Salutations Chapterlings! It’s been a hot minute since we’ve sat down with one another, hasn’t it? I hope you’re doing well, staying hydrated and reading all of the books. Today I’m posting something I’ve never posted on my blog before. I know I said I wasn’t trying to pressure myself with reading or really make tbrs anymore because quite frankly, it really messes with my mood reading. However, this post is kind of an ‘in general’ year tbr post, in a way. Basically, books that I am and will be reading for the year of 2023. Some of these books I may have already read, some may be anticipated releases, and some may be arcs (or long overdue arc reviews) or recommendations from friends. Whatever the case may be, I wanted to share all of these books with you.
Without any further shenanigans and rambles, my 23 books I want to read in 2023!
This was an arc that I received back at the start of 2023 and has been on my anticipated 2023 releases list. I recently just finished this book and posted a review. While I won’t give any spoiler, I had a really fun time with this book and enjoyed many things about this book. Plus, if you love quotes like I do, so many quotes! There are so many!
I said at the very beginning of 2023, I was going to read this book, this year and I accomplished that! This book is unapologetically Native/Indigenous and a love letter to all urban and disconnected/reconnecting Natives out there. While there were things outside of the amazing themes of this book that hindered my reading experience, I love this book with my whole chest and encourage others to give it a chance.
This is an arc I’ve recently received and a book I plan on picking up very soon! This is a middle grade novel that follows a transgender main character who’s grieving and coming to terms with the loss of his best friend. In the midst of all of this, our main character, Noah starts writing letters to Mothman, in hopes that Mothman understands him and sets out to search for Mothman. If you’re new here, hi hello, I love monsters and cryptids. But also the cover is stunning and the synopsis has me very excited to pick this book up as soon as possible!
Now this book, I think I just hit the halfway mark within the pages. Yup, you guessed it, this is my current read! So my thoughts so far, I’m having fun! There are some difficult conversations that happen around the foster system and how it impacts children, what it means to be a new parent out of the blue, but there’s also steamy times and the real reason I picked it up is for the polyamorous representation. I’ve been trying to pick up more books that have polyam rep in them. So this hit my radar end of 2022, beginning of 2023. I’m excited to see where this book goes and if you love multiple povs, we get all four povs in this book!
While I need to update my GoodReads review, this is an arc that I need to get to soon! I have talked about this book in my 5 Star Predictions 2023 edition. All I know is the cover is stunning, the synopsis is intriguing, this is a Rapunzel retelling, and that’s all I want to know. I will hopefully be picking this up, hopefully sometime this month or in April, but I’m really excited for!
This is on my backlog of reviews I need to write, but oh my goodness did I love this book with my whole chest! This was also on my 5 Star Predictions 2023 edition and this book didn’t disappoint. I was so immersed with the world and the characters. It made me miss D&D so freaking much. If you haven’t given this book a chance, it’s worth it. Plus, the second book was just announced!
Am I ever going to stop talking about this book? NOPE! Again, this is another 5 Star Prediction for 2023 and one of my most anticipated books I really want to read before this year ends. Darcie Little Badger is the first Apache author I have come across since entering the book community. I can’t begin to express how excited I am for this book and how much I know I’m going to fall in love with this book the same way I did with Elatsoe.
Last year I absolutely devoured Wild Is The Witch while I was one vacation. I read it all in one day because I was so captivated by Griffin’s writing, the characters she wrote, and the world she built. When this book was announced, I rushed to preorder my copy and slam it onto my anticipated releases for 2023. This is not only a 5 star prediction read for me, but I’m just going to throw it out there now, it’ll probably be one of my top books of 2023, as well.
In 2023, I’m really trying to highlight more Native/Indigenous literature. And 2023 has some amazing books coming out by Native/Indigenous authors. This is one of those books! I’m so excited for this release. It’s releasing in my birth month and it’s my only read I actually have planned for the month of May. This is in my most anticipated releases for 2023 and I just know I’m going to love this book with my whole chest. Plus, the cover. Have you seen the cover?! STUNNING!
One of my most anticipated releases of 2023 is this book right here! I have been waiting, wondering if House of Salt and Sorrows was going to have a sequel and now we have our answer! I’m so excited for this release and the cover is beautiful. I haven’t read the synopsis, I want to go in knowing as little as possible, but this is the second book in the Sisters of Salt series. I haven’t seen on if this is just going to be a duology or a full series yet, but I’m really excited!
Keeping on the theme of Native/Indigenous literature, we have Bad Cree! I do have an arc copy of this book, but I also had to wait for my preorder to arrive. I ended up ordering the UK paperback cover and all I have to say is it’s gorgeous! I’ve been feeling my horror, thriller, and mystery books lately sop this book is right up my alley!
Look, it’ll happen! Honestly, I had planned to read this in February, but life has a been a little bit of a whirlwind. I’m hoping to pick this up this month, hopefully. Either way, I loved Muscles & Monsters and I know I’ll love this one just as much!
Can we just take a moment to appreciate the cover of this book? Truly, it stole my breath the moment I first saw it. If I’m really being honest, I know nothing about this book except I’m intrigued and excited about it!
This has become my favorite graphic novel of 2023! K. O’Neill does it again by hitting the ball right out of the park! The artwork is absolutely breathtaking, the story itself is so moving, and even though I’ve finished this book, I’m still thinking about it. If you haven’t ordered this book and read it yet, you need to! I’m so glad I read it and as usual, I’m looking forward to the next book for O’Neill to release!
You would think with how much I love spooky things, the Fall/Halloween season, adore Sleepy Hollow, that I would have read this graphic novel by now and put a review out for it long ago. NOPE! I’m very behind in my arc reviews, my backlog for reviews is kind of wild at the moment, and my mood reading has been taking me on a roller coaster ride. So this in pretty high up on my priority list!
Well… I guess I’m a Schwab stan now?! Honestly, when Gallant took me by storm and then The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue completely gutted me, on my knees ugly crying, not long afterwards – I knew there was no going back for me. I wasn’t expecting to fall in love with Schwab’s work the way I have. Truly, I thought I wasn’t going to connect with them, I thought her books were going to be added to my ‘books that were overhyped and didn’t live up to it’ list. I was very skeptical and so sure I wasn’t going to vibe with either of those books. I don’t know what magic happened, but the absolutely blessings! Now I want to read everything by Schwab and City of Ghosts is up next on my list!
I’m back on my series kick with a new project in the works! I read a chapter sampler for Broken Bonds and it captivated me so much so that I lost all control, bought the whole series in paperback! Yup, that happened. So this is happening, I don’t know when, but it is.
I’m not going to lie, I’ve been nervous on picking this book up. I’ve been hearing a lot of mixed things through the grape vine and now I’m nervous that I overhyped myself up about this book. I really, really want to love this book even more so because it’s one of my most anticipated books of 2023. Wish me luck because I’m scared!
This is another book that I’m a bit nervous about. I’ve been hearing a lot of mixed things through the grape vine and now I’m nervous to pick this book up. I’m still excited about it, but I do wonder if I overhyped the book up. I do have an audiobook and a physical version of this book. If you’ve read this book or listened to the audio, please let me know your thoughts on which you prefer more!
I want more anthologies! Plain and simple! Back in the beginning of 2022, I read Reclaim the Stars: 17 Tales Across Realms & Space and had a blast reading it! This year, I want more anthologies because I miss them. So when this anthology was announced and I got wind that Darcie Little Badger is one the authors, I started researching anything I could find on this book. There are so many incredible authors lined up for this anthology and I have a mighty need to read this book immediately!
Not just more Native/Indigenous literature, but also more horror, thriller mystery genre goodness! I’m very excited about this book to release. Honestly, I have no idea what to expect. I have some thoughts, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself in case I end up spoiling it. Just know, I really want to read this especially for the fall! It seems like the perfect fall/winter read!
I was so excited for this release and it’s no surprise I ate it up! Honestly, I enjoyed the series as a whole. You can find my full series review HERE. This book was such a bittersweet way to conclude this series, but it has me excited for the future. I’ll be keeping my eyes opened for more books from Clio Evans in the future!
Finally! FINALLY! The cover for this book was announced back in January and I have been grasping at straws for any inch of information I can get about this book. I have fallen in love with this series and I’ve been trying to keep up with it as much as possible. Last year, I was blessed to have received an arc of Tiger Honor and adored it! I think I’m going to absolutely love Fox Snare, but sadly this book won’t be out till Fall 2023. So we have a bit of a wait before we can dive back into this world!
We have finally made it to the end, friends! We did it! I don’t know why I thought this was going to be a short list, but I really love the way this post turned out. I’m really excited for what this year has in-store, reading wise. If you’re planning on reading 23 books in the year of 2023, what are some titles you plan on reading? Are you anticipating the release of any of these titles? Come chat about it in the comments below! Until next time friends, I hope your reading plans are going well, you’re staying hydrated, and as always, I love you! ♥
This post contains affiliate links; if you use these links to make a purchase, I may earn a commission. Thanks for reading!
ARC was given by NetGalley & Delacorte Press in exchange for an honest review.
This review is being published before the release date (June 27, 2023)
Content/Trigger Warnings: Loss of a loved one, grief, depictions of anxiety, brief mentions of dead animals, depictions of claustrophobia, abduction, death, murder, depictions of blood, scene of suicidal ideation, scene of forced drugging/sedation, manipulation, scenes of emesis, mentions of starvation (in the past), talk of cannibalism (in the past), graphic deaths recounted, scene of drowning
“The wind whispers, sending chills down my spine. It almost seems to call my name. Silkily, a caress against the back of my neck. Starling.”
This was such a captivating read! Wow, friends. Truly, my curiosity was running wild with this book. I won’t lie, there were a few moments where I thought this might not live up to my expectations or I should, my high hopes for loving this book. After finishing this book, I can happily say that this was such a great read, perfect for the wintery season to give you some light goosebumps or tingles. And you can rest assured, I’m looking forward to what this author will have instore for us next!
Kit Starling is grieving the loss of her father, a huge inspiration to her and why she wants to become an author. When Kit finds out that she has a grandmother, after all this time, she and her mother set out to Rosemont. Filled with many questions of why her father lied and now even more secrets seem to be spilling out before her, on top of her mother missing Kit has more questions than ever. Something isn’t right in Rosemont, something much darker and it’s all linked back to her family, the Starlings.
“What they had was imprinted on us forever. It will never die,” Agatha said. It will die, I silently vow. I’m going to be the one to kill it.”
I was a bit nervous, I won’t lie. Books surrounding mother-daughter relationships just haven’t been my cup of tea as of late. I have struggled with the dynamic for a while now and officially decided to bench it. So when I learned this have a very close-knit mother-daughter bond, I was a bit hesitant. However, I was pleasantly surprised by this dynamic. Despite my worries, I really enjoyed the bond Kit and her mother have. In their grief, it seemed to solidify their relationship and the way Kit’s mother is written, it’s very obvious how much she loves Kit and how devoted she is to her. I just really loved it and even Kit being fully determined to find her mother was really nice to see. I just really loved the both of them and their bond they share with one another.
Speaking of Kit, I was a little worried with Kit’s character, as well. There were moments where Kit almost came off as extremely oblivious and almost like she couldn’t put the bigger picture together, but despite that, I loved that her love for her mother was the fire that caused her to keep pushing forward, to seek out the answers she needed, and to ultimately put the bigger picture together. I was very pleasantly surprised by that. I appreciate the author made sure to not box Kit’s character into a particular hero role. Throughout this whole book, Kit truly just craves family and we see moments where she’s crumbling to pieces, but also finding family in places where she didn’t think she could have it. I really adored that. And I have to mention Kit is either bisexual or pansexual. There are two characters in this book that Kit is attracted to and let me just say, I love a good F/F romance where one of them is a monster girl. That’s all I’ll say.
