The Charmed List by. Julie Abe | ARC Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: The Charmed List

Author: Julie Abe

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 304

Publication Date: 7/5/22

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Categories: Young Adult, Teen Reader, Romance, Contemporary, Magical Realism

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


Thank you to Wednesday Books for giving me a chance to read this eARC in exchange for an honest review!

After spending most of high school as the quiet girl, Ellie Kobata is ready to take some risks and have a life-changing summer, starting with her Anti-Wallflower List—thirteen items she’s going to check off one by one. She’s looking forward to riding rollercoasters, making her art Instagram public (maybe), and going on an epic road-trip with her best friend Lia.

But when number four on Ellie’s list goes horribly wrong—revenge on Jack Yasuda—she’s certain her summer has gone from charmed to cursed. Instead of a road trip with Lia, Ellie finds herself stuck in a car with Jack driving to a magical convention. But as Ellie and Jack travel down the coast of California, number thirteen on her list—fall in love—may be happening without her realizing it.

In The Charmed List, Julie Abe sweeps readers away to a secret magical world, complete with cupcakes and tea with added sparks of joy, and an enchanted cottage where you can dance under the stars. 

Content Warning:

This one is a cute read with some fun elements to it: magic, enemies to lovers romance, a bucket list, and a road trip.

The magic element to the story is just kind of thrown in. Ellie and her family are part of the magic community, and Jack her ex-friend/enemy and his dad are part of it too, her best friend Lia – is not. There are some rules about being part of the magic community and we do see some mild magic being done. Ellie has a bucket list for the summer and I think it was nice for her to go through with it to help her get out of her shy-girl shell. Also there is the romance between Ellie and Jack, they used to be friends, until Jack closed himself off to her, with his dad’s encouragement. But on the road trip they are forced to spend time together which means they start liking one another.

The story reads more for teenagers so I didn’t quite connect to the story or characters, I’m not the audience for this one. But I think someone who wants a light hearted teen romance that has magic would really enjoy this book.

Why you should read it:

  • magic, romance, a bucket list and a road trip
  • sweet, coming of age story

Why you might not want to read it:

  • this is more for teen readers

My Thoughts:

I’m not the target audience for this book but I thought it was a sweet story about a girl who is trying to break out of her shell. Some parts were a bit dramatic for me, like when Ellie’s best friend finds out about magic but like I said – I wasn’t connecting to the book or characters. I think if you want a light-hearted romance filled with magic, and some angst you will enjoy this one.

📚 ~ Yolanda

Love & Gelato on Netflix

Another book I read so long ago! But that’s okay if I hardly remember it, I am loving all these adaptations on all the streaming services I have.

I loved all the scenes in Italy – it made me reminisce about my honeymoon 11 years ago. I also love the food aspects of the movie. It made me crave pasta and gelato of course!

I thought it was a cute movie – my favorite parts were when Lina’s best-friend Addie was in the scenes, she made it fun. There is the love triangle between Lina trying to choose between Alessandro (hot, rich guy who’s going to Harvard) and Lorenzo who actually has a girlfriend but he’s the sweet, charming guy training to be a chef. There is some kissing, but all pretty innocent. I thought it’s a great summer movie option about traveling overseas instead of the typical beachy summer movie.

I haven’t read any of the other books in the series – should I? Let me know in the comments below if you read this series and if you will be watching this movie on Netflix!

Here’s the trailer:

The Guncle by. Steven Rowley | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: The Guncle

Author: Steven Rowley

Format: hardcover (borrowed)

Pages: 326

Publication Date: 5/25/21

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Categories: Contemporary, Fiction, Family, Grief, LGBTQ+

Patrick, or Gay Uncle Patrick (GUP, for short), has always loved his niece, Maisie, and nephew, Grant. That is, he loves spending time with them when they come out to Palm Springs for weeklong visits, or when he heads home to Connecticut for the holidays. But in terms of caretaking and relating to two children, no matter how adorable, Patrick is honestly a bit out of his league.

