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Eat, and Love Yourself by Sweeney Boo, Lilian Klepakowsky

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

This review is being published on the release date (April 21st, 2020)

Content/Trigger Warnings: Fat shaming/fat phobia, body dsymorphia, eating disorders, depression, anxiety

Dearest friends, let me start by saying that there will be many pieces in this review where I am speaking from my own experiences of eating disorders, body dsymorphia, and disordered eating, and that I strongly urge anyone who picks this graphic novel up to be in the right head space before reading. I will be addressing many things in this review and I think it’s important to state that everyone who reads this graphic novel will experience it differently than others will. I truly liked this graphic novel and I think many readers will like this graphic novel. However, this book did miss a few marks for me and I would be lying if I didn’t say I was a little disappointed.

Our story follows our main character, Mindy who suffers from bulimia and body dsymorphia. One night when she goes grocery shopping, she discovers a candy bar she never heard of before and soon realizes this chocolate bar isn’t like all the others. This chocolate bar takes Mindy back to points in her life to teach her a lesson to hopefully bring her closer to loving herself and seeing the true value despite what others say.

For starters, the art work in this graphic novel is very beautiful and absolutely captivating. The coloring of each panels really helped set the tone and the experience for the readers. I also really enjoyed the way the chocolate bar was used as a way of flashing back to the past. I thought that was a really creative and unique way on the author’s part as well.

I also really appreciate the harsh reality of what eating disorders are like and the way various eating disorders were handled in this book. As someone who had bulimia nervosa from a very young age into pre-teens and is still dealing with disordered eating, the representation definitely landed all the hits. You can tell that the author truly understands eating disorders and is written by someone who lived it. I do have the content warnings listed above so please make sure you are practicing self-care when reading this graphic novel. There were some parts that definitely sparked some need for self-care with myself. So please make sure you’re in the right head space. I will say that this graphic novel is brutally honest at addressing fat shaming, fat phobia, and eating disorders especially due to a lot of scenes being from friend and family. However, even though these are people a person can care about, they can still find ways to hurt us by saying hurtful things and using “we only want what’s best for you” as a way of justifying their actions.

Despite these positive things, I definitely had some issues with this graphic novel. For starters, I felt very underwhelmed emotionally. I stated that I have lived with eating disorders almost my entire life now and it just didn’t pull on my heart strings the way it has for other readers. My experience with eating disorders has always been a very brutal relationship especially when it came to the loved ones around me and the things they would say. So when the scenes of conflict with the loved ones arose, it felt like things were swept under a rug and never truly explored in depth. I feel like an opportunity was missed on a proper conversation happening between Mindy and those loved ones. I would have loved to see her really sit down and have those conversations.

My other issue was the ending. By the time the ending rolled around, it should have felt like Mindy learned something. However, once again I felt very underwhelmed and feeling like Mindy learned nothing. It almost felt like the conclusion to the story was rushed. I also want to point out that there was never any true feeling of Mindy learning to love herself through this entire book. As we read through the book we see Mindy see how everything started to happen and she does acknowledge what is happening to her. However, we never get a true sense that Mindy fully understands what it means to love herself. All we have is the ending where she states that she’s going to do better by her body. That’s it, it’s no address in further detail or even concludes with bonus content with some time that has passed. We just have her saying she’s going to do right by her body. I really wish we would have gotten a couple more pages or even a more in depth look at how she’s going to start doing right by her body instead of the feeling that it did.

Overall, I did like this book and I think it’s a great message at addressing eating disorders in a more visual tone. However, I would have liked more from this graphic novel, in so many ways. I also would have liked bonus content ending on a more positive note of reclaiming her body and actually treating herself with more kindness. I think many readers will enjoy this book, connect with it, but for myself, I truly wish there had been more depth. The art work, however, is absolutely stunning and I think many will love it as much as I do.

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This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills

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Content/Trigger Warnings: Bullying, depression, panic/anxiety attacks, death of a parent, grief, underage drinking

“Dreams don’t have to be realistic- that’s why they’re dreams. You have to work to make them happen. Or else they would be…realities”

I think Emma Mills might be a new favorite author! Wow, friends, just wow. This is only the second Emma Mills book that I’ve read and it seems like every book is just a piece of me. Foolish Hearts had so many pieces of me that I hold dear, but this book right here, the things our main character does, wow, hitting close to home with a mirror character.

This Adventure Ends features our main character, Sloane who is raw, complex, and has never had any real friends to call her own. We follow her as she ends up moving from New York to a small town in the southern states. When she attends a party one night, she finds herself sticking up for Gabe Fuller, twin brother to Vera, and best friend of Remy and Aubrey. Suddenly, Sloane is thrown into a world of having friends who have secret codes, broken souls, and spending her Friday nights with them. Without that single moment, this story wouldn’t have been possible.

Sloane has never had friend before and when she’s thrown into this group of broken souls, she never expected that she’d have texting buddies, study partners, and people who like her for her. For the first time, Sloane doesn’t feel so lonely anymore. She finally found a little space among these ride-or-die group of friends. Though she’s still figuring the whole friend out, she can’t imagine her world without them.

“The city pulses on around us, and I’m not sure which one of us is anchoring the others, but I’ve never felt less adrift.”

I love that this book talks about what it means to be lonely for a long time and then suddenly being thrown into a world where you finally feel anchored. This book is very much a love letter to all the lonely people who finally find the friendships they’ve been dreaming of. This book is very much centered around friendships which means we see a lot of loyalty: to friends, to family, the one dear memory. Loyalty plays a huge role in this book especially when Sloane teams up with Remy to track down a lost painting that was one of the last made by Vera and Gabe’s mother, or the moments Sloane has with her father’s fan fic even though she doesn’t understand it or want to, she keeps reading them.

And we have to talk about Frank! Frank is such a whirlwind of a character in this book and I love him for it! He is this character that’s like a sunbeam. You can’t help laughing or getting caught up in everything he does. Plus, that one scene with Sloane and Frank about the first kiss, holy cow, ten out of ten! Fully recommend having that kind of encounter at least once! I also really enjoyed Sloane’s father. He’s just one of those characters that you can’t help liking and you don’t know the reason to. Maybe it’s from showing his struggles so openly, maybe it’s his love of fan fiction, or maybe it was the way he indirectly dedicated characters in his books to the many sides of Sloane. He was just a character I couldn’t help liking.