“She tastes like salt and sugar and darkness, and the promise of light just barely beneath it. I shouldn’t want to kiss her this much. But I do it anyway.”
Okay, that’s not all I’ll say. Let’s talk about about ‘Sabelle because I truly, with my whole chest, need fan art of this character. I fell madly in love with ‘Sabelle’s character. Now, I might be a little bias because I love anything with monsters, but her character really hit my intrigue when we get her first appearance. Truly, one of the best entrances for a character I’ve ever seen. ‘Sabelle’s whole personality reminds me of the wind, how it’s very light, but ever changing depending on seasons and weather. Honestly, I’m a little salty that it took a hot minute for her to come back into the storyline and I wish she would have been brough back sooner, but I still love her character and the scenes we do get were chef’s kiss.
Though there were many things I loved about this book and so, so many quotes, there were a few things that really held me back from fully loving it the way I hoped I would. While this is a subtle thing, it still irked me and there were a few scenes where Kit’s weight was brought up. Now, if it was to show the passage of time then I probably wouldn’t have an issue with it, but that wasn’t the case. There was a huge emphasis of how thin Kit was and it didn’t really serve any purpose. It was just a little annoying and felt like it took away from the story at times. I think my biggest issue with this book was that it became very predictable of the direction the book was going to go. Two of the big plot twists, I predicted right around the 40% mark and that kind of hindered my enjoyment once they were both confirmed. Though I will say, despite predicting those plot twists, the ending still surprised me and saved the book for me.
“So I’ll say, when you get a chance run. And never look back. Or maybe just fight, like I’m not brave enough to do.”
Overall, I’m trying so hard not to say too much. I genuinely believe the best way to go into this book is to go in not knowing a lot about it. I think if I would have know more about this book than I did, I don’t think I would love it the way I do. This was a really fun read though. I went into this book expecting mystery, maybe a little romance, and that’s exactly what I got, with some added bonuses. I loved the cover, I have so many quotes highlighted, and the important side characters like Beth and Miles just have my whole heart. If the cover of this book doesn’t entice you, let me just recommend that you give it a chance because it truly deserves it.
The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.
This post contains affiliate links; if you use these links to make a purchase, I may earn a commission. Thanks for reading!
ARC was given by NetGalley & Andrews McMeel Publishing in exchange for an honest review.
This review is being published before the release date (April 04, 2023)
Content/Trigger Warnings: Depiction & themes of mental illness, brief scenes of loss of a loved one, scenes of bullying (always challenged)
“The world may seem a scary place, with darkness all around, but darkness cannot stop the light of kindness, I have found.”
Friends, this was such a delightfully fun time! When I tell you I loved each and every character in this graphic novel, I mean it with my whole chest. Not to mention, if you’re a lover of Over the Garden Wall, you’re going to enjoy this arts tyle so much. When I first saw the cover, it instantly made me think of Over the Garden Wall and I knew I had to read this. So I have to recommend it to you, dear reader!
Just like the Over the Garden Wall series, this book has many characters you’ll come to enjoy, fall in love with, feel their struggles and hardships, but also tackle topics of mental health in a unique way. Even some of the bullies become likeable as they change and find healthy, creative outlets. It was such an interesting take on some familiar fairytales and just some interesting characters in general. I think some of my favorites have to be Little Red and Mister Wolf, and of course I have to mention the wholesome Bucket Boy. There’s too many lovely characters, but I loved them all dearly and their journeys, their stories.
Overall, I truly loved this graphic novel with everything in my whole chest. I don’t want to say too much, but know that there’s humor, some sad times, and there’s many good moments that will warm your heart. I think this is probably one of my favorite graphic novels I’ve read so far for 2023. Again, the art style makes me think of Over the Garden Wall and if you enjoyed that, I think you’ll have a wonderful time reading this graphic novel. To all of those out there who like reading graphic novels that surround mental health, I definitely recommend giving this graphic novel a chance!
The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.
Hi there, friends! Today I’m going to be posting some mini reviews… mini thoughts… on some books I’ve recently read. I’ll be honest, I’ve been sitting on these for a hot minute because I wasn’t too sure how I wanted to convey my thoughts, feelings or if I even had enough notes compiled to even make my typical reviews. While I’m not sure how this post will turn out, the one thing never changing is the fact that the content/trigger warnings I’ve found during my time reading these books will always be listed at the top of each review. Also, these reads are ranked from my best read to my least favorite read. I hope this will help anyone out there who’s looking for some new books to pick up!
“Wherever cryptids are celebrated, the story is so much more important than the science.”
As a lover of all things spooky, creepy, Halloweeny, and yes, being the monster loving, cryptid fanatic that I am, this book has been on my radar for a hot minute. I will say, trying to track down a physical copy was a tad difficult and I was so eager to read this book that I caved an got the ebook form. Though, the way this was written has me wondering if the audiobook would have been a better choice. That’s besides the point! I had a really fun time reading this and lets be real, anytime I get to read about monsters or cryptids is always a fun time!
“Cryptids are hopeful concepts: hope that the world is still a diverse place full of discovery.”
This book is a bind-up of all the various places in the United States that have cryptid tales to tell the world. Various cryptids are grouped by area along with some other details about that cryptid. Laced with the narration that almost comes off as some cryptid television show, the stories in here vary from the most famous of cryptids like Mothman or Bigfoot, all the way to lesser known cryptids like the Giant Sky Clam or Derry Fairy. This covers the whole United States and the fantastic cryptids that you may know or… not know about it.
As I mentioned, this was a really fun read. While I didn’t really care too much for the narration of the book, the stories about each cryptid kept me going. Call it a curious mind, but I wanted to know what cryptids this book had to share. I was pleasantly surprised that there were quite a few cryptids in here that I didn’t already know about and even the ones I did know about, there were some things that I had no idea about. Plus, for some of the stories there were actual images to go along with it that really helped paint the picture of what certain cryptids would look like, which was a nice touch to add in, might I add.
However, I have sat on this review for a hot minute and in that time, I’ve had time to come to terms with certain feelings about this book and why my rating for this book has changed. Though I still enjoyed this book quite a bit, I still found some issues with this book. As a Mescalero Apache Native, I found the way the Native/Indigenous creatures were handled in this book caused a bit of yucky feelings for me. For starters, I don’t consider the Native/Indigenous creatures mentioned in this book to be cryptids, first and foremost. Secondly, the whole chapter dedicated to the SW or what I like to refer to as The Mimic, gave me big icky feelings. This was probably my least favorite part of the entire book. The author states they had a Navajo guide who was even quoted, “We don’t talk about these creatures” and yet the book states the author pressed for information on this creature despite the guide being uncomfortable. This comes off as highly disrespectful to not only Native culture and beliefs, but to the fact that, the guide was not only uncomfortable, also told the author ‘no’. As I said, huge icky feelings for me as a reader and as a Apache Native. No means no and even more so if someone is obviously uncomfortable, end of story. The internet is free, libraries are free. Also, for many Native Tribes, we don’t talk about SWs/Mimics for various reasons. Granted, this can vary from Native person to Native person, but boiling it down to tribal beliefs and culture, there are many that are uncomfortable addressing these creatures. This is the same thing for the entire Wendigo chapter, as well. There are many Native/Indigenous Tribes that don’t talk about the Wendigo. It just wasn’t the vibe and honestly, I don’t feel these are creatures the author should have been talking about in the first place. There was just a lot of disrespect when handling these creatures and I wish I could say this was a surprise, but I can’t. I say this a lot, but I’m going to say it probably for the millionth time, sometimes I wish non-Native/Indigenous authors just don’t.
“In the end, the charge of cryptozoology is not, “I swear I saw something,” as it is often portrayed, but “keep searching!” Even if you don’t find Bigfoot, you’ll find something worthwhile. Guaranteed.”
Overall, I still enjoyed the book despite my feelings about the Native/Indigenous creatures represented. I loved the pictures, I loved discovering cryptids I didn’t know about, and I was really grateful that they were all categorized to area. It’s always a fun time when I get to read about cryptids and anything involving monsters. Plus, the cover was so stunning that it was practically begging me to read it. I highly recommend this to my monster loving, cryptid lover friends who are looking for their next read filled with any of these creatures. And if you’re a quote lover, like myself, quotes upon quotes!
Content/Trigger Warnings: Abandonment, alcoholism, mentions of automotive accident, loss of a loved one, grief, drug use, mentions of overdose (in the past), trauma/PTSD, brief mentions of genocide & colonization, ableism, depictions of blood, themes of MMIWG2s, toxic relationships, violence, gun violence, scene of domestic violence, brief mentions of molestation/pedophilia
Let me be the one to say, this isn’t a bad rating. I know when readers see ratings like this, many tend to think, “Oh, this means this book is bad” when it’s not. I enjoyed a lot of things about this book, but there were a lot of things that made finishing this book hard. To be honest, I’m a little upset this read didn’t go the way I thought it was going to go. I still enjoyed this book though and more importantly, it’s a love letter to the urban Native community, to Native culture, and to those on their healing journey. Also, this book isn’t necessarily scary, but more so about a compelling journey that’s messy, at times suspenseful, and feels like you’re almost living it yourself.
Kari James’s mother disappears when she’s just two-years-old and now in her thirties, she’s working two jobs and taking care of her disabled father. Until one day Kari is given a bracelet that had belonged to her mother. With the ghost of her mother now lurking around every corner, Kari becomes determined to find some answers. Dark secrets waiting to be uncovered, truth waiting to be set free, and the path to healing along the way.
If there’s one thing I can tell you about this book, let it be the fact that this is a love letter to the Native community. If you’re like me, a Native/Indigenous reader, then the themes laced throughout this book will be all too familiar to you. Wurth has written this book for the “urban” Natives who struggle far too often with their identity, walking the tightrope of familial traditions, the vices in public spaces, and being themselves. When I tell I can’t emphasize enough how important Kari’s character is, I mean it with my whole dang chest and then some. Kari is not only an Indigenous main character, but multiple times the book has stated that Kari feels less Native (or less “traditional” Native) because she equates her Native-ness to practicing old, traditional customs/celebrations. This, THIS is important representation, everyone! There are some many multi-tribal Natives out there, there many Native/Indigenous people who are disconnected reconnecting Natives or even just reconnecting Natives (like myself) out there. Not to mention, the full weight that comes from the privilege of being a white-passing Native and then everything that comes with blood quantum. Having a main character like Kari who constantly faces that internal struggle of ‘am I Native enough‘ is so huge and when I tell you I sobbed, I was ugly crying. Being a reconnecting Native myself and reading a character like Kari, who’s independent, a bit of a firecracker, a loner, but also struggles around her Native identity was everything to me. Not to mention, the way the author wrote Kari’s journey throughout this book. The author wrote Kari’s journey so that by the end of the book, Kari has some form of understanding and almost acceptance that every Native/Indigenous identity is complex, contains multitudes of layers, and while individual people many have similarities, each Native/Indigenous person is different. Then I cried even more after I realized that because it made me see parts of myself and just made my heart a bit soft and mushy over it.
This book is also a love letter to Native/Indigenous who are healing and those on their healing journey. Which lets be honest, all Native/Indigenous communities, as a collective, are still healing and surviving. One of the biggest themes throughout this book is the main character’s personal trauma and then her family trauma on top of it. Add the themes that run rampant among Native/Indigenous communities/rez such as MMIWG2s, drug addiction, generational trauma, gentrification in Indigenous communities, and so much more. Many of these themes are unapologetically discussed throughout this book and the reader is just thrown into it. I think this is one of the most unapologetically Native/Indigenous books that I’ve every read outside of nonfiction. It truly has everything that I can think of when it comes to thinking about a what an Indigenous-led book would look like.