So when tragedy strikes and Maisie and Grant lose their mother and Patrick’s brother has a health crisis of his own, Patrick finds himself suddenly taking on the role of primary guardian. Despite having a set of “Guncle Rules” ready to go, Patrick has no idea what to expect, having spent years barely holding on after the loss of his great love, a somewhat-stalled career, and a lifestyle not-so-suited to a six- and a nine-year-old. Quickly realizing that parenting—even if temporary—isn’t solved with treats and jokes, Patrick’s eyes are opened to a new sense of responsibility, and the realization that, sometimes, even being larger than life means you’re unfailingly human.

Content Warning: grief, death of a loved one, addiction, anxiety, story of sexual assault

I had my eye on this book since last year and finally got it from my library. I’m glad I did because I felt like it would be a great summer read and it’s Pride month so why not read about a guncle (gay uncle). This book hit me in the feels!

+ Yes Patrick, GUP, Guncle is a bit self-centered and snarky. He is a golden globe winning actor and was a star for a time. He loves to talk about when he was super famous, he loves all things television, movies, broadway, and theatre. But things happened in his life and he’s now in his 40’s and living a quiet life in Palm Springs until he is forced to be out again because his family needs him. His best friend and sister-in-law has passed on, his brother needs to go to rehab and leaves his kids with Patrick. I love how taking care of his niece and nephew scared him but he stepped up in the best way possible. It warmed my heart so much.

+ This book is about relationships and grief. It gave us a peek at how relationships we have with our siblings, the ones or we have with our parents can be messy. Messy and yet it can still be loving. Patrick is relatable in that way. I could also relate to his fear of wanting to love people because he is still stuck in his grief losing his partner, Joe. There is a lot of loss Patrick is dealing with and I felt like his fears were my own. I could totally relate.

+ Patrick’s experiences growing up gay, trying to explain to his sister how he had to protect his inner, real self in the outside world by pretending was such an important point. I love that he could tell his side of this story especially when he was trying to explain it to his sister Clara who in turn felt like she had to struggle also being a woman. Everyone around Patrick had their own trauma and I like that the story was honest and truthful about these struggles.

+ I love the humor – when Patrick is on, he is ON and the children have no clue what he is saying have the time. I can already imagine this book as a tv series, it has that sitcom kind of feel but with some tough issues. I was laughing one moment and then heartbroken the next when the kids talked about missing their mother or Patrick was missing Joe. 😭

Why you should read it:

  • Patrick is a force – he’s funny, snarky, self-centered but loves his family even though they have problems – no matter, he is there for them the best way he can be.
  • Patrick with his niece and nephew have such adventures in Palm Springs
  • This story is full of grief and yet full of hope, the will to survive a broken heart, the beauty of life that come with tragedy. The medicine of laughter and love, family and friends.

Why you might not want to read it:

  • not into Patrick talking about himself all the time lol…I can picture him talking fast, like how some people just do

My Thoughts:

This one hit my heart with so many feels! The story dealt with so many issues about grief, fear and anxiety – letting go and moving on. It hurt. But I was also laughing when Patrick was trying to take care of two kids for the first time in his life, and he did it without much help – he’s even too afraid to drive! Thank goodness for ride-share! I love that the kids taught him things like youtube lol. But seeing those two kids melt through his guarded heart was a glorious thing. I love that we get Patrick’s point of view as a gay man trying to raise two kids on his own, trying to deal with his grief and figuring out what will be act two in his life after his tv stardom has ended. His journey was rocky but like he said in the end, he survived it…the show must go on. I love Patrick and his family and was rooting for all of them to help each other get through grief, addiction, divorce, resentment and anything else that was holding them back from bonding. This is a beautiful story and I’m glad I finally read it!

📚 ~ Yolanda


Quotes From the Book:

We’re hyper-connected, but at the same time desperately lonely.”