I really loved Sloane and I really felt connected to her. I mentioned this before, but a lot of the things Sloane does hit really close to home. Standing up for people she doesn’t know, taking her friend to see her girlfriend because she’s really upset, and trying to help rekindle a lost love between friends, Sloane is my whole persona. Sloane loves so fiercely with her loyalty and she just hit really close to home. She made me feel so seen and reading about her was like staring at myself in the mirror, reading my own traits to myself. It was an emotional experience and I’m so grateful for Sloane existing, for this book existing.

“I think about that kind of love as we increase in altitude. How maybe it doesn’t just stand for romance—maybe it works for friendship, too. Maybe there’s a kind of friend love that opens you up… Maybe you didn’t have a place for it within you before, but once it finds you out, crawls inside, and makes space for itself, you can’t live without it ever again.”

Overall, there’s so many amazing themes in this book. From loyalty to discovering love, this book is everything. I think anyone who has found themselves in a friend group where it’s “I would kill someone for you” needs to read this book. I think this is one of the easiest five stars I’ve given. How could I not give this book five stars? It’s another book that has saw my many layers and completely unraveled me, in the best way possible. If you haven’t read any of Emma Mills work yet, do yourself a favor and pick one of her books up.

I read this for The Backlist Readathon 2020 💗

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Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills

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Content/Trigger Warnings: High risk childbirth, panic/anxiety attacks, seizure mentions, talk of underage drinking, minor bullying

“When I’m with you, I can just exist”

Friends, this book touched so many parts of my soul. I laughed, I cried, I probably swooned multiple times while I read this book. This book was truly everything and touched every inch of my soul. Foolish Hearts is a piece of my soul now and I want to share that with all of you before I tell you the synopsis.

💘 Boy Bands & Video Games – If you have been following me, you probably already know that I’m a gamer and a LARPer. It has been a part of my life for the longest time and it’s a part of my soul that brings the happiest moments to my life. Add my never ending love for boy bands from Backstreet Boys and NSYNC all the way to K-Pop bands, they have always been there in my life. It’s not secret that I discovered BTS after a really bad accident and that band alone turned a dark, scary time in my life into something brighter and happier. Both of these things hold a large corner of my heart and there will never be words to say how grateful I am that I have them in my life.

💘 Best Friends & Family/Siblings – I am always open about how much my family and my siblings mean to me. My family and siblings mean everything to me, they’re an important piece to have in my life, and I constantly miss them. Despite the calling my friends and family, despite texting and messaging one another, and despite all the video calls, I constantly miss them and feel homesick. They are my whole world, half of my heart, and I would an army to protect them.

Foolish Hearts is about our main character Claudia, who spends her time playing video games with her best friend and siblings, not really for any additional people to come into the mix. Until the end of summer comes along and she accidentally ends up overhearing two girl breaking up. Iris and Paige were the “it” couple at Claudia’s school, but now they’re broken up. While Paige still gets to be loved and popular, Iris gets cast as a villain for being heartless and mean. When Claudia and Iris are forced to work together, not just one, but twice in a row, they’ll each uncover things about each other and an unlikely friendship with grow.

“He is my small son.”

Let start by saying, I have always been a boy band lover and even more so of K-Pop. Without getting too personal, Kayla from Book and Blends is truly the one who brings out the best in me and constantly right there talking about K-Pop with me. Every day I’m so thankful because Kayla truly is my best friend and to have someone understand my deep love for K-Pop, but also be there for things outside of that is a true blessing. And reading about our two main characters, it reminded me so much of the conversations Kayla and I have had. It really melted my heart and made me feel very soft.

However, so many other things happen in this book! Maybe I was swooning a bit too much from Claudia finding someone who sees her for her and wants to know about the things she likes, maybe it was reading Claudia make outfits and teach others their lines, or maybe, just maybe it was all the gaming that was occurring that had me swooning because I’m super nerdy and a little gremlin when I game. I mean, the majority of this story revolves around a play of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and that alone is enough to make me swoon. And the interactions during the play just felt so real, so natural, and how things truly are in drama class.

Of course, I have to talk about the family dynamic and the sibling relationships. It was the realest family dynamic that I have felt in a long time and I loved how it shows that no matter how good or bad things are, you can always be there for one another or fix things. I also really loved how this book wrote the expectations of siblings and how siblings can all be given fair chances, but if one siblings does better than the other, can be given more privilege. I also loved how the author thought to include what it’s like for the main character’s sibling and best friend to be dating. All the responses felt very natural and really felt like what it would be like to have that happen.

I also really fell in love with the love interest for Claudia. A lot of the things he says and does speaks to my heart and soul. They way he unapologetically loves so fiercely and cares about the people in his life. Even more so when he goes to such lengths to understand Claudia and really take part in the things she likes. I really loved his character and I loved how even in the serious scenes he was still a ray of sunshine. I just really appreciate his character and everything he represented in this book.

You can tell Emma Mills really understands fandom culture too. How sharing something with another person can be a truly magical experience and is a true gift. How many fandoms just want love, support and to bring happiness to the people who bring them happiness, but how many people can turn it into a fetish and how fetishizing is very real, very serious in many fandoms. The author truly understands on a deeper level and I wouldn’t be surprised if she even declared she was once a boy band fan.

“It’s like a snort,” I say. “Like a snort chortle. It’s a snortle.”

He moves a little closer. “Is that a Pokemon?”

Overall, this was such a an impactful read that touched my soul with everything I hold dear. I can’t believe no one told me about this book sooner. I can’t believe I waited so long to pick this book up because wow… the actual blessings this book exists. To have a book touch your soul on an intimate level, to feel like a book has literally read you and the things imprinted on your heart, it truly is an experience to have. This book is the biggest love letter to friendships, fandoms and boy band lovers, to the nerdy gamers, the dreamers who are just getting started, and the ones who are still trying to navigate life when things are constantly changing. It’s been a while since I’ve been so soft, wrapped up in my feelings, and feeling the happiest that I can be. This book is just a ray of sunshine and I hope that if you have read this review, you pick this book up and it brings you some of the joy that it brought to me.

