundy’s life and during different ages. Within these moments, we see the sisterly bonds between Diana and Lundy, but we also see the found family aspect with Moon, an owl-like girl who lives in the goblin market, (who might be one of my favorite characters thus far). Each relationship is so pure, so wholesome, and fills my heart with so much love. The love and loyalty Lundy has for both Diana and Moon just warms the heart. You know I love sibling bonds and found family in books.

I truly loved Lundy’s character. While the circumstances and the environments were different, I felt like I could relate to Lundy the most thus far in this series. My family had often tried to keep me bound to their own dreams for me and to keep me as a quiet child. I felt connected to Lundy even more when it talk about the loneliness, one that even Lundy didn’t recognize at first. And the way she would spend her time reading and filling her time with her love for books truly made me appreciate her as a character. I know it’s more of a personal connection, but I think that’s why Lundy has become one of my favorite characters.

“In the way of bookish children, she carried her books into trees and along the banks of chuckling creeks, weaving her way along their slippery shores with the sort of grace that belongs only to bibliophiles protecting their treasures.”

As always, Seanan McGuire has absolutely beautiful writing and finds a way to make every world feel alive, in more ways than one. I loved how in this book we get a sense of the goblin market being a living breathing person. Always watching, always knowing who’s being fair or unjust. Speaking of which, that’s the theme of this whole book. Like the others in this series, In An Absent Dream has a theme about what’s fair, what’s right, and what’s just. Throughout this book, we see how privilege comes into play and how without some form of balance there would be chaos. The way the goblin market is written is designed to make us realize how our system is broken and we as people need to do better by each other.

“That’s because you don’t know what fairness means. You’ve been in a place that wasn’t fair for so long that the things we’d been trying to teach you have been driven back into the shadows.”

We truly just need to be kinder to one another, to learn from the errors we make and realize we need to do better. And we truly need to do better at acknowledging our privilege and realizing that not everyone has the same privileges. And overall, just read Seanan McGuire’s books. I haven’t seen many books talk about important topics that usually never get addressed or sometimes get ignored because no one wants to hear about it. I’m truly grateful there’s a series out in the wild bringing these topics up. I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned it, but I truly think this series needs to be celebrated a little bit more and I can’t wait to read the next book in this series. If you’re a fantasy lover like me and you enjoy portal worlds, I whole heartily recommend this series to you.

“Enjoy yourself. There are many good things in the world, and each of them happens for the first time only once, and never again.”

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Witchy by Ariel Slamet Ries

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Content/Trigger Warnings: Content/Trigger Warnings: Loss of a parent, bullying, transphobia, medical examination difficultly, violence, oppression, abandonment

Friends, I have to say that I was really surprised by how much I fell in love with this graphic novel. I loved so much about this book from the the art style to the captivating story line, I really appreciate so many elements. This world is whimsical yet dangerous as a witch. You can also read this comic for free HERE!

Witchy is a graphic novel that takes place in the witch kingdom, Hyalin. Within this kingdom, the witches who live here are dependent on the length of their hair and depending on the length determines how powerful that witch may be. Thus, they take great pride in their hair length while those with shorter hair are often looked down upon. However, if a witch’s hair is too long, the government within the kingdom will hunt you down and burn you to your death. There’s also a school in this kingdom that teaches the youths to harness and develop their powers. These students are tested in their magical abilities, and if they complete all the tasks then they can be conscripted into the military guard to protect the kingdom. With this, many young witches and families see this as another great honor.

Yet our story doesn’t follow someone who loves their kingdom or desires to be part of the military guard, we follow a young witchling called Nyneve, who has a very different view of things. After she saw her father burned alive for being a powerful witch, Nyneve has come to resent the government of the kingdom and is forced into hiding her long hair. With the day of the conscription getting closer and closer, Nyneve begins to worry that someone might discover her secret.

During this whole book we follow Nyneve as she tries to survive the conscription at her school, following the ramifications of her actions, making friends in the unlikeliest places, and a new journey to discover the truth of this kingdom. The world itself is vast and beautiful, as we shift from scenes like the country side to the city, all the way out into the forest. There’s also some scenes inside an abandoned temple and you can tell just how much history the temple holds.

We also have a very diverse cast. For starters, the family dynamics with Nyneve and her mother. I’ve said this a few times in past reviews, but I have a super soft spot for books with a single mother household (I come from a single mother household). We also have many characters of color (I’m not fully sure, but I want to say most of them are South Asian), there’s a transgender character (I have no doubt they’re going to play a larger role), we also have multiple plus-sized characters featured throughout (but there are various body types featured throughout this book).

I also have to take a moment to appreciate a side character called Banana. They’re a talking raven who ends up finding Nyneve in the forest. Their banter together is hilarious and even though he’s a little ball of grumbles, all they want to do is help and protect Nyneve. It’s so precious and I can’t wait to see how they’re role comes into play later on!

“If others pull you from the darkness, it’s because they believe your life is worth living. Don’t push them away because you don’t feel you deserve it.”