However, despite the things I loved about this book, there were still things that just made it a harder read. The biggest thing was the many subplots that were going on along with the main storyline. I was really invested in the mother’s disappearance and I wanted to solely focus on that. It was really captivating and my curiosity was hyper-fixated on that. With the other two subplots that were happening, the backstory with the ex and then the whole marital issues that were happening with Kari’s best friend, it was a bit of a double-whammy for me. Not only did these make it hard to keep my focus on the story, but it also impacted the pacing for me as well. Anytime I would get sucked back into the story, invested on what would happen next, some issue with the best friend and her husband would happen, pulling me right out of the story and taking away from the reading experience. While all these subplots do come together by the end and add to Kari’s growth, the subplots just weren’t it for me. They were a bit mentally and emotionally draining, and they messed with reading pace a lot, which is why it took me longer to read this book than it should have.
Overall, this isn’t a bad book and I truly loved so many things about this it. I think this is such an important book just on the representation alone and I think there will be many Native/Indigenous readers like myself who feel a heavy mental and emotional pull to this book. I do think this book is worth your time, I do encourage others to pick this book up and give it a chance, and I hope I see more readers falling in love with this book. Again, I think this is the most unapologetically Native/Indigenous books I’ve read that isn’t straight from the nonfiction genre or from an elder’s mouth. Plus, this book is even more special because the author is part Apache and as a Mescalero Apache reader myself, I’m always looking for more Apache authors to read from!
Content/Trigger Warnings: Death of a parent (to cancer, in the past), childhood abuse recounted, mentions child molestation (in the past), trauma/PTSD, depictions of night terrors, depictions of anxiety & panic attacks, mentions of toxic relationship, mentions of manipulation, cheating (emotionally & physically), mentions of domestic violence (in the past), talk of breast cancer, scenes of emesis, slut shaming, death of child (by drowning), grief, explicit sex scenes, blowjob scene
Oh jeebus, friends… I don’t know how I did it, but I finally found the energy to write this review. After spending a lot of time going through a whole mixture of emotions, talking things out with friends, and just sitting down to reflect on my reading experience – it’s been a wild ride of a time. It’s safe to say that this book was good… until it wasn’t. I’m going to do my best to keep this spoiler free, but also addressing the few things I like and the things that flopped, royally.
Recently graduated, eighteen-year-old, Salem who’s just trying to live her life and figure things out for herself. Not having anyone or anything dictate what she should or shouldn’t do. With her boyfriend preparing for college and a best friend leaving for New York, Salem is set on hanging around to make her candles and help her mother run their antique store. Until Thayer arrives, becoming her grumpy next door neighbor, and suddenly asking her to be a babysitter for his six-year-old son. Salem will find it almost impossible not to fall in love with this father-son duo.
“Following someone else’s desires sounds like a one-way ticket to my version of hell – I’ve already been there and I’m not going back.”
Let me start off by talking about the best part, the cat! Yes, Salem’s cat, Binx is absolutely precious. I love how the cat is given room to have his own personality in this book and it stands out. I adored it with my whole chest. Of course, I have to talk about Thayer and his son, Forrest. I loved both of them, so freaking much. Ever scene with them, every interaction is just so wholesome and makes the heart turn to mush. The way the author wrote Forrest and Thayer is so beautiful and I love the fact the author didn’t shy away from Thayer’s ex-wife being abusive, manipulative. I talk about this a lot, how in media and literature, far too often we see it from the other side where the man is abusive. We don’t often see the man being a victim of abusive relationships and it’s almost considered taboo or nonexistent, but reality is that yes, men and really anyone can be in an abusive, toxic relationship. I’m really glad the author didn’t shy away from that and stood by that throughout the entire book.
This book has one of my favorite tropes, as well. Grumpy x sunshine tropes are probably one of my favorite tropes in my romance. I always say that I unknowingly seek out books that reflect my own marriage, that grumpy x sunshine is very much alive here. So it’s something I often find myself gravitating to even when I don’t think I am. Upon first introduction, we get a sweet taste of Thayer being super grumpy and I couldn’t stop giggling because it was just so good. Salem isn’t really overly bright, but she’s warm and has the personality of someone who always tries to find the good in everything.
And kind of circling back to what I talked about Thayer’s past with his ex-wife, I want to talk about Salem’s past. Salem had some really great PTSD/trauma portrayal and representation. As someone with PTSD, I always make it a habit that when I see good representation for trauma/PTSD, to speak about it. I thought it was handled well and done well. Reading those sections with her especially the moments where she’s waking up early to run or to sit on the balcony because she can’t sleep, they were moments that completely sucked the air right out of me. It was so relatable and probably one of the few things I appreciated about Salem as a character. If it wasn’t already made clear, there’s on page discussions of Salem’s trauma, her abusive past, and discussions surrounding domestic violence. Please make sure you’re checking content/trigger warnings before picking this book up and please make sure you’re in a good head space, too!
“I don’t tell him, but everyone worries so much about monsters lingering outside they forget about the ones that can hurt you behind closed doors.”
Despite these good things and how much I loved them, they weren’t enough to make me love this book as a whole. If I’m being honest, things were going good until the 50-60% mark. Majority of my issues come from the second half of the book, but we’ll get into that. Since we’re on the topic of Salem, I didn’t like her. Salem as a whole character, she wasn’t my cup of tea. While there were some things I appreciated about her, there were a lot of times where I was fully disconnected from her. There were too many times where she was trying to act older than she was, I wasn’t a fan of a lot of her actions especially surrounding how she handled things with Caleb, and even more so near the end of of the book, I really didn’t like how she chose to handle things with Thayer. The author writes her in a way that by the very end of this book she looks like a terrible person. Not a fan, at all.
One of my biggest issues in this book was the cheating trope, though. Now, typically I don’t mind emotional cheating. Everyone has different preferences and what they consider cheating, what bothers them in terms of cheating tropes, etc… I was willing to look past all of Salem’s emotional cheating and I had the audacity to think that the author was going to make sure Salem does the right thing. That was a big ole’ nope. Salem cheats on Caleb and then waits like a week or so to break up with him. I’m sorry, I don’t roll with this kind of nonsense. Speaking of Caleb, I completely despised his character. I found nothing redeemable about him and actually, found him to be a creep. The fact that Caleb kept referring to Salem as ‘babe’ the entire time after they broke up just felt weird and icky. Even more creeped out once you find out that Caleb knows about Salem cheating on him and all that jazz. This ties in with Salem’s flip-flopping back and forth between Caleb and Thayer. It’s just some serious drama llama nonsense, friends and I’m telling you, not worth the headache.
If this doesn’t bother you, then this bit will. I’m going to try to keep this vague because it surrounds the plot twist, but in all honesty, I think it needs to be full out mentioned. My biggest peeve about this book and the most unredeemable thing is what the author does to Forrest’s character. Now, I’m not so much upset about what happens because it’s something that, unfortunately, many people have had to experienced. No, my issue is with things surrounding Forrest consist of two things. For starters, there is no clarification on whether what happens was on purpose or a tragic accident. There are about one to two moments where it seems like this was on purpose and the fact that there’s no clarification is devasting. What’s even more devastating and aggravating, is the fact that the author not only writes out that whole incident with Forrest’s character, but sets things up for him to be replaced by a whole new character for book two. Yeah, if you’re upset, so am I. This was the thing that ruin the book for me. There was no logical reason for the author to do this and not only that, but to make it a plot point. I’ve seen this happen in the horror genre because it works. It doesn’t work for an adult romance. I think in certain circumstances, yes, it could work, but not in this case. It was completely unnecessary and I’m still upset about it.
Overall, I cannot in good conscious recommend this book to anyone. This book threw me into a horrible reading slump (that I’m just now climbing out of since writing this review). No, I will not be picking up the second book either. And from what I hear, things don’t improve much in the second book of this duology. I wanted to love this book, I really did. I had high hopes because so many people I trusted recommended this book to me. This just wasn’t it, on so many levels, friends.
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ARC was given by NetGalley & HaperTeen in exchange for an honest review.
This review is being published before the release date (April 25, 2023)
Content/Trigger Warnings:Death, murder, depictions of blood, stalking, gun violence, violence, on page suicide, depictions of anxiety & panic attacks, mentions automotive accident (in the past), graphic injuries
“And the worst part wasn’t that there was a dead body here. The worst part was that somewhere out there… was a killer.”
First off, let me start by saying how excited I am to finally be able to share this review now that the HarperCollins strike has ended! I really enjoyed my time buddy reading this book with two of my favorite people and I’ve been eagerly waiting to tell you all about it. I never thought I’d be someone who gets into survival thriller books, but here we are and now I’m keeping my eyes peeled for more survival thrillers. And if the survival thriller aspect doesn’t lure you in, let the cover intrigue you enough to give this book a chance especially for fall reading!
Claire has spent her whole life making lists in her head of worst case scenarios, triple checking and preparing for anything, including the worst case scenarios. It’s just how she’s wired, but most people worry for her including her parents. So much worry, in fact, that they ship Claire off to a summer camp bonding experience with two other girls. However, things suddenly turn dark when the three girls are left on the island, ready to enjoy their week of bonding, when they discover the lake house they’re supposed to stay at is burned to the ground and they find a dead body in the woods. They’ll soon realize that nothing is by accident and someone, something is hunting them and refuses to let go.
Honestly, I loved our cast of characters! Reyva was probably my favorite out of everyone just due to the fact that even though she’s bonding with Claire and Mariana, she’s the person we really have to peel the layers back with. Reyva is the character we find the backstory and details of last, and that’s just by her character’s design. I loved it so much and Reyva is also a gamer, which you know I love a good game I can curl up with for hours. Mariana was such a fun time though! For starters, Mariana loves cars and gets really passionate about it. I adored reading the sections of Mariana talking about it. Seeing characters being passionate about the things they love and adore is like drinking a glass of cold water, refreshing and energizes my soul! Out of all of the characters, Claire was the hardest for me to connect with and I think it’s just due to the way Claire is written. While it’s clear Claire has severe anxiety and intense overthinking, it wasn’t clear on if she also has agoraphobia (the fear of open or public places) which I would have liked some clarification on due to having quite a few passages about how Claire never really liked going out into to public or liked being in public places. Either way, I still appreciate the anxiety representation, despite not having that clarification. All together, I enjoyed these three girls together and I loved the way the book concluded with the three girls, as well.
“Reyva said, quieter, “I don’t know who told you that broken means weak, but that’s bullshit. You are the smartest, most capable person I’ve ever met. And just because your body doesn’t behave the way you want it to all the time does not mean that you aren’t strong.”
There were so many fantastic discussions happening throughout this book between Claire, Mariana, and Reyva. A lot of conversations surrounding mental health and how some times the world, and people, make you believe that there’s something really wrong with you when there’s not. There’s underlying discussions surrounding stigmas with mental health and how you can internalize not feeling enough, how having mental health hardships or a disability somehow makes you weak or you feel broken, and I loved watching these girls talk about this and shoot it all down. I have a lot of love for books that can have discussions surrounding mental health, shoot the negative down, and at the end be like, “You are so much more than just your mental health.” And I felt this book conveyed that in a really good way. What I loved even more than these discussions was the fact that it brought the three girls closer together and strengthened their bonds. Seeing the author write that into the story made me really soft and sappy, and I don’t think I’ll ever get over how much it warmed my heart.
