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Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker & Wendy Xu

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Content/Trigger Warnings: Talk of abusive parent figures, captivity, grief, loss of loved ones in the past

“I always thought they were so sweet together.”

Dearest reader, I completely fell head over heels for Mooncakes! From the black cats to the witchy magic, to unconditional family love and found family love, to the struggles of becoming the person who you want to be and on your own time, to wise butt-kicking grannies, to the cutest F/NB relationship I have been waiting for, my heart is so full and I’m so in love with this graphic novel! My heart is so full!

When news of strange activity happening in the woods reaches Nova, she ends up following a white wolf into the forest. Not knowing what to expect, she certainly wasn’t expecting a demon horse to appear out of nowhere fighting her childhood best friend and crush. Teaming up together (and some witch-tastic grandmas), Tam and Nova will help one another, but find each other all over again. And soon, they’ll uncover the dark intentions lurking in their own town and real power of werewolf magic.

Aside from all the paranormal and magical goodness happening in this book, the characters will have you falling in love. Our first main character is Nova who’s Chinese-American who’s still coping with the death of her parents, while also living with her two grandmothers (they are seriously the cutest), and is also hearing impaired. And our second main character is Tam who’s also Chinese-American, is nonbinary and a werewolf who grew up with Nova, but recently left their family for mistreatment and for unkindness.

If you still haven’t fallen in love yet then let me add on with both of our main characters are young adults who are still learning and discovering things about themselves, both together and separately. Both Tam and Nova are dealing with hurt from their parents and even though they’re both two different kinds of hurt, they’re both supporting one another through their struggles and challenges with unconditional love. Unconditional love is one of the most powerful forces and it’s so beautiful to watch these two characters connect with one another is so many ways. It’s beautiful, powerful, and my heart is still melting and sobbing from how this graphic novel concludes.

Overall, I’m always here for a queer book with magical elements and paranormal activity, sprinkled with lots of family bonds and unconditional love. This was everything I wanted for the fall season and I’m so glad that I picked this book up! The representation was fantastic, the artwork is absolutely stunning, and magical/paranormal elements are so good. If you’re looking for some cute, full of meaning and underlying messages, and something quick to pull you out of a reading slump then you need to read this book before the fall season is over with!

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The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones

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Content/Trigger Warnings: Death, loss of a loved one, grief, death of an animal

“The living had a tendency to make promises they could not keep.”

Nothing stays buried forever.

Ryn only cares about two things: her family and her family’s graveyard. And both seem to be hanging by thin strings. The existence of a gravedigger is slowly being pushed aside and Ryn’s family is barely scraping by in their small village. There’s just one catch…the dead don’t always stay buried. Some say an ancient curse is the cause of the bone houses rising, but when a mapmaker by the name of Ellis arrives in town, things will never be the same again. The bone houses are becoming more aggressive and only Ryn can put a stop to their terror. Teaming up with Ellis, Ryn sets out on a journey to put an end to this curse and stop the bone houses, once and for all.

Readers, I loved this book immensely. I devoured this book and I never wanted to put this book down. Anything that has any for of necromancy, I am always here for it and this book is no exception. There’s necromancy, a subtle romance, and a hilarious goat that can’t stop, won’t stop! I’m hear for all of it and now I’m convinced I need to read more work by this author. I never anticipated this to become one of my favorites of 2019, but here we are and so excited to tell you about it.

Our story is split between two perspectives. We have the perspective of seventeen-year-old Ryn who’s a gravedigger and loves her family with her whole heart. She’s a strong-headed lady who would do anything to protect her family and their graveyard from falling into the wrong hands even if that means bargaining and taking jobs to guide weary travelers through all kinds of danger. There’s also the perspective of Ellis, a simple mapmaker who has found his way into Colbren. Unfortunately for him, his first night arriving to the village ends up with him being attacked by a bone house. Fortunately for Ellis, he meets our daring heroine Ryn. Ellis has a mysterious past and there’s more to him that meets the eye. With Ryn being backed into a corner from the bone houses venturing out of the forest to trying to prevent her family from losing their home, Ryn quickly accepts the offer of being Ellis’s guide for his map making the minute he mentions it. Thus our unlikely pair being their journey.

“Pain doesn’t make a person weak or strong, pain just – is. It’s not a purifier, it’s a part of living.”