Overall, I truly loved this graphic novel. I don’t want to reveal too much because I think any reader who picks this graphic novel up should go in without knowing too many details. I’m really curious to see what will happen next in this world. I want to know more and lowkey ship Nyneve and Prill together. And of course, I can’t wait to see more of the hilarious banter between Banana and Nyneve. I love reading books that have characters who take their own destiny into their own hands to choose their own path. I have high hopes for the next installment and I hope you all give this graphic novel a chance!

Read for The Reading Rush 💚

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Blog Tour | Wicked As You Wish (A Hundred Names for Magic #1) by Rin Chupeco

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Content/Trigger Warnings: Bullying, homophobia, minor hate crime, death of a parent, loss of a loved one, grief, talk of doxxing, talk of human trafficking, talk of child abuse, talk of slavery, police brutality, death, murder, anxiety, scenes of graphic violence (with ice wolves and the Snow Queen)

ARC was given by a dear friend.

This review is being published after the release date (March 3rd, 2020)

GoodReads Synopsis
Many years ago, the magical Kingdom of Avalon was left desolate and encased in ice when the evil Snow Queen waged war on the powerful country. Its former citizens are now refugees in a world mostly devoid of magic. Which is why the crown prince and his protectors are stuck in…Arizona.

Prince Alexei, the sole survivor of the Avalon royal family, is in hiding in a town so boring, magic doesn’t even work there. Few know his secret identity, but his friend Tala is one of them. Tala doesn’t mind—she has secrets of her own. Namely, that she’s a spellbreaker, someone who negates magic.

Then hope for their abandoned homeland reignites when a famous creature of legend, and Avalon’s most powerful weapon, the Firebird, appears for the first time in decades. Alex and Tala unite with a ragtag group of new friends to journey back to Avalon for a showdown that will change the world as they know it.


Fellow readers, I find myself in the minority who have read this book and actually really liked it. I truly enjoyed many elements that this book gives and it was so easy to get sucked into the banter of the characters. And let me just say, if you’re a fan of Once Upon A Time or the graphic novel series, Fables then you’re going to find many elements that you love and enjoy in this book!

Our story follows our main characters Alex, the prince of Avalon, and his best friend Tala Warnock who team up with a group of friends to save Avalon from the forces of the Snow Queen and her relentless ways. Together they will travel through portals, defend against ogres and ice maidens, build their friendships, learn of an ever unfolding prophecy, and face off with the Snow Queen! And of course, with a cheeky firebird tagging along for the ride. Though the journey ahead will be rough, they will stop at nothing to free the kingdom of Avalon.

First thing you should know, there is a lot happening in this book especially in the first couple of chapters in this book. From family shenanigans all the way to trying to fend off ICE agents, the first handful of chapters will be the biggest part many readers might struggle through. This book is set in our modern day world, only with a twist, and you really see a lot of political issues happening in the news today such as addressing treatment of immigrants and subtle nods towards endangered species and poaching. There’s also a lot of references to events in history such as the colonization of the United States. While we have the modern day element, we also see many beloved fairytales and folklore being twisted into the modern day element. I’m talking constant references to Alice in Wonderland, the Cheshire Cat, King Arthur and the sword in the stone, talk of Briar Rose and the sleeping needle, or even Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf are all made as real people only they have a character or plot twist that is different from the many tales we all know them from. And if there’s one thing I’m hoping for, it’s maps in the final copy. I love maps and I think the idea of the author creating her own map to really help give the reader a better world view, not only of Avalon, but all the other realms stated in this book would be really amazing to see!

“Every encounter I’ve ever had with them has been less than cordial. Their objectives are anathema to Avalonian values. We have always opened our arms to the defenseless; it is not their crime to have been born in dangerous places.”

With all of that being said, the world building is thrown into a lot of information dumping which may also hinder a reader’s ability to read this book. My biggest struggle with the world building was understanding how the spelltech worked. Glyphs were also introduced into the world building as well, but that seemed easier to understand compared to spelltech, how spelltach works and what the main purpose of spelltech is supposed to be. There’s also threat level for the magic and spells which I thought was really interesting and that breakdown really puts into perspective how the magic can be handled or used. We also get an introduction to the nine types of magic and I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was over excited about that part.

We also have a lot of characters and character introductions in this book. Of course we know about Tala, Tala’s family, and Alex, but we also have the Bandersnatchers group sent to protect Alex and we also have Lola Urduja and the Katipuneros. Every single one of them is unique and brings their own personality to the table. I mostly loved everyone that was introduced especially the Bandersnatches. The banter was fantastic and you really got the sense of a found family among all of them. Throughout the book we learn bits and pieces of them including more bits on Tala’s father, Kay. What I really wanted was more Cole Nottingham, but for now I’m satisfied with the details that slowly unravel. And I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I wasn’t secretly shipping Cole and Zoe together. They just have an electric connection that I just can’t get over.

However, with every group of characters, there will always be that one jerk who everyone ends up disliking and I hate to say that I really, really disliked Alex. That’s right, the Prince of Avalon is my most disliked character throughout this entire book. In the beginning Alex comes off as very caring and really listens to Tala, but once the firebird comes, he changes completely. Once the group is in Avalon, the entire time Alex is being rude, keeping secrets and giving everyone the cold shoulder, trying to put everyone’s safety (including his) and well being in jeopardy, he constantly lets his anger and frustration get the better of him to the point of him going off on all his travel companions and leaving Tala to clean up the aftermath or apologize in his stead, and so much more! Honestly, he has no redeeming moments and we never once see him actually take the time and effort to truly apologize to everyone.

