Misc.

5 Star Predictions 2023

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!

➼ A Snake Falls to Earth by Darcie Little Badger
November 23, 2021 by Levine Querido

✨ Elatsoe ★★★★★

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!

➼ Belladonna by Adalyn Grace
August 30, 2022 by Hodder & Stoughton

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!

➼ Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree
November 8, 2022 by Tor Books

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!

➼ Not So Yours Truly (Warts & Claws Inc., #4) by Clio Evans
December 6, 2022

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!

➼ Song of Silver, Flame Like Night (Song of the Last Kingdom #1) by Amélie Wen Zhao
January 3, 2023 by Delacorte Press

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!

➼ White Horse by Erika T. Wurth

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!

➼ Nanny for the Neighbors by Lily Gold
June 7, 2021

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!

➼ The Vampire and the Witch by Francesca Flores
March 21, 2023 by Wednesday Books

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!

➼ Mermaids Never Drown: Tales to Dive For by Zoraida Cordova
September 26, 2023 by Feiwel Friends

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!

➼ The Luminaries (The Luminaries #1) by Susan Dennard
November 1, 2022 by Tor Teen

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! 💚

✨ 5 Star Predictions: 2019| 2020| 2021| 2022

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Misc.

Most Anticipated Books 2023

I’m finally getting this blog post out! When I tell you I feel majorly accomplished by this post, I mean, I feel really darn good right now! I feel like I haven’t talked about books I’m eager to read, anticipated releases, or anything of the sort for so long. And you know, disappearing for almost (not quite) two years will do that to you. However, I’m hoping that if this first week of 2023 has said indicated anything, I’m trying to do better this year. Shoutout to my amazing friends for helping me catch up with the 2023 books being released for the full year. They’re true blessings and I’m so, so grateful for them. As of today, January 4th of 2023, I’m going to share eight of the my thirty-three (possibly more) anticipated books for 2023. I’m really excited, you might be able to tell, but I hope you’re just as excited to see this list! Enjoy, friends! ♥

➸ Warrior Girl Unearthed by Angeline Boulley
May 2, 2023 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)

Going forward into 2023, as a Native reader, I want to keep highlighting Native/Indigenous authors and their book. Angeline Boulley has been on my radar for a while now. I already have one book by her that I’m hoping to read this year and I’m hoping to get my hands on a copy of Warrior Girl Unearthed so I can do a dedicated post to both books by this author. Plus, the cover is absolutely stunning and reading the synopsis… my soul isn’t ready!

➸ Not So Yours Truly (Warts & Claws Inc. Series # 4) by Clio Evans
December 6, 2022 by author

This is the only book on this list where the book is already out. However, I really wanted to include this book on my list because I’ve been loving this series. I’ve been having a fun time, enjoying the characters, and of course, monsters! I’ve already read the first two books in the series and at the time of this post going up, I’m working on book three. And I’m hoping, fingers and toes crossed, I finish the whole series this year!

➸ Episode Thirteen by Craig DiLouie
January 24, 2023 by Redhook

I am so FREAKING excited about this book’s release! I’ve barely heard anyone talking about this book and trust me, I think more readers need to put this on their radar. The synopsis alone pulled me in and I’m hoping to be chilled to my core. The gorgeous cover aside, the little bread crumbs we get from the synopsis sounds like everything I want in my horror book and I just have the biggest need for it.

➸ Bring Me Your Midnight by Rachel Griffin
August 1, 2023 by Sourcebooks Fire

I read Wild is the Witch during the summer of 2022 and since then I have been craving more books from this author! I love Rachel’s writing, the way this author builds the worlds and characters, and I can’t begin to express how excited I am to dive into a new book by her. And can we take a moment to address this cover? I adore this cover and I didn’t know I needed a cover like this until I saw it. When I tell you my breath hitched, oh I was choking on air, friends! I was so captivated and after reading the synopsis, I just knew I needed more.

➸ A Hunger of Thorns by Lili Wilkinson
April 18, 2023 by Delacorte Press

I’ll be honest, I don’t know much about this book. Honestly, the cover is the thing that captivated me more than anything else. However, after reading the synopsis, I’m so excited and also realizing that I’m anticipating a lot of witchy, paranormal books in 2023. The cover is absolutely gorgeous, but I’m really excited to read this book. Out of everything I could take away from the little itty-bits I’ve come up with, the magic has me fascinated and I really want to know more. Plus, does the moth on the cover of the book actually tie in to the things in the book, I need to know.

➸ Song of Silver, Flame Like Night by Amélie Wen Zhao
January 3, 2023 by Delacorte Press

By the time this post is going up, this book will have already released. HOWEVER! Will this stop me from talking about it? No. Will I continue to tell everyone about this book? Abso-freaking-lutely! I have been anticipating this book since November 2022. Dragons, freaking dragons, and always dragons. You want to know how to make me fall head over heels for your book? Dragons. That’s all I needed to know and I was sold. Dragons aside, the last part of the synopsis really sunk it’s claws in me and after that I instantly preordered this book. So I’m really hoping to start this book soon because truly, I can’t wait to dive in!

➸ House of Roots and Ruin by Erin A. Craig
July 25, 2023 by Delacorte Press

I absolutely fell in love with House of Salt and Sorrows back in 2019. I gave it five stars and have been waiting for any inkling of news that involved a sequel to the book. Of course, I kind of disappeared from the book community for like a year or so and a lot of my intense researching and deep diving on books went onto a back burner. Flash forward to now and I’m just finding out about this book… NOW. Literally, I just found out about the night or so before drafting this. I have been so ready and my excitement can’t be contained since this knowledge has planted itself in my brain.

➸ Bad Cree by Jessica Johns
January 10, 2023 by Doubleday Books
ARC was given by NetGalley & Doubleday Books in exchange for an honest review.

The arc gods have smiled upon me and blessed my e-arc galley with a copy of this book! I’m very privileged to have received an arc of this book and I’m so excited to read this. Crows, freaking crows! I’m so excited to have a mystery thriller that has crows as symbolism or a potential role in the book. That aside, this is a book by a Native author and the book as a whole is Native/Indigenous. Again, this year I’m trying to unapologetically go really hard for Native/Indigenous literature and so you’re going to see a lot of them pop up on tbrs or see me talking about them. But this particular book, I’m really excited about it. This is a supernatural, mystery thriller book and the synopsis alone had me vibrating with excitement to read. Truly, 2023 is blessing us with some amazing books and I just had to tell you about this one. I think this book is going to be everything and I’m calling it now, five star prediction, favorite of the year, and top books of 2023. There, I did it and I can’t go back!

➸ Where Darkness Blooms by Andrea Hannah
February 21, 2023 by Wednesday Books

I wanted to list an honorable mention here, near the end of the post. I found out about this book in the autumnal season of 2022 and this became one of my first 2023 anticipated releases. As always, I’m a very sentimental soul and the sunflowers on the cover are what lured me in. This book took me by surprised and blew a lot of my predictions out of the water. If you love small town vibes, buried secrets, and characters that contain multitudes then I want to recommend this book to you. I really enjoyed my time reading it and finished my arc copy in two days. So if that tells you anything, I hope you’ll check it out and let me know your thoughts!


Okay, Chapterlings! Those are just a small portion of the books I’m anticipating or excited for in 2023! I have quite a few books on my radar and maybe you’ll see some reviews for those books coming soon. And hopefully this year I’ll be better at reading my 2023 releases because after disappearing for a year or so, playing catch up has been hard, and a struggle. Please let me know in the comments below if any of these books are on your radar for 2023 or let me know some of your anticipated releases. I’m constantly on the hunt for books to fall in love with and get obsessed over! I hope you’re staying hydrated and remembering to take little breaks, and until next time, I love you bunches! 💚

✨ Anticipated Books: 2019| 2020| 2021| 2022

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Misc.

My Favorite Books From 2022

Salutations Chapterlings! I hope 2023 has been treating you with kindness and gentleness! 2023 has only been here for a small handful of days and has already been kicking off with a bang for me. Today, yes today, I wanted to highlight some of my favorite books I read in 2022. I know this isn’t a typical post I do. I think you’re used to my reviews or seeing hauls, maybe the ever anticipated monthly tbr post. However, in 2023, many changes are happening including giving some new posts room to exist. That includes today’s post! I’ve been wanting to make a post like this since 2020 and I thought this is the perfect time to give this a chance. So without any further jibber-jabbing, here’s a recap of some of my absolute favorite reads of 2022! 💚


➼ Garlic and the Vampire by Bree Paulsen

✨ Garlic and the Witch ★★★★★

I’m so thankful for Destiny recommending this book to me because I fell madly in love with it. This little graphic novel is so charming, has amazing anxiety representation, and was the perfect read to really kick off 2022! If you’re looking for some graphic novels to read this year, definitely put Garlic and the Vampire on your graphic novels adventure!


➼ Once Upon A K-Prom by Kat Cho

This is my first book I’ve ever read by Kat Cho and I absolutely love it! If you didn’t know, I got really into k-pop back in 2020 after a really bad car accident and since then it’s had a special place in my life. Though I don’t share or talk about it often. So when I saw that this book was coming out, I instantly wanted to read it. Two things that are close to my heart; reading and k-pop combined, I had to read it. This was probably one of my top five favorite reads of 2022 and honestly, I’m excited to pick up more literature by Kat Cho since reading this book.


