I Wanna Be Where You Are | Book Review

My Rating: 3/5 Stars

Title: I Wanna Be Where You Are

Author: Kristina Forest

Format: Hardcover (own)

Pages: 256

Categories: Young Adult, Teen Readers, Contemporary, Romance, Family, Friendship, Coming of Age

A debut young adult rom-com about an African American ballerina who finds love on the road to an audition.

When Chloe Pierce’s mom forbids her to apply for a spot at the dance conservatory of her dreams, she devises a secret plan to drive two hundred miles to the nearest audition. But Chloe hits her first speed bump when her annoying neighbor Eli insists upon hitching a ride, threatening to tell Chloe’s mom if she leaves him and his smelly dog, Geezer, behind. So now Chloe’s chasing her ballet dreams down the east coast—two unwanted (but kinda cute) passengers in her car, butterflies in her stomach, and a really dope playlist on repeat.

Filled with roadside hijinks, heart-stirring romance, and a few broken rules, Kristina Forest’s I Wanna Be Where You Are is a YA debut perfect for fans of Jenny Han and Sandhya Menon.

  • I love the cover and the pastel aesthetics. It’s so pretty and makes me feel like it would be a good spring/summer read.
  • Chloe and Eli’s adventure was eventful although they did lie or withhold information from their parents. I thought it something that mended their friendship and then some.
  • Chloe is a talented dancer and want to realize her dream of joining a company but she’s at odds with her mother who doesn’t feel like it’s a good career choice for her. Eli is going through the same thing with his dreams of wanting to be an artist as opposed to his dad’s dream of him pursuing law just like he did. That was very relatable to me because I remember feeling lost as a teen, wanting to please my parents but knew my major wasn’t what I really wanted to do in life.
  • The romance is sweet, and this is a quick, light contemporary read with a happy ending. It covers family dynamics and pursuing your dreams, so it’s perfect for teen readers.
  • Triggers: car accident, grief, anxiety
  • Other than Eli cursing a few times using the F word, this book is fairly rated PG. Or is PG-13 with swear words? I don’t know – I’d rate it PG though haha. It’s more for teens than young adults.

I enjoyed this quick read and in my teen years, this was the kind of book I’d have devoured in one sitting. This is a solid debut and I think Kristina Forest will definitely be a name to watch for in the contemporary teen and YA romance genre.

📚 ~ Yolanda

Love Spells and Other Disasters | ARC Review

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Title: Love Spells and Other Disasters

Author: Angie Barrett

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 400

Publication Date: 2/1/21

Categories: Romance, Young Adult, Witchcraft, Friendship, Family, Contemporary

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

I didn’t know when I wrote the first love spell that it would actually make things happen. Like, actually make people fall in love with each other… 

How could I have known something like that? I mean, magic isn’t real, right? 

But here’s the thing—the spell does work and so does the next one and the next one…and suddenly I’m getting a whole lot of attention from everyone at my high school. Me, Blend-into-the-Walls, Please-Let-Me-Introvert-in-Peace Rowan Marshall. And not only that, but I’ve also caught the attention of Luca Russo, a godlike, football-playing hottie who claims he likes me just the way I am. Ummm…

But as I’m about to learn, playing around with things you don’t understand means when things go wrong—like really, very awfully wrong—you don’t know how to fix them.