~ Steven Rowley, The Guncle

What do you think gay people do? Have done for generations? We adopt a safe version of ourselves for the public, for protection, and then as adults we excavate our true selves from the parts we’ve invented to protect us. It’s the most important work of our queer lives.”

~ Steven Rowley, The Guncle

I am less of me. I left part of myself with you. I don’t know what it was, but I felt it leave my body the last time I held your hand.|

~ Steven Rowley, The Guncle

The sky is not going to fall. That’s what I’m telling you. The pain you feel, the disaster you think is imminent. Those feelings fade. And some day you even miss it. Some days you miss the pain, because you’re afraid. Afraid that as the pain softens so do memories of the one you lost.”

~ Steven Rowley, The Guncle

Grief orbits the heart. Some days the circle is greater. Those are the good days. You have room to move and dance and breathe. Some days the circle is tighter. Those are the hard ones.”

~ Steven Rowley, The Guncle

WWW Wednesday | 6/29/22

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 so many books I’m reading right now that I’m not even going to consider what’s next on my list! LOL I don’t even know if I can finish these books. 😅


I have a lot of books to read! The arcs priority last week, but now my library books do since they are due soon! What are you reading right now?

Happy Reading!!

~ Yolanda

Happy Book Birthday | New Releases | 6/28/22

Happy book birthday to these new releases!

Three weddings. Three funerals. Alessa’s gift from the gods is supposed to magnify a partner’s magic, not kill every suitor she touches.

Now, with only weeks left until a hungry swarm of demons devours everything on her island home, Alessa is running out of time to find a partner and stop the invasion. When a powerful priest convinces the faithful that killing Alessa is the island’s only hope, her own soldiers try to assassinate her.

Desperate to survive, Alessa hires Dante, a cynical outcast marked as a killer, to become her personal bodyguard. But as rebellion explodes outside the gates, Dante’s dark secrets may be the biggest betrayal. He holds the key to her survival and her heart, but is he the one person who can help her master her gift or destroy her once and for all?

Emily Thiede’s exciting fantasy debut, This Vicious Grace, will keep readers turning the pages until the devastating conclusion and leave them primed for more!


Andry, a former squire, continues to fight for hope amid blood and chaos.

Dom, a grieving immortal, strives to fulfill a broken oath.

Sorasa, an outcast assassin, faces her past when it returns with sharpened teeth.

Valtik, an old sorceress, summons a mighty power.

And Corayne, a pirate’s daughter with an ancient magic in her blood, steps closer to becoming the hero she’s destined to be.

Together they must assemble an army to face Queen Erida and Taristan’s wicked forces. But something deadly waits in the shadows, something that might consume the world before there’s any hope for victory.

In the sequel to Realm Breaker, a divided world must rally, an unstoppable enemy must be defeated, and the fate of the world rests on a blade’s edge. 


THE SUBURBS, RIGHT NOW . . .

Seventeen-year-old Ivy’s summer break kicks off with an accident, a punishment, and a mystery: a stranger whose appearance in the middle of the road, in the middle of the night, heralds a string of increasingly unsettling events. As the days pass, Ivy grapples with eerie offerings, corroded memories, and a secret she’s always known—that there’s more to her mother than meets the eye.

THE CITY, BACK THEN . . .

Dana has always been perceptive. And the summer she turns sixteen, with the help of her best friend and an ambitious older girl, her gifts bloom into a heady fling with the supernatural, set in a city of magical possibilities and secret mystics. As the trio’s aspirations darken, they find themselves speeding toward a violent breaking point.

Years after it began, Ivy and Dana’s shared story will come down to a reckoning among a daughter, a mother, and the dark forces they never should’ve messed with. 


These days, I’ve been killing it when it comes to letting people down. Now I’ve been kicked out of high school, arrested, and accepted into a remote, off-the-grid school owned and operated by an inscrutable billionaire tech guru.

Gray Wolf Academy is looking for a certain kind of student. Ones that no one will miss. Like me.