➼ Her Soul to Take by Harley Laroux

✨ Her Soul for Revenge ★★★

This book really surprised me. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous going into this book because of the hype I had been hearing and seeing around it. Not to mention. sometimes I can go into a book with a bit of a bias because demons, cryptids, etc… are keywords for me and I get overly excited about that. However, I’m pleased to say this is one of the few hyped books I’ve read that I absolutely loved! Do I think this book will be for everyone, no. Do I think anyone who has similar reading taste to me give this book a chance? Yes, yes I do!


➼ Wild is the Witch by Rachel Griffin

I was on vacation when I received an arc copy of this book and I devoured it in one whole day. I was so captivated by the setting, modern day witches, and just everything about this. The magic was stunning, the freaking owl in this book was my favorite character, and the romance was chef’s kiss. I really enjoyed my time reading this book, I can’t recommend it enough, and the cover is absolutely stunning!


➼ The Woman in the Woods and Other North American Stories edited by Kate Ashwin

I have been trying to highlight Native/Indigenous literature a lot more and read more of. So when I found out about this anthology, I was desperate to get my grabby hands on it. And thank the NetGalley gods because my request was granted! I absolutely loved this anthology! It was so wonderful to pick this book up and see so many stories that I recognized. It was just everything and made me really soft, and squishy!


➼ The Sacrifice by Rin Chupeco

Welcome to another book that would be listed in my top five favorite reads of 2022! Rin Chupeco has easily become one of my new favorite authors. There’s something about her writing that I just get sucked into and it makes me devour any of her books in such a short time. I was really excited about this book because it has to do with colonization, gentrification, and how when foreigners come to a place that isn’t their own, they constantly demand and take. That aside, the mythology of this book was so captivating! I absolutely loved that I kept falling down rabbit holes of research. It was just a fantastic time and if you’re a horror/thriller lover then I definitely recommend putting The Sacrifice on your radar!


➼ Gallant by V. E. Schwab

2022 was the year of reading my first V.E. Schwab book! Yes, yes it’s true! Gallant was my first book by Schwab that I ever read and honestly, I might be turning into a Schwab fan. Gallant really touched a part of my soul that I wasn’t expecting to have touched. Honestly, I was kind of nervous going into this book because I was hearing a lot of mixed things about this book. But I fell in love and I sobbed. This book was beautiful and now that I’m reading The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, I’m just hooked and emotional.


➼ The Adventure Zone: Petals to the Metal by Clint McElroy, Griffin McElroy, Justin McElroy, Travis McElroy, & Carey Pietsch

✨ The Adventure Zone: Here There Be Gerblins â˜…★★★★
✨ The Adventure Zone: Murder on the Rockport Limited! â˜…★★★★

Look, I read a lot of graphic novels during 2022! It couldn’t be helped and plus, you know I’m an absolute gremlin for graphic novels and manga! And it should be no surprise that I’m continuing on with this series. I really love the Adventure Zone series. I know there’s a podcast for this series, but the graphic novels have just been a true blessing! They have been so good for my mental health and the times I’ve gotten slumpy, and this one might just be my favorite of the series as a whole.


Wow wow wow! I’m really proud of this post and looking back at all the amazing reads that I read has been such a lovely thing to do. It was really nice to go back through and read each review individually. I’m all soft and squishy now! Honestly, I would have listed more, but it would have been a whole lot of comics or graphic novels. Plus, I have a super secret post in the works and I couldn’t list two of the books because of that post. I hope you all enjoyed this post, though! Maybe you found a book that you want to read or maybe you’ve read some of these books. Either way, come chat with me in the comments below about some of your favorite books of 2022! Until the next post, I hope you’re staying hydrated and kicking the new year off with some fantastic books! 💚

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Uncategorized

Mini Reviews | Cancer Ships Aquarius, Titan, The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires

Salutations everyone! I hope you’re staying hydrated and getting plenty of rest. Welcome to 2023, the year where I continue writing mini reviews for books that I’ve read, but never got around to writing the review for them. Today I just have three mini reviews for you. These books have been waiting to be reviewed for a while now and I’m really glad I’m finally getting around to sharing my thoughts with all of you. These reviews are ranked in order from highest star rating (5 stars) to my lowest read (2 stars). Without out any further delay, let’s jump into the reviews!


➼ Cancer Ships Aquarius by Anyta Sunday

✨ Leo Loves Aries (Signs of Love #1) â˜…★★★★
✨ Leo Tops Aries (Signs of Love #1.5) â˜…★★★★
✨ Scorpio Hates Virgo (Signs of Love #2) â˜…★★★★
✨ Gemini Keeps Capricorn (Signs of Love #3) â˜…★★★
✨ Pisces Hooks Taurus (Signs of Love #4) ★★★★

Content/Trigger Warnings: Loss of loved ones, grief, brief mentions of child abandonment, thalassophobia (fear of the ocean), anxiety, mention of heart condition & heart attack, accidental underage drinking, mentioned brief homelessness, child abuse/neglect (in the past), trauma/PTSD flashbacks

This is a far overdue review and I’m happy to say that I’m finally sitting down to give this review. This is probably my favorite book out of the whole series so far! I absolutely fell in love with this book, with the characters, and the fact that compared to all the other books in this series, this book does something the rest doesn’t give us. I ate this book up so fast and honestly, I want more books that are like this one.

Reid Glover has spent his whole life being abandoned, left in the breeze by those he cares about most. Now with his best friends moving in together, Reid finds himself once again losing his home. Desperate for cash and a place to stay until he can figures things out, he interviews for a position as a live-in manny position aboard widowed Sullivan Bell’s yacht. But things aren’t going to be that simple and thirteen-year-old Joanna doesn’t want or need a manny, but she does want to give her dad a friend, maybe even something more. This grumpy sunshine duo is about to shake up each other’s worlds!

Did you hear me? Read it again and say it really loud for those in the back… WIDOWED father of a thirteen-year-old daughter! YES PLEASE! I say this all the time, I want to see literature give us second chance romances with a single/widowed parent. I get it if authors are worried about if there’s a desire/market for that, but I’m telling you that this was every thing I love about single/widowed parent representation in literature. We have the chaos of a single parent raising a teenager, the possibility of that parent finding love, the complex layers of it all and trying to navigate a plethora of feelings… I want more! Not to mention the widowed father literally has a grumpy personality. It was everything thing. Then you throw Reid into the mix, who’s a ray of sunshine, trying to make the best of everything and trying to make everyone happy, and it’s chef’s kiss! I briefly want to talk about Joanna too because I think her representation is just as important to highlight. Joanna is adopted and though it’s a bit of a very subtle thing on the side in the story, Joanna is navigating a whole bunch of complex feelings right along with her father. We not only see the typical teenager stuff like school and relationships, but we see more glimpses of other things from her. And I just wanted to mention how much her character stole my heart.

“Sometimes we explode in anger, sadness, frustration with little to no warning. Feelings are messy, Sullivan. Expressing them can’t always be measured.”

Also, we get some fantastic grief representation throughout this book. I think this story really did a fantastic job at highlighting how grief manifests differently in different people of various ages. All three of our characters are dealing with different forms of grief and they’re highlighted throughout this book beautifully. This was one of the major things that really made me fall in love with this book. In my opinion, I think the author handled the grief representation really well, showed how messy and chaotic grief can be, shows that no matter how much time passes, grief never really leaves us even when we’re healing it still lingers, and shows how grief is different for each person. It was just really beautiful and for some reason, made my heart really full.

Overall, I don’t really have anything bad to say about this book and I honestly don’t want to say too much because it’s just that good. I want you to read it for yourself and decide if you like it or not. I will say, I think you could read this book by itself, but there are cameos from other characters from the previous books and I think it’s more fulfilling to read this after you read the first four in the series. But trust me, it’s really good especially if you’re someone who loves the grumpy sunshine romance dynamic.


➼ Titan (Romancing His Stone #1) by Jillian Graves

Buddy Read with Destiny â™¥

Content/Trigger Warnings: Explicit dom/sub interactions, financial abusive parent relationship, mentions and threats of conservatorship, acrophobia (fear of heights), vague scenes of sexual harassment, harassment, assault, graphic violence, stalking, depictions of blood

Well, this is embarrassing. Not embarrassing by the fact that I read this book and reviewing it, but the fact that in the time since finishing this book, I have been teeter-totting on my feelings with this book. Which, let’s be honest, is why I haven’t taken it upon myself to write this review… until now. Honestly, I had originally rated this a lot higher because I was so caught up in the fast pace of this book. However, once the dust settled and I came down off the rush, my feelings were on a fast decline. I was really excited about a gargoyle romance especially when you start reading this book and it feels like Gargoyles fanfiction. This novella didn’t turn out the way I had hoped or even the way I initially thought I felt.

Titan is on a mission to recover the Keystone, a precious artifact to the gargoyles and all Strange (what paranormal creatures are called in this world). When he meets Jules on a stake out one night, both of their worlds will soon collide. Jules will be thrown into a world of the paranormal, where monsters she thought were once fantasy, actually exist and Titan will discover a pull unlike any other even more noticeable than the pull he has for the Keystone. Nothing will ever be the same again.

Look, the first part of this book was really fun. I love when a character who’s has to constantly be on the alert, in constant survival mode, gets to take their hair down and enjoy life a little. I also love that we get a lot of consent and respectfulness of boundaries in the bedroom. Fantastic, I love to see consent and boundaries being taken seriously. I also really liked how Titan was angry for Jules when no one else was and genuinely wanted to help Jules. Also, I thought the chemistry between the two main characters was really good in the beginning. And all of that combined made for a really fun, good time to be had for my reading experience, in the beginning.