This book was everything my heart needed for the month of October. There is a main theme of family means everything in this book. Ryn is very family focused from protecting her siblings to waiting for her father to return one day, Ryn would do anything for them. I also really loved how open Ryn was about her fear of losing the ones she loved and cared about. I definitely saw myself a lot in Ryn’s character. Ellis has no idea who his parents are. On this journey he’s trying to track down his parents and where he came from. We also have a goat who rose from the dead as a bone goat to follow Ryn and protect her from any harm that may find them on their journey. There’s just a strong sense of family throughout this book and it made me so soft, sappy, and a little weepy. I’m a very family oriented type of person and I would do anything for my own family. So reading this book was like a piece of my soul imprinted on the pages.

We also get amazing chronic pain representation in this book. Our main character, Ellis, has an old injury that he has to cope with. When the pain from this old wound flares up, he has to use willow bark to help. Ellis also talks about all the various treatments he had to undergo while under the care of his prince. My heart ached so much for Ellis. As someone who suffers from chronic pain and has family members who also suffer from chronic pain, Ellis was so relatable and a lot of the details that are talked about are very accurate. Chronic pain is one of the more lesser medical conditions that get talked about especially in books. The fact that we get so many moments of Ellis battling the pain, taking into account his medical supply, and the scene of him trying to tell Ryn about his injury and his pain, it’s like a breath of fresh air.

I also have to take a moment to talk about the goat in this book. I swear, this goat was a hilarious highlight of this whole book. This goat follows Ryn and Ellis on their journey to protect them from anything that may want to cause them harm. This goat pops up at the most ridiculous times, but at some of the most important moments as well. This goat scales a wall in the mine sideways, but acts like a guard dog while Ellis was in immense pain. I loved this goat and is was a great little bit to keep the mood light at times. I’ll admit, I was really rooting for that goat to be magic!

I am going to add a little breakdown right here, spoiler free. This book is broken up into three parts and this breakdown will help you get an idea of what each section holds.

💀 The LivingThis sets the scene. We’re introduced to Ryn and her siblings, their financial situation, and details of the town. We also learn about the bone houses. We also met Ellis in this section. Ryn offers him guidance throughout the this section and eventually offers to be his guide into the mountains.

💀 The DeadThis is where the journey begins. Everything that happens to Ryn and Ellis on their journey happens in this section. Ryn and Ellis also begin to reveal more about themselves to each other. We learn about Ryn’s Uncle and Ellis reveals his chronic pain and injury. Also, a lot of battle along the way and some subtle romance brewing!

💀 The AfterThis is Ryn and Ellis after the bone houses have been stopped and the curse has been lifted. Both of our main characters are figuring out what the future holds and what it means to keep on living.

“I grew up thinking monsters could be slain.”
“And I grew up thinking people were the monsters.”

There are only two things to this book that I think many readers will have issues with. The first issue is the dialect. There’s a very “olden time” dialect that gets spoken throughout this book and if you’re not used to seeing or hearing dialect like that then I think it will be challenging for any reader. The other issue is the ending of this book. Without going into spoilers, I’ve talked about this with my buddy reader and a few other readers who have also finished the book, who felt that the ending was very predictable or hinted to far too soon in the book. Now, this wasn’t the case for my reading experience. I was so fully caught up in the moment, the action, and how everything was unfolding that it didn’t really register with my reading experience. However, that is something to be aware of if that’s something that might impact your reading experience.

Overall, I loved this book with my whole heart and soul! It was the perfect book for me to read right now and I’m so glad I didn’t put this book off or set it aside. It truly is a wonderful book to read for the spooky season and even in the fall in general. There’s so many wonderful, hidden messages in this book and it will truly warm the heart. Plus necromancy! Who can refuse a book with necromancy happenings taking place?! What a read for this spooky season!

Buddy read with Donna from Moms Book Collection

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Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate

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Content/Trigger Warnings: Talk of homelessness, starvation, grief

“And right then I knew, the way you know that it’s going to rain long before the first drop splatters on your nose, that something was about to change.”

Things couldn’t be more dark and difficult. Jackson and his family has fallen into some hard times. And each inching second seems like their family is one step away from living in the family car. Again. Then Crenshaw starts reappearing, again. He’s large, outspoken, and he’s Jackson’s imaginary friend. He’s back and this time he’s here to help save Jackson and his family from losing everything.