“I don’t know if his attempts at redemption will ever outweigh his crimes. But I decided in the end he should at least be given the chance to… I think everyone deserves that much.”

And before I forget, the ending of this book… How dare the author give us an ending like that?! The ending of this book was everything that I was hoping for. There was something about it that blew me out of the water. Maybe it was Tala defending her da or maybe it was seeing the firebird and Tala’s connection to one another, or maybe, just maybe the very last page had my eye bulging out of my head and looking around for the next book. Whatever the case, the nail was hit on the head with that ending.

Overall, I am pleasantly surprised with how much I adored this book. I’m not going to lie, I was really nervous on how I was going to feel about this book. The beginning was really rough for me, but despite that, I loved so many elements from this book. I have said this a few times on social media, but this has a lot of vibes of Once Upon A Time and Fables. I definitely recommend checking those out if you really loved a lot of the elements from this book. I can’t wait to see what book two will have waiting for us!

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

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Rin Chupeco has written obscure manuals for complicated computer programs, talked people out of their money at event shows, and done many other terrible things. She now writes about ghosts and fantastic worlds but is still sometimes mistaken for a revenant. She is the author of The Girl from the Well, its sequel, The Suffering, and the Bone Witch trilogy.

Despite an unsettling resemblance to Japanese revenants, Rin always maintains her sense of hummus. Born and raised in Manila, Philippines, she keeps four pets: a dog, two birds, and a husband. Dances like the neighbors are watching.

Find out more about Rin over on: websiteGoodreadsInstagramPintrest and Twitter!


PRE-ORDER PROMO 1: If you pre-order WICKED AS YOU WISH on or before March 1, 2020 you will receive a character card of Tala and an enamel Order of the Bandersnatch firebird pin!

PRE-ORDER PROMO 2: From March 3rd – 31st 2020Rin Chupeco will be hosting an Instagram giveaway for WICKED AS YOU WISH! Just post a photo of the book with the hashtag #PRETTYWICKEDASYOUWISH and every participant will receive book swag (which will only be available during promos and not for the pre-orders)!

GIVEAWAY: The publishing house is offering 4 WICKED AS YOU WISH bundles. Open internationally.

Enter the Giveaway HERE

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The Fox and the Star by Coralie Bickford-Smith

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Friends, this was absolutely stunning and so beautiful! Though this was a fast read, I loved the way the story was woven and how everything concluded at the end. Even if you normally don’t read books like this, I can promise that there is something in this book you will fall in love with.

We follow a main character named fox who is friends with a star. It highlights their friendship until one day star disappears. Now fox must decide if he’ll hide until star returns or take matters into his own paws and track down his friend.

“He knew somewhere out there was a star that was once his.”

Aside from the story being absolutely heart warming, the artwork is absolutely stunning. If you couldn’t tell from the photos included in this review, there’s many pages that are truly beautiful and captivating. This is probably one of my favorite books with artwork in it. The color tones really help set the mood of each page and it just pulls you in.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book. The artwork is marvelous, the story holds so many lessons, and I think many readers will want to pick this up for future readathons. Plus, if you need something lighthearted to read or help pull you out of reading slump then this book would be perfect!

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A Curse So Dark and Lonely (Cursebreakers, #1) by Brigid Kemmerer

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Content/Trigger Warnings: Abduction, captivity, talk of cancer, terminal illness, loss of a loved one, murder, death, grief, torture, trauma/PTSD, abuse, a pedophile comment, attempted sexual assault (by Lilith), thoughts and attempts of suicide, a lot of ablest speech (always in a negative light from the villain)

“I am always surprised to discover that when the world seems darkest, there exists the greatest opportunity for light.”

Friends, I truly wanted to love this books with my whole heart. I mean, it’s a retelling and a Beauty and the Beast retelling at that. And we all know I love a good retelling, but despite many good elements this book offers, I couldn’t give this book five stars. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that book two will be better.

A Curse So Dark and Lonely is a Beauty and the Beast retelling that has the crown prince sealed into a Groundhog’s Day effect, where he’s forced to repeat the same season to find a love that will break the curse. But at the end of each season, should the prince fail to find love and break free of the curse, blood will be spilled and terror will descend upon the people of the kingdom. However, after three-hundred seasons, this will finally be the last season.

⚔️ The Characters ⚔️

⚔️ Harper – The Belle. Eighteen years old and living with high functioning cerebral palsy, Harper isn’t living the easiest life before she’s captured. Living with a mother who has cancer and can’t afford medical treatment, a father who vanished after stacking a high debt to crime lords, and a queer brother (Jake) who takes on the burden of providing and protecting the family. *Side Note: There are many forms of cerebral palsy, I can’t confirm if this is accurate representation. However, if you are an own voice reviewer please send me a link for your review so I can boost your voice and feelings about the representation!*

⚔️ Rhen – The Beast. The prince of the kingdom. I mentioned above that his goal is to bring a girl back to his kingdom and make her fall in love with him. Should he fail, he turns into a different beast each season and destroys anything and everything in his path. Then a new season will begin and the curse repeats itself.