I read this for The Backlist Readathon 2020 💗

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Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi

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Content/Trigger Warnings: Bullying, panic/anxiety attacks, racist micro-aggression, toxic relationships, emotional abuse/manipulation, minor gaslighting, pseudocyesis (phantom pregnancy), talk of cheating, alcoholism, body shaming/body issues, talk of eating disorder, talk of rape, mentions of death and terminal illness, and mention of trypophobia

“I want to be with someone I can talk to. I want to be with someone who automatically has a fat folder on me. Someone who feels lucky when I tell them the most unflattering, scary stuff.”

Readers, let me start this off by saying I understand why many readers didn’t like this book or enjoy it. However, I couldn’t get enough of this story, of these characters, and I really loved the various elements this book has. It’s a story I enjoyed, I read this book within a day, and I’m still thinking about it after all this time. This book truly touched a soft spot in my heart.

Our story starts off by following Penny, an 18-year-old Korean-American girl, getting ready to start her first year at college in Austin, Texas. This story also follows our second main character Sam, a 21-year-old tattooed boy living above the coffee shop he works at. Though Sam really enjoys baking, he really wants to become a documentary director. Both of these characters come together when Penny’s roommate, Jude introduces Sam as her uncle. Though the first encounter is awkward, the second time these two characters meet is when Sam is having a panic attack and Penny is the one to find him. Penny is always prepared and after helping Sam work through his panic attack, they exchange numbers and become each other’s emergency contact.

For starters, I loved when Penny and Sam exchanged numbers to be each other’s emergency contact. I don’t think many readers realize how accurate the way the exchange and communication between Penny and Sam really was. Some of my strongest and most intimate friendships have been built through being an emergency contact. And though most of the time Penny and Sam communicate via text, there are times where they do call each other and very few times they meet face to face to talk. Being an emergency contact isn’t always when there’s a panic attack. Sometimes it’s just being a friend and having a normal conversation with them to prevent their stress from reaching a climax of developing into a panic attack. I truly loved that we really got to see that and how realistically it was shown in the texts.

I also fell in love with the way the relationship between Penny and Sam was blooming. Even though each character had their own things happening that they were trying to navigate, they truly felt like two realistic young adults. We really see how they struggle with wanting to be more than “online friends” and what it really means to put yourself out there, whether or not it will mess up the friendship, and questioning if that’s truly what they want. I think many readers will be able to relate to these characters and how they feel especially with how natural it is nowadays to find your friends online, meet your romantic partner online, or even date online. We see how both characters struggle to talk about their feelings face to face. The way they text is the way they can openly share their thoughts and emotions without risking a panic attack and I don’t understand how some can read this only to say that it’s not realistic. Some of the strongest foundations in a friendship are built through emails, letters, or texts and I have experienced that to the fullest over the years of my life. Also, the way they build their friendship before they fully realize they each have romantic feelings for one another was fantastic. The friendship became a larger focus instead of the romance and I really liked how we still got the romance, but it wasn’t snuffing out the friendship. It was a beautifully crafted relationship with so many layers and every time I think about it I fall in love with them all over again.

“Loving someone was traumatizing. You never knew what would happen to them out there in the world. Everything precious was also vulnerable.”

And you know I have to talk about the family dynamics in this book. What a hard hit to home! I say it all the time that I come from a single parent home and how odd my own family dynamic is. To see Penny who comes from a single parent household with an actively dating parent hit me right in the feels. Then to read about Sam’s family dynamic hit me just as hard. I can relate to both of these characters and the struggles they faced with their families. However, it just goes to show how meaningful and how important it is to show diverse families in books. It makes the characters more relatable and it really allows the readers to feel closer to those characters. It just hits a certain kind of way and I really appreciate that the author included the family dynamics in this book.

However, I truly wish I could have given this book a full five stars. There were two things that stuck with me that even now I wish I could remove from my memory. The first thing I had issues with was the false pregnancy. While I understand why it was written the way it was and the part it played for the development of a certain character, it didn’t sit right with me. I’m not going to go into details on why it didn’t sit right with me. However, I will say for those who have fertility issues, those who struggle with becoming pregnant, for those who want a child more than anything else in the world, this may be triggering for you. I wish someone would have told me about this before I started reading this book.

The final thing I want to address was the opportunity that was missed between Penny and her mother. While I understand why Penny revealed what happened to her with Sam, I definitely feel an opportunity was missed. Penny’s mother ends up driving to her dorm and they have a discussion. I feel like somewhere within that discussion Penny could have addressed certain things, but I understand why they weren’t. However, I really wish they had been talked about or addressed it.

Overall, I loved this book and these characters. They felt very realistic and there were so many things in this book that were so relatable. I definitely hope more readers give this book a chance and pick this one up. I think there will be many readers who will fall in love just as much as I did. I have no idea why I let all the hype and negative reviews stop me from reading this book before, but I’m so glad that I picked it up now!

“And for all the people waiting for permission to level up enough before they start working on something big and scary–just go in. Don’t be like me.”

I read this for The Backlist Readathon 2020 💗

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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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Heartstopper: Volume Three (Heartstopper, #3) by Alice Oseman

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Content/Trigger Warnings: Bullying, homophobia, guilt, talk of self-harm, eating disorder/disordered eating, scene of underage drinking

💕 Vol. One – ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

💕 Vol. Two – ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

“There’s this idea that if you’re not straight, you HAVE to tell all your family and friends immediately, like you owe it to them. But you don’t. You don’t have to do anything until you’re ready.”

How to make me smile, cry, rip my heart to pieces and put it back together in one sitting? Hand me a volume of Heartstopper. This series is everything and it hits super close to home. It turns my heart into a puddle every time I read it and it keeps getting better. I’m just sitting here patiently waiting for 2021 to come and deliver Vol. Four into my mailbox already!

As I always say, if you haven’t started this series yet, what are you even doing! Go start it before you decide to read this. Unless you’re someone who wants to spoil, even though I do try to keep this a spoiler free zone. Go check it out, you can read this comic for free HERE!