Sadly, this is the extent of good things I have to say. Honestly, I feel like I’m still being generous and I think it’s just due to this being a gargoyle romance. Things really started to fall to pieces for the remaining three quarters of the book. The pacing of the book picks up pretty quickly and it’s very easy to get swept up in the rush. Which is exactly what happened to me.

While Titan was respectful of Julianne in the bedroom, that was the full extent of the respect for boundaries we see. Titan fully disregards Jules’ wishes and boundaries constantly any other time. I don’t know about anyone else, but I love when my boundaries are respected 24/7. This boiled my blood and even more so when we find out everything that Jules is going through, and why she does things the way she does. I was really upset that consent and boundaries were basically thrown out the window, and didn’t matter if it wasn’t in the bedroom. Boundaries aren’t a piece of clothing that you can take on and off. Boundaries are something that should be respected at all times.

On the topic of boundaries, this applies to one scene in particular that I thought had no place being in the book and actually messed up the entire vibe of the book in general. This part in particular ended up leaving a really bad taste in my mouth because it genuinely felt so… unnecessary. We have a scene where Titan not only fully disregards Jules’ request to stay out of it, don’t do anything reckless, but it’s a scene of full assault to someone from Jules’ life that hurt her. This completely took me out of the storyline, took me out of the romance, and it was in that moment that I really didn’t care what happened to Titan. Titan could have been killed off and I wouldn’t even bat an eye because any ounce of interest I had was thrown out the widow the minute the author decided to add an unnecessary, graphically violent scene of assault into the book. Not to mention, this scene didn’t even tie in with the main storyline and the author really wrote Titan in the aftermath as doing Jules a kindness. No, NO, this was not a kindness and this scene never had to happen in the first place.

With all that aside, the main leads of our story become almost unbearable by the end of the book. Jules constantly takes on a petty, childish tone and personality where she’s literally doing shit to piss Titan off or doesn’t even try to have a proper conversation when Titan does something she’s not okay with. As I already mentioned, Titan really started to really annoy me and piss me off. In the beginning his character wasn’t terrible, but by halfway through, he was just becoming overly aggressive or even passive aggressive at some points, and I’m not a fan of that kind of behavior. By the end of this book, I genuinely didn’t care what would happen to either of them because I was so annoyed by how they were acting more childish than like adults.

Overall, I wanted to love this so much and I think my desire of wanting a gargoyle romance for so long really shadowed how I felt about this book, and showed the many notes taken on issues I was having with it. This book could have been everything for my gargoyle loving heart and it just fell short in so many ways. I think if you’re someone who values boundaries a lot, you’re not going to enjoy this book. Honestly, you can find books that value boundaries a lot better, with characters in many other adult romance books than this one. If you’re just someone looking for a fast read or a potential fun time, then give this a try and see how you feel, but personally I wouldn’t recommend for any other reason.


➼ The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix

Buddy with Destiny â™¥

Content/Trigger Warnings: Mentions of misogyny, mentions of bullying, gore, blood, violence, graphic injuries, dead animals, graphic animal deaths, mentions of animal abuse, mentions of burying someone alive, mentions of kidnapping, brief mentions of a miscarriage, alcoholism, brief mentions of a hanging (in the past), loss of loved ones, scene of attempted suicide, scene of overdosing, scenes of emesis, nudity, talk of rape, mentions of domestic violence, mentions of racism, scenes of gaslighting

Okay, okay… This has been the review I have been DREADING. Let me make this clear, this is not a bad book, but this wasn’t my cup of tea, I’m definitely not the targeted audience for this specific horror, and that’s perfectly okay. I’m stating all of this because reasons (don’t ask). Truly though, there’s nothing wrong with this book. I think I just wanted more of certain things when it comes to my horror and instead of getting just that, I got something else entirely that just left me unsatisfied and frustrated.

We follow Patricia Campbell, who’s dreamed of having a big life, but that’s not how things turned out. After leaving her career as a nurse to marry an ambitious doctor and become a stay at home mother, Patricia is left with a void in her life. With a husband is distant and too busy for her and their children, two kids who are ungrateful and don’t appreciate her, and a never ending to-do list, Patricia feels like she’s drowning. The only thing that makes things a little more tolerable is her book club, a group of Charleston mothers united only by their love for true-crime and suspenseful fiction. However, when strange events begin to happen and children start to go missing, every thing seems to point to the mysterious stranger who just moved to town. What will be uncovered will be much more terrifying and Patricia and her book club might be the only thing to stop it.

“it made no sense, but sometimes you did a thing because that was just what you did, not because it was sensible.”

I’m not even sure how to even begin unpacking this review. I guess we’ll start with our villain of the book, James. I loved that the author wasn’t afraid to take the iconic vampire and reimagine it into a serial killer. I think being able to take iconic monsters and reimagine them into modern day monsters can be a great way to breathe life into them. Then have the vampire cross paths with those in a book club who read mostly true crime, mystery, sci-fi books… Who wouldn’t be invested and waiting to see the chaos explode everywhere? It was one of the most intriguing, attention captivating things about this whole book. James character as a whole was incredibly impactful and the scenes we get him, you felt how cunning and manipulative he was. You felt the power in those really intense scenes. It was really well done.

Out of all the characters in this book, thank you Mrs. Greene for existing because any scene with her was fantastic! I loved how much of a spitfire Mrs. Greene was and wasn’t afraid of calling people out. Tie that with how she’s the only one who knows what’s going on and cares enough that she’s been trying for a hot minute to do something about the missing children. I just really enjoyed her character and maybe it’s because there’s a part of me that felt connected to her or understands her better than all the other characters we’re given. She was a gem and I adored her.

“These false prophets come wandering into town, take hold of your mind, and lead you down a primrose path… People fall for honeyed words.”

Those are the only things I can actively remember enjoying. From the time I finished this book to the time of writing this review, those were the only good things that I still think about and remember vividly to this very moment. Everything else in this book was a struggle horrendous struggle. If I’m being really honest, I pushed myself to finished this book because I desperately wanted to love it, to have the experience other readers were having when they said how amazing this book was, and I think the fear of missing out really impacted how burned out I got trying to read through this book.

I think the thing I struggled the most with this book was the pacing. For me, the pacing felt incredibly off. It would start out slow, have an action packed scene that picked up the pace, and then the pace would slow down again. Typically when I read my books, I want an out of the gate fast pace or I want that slow build into a faster pace trickling into a slow, smooth end. This book was neither of those paces. So that really hindered me with the reading. And I think the overuse of details really bogged that pacing as well. There were many chapters where things felt like they were being dragging out. Not necessarily due to details, but just the way some of the some of the moments were built. It was like trying to run through quick sand for me.

I also struggled caring about the characters like Patricia and the rest of the book club. While I thought they were all unique in their own ways and how close they were, having each other’s backs, I just didn’t care what happened to them. Patricia was the hardest character to like (and this goes back into what I said earlier about how Mrs. Greene’s perspective would have been better) because there was nothing there that allowed me to connect with her. I simply didn’t care and it was that way for all of them. They were all interesting in their own way and it was great to see their personalities come together, but I just didn’t care whether any of them lived or died.

I think my biggest issue with this book is the way mental health and rape are handled. I don’t see anyone talking about this in their reviews and so I thought I’d like to throw my two cents into the ring. As someone who has experience with both of these topics. My issue isn’t with the fact that the author writes about how women were treated in the mid-late 1800s when it came to the main character and side characters acting independent or speaking up (you know, the era when women could be committed into asylums for breaking the social norm). My issue is the fact the author thought it was necessary to add in an attempted suicide for shock value, a means to push the story along into a future tense, and then to add salt to injury, have an entire scene near the end of the book where the main character is basically gaslight for how everything played out. That’s my issue. The same issues also tie in with the fact the author uses rape as a plot device and for shock value. Look, I don’t mind shock value for a lot of things, but you know, I would have preferred the character to be killed off quickly than have that whole scene happen and then be dragged out over chapters, having it be kept a secret, and then for things to turn out the way they did. When I say I’m left angry, speechless, and heartbroken that we’re still living in an age where instead of writing about these topics to address or call out the still standing problems of the healthcare system and the social problems for these two topics, that we’re using them as plot devices in a non-constructive way (these didn’t even need to be in the book in the first place). What more can I say except this just wasn’t it. These didn’t need to be included in this book and yet an active choice was made, and it wasn’t a good one.

Also, I want to add this little note that I had expected a lot more from this book. I was expecting to feel a lot more dread, a lot more sense of impending doom, and more gore and death. However, that was not the case. I spent the majority of the book wondering and expecting to feel something, but it just never happened and it was a bit of a disappointment.

Overall, I’m just going to wrap up this review here. Writing this review has felt very tedious and mentally draining. Again, I chalk this up as not the intended audience or not the book for me. So take my review with a grain of salt. I’m just one voice in the sea of voices. I think this book had the opportunity to be many things, but unfortunately it fell short on so many things for me. I think if you like this author’s writing and other books to give this book a chance, and see how you feel.


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Misc.