Friends, I have one again fallen into an emotional hole of books that hit close to home. In read this book back in October 2018 and I decided to pick this book back up again this fall as well. There couldn’t have been a more perfect time to read this book! I’m going to be honest, I’m about to get sappy, emotional, and I’m going to get personal. Crenshaw is the book I needed as a child, but is the book I longed for as an adult.

Jackson is a no-nonsense kind of kid. He believes in science and he prefers the facts over stories. He’s determined to grow up to be the best animal scientist he can be. Oh yeah, and he has an imaginary friend who just so happens to be a giant cat. Crenshaw is outspoken, appears at the most random moments, and adores Jackson. Only Jackson doesn’t want Crenshaw around. He wants Crenshaw to disappear so he can deal with much bigger issues. However, Crenshaw is here to help and he’s going to help Jackson whether he wants it or not.

“Imaginary friends are like books. We’re created, we’re enjoyed, we’re dog-eared and creased, and then we’re tucked away until we’re needed again.”

I love this book with my whole heart and soul. Applegate does a beautiful job of weaving together a story that address really important topics that hit close to home. One of those topics is how parents handle life changing, hard situations when their kids are involved. In Crenshaw, Jackson’s family falls on incredibly hard times. The money is all gone, the rent bills are piling up, there’s no food in the apartment, they’re selling off a lot of their things, the parents are fighting a lot, and Jackson’s parents keep putting up a happy front to make things seem fine. You can really see how the happy front really affects Jackson and his sister in this book. While Jackson’s sister it’s fully aware due to her age, Jackson is old enough to put all the clues together and knows that things are changing, history repeating itself. I loved that. I love that we get to see things from a child’s perspective and truly see children are very much aware of the things going on in their surroundings. To truly see that they really just want the truth from their parents. What had me breaking at the seams was the fact that this middle-grade book addresses homelessness and hunger. It’s not often talked about in books, let alone middle-grade books, but every second broke my heart. Looking at the way Jackson handles a lot of the situations that pop up in this book, I couldn’t find a more better character who mirrors my own. And I think Crenshaw does a marvelous job of accurately showing what so many children go through out there when it comes to families struggling financially or going through homelessness.

For me, personally, Jackson is so easy for me to relate to. Growing up, while my family never ended up homeless, we had a lot of financial struggles. There were times where we would go a week or two without food or we would go a whole month just eating ramen before we could actually have groceries in our house. I was also in a same position like Jackson when he was constantly seeing his parents fight from a distance. It’s not often talked about, but at such young ages children are very perceptive and can figure things out without too much details. It’s not hard to see things from a distance and notice just how bad things are becoming. Schooling wise, Jackson wasn’t really able to participate in things he had a deep interest in like soccer camp for example. Even though he said it was fine he was deeply conflicted and upset about the whole thing. From my own experiences, when you’re growing up in a situation where there’s financial struggles, there’s hardly any food on the table, you constantly sacrifice things you want to do at school or even sell off your own items so you can help your family, you convince yourself that things are fine or they’ll get better, but there’s a lot of internal damage that comes with all of that. However, convincing and believing are two different things when you’re a child. As you read in this book, you see at what lengths Jackson reaches because he’s spent most of his childhood convincing himself he’s fine with everything . He reaches a point where he is splitting himself in two with what he’s trying to convince himself and what he truly believes and feels. It’s absolutely heartbreaking and really hits in the gut. His story is so strong that you can’t help, but getting emotional just like he does.

Then we have Crenshaw himself. We find out that Jackson doesn’t really have a lot of friends. In fact his social circle just consists of one girl named Marisol. Other than that his other friend is one black, giant cat named Crenshaw. Crenshaw is basically Jackson’s helper of coming to terms with his true feelings about his situation and convinces Jackson to just speak his mind. “Tell the truth; it will set you free.” As you read you come to terms that Crenshaw isn’t any imaginary friend, but he’s like a guide for Jackson. The best term I can think of, Crenshaw is like a lighthouse in the eye of a bad storm and Jackson is a boat who needs to get to shore. Crenshaw may be an imaginary friend, but for Jackson he is very real. We get moments of Jackson trying to understand how he can be his imaginary friend and touch him, but no one else can really experience him or see him. He’s like this embodiment of the childhood Jackson should of have, but due to all the struggles his family is going through Jackson has somehow convinced himself that he’s too old for an imaginary friend, there’s a scientific reason for him seeing his imaginary friend, and just overall Jackson wants to reject that part of himself without realizing just how badly he needs Crenshaw in his life in this moment. Crenshaw is such an important key to this story. Without Crenshaw, Jackson would never come to terms with his feelings or even confine in Marisol about his imaginary friend and some of the things happening with his family.