Volume Three is a bit of a divided comic. Half of this comic takes place near the end of the school year and then the other half is spent on a school trip to Paris. In this first half we see how Charlie and Nick go about handling their relationship while also being at school. But there’s also many things Nick and Charlie tackle separately from each other. Nick ends up dealing with some homophobia inside his home and learning how to live with an un-accepting family member. Also, Nick reconnects with some friends that he closed out of his life and we see him struggling with coming out to them. Then we have Charlie who finally told his parents about his relationship with Nick. However, we also see him suffering from great deals of stress school wise and relationship wise. Charlie starts to show signs of burn out and mental strain which lead into a lot of other things coming to light later on in the book. Charlie also finds out one of his friends may have been the cause of his outing at school and how he’s trying to mentally process this information before leaving on the school trip.

However, the majority of this book takes place during the school trip to Paris! This is where things start to get really heavy. This volume is centered very heavily around mental health. Please make sure you practice self-care while reading into this section. Even for me, I struggled reading through some of this because of my own coming out and mental health struggles. So definitely take care of yourself, fellow readers! During the whole trip Charlie, Nick, and the whole gang have a series of cute moments. From stealing kisses to their playful ways of trying to stay in, everyone gets up to some really adorable shenanigans. However, we see Nick struggle with trying to meet up with his father and we see his growing concern for Charlie. Charlie, on the other hand, is struggling a lot while in Paris and it really starts to show leading to concern from Nick. Charlie also confronts his friend and we see how both of them handle everything in the moment. There’s also a really great moment shared between Charlie and Tara. We learn more about Tara and how she came out, we see how she and Darcy handled any homophobic backlash, and Tara starts to see how stressed Charlie is and offers some really good wisdom. The rest of this book as a whole was an intense wild ride packed with many emotions, feelings, and surprises.

Also, I have to talk about the teachers in this graphic novel because they deserve a spin-off series! We have Mr. Ajayi, the art teacher and Mr. Farouk, the science teacher. They had so many great moments in this book and I wish we hand more! Thankfully, Oseman thought of this and provided a mini comic for my two new favorite beans! I really loved the conversation both of them had at the vending machine and how sometimes you don’t figure out your sexuality until later in life, when you’re out of school, and much older. I think that’s going to hit the mark for anyone who has had that experience and I hope this is the ground work for authors to bring this up in future books. I also liked how the mini comic also goes into further detail and builds off what we learn about Mr. Ajayi and Mr. Farouk in this book. I just need more from these characters and I hope we start seeing them a little more in this series!

Overall, I love this series and I love these characters! Oseman hits the nail on the head every time she releases a new panel or a new volume. I can’t wait for the next volume to come out even if we do have to wait till 2021 for it to release. And hopefully we will get more mini comics because the cuteness overload is too much! And if you haven’t started this series yet, definitely give it a try. These characters will have you falling in love and swooning over the whole series!

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Don’t Read the Comments by Eric Smith

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Content/Trigger Warnings: Bullying/cyber bullying, sexism, racism, harassment, assault, stalking, doxing, trauma/PTSD, toxic relationships, anxiety, guilt, implications of cheating.

ARC was given by Inkyard Press in exchange for an honest review.

This review is being published after the release date (January 28th, 2020)

“This is why you don’t read the comments!”

Oh wow, this book came at me hard and fast. Readers, I went into this book with no expectations and only the knowledge that the main character is a gamer girl who has to deal with cyber bullying and harassment, but I wasn’t expecting this book to take it to a whole other level. It made my soul quake and it touched topics that hit very close to home. How could I not love this? How could I not shout about this book at the top of my lungs when this touches on so many topics that I have personally experienced and witnessed that aren’t vocalized enough? This book means so much and our main female heroine means so much to me.

Don’t Read the Comments follows our main character Divya who is best known in the gamin world as popular streaming gamer D1V. Her main platform is Glitch where she constantly streams gaming of Reclaim the Sun which is the year’s hottest game! But while her virtual reality is very glamorous, in the real world she’s using every sponsorship and selling every piece of equipment to help out her single mother. And then one fateful night she meets Aaron. A fellow gamer who has zero interest in following the path of his mother to become a doctor and instead wants to follow his dream of writing video games. Together, these two will discover planets in the infinite world of Reclaim the Sun. However, things aren’t that peaceful as Divya battles for everything thing she loves and has worked hard for as an online group known as The Vox Populi threatens to destroy it all.

I loved Divya as one of our main characters. She is unrelenting force, a candles that refuses to go out, and I love her fighting spirit. She faces so many hardships and struggles (you can tell she carries the weight of the world on her shoulders), but despite it all she never gives up and keeps pushing forward. I also really loved the reason behind her streaming and how much she was willing to do for her mother. As a person who cares very deeply for my family, this hit all the right spots and I couldn’t help getting soft with how fiercely she loves her family and best friend. I felt like she did make some questionable choices especially when it came to withholding information that was vital to her and her loved ones’ safety, but despite that I still enjoyed her character.

I definitely had issues warming up to Aaron. Despite him being more soft spoken, more quirky, I didn’t warm up to him until I starting noticing his character development. However, the little sibling element definitely helped with liking Aaron’s character. I’m always here for sibling relationships and seeing Aaron interact with his younger sister especially while he was gaming just hit in all the right spots. And I have to mention Aaron definitely has some questionable actions and thoughts. I think without the author including his best friend in the mix to keep Aaron’s character in check, it would be very easy to dislike Aaron or even cringe at some of the moments in this book. He also never speaks up for himself until the last third of the book. And any time he does speak up, he never has a plan and he clearly hasn’t thought things through. So also contributed to why it more of a challenge to connect with him and full warm up to him.

Can I take a moment to appreciate all the head nods to all the thing geeky in this book?! I can’t even express how much screeching I did when I saw the slight nod towards Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Elder Scrolls, The Dead Poets Society, bookstagram, Adventure Time, and so much more! It warmed my heart so much and I felt so seen as geeky, nerdy, girl gamer who gets full enjoyment out of this. And speaking of gaming, when Divya is streaming and exploring the world of Reclaim the Sun, the way the world is described will make any gamer who plays a lot of space games fall in love all over with those games. The detail was so beautiful and it truly felt like you were right there experiencing it. It was all so vivid and I feel like I keep saying this, but it truly touched so many of the right spots of my soul and personal passions.