Then there’s Braxton. The beautiful, oddly anachronistic guy who showed up right when the trouble started. And he’s a total enigma—which means that I definitely can’t trust him, even if there’s something about him that makes me want to.
They all tell me I have a gift. A very rare gift. And Gray Wolf Academy wants me to learn it. To use it. Because if what they say is true, I have all the time in the world.
And that makes me the most dangerous high school student you’ll never know… 


This sweeping YA fantasy romance full of star-crossed love, complex female friendship, and astrological magic is perfect for fans of Laini Taylor, Alexandra Bracken, and V.E. Schwab. From the acclaimed author of The Beholder.

Best friends Rora and Claudia have never felt more like their lives are spiraling out of control. And when they meet Major and Amir–two boys from one of the secret cities of the spheres, ruled by the magic of the astrological signs–they discover they’re not alone. There is a disruption in the harmony between the spheres, and its chaos is spreading.

To find the source of the disharmony, Rora and Claudia will embark on a whirlwind journey of secrets, romance, and powerful truths–about themselves, each other, and two long-ago explorers named Dante and Beatrice, who were among the first to chart this course toward the stars.

Inspired partly by the classic works of Dante Alighieri, this gorgeous stand-alone contemporary fantasy will captivate readers of Lore and Star Daughter.


Are you getting any new books this week? Happy Reading! ~ Yolanda

10 Books On My Summer 2022 To-Read List | Top Ten Tuesday | 6/28/22

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. Please check out her website for more TTT topics!

This week’s topic is:

10 Books On My Summer 2022 To-Read List

Release Date: July 5, 2022

What would you do if your dream man turned out to be real?

When law student Cass Walker wakes up after surviving a car accident, she is flooded with memories of her boyfriend, Devin. The only problem? Devin doesn’t exist. But everything she remembers about him feels so real, like the precise shade of his coffee-brown eyes; the texture of his favorite hand-me-down scarf; even the slightly crooked angle of his pinkie, broken after falling off a trampoline in third grade. She knows he’s a figment of her imagination—friends, family, and doctors confirm it—but she still can’t seem to get him out of her head.

So when she runs into the real Devin a year later in a Cleveland flower shop, she’s completely shocked. Even more surprising is that Devin actually believes her story, and soon they embark on a real-life romance. With her dream man by her side and an upcoming summer job at a prestigious law firm, Cass’s future seems perfect. But fate might have other plans…


Release Date: August 9, 2022

The perfect Jewish husband should be:
* A doctor or lawyer (preferably a doctor)
* Baggage-free (no previous marriages, no children)
* And of course—he must be Jewish



As the creator and CEO of the popular Jewish dating app J-Mate, matchmaker Dara Rabinowitz knows the formula for lasting love—at least, for everyone else. When it comes to her own love life, she’s been idling indefinitely. Until her beloved bubbe shares Dara’s checklist for “The Perfect Jewish Husband” on national television and charming news anchor Chris Steadfast proposes they turn Dara’s search into must-see TV.

As a non-Jewish single dad, Chris doesn’t check any of Dara’s boxes. But her hunt for Mr. Perfect is the ratings boost his show desperately needs. If only Chris could ignore his own pesky attraction to Dara—a task much easier said than done when Dara starts questioning if “perfect on paper” can compete with how hard she’s falling for Chris… 


Release Date: August 30, 2022

Avery’s fortune, life, and loves are on the line in the game that everyone will be talking about.

To inherit billions, all Avery Kylie Grambs has to do is survive a few more weeks living in Hawthorne House. The paparazzi are dogging her every step. Financial pressures are building. Danger is a fact of life. And the only thing getting Avery through it all is the Hawthorne brothers. Her life is intertwined with theirs. She knows their secrets, and they know her.

But as the clock ticks down to the moment when Avery will become the richest teenager on the planet, trouble arrives in the form of a visitor who needs her help—and whose presence in Hawthorne House could change everything. It soon becomes clear that there is one last puzzle to solve, and Avery and the Hawthorne brothers are drawn into a dangerous game against an unknown and powerful player.