“What bothered me most, though, was that I couldn’t fix anything. I couldn’t control anything. It was like driving a bumper car without a steering wheel. I kept getting slammed, and I just had to sit there and hold on tight.”

The greatest thing this book offers is this book opens the floor up for so many discussions. From ‘How do parents deal with a curve ball unexpected life situation- totally unplanned that affect their children?‘ to ‘How does a father help support his family when disabled? How can a wife/ mother be most supportive in the most challenging situations?‘ It’s an incredibly powerful book that young kids will be able to relate to and it allows them to go to their parents and have open discussion. This is also a really touching book that many adults can read to because it allows them to become more open with their children and have a larger family discuss. It’s incredible to think have much this one little book can change and impact. I have never been the same since reading this book and I always think about it around this time of year.

Overall, this was a beautiful book to read. A piece of me has been taken by this book and I couldn’t be happier with it. I definitely wish more readers were reading Crenshaw and having discussions about this book. This is a book that truly shows how messy life can be and how even though things may become really hard, you will always have the ones who love you. If you find you have a chance to pick a copy of this book up, please do. It’s a remarkable book and I just can’t stop recommending it with my whole heart and soul!

“Life is messy. It’s complicated. It would be nice if life were always like this.” He drew an imaginary line that kept going up and up. “But life is actually a lot more like this.” He made a jiggly line that went up and down like a mountain range. “You just have to keep trying.”

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Sadie by Courtney Summers

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Content/Trigger Warnings: Pedophilia, loss of a loved one, death, talk of murder, bullying, assault, sexual assault, extreme parental abandonment and neglect, talk of suicide, drug use/drug addiction, underage drinking, grief, cheating, toxic relationships, graphic violence, and more!

“But love is complicated, it’s messy. It can inspire selflessness, selfishness, our greatest accomplishments and our hardest mistakes. It brings us together and it can just as easily drive us apart.”

Dearest readers, my heart is heavy, broken, and in complete awe. It has taken me a great length of time to finally… finally write this review. Sadie is worth every ounce of praise it receives. I truly wish I had invested in the audiobook because I can only imagine how chilling and heartbreaking this book would sound from the vocals of another person reading it. I didn’t know how I was going to feel going into this book and now that I’ve read it… I don’t think I’ll ever be the same. This book tackles so many rough topics and even though this book is dark and steals my breath, I will forever recommend this book. And the thing is, books have a way of coming in our life to remind us of the things we’ve overcome and the scars of our survival. I will never forget Sadie and her story, and I will never stop telling mine to those who will listen.

The story of Sadie is told in two alternating formats between a podcast and Sadie. Sadie is nineteen-years-old and walks a dark path to murder the person who she thinks took the life of her thirteen-year-old sister, Mattie. However, the podcast takes place five months behind the steps of Sadie and West McCray is trying hard to catch up. But between these alternating chapters, they come together to paint a bigger, beautifully dark, and sorrowful story. And please keep this in mind, though I have listed the content and trigger warnings, this book holds a lot of dark themes and any reader should use caution while reading this book. Please make sure you’re in the right head space and use practice self-care while reading this book.

“That’s a real tragedy and I mean it. It’s sad when people don’t realize their worth”

Throughout this story, we receive so many bits and pieces. It’s a little trail of bread crumbs that lead us to the final outcome of Sadie’s journey. And the entire time, we as the readers, are kept wondering and guessing what will happen next, what will be the final outcome. Taking these parts and then adding the podcast element where more information gets revealed that we never got to discover in Sadie’s perspective, the author created a masterpiece. Everything became woven together so incredibly well and I truly became invested in the story as a whole. To be honest, I kind of wished I had experienced this through audiobook because the podcast would throw me off at times and it was a bit tougher to process while reading especially since in some parts we get multiple people talking and different things happening in the background.

