Fable | ARC Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: Fable

Author: Adrienne Young

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 368

Publication Date: 9/01/20

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Categories: Pirates, Young Adult, Adventure, Romance, Family, Survival, Fantasy

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

As the daughter of the most powerful trader in the Narrows, the sea is the only home seventeen-year-old Fable has ever known. It’s been four years since the night she watched her mother drown during an unforgiving storm. The next day her father abandoned her on a legendary island filled with thieves and little food. To survive she must keep to herself, learn to trust no one and rely on the unique skills her mother taught her. The only thing that keeps her going is the goal of getting off the island, finding her father and demanding her rightful place beside him and his crew. To do so Fable enlists the help of a young trader named West to get her off the island and across the Narrows to her father.

But her father’s rivalries and the dangers of his trading enterprise have only multiplied since she last saw him and Fable soon finds that West isn’t who he seems. Together, they will have to survive more than the treacherous storms that haunt the Narrows if they’re going to stay alive.

Welcome to a world made dangerous by the sea and by those who wish to profit from it. Where a young girl must find her place and her family while trying to survive in a world built for men.

Thank you to Wednesday Books and NetGalley for giving me a chance to read this eARC.

WOW.

My Reactions:

My Attention: absolutely swept away – read this in one sitting

World Building: epic – the setting is in the islands I’m sure inspired by the Caribbean but I could feel the humid air, see the school of fish in the reef, feel the pressure of the water as Fable dove deep….SO good.

Writing Style: flowed beautifully

Bringing the Heat: 🔥 – barely any but it didn’t need it

Crazy in Love: slow burn love story

Creativity: I loved everything about Fable and her gem mage powers, I want to learn more about it

Mood: Excited 

Triggers: violence, thieving

My Takeaway: Fable is abandoned by the only parent she has but makes a promise to herself to survive and take what is hers.

  • First off – that COVER. It is to die for! Absolutely beautiful.
  • Fable’s story is pretty amazing – she is surviving on her own, trying to get back to the father that left her to die (or survive). She has grit, brains and courage! It also helps she’s a gem mage, it helps her skills as a dredger (a diver). She does what she has to do to survive. My heart broke for her when it came to her relationship with her father.
  • In any pirate story, it’s ALL about the crew and the crew of the Marigold is great. We have a gay couple, siblings and lots and lots of secrets. West is the helmsman who commandeers the ship and he is as mysterious as they come but we learn about his background.
  • Fable’s dad, Saint, tells Fable she doesn’t belong in this world. She feels like he means in the world in general…but he means HIS world, this rough, dangerous, cold trading world of the Narrows. It’s cutthroat and he meant for her to be safe. I like the complicated feelings and history between them.
  • Danger is everywhere in this story and the author captures the setting so well. I was rooting for Fable and nervous for her from the moment I started the book and I could not STOP reading. And when the book came to an end, I wanted the next book.
  • I’ve read this author’s previous series but this one to me takes her writing to a whole new level. I was so immersed in this story.
  • The magic Fable has is as a gem mage and though she uses it while doing her work as a dredger – I think there is more to learn about her skill and her mother’s history. I want to definitely learn more about her mom’s family!
  • The romance doesn’t overtake this story, it’s slowly building and you wonder if it will turn into something and when it does…wow. We shall see what this means for the sequel!

I love a good pirate story, there is danger, high stakes, traders trying to be or stay the top dog and keeping their territories under their rule. This story hooked me right away! I loved everything about this book and I cannot wait to read the sequel.

I’ll Be the One | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

Title: I’ll Be the One

Author: Lyla Lee

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 336

Categories: Contemporary, Young Adult, K Pop, Entertainment Industry, Body Image, LGBT+, Romance, Parent Relationships, Celebrity, Singing Competition Shows

The world of K-Pop has never met a star like this. Debut author Lyla Lee delivers a deliciously fun, thoughtful rom-com celebrating confidence and body positivity—perfect for fans of Jenny Han and Julie Murphy.

Skye Shin has heard it all. Fat girls shouldn’t dance. Wear bright colors. Shouldn’t call attention to themselves. But Skye dreams of joining the glittering world of K-Pop, and to do that, she’s about to break all the rules that society, the media, and even her own mother, have set for girls like her.

She’ll challenge thousands of other performers in an internationally televised competition looking for the next K-pop star, and she’ll do it better than anyone else.

When Skye nails her audition, she’s immediately swept into a whirlwind of countless practices, shocking performances, and the drama that comes with reality TV. What she doesn’t count on are the highly fat-phobic beauty standards of the Korean pop entertainment industry, her sudden media fame and scrutiny, or the sparks that soon fly with her fellow competitor, Henry Cho.