⚔️ Grey – Rhen’s guard commander, the only living person left in the castle. He takes his job very seriously, loyal to the bone, and the only one with the ability to portal between worlds. With all that being said, Rhen bestowed the task of capturing the girls and bringing them back to the castle.

⚔️ Lilith – The enchantress. The one who cast the curse over Rhen and his kingdom.

⚔️ Freya – An underrated character of this book! A single mother of her own child and taking care of three of her sister’s children. A character that hit so close to home in every single way. I would love if she received her own novella or series because she is a true gem in this whole book and deserves her own happy ending.

All these characters will come together to set the scene for the rest of this tale and to deliver a different story of Beauty and the Beast. You will see Harper become a warrior princess and decide if she’ll save this kingdom from impending doom, Rhen decide if he truly wants to spend his last season withering away in a castle or if he’ll step up to save his people, and watch how things come into place.

Throughout this entire book, there’s a heavy element that opens up the discussion of responsibility. More specifically about taking responsibility for things you don’t have control over. Whether that be deteriorating health of loved ones or people doing bad things to you and the people you care about. There were so many scenes sprinkled throughout the book that open this discussion and I truly believe it’s important to shine light on that. Some things are out of our control and I think it’s very easy to just take responsibility. If you don’t who will, right? But sometimes it’s not our responsibility, when do we say enough is enough, and I like how it opens up so many discussions around this topic because so many fall to this default.

“We are all dealt a hand at birth. A good hand can ultimately lose – just as a poor hand can win – but we must all play the cards the fate deals. The choices we face may not be the choices we want, but they are choices nonetheless.”

I also want to talk about the mental health representation in this book. Let’s be honest, there’s a lot of mental health representation and struggles throughout this book, and I encourage any reader to practice self-care while reading this book. There were a lot of scenes in this book that were extremely hard to read through. More so from Rhen’s perspective of the book. Rhen undergoes a great deal of trauma and I believe with my whole heart that it is important to say that the trauma and PTSD Rhen suffers is very accurate, valid representation. Not all trauma comes from wars and sometimes it comes from someone mentally breaking you repeatedly, watching the people you love and care for have harm dealt to them. It touched very close to home and I really wanted to shine light on that because in society we don’t often talk about trauma or PTSD and the best way to break the stigma is by talking about it more. I also liked seeing the representation for mental strain, guilt, and the waves of grief we see Harper go through in the first couple of chapters of being separated from her mother and brother. One thing that isn’t often talked about is the guilt and mental strain someone can feel when they’re miles away from a loved one who is terminally ill. Seeing that representation with Harper in the first couple chapters of this book, it hit close to home and I know for many readers this will also hit home. There will be a lot of hard moments to read through in this book, but the representation of mental health is so accurate and I hope more readers will shine light on it.

“Not all scars can be seen, my lady.”

Unfortunately, I couldn’t give this book five stars. What really hindered my thought process and impacted my reading was the odd pacing and length of this book. There were chapters in this book that felt like it was just dumping information or details while there were other chapters that felt like they went by too quickly. I don’t often say this, but for the length of this book, I think the author could have introduced either Grey’s or Lilith’s perspective, have that three point of view situation, and I would have enjoyed it far more. Normally, I don’t like more than two point of views, but I truly believe the author could have really made this interesting with adding that third perspective instead of just giving us Harper and Rhen.

Overall, this was definitely a unique spin on Beauty and the Beast. I think if you’re a lover of Beauty and the Beast or retellings then you will probably want to add this to you list. And this is a trilogy! So there’s two more books right after this one and you bet your apple pie I’m rooting for Grey and Harper to end up together, someway, somehow. However, I don’t know if I’ll continue on with the series. I haven’t heard enough about the second book to consider picking it up. Maybe in the near future I will though, you never know. I am a sucker for a retelling!

Buddy read with Donna from Moms Book Collection ❤️

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The Tea Dragon Festival (Tea Dragon #2) by Katie O’Neill

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“There’s no reason you can’t start being a guardian now, even if it’s a little later than you intended.”

Dearest friends, if you thought I was going to miss this book then you are mistaken. I have eagerly been waiting for this book to drop ever since I finished The Tea Dragon Society. I loved the first book so much that I constantly go back and reread it just for something light and sweet. Now I can finally say that I will be rereading both of these books for comfort and happiness! And friends, I love this book, I love it with my whole heart. I love it as much as the first one and I truly hope we’ll be seeing plenty more in this series. If you haven’t thought about picking up either of these books, let me be the one to recommend both of these books to you with my whole heart and soul. If you love dragons as much as I do, you need these books.

This graphic novel starts off by showing us some very familiar faces. Erik and Hesekiel are back again, and it feels so good to see their pleasant, adventuring faces once more. They’re back to give us some good banter, but also as bounty hunters back to track down something ancient that’s causing people to fall asleep for years. But this story isn’t just about them. Our true star of this book is Rinn, who wants to become a great chef/cook. And one day while Rinn is out gathering some supplies for the village, she stumbles upon a sleeping dragon named Aedhan. After finding out their story, Rinn invites Aedhan to the festival.