  • Rowan has an interesting mom who is famous for being a parapsychologist, someone who studies the mystical and unexplainable. Ro feels like people at school thinks she is weird because of it. She has one best friend, Ethan who’s been friends with her since childhood and that pretty much consists of her social life, or lack there of…until a project at school makes her realizes she has the power to cast spells.
  • The romance is cute with a touch of heat. There are some sexy scenes but it stays PG-13 for the most part. Luca is the hot jock who is actually a nice guy. The romance comes of as insta-love but he did confess he was into her way before he talked to her. I mean, there are love spells involved so it gets complicated.
  • I did like how Rowan and her project partner, Abby, innocently start making these love spells for a project without thinking of the consequences but when it all hits the fan…the consequences are bad. Rowan does the right thing and takes responsibility. She tries her best to fix broken relationships by doing acts of kindness, which I thought was awesome.
  • I think this story had a good blend of romance, drama, and witchcraft.
  • Rowan isn’t your typical strong girl who can stand up for herself, Ethan helps her do that. Abby pushes her around when it came to doing the spells, but I guess Rowan felt guilty also for her part in ruining Abby’s science project years ago. I think Rowan is strong in her own way, not loudly, but in telling the truth and acts of kindness.
  • We don’t learn much about Rowan’s magic lineage in the story until her mom starts finally talking about her dad which is near the end of the book. It would have been nice to get some idea of how she could do the spells earlier in the book.
  • Ethan was her best friend until that spell really took a turn for the worst and he turned on her. That sucked to see since yes Ro cast the spells, but Ethan asked for the spell. I’m just glad they made up.
  • I read an arc copy so there were some errors near the end of the book which probably will be cleaned up by publication.

I enjoyed reading this witchy romance story because it was a nice blend of sweetness and drama. I liked seeing Rowan blossom as she starts dating Luca and also it was good to see her tackle the consequences of the love spells going bad by helping the ones she hurt. Even though Rowan and Luca seems like an insta-love kind of deal, he actually was into her way before the spells and I loved their relationship. We get a happy ending and it gave me all the feels in the end, that’s all I wanted, so goal accomplished.

♡ ~ Yolanda

WWW Wednesday | 1/20/21

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam over on Taking on a World of Words.

The idea is pretty simple, every week you dedicate a post to the three W’s:

What are you currently reading?

What have you just finished reading?

What are you going to read next?

What are you currently reading?

What have you just finished reading?

What are you going to read next?

I’m determined to read the books on my shelf that I bought last year and haven’t started on! How about you?

💜 ~ Yolanda

Top 5 Tuesday | 1/19/21

Top 5 Tuesday was created by Shanah at Bionic Book Worm, and it is now being hosted here Meeghan reads. Check out both blogs because they have amazing bookish content!

This Week’s Topic:

Top 5 books you will definitely* read this year

A COURT OF SILVER FLAMES – SARAH J. MAAS

I don’t love the cover. BUT, I feel like a broken record since I keep posting this one book – this is the book I NEED this year. I feel like I’ve been waiting forever for Nesta’s story. So I am ready!

I’m not sure if I will reread the whole series before this book comes out because I’ve read it a lot already. I have so many other books to catch up on and the ACOTAR series is pretty fresh in my mind. Maybe I’ll just read the novella, A Court of Frost and Starlight to prep my up for ACOSF.

JADE CITY – FONDA LEE

I have this on my kindle app, I just have to get started on reading it. I keep trying to start then realize I have an arc I have to finish up. I might have to put off requesting arcs for awhile just so I can get to finish reading everything on my shelf or kindle app.

I have heard a lot about this one. I’m seeing it in many blogs so I look forward to reading this one.

BLOOD & HONEY – SHELBY MAHURIN

I don’t know what happened ~ I started this in 2020 and never finished it. I’m determined to finish it in 2021, hopefully this month even. It’s not that the story isn’t good, it’s just that the holidays got in the way. 🤷🏻‍♀️ It was a wild ending to 2020…and even wilder start to 2021.

I’ll get to all the books, soon!!

THE HEART PRINCIPLE – HELEN HOANG

I love my young adult books but I really need to add more adult titles on TBR as well. It’s just so easy for me to gravitate towards YA but I miss my adult fiction, so I need to do better at seeking it out.

This book is Quan’s story and I’ve been waiting for it since reading the The Kiss Quotient and The Bride Test last year! I loved Quan when he showed up in those books so I think this one will be good!