But Skye has her sights on becoming the world’s first plus-sized K-pop star, and that means winning the competition—without losing herself. 

My Attention: full attention

World Building: SoCal

Writing Style: light hearted, humor

Bringing the Heat: 🔥

Crazy in Love: not so crazy, it’s a slow burn and love is love

Creativity: love how a girl who is not the right “size” for the entertainment industry inspires people around her

Mood: happy

Triggers: emotional abuse, bullying, body image shaming, parental issues

My Takeaway: Love yourself and wear your crown! And love is love.

  • Skye Shin is awesome! She’s confident (but she had to work for that confidence), she stands up for what she believes in and she keeps going even when things get hard. I couldn’t help but cheer her on from start to finish. I love how Skye tackles body shaming straight on, even when it makes her cry (because people are trolls), but she knows she’s talented and it’s what should matter in this competition.
  • Yes to all the diversity – Skye herself is bi. There is also a f/f relationship with Skye’s new friends in the competition. The characters themselves are diverse since this is a Korean tv talent show so that was great.
  • Skye’s relationship with her mom is…typical, I feel, because I related SO MUCH. I’m Filipino American but all that body shaming and ideals is the same in my culture. It was sad to see Skye and her mom’s relationship because of the emotional abuse and Skye not knowing that it was emotional abuse. I kept thing, SAME. SAME. SAME.
  • I love the humor in the book! I found myself trying not to laugh out loud because it was late at night but this book made me feel happy.
  • Skye and Henry’s relationship is super cute. It’s a slow burn, and their flirting was fun. Henry is a hottie Korean model and she’s talented and overweight but really, they were just good people. Glad they had a happy ending!
  • Snowball made me miss my fur baby who was a husky also 😭, she’s been gone two years now and her name was Sky. I loved that Snowball was in this story it was just perfect for the whole mood of the book.

I read this book so quick and it left me feeling happy so it did it’s job! From the vibrant book cover to Skye with her confidence, she’s living her best life. This story is heartwarming, funny, sweet, a little sad and plenty inspiring.

Black Girl Unlimited | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: Black Girl Unlimited – The Remarkable Story of a Teenage Wizard

Author: Echo Brown

Format: eBook (borrowed)

Pages: 304

Publisher: Holt/Ottaviano

Categories: Young Adult, Coming of Age, Racism, Misogyny, Socioeconomic, Drug Abuse, Mental Illness, Sexual Abuse, Magical Realism, Own Voices, Violence

Echo Brown is a wizard from the East Side, where apartments are small and parents suffer addictions to the white rocks. Yet there is magic . . . everywhere. New portals begin to open when Echo transfers to the rich school on the West Side, and an insightful teacher becomes a pivotal mentor. Each day, Echo travels between two worlds, leaving her brothers, her friends, and a piece of herself behind on the East Side. There are dangers to leaving behind the place that made you. Echo soon realizes there is pain flowing through everyone around her, and a black veil of depression threatens to undo everything she’s worked for.

Heavily autobiographical and infused with magical realism, Black Girl Unlimited fearlessly explores the intersections of poverty, sexual violence, depression, racism, and sexism—all through the arc of a transcendent coming-of-age.

My Attention: it had my full attention but I had to read it in sessions to process what I was reading

World Building: this is contemporary, set in the early 90’s, but with magical realism

Writing Style: so poetic and unconventional – there are times when author is writing about an even and it jumps (connects) to another event in her mind

Bringing the Heat: there is heat for the character as she processes new sexual feelings 

Crazy in Love: nothing romantic, Echo has a few crushes in her life

Creativity: Echo and it seems most females in this book are wizards! She lists the wizard rules in this book as she tells you her story. The rules are more like a guideline on how to survive challenges in your life.

Mood: Absolutely inspired!

Triggers: rape, beating, abuse, drug use, thoughts of suicide

My Takeaway: We are wizards and we can get through our hardships!