What I love most about O’Neill’s work is she always makes them so diverse and this book delivers so much. There is a strong presence of Sign Language being used and taught throughout village in this book. O’Neill also included a section in the back of the book for more information on Sign Language for readers to learn more. Also, our main character Rinn is nonbinary/genderfluid. There’s also a conversation between Rinn and Aedhan about dragons being genderfluid and how dragons like to choose between the two genders, as well. And remember Erik and Hesekiel? Well they’re in an m/m relationship and they’re the cutest! Plus, the cast of characters is visible with brown skin.

“Just because something comes easily to you, does not mean it has no value. You find it effortless because you love it, and that is why it is your gift.”

Something I truly appreciated in this book was that moment between Rinn and Aedhan where Aedhan was teaching Rinn about how dragons can shift between genders. It was so beautiful and it made me feel very soft. As someone who used cross-dress and go by a gender neutral name; it was such an emotional moment and it made a huge impact with my reading experience of this book. I wish I had books like this growing up to say, “This is a thing, it’s normal, and there’s other out their like you.” Not only was that moment so movie, but seeing Aedhan tell Rinn how they’re worthy, they have value, and they shouldn’t feel lesser for the enjoyment and pride they get out of doing what they love… my soul left my body. Even more so because reading that moment shared between them, it came when I really needed to here those words the most. So now this book is completely imprinted on me!

Another thing I truly loved was how much emphasis was put on cooking in this book. Food and cooking is such a universal thing no matter where you come from. And I truly appreciated that this book really showed how you can cook with love, how cooking and learning from your elders is so important, that preparing the food and gathering supplies can be an intimate moment shared between two people. It’s something that can be done by anyone and at the end you can see the joy and the unconditional love shared between everyone who is partaking in the meal. In my family, cook is a very special thing. We’re taught to always cook and bake when you’re in a peaceful mood, a joyous mood, when you feel enlightened, or truly happy because those emotions will be poured into the food you prepare. Even now, I still like to uphold those traditions. So seeing how much the author put a focus and emphasis on the power of cooking, how it can bring people together, the intimacy, and the true beauty of cooking… I’m still very soft and caught up in my emotions.

Overall, I loved this book and I truly, deeply believe it’s a masterpiece that I hope more readers will read! I said it in the first book, but I’ll say it again here, I love the artwork and how captivating it is, how much emotion radiates from a panel. Both books have filled me with so much comfort, happiness, and joy, I truly hope Katie O’Neill will give us more from the Tea Dragon universe. Each book has such meaningful focuses and messages and I want everyone to read her books. Plus, I’m truly grateful for the reminder of you’re always worthy, you’re always needed, and you deserve love.

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There Will Come a Darkness (Age of Darkness, #1) by Katy Rose Pool

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ARC was given by Henry Holt and Company via Macmillion in exchange for an honest review

This review is being published before the release date (September 3rd, 2019)

Content/Trigger Warnings: Death/mass murder, talk of decapitation, talk of burning people alive, war themes, violence, starvation, trauma/PTSD, grief, loss of a loved one, abuse, torture

“In a moonlight room overlooking the City of Faith, a priest knelt before Ephyra and begged for his life.”

The Age of Darkness approaches.
Five lives stand in its way.
Who will stop it… or unleash it?

For generations, the Seven Prophets guided humanity. Using their visions of the future, they ended wars and united nations―until the day, one hundred years ago, when the Prophets disappeared.
All they left behind was one final, secret prophecy, foretelling an Age of Darkness and the birth of a new Prophet who could be the world’s salvation . . . or the cause of its destruction. As chaos takes hold, five souls are set on a collision course:
A prince exiled from his kingdom.
A ruthless killer known as the Pale Hand.
A once-faithful leader torn between his duty and his heart. 
A reckless gambler with the power to find anything or anyone.
And a dying girl on the verge of giving up.
One of them―or all of them―could break the world. Will they be savior or destroyer?

Synopsis from GoodReads

The Four Bodily Graces

🌻 Grace of Heart: Enhances strength, agility, speed, and senses; Wielded by: Elite fighters
🌻 Grace of Blood: Give and takes energy to heal or harm; Wielded by: Healers
🌻 Grace of Mind: Creates objects imbued with unique properties; Wielded by: Alchemists & artificers
🌻 Grace of Sight: Senses and locates living beings; Wielded by: Scryers

Main Characters

🌻 Ephyra – The Assassin, Sister to Beru
🌻 Beru – The Innocent, Sister of Ephyra, dying
🌻 Jude – The Protector, The Keeper of the Word
🌻 Anton – The Gambler
🌻 Hassan – The Prince, trying to reclaim his kingdom

Alright, first off, I completely and utterly recommend this book if you’re a lover of Wicked Saints or Shadow of the Fox. I say this because both of these books have made my top books for 2019 and so has There Will Come A Darkness. There’s also a very similar theme that all three of these books have in common and I’m living for it! I’m going to do my best to make this as reader friendly and spoiler free as possible, but I’m so in love with this book and I want everyone to go pre-order this book immediately. So if you’re not a fan of reviewers who gush about the things they love, this review might not be for you and that’s okay! I still hope you look into this beautiful debut for this trilogy! And if you’re still here then let’s get started!