Favorite Non-Bookish Things 2022

At the end of every year, as a new blog tradition, I always try to write down at least ten things that have helped make a year better or perhaps helped make the year more tolerable. Basically, the things that allowed me to keep my sanity instead of descending into madness. Each year, these things can vary from things that brought me great joy to things that have brought me great comfort during the year. 2022 became a year of discovering that there was a lot of toxic things in my life and I spent the majority of 2022 cutting those things out completely. Also, I spent a lot of that time really making an effort to work through the scars that were left by a lot of those toxic things. Needless to say, by the time December hit, I have been exhausted, burned out, and I had to retreat into my gremlin cave quite a bit. So apologies in advance for just disappearing out of nowhere. I promise, we’ll sit down at a later time and catch up, a life update, but for now, enjoy these ten things that made a difference during 2022.


➸ 1. Squishmallows

I talk about mental health, chronic illness, and stuffed animals A LOT. All the time, actually. In 2022, I discovered Squishmallows and as someone who has sensory issues, severe anxiety, permanent PTSD, and more, these little plushies have been a big changer for me. They’ve helped make traveling by car a little easier, they’ve helped with talking and communicating with others during a flashback or helped with sleep during a night terror, etc… I know many people may not understand or maybe you do because you also like stuffed animals. They’ve really been making things so much better for me and I had to make sure they took the first spot on this list.


➸ 2. Weighted & Electric Heated Blanket

As I mentioned above, I have chronic illnesses, chronic pain and endometriosis to be exact, and I’m always looking for ways to help manage my levels of pain outside of medication. Enter my wedding anniversary present from my spouse. This has been a changer for my pain levels. While this doesn’t fully get rid of the pain, it makes things a little more tolerable when the pain is incredibly high. The weight of this blanket also helps with my sleeping as well. If you like weighted blankets or you use a weighted blanket to help with anxiety, sleeping pattens, or to help aid with night terrors then you might be interested in this blanket. I really love mine and it’s helped a lot. So I had to put it on this list.


➸ 3. Crystals

Crystals! Yes, crystals! In some of my book posts, you may have seen some crystals popping up. I have always been a lover and collector of crystals, but this year I’ve been rebuilding my collection due to having a lot of my pieces stolen from me. So I’ve been rebuilding and honestly, I forgot how much I loved searching for particular pieces, and then finally getting those pieces. While this has been a very emotional, soul quaking thing to do and work through, I’ve been enjoying my time searching, hunting, and finding. I’ve missed stepping foot in crystal shops and connecting with others who enjoy crystals. It’s been emotional, but I’ve been enjoying many parts of this process and it’s been a big part, since the summer of 2022.


➸ 4. Cozy Grove

As you may or may not know, I absolutely love gaming! I play a wide plethora of games from Dead By Daylight to Cyberpunk 2077, all the way to the cozier, more casual games like Cozy Grove! If you’re a lover of Animal Crossing or even Stardew Valley, I have to recommend this cozy, casual game. I have recently been reconnecting with my love of Cozy Grove and helping the bear spirits on this island. After the developers released the dlc, I have been playing as much as possible. It surprised me how much I missed this game, but it’s the perfect game for when my brain has very little brain power and I don’t have the mental capacity to read anything. I do want to emphasize that this game is a day based game. There’s only so much you’ll be able to do, like Animal Crossing. If you end up picking this game up or checking it out, definitely let me know your thoughts and which bear spirit is your favorite!


➸ 5. Coral Island

Another game! Coral Island has been another game that’s really nice to curl up with and decompress after a rough day. Coral Island has easily become one of my favorite games. It might even become one of my top ten favorite games. There is a wide plethora of things to do in this game, but the true highlight of this game is the diverse cast! There are so many diverse characters in this game like single, romanecable characters, body diversity, characters with scarring, a character with stretch marks, a plethora of characters of color, and so much more! This is one of the most diverse games, especially farming sim wise, I’ve seen be put into production. Now, this is an early access game which means the developers are still working on the game, still adding things, etc… So the game isn’t fully released yet, but if you’re a gamer, a farm simulator lover, or a casual game lover then you need to put Coral Island on your radar!


➸ 6. Waterloo Sparkling Water

I don’t know when I started going really hard for seltzer water, but this year was a huge year for seltzer water in my life. The funny thing is before 2022 I was never a seltzer water drinker or lover. Honestly, I drank kombucha more than I ever did seltzer water. Until I had a friend recommend it to me during a game night of Dead By Daylight. So when I found a case and gave it a chance, I was completely surprised how much I enjoyed it. That moment was a huge game changer and now it’s one of my go-to drinks for game nights, nights when I decompress and want something refreshing yet fizzy.

➸ 7. Hiking

Hiking has been taking over my life. In 2021 I picked up a lot of hiking gear and started hiking different trails and different places around my state. One of the places I end up hiking had actual ruins and waterfalls, and it was such a magical experience. Nature has always been a source of restoring my soul, finding balance within myself, and just always breathes new life into me. Truly, I’ve been trying to go on as many nature adventures as possible in 2022 even getting the chance to go to a beach for the first time in a long, long while! I’m hoping to carry this over into 2023 and continue going on nature adventures in the future.


➸ 8. Plants

Honestly, out of everything on this list, this one surprised me the most. Green became the color of 2022 as I began picking up plants any time I had to run to Home Depot. I’m not sure exactly when this started in 2022, but I’ve always had succulents or cacti in my home. 2022 just became a year where flowers and various types of plants started to brighten every table, every window sill, and even in the more low light areas, splash hues of green in them. Though we’re still house hunting and prepping our current home for market, it hasn’t stopped me from checking out all the plants in stores or stopping at local plant shops and greenhouses.


➸ 9. Rain Lofi

Rain lofi has been such a blessing with trying to focus during work, doing things at home, working on projects, and even reading. For all the reading I did this year, rain lofi was right by my side. Though I do feel like every time I make one of these lists, I’m just recommending the newest lofi video I’m listening to or watching while doing stuff. Truly, the lofi help. Just like asmr, the lofi music has been such a lovely way to help me stay productive in 2022. Even on my off days, rainy lofi helps me through it.


➸ 10. Fruit Snacks

Look… LOOK… Don’t question on why these are on this list, okay? 2022 was the year I thrived because of fruit snacks in my home and they have helped with making sure I’m taking care of myself. A lot of times having a pack or two reminds me of needing to make meals or they’re there for me when I need a snack break, to get that brain fuel going again. They also serve as a great snack for traveling, reading, working, and just for so many occasions. They’ve even helped on the hard days, the bad brain days, or the days when the chronic illnesses make things difficult. Now I keep two giant boxes of fruit snacks in my pantry and scatter them all throughout my home, and bags, just in case!


I feel like 2022 was a year that really highlighted the importance of self-care and taking better care of mental health. You know, I think that’s okay though. You’ll always have years that are ups and downs, and that smack you in the face with constant reminders. With 2022 now behind us, I’m truly hoping 2023 will be like a breath of fresh air for us. I want each and every one of us to prioritize self-care, self-love, boundaries & limits, and most importantly, the moments we’ll remember to infinity and beyond. And in case no one has told you, I’m proud of you for surviving another year (whatever that may have looked like)! I’m hoping with all my chest that 2023 is kinder, more gentle, filled with warmth and love, and plenty of rest for all of us. Let me know in the comments below some of the things that brought you joy or comfort in 2022, and I’ll catch you in the next post! 💚

✨ Favorite Non-Bookish Things: 2019|2020|2021

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Uncategorized

Mini Reviews | The Sky Watched: Poems of Ojibwe Lives, The Sockeye Mother, If I Go Missing, Night of the Living Rez: Stories, & What the Chickadee Knows

Salutations friends! I’m back with some more mini reviews! I hope you don’t mind that this is going to be a larger mini reviews post than usual. Today I’m going to be talking about five Indigenous books and recommend them to you. Yes! Yes you reader! If you’re looking to diversify your reading, wanting to read more literature by Native/Indigenous then I think these books are a good place to start. However, these book are unapologetically Indigenous and know that I loved each of these books with my whole dang chest! Anyway, here are five books that I’ve loved so far for the month of November! ♥


🪶 The Sky Watched: Poems of Ojibwe Lives by Linda LeGarde Grover
Finished copy provided by Univ Of Minnesota Press.

Content/Trigger Warnings: Talk of Residential schools, abuse, trauma/PTSD, generational trauma, loss of loved ones, grief

I sobbed. Friends, I have sobbed all through this book, I cried after finishing this book, and even now as I write up this review I’m getting teary eyed. For starters, look at this cover. I’m in love with it! It’s absolutely stunning and I just needed to point this out to everyone. That aside, this book is such a loud book. It’s raw, incredibly important, and the kind of book that you need to sit on after you finish it, to feel the weight and emotions that you’ve read through. However, I always get super mushy when something is unapologetically Native/Indigenous.

This poetry collection is a collection that reflects on the experience in Ojibwe lives. Moments on boarding schools and Wounded Knee, but lacing the important moments of love, family, and culture throughout these pages. A poetry collection that encourages the reader to sit upon the weight of the history that Turtle Island (now known as North America or The United States & Canada) was subjected to, to encourage reflection and acknowledgement of how this history still carries into today. To encourage the reader to take their time reading with this book.

If I had to say anything negative about this collection, I think it would be that there are no resources for non-Native/non-Indigenous readers to follow up on with reading. I know many non-Native/non-Indigenous readers tend to struggle with connecting with Native/Indigenous literature and I think it would have been helpful if there were more resources linking to even more stories from Ojibwe people. HOWEVER, I will say/argue that Google is free, articles on Native/Indigenous history is free, YouTube is free, most Nations have their own websites linking their histories, stories and resources. All the sources are literally out there at your fingers tips, you just have to actually put in the work to find those resources. It shouldn’t be the Native/Indigenous author’s responsibility to do all the work for you.