  • This story cover some hard topics. It is Echo’s story and her parents use drug users, they live in poverty, and she feels ugly because she is black. Echo is also sexual abused, raped, bullied, beaten and yet she is a wizard and she recognizes this darkness that descends upon people who have internal struggles which is almost everyone around her. She learns to defeat the darkness.
  • This story has a lot going on. It explores…everything from drug abuse, racism, poverty, self-esteem, rape, sexual molestation, parenting, religion, oppression, it covered so much! But for me it worked, it made the conclusion so powerful when Echo perseveres over her dark times.
  • The author wrote this book in a way at first jarred me and I had to wonder if it was a mistake because I was reading an ebook. So I thought the formatting was WAY off..but nope – Echo would talk about something and slip into another memory, as they were connected in some way that you didn’t think it would be! I thought it was fantastic after realizing it wasn’t a mistake.
  • The writing is so powerful and strong, I was highlighting so many sentences or phrases in the book!
  • Echo’s voice is so strong. Her life shocked me – the sexual abuse, how she was living and surviving, and still being the smartest and most accomplished kid in school. I felt her fear, her anguish and pain. I felt her joy too. But I loved her speech in the end and the notes she and her friends wrote as well! No matter what Echo went through, I’m glad she had her friends beside her and she did have help. But this wasn’t only about Echo, it was about her friends, and her family too!
  • The magical realism was interesting, I don’t know that it fully worked and that my belief was suspended enough to believe Echo and some of her friends and family were wizards. I actually thought it was a metaphor or that Echo and her mom had a mental illness and being a wizard was the way to explain it but they are wizards. I think the wizard rules was an awesome guideline of survival though and that it applies to wizards and non-wizards alike.
  • There are so many topics and themes that arise in this story, I thought it would be too much but honestly, I thought it made for an impactful reading experience that I won’t ever forget.

Echo’s personal coming of age story is absolutely powerful, fearless, important, and inspirational. It is poetic, and raw. I cheered Echo on as she struggled through events that killed the light in her but what doesn’t kill her made her oh so much stronger. I admired her determination, strength and capacity to forgive. This is an amazing story full of despair but also full of hope, friendship, forgiveness and yes, wizards.

Dark Skies | Book Review

My Review: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

Title: Dark Skies (Dark Shores, #2)

Author: Danielle L. Jensen

Format: eBook (own)

Pages: 464

Categories: Fantasy, Young Adult, Politics, War, Magic

A RUNAWAY WITH A HIDDEN PAST
Lydia is a scholar, but books are her downfall when she meddles in the plots of the most powerful man in the Celendor Empire. Her life in danger, she flees west to the far side of the Endless Seas and finds herself entangled in a foreign war where her burgeoning powers are sought by both sides.

A COMMANDER IN DISGRACE
Killian is Marked by the God of War, but his gifts fail him when the realm under the dominion of the Corrupter invades Mudamora. Disgraced, he swears his sword to the kingdom’s only hope: the crown princess. But the choice sees him caught up in a web of political intrigue that will put his oath – and his heart – to the test.

A KINGDOM UNDER SIEGE
With Mudamora falling beneath the armies of the Corrupter, Lydia and Killian strike a bargain to save those they love most—but it is a bargain with unintended and disastrous consequences. Truths are revealed, birthrights claimed, and loyalties questioned—all while a menace deadlier and more far-reaching than they realize sweeps across the world.

This is book two in Dark Shores series but the awesome thing is that it’s not a continuation of book one. It’s a parallel story, but Lydia’s story! You can read either Dark Shores or Dark Skies first and you won’t be lost, isn’t that cool? I read them in order but I do love that each girl got their own book!

My Reactions:

My Attention: intrigued

World Building: this Dark Shores world is amazing – in Celendor, it is definitely inspired by Rome and the “west”. In Dark Skies we go across the Endless see into Mudamora. So it was fantastic getting to know this side of the world that believe in the power and gifts of the Six (gods that bestow gifts).

Writing Style: less intense than Dark Shores, but it builds nicely into some crazy battles

Bringing the Heat: where is the heat?! Ugh…my one complaint haha

Crazy in Love: more like impossible love… ☹️

Creativity: I love this way of travel called the xenthier stem, touch it and you could end up somewhere unexpected, or in the case of the East, maybe entombed! But I love this world of powers, the Six, deimos and the west about to find out the East’s secrets

Mood: ready for book three!

Triggers: violence

My Takeaway: Lydia is slowly coming into her power and Killian has so much power but is bound to an oath to protect someone else. They better have a happy ending in book three. 😔