“She sucked in a breath, shaking herself slightly. Her amber eyes, always disarming to Hassan, held something in them he hadn’t seen there before.”

If you were expecting a book from one or two perspectives, then you thought wrong! Pool uses the five perspectives of the five main characters and delivers an outstanding job of it. Normally, I’m the type of reader who doesn’t like more than three point of views, but Katy made each perspective interesting and shows how some of the characters over lap with one another. It worked really well with this story and I think if the author hadn’t wrote this book in the five perspectives then this book wouldn’t be as captivating and interesting as it is. And with there being so many different point of views, it’ll be easy for readers to learn their favorite and see who they’re truly rooting for while reading.

Now, I said this in Wicked Saints, but I’m back to do it again with There Will Come A Darkness because this little nerd needs to gush a little. I mentioned it before, but let me expose myself again, I love a book that has characters with special characteristics. As I mentioned in previous reviews, I do a lot of D&D and various other RPGs, I do cosplaying, and I do LARPing in my spare time. So, whenever there is a book with characters of certain character classes with special abilities or powers; sign me up, put that book in my hands, and don’t disturb me for the next week or so! I will be in a hole binge reading those books. That’s absolutely what happened with this book. I was so invested in all the characters, in the plot, it felt like I was watching this divided world fall to it’s knees. I was extremely partial to Ephyra and Beru. Immensely for Ephyra because her grace is used for healing and helping others. You know I’m a bit bias when it comes to my clerics and healers. Watching her walk that thin line with her grace, it was heartbreaking and it made me really reevaluate the characters I play. I don’t think a character has imprinted on me in such a way in a long time and to truly become an all time favorite character. I loved these characters with all my heart. Each character will remind the reader of something familiar and every time something would happen or they’d show a little bit of their personality, it was like a blanket of familiarity wrapped itself around me.

And speaking of these characters, I have such an immense love for each of them. None of these characters are good or bad, they’re morally grey and I loved every ounce of humanity they showed in this book. Watching them tread water between light and dark, watching some walk a thin line between doing just enough and doing something terrible, and reading them go through the emotions of things being too much to the moments of hope. I love when characters can display their humanity because it represents reality so much more than characters who are just good or just evil. Even though this book has an obvious villain or threat, all of our main characters tip their own scales of right and wrong. They are neither good nor bad, sometimes they do something they shouldn’t, or they find themselves fighting with the ones they care about most, or even find themselves doubting everything they are, what they represent, and if they really are the answer to making a difference. I truly believe that any reader will find themselves attached to one of these characters based off their personality, their actions, their inner thoughts, and doing what they believe is right even if it may be wrong at times. For me, Ephyra is the one character I’m attached to more than all the others. The bond she has with her sister and everything she does for her sister, how could I not get attached to her. But all the characters are just as good and I catch glimpses of familiarity in them as well. I think any reader will.

“Our Graces aren’t just our power – they’re our connection to the world. Without them we’re just…ash.”

Honestly, I couldn’t put this book down. There are so many good elements infused in this book that made it nearly impossible to put it down. Even when I found myself putting this book down, I was still vibrating from the adrenaline and the need to know what was about to happen next. The pace is fast and I had to take moments to remind myself to breathe. Each page is another piece, another clue, another bit to fill a much bigger picture. I also think the few twists that were added into this book really stirred the pot and it left me wanting more. Wanting more romance, wanting more of the two sisters, wanting more gut wrenching moments – just in a state of wanting because what was given was so beautiful, so heartstopping, so delicious and I need to have the second book now! Please and thank you!

Overall, I’m still trying to catch my breath from this book. This book blew me out of the water, took me by storm, and I don’t know how I can read anything else until I have the next book, in this trilogy, in my hands. This book truly felt like it was made for me and each moment I felt like I was sinking deeper into this world. Pool is going to be an author to watch because her writing is so beautiful in the way she paints her worlds, her characters, and how she can weave everything into a book that will steal your heart and soul. This is the book that reminded me why I love fantasy so much and I think anyone who may be in a reading slump, in need of a fast paced fantasy, in need of a reminder of why fantasy is your genre… you need to pick this book up when it comes out. I think many readers will regret it if they miss out on this book. And I don’t know when the second book is coming out, but you better believe I’m buying myself time until it comes out. I can’t wait!

“But it wasn’t Jude who’d failed to live up to his destiny. It was Anton. By trying so hard, for so long, to escape it, he had nearly doomed the both of them.”

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

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Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee

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Content/Trigger Warnings: Stealing, violence/fighting, death, grief, gambling, anxiety/panic attacks.


I ended up re-reading this with Melanie and Amy for the May pick for the Dragons and Tea Book Club! This was such a wonderful time and such a great experience, to see so many readers come together to share their thoughts on this book!