Secrets upon secrets. Riddles upon riddles. In this game, there are hearts and lives at stake—and there is nothing more Hawthorne than winning. 


Release Date: August 23, 2022

Traduttore, traditore: An act of translation is always an act of betrayal. 

1828. Robin Swift, orphaned by cholera in Canton, is brought to London by the mysterious Professor Lovell. There, he trains for years in Latin, Ancient Greek, and Chinese, all in preparation for the day he’ll enroll in Oxford University’s prestigious Royal Institute of Translation — also known as Babel. 

Babel is the world’s center of translation and, more importantly, of silver-working: the art of manifesting the meaning lost in translation through enchanted silver bars, to magical effect. Silver-working has made the British Empire unparalleled in power, and Babel’s research in foreign languages serves the Empire’s quest to colonize everything it encounters.

Oxford, the city of dreaming spires, is a fairytale for Robin; a utopia dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge. But knowledge serves power, and for Robin, a Chinese boy raised in Britain, serving Babel inevitably means betraying his motherland. As his studies progress Robin finds himself caught between Babel and the shadowy Hermes Society, an organization dedicated to sabotaging the silver-working that supports imperial expansion. When Britain pursues an unjust war with China over silver and opium, Robin must decide: Can powerful institutions be changed from within, or does revolution always require violence? What is he willing to sacrifice to bring Babel down? 

Babel — a thematic response to The Secret History and a tonal response to Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell — grapples with student revolutions, colonial resistance, and the use of translation as a tool of empire. 


Release Date: August 2, 2022

When eighteen-year-old witch Iris Gray accidentally enacts a curse that could have dire consequences, she must team up with a boy who hates witches to make sure her magic isn’t unleashed on the world.

Iris Gray knows witches aren’t welcome in most towns. When she was forced to leave her last home, she left behind a father who was no longer willing to start over. And while the Witches’ Council was lenient in their punishment, Iris knows they’re keeping tabs on her. Now settled in Washington, Iris never lets anyone see who she really is; instead, she vents her frustrations by writing curses she never intends to cast. Otherwise, she spends her days at the wildlife refuge which would be the perfect job if not for Pike Alder, the witch-hating aspiring ornithologist who interns with them.

Iris concocts the perfect curse for Pike: one that will turn him into a witch. But just as she’s about to dispel it, a bird swoops down and steals the curse before flying away. If the bird dies, the curse will be unleashed―and the bird is a powerful amplifier, and unleashing the curse would turn not just Pike, but everyone in the region, into a witch.

New witches have no idea how to control their magic and the consequences would be dire. And the Witches’ Council does not look kindly on multiple offenses; if they found out, Iris could be stripped of her magic for good. Iris begs Pike to help her track the bird, and they set out on a trek through the Pacific Northwest looking for a single bird that could destroy everything. 


Release Date: July 26, 2022

In Master of Iron, the conclusion to Tricia Levenseller’s exciting Bladesmith YA fantasy duology, a magically gifted blacksmith with social anxiety must race against the clock to save her beloved sister and stop a devastating war. 

Eighteen-year-old Ziva may have defeated a deadly warlord, but the price was almost too much. Ziva is forced into a breakneck race to a nearby city with the handsome mercenary, Kellyn, and the young scholar, Petrik, to find a powerful magical healer who can save her sister’s life.

When the events that follow lead to Ziva and Kellyn’s capture by an ambitious prince, Ziva is forced into the very situation she’s been dreading: magicking dangerous weapons meant for world domination.

The forge has always been Ziva’s safe space, a place to avoid society and the anxiety it causes her, but now it is her prison, and she’s not sure just how much of herself she’ll have to sacrifice to save Kellyn and take center stage in the very war she’s been trying to stop.


Release Date: August 16, 2022

A magical, ethereal fantasy from IndieBound bestselling author Emily Lloyd-Jones.