I want to take a moment to truly address a big concept that many people still can’t seem to grasp even nowadays. For whatever reason it’s incredible hard for people to understand that pedophiles and rapists can be outstanding people in our community, kind, the top of their class, successful, and they can even be someone who is very close to you. But these traits do not change the fact that they are rapists or pedophiles. And I’m about to get super emotional, super heavy, and voice a bit of my own story. I grew up being taught that when someone committed an act of harm and trauma to my body, I had to stay silent. That if anyone found out that I would be shunned or it would make me worthless. It’s incredibly terrible. The amount of shame that I felt as a thirteen year-old girl and being told by the people around me, “No one can know. It’s our little secret.” It was the most suffocating, most painful, and one of the most damaging experiences I ever went through. And we live in a society where we are still teaching our children that when these things happen to them to stay silent and that it’s something to be immensely ashamed of. Our system is so broken that rapists and pedophiles can keep committing these acts over and over, and no one wants to hear or believe the voices of the victims especially if they’re poor or uneducated. When I was raped for the first time, I remember having a friend drive me to the hospital late at night and I remember both the doctor and the police officer actually cracked a joke and told me straight to my face, “You should feel lucky that someone would even want to touch your body in a sexual way.” Hearing words like that coming from the people who are supposed to protect the victims and make them feel safe, make them feel like they can talk about what happened to them… it shatters the soul and it takes away their voices. And Courtney Summers does an outstanding job really showing that point throughout that book. The worst part is it takes a book to say to the entire world to start listening to your victims because our world would rather listen to the ones who can throw around the most money and power.

Never in my dreams did I believe I would read a book about a girl taking matters into her own hands where justice fails. To read about a nineteen-year-old girl reclaiming her own power, her body, her heart, her soul, and along with actually succeeding in getting her vengeance. It is one of the most powerful and liberating things I have read in a long time. It’s truly a remarkable journey and one of the best experiences I have had with a dark book.

“My eyes are wide and wild and I can’t see beyond them. I can only see what they’ve seen.”

The representation in this book is also incredible. Our main character, Sadie, has a severe stutter. Throughout this book we learn how Sadie has always lived with the stutter and how the stutter isn’t always a constant. I knew going into this book our main character had a stutter, but this is my first time ever seeing that representation in a book. It was so beautifully heartbreaking because we see Sadie struggle to voice her words when she’s feeling extreme anger or sadness and its one of the most gut-wrenching things to read about. There’s also a few brief times in this book where Sadie has some intimate moments. One with a side character named Javi and another side character named Cat. If there’s anything you can take away from those moments, Sadie is definitely not straight. She’s either bisexual or pansexual. It’s never truly stated, but it’s very easy to pick up the those vibes in those moments. And finally, Sadie as a whole delivers some of the strongest poverty representation. In today’s written work, that representation is incredibly hard to come across and I think I’ve only encountered it twice before reading this book.

And finally I can talk about the family dynamic in this book. There is such a strong presence of ‘the single mother with kids’ representation in this book and my heart was so full reading that. While I wish it could have been under less darker circumstances, as someone who comes from a single parent home, it made me really soft and sappy because that’s something I’m still not used to seeing in books. Obviously, I loved how Sadie feels about Mattie all throughout this book. My brother and I are vastly different in age and so reading about a main character with an age gap with their sibling and they’ve also undergone abuse, I was shattering into a million pieces. The unconditional love Sadie gives to Mattie though is so pure and seeing her do anything for Mattie, it was ripping my heart out. I would go to war for my brother and having a main character who feels the exact same way I do about my sibling, it was everything and it choked my heart. It’s nearly impossible for me not to see Sadie and Mattie as my brother and I, and I truly believe that’s why this book has hit me so hard from the moment I started reading it. I always say how much I love hard hitting books that shatter me in the best ways and this book goes above and beyond. I don’t think I can love another hard hitting book the way I love this book. This book took a piece of my soul and Sadie and Mattie eternally have my heart.

“I realized pretty early on that the who didn’t really matter so much. That anybody who listens to me, I end up loving them just a little”

Overall, wow… just wow. I don’t think I will ever find another book that has mapped so many trails that make up who I am today. This book was like watching a piece of my past all over again and I’m just completely stunned. This book is heartbreaking, full of sorrow, and it’s one of the few books that have resonated with me. It was like finally hearing someone say, “You can voice your story.” This book is absolutely everything and I will never be over this. I have shed so many tears over this book and even though it may break the heart, there are some beautiful quotes this book delivers. I will forever be recommending this book, full heart and soul. Whether you have a strong sibling relationship or you’re trying to find your voice, this is a book everyone needs to read. This is a book that can change the world and make a difference for so many victims out there. What a masterpiece!