Some of my favorites:

➸ Sea Smoke on Gichigami
➸ Mary Remembering, on a July Afternoon
➸ Redemption

Overall, I really enjoyed my time reading this poetry collection. This collection made my heart very mushy, very soft, and really emotional. This is so much more than just a poetry collection and the powerfulness, the loudness of this book is just immaculate. I don’t think this book will be for everyone and I think there will be readers who struggle with this because there are poems that use the Ojibwe language. However, I love when an author uses their first language and does it unapologetically, and this book is very unapologetically Native/Indigenous. It was just a fantastic read and I can’t recommend it enough to those who want to read more Native/Indigenous literature.


🪶 The Sockeye Mother by Hetxw’ms Gyetxw (Brett D. Huson) & Natasha Donovan

This book was stunning! Stunning! From the story to the artwork, I absolutely fell in love with this book. I’m truly grateful to a friend who recommended this book to me and needless to say… I’ve already bought book two and added the rest of the series to many of my wishlists. I’m really excited to read the rest of the series and experience more of the Mothers of Xsan, and the stories from the Gitxsan Nation of British Columbia!

To the Gitxsan Nation of British Columbia, the sockeye salmon is more than their source of food, but also important to their survival. This book reflects how the circle of life impacts everything. From birth to death, everything in an ecosystem is impacted and even the smallest creature has an important role. We see that through the cycle of the sockeye salmon in this book and how it contributes to the Gitxsan Nation.

The biggest thing I want to highlight about this book is the role the sockeye salmon has. We don’t just see the sockeye salmon ecologically, but we see it culturally for the Gitxsan Nation, as well. This is the main point of this whole entire book. Everything is connected to each other and I think this book does a fantastic job at highlighting this for readers. Far too often, we tend to forget how even the smallest thing can make the biggest ripples. The author wrote this book in a way to not only highlight this, but causes the reader to reflect and really think about, well, literally everything that is life.

The other thing I was super happy about was the highlighted vocabulary words. This book does a really good job providing that for those special key words. I really love that and really appreciate the author taking the time to do that. And this makes it an ever better reading experience if you’re reading this book with younger readers. I think it adds so much to the reading experience and I enjoyed taking the time to read the little boxes. Speaking of vocabulary, we see Gitxsan language being used and it makes my heart so full. I love when authors use their first language unapologetically in their books. There’s also a Gitxsan Moons vocabulary chart in the back of the book too. I love that this little detail was added to just add to Gitxsan being used throughout this book! We love to see it!

“Little does this small sockeye fry know that its life cycle not only nourishes the people and other beings along the watersheds, it is the whole reason the forests and landscapes exist.”

Let’s talk about the artwork within this book. Holy cow, the illustrations are gorgeous. Some of the pages I want to frame and hang on the wall because it’s so beautiful. The way the colors play and compliment each page individually is captivating and constantly drawing the eye to soak up all the details on each page. Not to mentions, in the back of the book there’s an illustrated map that shows where the four clans are located. It’s everything in a map that I want. Immaculate. Truly immaculate.

Overall, I loved this book. What more can I possibly say about this book. To me, this book is flawless and perfect to read with readers of all ages. Plus, you’re never too old to learn something new. As I’ve already mentioned, I’m excited to continue with this series. I believe there’s five or six books total and I’m excited to continue on. I recommend giving this a chance as it’s a shorter read and perfect for those who want to dip their toes into Native/Indigenous literature.


🪶 If I Go Missing by Brianna Jonnie, Nahanni Shingoose, Neal Shannacappo (Illustrations)

Content/Trigger Warnings: Talk about MMIWG2S, racism

This is an illustrated book that’s inspired by the letter written by 14 year-old, Brianna Jonnie to Winnipeg’s chief of police, addressing how white children are framed in a better light over those who are Native/Indigenous. And when those who are Native/Indigenous do go missing, making the news, they’re always framed in a stereotypical light that dehumanizes them. This is the story highlighting what it means to be Native/Indigenous and the constant worry Native/Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit people face should they go missing.

This book made me really emotional for so many reasons, hit so close to home and I was very raw after reading this book. I don’t think there’s enough words to convey, even now, how I feel right now writing this review. As an Apache person, I spent many moments in my life where this was my biggest concern and moments where I almost turned into a missing person. So this left me feeling very seen and very vulnerable all in one. This also touches a personal side to my family that too personal talk about and I don’t feel comfortable sharing, but it hit close in that regards too. So I was feeling very vulnerable and very emotional for so many reasons.

There’s also plenty of resources in the back of the book along with the letter that was written. For those who enjoy having websites to follow up on this with, this is the book for you. There are six website links to various resources and it’s great to get more familiar with MMIW & MMIWG2S. So if you wanted resources to learn more about the hardships Native/Indigenous people face, I recommend starting with this book.

Overall, I don’t want to say too much other than I really enjoy this book, despite all the tears shed. Again, this book hit very close to home and just writing a review is making me feel some kind of way. If you’re looking to dip your toes into Native/Indigenous literature, but you don’t want to start with a book that’s going to bathe you in the cold hard, historical truth for hundreds of pages, then pick this book up. Its informative, provides statements, follow up links for further education, and isn’t too long that you may feel over-stimulated. Its a good starting point for everyone and I highly recommend it!


🪶 Night of the Living Rez by Morgan Talty

ALC was given by Libro.fm & Tin House Books in exchange for an honest review.

Content/Trigger Warnings: Violence, alcoholism, drug addiction, scenes of emesis, poverty, talk of dementia, talk of infertility, brief mentions of postpartum depression, loss of a child, loss of a loved one, death

This was the perfect audiobook for long drives to go hiking, friends. I’m not going to lie, I think because I was listening to the audiobook and hiking while doing so, it added to how much I enjoyed it and how quickly I flew through this book. Though honestly, I was a little salty that I couldn’t update my reading progress of the audiobook as I was listening, but it’s fine, everything is fine. I really enjoyed this and I can’t wait to tell you about it!

Night of the Living Rez is a short story collection portraying the life of Maine’s Native Penobscot Nation. Stories of layered friendships, dysfunctional family dynamics, addiction in Native/Indigenous communities, trauma, the way poverty influences us and some of the decisions we make, and so much more! Though there are many, MANY heavy moments, Talty laces funny and light moments to help balance the heavier moments. All these stories from different points of time come together to make a collection that you’ll think about days after you finished reading this book.

If you were expecting a horror book or a light read, then let me emphasize that this book is probably not the book you’re looking for. This book has many dark moments that are brutal, that will gut you or make your heart wrench. Morgan Talty has stated in multiple interviews that he didn’t want to write Native/Indigenous people in a way that’s “easy, comfortable tour of Indian Country.” You can find one of those interviews HERE. The author wanted to write these characters, this family, in a way that humanizes them and breaks down the stereotypical image. To show those struggles and that constant fight for survival, when you’re at the bottom of the barrel and no one addresses it, but those who constantly go through it. So that’s why I say make sure you’re in a good mental place and to check out content warnings. This is beautifully written, but there’s a lot of heavy topics.

I really enjoyed the audiobook. I really want to put emphasis on this because I’ve seen a few reviews stating they didn’t like the physical form of this book. For me, I think the audiobook is what brought balance to the time shifts. I think if I had read the physical copy, the shift in time might have been a little jarring or overwhelming. However, I think the transitions were really well done in the audiobook and it helps with the way the narrator handles those transitions.

However, while I did enjoy this book, I did have one issue when it came to the audiobook. I wish that the audiobook would of had multiple narrators. Sometimes the voices of certain characters would blend together and it was a little hard to tell who was who. I think if they had a full cast for this book or even two narrators, it would have improved the listening experience. Other than that, I think the only issue that some readers may find, is the flow of the story and the time shifts. As I stated above, I think the audiobook helped in the regard, but I can understand why many readers didn’t feel this book was a short story collection.

Overall, I think this will be a very polarizing book among readers. I think people will either love this book or really not like this book. Again, I emphasize, this isn’t a horror book, but a book that leans more contemporary and deals with very heavy topics. Despite this, I really enjoyed this collection. As someone who has family members who live on the rez, some of the stories hit close to home for me concerning one of my cousins. Plus, I was listening to this while I was out hiking in the woods and it added to the feelings I was already feeling when I go to get lost in the woods. I still recommend this book. Even if you think you might not like it, I encourage you to give it a chance as this book does have themes that impact Native/Indigenous communities.


🪶 Watch the Chickadee Knows by Margaret Noodin

“I know there are different worlds
because our ancestors sent them messages
because lost lovers now live in them
because you just said that right now.”

Another book that made me soft, teary eyed, and squishy! I loved this book so, so much. I think when I was taking notes and updating my reading progress I said something along the lines of, “Not me five pages in and sobbing over chickdees!” I just loved this poetry collection so much and the fact that it’s both in Anishinaabemowin and English was such an incredibly thing to see. This was such a captivating read that’s laced with deeper meanings to things and even though this is a quiet book, it’s so loud. This collection highlights the importance of traditions and relationships, but we also see history and connections, many connections, to nature.

“Whether we hear giji-giji-gaane-shii-shii or chick-a-dee-dee-dee depends on how we have been taught to listen. Our world is shaped by the sounds around us and the filter we use to turn thoughts into words.”