All of the character love and the mental health talk aside, the atmosphere was really good. Even though I haven’t read this book in a hot minute, I still vividly remember the atmosphere. I remember how I just wanted to keep reading and was so captivated. The minute the girls are dropped off on the island and discovered the lake house was burned down, I had to make sure I was stocked on water and snacks because I knew I hunkering down until I finished this book. I think due to the atmosphere being well built, the pacing of the book read so fast for me, personally. However, I will admit that I went into this book with the mindset of wanting to have a fun, captivating, thrilling time and I felt I had received that in my reading experience.
“There was something wrong. Wrong about the house, wrong about the cave, wrong about the forest and the sudden storms and the birds that fell quiet.”
If I had to say anything bad about this book or say what others might not like about this book, it would probably boil down to two things. The first thing being the storyline. Let me just say, the storyline is a wild ride and even though I enjoyed it, I think readers will either have a fun time or absolutely hate the direction it goes. I think for those who will be on the disliking end of the direction the storyline goes will feel like the storyline is odd or potentially come off as half-baked. And the dislike for the storyline also ties in with the second thing, the ending or the conclusion to the book. Now, this was my only issue with this book, but it wasn’t enough to make me knock a star or anything like that. The ending felt very unsatisfying with how things concluded on the island and the way it was wrapped up. Again, I loved watching all three of the girls meet up and still get that happy ending, but everything else before that scene felt like something was missing or almost like the author took the easy way out to wrap up the book.
Overall, I had a fantastic time reading this. Again, I loved chatting about this book with my friends and fellow buddy readers. It was a great read for us all around and some of the discussions we had surrounding the book were some of the most memorable conversations I’ve ever had. There was just so many great things about this book and I think readers will have a lot of appreciation for the anxiety rep, disabled/chronic pain rep, the lgbtqiap+ rep, and the atmosphere. I love a good spooky atmosphere for a read. This is a very autumnal read and I definitely recommend curling up with it during the Halloween season or just a really stormy day!
Greetings Chapterlings! SURPRISE! If you noticed me talking about a secret project and thought it was related to this series, then you would be correct! At the end of 2022, I started working on this secret project (this post) and started reading this series. This shouldn’t be anything new for those who have been here for a while, but if you’re new, from time to time I like to do series reviews. I’m once again returning to my series review posts, with a twist, but this time I’m bringing you monster romance. It should be no surprise that I’m a lover of all things monster, cryptids, things that go bump in the night – whatever genre it may be, I’m shortly following behind.
I’m so excited to finally, FINALLY be talking about this series, sharing my thoughts with all of you, and officially announcing that this might just be my favorite series I’ve ever read, thus far, this year! Without further delays, I hope you enjoy this series post with all five reviews for each book in this series with their content/trigger warnings!
Quick note: Props to the author for providing some their own content/trigger warnings at the beginning of these books!
Content/Trigger Warnings: BDSM, explicit sex scenes, slut shaming, violence, kidnapping, captivity, death, mentions/depictions of blood
Look, let me be the first one to tell you that this book, the first book in this series, will either make you love this series as a whole or you’re not going to vibe with it at all. I don’t see anyone going to the in-between when it comes to this series. For me, I absolutely loved it! I’m trash for some good polyam, monster wham bam thank you Sam (no idea who Sam is) fun times. And that’s what I got out of this book. Some fun, polyamorous, monster smexy times with some plot on the side. Yes PLEASE!
“Fuck, the way she set boundaries and rules was beyond sexy.”
Our story begins on a Monday and all hell is about to break loose when Inferna rolls into work only to find out her coffee pot has been stolen by the witches on the floor above. Only when she burst in to retrieve her coffee pot does she find the head witch, Art and a coworker, Calen, in some naughty affairs. That’s not the only spicy thing happening in the office, with a merger happening and forcing the two departments together, these three will find themselves in some heated encounters, but they’ll soon notice something is off in the office when strange things begin to happen and threatening everything these three have come to cherish.
“I had been alone for a very long time and it was uncomfortable to think of relying on others. But… It also felt good. It felt like magic, the kind that was used to heal.”
Can I just take a moment to emphasize the representation in this book? Not only do we have polyamory, but almost every character in this book has to be either bisexual or pansexual. I am living for every little bit of it! Even in side character mentions, Inferna has two fathers, there’s brief discussions of being attracted to various genders and different types of monsters. It’s so good and this is a continuous theme throughout the entire series. I really loved the fact the author went all out because we truly don’t see enough bi, pan, and polyam representation in books, truly. It just made my heart so full and have a lot of appreciation.
Character wise, I thought the way Inferna, Art, and Calen’s personalities came together was beautifully done. I love when opposite personalities balance each other out and we see that with these three. I also want to say that this is a common theme throughout the series as a whole. A lot of the characters you’ll be introduced to have various personality traits and when you see them with their mates, including in this book, they just have a good balance with one another. Almost like they ground each other in their own ways. I really loved it and loved seeing these characters get intimate with one another and I mean that in all aspects, not just spicy times.
Let’s be real though, I know why you’re here on this review, you want the juicy details of the steamy, smexy times. Oh there are a plenty of steamy, smexy times, but… I feel like I should warn you that Inferna’s vajayjay has teeth and if that’s something that throws you out of the experience, well, I’m sorry. Not to mention, there’s also a storyline plot that’s happening along with the smexy times. So if you’re someone who’s only here for the spicy, this could potentially pull you out of the steamy monster fun. Neither of these were an issue for me. When I went into this book and the series as a whole, I knew I just wanted to have a fun time whether that be with spicy times or story plot times, and that’s what I got. I had a lot of fun reading both aspects of this book.
Overall, I don’t want to spoil anything so this is a very short, vague review. As I mentioned before, this book is the stepping stone of whether or not you’re going to vibe with the rest of the series. For me, I truly loved this series as a whole. This book made me eager to read the rest of the series and I found it really hard to put it down. My only struggle was flying through them so fast and having to wait for the last two books in the series to release. It was a fun time though and I think if you love monster romances then you should give this book a chance.
Content/Trigger Warnings: BDSM, explicit sex scenes, violence, kidnapping, captivity, mentions/depictions of blood, mentions of toxic/abusive relationship (in the past)
This is probably my favorite book out of the whole series! I fell in love with Lora, Mich, and Cinder so hard. I think I read this within twenty-four hours after picking it up, potentially a little less than that. There was just something about these three that really hit parts of my soul and even now I’m tempted to pick it up again just to reread it. I also want to point out that the cover hit the mark of what I envisioned all three of them looking like and it’s just everything!
“Damn it. It was too early to be in the elevator with someone this pretty.”
Like all the books in this series, it’s once again a Monday morning. Book one delivered us some chaos and now, book two is here to make things a lot more interesting. Starting with our goth fae/demon, Lora, who’s having a pretty rough morning, but ends up sharing an elevator with the tall and handsome manticore, Mich, and the new HR representative, Cinder. The chemistry between these three is thick like soup and that one moment in the elevator spurs a whirlwind of events into motion. Secrets, blackmail, and love are sure to ensue with this trio.
“Fuck, I had a thing for goth pixie girls.”
Whew, where do I even begin with this book. There’s so much I loved about it. Sure, the spicy times were great, but for this particular book, there was so much more. There was so much trust building between these three characters. Not just continuing the trend from book one of setting boundaries, asking for consent, setting safe words, etc… but these three characters really worked on trusting each other, being vulnerable with each other about their pasts and the things happening to them, and protecting one another. It was probably my most favorite thing of this entire book. Even more so in the regards of Lora because the pieces we get about her backstory, her past relationship, I felt so connected to her and I was rooting for her to get the happy ending that she truly deserved. Seeing everything play out the way they did, I cried a lot. I was really emotional, soft and squishy about it all.
Also, let me say that I love that we have a non-binary character getting the spotlight. Cinder is non-binary and uses they/them pronouns in this book. I loved how the author, right out of the gate, the first time these three characters are getting to know one another, have this conversation and just filled my chest with so much warmth to see it respected immediately. Of course, this happened while they were discussing boundaries and things for spicy times, but honestly, I think the timing for it was really good and natural. All things about this book considered, I can’t picture this conversation happening at any other time in this book, and that includes the beginning with the elevator scene.
“Being vulnerable was hard. Being honest was hard. But with the two of them, it was safe.”
Speaking of spicy times, again, the theme of the story plot continues throughout this whole series. So don’t be surprised about that happening with all the books. However, the tone in the smexy times in this book is different compared to most of the books in this series. For me, these scenes, despite how spicy and hot they were, felt very raw and almost have a vulnerable tone to them. Yes, there were moments where they were just wham bam, but there were moments that felt more soft and delicate. It was a good combination and balance especially for these three characters. It felt well written and just complimented these characters particularly well.
Overall, I could probably talk for hours about this book and jabber on about all the notes, the many quotes, all the foreshadowing and little details we get, but I’m going to restrain myself. I’m keeping my secrets and you’ll just have to read the series yourself. Again, this is probably my favorite out of the whole series and the one I felt very emotionally attached to.
Content/Trigger Warnings: BDSM, explicit sex scenes, stalking, kidnapping, isolation, mc with low self-esteem, depictions of anxiety and panic attacks, trauma/PTSD, mentions of night terrors, home invasion recounted, captivity recounted
“It was a hellish environment to work in, but I liked hell. I was a demon, after all. A monster. A creature that craved a little chaos in the morning with my eggs and toast.”
Honestly, this book took me by surprise. There was a lot packed into this book and so much caught me off guard, in a good way. The story plot gets really thick in this book and the romance, the spice… Wow, wow, WOW. I had a lot of fun, but also I got really emotional. I thought I was soft and squishy with book two, but this one, it was a wild ride that made me feel all the things. I don’t know what else to say except buckle up and get ready for a wild ride.
“The possibility that I had stepped into an elevator with the two individuals in the world who were my mates, was impossible.”
Monday once again and we’re in the parking garage stalking our crush with Billy, a shadow demon. But that’s not all, in this office, the elevator is magic where our omega witch, Jaehan meets his mates, not only in Billy, but the invisible tentacle monster, who shows up to work shirtless every day, Charlie. One full of chaos and spice, the other soft and lonely, the perfect fit for a healing omega witch. This is their story of haunting pasts, vulnerability, love, and chaos.
“It was nice to be seen, I realized. My heart squeezed in my chest. The hole of loneliness I had lived with for so long felt like a stitch had just pulled it closed a little.”
If I thought book two made my heart soft and gooey… this book came out of nowhere and hit me in all my feels. With this being the third book in the series, there’s so much to unpack, not just story wise, but character wise. Holy French toast, there’s so much I want to talk about, but don’t want to spoil it for you, dear reader. Okay, let me gush about Jaehan for a minute. If I thought I was attached to Lora from book two, nothing prepared me for how much I would feel for Jaehan’s character. I would move mountains and destroy their enemies, Jaehan must be protected at all cost. We not only have healthy conversations surrounding Jaehan’s PTSD/trauma, but the nest, the freaking nest! As someone who has PTSD, seeing the whole conversation about the nest and Jaehan making it a center point of comfort, it was EVERYTHING! It was the most emotional, validating thing I’ve ever seen in a book when it comes to those who suffer from trauma/PTSD because I never see this mentioned in any book and it just made my heart so full. Also, I want to slide in here that Jaehan is Korean-American and we get some little bits and pieces about their family. It’s very sweet and wholesome when Jaehan talks about it.
Charlie was a big surprise, as well. I didn’t expect to come to love him as much as I did. I knew I would like his character, but again, another character that must be protected at all cost. Let me start by saying Charlie is a virgin and I can’t begin to express how lovely it was to watch Charlie express this part to Billy and Jaehan, but also watch them give Charlie the space to explore what it means to be sexual and intimate with your partners. I thought it was very well written and handled very well. Sometimes the way a virgin character is handled can be a flop for me sometimes, but Charlie’s character really stood up to my expectations. Not only this, but Charlie is a character who has very much experienced great deals of time being isolated and feeling unseen. There are a few conversations around the very complex feelings of being alone all your life to suddenly having people care about you, wanting to support you, and just overall love you. And it made my heart so mushy and I cried a few times because it was so well written and handled with care.