Before I wrap this review up… I need anyone who needs to hear it to know two very important things: One; If you need to talk to someone, anyone, please know that RAINN is always available 24/7 and they’re completely confidential. You can also call 800.656.HOPE at any time, as well. Two; I hear your voice, I understand and have been there, I believe you and you don’t have to be silent, you deserve to have your voice heard.

Buddy read with Donna from Moms Book Collection | Her Review❤️

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Every Heart A Doorway (Wayward Children #1) by Seanan McGuire

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Content/Trigger Warnings: Death/murder, graphic content, trauma, talk of gender dysphoria, minor transphobia

“It gets better. It never gets easy, but it does start to hurt a little less.”

Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children
No Solicitations
No Visitors
No Quests

Children have been disappearing under all the right conditions with all the love and care they could hope for. Slipping through cracks, fading into the shadows under their bed, falling deep into the pits of a well, or stumbling through the back of the wardrobe… only this time they find themselves some place new, some place magical. But these lands come with a price and besides, what magical realm has use for a miracle child who’s used up all their luck…

Every Heart A Doorway follows the journey of Nancy, a pale girl who wants nothing more than to tumble back down her door. A door that leads to ghosts and for her, a life of being the perfect statue. She’d not the only child who lands at the home for Wayward Children. Oh no, plenty of children under Eleanor’s care understands the longing and desire to go back through their door, just like Nancy does. But Nancy’s arrival isn’t the only thing that shakes things up. Something evil begins to lurk in the shadows and when tragedy strikes, Nancy will find herself teaming up with outcasts yet some new friends to solve the reason behind the dark deeds brewing at the Home for Wayward Children.

“Death was precious. That didn’t change the fact that life was limited.”

If you would have told me I’d be thrown down a rabbit hole and become obsessed with this series, I probably would have awkwardly chuckled and ate some popcorn. Now, I’m in so deep. So deep that I already ordered the next two books in the series because I know I’m going to binge read the daylights out of this series! And I already have the fourth book lined up in my cart! It was so good and I still can’t believe I’ve waited so long to read Every Heart A Doorway!

Seanan McGuire is a legend from packing this book with so much representation! I can’t begin to list how many books I’ve read that barely had any representation, if any at all! Not only does McGuire give us a main character who’s asexual, but we get a second main character who’s transgender. Take my soul now! Not to mention, this book abolishes gender roles, but we also get a scene where transphobia is shut down with assertiveness and then there reinforcement of love. It was so wonderful read and simply wonderful.

If you were expecting a book of romance and fairy tales then this probably won’t be a book up you’ll be into. Basically, this book is a murder mystery that takes place inside the Wayward Children boarding school. This boarding school is home to many (seventy some children) children who have traveled through doors that are portals to magical worlds or realms. These children have spent so much time there that they come back changed and they no longer fit into society. You wouldn’t either if all you wanted to do was go back to the place that made you finally feel like you found your place in the world. Home is where the heart is.

“You’re nobody’s rainbow.
You’re nobody’s princess.
You’re nobody’s doorway but your own, and the only one who gets to tell you how your story ends is you.”

I’ll admit, this book did a few blows to me. As I already mentioned, this book is pretty diverse with it’s characters. But the thing that gut punched me every time was the content of trauma in this book. It’s such an important topic and often times, not many books like to address trauma or acknowledge how important addressing trauma is. In this book, you have all these kids who feel completely displaced and they no longer feel like kids. These kids travel to these mystical realms and it changes them, and unfortunately, it leads to them suffering from PTSD. The worst part is they don’t even have the support they need from their loved ones. Most of these kids’ loved ones don’t believe their children and instead have their children shipped off to this boarding school to get “fixed.” My soul breaks for these children because I have been there and I’m still right there. And Seanan McGuire just hit the nail on the head with trauma because in reality, most kids don’t get the support of their loved ones when they go through traumatic events and they get shipped off to get “fixed” when all they need is someone to say they understand and they’re here for them. Thankfully, we have a character like Eleanor because she may have the ability to open any door at any given time, but she stays in the real world to care for these children who may never go back to their magical worlds.