Overall, I don’t want to spoil too much because I think this collection is better when you go into it without knowing too much about it. It’s just a better experience when you go into it with an open heart and open mind. I wish as a kid I’d seen more books like this that had the dual languages. I think if I had books like this as a kid, it would have been absolutely everything. If you’re a poetry lover, I definitely have to recommend this to you. Plus, this cover is probably one of my favorite covers of all time, but I’m also very sentimental of chickadees.


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Monthly TBR

November 2022 TBR | Native Heritage Month

We’re still here! All you have to do is LOOK!

Wow, I really brought the spice and a TBR post after… months? Months? MONTHS! We love to see it, yes we do! Though I am trying to desperately manifest strong reading vibes after a month worth of slumpy reading energy, not going to lie. But I digress. Not only are we in the autumnal season, but I’m on a really strong, positive reading streak right now (okay, not fully positive, there was one little hiccup) and I want to keep the ball rolling as we descend into November. Also known as, Native American Heritage Month! Yes, yes that’s where my fiery spice came from for this post. Look, I’m not going to sit here and rant, educate, etc… for the millionth time. Go check out my November 2020 TBR post for some links of Indigenous content creators, some educational links, etc… if you’re interested.

This month I’m specifically focusing on Native joy (because let’s be honest, it’s not talked about enough or given enough love) and some amazing Indigenous books that I’m super excited about getting to this month. Technically I could have read these at any given time, but as I mentioned, I spent a whole month in a bad slump and I couldn’t find the motivation to really read. The most I did was one book and then I was solely focused on gaming. That’s basically the whole story of what happened in September. ANYWAY, this month is going to be a good one, I just know it… I can feel it! I quickly want to mention (before we get into this ambitious tbr) that not all the books I want to read are on this list. My tbr for this month is massive because I’ve been essentially hoarding Native/Indigenous books just so I can put a heavy spotlight on them. Plus, books aren’t cheap, so it’s been a gradual build up to this point in time. So without my further descent into chaos, here is my stunning TBR for the month of November!


➸ Venco by Cherie Dimaline
February 7th, 2023 by William Morrow
ARC was given by William Morrow & HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review.
🌻 Empire of Wild ★★★★

This is kind of the book that has sparked this whole tbr and is probably what’s going to shape my tbrs up till February 2023. I really enjoyed Empire of Wild and was really captured by Cherie’s writing style. So I’m really excited that I was sent an arc for this book. If I can’t get to this arc this month, one of the upcoming months will have this on it and it’ll be the biggest priority. Plus, the synopsis sounds so good!

➸ The Star That Always Stays by Anna Rose Johnson
July 12th, 2022 by Holiday House
ARC was given by Holiday House in exchange for an honest review.

Okay, I’m a little late on this one, but to be fair, I didn’t receive my arc copy till end of July/early August and well, you all know what happened with September. So, I’m making this arc a high priority for this month. However, I’m a little nervous going in because I have a feeling I’m going to get really emotional about this book especially being an urban Native. So I’m prepping the tissue boxes for this one!

➸ Night of the Living Rez: Stories by Morgan Talty
July 5th, 2022 by Tin House Books
ALC was given by Libro.fm & Tin House Books in exchange for an honest review.

Another book I’m late to the party on, but thankfully this is an audiobook and I have no doubt that I won’t be able to breeze through it. Yeah, I’m back on my audiobook kick and it feels so good! However, I’m really excited to dive into this read and hopefully, maybe, convince my spouse to come along for the ride on this read with me.

➸ Making Love with the Land: Essays by Joshua Whitehead
November 15th, 2022 by Univ Of Minnesota Press
ALC was given by Libro.fm & Univ Of Minnesota Press in exchange for an honest review.

This is a newly acquired aalc for me! Which if you couldn’t tell, this book will be available this month! I’m so blessed, so privileged to have received an early copy of this book through Libro.fm and this is the other book that has kind of spurred a very massive November tbr. Between this book and Venco, the two of them have kind of kicked me into gear to make an insanely massive tbr and I’m really excited to dive into this soon! It’s also an audiobook and it has me even more excited!

➸ Healer of the Water Monster by Brian Young
May 11th, 2021 by Heartdrum

Though this book released last year, I’m really excited to be getting to this book in the here and now! This book centers around Navajo mythology and so this has a little soft spot in my heart. This has been a story I have been seeing come out more and more, and it fills my heart with warmth to see it. For those who may not know, the Navajo and Apache are consider cousins to each other, and so this make me really happy to see Navajo stories being brought into the spotlight for all to read and enjoy.

➸ A Snake Falls to Earth by Darcie Little Badger
November 23rd, 2021 by Levine Querido
🌻 Elatsoe ★★★★★

This book… THIS BOOK is the crown jewel of this whole entire tbr! As a Mescalero Apache reader, if you haven’t heard me sob, pop off in excitement, or even mention Darcie Little Badger then here it is right here. Ever since I found out there is an Apache author writing ya and middle grade books, winning awards for that literature, you have no idea how emotional it makes me and how much I want to throw my money at any work this author releases. If you would have told a young Malli that I would get to grow up to see an Apache author winning awards for their literature and brings forth Apache stories, I probably would have never believed you because I had never seen it before, ever. Until Darcie Little Badger released Elatsoe. And everything kind of changed after that. So the work Darcie does means a whole heck-a lot to me and while I need to re-read Elatsoe (I honestly might just buy another copy that I can highlight and tab the heck out of) to give a more in-depth review, I will be prioritizing this book greatly.

➸ The Lake House by Sarah Beth Durst
April 25th, 2023 by Harperteen
ARC was given by NetGalley & HaperTeen in exchange for an honest review.
Buddy Read with Destiny & Ashley ♥

While this isn’t a Native/Indigenous read, this is also a priority for my reading in November! Yes, it’s true, Destiny and I are back again with a buddy read, but this time we have Ashley with us! I am so excited about this buddy read with these two lovely souls. Ashley and I have been meaning to buddy read something together for a hot minute and as fate would have it, all three of us had an arc of the same book. So it’s on! It’s so freaking on and I’ve been vibrating with excitement since we all decided to buddy read this together. I’ve really been getting into the spookier, more hauntingly atmospheric reads lately and I feel very privileged and blessed to have an arc of this book.


Whew! Okay, that was a whole lot of books, but just be glad I didn’t list… everything. We might have been here all day going through all the books I want to read for this month. I’m really excited for this month though and it feels good to be making blog posts again, sharing stories, thoughts with everyone once more. I’ve felt like I’ve been holding my breath for so long and I’m just now taking a breath of fresh air. It feels really nice and I appreciate the patience everyone has had with me as life keeps throwing surprises my way. I hope each and every one of you has a lovely November, enjoys the season (whatever season you may be in), and I hope, just maybe, that some of these books caught your eye and you’ll fall in love with more Native/Indigenous literature this year. Until next time friends, I love you! 🧡

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ARC Reviews

Where Darkness Blooms by Andrea Hannah

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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 & St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.

This review is being published before the release date (February 21st, 2023)

Content/Trigger Warnings: Death, murder, depictions of blood, loss of loved ones, grief, abandonment, underage drinking, mentions of cancer (in the past), trauma, talk of rape, mentions of drugging, gun violence, violence

“The land had always been parched but it’s thirst for blood was learned.”

Wow, friends! I absolutely devoured this book! In two days, TWO days, I read and finished this book! It was just one of those books that I just couldn’t put down. I had to know what was about to happen next, I had to know if any of these characters would redeem themselves, and let me tell you, this book didn’t disappoint. It was a great, spooky, thrilling time and I was here for it! Plus, the cover, the sunflowers, lured me in and I didn’t realize how big of a role they would play!

“Where blood had been spilled, sunflowers grew over the unmarked graves.”

Our story follows the four perspectives of four friends who have all lost their mothers in the small town of Bishop, Kansas. Yet this is nothing new as women of all ages seem to disappear in the town of Bishop for a long while now. Delilah, the one who looks out for everyone, trying to keep them all safe, but who also wants to move on with her boyfriend, Bennett Harding. Whitney, twin sister to Jude, who’s grieving for the loss of her mother, but the loss of her girlfriend, Eleanor. Jude, who fines it hard to communicate with everyone, but who had a fling with Bennet Harding that summer and find herself still in love. And then there’s Bo, a soul full of rage for many a reasons and demanding answers for all the odd things that don’t add up or make sense. As strange things begin to happen and secrets come to light, these four girls will have to decide how far they’ll go to uncover the truth and to protect each other.

I had a lot of mixed feelings on these characters and I feel like I have to say, these characters aren’t perfect. They’re flawed and morally grey, and they may not be quite what you expect. Though, I really loved Bo and Whitney as characters. Both of these characters felt raw in their own way and I really loved the way the author built them up to the very end of the book. I think they both got the endings they deserved and even though both of their endings were still emotional, it was still nice to see their story wrap up the way it did. However, I really didn’t like Delilah or Jude, especially Jude. Even at the end of the book I still felt Jude hadn’t redeemed herself in anyway possible and I almost wish she had been killed off or the author went the obvious route with Jude’s character. Delilah, on the other hand, I just didn’t personally connect with. And I also want to say that the way Delilah’s character is written, it almost seems like Delilah has a sensory disorder or sensory sensitive, but then later on in the book it’s addressed as some special ability to “detect evil” and it made me feel a little weird and uncomfortable at times. So that was a whole thing that added to the mixed feelings about Delilah’s character as a whole. Needless to say, I had a 50/50 split when it came to these characters.

“So much had happened in the last two years. They had all lost so much. But no one had lost all that Bo had. No one wanted to be found as much as she did.”