SOULMATE EQUATION – CHRISTINA LAUREN

I am a new Christina Lauren fan ever since reading The Unhoneymooners. The more I read their books the more they have become a must-read author for me, so I look forward to this one.

I will definitely be reading these books this year, what about you? What will you be reading for sure in 2021?

📖 ~ Yolanda

Of Wicked Blood | ARC Review

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Title: Of Wicked Blood (The Quartrefoil Chronicles, #1)

Authors: Olivia Wildenstein & Katie Hayoz

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 424

Publication Date: 2/2/21

Publisher: Twig Publishing

Categories: Paranormal, Romance, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult/New Adult

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

No rest for the wicked… or the cursed.

SLATE
I didn’t mean to steal the Bloodstone from the De Morel’s crypt. 
Scratch that, I did mean to steal it. 
Until I realized it was a curse-magnet that only comes off if I, along with a jolly trio, successfully defeat four curses.
If any of us fail, I’m dead.
I’ve never been a glass half-empty sort of person, but my glass looks in dire need of a refill right about now.
The only highlight of this wicked treasure hunt: feisty, entitled Cadence de Morel.

CADENCE
I was raised on tales of magic, in a small town reputed to be the birthplace of French witchcraft.
Did I believe all the stories I heard? Absolutely not. I mean, if magic existed, Maman wouldn’t have died, and Papa wouldn’t be stuck in a wheelchair, right?
Wrong.
The night Slate Ardoin waltzes into my life, wearing a ring he stole from my mother’s grave, I call him a monster.
But then I meet real ones, and Slate, well . . . he becomes something else to me.
Something frustrating to live with but impossible to live without.
Something I will fight for, no matter the cost.

*Warning: profuse cursing (and not just the magical kind).

  • World-Building: I like how different this is! It takes the Merlin lore but connects it to witchcraft and magic. The town of Brume, France is ripe with magical lore, but is it real? There are four founding families in Brume, and the lore of the Quartrefoil (resembles a four leaf clover) that is everywhere in the town. So magic, founding families, and a race against the clock to find the foils equals a very exciting story!
  • Characters: Slate ~ Bad boy, troubling past, and a foul mouth (he curses a lot). Cadence ~ good girl, family secrets and beautiful. There are four family reps, but Slate and Cadence are the stronger characters. I love Cadence’s bestie Alma and Slate’s foster brother, Bastian – glad he got more book time in the end. As for deception, I’m looking at you, Cadence’s dad…we shall see what other things we learn about him and the past!
  • Romance: slow burn deliciousness between Slate and Cadence. I mean he’s the bad boy, she’s the good girl and together they are dynamite.
  • Writing: love the banter between Slate and Cadence. I thought the beginning was slow to build but from the half-way point on, I could not put this book down. There is a lot of action when the four family reps have to find their piece of the quatrefoil. I love the mystery, the puzzle piecing, and the secrets.
  • The second half is way more engaging than the first. It took me two days to read, when I picked it up on the second day I couldn’t put it down. Slate uses the F word a lot but I love it, it totally fits him.
  • I had to research the authors after I read this because I enjoyed the story so much and was surprised to see I read Olivia Wildenstein’s The Lost Clan Trilogy few years ago. I remember how unique and enjoyable it was. Now I want to read everything she’s written. I’m not familiar with Katie Hayoz’s work but I’m going to check out her books as well!

This story has all the things I love in a paranormal story: lore, slow burn romance, adventure, a mystery and family secrets to uncover! This was a fun read and I look forward to the next book in the series.

🖤 ~ Yolanda

Instant Karma | Book Review

My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Title: Instant Karma

Author: Marissa Meyer

Format: eBook (borrowed)

Pages: 400

Categories: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

In this young adult contemporary romance, a girl is suddenly gifted with the ability to cast instant karma on those around her—both good and bad.