Once upon a time, the kingdoms of Wales were rife with magic and conflict, and eighteen-year-old Mererid “Mer” is well-acquainted with both. She is the last living water diviner and has spent years running from the prince who bound her into his service. Under the prince’s orders, she located the wells of his enemies, and he poisoned them without her knowledge, causing hundreds of deaths. After discovering what he had done, Mer went to great lengths to disappear from his reach. Then Mer’s old handler returns with a proposition: use her powers to bring down the very prince that abused them both.

The best way to do that is to destroy the magical well that keeps the prince’s lands safe. With a motley crew of allies, including a fae-cursed young man, the lady of thieves, and a corgi that may or may not be a spy, Mer may finally be able to steal precious freedom and peace for herself. After all, a person with a knife is one thing…but a person with a cause can topple kingdoms.

The Drowned Woods—set in the same world as The Bone Houses but with a whole new, unforgettable cast of characters—is part heist novel, part dark fairy tale. 


Release Date: June 28, 2022

My life goes completely sideways the moment I meet the mysterious Braxton. Sure, he’s ridiculously hot, but he’s also the reason I’ve been kicked out of school and recruited into Gray Wolf Academy—a remote island school completely off the grid. I never should have trusted a face so perfect.

But the reality of why Gray Wolf wanted me is what truly blows my mind. It’s a school for time travelers. Tripping, they call it. This place is filled with elaborate costumes and rare artifacts, where every move is strategic and the halls are filled with shadows and secrets.

Here, what you see isn’t always what it appears. Including Braxton. Because even though there’s an energy connecting us together, the more secrets he keeps from me, the more it feels like something is pulling us apart. Something that has to do with this place—and its darker purpose. It’s all part of a guarded, elaborate puzzle of history and time…and I might be one of the missing pieces.

Now I have all the time in the world. And yet I can’t shake the feeling that time is the one thing I’m about to run out of…fast.


Release Date: September 13, 2022

Not every love is meant to be…

After Jacks, the Prince of Hearts, betrays her, Evangeline Fox swears she’ll never trust him again. Now that she’s discovered her own magic, Evangeline believes she can use it to restore the chance at happily ever after that Jacks stole away.

But when a new terrifying curse is revealed, Evangeline finds herself entering into a tenuous partnership with the Prince of Hearts again. Only this time, the rules have changed. Jacks isn’t the only force Evangeline needs to be wary of. In fact, he might be the only one she can trust, despite her desire to despise him.

Instead of a love spell wreaking havoc on Evangeline’s life, a murderous spell has been cast. To break it, Evangeline and Jacks will have to do battle with old friends, new foes, and a magic that plays with heads and hearts. Evangeline has always trusted her heart, but this time she’s not sure she can. . . . 


Release Date: July 19, 2022

Brie finds herself caught between two princes and two destinies while the future of the fae realm hangs in the balance.

After Abriella’s sister was sold to the fae, she thought life couldn’t get any worse. But when she suddenly finds herself caught in a web of lies of her own making ­- loving two princes and trusting neither – things are not quite as clear as she once thought.

As civil war wages in the Court of Darkness, Brie finds herself unable to choose a side. How can she know where she stands when she doesn’t even know herself anymore? In this darkly romantic thrill ride, the more Faerie is torn apart from the inside, the clearer it becomes that prophecies don’t lie and Brie has a role to play in the fate of this magical realm – whether she likes it or not. 


So many I want to read this summer! Are any of these on your TBR list? I was hoping to have some light-hearted books on this list but of course, it’s all dark and fantasy books. 😅 If you have any recommendations for a light-hearted romance for summer, please let me know in the comments!

What’s on your TTT?

~ Yolanda

A Magic Steeped in Poison by. Judy I. Lin | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: A Magic Steeped in Poison

Author: Judy I. Lin

Format: hardcover (borrowed)

Pages: 384

Publication Date: 3/29/22

Publisher: Feiwel and Friends

Categories: Fantasy, Tea, Politics, Romance, Chinese Mythology, Young Adult

I used to look at my hands with pride. Now all I can think is, “These are the hands that buried my mother.”