  • Teriana from Dark Shores is my girl and I loved her friendship with Lydia. But this is Lydia’s side of the story. Lydia is a scholar, who was adopted by a powerful Senator and has lived a life of privilege because of it. She and Teriana are opposites in personality. I always wanted to know what happened to Lydia and now we know…and it is definitely unexpected! Lydia is tested. She has been forced out of her protective bubble and her eyes have been opened to the world around her and her power.
  • I love that either Dark Skies or Dark Shores can be read first in this series. We get two perspectives that will combine in the third book and I absolutely love this format! It didn’t feel like things were too repetitive from Dark Shores since we are getting Lydia’s perspective on events that happened.
  • There is a lot of political intrigue happening in this story. Mudamora is ruled by King Serrick and his High Lords. This half of the world still believe in the Gods and the powers they bestow on chosen people. Lydia is from Celendor where do not believe in Gods, and who’s government is ruled by a governing body of Senators. Lydia is thrust into a conflict brewing between King Serrick, his daughter Princess Malahi and the leader of the Corrupted, Rufina. There is a power play going on at court, the Corrupted are threatening to take over their kingdom and they don’t even know the West is about to invade them as well!
  • Killian is trapped and has such a strong sense of honor and loyalty. I felt his struggle. He loves his family, he loves his people, he is marked by the god of war and feels an obligation to be the hero his kingdom want him to be. He may even be starting to love Lydia but…and that’s a big BUT. 😔 I love how he picked women warriors to guard Malahi. He has a reputation as this handsome ladies man but I saw no evidence of it, he barely even flirted! His main love is for his kingdom.
  • Lydia and Killian are trying to fix their mistakes, at least Killian is – Lydia is trying to get back to Celendor so she can help her best friend. In their separate personal lives, they blame themselves for events that have taken place which have meant harm to those they care about. They are both on this path to right their wrongs and yet…I get this sense the harder they try, the tighter this web taround them gets. It’s why I want these two to have a happy ending in book three. They deserve it!
  • I feel like this book is a drumbeat of upcoming war…you know it’s coming, the trap is being set, Mudamora is dying (there is blight on the land and water, there are monsters attacking at night, people are turning Corrupted), the tension is being pulled taut, the battle is coming, the war is coming, both East and West are about to collide (in book three) and I cannot wait to find out what is going to happen.
  • Where is the love?! Not even a kiss, a near kiss, ugh, I’m a romance lover so this killed me! Haha…the story didn’t actually need it, but oh my heart. I was just broken for these two. There is not time for their romance to build with war coming, there are paths to take, choices to make and all Killian and Lydia wants to do, is the RIGHT thing for the people they love. But I want them together so bad…it broke my heart in the end! 💔
  • Lydia’s story is going to reveal some secrets in book three, I can feel it! And I can’t wait to see how it affects everything.

I will be counting the days until book three, The Gilded Serpent, releases next year. I love this series and the characters. I love the world building, the political intrigue, and I want to see everything come together. I’m ready to see how our four characters grow and come together to defeat the enemies around them!

Opposite of Always | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: Opposite of Always

Author: Justin A. Reynolds

Format: ebook (borrowed)

Pages: 451

Categories/Themes: Young Adult, Romance, Time Travel, Death, Illness, Friendship, Family, Black Lead Characters

When Jack and Kate meet at a party, bonding until sunrise over their mutual love of Froot Loops and their favorite flicks, Jack knows he’s falling—hard. Soon she’s meeting his best friends, Jillian and Franny, and Kate wins them over as easily as she did Jack.

But then Kate dies. And their story should end there.

Yet Kate’s death sends Jack back to the beginning, the moment they first meet, and Kate’s there again. Healthy, happy, and charming as ever. Jack isn’t sure if he’s losing his mind.

Still, if he has a chance to prevent Kate’s death, he’ll take it. Even if that means believing in time travel. However, Jack will learn that his actions are not without consequences. And when one choice turns deadly for someone else close to him, he has to figure out what he’s willing to do to save the people he loves.

This is a time travel love story that kind of lost me at time travel. 😕

My Reactions:

My Attention: lost it when the time travel kicked in and that’s a ME thing, it doesn’t make the book bad

World Building: it’s Jack’s world and he is in love with Kate

Writing Style: lots of dialogue, so it moves quick

Bringing the Heat: no heat

Crazy in Love: oh, Jack is crazy in love

Creativity: it got creative with the time travel

Mood: mixed feelings 

Triggers: death, illness

My Takeaway: “almost” is good enough ❤️ because that meant you still had some time with that person

  • Jack is the sweetest kid ever. I love his charming personality, I wanted to protect him from heartbreak. He is a nice guy and he has been in love with his best friend, Jillian, since forever until Kate comes along. But he’s an all around good guy, he’s the average nerdy guy, comes from a nice family and has good friends around him.
  • Friendship is a big deal to Jack and it shows with his two best friends, who are dating, Franny and Jillian.
  • The dialogue between the characters is really good and I could always tell who was speaking because their voices were distinct.
  • Jack is so in love with Kate, it’s the sweetest and saddest thing. And the book cover is the cutest and makes a lot of sense after reading the book.
  • I don’t mind death and illness in a story but darn, the time travel just took me out of it. I thought okay…let’s see what happens, but by the time it starts over again, I felt a disconnect. That’s mostly because I tend to be that way with books with time travel, especially when it keeps repeating itself! I understand why it was in the story though because it shows in each scenario how things could have turned out.
  • This book revolves around Jack’s love for Kate. And because it is a time travel story, his love for her is on repeat. I think it would have been great to learn more about Kate, not so much his love for her because we all knew he was crazy about her.