Chronic overachiever Prudence Barnett is always quick to cast judgment on the lazy, rude, and arrogant residents of her coastal town. Her dreams of karmic justice are fulfilled when, after a night out with her friends, she wakes up with the sudden ability to cast instant karma on those around her. Pru giddily makes use of the power, punishing everyone from public vandals to karaoke hecklers, but there is one person on whom her powers consistently backfire: Quint Erickson, her slacker of a lab partner and all-around mortal enemy. Soon, Pru begins to uncover truths about Quint, her peers, and even herself that reveal how thin the line is between virtue and vanity, generosity and greed . . . love and hate. 

  • I enjoyed the slow burn of Prudence and Quint’s relationship. Their partnership during the school project was quite intense. They do not like each other and honestly…I can see Quint’s point because being micro-managed is the worst! Yet I relate to Prudence where you know you will pick up the slack of the other team member if need be for a good grade. I like that we see them get to be friends first though.
  • Love the theme of environmentalism and this story set in a coastal town. Who doesn’t love a story about trying to save wildlife?
  • Prudence isn’t perfect, she’s just Type A controlling at times and super ambitious – which is a good thing, because she is determined to reach her goals. I’m glad Quint was there to call her out on some things though because she was super judgmental when it came to Quint. I just wanted to shake some sense into her sometimes.
  • Prudence got on my nerves a lot. Poor Quint! I like that she learns a lot of things in the end, like how it’s not all about business and making money, that causes have to actually mean something if you want other people to care about it too.
  • The instant karma..”magic” for me didn’t work at times…especially when it kind of disappears in the middle of the book? Haha…I guess everyone was on good behavior or something? It was an interesting idea though, and Prudence learned from it in the end.

Overall, this was a quick read and I enjoyed the enemies to lovers vibe with Prudence and Quint. I’m not a fan of Prudence though, she seriously needed to let go of control but I’m sure my husband says the same about me. 🤣 Basically no one is perfect but if you can listen to the other person and let them help out, good things can actually happen.

📚 ~ Yolanda

Aloha Friday | 1/15/21

Another Friday is here and we are now at the half-way point of January 2021. Wow.

New Books Acquired:

Netgalley~

Overdrive ~

TV, Movies, Etc…:

Cobra Kai ~ started season 1 but didn’t finish because I had no time.

Adulting:

  • I had no time to watch anything this week because we got a puppy! We actually got him last Thursday but I guess I didn’t add that in my last Friday post. Probably because I was lacking sleep after the first night he was with us. It’s like having a newborn again! 😩 One that nips. My son named him Atlas, and he is 8 weeks old. He’s a dachshund mix but I don’t see it…lol, he looks like a mini Boxer to me! He is barely 4 lbs and I’ve never had a dog this small – the last time I had a puppy was back in 2006, a husky/malamute and she was way bigger than Atlas. And back in 2006, I had no kids – just another fur baby so it’s been rough! I’m just glad my daughter is finally potty trained haha.

So he’s been taking up my nights, but get better each night in his kennel. He just pees and poops so much because he’s so young. And of course he is gnawing on everything – my feet, my fingers, my hair, lol…but I’m trying my best to redirect his nipping to all his toys. He is so fun to play with, the kids love him.

That’s been my week – late at night when I clean up his pee/poop messes, afterwards I’ll sit next to him and read on my kindle app while he nips or tries to go back to bed. So I am getting a little bit of reading in.

I hope you all had a good week and will have an awesome, safe weekend!

🌺 ~ Yolanda

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter | Book Review

My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Title: I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter

Author: Erika L. Sanchez

Format: paperback (own)

Pages: 368

Categories: Young Adult, Family, Friendship, Grief, Mental Health, Identity, Coming of Age, Sexual Situations

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian meets Jane the Virgin in this poignant but often laugh-out-loud funny contemporary YA about losing a sister and finding yourself amid the pressures, expectations, and stereotypes of growing up in a Mexican American home. 