The mystery of this whole story was so captivating and I’m so glad I was wrong about the sunflowers. Look, I can’t help that the cover made me believe there might be killer sunflowers in this book, okay? I’m so glad I was wrong though! Sunflowers hold the meaning of adoration and loyalty, but it can also hold other means in other cultures like harvest and bounty in Native/Indigenous culture or good fortune, vitality, and long life in Chinese culture. So naturally, from my own sentimental connection to them, I adored the sunflowers, the role the sunflowers came to hold within this book, and the way the truth about them unfolded at the end of the book had me so soft and emotional in the way things seemed to come full circle. It was all beautifully done and I’m probably being more sentimental about the sunflowers than I should be. I digress! We do get some paranormal elements laced into the story as well. However, I like how they weren’t a huge part of this story. It was just casually sprinkled in and I think it was just the right amount. Plus, it kind of plays a tiny, key part of Whitney’s perspective. It was a nice touch!

The book as a whole is very atmospheric and very mysterious. It really has the small town vibes to it and as we all know, small towns come with their secrets and sometimes dark histories. I think that’s what pulled me in the most at the beginning, the way this small town was established. I love stories that play to the small town vibes and take that theme, and run with it as far as they can. I think the author did a really good job at making you feel like you’re in a small town that holds a dark secret, just waiting to be discovered. I also want to mention that the storyline builds up quickly and especially near the end, you can feel how high the stakes are.

“There had always been something strange about this place. The sunflowers that hovered around them all like a threat. The wat they watched. How they were a little too sentient to be just seeds and petals.”

However, I did have some issues with this book. I think my main issue with this book was a lot of things felt very obvious in the direction it was going to go. For example, it was very obvious there was going to be a betrayal from one of the main characters we follow. If not, multiple betrayals from that one particular character. Another example would be the way the book ended. It’s just very obvious from the 75% mark and it kind of chipped away at the mystery a bit. The other thing I didn’t really like was a scene where Bo decides to end things and honestly, it was anti-climatic. It felt like there should have been more to it except there wasn’t and it just turned out the way it did. It felt too easy and like there should have been more. Honestly, that part was a bit of a disappointment and I just wanted more especially since Bo’s character has so much rage within her.

“She ran straight into the sunflower fields, praying she’d come out on the other side alive.”

Overall, I really enjoyed my time reading this book. As I mentioned above, I read this book in two days! It’s been a while since I’ve read a book that quickly in such a short amount of time that wasn’t a novella or short story. I also don’t want to reveal too much in this review because so much ties in with main plot or climax moments, but it was so good friends! I really enjoyed my time reading this and the need to know all the secrets and mystery behind what’s happening was a great pull. If you’re looking for some new books to put on your anticipated 2023 release list or if you’re looking for mystery thrillers with small town vibes, this is one to keep your eye out for!

Buddy read with Ashley ♥

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

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Uncategorized

The Adventure Zone: Petals to the Metal by Clint McElroy, Griffin McElroy, Justin McElroy, Travis McElroy, & Carey Pietsch

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This post contains affiliate links; if you use these links to make a purchase, I may earn a commission. Thanks for reading!

Content/Trigger Warnings: Explosions, bombs, death, vehicle accidents

✨ The Adventure Zone: Here There Be Gerblins ★★★★★

✨ The Adventure Zone: Murder on the Rockport Limited! ★★★★★

“For every evil impulse drawn from a tempted heart, there is a heroic deed, spurred on by unimaginable bravery.”

We have finally, FINALLY returned to The Adventure Zone! I know, I know… it’s been a hot minutes since I picked up this series, but we’re back and I’ve been eagerly waiting to start this. And what a more perfect season to pick this series back up than the autumnal season?! Truly, I’m thriving and this graphic novel, comic added 10 years onto my life! So grab your snack, sit back, and let’s follow our chaotic trio on a new chaotic adventure!

We once again join our chaotic friends, Magnus, Taako, Merle, and of course the hilarious dungeon master on a whole new adventure. This time our friend are jumping in the race car seats and they prepare to reclaiming The Sash of Gaia! However, they soon find out this won’t be so easy obtaining the artifact, and they’ll have a few close calls along the way. With the help of Hurley, our adventures will do everything they can to save lives and maintain balance, but… sometimes there’s a price to be paid and not even love can stop fate.

This was an absolutely fantastic read! If you don’t know by now, I absolutely love these characters and love following them. So when we’re introduced to Sloane and Hurley, we learn of their story, and their relationship… Be still my beating heart! I loved them, I absolutely loved them. They’re by no means a perfect couple and even the start of their relationship was rocky, but somehow they just work together. Not to mention, the height difference was so glorious to see. We stan tall women with short cuties! We also see some growth and development with our main three characters. We also get some very character specific moments for Taako and Merle, and I was thriving seeing them have their own moments. I wish we could of had a moment for Magnus, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed we’ll see it in the next book.

“I don’t know if you can hear this anymore. But on the off chance you’re listening… on the off chance you’re still you… I wanted to give you fair warning. You’re going to lose tomorrow. And then… And then you’re gonna come home.”

There’s also a lot of hilarious moments, a lot of action packed moments, but most importantly, the freaking ending of this book wrecked me. I was sobbing and getting so emotional over how everything concludes. If there was ever a way to make me realize how attached to these characters, the ending really made me realize that. Even more so for Sloane and Hurley! We only have these two for this volume and everything that we get to learn about those two, it wasn’t enough. I wanted more and despite knowing we’d only have them for this volume, I still got emotional about their whole journey. This is what this series does so well though! It makes you get attached to these characters, no matter how brief or long term, and you just want to see them thrive, and succeed.

If I had to say anything negative about this volume, it’s that I have more questions than I do answers. Volume two of this series already gave us a whole lot of questions that we don’t get answers to and now we’re in the third volume, still without anymore clarity. The ending of this left me with so many more questions than answers and I really wish I had a bread crumb to go off of. Even the small scenes for foreshadowing doesn’t really lead me to a whole lot either. So I’m invested to get my answers, but also I wish we had gotten at least a bread crumb at the end or something.

“Is it for keepsies? Everything is for keepsies if you’re sneaky about it.”

Overall, I always have a blast reading this series and getting caught up on the shenanigans of this family. There were so many funny moments like Merle and the vines, and the introduction of Garyl, too! I need more of this, more of Garyl in general! It was just a fun time and I love a good story that can remind me how much I love and adore my all my nerdy goodness. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves DnD, loves RPG (role playing games), or just want a fast read for any readathons. I do recommend that you read these in order though because, in my opinion, the recaps don’t always give all the best details to give a good overall of what’s happened thus far. So read them in order and have fun while you do!

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ARC Reviews

Into The Forest: Tales of the Baba Yaga edited by Lindy Ryan

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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 & Black Spot Books in exchange for an honest review.

This review is being published before the release date (November 8th, 2022)

Holy cow this was a doozy of anthology! 24 short stories about the one and only… Baba Yaga! It’s exciting, isn’t it?! This was truly a wild ride and definitely an anthology that won’t so easily leave my memory. Some of these stories are fantastic, others may chill your bones, but for me friends, I think I wanted this to be a little more than what I got. And let me tell you, there were moments where I got a whole lot that I didn’t even want. So buckle up, this might just be a wild ride for you too!

As always for my anthology reviews, I have mini reviews for all the short stories where I talk about my thoughts, feelings, and include content/trigger warnings.

➸ Foreword by Christina Henry ⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Scene of animal death

This wasn’t anything too spectacular or anything. This basically just an introduction to Baba Yaga, if you never heard of Baba Yaga till now. It kind of sets the tone for the rest of anthology, that melting pot of the good, the bad, and the unsettling.

“She is a wild thing tied to the earth. She can be a friendly hand to a passerby or a monstrous one – a snake that can choose to strike or turn its fanged head away in mercy or indifference.”

➸ Dinner Plans with Baba Yaga by Stephanie M. Wytovich ⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Implications of cannibalism and dead children

This was just an okay read for me. This felt like it clung tightly to the blueprint of the traditional tale of Baba Yaga, which is fine. I think I was just hoping for more branching away from the typical folklore about it and just wanting a little more. It’s still a good story though!

➸ Last Tour Into The Hungering Moonlight by Gwendolyn Kiste ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This was an eerie short story. I don’t even know how to properly describe it, but this one made my skin crawl. You’re in the perspective of someone moving/looking to move and you’re visiting this neighborhood, all the while Baba Yaga is whispering about. It’s a very eerie, chilling setting. Almost walking into a neighborhood where everyone is always smiling and happy. Yeah, that’s the creepy vibe it gives off. Very spooky and I definitely recommend a warm beverage for this one!

➸ The Story of a House by Yi Izzy Yu ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Death of animals, depictions of blood, gore, grief, scene of decapitation

This story messed me up in so many ways, both good and bad. I had never read a short story about Baba Yaga’s house and that was one of the things that always intrigued me about her folklore. I always wanted to know more about her house and how it came to be. This was a great interpretation of that and it was so good to read. Not a fan of all the animal horror, but still a good read.

“There, House remains to this day, half-asleep but with an open door.”

➸ Of Moonlight And Moss by Sara Tantlinger ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Loss of a parent (in the past), abusive/toxic relationships, depictions of torture recounted

I adored this story! This was one of my favorite stories of the whole collection. It gave a lot of renaissance era vibes for me. Not quite Camelot, but definitely in that time period. This was so good and I love the thought of Baba Yaga being someone who open their home to the broken and the unwanted/unloved.