“We cared about the fact that for the first time, we didn’t have to pretend to be something we weren’t. We just got to be. That made all the difference in the world.”

Not every child was from the same realm though. Many children at the boarding school were from different doors that led to different magical realms and those realms didn’t always get along well with other realms. Our main character Nancy actually comes from the realm of the Underworld (and yes, we get a name drop of Persephone, my Queen!). The Lord of the Dead makes a promise to Nancy that Nancy will return, but only if she’s “sure” or when she’s truly ready, but being back in the real world throws her some curve balls and suddenly she’s starting to have doubts. As I mentioned, other children at the boarding school had very different realms compared to Nancy. Some children come from places similar to Candyland while others may come from realms that sound more like a world ruled by Dracula to lands that are battle grounds for fairies and goblins. One can never truly know what they’ll find on the end of a mysterious door.

“This world is unforgiving and cruel to those it judges as even the slightest bit outside the norm.”

Overall, I don’t think I have anything negative to say about this book. Other than the fact that I wish this book didn’t end so soon. For a book so short, it really packed a punch to my gut and as I had already mentioned, I already ordered the next two books in this series. I think anyone who loves a good mystery and loves fantasy should read this book. If you get the opportunity to read this series and you still haven’t read this series (like me) then let me be the person you need, to tell you to go pick this series up and then come gush about this book with me!

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Playlists

Heartstopper Reading Playlist

Salutation Chapterlings! I feel like it’s been a hot minute since I’ve done another playlist! If you remember, the last playlist I posted about was about some of the ambiance I listen to while I’m trying to really knock out some reading. On there I had mostly asmr themed sounds except for one or two videos. I also mentioned my friend, Emily who has her own bookish inspired playlists! I can’t recommend her playlists enough! When I do my reviewing playlist, you know I’m going to be mentioning her again and because I love her to pieces! ❤️ So that’s a little recap of the last playlist I introduced to all of you. It was a pretty decent sized list! Well, this playlist might be just as long, if not longer! You can also listen to the Spotify playlist right HERE!

I don’t think I’ve ever done this kind of playlist before. We’ve all listened to love songs and we’ve all probably burned a CD or two of love songs for the person we were romancing in our younger years, but now I’m compiling a list of lovey dovey romance songs for the one and only Heartstopper by Alice Oseman! I just recently finished my review of Heartstopper Vol. 2 and upon finishing it I instantly wanted to make a playlist for both volumes. So there’s a good chance this is going to be a really long list. You might want to strap in for a wild ride of sappy love songs and interesting recommendations as I dive into this playlist. Also, if you haven’t read Heartstopper yet, then I highly recommend checking both volumes out! You can also read it for free HERE!


Heartstopper Vol. 1

🌻 Crush by Yuna feat. Usher

🌻 War of Hearts by Ruelle

🌻 Somewhere Only We Know by Keane

🌻 Boys Like You by Anna Clendening

🌻 Crush by David Archuleta

🌻 Can’t Help Falling in Love With You by Haley Reinhart

🌻 Kiss the Boy by Keiynan Lonsdale

🌻 You Are The Reason by Calum Scott feat. Leona Lewis


Heartstopper Vol. 2

🌻 I Found by Amber Run

🌻 Two Is Better Than One by Boys Like Girls

🌻 Strawberries & Cigarettes by Troye Sivan

🌻 Bloom by Troye Sivan

🌻 Carry You by Ruelle feat. Fleunie

🌻 I Get to Love You by Ruelle

🌻 All of Me by John Legend feat. Lindsey Stirling

🌻 Love Me Like You Do by Ellie Goulding

🌻 Jupiter by Sleeping At Last

🌻 Two by Sleeping At Last

🌻 Heart by Sleeping At Last

🌻 Rewrite the Stars (Re-imagined) by Anne-Marie & James Arthur


Okay, friends! That’s ever song that I wanted to put on this playlist! If you made it this far then I hope you enjoyed each and every song on this playlist! It wasn’t easy narrowing down the many, many love songs and emotional songs that fit these two volumes of Heartstopper. As you can tell, I wasn’t kidding when I said this list might be a long one. But please, if you have any songs you want to add to this list or songs you feel fit these two volumes perfectly then let me know in the comments! Until next time Chapterlings; may September be a month filled with reading and love, I love you! ❤️

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Uncategorized

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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Official Trailer