Perfect Mexican daughters do not go away to college. And they do not move out of their parents’ house after high school graduation. Perfect Mexican daughters never abandon their family.

But Julia is not your perfect Mexican daughter. That was Olga’s role.

Then a tragic accident on the busiest street in Chicago leaves Olga dead and Julia left behind to reassemble the shattered pieces of her family. And no one seems to acknowledge that Julia is broken, too. Instead, her mother seems to channel her grief into pointing out every possible way Julia has failed.

But it’s not long before Julia discovers that Olga might not have been as perfect as everyone thought. With the help of her best friend, Lorena, and her first love (first everything), Connor, Julia is determined to find out. Was Olga really what she seemed? Or was there more to her sister’s story? And either way, how can Julia even attempt to live up to a seemingly impossible ideal?

  • Julia is a Mexican American teen who is feeling trapped by grief and her family with their strict rules. I could relate to Julia even though I am not Mexican American, my parents are immigrants, so I remember not understanding some of their rules even silly ones like not shaving your legs. I couldn’t understand my parents, just like how Julia couldn’t understand hers. Her story is very relatable to me.
  • Julia is so judgmental until near the end when she becomes so overwhelmed with her thoughts and feelings about Olga’s death, her mom, herself…that I realized she needed help. I thought it was powerful that we saw her coasting through life, angrily and acting out (but nothing too crazy), thinking she’s going to be okay, she just needs to let time heal woulds and all that and then the situation becomes dangerous. This is very relatable too – how many of us think we feel trapped, not realizing we need help? I remember that in my teen years and beyond as well. I’m glad we see how Julia gets the help she needs.
  • I liked when Julia goes to Mexico. It reminded me of my parents taking us on our family trip to the Philippines when I was 7 years old. I remember seeing and hearing my dinner being killed, and butchered. It was quite an eye opening trip. But it was nice to learn more about Julia’s family in Mexico and glad she had that time to feel a bit freer from her anxiety.
  • Julia as a character is real as can be, her thoughts aren’t censored, she judges everyone harshly but it was refreshing. She wasn’t likable, but she didn’t even like herself, and who does like themselves as a teenager? Julia is dealing with so many things at one time: grief, her mom’s rules, trying to please her parents/family, hating her life, and investigating Olga’s past. She is imperfect and I loved the scenes where she is finally acknowledging her thoughts out loud to someone else who listens without judging her.
  • Triggers: grief, suicidal ideation, violence, sexual harassment
  • I thought this story moved slowly in the beginning and it almost lost my attention, especially since I thought investigating Olga’s past was the main thing about this story – but nothing much happens there until the big reveal at the end.

Despite it being a slow moving story, it is powerful in the way it explores immigrant Mexican American families, grief and mental health issues. None of us are perfect but most of us live with the pressure from our parents or other family members to be their idea of perfect. Julia was not about to conform to their ideals but she felt trapped and didn’t know who to talk to about it. This is a great book for teens coming of age.

📖 ~ Yolanda

WWW Wednesday | 1/13/21

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam over on Taking on a World of Words.

The idea is pretty simple, every week you dedicate a post to the three W’s:

What are you currently reading?

What have you just finished reading?

What are you going to read next?

What are you currently reading?

What have you just finished reading?

What are you going to read next?

I have a lot to read and catch up on but I feel like I’m having a slow start to January! 🤦🏻‍♀️ Hope you are getting lots of reading done!

📚 ~ Yolanda

BLOG TOUR } One of the Good Ones by. Malika Moulite & Maritza Moulite

Welcome to the blog tour for One of the Good Ones by. Malika Moulite & Maritza Moulite!

My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Title: One of the Good Ones

Author: Malika Moulite & Maritza Moulite

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 384

Publication Date: 1/5/21

Publisher: Inkyard Press

Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Apple Books | Google Play | IndieBound | Books-A-Million

Categories: Racism, Social Justice, Protests, Family, History, Contemporary, Young Adult

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

The Hate U Give meets Get Out in this honest and powerful exploration of prejudice in the stunning novel from sister-writer duo Maika and Maritza Moulite, authors of Dear Haiti, Love Alaine.