“If you survive the bog, you may not survive the witch. If you do, beware of how sweet lies may taste. Beware the fate you accept.”

➸ Wormwood by Lindz McLeod ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Death, murder, emesis, scene of hanging

This is a great story of the potential good side to Baba Yaga. When it comes to tales of Baba Yaga, I hear more terrible stories than I do good and this was nice breath of fresh air. I loved that she helped a grieving woman after a horrible crime has been committed and I love how mirrors have symbolism in this short story. It was an all around great read for me that intrigued the senses.

“They call her a witch. They call her a goddess. They call her a cannibal. But mirrors tell the wrong stories. And so do people.”

➸ Mama Yaga by Christina SNG ⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Cannibalism, mentions of famine, loss of loved ones

Eh, this was an okay read for me. I enjoyed it, but again this circles back to what I mentions earlier, about a story sticking to an already made blue print. It just feels like an easy way of getting out of writing something that could have been much more. I would have liked a different twist or something. I don’t know, this was just an okay read for me in the department of Hansel & Gretel/Baba Yaga.

➸ Flood Zone by Donna Lynch ⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Cannibalism, mass murder

Another okay read for me. I wish this had more to it, potentially some combat or someone finding out about the plot, but this just didn’t hit the mark at all. All this story really did was just remind me of how horrible and cruel people can be, with an unrealistic outcome that’s far too simple. I liked that Baba Yaga had a child or apprentice of her own, but I just wanted more from this story.

➸ The Peddler’s Promise by Catherine McCarthy ⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Mentions loss of a loved one, death of children, cannibalism

I think this was a unique way to write Baba’s tale of luring children from the safety of their homes. However, I think my biggest issue was the lack on conflict or confrontation with Baba. Honestly, the way this story goes just leaves you with a heavy feeling and I think if we had some conflict it would have made the story a little lighter. It just wasn’t a fun time. I went in intrigued and emerged feeling kind of heavy and sad.

➸ The Space Between the Trees by Jo Kaplan ⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Mentions of grief, mentions loss of loved ones, mentions of murder, cannibalism

This is another take on Baba Yaga actually having a daughter, which I love this concept. This was really well written and it was interesting to see the parallels in approaching things between Baba and the daughter. I almost wish there was a different outcome for the ending, but that may be asking for too much.

➸ Sugar and Spice and the Old Witch’s Price by Lisa Quigley ⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Homicide

I’m going to be honest, I debated my rating on this one. This was just not it for me, at all. This is basically a short story of a woman who slowly descends into the calling of the forest and murders her whole family. Yeah, not what I wanted to read and definitely not what I was expecting. It didn’t so much see this as a Baba Yaga retelling or even anything related to Baba Yaga, if I’m being honest. It literally felt like the start of a mystery thriller book and was it’s own thing. This just wasn’t it and one of my least favorite stories in the anthology as a whole.

➸ Birds of a Feather by Monique Snyman ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Gun violence, bullying, gore, murder, death, violence, depictions of blood

This was fantastic! I was hooked the minute I started this! Who does love starting a short story running through the woods while people are shouting at you, hunting you down?! Delicious. A great way to capture the reader, hands down. I loved that the author also went with the balance and order approach for this story too. It really worked well with the flow and pacing, and just set the atmosphere up for the end game of the story. It was just a really great read!

➸ Water Like Broken Glass by Carina Bissett ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Drownings, scene of assault, war themes, death, murder

This was another fantastic read, as well! Plus, who doesn’t love some lesbian representation? It was delicious! This is a very unique story of how Baba Yaga exists and how one can become Baba Yaga, but it’s also about love and the extent of what one will do for love. It’s also a story about forgiveness especially when one is a river rusalka and has been doing the same things for so long. It was really well written and captivating. Hands down one of my favorite reads of this collection.

“She is Death incarnate. A creature that thrives on war, and her hunger is as bright as the full moon, as sharp as glass.”

➸ Herald the Knight by Mercedes M. Yardley ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Blood depictions, death of an animal, mentions loss of a child/miscarriage, death, scene of assault, gore

Yes, yes YEEEESSSSS! We get a short story with a black knight and I’m thriving! I love stories with black knights. I eat that goodness for breakfast! Can you tell that this is my favorite story out of all the short stories of the whole book? I love that we get a romance between a black knight, who hides his face because of his scars, and we have Baba Yaga, who’s young and doesn’t need anyone yet wants this black knight like a fire consumes charcoal. It was just so good and I enjoyed how well the two felt right for each other. It was spectacular, for me!

“The black knight watched her, instinctively knowing she ran toward something, not away from him, and it was no surprise when the forest closed itself behind her.”

➸ All Bitterness Burned Away by Jill Baguchinsky ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Indications of an abusive relationship, implied starvation, murder

Now THIS is why the Hensel & Gretel retelling meets Baba Yaga works! First, Baba Yaga’s house being a cat/acting like a cat was so delightful. Yes please, I would like more Baba Yaga retellings where her house is a cat house, please and thank you! I love this concept more than I do the bird house concept. Secondly, this book ties in the element of Baba Yaga being good, but also adopting children as her own and removing them from an abusive situation. I thought this was handled really well and it was done in a way that was satisfying to read. This was just everything I wanted and I got a big boost of serotonin from reading this story.

➸ A Trail of Feathers, A Trail of Blood by Stephanie M. Wytovich ⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Grief, brief mention of a dead animal, implied child sacrifice

This left an unsettling chill in my spine and not the good kind of chill. I want to express that this story many be triggering for readers whether you’re a parent or not. This story kind of smacked me out of left field and the way the ending plays out is not a good one. It’s a cruel, messed up ending and honestly, if I had known the the content warnings in advance, I would have skipped this one to spare my sanity.

➸ Baba Yaga Learns to Shave, Gets Her Period, Then Grows Into Her Own by Jess Hagemann ⭐⭐

Horrendously repetitive! Holy cow this one chipped away at my sanity relentlessly. My biggest pet peeve is repetitiveness in books and ‘like this‘ is repeated so much in this short story. I had a hard time focusing on other details because it just came off as a mother talking down to a teenager and it was just so annoying. The story as a whole was incredibly annoying and for the most part, that’s what this story is, a mother talking down to her child, giving her the same verbal cue. We only see something in relation to Baba Yaga till the end of the story, literally the very end of the story. It just wasn’t a fun time for me.

➸ Fair Trade by Jacqueline West ⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Underage drinking, death, grief

I liked the concept of this at first and then it just felt like a Baba Yaga version of Freaky Friday. While that’s not a bad thing, it just didn’t really work for me, personally. I came to read a Baba Yaga retelling, not a short story that only has two scenes of Baba Yaga in it and focuses on someone I didn’t really feel any connection to. The story is really well written, but that’s about the only thing that really stood out for me.

➸ Stork Bites by Ev Knight ⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Mention of current events (Roe v Wade), talk of postpartum depression, emesis, drugging, graphic scene of abortion, brief implications of rape, cannibalism

HELL to the NO! This was not it, at all. If I wanted a graphic scene of abortion, whether there were fantasy elements or not, I would go read/listen to those who actually went through that because at least then I’d know what to expect or I could prepare myself mentally and make sure I’m in a good headspace. I don’t like things come out of left field and chipping away at my sanity especially when no one can be bothered to give content/trigger warnings in advance. This is the last thing that I wanted in a retelling. It was disturbing to the point of that scene inducing nausea. No thank you, next!

➸ Chicken Foot by Octavia Cade ⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Dead animals, animal experimentation

I think the part that’s going to haunt me the most is the canary legs making screaming sounds as the wind blows through them… ANYWAY, this was another interesting take on Baba Yaga’s house and how it becomes what it becomes… a bird house. It was a really interesting approach to take a more scientific route with the story, but it was good. I’m just not a fan of animal experimentation.

➸ Where the Horizon Meets the Sky by R. J. Joseph ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Sex, death of a loved one

This story has a very modern day feel to it, but add a little kick of zombie near the end. It was interesting to see things play in a way where Baba Yaga was word focused. Every thing Baba did in this story was done in a way of how the person spoke about what they wanted. It was a really interesting take and I think this could have been it’s own novella.

➸ Maw Maw Yaga and the Hunter by Alexandrea Weis ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Gore, scene of dismemberment, death

This is my first time hearing a Cajun retelling of Baba Yaga! I really enjoyed this and was so captivated of how things would play out. There was a moment where I thought things would turn out differently, but it didn’t. All I can really say is I would have love a full novella of this short story. It was really good and I think it could stand on it’s own.

➸ Baba Yaga in Reprose by Heather Miller ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This is very detail heavy and it takes a hot minute to get to Baba Yaga, but it feels very much like Sleeping Beauty. It’s a really interesting was to set the whole story up, but I love the concept of these beings from folklore and fairytales to go into a slumber as the world moves on into modern day. I think this was such an interesting way of capturing that and I enjoyed it a lot.

➸ Shadow and Branch, Ghost Fruit Among the Lullabies by Saba Razvi ⭐⭐⭐

This was a nice way to close out the collection. However, my issue is that it gets repetitive really quickly and as I’ve mentioned before, repetitiveness and I don’t get along. It’s very well written and it can be captivating for the right reader, it just wasn’t me. Still a lovely, spooky way to close everything out.


I gave Into The Forest: Tales of the Baba Yaga three stars overall, because out of the possible 120 stars (5 stars being possible for all 24 stories) this anthology accumulated 80 stars (67%)!

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

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