“This is where the loneliness ended. This was where my new life would begin. One where I wasn’t an invisible monster lurking in the shadows. One where I had two people who could see me, who cared.”
As I mentioned, there’s a lot to unpack with this book because it’s the center point of this series. We get an escalation in the story plot and whew, there were a lot of twists and turns. If you’re in this series for the storyline then buckle up because this one was wild. So much happens from secrets to fighting scenes, to some messed up mind game stuff. It’s coco bananas, friends! If I wasn’t invested in the story before, this book made me even more invested. Not to mention, we get to see more of Anne and she easily became one of my favorite characters from this whole series. Seriously, I was keeping my toes and fingers crossed we’d see more of her. With this book being a bit of a turning point or climax of this series, the ending was chef’s kiss! We get more details about Alex, we learn more about Alfred, the enemy who’s been causing so much mayhem, and we get to see more of Ember, who’s Cinder’s sister, and get some details about her, as well!
Overall, this book was packed with all the goodies! There’s action, there’s romance, emotional conversations, and escalation in the storyline! Just so many good things packed into one! I think my only issue with this book was the fact that the smexy times felt shadowed by the things happening with the story. Which is kind of sad because some of the spicy scenes were scrumptious! Despite this, I had a fun time and it kept me invested enough in the series that waiting for the fourth book was devastating.
Content/Trigger Warnings: BDSM, mentions of knife play, explicit sex scenes, depictions of blood & blood consumption, vague depictions of trauma, imprisonment recounted, stalking, graphic violence, captivity, depictions of experimentation
“Monsters who were simps for their mates were adorable.”
Out of all the books in this series, I expected this one to absolutely wreck me and turn me into gravel. I was hoping that after book two and book three of this series, by some miracle, the fourth book would be about Cinder’s sister, Ember. I wanted to know so much more about her and with all the little bread crumbs we were getting, I just wanted more. And look, we got the girl! The cover is everything because we get to see Ember and the two giant women; Minni the vampire, on the left, and Lea, the bodyguard orc, on the right. Oh, it’s everything!
As usual, it’s a Monday and the magic of this office is in full swing! Ember is finally free to live her life and has her eyes set on a new promotion, however, there’s just a few things that are getting in the way. A protective older sibling, who insists that she move in with them and their mates, and the cherry on the cake, getting saddled with a body guard, one whom she feels is absolutely unnecessary despite what her bosses say, and lastly, going into heat because the ever attractive vampire security guard and her orc body guard are her mates. Just a typical start to a Monday, right?
“I’d never seen an orc woman before, but she was gorgeous. A crush-you-like-a-watermelon-between-her-thighs type of gorgeous.”
Never in this whole series or my wildest dreams, did I expect to get the ‘two giant women smooshing a short, curvy woman’ dynamic. Look, am I simping really, really hard for all three of these characters? Yes, yes I am and I have zero regrets. ZERO REGRETS! I have waited so long to see this kind of dynamic and it just adds ten years onto my life. I also want to mention, because I see no one talking about this, Ember is plus-sized/curvy and it’s just so good, fills my heart with so much joy. Truly, all the joy for this character existing! Lea, the orc bodyguard, also cross-dresses. There’s a whole conversation about how Lea prefers to present more masculine and wearing more masculine clothes, but doesn’t mind wearing dresses and presenting more feminine from time to time. It was such a great little detail to add in and then to see the reaction of Minni and Ember after that dialogue was chef’s kiss. Again, I mentioned this in some of the other reviews for the books in this series, but lots of diversity.
“There were so many desks in the place, and all I could think about was hoisting her up onto one, making her lie back, and helping her forget all her troubles for a while.”
One thing I will say is this relationship between these three is far from perfect and very, very different from all the other relationships you see in this series. It’s super messy and flawed, a lot of trust has been/is broken, there’s anger and frustration, there’s the whole thing with Minni and Lea being exes, this isn’t like the other books where you see the main three characters building up their bonds. The relationship between Ember, Minni, and Lea is supposed to be one of healing, but also pain, frustration, and a little bit of heartbreak. Actually, one of my biggest issues with this book was how we don’t really see these three mending from key moments of trust being broken or really seeing any of them being vulnerable with each other. A lot of the vulnerability either happens internally or in some situations when we’re in one of the characters’ pov, it’ll happen off-page. And that was really frustrating because I think if the time and effort would have been put into the mending of trust and the vulnerability with the characters, it would have solidified that these three characters are mates. But with those details lacking, it was hard for me to believe that these three were fated to be mates and actually have a healthy relationship with each other.
I do have to point out, that even though this isn’t a perfect relationship between these three characters, there is a lot of good. Like all the other books, there’s a lot of discussion around boundaries, safe words, and giving Ember control to set the pace how she’d like it. Minni and Lea really cater to the fact that Ember needs to have some control in the relationship. Even though both Lea and Minni have dominant personalities and assume the dominant role often in the bedroom, they really take what Ember wants and needs into consideration.
Speaking of trust being broken, my other issue with this book was Ember’s character, which makes me so sad to say, as a whole. I have spent so much time eagerly hoping for Ember to get her own story, to see more for her, to hopefully watch her get her happy ending and by the end of this book, her character flopped for me. In the beginning, I thought Ember was a very strong character, very smart and independent, wanted to have her freedom and prove she can do things, that she’s more than the things she’s had to endured. That maybe we’d see character development of her being vulnerable and letting others see the cracks in her armor. However, that was not the case, at all. There’s a moment in this book where Ember faces a choice, she can either do the responsible, smart thing or she could be an absolute fool and do the worst choice. It’s the fact that Ember is built up to be a very intelligent, responsible character and then she breaks the trust of her mates, goes behinds everyone’s back, and makes a fool’s choice. It was the most frustrating thing I’ve read in this whole series and it shocked me that all of Ember’s characteristics were just thrown out the window for that one choice. Honestly, I think I would have preferred some sort of a kidnapping or mind/dream manipulation over this.
“This one was soft and lovely. Her skin started to glow a little brighter, casting a golden hue over Lea and me. It reminded me of the sun right before it set, washing over the world with its warmth.”
As for the spicy scenes, I think these were some of my favorite moments in this whole book. I don’t want to spoil too much with these, but they were good. I had a fun time reading them and I think out of all of them, the mating/bond scenes were the strongest and best ones. I really enjoyed them and still remember the details from those scenes. The spicy scenes definitely stood out more compared to the main story plot.
There’s some foreshadowing for the final book, as well. We’re introduced to a new character, Sylvia, who helps Ember out and later on become good friends. I was very interested in Sylvia and the few details we received weren’t enough, but I knew we’d probably be seeing her in the final book. One doesn’t simply introduce a new character so close to the closing of a series without having a bigger role in-store for them. There’s some glimpses into what Alfred has been up to and hints to what he plans for the finale, as well. Which to be honest, I didn’t really care too much about because at this point, if you made to this book in the series, we all know that Alfred is doing this out of some lovesick revenge.
“All of us were exhausted, traumatized, and surviving off the donuts and coffee Anne had ordered.”
Overall, this felt like the weakest book in the series and definitely feels like the shortest. This book could have been a bit longer to give extra details. And, as I’ve mentioned, I really would have loved seeing extra details of healing trust and seeing the main characters being vulnerable with one another instead of it feeling like those things were internalized. To me, it just painted an unhealthy relationship dynamic with these three characters even though I do love them individually. I still think this book is still worth reading especially if you’ve come this far in the series. And three stars isn’t a bad rating or review. I still had a lot of fun reading this book and still enjoyed the progression of the story. I mean, come on, giant women with a curvy, short cutie! How could I not still enjoy this book?!
Content/Trigger Warnings: BDSM, explicit sex scenes, knife play, vague depictions of trauma/PTSD, stalking, kidnapping, hostage situation, graphicviolence, scene of giant spider form, mc with very low self-esteem, explosions
Friends, we have come to the end. It’s such a bittersweet thing when a series concludes and this one is no exception. And to be frank, this was the book I was most eager about. Waiting for this book was terrible because I couldn’t stop thinking about how this series would conclude. I also want to briefly mention this, as I don’t know if this is triggering for anyone, but one of the main characters, Sylvia, is an arachnid woman. If this is triggering or if spiders in general are triggering for you, you may want to heed caution with this book.
“Even with all the terrible events that had occurred, monsters and witches were still finding their happy endings.”
The final Monday and Alex rolls into the office feeling terrible than ever. Monsters and witches alike have been hurt by his actions. The guilt is slowly eating him alive on this Monday. What Alex isn’t expecting on this Monday is his gorgon secretary, Anne rolling into the office with the new employee, Sylvia for her interview, for a full blown omega heat to happen. Frazzled and horrified, everyone, but Anne scatters like leaves on the breeze. Determined to get her happy ending, Anne takes things into her own hands and fetches her mates, one way or another. Who would have thought Mondays could be so full of surprises?
“Anne looked angry. Her eyes were golden with diamond-shaped pupils, and they burned like hellfire.”
I had been hoping every since we were introduced to Anne that she would get her own story. Even though she plays a side character role throughout the entire series, the things she does stands out compared to a lot of side characters and she does so much for the main characters of the other books in the series. I wanted her to have her own book so badly because she’s just too good not to have her own book. And we got it. We got it and we get Alex, and Sylvia on top of it, too! Chef’s kiss! Their whole dynamic was like honey and I am the bee because it was sugar sweet, friends. There’s so much dominant and sub energy between these three characters, and it’s delicious. Also, just in case you’re not a fan, there is a daddy kink in this. Sylvia and Alex have daddy kink scenes, and I just wanted to throw that in here in case that’s not your vibe, but I had a blast! It was just great chemistry between all three.
Speaking of chemistry, the way Alex and Sylvia become vulnerable in the relationship, and the way Anne refuses to bend or shying away from anything, literally everything. They just compliment one another so well and I think the author did a good job at setting these three characters up to being in a relationship with one another. The moments where they have really deep conversations and they work through things, that really got me. I love when characters can sit down and work through the really difficult things, even if it hurts or it feels scary. Not to mention, the boundary setting and making sure one another is comfortable with plans for spicy times, we love to see it! However, like the fourth book, this relationship isn’t perfect. There are moments where Alex does emotionally hurt Sylvia and Anne, but they talk it out and express their feelings, and it’s a process of going from having to do everything by yourself to having people in your corner, who love and support you. It was really great to see such good communication between all three and I loved seeing those moments.
“I was in the mood to fuck around and find out. Being a brat was apparently my new full time job, and I was taking that seriously.”
There’s some really great themes in this book too. Out of all the themes, not just for this book, but the whole series, is the theme of going from feeling like you’re alone and have no one in your corner to suddenly having people who care about you there to support you, who care about you. While I mentioned that Anne and Sylvia are there for Alex and this is something new to learn, we see the entire office come together to rally behind Alex and support him. That’s right, all the characters we meet in all the previous books are here to support Alex and to help protect, not just their loved ones, but also Alex and his two mates. It made me so soft and mushy to watch everyone come together in this final book, to finally watch them all put an end to Alfred. It was such an sweet, emotional way to conclude this series.
“There has been a lot of goodness that has come from it,” Ember said. “Look around you, Alex. All of us have found our mates because we ended up working at the office. All of us were brought together because of the mistakes that were made. And Alfred was the one who went crazy, not you.”