“I don’t need to see you, to see you. I see you. I see all of you. With or without a headset.”

But my most favorite part about this whole book is that it addresses such an important and consistent theme of the sexism in the gaming community, constantly bring up privilege whether in the virtual world or the real one, showing the real threats and possibilities of becoming a content creator, and also showing what you allow into your space, your safe spaces. These are all things that exist, but aren’t often talked about or even properly addressed and when they are they’re brushed off like nothing will really come of it. I can honestly say that I’m glad to see more books like Don’t Read the Comments or Slay by Brittney Morris being released to speak about these important topics because these are very real and they impact so many.

My only real criticism with this book is two main things. The first thing being there was never any indication of taking proper time to self care or take extra precautions to protecting oneself. I mentioned before that I had some issues with a lot of choices Divya made and even though I still love Divya’s character, self care and protection are thrown to the wind and that just didn’t sit right with me. There are many reoccurring moments throughout this book where Rebekah tries to tell Divya take time away, the beginning of the book and near the end of the book Divya’s mother states multiple times how she’s worried and she wants Divya to be safe, and there are even moments the detective should have been made aware of information or the detective has told Divya to do something and it gets brushed off to the side. All of this didn’t sit right with me and I understand a lot of this was to help further the story-line in some way, but it doesn’t make up the fact that it can be triggering or even stressful just reading it especially if you have anxiety because you can tell there will be consequences. And it also sends the wrong kind of message as well because in these circumstances, yes you want to fight back, but you also need to take care of yourself as well as making sure you and your loved ones are protected. If you don’t have any representation of that and you have this constant theme of brushing the important stuff to the side, anyone who reads this and is going through something similar or has the potential to go through it, there’s that message of self-care needs to take the back burner or safety and protection aren’t that important, and that’s not the kind of message that you want to be stated especially under the circumstances in this book.

My other criticism is there were a lot of things happening in this book. There are a lot of subplots that never get resolved or explored. For example, there were multiple incidents where Rebekah and Aaron clash especially when Rebekah calls Aaron out on his privilege which is then followed up with Aaron retorting some really bad answers that cause offense. This never gets properly addressed or even resolved. We’re just given a statement of “well be more mindful” or “that means she likes you,” but these aren’t anything that address or challenge what Aaron said. We also get a lot of moments with Divya’s mother saying how she doesn’t approve of Divya’s streaming. Divya constantly plays it off, tells her mother she’s worrying to much, or she straight out lies to her mother instead of actually having a discussion with her mother. Once again, there’s two other moments in this story with her mother and still, this never get resolved of properly addressed.

Honestly, if these were never going to be addressed or challenged then I would have liked to see more game play, a deeper dive into the important topics being discussed, or more background detail with our main characters. I just wasn’t a fan of the subplots and I think they could have really made a difference if they were handled a bit better or even sacrificed for something else instead.

Overall, this was a really great book and I so glad I got an advance copy! I think this is going to be a book every content creator out there needs to read and I’m hoping this book will start so many discussions. I truly believe this book took a piece of my heart and if there’s anything you take away from this, it’s that this book is something ever content creator needs to read because the important topics are just that, important and we all need to take care of our spaces! I just can’t recommend this book enough!

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

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The Weight of the Stars by K. Ancrum

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Content/Trigger Warnings: Physical fight, bullying, injuries, hospitalization, sexual assault, trauma, pretend defense, mention of suicide, talk of loss/death of a loved one, abandonment, anxiety/panic attacks.

“Love is not about holding people where you want them. It is about doing what’s best for them because you need them to be okay.”

Dearest friends, my heart has been unraveled and then put back together in a thousand different ways. This book was truly so lyrical, so beautiful, and this book found every soft soft of my soul. K. Ancrum is an outstanding writer, a true gift to the writing world and this book alone makes me want to read anything she put out. Even though I knew this book was going to pack a punch to my feelings, I still went in expecting so light fun, but it was far from that. I love this book. I truly love this book with my whole soul and there will never be enough words to say what this book did to me, for me.

The Weight of the Stars is about a girl named Ryann who’s struggling through her senior year of high school while she takes care of her brother, James and his son. The one day a new girl named Alexandria rolls into town and suddenly Ryann is swept up into a world of stars, radio signals, space, and uncovering the truth.

At the surfaces this book just seems like it’s about two girls, but underneath there’s so much more. With underlying themes such as found family, loving unconditionally whether they’re friends and family or a romantic partner, what your place in the world it, and taking opportunities you never thought you’d get the chance to take because of who you are and where you come from.

🌟 Ryann – One of our main characters, beautiful black butch lesbian, loves her friends and family something fierce and would give up everything if they got to stay happy, in love with space and wants to travel to follow in the foot steps of her mother Gillie, rough on the outside but a total cinnamon roll on the inside.

🌟 Alexandria – Our second main character, new girl to the town, mother went off on a one-way trip into space and has been lonely her whole life, catching radio signals from her mother by sitting on her roof at night, minor OCD, irritable to Ryann at first but slowly blooms into something else.

🌟 James – Ryann’s brother whose trauma has caused him to stop speaking, loves Ryann something fierce, has a beautiful baby boy named Charlie and is an incredible father to.

🌟 Ahmed – Ryann’s best friend, who is Sikh son of three parents in a polyamorous relationship (and if you’re like me who just recently found out, definitely read The Wicker King, that’s all I’m saying!!!), boyfriend to Shannon

🌟 Shannon – The traditionally popular girl that shouldn’t fit into this group of misfits but somehow does anyway, declared nicest of the group of misfits, girlfriend to Ahmed.

🌟 Blake and Tomas – Both troublemakers but polar opposites to each other, Tomas is obsessed with Charlie (James’s baby boy) and loves video games. Blake does theater and travels three cities over to do shows. Blake understands Ryann on a mental level and sees right through her. Tomas tried committing suicide, Ryann saved his life.

“It is though. People are easy. We’re all made of the same stuff. Even if you arrange it in different ways or make puzzles out of it.”