Unfortunately the time travel aspect made me disconnect from the story. I loved the beginning, where we meet Jack, Kate and all the people that make up his world but after Kate dies (the first time), I lost interest in the story. I think many people will enjoy this sweet love story though, especially if you don’t mind a story with time travel.

The Kiss Quotient | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: The Kiss Quotient

Author: Helen Hoang

Format: eBook (borrowed)

Pages: 323

Categories: Contemporary, Romance, Adult, Autism, Fake Dating, Asian Rep

Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases — a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old.

It doesn’t help that Stella has Asperger’s and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice — with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can’t afford to turn down Stella’s offer, and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan — from foreplay to more-than-missionary position…

Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses, but to crave all the other things he’s making her feel. Soon, their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges will convince Stella that love is the best kind of logic…

So I read The Bride Test before this book and I ended up liking The Kiss Quotient much more!

My Reactions:

My Attention: read in one night

World Building: Silicon Valley

Writing Style: flowed really well

Bringing the Heat: 🔥🔥🔥🔥 – lots of sexy moments in this one

Crazy in Love: in a good way

Creativity: I love the Asperger’s representation and how Stella propositions Michael instead of the other way around (Pretty Woman reversal!)

Mood: love 

Triggers: prostitution

My Takeaway: Get yourself a Michael Larsen. 🤗

  • The autistic representation is fantastic, just as it was in The Bride Test. We get to see how a character with Aspergers, Stella, functions in a social, sexual, physical and romantic relationship with Michael. I appreciate the insight because it makes me understand people with autism better. I can feel Stella’s desire and despair to try and be “normal” in a romantic relationship, and yay for Michael being super patient with her. It’s exactly what she needed in a partner.
  • The whole reverse Pretty Woman thing where Michael is the escort is fun. And HOT. I mean some of the scenes where he is trying to help her be comfortable with sex was like…🔥🔥🔥. I mean obviously he has a 5 star rating so he knows what he is doing, but again…his patience is what got me swooning! ❤️
  • I did like how it went into hot territory with the escort services thing in the beginning and sex lessons to HOLD up..let’s do fake dating. It took their relationship in a new direction where she works on the usually things about a relationship: dating, meeting each other’s family, talking to one another and learning about each other. I enjoyed that!
  • As for the characters, I loved them both. Stella is smart but has her challenges with being autistic. Michael’s story is heartbreaking is drowning in debt because of his father’s mistake but you know how much he loves his family. And speaking of family…my favorite guy from The Bride’s Test, Quan, made an appearance and seriously, I am SO ready to read his book. Give me Quan!
  • If the whole escort service thing is not something you like (because it does mean Michael has slept with a LOT of women) then this book may not be for you. But it’s a job to him until Stella comes along.

I enjoyed this book a lot! The chemistry between Stella and Michael is off the charts but also, it’s a sweet love story as well. It left me feeling happy, which is what I expect a romantic novel to do. Now I’m ready for Quan’s book!

Color Me In | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: Color Me In

Author: Natasha Diaz

Format: eBook (borrowed)

Pages: 373

Categories: Young Adult, Contemporary, Coming of Age, Black Lives Matter, Bi-racial, Romance, Own Voices

Who is Nevaeh Levitz?

Growing up in an affluent suburb of New York City, sixteen-year-old Nevaeh Levitz never thought much about her biracial roots. When her Black mom and Jewish dad split up, she relocates to her mom’s family home in Harlem and is forced to confront her identity for the first time. 

Nevaeh wants to get to know her extended family, but one of her cousins can’t stand that Nevaeh, who inadvertently passes as white, is too privileged, pampered, and selfish to relate to the injustices they face on a daily basis as African Americans. In the midst of attempting to blend their families, Nevaeh’s dad decides that she should have a belated bat mitzvah instead of a sweet sixteen, which guarantees social humiliation at her posh private school. Even with the push and pull of her two cultures, Nevaeh does what she’s always done when life gets complicated: she stays silent.

It’s only when Nevaeh stumbles upon a secret from her mom’s past, finds herself falling in love, and sees firsthand the prejudice her family faces that she begins to realize she has a voice. And she has choices. Will she continue to let circumstances dictate her path? Or will she find power in herself and decide once and for all who and where she is meant to be?

I’m adding more black authors to my reading lists and I knew I had to read this one because it’s about a girl who is half-black and half-Jewish. This story helped opened my eyes to the struggles someone who is biracial could experience.

My Reactions:

My Attention: had my whole attention

World Building: a girl from Harlem and White Plains, New York

Writing Style: main character has such a strong voice, at times story moved slowly

Bringing the Heat: 🔥- Nevaeh’s love story is sweet 

Crazy in Love: it wasn’t the focus of the story, which was nice

Creativity: beautifully done with poetry from Nevaeh’s voice

Mood: open minded 

Triggers: bullying, racism, divorce, depression

My Takeaway: Nevaeh doesn’t know where she fits in and families, marriage, and people in general – are complicated.