For Ning, the only thing worse than losing her mother is knowing that it’s her own fault. She was the one who unknowingly brewed the poison tea that killed her—the poison tea that now threatens to also take her sister, Shu.

When Ning hears of a competition to find the kingdom’s greatest shennong-shi—masters of the ancient and magical art of tea-making—she travels to the imperial city to compete. The winner will receive a favor from the princess, which may be Ning’s only chance to save her sister’s life. 

But between the backstabbing competitors, bloody court politics, and a mysterious (and handsome) boy with a shocking secret, Ning might actually be the one in more danger. 

Content Warning: poison, death

I’ve been wanting to read this book since I saw the gorgeous cover. It’s even more beautiful in person! I really enjoyed this story.

+ The magic system of the shennong-shi, is unique and cool! The magic is in the tea and the preparer and I totally believe it because whenever I drink a hot cup of tea, it’s a healing experience – so I loved learning about the shennong-shi. The competition to be the shennong-shi for the Emperor gives the story high stakes.

+ Ning’s story is relatable in that she’s doing the competition for the love of her sick sister. I love her memories of her family and of home. I like Ning’s bravery and her ability to think on her feet whenever difficult situations arose. She goes through a lot of challenges in the competition.

+ I enjoyed the politics taking place in the story as well. The emperor hasn’t been seen, so the Princess has been present for the shennong-shi competition. Ning meets a boy who happens to be the son of the emperor’s brother who was banished and exiled. There is talk of unrest in the empire and Ning is caught in the intrigue. She’s labeled a traitor and rebel but we learn more about what’s going on in the empire and the role of the Princess.

+ The little romance storyline between Ning and Kang is sweet, in a way it’s a forbidden kind of love, since Ning isn’t sure where his loyalties lie. It doesn’t overtake the story though which is nice and I look forward to seeing what happens in book two.

+ The author did a great job with the setting! I was definitely transported in Ning’s world of tea and the palace. Lovely world-building.

~ Would love to learn more about Kang in book two because we do learn some things about him but he still stays a bit mysterious.

Why you should read it:

  • it’s a magic tea brewing competition! so unique
  • lush world-building
  • Ning’s love for her family, the politics she gets embroiled in and the romance that’s brewing for her

Why you might not want to read it:

  • it’s a little bit of insta-love-ish but I think it was okay because the story didn’t fully focus on the romance

My Thoughts:

The gorgeous cover lured me in and then I was hooked by the tea competition and lush world building. I found this a quick read and with a unique concept. I loved this one and I’m glad I finally got to read it!

📚 ~ Yolanda


Quotes From the Book:

Life has a way of taking the wind out of our dreams sometimes…”

Judy I. Lin, A Magic Steeped in Poison

Tea for me is home, is joy, is family.”

Judy I. Lin, A Magic Steeped in Poison

Human hands make mistakes, Ning, but they are the hands the gods gave us. We use them to make amends, to do good things.”

Judy I. Lin, A Magic Steeped in Poison

Weekly Wrap Up | 6/26/22

Aloha friends!

So on Father’s Day we went to my parents house and had a quick lunch with the family. After that I took my hubby and kids to the Hawaii Cat Cafe. We have a dog, Atlas, who we love dearly but my hubby grew up with cats and my daughter has been asking for a cat. I told them I’m not doing 2 pets at a time if I’m the one who will be the main caretaker. Atlas was supposed to be my son’s dog, but that dog will only sleep with me 😅. So since we can’t have a cat…YET…I took them to the cat cafe so they could plat with lots of kitties for an hour.

We had the best time! My son wanted to go back today but I said it’s not free lol..I did have to pay per person. My son didn’t think he’d be a cat person, he always thought them having sharp claws was scary. And the claws did come out on one kitty who was falling off my daughter’s lap so he tried to hang on, catching her on the wrist. But I reminded him how when Atlas was a puppy his nails and baby teeth were so sharp and he got them a few times. I’m glad I brought them and it was a surprise too lol…they had no clue where I was taking them! 🥰

It’s been a busy week but at least we got some time to relax at the pool also. I hope you had a great week!