Overall, I don’t want to say anymore on this book because it is the finale to this series. A very bittersweet ending, but a series I can see myself rereading when I need to be reminded of all the characters I fell in love with. My only complaint with this book was it ending too soon. Honestly, I think this is my second favorite book in the series and even though it’s the last book, it really went off with a bang.
Salutations everyone! I have another series mini review post for you! If you didn’t know, I’ve been doing series reviews for a hot second here on my blog and today, I get to bring the WITSEC series to the table. Book two and three are going to be short, and vague. Due to this being a series review and the fact that each book, except book one, picks up where the previous book before it left off. This is a dark contemporary romance series that comes with a lot of content/trigger warnings. So before we dive into the reviews or you dive into the books themselves, please make sure you’re in a good head space when you pick this series up. All content/trigger warnings I found in these books will be listed at the top of each review.
Content/Trigger Warnings: Violence, depictions of blood, death/murder recounted, loss of loved ones, grief, PTSD/trauma, graphic night terrors and flashbacks, underage drinking/alcoholism, smoking, bullying, depictions of panic & anxiety attacks, scenes of emesis, stalking, slut shaming, sexual assault, rape, scene of drugging, scene with a spider
Let me be frank, this was a lot, but oh, I was hooked and I couldn’t set this book down. I was completely sucked in and I ended up reading the next two books in the series, immediately after! There’s so much to unpack with this book, but I just want to say that please, please look at content and trigger warnings for this book and series as a whole. This won’t be a series for everyone because of all the content/trigger warnings and I just want to emphasize being in a good head space when picking this book, and series, up!
Shiloh has just relocated to Arizona, where she’s about to start life all over again. Picking up the pieces from a dark past, Shiloh wants to start anew, to live a normal life and finally graduate high school, to do as much as possible with this second chance at life. However, this is easier said than done. When Shiloh’s night terrors begin to impact her neighbors, soon the four handsome brothers begin crawling their way into Shiloh’s life and little does she know that the loneliness that’s eating away at her will slowly start to edge away.
I absolutely loved Shiloh’s character. I can’t begin to express what it truly means to read about a character who has PTSD/trauma and it be so accurately done, to see the portrayal be handled so beautifully. To read about a character who has gone through so much, survived so much, and to watch that character keep fighting just fills my heart with so many emotions and makes my heart melt into a puddle. That aside, Shiloh felt like such a realistic character. Shiloh constantly internally battles herself and we really get to see the highs and lows of the good and bad moments. I just have a lot of appreciation for Shiloh and the author creating this character. It means so much, more than words can describe.
Being introduced to the brothers was a whole entire experience in itself. Even though this is the first book, less than three-hundred pages, you still get a good feeling for the brothers. We’re introduced to the Stone twins first, Colt and Creed. Colt has a very golden retriever personality about him while Creed is very aloof, both brothers go to the same high school as Shiloh. We then meet Keelan next who is the second oldest Stone brother. Keelan is covered in tattoos, charming and friendly, and personally my favorite brother. Then lastly we have Knox. Knox is the oldest Stone brother, the most reserved and closed off brother, who carries the weight of everything on his shoulders. And he just so happens to be my second favorite brother of the bunch. Each brother has their own personality, but we see more of the twins than anything in the first book.
“You’re an asshole and your sexy muscles can go to hell.”
Now, here’s where we get to the good stuff. The spicy, the steamy, the smexy… nonexistent. Yup, you read that right, nonexistent. This isn’t a bad thing, though! This is a quartet series and like with many series tend to do, the first book is setting things up for the books to follow. Providing the back story, giving us those juicy details to questions we have, all that jazz. That’s probably one of the reason I loved this so much. I’m a sucker for writing bringing in details and it helps paint a bigger picture so you have a better idea of characters, situations, etc… So if you’re planning on picking this book up for sexy times, just know there’s no spice, only kissing.
Overall, this was such a fun start to a reverse harem, dark romance book! I truly don’t want to go into too many details because I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone. However, I’m fully, with my whole dang chest, invested in this series, the romance, the stalker subplot, literally everything. I’m here for it. Again, if you’ve been thinking about picking this series up, please check out the content ad trigger warnings because there are a lot of detailed scenes of PTSD/trauma in this book. If you’re someone like me who does deal with PTSD, a lot of those scenes may be triggering and I just really want to emphasize being in the right headspace for this series.
Content/Trigger Warnings: PTSD/trauma, graphic night terrors and flashbacks, depictions of blood, death/murder recounted, loss of loved ones, grief, scenes of drugging, violence, scenes of assault, gun violence, police brutality, attempted abductions, sexual content
Honestly, this was a fun time! I absolutely flew through my time reading this book and couldn’t stop thinking about what was going to happen next. With the first book setting the bar pretty high, I can confidently say that I still had a good time despite a few issues. I do want to say, this review will be on the shorter side of things as this book picks up where book one ended.
As I mentioned, this book picks up where book one ended. If you haven’t read the first book then you need to do that. No worries, this is a spoiler free zone. Getting past that part, we watch as Shiloh continues to build her relationships with the Stone brothers. If you’re a lover of the Stone twins, this is the book for you. There’s a huge heavy focus on the Stone twins in this book and we get to see Shiloh building deeper bonds, and connections with them. We do get brief moments with Keelan and Know, but they’re not given as big of parts in this book.
If you were hoping for spicy, steamy times then yes, we get some juicy scenes in the book. Yes, it’s more than kissing though there’s still a lot of kissing involved. Consent is heavily emphasized in this book and the Stone brothers (mainly the twins) checking with Shiloh on what she wants. I have a huge appreciation when consent is done well and really emphasized throughout a book and I just wanted to highlight that. The spicy scenes were great, not my cup of tea just due to the fact that I’m not the biggest fan of the twins. They were still enjoyable though.
There’s also a lot more exploration of Shiloh’s PTSD and trauma in this book, the way she manages and copes with it. We still get moment where we’re thrown in Shiloh’s past and there’s a few discussions involving how Shiloh has been handling all of that trauma. I don’t want to spoil too much in this department as I think it can be a bit spoiler-ish, but I appreciated a lot of things that were surrounding this as a whole.
“I was terrified at the time. But there are different levels of terror. Ones that will leave scars on your soul forever and completely break your sanity. As you try to move on, you’ll find yourself in a constant state of hating the idea of tomorrow, yet hoping you’re strong enough to see it.”
While there were many things I enjoyed about this book, I had a really big issue with this book and it was all the unnecessary drama that was added. Usually, I don’t mind when there’s a few subplots, however, I don’t like when minor subplots start taking over the main storyline and pushing aside the already established one. The whole stalker subplot basically takes to the back burner as a whole new subplot begins to take place. It completely took the focus away from the whole Mr. X thing and it just felt so unnecessary to be added in.
Overall, I still enjoyed this book despite the things I wasn’t loving. I still found myself breezing through this book the way I did the first one. I’m still invested in the series and again, I picked up the next book immediately just to know what was going to happen next. I do emphasize looking at content/trigger warnings in advance before starting this series or this book, just so you know what you’re in for.
Content/Trigger Warnings: Attempted abductions, multiple scenes of assault, harassment, violence, depictions of panic and anxiety attacks, PTSD/trauma, trauma recounted, graphic night terrors and flashbacks, loss of loved ones recounted, grief, underage drinking, police brutality, manipulation, sexual content, potential scene of rape/sexual assault
✨ Find Me ★★★★★ ✨ Save Me ★★★★
Oh boy, this… this was not it friends. Okay, I still enjoyed this book, but I had so many issues with this book. I’m definitely in the minority on this, so take my review with a grain of salt, but all I can really is say is wow. This is book three in this quartet and so far out of all the books, this feels like the weakest book. As with Save Me, this is going to be a short review just to avoid any spoilers as book three does pick up right where book two’s cliff hanger ended.
Honestly, I don’t know where to begin with this review. In this book, Ethan and Isabelle are such forces and shine so brightly. I’ve loved Ethan and Isabelle from the very beginning. I think they’re wonderful characters who really stand by their friends and don’t let anything sway them one way or another. Isabelle really shined the most for me and it was so nice to see Shiloh connect genuinely with another female character outside of all the drama plot that was happening. It just made my heart a little warm and fuzzy to see how close they had grown, and to be able to say it felt like a realistic, natural friendship build-up.
We also get a lot more steamy moments in this book. Whew, yes we do! There’s a fantastic scene with Keelan, Knox, and Shiloh during a Halloween party. Oh my glob, it was delicious! Not a fan of Shiloh’s costume, but it was a really good scene for me. Of course, there are plenty of spicy scenes with the twins and we even get a scene with Shiloh and Keelan together. If you’re here for the steamy, spicy goodness then you’re going to enjoy the daylights out of this book.
“His lips moved over mine in such a devouring and needy way that my resolve finally snapped. My hands slid over his shoulders and I pressed closer to him. I reciprocated his kiss with equal neediness and the eagerness to be devoured.”
Despite these few good things, it was really hard to look past all the things that negatively impacted my reading experience with this book. Again, I want to restate that this is the third book in this quartet. My biggest issue with this book is the fact that we’re supposed to believe our main character, Shiloh, is in a relationship with all four of the Stone brothers. However, I’m not convinced and nothing bothers me more than when authors decide to take on polyamorous relationships or reverse harem relationships and then can’t bring a balance to the whole thing. There’s a huge imbalance in the relationships between Shiloh and the Stone brothers. If you love the twins, guess what, it’s your lucky day because they are so heavily focused in almost every aspect, sexual or otherwise, that I ended up really coming to despise the twins. Before I was indifferent and appreciated the way the connections were building, was even starting to enjoy the twins, but now that we’re in book three and Keelan and Knox still haven’t gotten enough page time with Shiloh, I could careless about the twins. This book had the chance to really solidify Shiloh’s connection and desire with Knox and Keelan, and it just wasn’t believable despite the spicy scenes we’re given because the twins are just so heavily focused.
My other issue is a little spoilery, but I wanted to add this in here because I just don’t have enough details to know if this should be labeled as a content/trigger warning. I still wanted to mention this scene because it unnerved me not knowing one way or the other and I feel it’s important to address it. There’s a scene of a potential home invasion, where Shiloh is really exhausted and a tall figure enters her bedroom, and Shiloh is so disoriented that she genuinely doesn’t know if it’s Knox or an intruder. That’s a whole scene that didn’t sit well with me and I wasn’t a fan of it. I just wanted to throw that in here as a warning because it may be triggering for some readers.
And of course, my other issue is the fact that this is the third book and the author waited until the very end of the book to bring back the Mr. X subplot. So, for the second book and the majority of this book (a whole 85-90%), we spend time in an entirely different subplot than the Mr. X stalker subplot. I can’t speak for other readers, but personally, I’m not a fan of being pulled away from an already pre-established subplot for a new one filled with unnecessary drama that didn’t need to be added in. It just wasn’t my cup of tea, personally.
Overall, I had high hopes for this book and this book just didn’t deliver the way I hoped to. And honestly, I don’t know if I even want to finish the series because of how this book as a whole left me feeling. I mean, yes, I enjoyed some aspects of this book, but now I’m nervous on whether or not the final book is going to be worth the read. Again, I’m definitely in the minority on this one. So please take my review with a grain of salt, but as always, I do hope you look over my content/trigger warnings for this book if you need them and to be in a good headspace when reading this series as a whole.