The Dates & Breakdown:
May 13th – Chapters 1 – 7
May 14th – Chapters 8 – 14
May 15th – Chapters 15 – 22
May 16th – Chapters 23 – 28
May 17th – Chapters 29 – End


“I’d never flown before, and here I was preparing to journey to the stars. What other choice did I have?”

On a dusty, backwater planet called Jinju, thirteen year old fox spirit Min has been dreaming a life in the stars. That dream soon becomes a reality when one day a stranger shows up at her home looking for her older brother Jun. Soon, Min is discovering unkonown family members, avoiding tigers, fighting along side space pirates, impersonating a ghost, and all the while enjoying the adventure of a lifetime! With challenges around every turn, Min feels torn in every possible way. Add an ancient Dragon Pearl into the mix and you got yourself an adventure that deserves to be told. Embark on an intense space adventure with Min and she searches for her missing brother and the lost Dragon Pearl!

Dragon Pearl is filled with magic, a Thousand Dangerous Worlds, dragons, tigers, ghosts and goblins (OH MY!) And of course the fox spirits, but mostly everyone believes they’re non-existent. With a bad reputation of being unreliable tricksters, no one wants them around. Our main character, Min and her family have been suppressing their fox spirit and their abilities (like charm and shape-shifting). Filled with mystery, action, and world building, it’s hard not to get sucked into this space opera.

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
🌻 Shamans – Healers, help ghosts crossover
🌻 Humans – Like you and me
🌻 Fox Spirits – Bad reputation, considered myths, extinct, Min and her family

“The lasting prejudice against us annoyed me. Other supernaturals, like dragons and goblins and shamans, could wield their magic openly, and were praised for it.”

Other Factions:
🌻 Dragon Council – Galactic government
🌻 Space Forces – Military, Min’s brother is a part of them
🌻 Mercenaries & Pirates – Factions of all kinds trying to survive by whatever means


Okay, this book had so many wonderful and perfect aspects! First, our main character has a great character development that I wish we got to see a little more in middle grade books. Min is thirteen years old and already laced with lots of responsibility at home. Once she embarks on the journey to track down Jun (her missing brother), she has to make choices and do things she never anticipated doing. The way she goes from being so unsure about things to near the end knowing what she wants and how she’s going to do it was just so impressive. And while this might be frowned upon, I loved the fact that Min was learning and using weapons was also included in this book. While I do frown upon violence with weapons, I loved that the whole “just because you know how to use a weapon doesn’t mean you have to use it” method was put in there. Not to mention the strength of the sibling bond between Min and Jun was incredible. Family is absolutely everything in this book! As someone who has four siblings and is very close to one of them, this was absolutely precious. I couldn’t get over that sibling bond and love. Also, fox spirits can choose their own gender. The author adding this little fact in just made my heart swell with happiness.

Once we get to the part of Min “joining” the Space Forces, there’s so much detail and different things happening. She also meets two insanely fun characters. We’re introduced to Sujin, a goblin, who has a clear obsession of shrimp crackers and it’s absolutely precious! Then we get introduced to Haneul who has been referred to as smelling of the sea. Both of these characters are each unique and both have amazing talents. Both have amazing character developments with a lot of twists and turns that I didn’t see coming! And one of the best elements in this whole section that I wish we got to see more of was Min entering the Engineer’s Trance. This trance happens when an engineer ends up synchronizing their gi with the ship’s where it ends up becoming part of the engineer’s own body. I wish we got more sections like this because I found this so fascinating and I just wanted more!

Other little bits I appreciated were mostly from the end of the book, like the very much Star Wars and Mulan vibes given, the way the mythology is woven throughout this book, the Dragon Pearl having response characteristics (making it seem alive and aware, and not making inanimate), the ghosts sharing their history/story about what happened to them, the planet being made new again, and a few other little bits that I don’t want to spoil for you!

Side note: There’s a moment in this book where the investigator of the Thousand Worlds, Securit Officer Seok, comes back into the picture and this moment about blew my mind. He’s taking Min home and the whole scene feels very Lilo & Stitch, Cobra Bubbles vibes! It’s perfection and I get the biggest smile every time I think of that part!


“Then the pearl hummed as if in approval, its iridescent surface glowing so brightly I was dazzled. Its colors swirled in a maelstrom of glittering blues, greens, and grays lit by starry gleams of silver. I stared at it, enthralled by its beauty.”

For the most part I enjoyed this book. There were only three issues that made it a bit challenging. For starters, the book starts off really slow. Some readers got into this book really quickly, but I’m not usually a big sci-fi reader so this book ended up taking me a little bit to get into. My other struggle was also one of the most detailed sections of the book and that was the Space Forces bit. A lot was happening within this whole section and at times it felt like things weren’t escalating or the section would feel like the details were weighing the multiple chapters down. Lastly, I really didn’t like how obvious the author made the villain. There were specific details that were stated in the book that implied there might have general concern or wanting to protect Cadet Jun, but the outcomes were so different. I loved the twists, but I wasn’t a fan of the obvious villain for this book. It became so predictable once it was made obvious of who the “bad guy” was and it fell a little flat.