  • I love how layered this story is. Nevaeh is struggling to keep it together while her parents go through a divorce. But she is also having an identity crisis because she feels like she doesn’t belong anywhere. The Black Lives Matter movement has begun and protests have been occurring in the streets of NYC, and she’s living at her aunt’s in Harlem because of the divorce. Living with her aunt has awoken a desire to know about that part of her.
  • This is an Own Voices story and I respect Neveah’s struggle to accept both sides of her cultures. She’s always been told by her father that she never had to go to Temple…until now. He’s also telling her she is going to have a Bat Mitzvah. So Neveah feels lost with all these changes happening in her life. I felt her stress – I was stressed out for her! I can see why she acted out at times, but I also wanted to sit down and have a talk with her. Neveah expresses herself beautifully with writing poetry which is included throughout this story.
  • Her romance with Jesus is really cute. I liked that it wasn’t the focus of the book, but that he was there for her.
  • The divorce is a big part of Nevaeh’s life and her mom goes through severe depression. I like when Nevaeh finds her mom’s diary and we get a glimpse of how she met Nevaeh’s dad.
  • I love how Harlem comes alive in this story. I can visualize the street, hear the neighborhood and that festival scene was amazing.
  • We see a lot of instances where prejudice and racism are on display in the streets of New York, and so much at her school with that especially one classmate of hers, Abby. 😒
  • Both Neveah’s parents neglected her while they are separated and going through a divorce. Her mom is depressed and is in bed a lot, which is understandable and her dad…wow, her dad is barely there for her! And he takes the side of his new girlfriend? Like what was that? That frustrated me so much but I know it is realistic. I just wished he realized how much he hurt Neveah with his actions. He comes through somewhat in the end for her but other than that…😞.
  • Neveah makes a lot of mistakes and has to check herself at times. People around her are good at telling her things point blank like her aunt, her twin cousins and her best friend, Stevie. She doesn’t always get it right away but that’s part of the struggle she is dealing with.

Neveah is not perfect, she is struggling, but she is also learning so much and most importantly learning to accept the parts of her that don’t feel like her. The characters in this book from Neveah’s mom, Jesus and Neveah experience many instances of racism in this story which is important to see. This book gave me a full experience through Neveah’s eyes and I think that makes it a wonderful Own Voices story.

Winds of Fate (Fated Hearts Book One) | Book Review

My Ratings: ⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

Title: Winds of Fate ( Fated Hearts Book One)

Author: Lucia Omonobi

Format: eBook (own)

Pages: 224

Categories: Historical Romance

Disclaimer: **I was asked by author to read and review her book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

Leah…
After being duped by her intended, kicked out of her home, and left on the streets of Black Valley, twenty-three-year-old seamstress, Leah Karin signs her life over to her country, Aghi, to relocate to and populate its fledging colony, Luctown. Too late Leah realizes the scheme is filled with lies and injustice. Beaten, bruised and without hope, Leah is prepared to die… but fate has other plans.

Andrew…
All he wanted was freedom. So willingly, Andrew Code trades slavery for exile to the new town. As his team uncovers the lies and deceit of the new town, Andrew remains determined to carve out a life worth living for himself.

In an untamed forest filled with ex-convicts, starving residents, schemers, and murderers, will love and hope conquer all?

I was asked by the author to read and review her debut novel, so as always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. I’m always looking for new historical romance novels to read but I admit I read less of them these days since fantasy is my preferred read. But I was very surprised by Winds of Fate.

My Reactions:

My Attention: curious

World Building: fascinating world-building, it is fiction, with different country and town names but it is based on the Louisiana French colonization experiment in the 1700’s.

Writing Style: the story moves quick with a few format issues

Bringing the Heat: 🔥🔥🔥 – it’s a romance novel so it has many steamy parts but between two people that love each other

Crazy in Love: growing, strong relationship and a happy ending

Creativity: very creative use with the historical background of Louisiana

Mood:  surprised

Triggers: sexual harassment, rape, abuse, slavery, death

My Takeaway: Andrew and Leah overcome a lot in their lives and still find a way to fall in love.