Salutations everyone! I hope you’re doing well and that your day is being gentle with you, whenever you may be reading this! Today, I’m back again with some more mini reviews. If I’m being honest, mini reviews have been a big help with holding myself accountable for getting a lot of my reviews out. They’ve also been allowing me to breathe a bit easier. I tend to write really long reviews (looking at my review of Famine) and sometimes I can stress myself out over it by A LOT. But I digress. January has been blessing me with so many good reads and all the reviews you’re about to read were all five stars reads for me! So I hope you enjoy my thoughts and feelings on these books! ♥
Content/Trigger Warnings: Feelings of isolation, starvation, assault (physical and sexual), depictions of abuse, abusive relationship, death, grief, loss of loved ones, drugs, substance abuse, prostitution, sexism, explicit sex, depictions of depression, suicidal ideation, attempted suicide, scenes of war, brief mentions of cancer in the past
“Stories are a way to preserve one’s self. To be remembered. And to forget.”
I can’t believe I’ve been sitting on V. E. Schwab’s work for so long! If you didn’t know – hi, hello, I am baby to Schwab’s books! My first book I ever read by Schwab was Gallant and I fell madly in love with that book. So it should come as no surprise that I’m sitting here, being soft and squishy over another book by Schwab. I’m not going to lie, this book was a very emotional, fantastic way to start off 2023. It was everything. It gave me feelings of the movie, The Age of Adaline, in some ways and even still this book touched parts of my soul. This book has truly kicked the new year off with a bang!
“Never pray to the gods that answer after dark.”
✨ Addie (Adaline) LaRue – Born in a small town with all the expectations placed upon her, but Addie is a dreamer, full of curiosity and wonder. Big dreams of seeing the world, to really live outside of this small town that expects so much of her. So when Addie turns twenty-three, everyone hopeful that Addie will finally slow down, be tamed by marriage, she quickly finds out that time isn’t something she’ll ever have to worry about, ever again.
“She has gone so long without roots, she doesn’t know how to grow them anymore. So used to losing things, she isn’t sure how to hold them. How to make space in a world the size of herself.”
✨ Henry – A writer, working in a book store in New York, trying to live his life to the fullest. And one day he meets a girl with seven freckles, and he remembers her.
“His heart has a draft. It lets in light. It lets in storms. It lets in everything.”
✨ Luc – A god, one that you should never pray to after dark, unless you’re desperate enough to pay an unknown price.
“I am not some genie, bound to your whim.” He pushes off the tree. “Nor am I some petty forest spirit, content with granting favors for mortal trinkets. I am stronger than your god and older than your devil. I am the darkness between stars, and the roots beneath the earth. I am promise, and potential, and when it comes to playing games, I divine the rules, I set the pieces, and I choose when to play. And tonight, I say no.”
When it’s clear her time is almost up, maybe, just maybe, Addie is that willing to pay the unknown price as she runs into the forest, late one night. Willing to risk everything if it means she can escape her fate, to see her dream through, and to have a life that is truly hers. Over the course of three-hundred years, we’ll watch Adaline struggle, grow, love and fall apart. Starting in the place it all began, the small town where she was born and ending in 2014 America. We’ll watch Addie yearn to be remembered, desiring to leave some for of a mark, doing everything within her to gain knowledge and experience the world like she truly wanted, even if it hurts more times than not.
“Being forgotten, she thinks, is a bit like going mad. You begin to wonder what is real, if you are real. After all, how can a thing be real if it cannot be remembered?”
I want to take a moment to highlight Henry because I think he truly deserves a spotlight on his character. I honestly didn’t expect to love Henry as much as I did, but oh, did his character hit my heart so hard with all the feelings and emotions. I have never wanted to go feral and protect a character as much as I did with Henry. While I think Addie and Luc felt very realistic (yes, even Luc, despite him being a god), there was something so raw about his character. I think readers are going to feel that ‘hits close to home’ kind of feeling with his character. Being unsure of what you want out of life, feeling something is wrong with you, or feeling like you’re not good enough, not doing enough… Feeling like no one will ever be able to love you with their whole chest, to love you unconditionally… Henry as a character hits the nail on the head and even more so if you’re in your twenties, fresh out of high school, starting life. It hits like a ton of bricks and Schwab didn’t hold back when she wrote Henry’s character and the way he struggles with mental health. And I’m so glad, so grateful Schwab let us fall in love with Henry as much as we get to fall in love with Addie.
“It is just a storm, he tells himself, but he is tired of looking for shelter. It is just a storm, but there is always another waiting in its wake.”
And while I love Addie and Henry a whole lot, we have one more character we still need to talk about, Luc, the god Addie made a deal with. Now, I do love Luc’s character. However, surprisingly, I didn’t love him as much as I thought I would. Also, let me emphasize that the relationship between Luc and Addie, their three-hundred-year deal, is not a healthy relationship, at all. There’s a huge power imbalance between the two of them and Addie has to constantly fight to gain even the tiniest bread crumb of power for herself. We see the way Luc and Addie’s relationship morphs, grows, and constantly develop over the course of time. The reason why I didn’t like Luc as a character as much as I thought I would, it’s the fact of wanting more. Honestly, I would have loved a third perspective. I think Schwab could have written Luc’s third perspective so we could have seen his side of things. My wanting to know more of him, dampened my love for him a bit, but as a whole character, I do love him. When I think of god who fall into the grey area of not necessarily good, but not whole heartily evil, Luc comes to my mind. I also want to point out that I think Schwab left out Luc’s perspective for a reason. Everything she did with crafting and building Luc’s character felt like a deliberate way to make him charming, to be alluring, and make the reader still love him. The fact is, abusers/abusive people can be all those characteristics about them and at the end of the day still be abusers.
“You didn’t come.” “You didn’t call.” She looks down at their tangled hands. “Tell me, Luc,” she says. “Was any of it real?” “What is real to you, Adeline? Since my love counts for nothing?” “You are not capable of love.” He scowls, his eyes flashing emerald. “Because I am not human? Because I do not wither and die?” “No,” she says, drawing back her hand. “You are not capable of love because you cannot understand what it is to care for someone else more than yourself. If you loved me, you would have let me go by now.” Luc flicks his fingers. “What nonsense,” he says. “It is because I love you that I won’t. Love is hungry. Love is selfish.”
We do see Addie, Henry, and Luc all come together, watch their stories begin to unfold and how they’re all connected. And that’s all I’ll say about that. I think it’s best if you venture into the book yourself to find out want happens. What I will say, this was a wild ride and every step of the way had my breath catching in my throat.
“Books, she has found, are a way to live a thousand lives–or to find strength in a very long one.”
Overall, there’s so much more that I want to say, that I definitely shouldn’t say because I don’t want to spoil anything for you, dear reader. As I mentioned, it’s been a hot minute since a book pulled the rawest emotions from within the depths of my soul. A book that has caused me to reflect on the things I crave, what my soul truly yearns for, what it really means to be remembered. Even now my eyes are watering because this book just touched the softest parts of me. I think this book really hits the human experience, captures it in all of the rawest ways, and I think if you’re like me, reading this book when you really need it, it’s going to unravels your tangled heart. And before I forget, quotes upon quotes! I wanted to dedicate so many notebook pages just to quotes. Truly, I wish I would have read this sooner because I think this is going to be a forever favorite read of mine.
Thank you, Addie LaRue. I will always remember you. ♥
Content/Trigger Warnings: Sexual abuse, child abuse, death, brief mentions of famine, alcoholism, drug use
“This is where my lesson was learned: pain is to be expected, courage is to be welcomed. There is no choice but to endure. There is no other way than to renounce self-doubt. It is the time of the Dawning in more ways than one. The sun can rise, and so can I”
This book has been on my ‘want to read’ list for what feels like ages and after much time has passed, I finally got my hands on a hardback copy! I knew I would love this book, but I didn’t expect it to pull so many emotions from me. At the end, I not only loved this book, but oof, my heart! I think this might be the most beautifully haunting book I’ve read thus far.
Before I give my initial thoughts, I want to put a heavy, HEAVY emphasis on the themes of sexual abuse in this book. This is a consistent theme throughout these pages and as far as the physical book copy goes, there are no mentions of trigger warnings. Like I have listed above, I just really wanted to spotlight this in case anyone was considering picking this book up. To give you the gentle reminder to check in with your mental health before picking this book up.
My experience is a little different compared to most readers. A lot of reviews I’ve seen have been for the audiobook and sadly, I can’t make any comments about the throat singing that is featured in the audiobook. However, I love the fact that the extra mile was taken to feature throat singing and I wish more Native/Indigenous literature, in audiobook format, went that extra mile.
“There are secrets hidden in our flesh. Our cells being born and dying with the same force that makes galaxies form and deconstruct.”
Prepare for a haunting, bone chilling reading experience as this book isn’t for the faint of heart. Set in the northern parts of Canada, we read passages of mixed media, of surviving in the Great North. Told in first person, we’re taken to a place where empathy for others is scarce and one must do whatever it takes to survive. A place where sexual abuse is common and part of a young girl’s “normal” sexual development, where death looms in this disguise of ice, and where fox populations can get immense that they starve and start attacking children. No, this place is cruel in more ways than one, but also chillingly beautiful. Tagaq recounts everything clearly, like it happened yesterday, and with almost a young girlish wonder. Though at times disconcerting with how you should feel after such passages.
Though this book is haunting and beautiful, it’s incredibly powerful, jarring, and incredibly important. If you miss the dedication, this is a reminder that this book is dedicated to Murder & Missing Indigenous Women, Girls, 2S and to residential school survivors. This dedication is an echoed reminder, constantly, throughout this book and just adds to the various amounts of emotions you’ll experience while reading/listening. Tagaq does an incredible job taking those important themes, weaving them throughout the book with culture and mythology.
Overall, I’m being careful not to say too much when it comes to this book. I think the best way to read this book is going into this is just knowing the content warnings and then diving in. Will it make sense? Possibly not. Will you feel like you’ve been swept in a whirlwind of things unfolding? Absolutely! As an Apache Native, did I fully understand everything I was reading? Not always, but oh was I swept away by everything this book is, everything laced throughout, and yes, I did cry more than once. This book will stick with me for a long time and even now I’m still thinking about it. I do want to recommend the audiobook, though, especially now knowing that there is throat singing. I think it’ll add an element that the physical book is lacking. So do check it out especially if you’ve never heard any throat singing before.
What a purrfect manga to pick up after a long, stressful day! Pun intended! Truly, this was such a lovely manga to curl up and unwind with. Like drinking a big mug of hot chocolate on a chilly winter day, this book warmed my heart. Can you tell that I need more slice of life manga in my life? Because I sure can!
There’s a café that only appears to those who truly need it. Worn out from work, stressed and overwhelmed by school, or various other things that may make us feel heavy. Staffed by the talking cat barista, who everyone refers to as Master, which pays homage to his position as the only barista at the café than anything else. Offering a place where patrons of the weary and troubled can take the time to rest a while, and receive advice with the Café Hachiware’s Special drink.
If you love slice of life manga then this will be the great read for you. I went into this book not really looking for a solid storyline, but something more casual, cozy, and light-hearted. And that’s exactly what I got! As I mentioned above, this was the perfect light read to unwind with and I’m glad I chose to read this at night, as I was settling down for sleep because it helped me relax.
If I had to fault this book for anything that I think other readers won’t enjoy, it would be the fact that there’s not a big difference in each chapter. The only chapter that really stands out the most is chapter 5: Ashio Miyako and Her Lost Cat. This chapter stands out the most due to the main character, the cat barista doing something outside of just giving sage advice and a beverage to serve the person’s woes. Otherwise, all the other stories take on the pattern of someone comes in, sits down, gets some wisdom and the special beverage, and then you move to the next chapter. I will say, the chapter where the cat barista goes to meet a friend also stands out. That chapter was interesting and I hope in future volumes we get to see their friendship explored a little more.