Overall, I really liked this book. I was always wondering what was going to happen next and what Min was going to get up to. This is probably the first sci-fi book I read that delivered mystery with a playful side and I could definitely see this book being turned into the series (really hoping for a series!). Even the way this book ended was so beautifully done and there were even parts where I got emotional. Whether you’re a sci-fi reader or not, a middle-grade reader or not, this book is definitely for anyone and everyone. I had such a fun time reading it and once I got sucked in, it was hard for me to physically put it down. I recommend this book for anyone who’s interested in mythology and most definitely sci-fi. Plus, it’s just a really fun read and even better when you read it with friends!

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Monstress Vol. One: Awakening by Marjorie Liu & Sana Takeda

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Other creators involved in the making of this comic include: Art by Sana Takeda, Lettering & Design by Rus Wooton, Editing by Jennifer M. Smith, and Editing Assistance by Ceri Riley.

Content/Trigger Warning: Violence, trauma, human trafficking, slavery, child brutality, death, inhumane experimentation, possible drug abuse, lots of gore and violent themes, very graphic content, cult themes, war themes. *This is a very, very dark story, and it doesn’t shy away from that darkness, the violence, or the brutality.*

“To quote the poets …. we’re fucked.”

With Monstress, we step into the 1900’s matriarchal Asia following a seventeen year old girl named Maika. Our story starts off with our main character sharing her inner thoughts while being sold into slavery. As the reader, in these first few moments, you will notice her missing arm and largely, red tattoo of an eye on her chest. Even though our heroine has found herself in a sticky situation, she’s a lot stronger and fiercer than she appears to be.

Maika is not only struggling with the trauma of the war, but she’s trying to find the answers to her past all while she battles her inner demons and an ancient monster who seems to be living within her. Thankfully she doesn’t have to go this journey alone! An adorable little half-fox (possibly kitsune origin!) and a poetic two-tailed cat at her side, Maika will embark on a journey to survive, discover her true self, learn about her past, and keep the pieces of a mysterious and highly sought after mask out of the clutches of evil.

In this world there are five races:
🌻 Humans – Like you and me.
🌻 Ancients – Immortal, animal-like rulers with an immense amount of power.
🌻 Cats – Much like people, can speak and fight, but much more adorable.
🌻 Old Gods – Little to no knowledge of them.
🌻Arcanics – Half-breeds.

“Yes. Miss Halfwolf scares me a lot. But that doesn’t make her a monster. Don’t be like the Witches, Master Ren. They call us monsters because it makes it easier to hurt us. But monsters are people too.”

Also in this world, there are factions at war:
🌻 The Federation – Humans, who just hate magic users and refuse to let them live and breed. These humans will take Arcanics and make them slaves to do whatever terrible things they wish.
🌻Arcanics – Magic users, who are sort of hybrids of the Ancients. Also, two powerful courts, the Dawn Court and the Dusk Court, have risen up to defend against the Cumaea.
🌻 Cumaea – Witch-like people that use Arcanic’s body parts to make Lillium.

Not going to lie, this comic was a little hard for me to stomach. I made it 1/3 of the way through this graphic novel before I had to put it down. I would say that the first half of this book definitely requires being in the right mind set and I definitely recommend setting the comic down if you start to feel nauseous. Highly recommend peppermint tea while reading the first half. However, the way things really pick up after that first half will have you on the edge of your seat.

In this world, people in this will use a drug like substance called Lillium for power, regeneration, and in some cases, resurrection. Between the war and the use of this magical substance, this world is also now aware of things much bigger than the Federation and Arcanics (and they all have a right to be concerned and afraid).

I’ll admit, this first volume…it’s thick! Most bind-ups have a couple of comics all grouped together, but this feels almost as thick as one of my deluxe edition comics (not that I’m complaining!). This comic also has a significantly larger writing content than most graphic novel too! In this first volume, you get lots of information,l lots of details, some history tid-bits, and you obtain all of this is a very fast paced fashion. While this works for a lot of readers, there were some areas where I really wish I didn’t get the as much details (can you guess what some of those areas are?!), but other than those parts, it worked to pull me through to the end of the comic. I can understand why others might feel more immersed or completely turned off by all that detail and information, so I really wanted to give my experience with this comic.

Even though there were parts of this graphic novel that turned me off, I can’t help but constantly thinking back to the world and the information I have yet to receive. The world building is incredible and a lot of the art really captures a lot of the information , and detail we gain in this comic. The story and the art will just leave such an impact with the reader. This comic twisted my gut, but I can’t stop thinking about what’s going to come in the next volume. This is that kind of story that will just stick to you like glue!

“There’s more hunger in the world than love.”

While I didn’t love everything about this graphic novel, it truly is a great story filled with enticing characters, stunning artwork, and great representation. For me, I still have another comic series that still ranks as my number one, but this comic is definitely in my top five and for sure, in my top ten.

If you can stomach hard hitting topics and imagery, please look into this comic series and consider giving it a try. There’s so many incredible elements in this graphic novel that deserve to be appreciated. Everything is beautifully woven together to deliver a master piece to it’s readers. Once again, be aware of the content and trigger warnings, and give this graphic novel a try.

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