If you asked me to name a book that I love with my whole heart, this is the book. Ryann is a character that I saw myself in and I knew, I just knew that this book was going to be impossible to put down. From the very first page, I knew this book was going to be beautiful, hard hitting, and that this would be the book to steal my soul. And I loved every second of it, no matter how many tears were shed.

These characters are impossible not to love, to get soft about, and they’re so diverse. From their home styles to what made them gravitate towards Ryann. Even Ryann herself is a character that’s impossible not to love. They’re all really endearing and they’re such complex characters with multiple layers. Even more so these characters would do anything for one another. Throughout this entire book we learn more pieces about each and every one of them. I would be lying if I said I didn’t want any novellas or want more books featuring these characters. I love found family tropes and I will forever be lured in by found family.

Speaking of family, the sibling bond between Ryann and James was just absolutely beautiful and I felt their sibling bond ten fold. Being an older sister to four siblings and being really close to my one brother, their sibling bond had me wrapped up in my emotions and feelings. I will always choose books with sibling relationships and this book does a fantastic job at portraying that sibling bond and relationship.

“Diversity is a flower that blooms with greater beauty and greater strength each time it is cross-pollinated.”

And before I go into anything else, I have to go off on a tangent about Mrs. Marsh. This is a long overdue part and the time has finally come to talk about how amazing this character is. Even though she is such a minor character in this book, she represents all the teachers out there who notice the students who are struggling, who are going through hard patches in their life, and take that extra time for those students. Her responses are absolutely delightful and I can’t even begin to express how hard I was sob laughing at the scene near the end of the book with Ryann and Mrs. Marsh. Though we don’t see much of her, she was a truly wonderful character to see in this book and I’m glad she was included.

Now let’s talk about romance. The romance in this book is absolutely stunning and such a slow burn too! The way Alexandria and Ryann fall in love with one another is so beautiful, like everything else in this book. I ached and I cried for these characters as they slowly came together and the way they love, it was absolutely everything. Watching them learn to come together and then to watch them let each other go, seeing them heal one another, and watching them give bits and pieces of themselves without even knowing they were; nothing was more beautiful or heartwrenching to read and experience, what a masterpiece.

And I have to talk about pinky promises! Pinky promises are such a minor thing in this book, but it holds so much weight. There’s such a serious tone that with each pinky promise you know someone is going to make good on it. It made my heart swell with pride and happiness because I am a firm believer of the pinky promise and I just loved seeing those exchanges with Alex and Ryann.

We also have another big love in this story between Alexandria’s mother and father in the transcripts. This was such a emotional move from the author. This romance comes fast and hits hard. God, I sobbed endlessly once I read through this part. I had to set the book down because it was so moving, so powerful, and something I never knew I wanted to read about until I read it. It was so brilliantly written and I don’t think I’ll ever get over that section.

Of course, if I didn’t say how much I loved the way space came into play with this book then I’d be lying. It’s another reason why I fell so madly in love with this book. Space is portrayed in a very mildly terrifying way in this book, but it’s also made wondrous. There’s such a peaceful calm, but also a great emptiness and loneliness. It opens the imagination to so many possibilities and the way Ancrum writes it, you can’t help feeling like there’s more out there, more worlds, more things to discover, and it really made me remember why I love the Mass Effect Trilogy so much.

I can’t say enough good and wonderful things about this book. I truly believe everyone can find something to love in this book whether it’s familial, romantic, self-love or found love, the idea of space, or just an emotional read; this book has everything and I think anyone who reads this will find something they can take away from it.

” ‘Cause the stars are beautiful, but I’d give them up for you just to see your face.”

Overall, I loved this book. I loved it so much, with every fiber of my soul. This is the first book I ever read by K. Ancrum and I’m so glad this was my first. I have fallen in love with her writing style, her characters, and the story she weaves for us. I laughed, I sobbed relentlessly, I laughed some more, and then I sobbed again. What a beautiful book, what lyrical writing, what a blessing K. Ancrum is!

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My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories by Stephanie Perkins

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Content/Trigger Warnings: Death/loss of a loved one, domestic abuse/toxic relationships, scene/talk of terminal illness, minor homophobia, scene of attempted rape

This was the perfect books to finally put me in the mood for the holidays! This year it felt like I was lacking a little holiday cheer whether it was due to stress or many the pressure of not doing enough. But after reading this book, I can say that I feel that spark of holiday magic again! I also wish I had mapped this out a little better because you could read a story a day up to whatever holiday you celebrate so I’m kind of kicking myself in the butt for not thinking about that sooner.

My True Love Gave to Me is an anthology of Twelve holiday stories by some big named authors like Laini Taylor, Jenny Han, and Holly Black! Full of holiday romance, struggles, and even finding your family. We also need to take a moment to talk about the cover for this book! Upon first seeing it you would think it just fits the holiday vibes, but if you look much closer you’ll notice all the couples from within the various stories in this book! This was such a delightful Easter egg and it’s the cutest thing ever!

“He says presents aren’t important, but I think they are – not because of how much they cost, but for the opportunity they provide to say I understand you.”

As always, whether it’s a a graphic novel bind-up, an anthology, or even two stories bound in the same book, I like to do a spoiler free breakdown (to the best of my ability). The next portion may contain spoilers, but I will do my best to keep it as spoiler free as I possibly can.

🎄Midnights by Rainbow Rowell | ⭐⭐⭐

Meet Mags and Noel, both have been best friends after Mags saved Noel’s life. Told in flashbacks, we follow Mag and Noel on each New Years Eve and what happens between them when the clock strikes midnight. Starting from sophomore year in high school to the end of freshmen year in college, readers will be hit with nostalgia and the reminiscence of growing up, and feeling like everyone around you is changing. While I really did like the writing of this story and the way Rowell can make sentences flow, there were a few things that made me feel a bit awkward and uncomfortable in the story-line. Not to mention it felt a bit odd that this book would start off with a New Years Eve story instead of a Winter Solstice or Christmas story instead.