Overall, this was the kind of manga I’ve been looking for recently. A light-hearted, cozy read that I can unwind with, but also can see myself rereading in the future. This was the perfect fit for me! Again, if you like slice of life books then I definitely encourage you to pick this manga up! It’s so cute, so wholesome, and just lovely to read!
It’s that time once again! For… GOALS & REFLECTION!
Salutations Chapterlings! How has the new year been treating you far? Are you remembering to stay hydrated and to take breaks? I hope so, you’re worthy and deserve some self-love! Today friends, we’re talking about a post that I’ve recently started doing on my blog more recently. Yes, I’m talking about those past year reflections and the new year goals! This year I’m going to keep things more related to books because I’ve actually been doing a lot better with my more personal goals and don’t feel the need to have them listed this year. So if you enjoy reflecting and goal setting, pull up a chair with me, get cozy with a cup of hot cider, and lets get into it!
Please note: If you’d like to skip the 2022 Reflections, scroll on down to the 2023 Book/Reading Goals!
2022 Book/Reading Reflections
At the beginning of 2022, I set so many goals, book wise and content creation wise. Out of all five of those goals, I have actually completed at two of them! Those two being tbr related and arc related. Despite the chaos of 2022, throwing me for loops, I was able to still make tbrs. Though I didn’t always post about my tbrs, here on my blog or on Insta, I was still making sticky note tbr lists. These tbr lists were kept short (all of them except my November 2022 tbr which did make it onto the blog & Insta). I love making tbrs and that was something I really focused on because I really love making a tbr, deciding on the books to read, planning buddy reads, etc… And in 2022, I was really trying to surround myself with things that I love, enjoy, and what bring me happiness. So tbrs was a big success!
The other goal I managed to accomplish was choosing arcs more carefully! Honestly, I was surprised I was able to manage this. Out of all the goals I had set in 2022, this was the one I thought I’d never be able to succeed. I always get so excited about books and the opportunity to read new books, the possibility of discovering new authors, etc… However, I somehow managed it! I have only been requesting arcs for books that I’m really excited about like anticipated releases, books I was planning to buddy read with friends, or books that really spoke to my current reading preferences. This is excluding Native/Indigenous literature I was being reached out to for reviewing. I exclude this for two reasons: One, a lot of those books were final copies and final copies don’t fall in the ‘arc’ category & Two, I am automatically accepting anything that is Native/Indigenous literature or by Native/Indigenous authors. So those are the reasons why Native/Indigenous literature is excluded from being factored into accomplishing this goal. That aside, I managed to only requests about ten to fifteen arcs this year, in total. Now realistically, I probably requested closer to twenty books, but some of my requests were rejected. So those books aren’t counted due to not actually landing in my e-arc library. So I’m really proud of myself! Before I usually requested anything the intrigued me and now I’m more selective and picky about what I’m requesting.
Even though I only managed to achieve two out of my five goals, I’m really proud being able to achieve them. 2022 had a lot of stuff going on which I feel like ever since 2020, that’s just my new normal. But in 2022 I really tried to prioritize my book stuff and I really tried to focused on those goals of mine. For 2023, I really really want to focus those goals and hopefully this time in 2024, I’ll be able to say I did even better!
2023 Book/Reading Goals
We made it! Yes, we made it to the most exciting part of this post, goal setting! This section is going to be a slight combination with some content creation stuff sprinkled in with the reading goals. I want to make these goals realistic and achievable for 2023 and I want to be a little gentler with myself, not add so much pressure to the things I want to do. Granted, this is easier said than done, but either way, I’m really excited about these goals!
➸ If It Doesn’t Make You Feel Good, DNF It!
I have a terrible, terrible habit of forcing myself to finish books for the review, even if it throws me into a reading slump, gives me severe burnout, or physically makes me sick or upset. I did this with Ninth House, Mexican Gothic, and most recently, A Taste of Gold and Iron and The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires. While these are great examples for books that fall on the middle line for me (two/three star ratings, loved some things & disliked some things), these are all books I should have dnf’d, moved onto something else, and instead of doing that I did what I typically do when in this situation… forcing myself to push through it. *insert cricket noises here* Yeah, yeah… If you’re making a face or saying ‘I have so many questions’ then yes, this is not good or healthybehavior. Reading is supposed to be fun and enjoyable, not something you force yourself to do or push yourself with. So going into 2023, I want to be better about books that I’m reading. While I don’t mind having books that are three stars or lower (it happens, not every read can be five stars), I want to do better and stop reading the book if I’m not having fun or start feeling exhausted with that book. 2023 is the year of DNFing is in charge, TBRS BEWARE!
➸ Smaller TBRs
If my November 2022 TBR taught me anything, it’s that I still go too hard with my tbrs. If you’re like me who gets excited about books or the books you’re going to read each month, one of two things will happen to you. One, you get so excited about all the books, new releases and books from the previous year, you want to pile all the titles your most excited for on that monthly tbr. And Two, you get so excited by all of the books in your library, on your tbr cart, in your e-arc library that you get overwhelmed, then put a bunch of titles on your tbrs without seeing if they’re titles you really want to get to, and then you don’t read any of them because you’re overwhelmed, and you wanted to read another title instead. I know the feeling all too well. So this year I want to make my tbrs smaller so they’re more manageable, more achievable, and more enjoyable. More enjoyable, less pressure to read EVERYTHING!
➸ TBR Jar/Wheel Time!
With prepping to move, I want to work through as many of the books in my library I haven’t had the chance to get to in 2022. While I was hitting a nice chunk, I want to continue to keep this up going into the new year. This will allow me to work through my library, it’ll help with weeding out books to keep or potentially get rid of to make room for the future. Originally, I did have a tbr mug at one point, but that mug ended up shattering and since then I haven’t replaced it. I haven’t decided if I’ll get a tbr jar or use a new mug, or maybe this time I’ll try to find a wheel/randomizer, but whatever decide, it’ll be dedicated to helping me work through physical books.
➸ Bullet Journaling
This is all new territory for me. While I’ve been someone who has journaled throughout my life, the only time I use a notebook or notepad is when taking reading notes for current reads. However, this year I want to try my hand at bullet journaling for reading. I think this will be a fun, creative way to track tbrs, reading progress, and even be good for aiding with mental health. I am excited that at the time of typing this, I have a journal and new markers (House of Earth and Blood notes wrecked three of my markers) are on their way. I’ve even started looking into washi tape and already been thinking about layouts for January. Either way, this is something I really want to give a chance to and see how it goes!
And those are all my goals for 2023! I know it wasn’t a lot of goals. I think this year’s goals might be slightly shorter than last year’s, but either way I’m excited for them. One of the things I’m trying to do better in 2023 is to not overwhelm myself or make things feel unachievable. So going with goals that cater towards that goal feel really good. Have you set any goals for the new year or tried any of these above? Let’s chat about it in the comments below! Until next time, I’m wishing you all a lovely day! 💚
Salutations everyone! I hope you’ve been kicking the new year off with some amazing books and if not, that’s okay and valid, too! Today, I’m bringing back the 5 star prediction post. I feel like I do one of these every year, but it usually gets post in the middle of the year. I’ll be honest, this is a bit of solid tbr for the whole year and why I wanted to post this now while the new year is freshly starting. Of course, I’ll be reading other books this year. I mean, there’s so many amazing books that are slotted to come out in 2023 and as usual, I’m trying to play catch up with books from 2022. With all of that being said, all of the books listed here are ones that I’m really excited about and ones that I think I’m going to absolutely fall in love with. Truly, truly, I believe 2023 with be a year of amazing reads that I just end up adoring!
This book should come as no surprise to anyone. Darcie Little Badger has become one of my favorite authors and is an author I constantly anticipate books from. So when I stumbled upon this book, I instantly knew my heart was going to feel so full. I have so much excitement surrounding this book and hopefully I’ll be getting to this book soon!
With the second book releasing in 2023, I want to make sure I finally read the first book! I have been anticipating this book since 2022, but sadly I never got around to reading it. So I want to make an effort that in 2023, I read this one and instantly hop into the sequel!
This book looks like the perfect, wholesome, cozy read! I’m so excited to dive into this book! As a lover of DnD and RPG games, I just know that this is going to make my heart so full. Plus, have you seen the cover? It looks so cute and I’m excited to see this romance flourish!
If you haven’t noticed by now, I’ve been flying through this series, having a fantastic time along the way! So it should come as no surprise by the fact that this ebook is making an appearance onto this list. I’m so excited for this one in particular because it’s going to be following the sibling of one of the characters we’re introduced to early on in the series. And she’s a healer and if you didn’t know, I’m always a healer in any of my RPGs, LARPs, or DnD sessions! So I’m bursting with excitement for this one!
By now you should know that this is one of my anticipated books for 2023. Not only did this stunning cover pull me in, but you know I’m absolutely weak for books involving dragons. However, this book is also based of Chinese mythology and I will always charge head first towards anything that’s mythology or a retelling. And if that didn’t sell you on this book, it’s going to be a duology! Look, I’m just really excited about this book and can’t wait to dive head first into it!
I’m so upset that I didn’t get to read this book in 2022. Not only is one of my goals for 2023 to highlight more Native/Indigenous literature, but one of my goals is to read this book. This synopsis completely sucked me in and I have been eager to read this book. Sadly, the end of 2022 didn’t give me the chance to read. Mark my words, I will read this book in 2023. It’s going to happen!
When I first heard about this book, I was excited. However, when I found out this is not only a reverse harem, but we get polyamorous representation, I was bursting at the rims with excitement to read this book. I don’t want to know too much about this book, but I’m excited for it. Also, the author is self-published and if you were looking for more authors who are self-publishing then you should definitely put this author on your radar!
Remember what I said about loving retellings? Well, here’s a retelling to add to you list! While I didn’t mention this on my anticipated books for 2023, this is in fact one of the books I’m anticipating for 2023. This book is not only suppose to have lesbian rep, but this is a Rapunzel retelling with a paranormal twist. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m really intrigued and I think this is going to be a book I’m absolutely going to love!
Look, if you don’t know my love for anthologies by now, let this be the sign that tells you I do! I’m both excited and conflicted. I’m not conflicted about the book itself, I’m conflicted on if this book will be my downfall or not. I say that because I have yet to find an anthology that I’m absolutely head over heels for. While I have high hopes for this book and have a strong desire to love this anthology, I wonder if I’m over-hyping myself. Either way, I’m slapping this book on this list because I really want to believe I’m going to love this book and this will be the anthology, my first anthology, that receives five stars!
I’m so excited about this book! I was teeter-totting back and forth on whether or not to take the plunge and read this book. After reading Caro’s Favorite Books of 2022, I was convinced that I needed to pick this book up! I love a good paranormal book and this one sounds right up my alley. This synopsis has me so intrigued and excited to see how the story will unfold.
I feel it in my heart, 2023 is going to be a year of many amazing reads! Looking at this list, I’m excited for not only the books I’m anticipating for 2023, but the books that I have yet the chance to get to. This list is only ten of my five star predictions. There are so many more books that I’m eager for and have high hopes for. However, on a more serious note, I will say that with the strikes happening with HarperCollins, making this list and thinking about my future tbrs has been difficult. And I want to emphasize that while the strikes are happening, all my reviews and reading of HarperCollins titles have come to a halt. I’m checking each book I put on any of my lists or tbr lists very thoroughly, and hoping that the current strikes with HarperCollins come to an end soon, in favor of the workers. With that all said, I hope you enjoyed this small list of ten five stars predictions. If any of these titles are on your predictions for the year or you have some titles not on my list, come chat with me in the comments below! Until the next post, Chapterlings, I hope 2023 is being gentle with you and you’re staying hydrated, resting well, and having some tasty snacks! 💚