  • This is not your run of the mill historical romance set in Britain regaling tales of the gentry class. No, no, no…Andrew is a slave and Leah was once a shopkeeper but both of them took a chance to relocate to Luctown with promises of wealth which turned out to be all lies. Their beginning is not pretty.
  • After the events of how they met, I wondered how these two would even find romance with one another. But quiet Andrew shows day by day that he is a provider and a protector. It helps that he is handsome also. Leah finds herself very much attracted to him as she gets to know him. As for Andrew, Leah helps him in any way she can, rather than let him do all the work. He falls for her too but they basically only have each other.
  • The world-building of Luctown was very detailed. It starts with how the relocated people start off in the town, with their limited amount of money and resources – we see how they either succeed or fail with their new life. Andrew and Leah, succeed by working hard, making friends and being honest, good people.
  • In any romance you want a happily ever after and there is much strife in Andrew and Leah’s lives, especially when the Sheriff propositions Leah to be his whore (hateful man!). It is the main drama in the book, but eventually there is a happily ever after.
  • In the beginning when Andrew and Leah meet, it is gritty and horrifying. They signed up with a bunch of criminals, prostitutes and deserters to relocate to a new town. You can only imagine the things that happen. Is it realistic? Yes and the author added in a note in the back that she was inspired by the French colonization experiment in Louisiana. I did not even know about that so I definitely learned something.
  • I had to remind myself this took place in the 1700’s because some of these mens behaviors are atrocious! I’m just glad Andrew was a good guy!
  • This is a formatting issue with the ebook (at least for me) but there is a space between each paragraph that made my reading experience seem choppy. It threw me off at times. Also there were some dialogue parts towards the end that seemed it was missing some character actions? For example, I didn’t know who was talking. Or that might be part of the paragraph formatting again? I’m not sure.

This is a solid debut novel by an indie author! I thought the world-building was fascinating and I learned something about Louisiana’s history even though the places in the book were fictional. The characters in Luctown all showed some survival skills, they had to because they relocated to a place with less resources than they are used to. I knew Andrew would succeed from the start though! It’s a gritty romance story, but Andrew and Leah show us through hard times, love can flourish.

Kingdom of Souls | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: Kingdom of Souls

Author: Rena Barron

Format: eBook (owned)

Pages: 496

Categories: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance

THERE’S MAGIC IN HER BLOOD.

Explosive fantasy set in a world of magic and legend, where one girl must sacrifice her life, year by year, to gain the power necessary to fight the mother she has never been good enough for.

Perfect for fans of Sarah J Maas, Tomi Adeyemi and Black Panther

THERE’S MAGIC IN HER BLOOD.

Arrah is a young woman from a long line of the most powerful witch doctors in the land. But she fails at magic, fails to call upon the ancestors and can’t even cast the simplest curse.

Shame and disappointment dog her.

When strange premonitions befall her family and children in the kingdom begin to disappear, Arrah undergoes the dangerous and scorned process of selling years of her life for magic. This borrowed power reveals a nightmarish betrayal and a danger beyond what she could have imagined. Now Arrah must find a way to master magic, or at least buy it, in order to save herself and everything she holds dear.

An explosive fantasy set in a world of magic and legend with a twist you will never see coming.

I’ve been wanting to read this book since when it was published and when I saw the ebook was on sale, I knew I had to get it. I was not disappointed, this book is amazing!

My Reactions:

My Attention: it took me three days to read this because there is a lot of world building and characters to digest

World Building: lush, detailed

Writing Style: the story telling sucked me in, it flowed nicely

Bringing the Heat: 🔥slow burn 

Crazy in Love: best friends to lovers BUT it’s wayyy more complicated than that

Creativity: so many twists and turns I was shocked a lot in the 2nd half of the book. I love the world this is set in with the gods, demons, craven, orishas and tribes!

Mood: blown away

Triggers: violence, death (of children)

My Takeaway: Family can betray you. 🥺

  • The storytelling sucked me into this fantastic world of tribes, magic, Gods, demons, friendship, love, and family! This story has layers – I loved the twists – I was like this… “😲” …throughout the second half of the book!
  • Arrah is a girl who’s magic hasn’t appeared as it should. Both her parents have strong magic so it’s disappointing to her and her mother when it appears she has none. All she wants is to please her mother (there is no pleasing this woman!) and her Grandmother. Thank God her father always appreciating her no matter what. ❤️
  • The backstory of the Gods toying with the lives of these people, makes the story so much more complicated. We get commentary from some of these Gods to show how they are tied in deeply into the culture of the tribes and to the Kingdom as well.
  • When you think the story is a simple one about a girl who wishes she has magic and power…the story gets deeper and DARKER. I loved it. I think when it gets dark is when my mind said wow. Arrah’s journey in this life is not easy and in the end she has to make hard choices about family and about love.
  • I’ve read a lot of books lately with neglectful moms (is this a popular theme lately?) but wow…Arrah’s mother, Arti, is on another level. I didn’t like her mom, but I like that the story went there and it made Arrah’s hurt and despair more relatable.
  • I love Arrah’s friends, they bring humor and have her back when she really doesn’t have anyone else on her side.
  • The beginning is slow because it’s world building but I still enjoyed it. The second half is a lot of action. I’ve learned to keep at it with slow beginnings as long as the world or the characters interests me and I’m glad I’ve learned to do this.
  • As for the romance part of the book…oh boy – not sure what is going to happen there. Is it a love triangle? I’m going to say yes and I was bummed about what happened between Arrah and Rudjek because they were best friends first before anything else. It will be interesting to see what happens with Arrah and Rudjek.
  • Effiya. That girl demon! 😖