🎄 The Lady and the Fox by Kelly Link | ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

If you’re familiar with the folk-tale of The Snow Queen then you will absolutely fall in love with this story! I know I instantly did! Meet Miranda and Fenny. Miranda is a young girl who’s mother has been sent to prison for life. Every Christmas she spends it with her Godmother and her Godmother’s son. Constantly throwing big, elaborate parties, the Honeywells aren’t ones to shy away from a good time. But one year changes everything for Miranda when she spots a man outside the widow, looking in at the party, and decides to investigate. I adored many this with my whole heart and soul. It was so beautifully woven and the connection that Miranda and Fenny share was something I couldn’t stop thinking about even after I had finished this story. Miranda has this unspoken devotion and determination, and I found myself rooting for her even though I suspected what the outcome would be like. I also really appreciated the symbolism of the fox in this story. If you’re not familiar, before bear traps were outlawed and deemed inhumane, farmers and hunters would use them to catch foxes and wolves, and once the trap closes it’s nearly impossible to reopen. I’ve seen a lot of readers give this story a one star and I think I could understand if it revolved around not being familiar with the folk-tale this story is a retelling of, but I’m shock not many readers recognize how wonderfully written this tale truly is and how beautifully these two main characters were written.

🎄 Angels in the Snow by Matt de la Peña | ⭐⭐⭐

I wasn’t ready for an incredibly sad story! This story had me choking on breaths and while I truly do love a good story or book that can rock or shake me emotionally, I just wasn’t prepared for this reality to hit out of nowhere. Plus, I never felt like there was any real closure for the heavy things happening. This is a story about a boy named Shy who has traveled from his poor family back in California to go to college in New York. While many of his fellow students have traveled home for the holidays, Shy has stayed behind to cat sit for his boss, and that’s how he meets Haley. They also end up snowed in together. The main character and the situation hit too close to home for me and this wasn’t something I wanted to read about for the holidays. While I did enjoy the writing and how well everything was brought together, this was too heavy of a story and the ending didn’t add too much relief for all the heaviness.

🎄 Polaris is Where You’ll Find Me by Jenny Han | ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This was super cute and original! This is the first story in this whole book that features elves and our setting takes place at the North Pole. We also see more of a real Santa presence in this story! If you’ve ever seen the movie Elf then you’re definitely going to fall in love with this story and our main character Natalie. This story isn’t that romantic as some of the other stories in this anthology. Actually it’s a little sad and it’s more about Natalie trying to find the boy, Lars she met one fateful Christmas. This story leaves on a table gripping cliffhanger and honestly, I wouldn’t mind if the author actually released a novella or a Christmas book continuing this story-line. I still wonder if Natalie went to see Lars and what Lars reaction would be.

🎄 It’s a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown by Stephanie Perkins | ⭐⭐⭐

Oh boy, this was kinda cute, but somehow it missed a few marks for me. For starters, I loved the names of the main characters in this story. We have Marigold and we have North, the love interest. Both have beautifully enchanting names that you hear too often. I also love that we get two different family dynamics; we have Marigold’s family which is a single parent household (ouch, my heart) and then North has a family own business background with family tears between siblings and their parents. I loved it, I craved it. However, despite a lot of good elements that I found in this story, I truly believe this would have been better written as a novella or even a full length book so we as the readers had more time to explore them as characters, them forming a relationship, and really going more into depth of why Marigold needed North’s voice and what the final outcome would be.

🎄 Your Temporary Santa by David Levithan | ⭐

This was my least favorite story out of the entire book. It felt very awkward, very forced, and a lot of the times reading it I felt really uncomfortable. Basically, a boy dressed up as Santa for his boyfriend’s little sister, which it sounds sweet and could have been sweet, but it was incredibly forced especially with how much the main character was stressing over the whole situation. He even has a confrontation with the older sister when he tries to leave and for my reading experience it rubbed off as a little homophobic and overly aggressive to borderline harassment. That whole scene just didn’t sit right with me. I’m extra disappointed because I would have loved a good cute, romantic, or even sexy holiday LGBT story, but this was just awkward and uncomfortable.

🎄Krampuslauf by Holly Black | ⭐⭐⭐⭐

If you thought this was going to be a Christmas read, guess again because you got Krampus! Can I just take a moment to pass around all the high fives that we finally get a Krampus story that not only has some fun sprinkled in, but a great kissing moment too?! I loved that Holly Black took Krampus and made him into this guy who rights the wrongs that have been done to people. I loved it. How often do we see Krampus’s tale be turned into one of good? Not to mention that there were some really powerful quotes in this story as well. Once again, Holly Black has mesmerized me with her writing and she truly has a great talent for writing.

“Sometimes I felt like I was waiting for my life to begin and more than anything, in that moment, I wanted to force some kind of beginning. I wanted things to be different than usual. I wanted to bend reality.”

🎄 What the Hell have You Done, Sophie Roth? by Gayle Forman | ⭐⭐⭐

This was such a sweet story and such a breath of fresh air because this is a Hanukkah story! Basically, this is a story about two people trying to find themselves while they’re also finding each other. While I did like the writing of this book and the way the two characters were getting to know each other, I felt disconnected by some of the things said or happening in this story. However, the minute they mentioned apple pie with cheese, I was hit with some nostalgia of childhood memories. That alone made this a three star instead of a two star for me.

🎄Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus by Myra McEntire | ⭐⭐

I was pretty convinced I was going to dislike this story on some incredible level, but I’m glad I didn’t hate it as much as I thought I would. It was insanely cheesey and sometimes cringey, but there some really sweet and heartwarming moments. I feel like this might have been better written as a novella or a three-hundred paged book. We follow Vaughn who’s a notorious troublemaker with a good heart, but has a rough home life and Gracie who’s a reserved pastor’s daughter. Even though they’re polar opposites, they connect and find the good in each other.

🎄 Welcome to Christmas, CA by Kiersten White | ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Okay, I bawled my eyes out with this one. This is everything a true holiday story should be! This was everything I wanted from this anthology and so much more. It was perfection and if this story ever gets released as a novella or a series then I will be investing some serious time into this. And the way some of the quotes hit, they land right on their mark! This story was heartwarming, emotional, had a happy ending, some romance mixed in, a little magical element sprinkled in, and was wonderfully written. This story is about a girl who’s trapped in a small town. Her mother runs a Christmas themed diner, which she begrudgingly works at, and just got a new cook who doesn’t follow the recipes! My best advice, go into this one blind and let the power of this short story overtake you!