Blog Posts:


Books I Read:


Currently Reading:


Shows/Movies I Watched:

  • Love & Gelato (Netflix) – aw so cute! I read this book so long ago but I love the Rome scenes in this movie.
  • The Summer I Turned Pretty (Amazon Prime Video) – I’m hooked and ready for season 2!

Games I Played:

  • My Singing Monsters
  • Wii Play – my son has been obsessed with getting a Nintendo Wii again and I don’t know why! We used to have one before he was born and then when he was 5 he tried it out and wasn’t totally into it. Ours broke and then just recently has been asking for one again and I said it’s an old console and they don’t sell it anymore! Thank goodness my nephew still had the one I gave him years ago and he said my son could have it. So we’ve been playing on the Wii.

Music I Listened To:

  • The Summer I Turned Pretty playlist on Apple Music

How was your week? Did you get a lot done? Watch anything good? Read any amazing books or books you didn’t finish? What are you reading?…Leave me a comment below!

💖 ~ Yolanda

10 Book Covers That Are the Color of a Sunset | 6/26/22

I love a long summer sunset – aren’t they absolutely gorgeous and riotous in color? Here are some book covers that remind me of a sunset.

10 Book Covers That Are the Color of a Sunset

What’s the color of the sunset where you are from? Some days it’s a fiery orange and other days we get some pink and purple mixed in with the orange. I love it all, especially when it sets over the ocean! Hope you are enjoying these long summer days!

~ Yolanda

The Summer I Turned Pretty on Amazon Prime Video

I read this series when it first published back in 2009 and I’m not surprised Amazon picked it up after the success of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before on Netflix. I love that the books I read years ago are now becoming tv shows!

I just binged this series on Monday and it was done so well. I love how they added all the diversity that was missing in the original books. Jeremiah is bi in this show, which is awesome and I think reflect the times perfectly and can we just admire his gorgeous eyes?! And then there is Conrad and honestly the actor who played him was perfect – he’s brooding, tortured and of course Belly’s first love/crush. Who can blame her? I was always team Conrad since I love the bad boys but I was never into Belly choosing between two brothers. I know it happens in real life but I always felt so awful about the drama between all of them. 🥺

I love Jeremiah’s energy in this series – he’s so carefree and fun. Conrad is the one in pain and ugh I just feel for him. The actor who plays him, Christopher Briney is so good! And the girl who plays Belly, Lola Tung was perfect, as the 15 year old turning 16 and crushing on Conrad and just trying to be more grown. I honestly forgot about their mom being sick, I only remember the boys going through some hard things and Belly being there in the middle of it all. I did read that the debutant ball was added in to the show and true…I was wondering if I just didn’t remember the books all that well. But yeah…maybe I should re-read the books? They are quick reads so I just might if I can get my hands on them. It doesn’t matter though since now days I try to separate books from shows/movies as much as I can because so much changes get made. I loved all the changes though!

The friendship between the moms remind me of the movie Beaches so I’m scared Season 2 will make me cry! 😢

And can I say that the soundtrack for this whole series is AMAZING. If you are a Taylor Swift and Billie Eilish fan, you will love this series. The music just fits so well! And of course I went crazy when I heard “Teenage Dirtbag” by Wheatus lol…talk about bringing back MEMORIES, ughhhh so good! That song came out in 2000, and I was 21 years old at the time – just good times! 🥰 I found the show’s playlist on apple music so you know what’s going to be on repeat for awhile,

Are you planning on watching The Summer I Turned Pretty? If anything, even if you never read the books, it’s such a summer type of show – it’s full on SUMMER vibes!! Beach, sand, fireworks, cute boys, pretty girls, crushes, broken hearts, love drama, love triangle, family drama, good music – it’s fun and yet emotional too. Check it out if you can!🌊❤️