Overall, I enjoyed this book a lot with it’s vibrant world building and cast of characters! In the second half I was just shocked with the twists and turns. Arrah starts off just a girl wanting her magic and power to manifest inside her. She wants to be recognized by her mother and not be a failure to her Grandmother and their tribe. By the end of this book, her family is taken from her, but she must stay stronger for a little while longer and this time she has her friends at her side and the powers of her tribe within her. I look forward to reading book two in this series!

ARC Review | Cinderella is Dead

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: Cinderella Is Dead

Author: Kalynn Bayron

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 400

Publication Date: July 7, 2020

Categories: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Retelling

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

It’s 200 years after Cinderella found her prince, but the fairy tale is over. Teen girls are now required to appear at the Annual Ball, where the men of the kingdom select wives based on a girl’s display of finery. If a suitable match is not found, the girls not chosen are never heard from again.

Sixteen-year-old Sophia would much rather marry Erin, her childhood best friend, than parade in front of suitors. At the ball, Sophia makes the desperate decision to flee, and finds herself hiding in Cinderella’s mausoleum. There, she meets Constance, the last known descendant of Cinderella and her step sisters. Together they vow to bring down the king once and for all–and in the process, they learn that there’s more to Cinderella’s story than they ever knew . . .

This fresh take on a classic story will make readers question the tales they’ve been told, and root for girls to break down the constructs of the world around them.

Thank you to Bloomsbury YA and NetGalley for giving me a chance to read this eARC.

Now this is an imaginative and creative retelling of the infamous Cinderella story. Cinderella is Dead is a big twist on the happily ever after story we’ve been fed since Disney created the Cinderella movie. Poor Cinderella loses her father, is raised by her wicked stepmother, meets a fairy godmother, a Prince and all is well in the kingdom.

Not so in this retelling. Prince Charming has left a legacy of oppression against women in the kingdom of Mersailles. Girls are paired up to be married to eligible men (doesn’t matter their age) and if they are abused, people don’t blink an eye. Everyone think it’s a man’s right to treat women however they want, but Sophia is not having it. Plus, she wants to be with another girl, and that’s not allowed in Mersailles so she flees. Sophia uncovers the horrible truth about Prince Charming and Mersailles, but can she help turn the tide and take down the king?

  • Talk about a twist! I love the way the Cinderella story is upended in this retelling. By the way, I do love the happily ever after Cinderella story I grew up with but this particular take is definitely reflective of our women empowerment times today. The girls in Mersailles have this legacy – to “be happy” and in love like the original Cinderella story, they have to follow the rules set out by King Manford. But it’s all a lie. Women are being abused, killed, mistreated and no one can do a thing about it – until Sophia tries.
  • Sophia knows she likes girls, and she tries to flee Mersailles the night of her pairing, where she is supposed to find her future husband. Sophia is a rebel and tries her best to uncover the truth about Mersailles and their king.
  • There is a lot of diversity in this book, which is always nice. We have the f/f relationships going on and Sophia is a queer black girl. And let me say, it was awesome to see the girls in this book take this Cinderella story, expose it for what it is (a lie) and then take down the king. DO IT. They did. Haha.
  • The fairy godmother’s role in this story is very interesting. When she tells the story of the true Cinderella it’s an eye opening tale. But there are ore surprises in store.
  • I thought Sophia was so in love with Erin at first, to the point she begged her to run away with her. That ends quick in the beginning. Eventually something grows between Sophia and Constance but it may seem like insta-lust right after things with Erin have ended. Anyway it just made me go..🤔. The friendship between Sophia and Constance is strong though, so that was a plus.
  • I did find parts of the book that lagged, especially during the explanations and the back story of the real Cinderella. Also I read an e-arc that was just formatted in a way that made reading not enjoyable. 🤦🏻‍♀️ So that is not something against the book at all.
  • Triggers: violence, abuse

I really enjoyed this dark retelling of Cinderella! The concept is creative and entertaining. The message is empowering. Not everyone wants Cinderella’s life and I’m glad this book tells girls they have plenty of other options out there. Everyone’s personal happily ever after is going to be different and that’s perfectly fine.