🎄 Star of Bethleham by Ally Carter | ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This one took me by surprise and I was even more surprised that this had a lot of The Holiday vibes to it. I really loved the way the whole “trading the plane ticket with a random girl” came full circle near the end and we saw the real reason Lydia was so secretive about things. I also really appreciated the theme of finding one’s family after you’ve lost yours. I got really choked up and emotional near the end because it hit so close to home on my own beliefs. I definitely believe this would benefit a lot more as a novella because there are some important details missing, but I think many readers will be surprised by this story.

“Sweetheart, when you lose someone, you lose a little bit of yourself, too. And that missing piece? Sometimes you have to lose the rest of yourself to find it.”

🎄 The Girl Who Woke the Dreamer by Laini Taylor | ⭐⭐⭐

First time reading anything by Laini Taylor and she took me for a ride! This story threw me for a loop and I truly wished this story alone had been a physical book because I have no doubt that I would devour this story all over again. Don’t get me wrong, I had some issues with the content of this story, but wow, what a ride, what a story, what a talent Laini Taylor. The way Laini weaves sentences and gives details. My imagination went full scale with this story. Basically, if you’re a single lady on this island (which is nearly impossible to leave from), on December 1st through December 24th a suitor can leave you a gift on your porch. After the last day, the island has a ball, where you find your betrothed, and seal the marriage with a dance. One thing I will say and why I docked it by a star was the scene where the pastor attempted to sneak into our main character’s cabin and have his way with her. I cringed, I nearly ripped my book, it was an unnerving time. Not to mention, the pastor character conveyed a lot of Frollo vibes and I wasn’t here for it. Basically a lot of my issues with this story revolved around the pastor and that this story would have benefited more as a novella or a full book. There’s too many missing pieces, things left unsaid, and too much ominous vibes that were still lingering at the end of the story.

Overall this book receives a very low four stars. Out of the 60 stars possible (5 stars for one story each), this book receiving 40 stars our of the 60.

Aside from this book, I hope all my friends, family, fellow book lovers reading this are having a wonderful holiday filled with lots of love, laughter, good health, and many holiday filled reads!

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House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

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Content/Trigger Warnings: Graphic deaths, graphic violence, grief, talk of suicide, talk of cheating, scene and talk of domestic abuse/violence.

“It shouldn’t matter what your parents did, just what you do as a person.”

Once there were twelve lovely sisters, sheltered and raised in the manor of Highmoor, but was once a home filled with love and chatter is now filled with loneliness as four of the sister have had their lives cut short. One death is more tragic than the last and there’s whispers that a curse has fallen upon the family of Highmoor. When some ghostly vision are soon brought to life, Annaleigh starts to suspect that her sisters haven’t died by accident. With the help of the mysterious Cassius, Annaleigh will uncover the truth behind the deaths of her beloved sisters.

Oh my gosh readers, I’m absolutely in love with this book in so many ways! I was really nervous on where I would fall with this book due to all the hype, but I’m happy to say that this book is worth all the hype you’ve been hearing. There’s so many wonderful elements, true sibling bonds, curses, and talk of gods and demi-gods! What more could you want in a book?! I’m just so head over heels for this book and I can easily say that it has made it’s way onto my top books for 2019!

We follow a main character named Annaleigh who becomes disturbed by the ghostly visions that are come to her youngest sister. Soon, Annaleigh is trying to uncover the secrets that are lying within the house and the people among it, and possibly the curse that looms over Highmoor. I loved Annaleigh as a main character! She was such a breath of fresh air when it comes to so many things. Throughout this book she never let anyone tell her how to feel and she stood her ground in what she believes. And the way she loves her siblings, regardless of how unreasonable they are or how they treat her, it was something I resonated with so much. I truly lived for Annaleigh’s character in this book.

“All the dreamers are castle-bound. At midnight’s stroke, we will unwind, Revealing fantasies soft or unkind. Show me debauched nightmares or sunniest daydreams. Come not as you are but as you wish to be seen.”

Speaking of characters, Cassius was a pleasant surprise! I never thought a character like him would be introduced into the picture, but I loved the way his personality and Annaleigh’s personality meshed so well with one another. They had such a great amount of chemistry. Whether they were interacting at Highmoor or they were interacting on the mainland, they really clicked for me. The way the two of them interacted was so good and their little moments together was such a highlight especially as the reading pace begins to pick up. He really becomes an anchor for Annaleigh and his presence was just a calming experience through the eerie and darkness of this book. I think he is definitely my favorite character out of this whole book.

And if I haven’t sold you on this book yet, with Annaleigh being her true self and the mysterious Cassius, then the atmosphere is definitely one you’re not going to want to miss. The deaths are terrible and tragic, the funerals are just as unnerving, and if that isn’t enough to send a chill down your spine then the thought of ghosts haunting a manor and the general history of the manor will. I constantly had a chill slithering up my spine as a read this book. There are so many parts throughout this book that are dark and twisted that will have you gaping as scenes unfold before your eyes. The atmosphere was rich with paranormal events, secrets and lies, and a creepy setting you won’t forget.

My only true issue with this book was one of the side characters by the name of Camille. Camille is currently the oldest living sister to Annaleigh and she’s to inherit Highmoor when their father dies. At first, I didn’t mind Camille’s character and I kind of shrugged her behavior off, but then her behavior and her actions became very repetitive. Camille is a very selfish, entitled character who constantly wants to go to the ball to find a man. She also never takes the times to listen to her sister and brushes it off as her being crazy or wrapped up in all the grief. Her behavior would happen at such inappropriate times that it almost became a distraction from the main story line. I think many readers will be furious or annoyed with her character and I definitely think her character has the potential to cause a person to stop reading this book altogether.

“Nights like this were meant to be shared, remembered, and talked about for years. Skies like this were meant to be kissed under.”

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I was constantly on my toes trying to figure out who was behind everything or was it all some strange dream. I was fully engulfed in the story line and plot of this book. Plus that romance, it was subtle, but I was living for every moment between Annaleigh and Cassius! I really wanted to go into far more details than I have with this review, but I whole-heartedly believe this is a book you should know very little about. And besides, if you’re looking for a book to read during the autumnal season then I highly recommend this book.

Buddy read with Robin from Paperbacks and Planners

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