ISN’T BEING HUMAN ENOUGH?

When teen social activist and history buff Kezi Smith is killed under mysterious circumstances after attending a social justice rally, her devastated sister Happi and their family are left reeling in the aftermath. As Kezi becomes another immortalized victim in the fight against police brutality, Happi begins to question the idealized way her sister is remembered. Perfect. Angelic.

One of the good ones.

Even as the phrase rings wrong in her mind—why are only certain people deemed worthy to be missed?—Happi and her sister Genny embark on a journey to honor Kezi in their own way, using an heirloom copy of The Negro Motorist Green Book as their guide. But there’s a twist to Kezi’s story that no one could’ve ever expected—one that will change everything all over again. 

  • I loved how this story explored racism and it’s history through Kezi’s life and death which happens because of a protest for a black man who lost his life, Jamal. The story ties into racism in American history with Happi and Genny’s road trip using The Negro Motorist Green Book! This trip also helps Happi and Genny learn about their own family history. I learned a lot of things through their journey.
  • The road trip opens Happi and Genny’s eyes to a lot of history and to some things in Kezi’s life they were missing. It’s a healing journey for them and Kezi’s youtube followers too.
  • The way the Smith family copes after Kezi’s death is different, as everyone grieves differently. I thought it was interesting how religion is brought into the story and how the Smith parents have to deal with certain truths about Kezi’s life. I like that it touches on how the girls were “raised”. How they were the good ones: good life, grades, looks, family, etc…as opposed to the bad ones who are vilified in the media because they don’t have all those things.
  • The plot twist in this book made my eyes go wide. I wasn’t sure what to expect as I kept on reading, but the ending of the book is really unexpected. It goes in a direction I never expected!
  • Triggers: mention of lynchings, racism, police brutality, stalking, grief, kidnapping
  • I had a hard time getting into the story at first because there are many different perspectives with many different dates (timelines): Kezi, Happi, Shaqueria, and Evelyn. They are all connected but I’m not even sure if Evelyn’s story perspective was needed since Kezi explains who she was and how her family was close to Derek’s.
  • I feel like this story turns into something else entirely in the second half and almost wish it picked one story to go with. I would have been satisfied with an amazing road trip story or the plot twist really could have been a separate book on it’s own. Honestly…the second half would be my pick because then the story becomes a thriller!
  • With all this said, there are so many great stories in this book, but I think maybe there was too much going on.

Overall, I think this is an impactful story when it comes to talking about racism, American history, family dynamics and social justice. It took me awhile to get into because of all the different perspectives and timelines but I do love how thrilling the ending becomes, which was so unexpected. This is an important story about how society as a whole values black lives.

♥️ ~ Yolanda

About the Authors:

MAIKA MOULITE is a Miami native and the daughter of Haitian immigrants. She earned a bachelor’s in marketing from Florida State University and an MBA from the University of Miami. When she’s not using her digital prowess to help nonprofits and major organizations tell their stories online, she’s sharpening her skills as a PhD student at Howard University’s Communication, Culture and Media Studies program. Her research focuses on representation in media and its impact on marginalized groups. She’s the eldest of four sisters and loves young adult novels, fierce female leads, and laughing.

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MARITZA MOULITE graduated from the University of Florida with a bachelor’s in women’s studies and the University of Southern California with a master’s in journalism. She’s worked in various capacities for NBC News, CNN, and USA TODAY. Maritza is a PhD student at the University of Pennsylvania exploring ways to improve literacy in under-resourced communities after being inspired to study education from her time as a literacy tutor and pre-k teacher assistant. Her favorite song is “September” by Earth, Wind & Fire.

https://www.maikaandmaritza.com/

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