BLOG TOUR: Mayhem by Estelle Laure – Review

Thanks to the publisher Wednesday Books for giving me the opportunity to review this title via NetGalley.

A YA feminist mash up inspired by The Lost Boys and The Craft.

It’s 1987 and unfortunately it’s not all Madonna and cherry lip balm. Mayhem Brayburn has always known there was something off about her and her mother, Roxy. Maybe it has to do with Roxy’s constant physical pain, or maybe with Mayhem’s own irresistible pull to water. Either way, she knows they aren’t like everyone else.

But when May’s stepfather finally goes too far, Roxy and Mayhem flee to Santa Maria, California, the coastal beach town that holds the answers to all of Mayhem’s questions about who her mother is, her estranged family, and the mysteries of her own self. There she meets the kids who live with her aunt, and it opens the door to the magic that runs through the female lineage in her family, the very magic Mayhem is next in line to inherit and which will change her life for good.

But when she gets wrapped up in the search for the man who has been kidnapping girls from the beach, her life takes another dangerous turn and she is forced to face the price of vigilante justice and to ask herself whether revenge is worth the cost.

From the acclaimed author of This Raging Light and But Then I Came Back, Estelle Laure offers a riveting and complex story with magical elements about a family of women contending with what appears to be an irreversible destiny, taking control and saying when enough is enough.


a note from the author

Dear Reader,

Like Mayhem, I experienced a period of time when my life
was extremely unstable. I can still remember what it was like to
be shaken so hard I thought my head would come off, to watch
the room vibrate, to feel unsafe in my own home, to never
know what was coming around the next corner. I wanted to
run. I always wanted to run.

I ran to friends, but also movies and books, and although
girls were more passively portrayed in movies like The
Lost Boys back then, that feeling of teenagers prowling the
night, taking out bad people, being unbeatable . . . that got
me through it.

I guess that’s what I tried to do here. I wanted girls who feel
powerless to be able to imagine themselves invincible. And
yes, I used a rape as the seed for that fierce lineage, not without
thought. For me, there is nothing worse, and I like to think
great power can rise up as a result of a devastating trespass.

Please know I took none of this lightly. Writing this now, my
heart is beating hard and my throat is dry. This is the first time
I not only really looked at my own past, the pain of loss, the
pain of the loss of trust that comes when someone puts hands
on you without permission, the pain of people dying, the
shock of suicide, and put all of it to paper in a way that made
me feel victorious, strong, and warrior-like. It is also
terrifying.I know I’m not the only one who had a scary
childhood, and I know I’m not the only one who clings to stories as salve to
smooth over burnt skin. I am so sick of girls and women being
hurt. This was my way of taking my own vengeance and trying
to access forgiveness.

Thank you for reading and for those of you who can relate,
I see you and you are not alone.

Estelle Laure


Review + Thoughts

Before I start talking about what I enjoyed about this book I do want to emphasize that this is a heavy and darker read. I’m placing the content warnings that you can read from the author’s website about MAYHEM at the bottom of this review.

With that being said I thoroughly found this to be an excellent and nuanced exploration of these difficult experiences. I could feel the raw emotion in the writing and the anger coming off the pages. Girls being angry is the kind of thing I like to read about and MAYHEM fits so well into one of my super specific favorite genres, that is feminist revenge stories with magical elements mixed in.

I also love that MAYHEM contains complex, messy, and humanized characters. Troubled, messy, and hurt women such as her mother, Roxy, her Aunt Elle, her grandmother Julianna and Neve. Victims of the patriarchy wanting revenge and justice and peace. This also ties into a secondary plot of the story that revolves around the missing girls in Santa Maria.

This book is not for everyone but I think if you’re able to handle the content and want to read a story like this, you should check it out for yourself.


Content Warnings via Author’s Website

Rape: the Brayburn family’s backstory centers around the matriarch’s rape and explores the ensuing generational trauma and its effects on the women within its lineage. The rape is on the page but is not graphically depicted.

Suicide: a suicide takes place off the page.

Drug use: there is one scene in which multiple adolescents take hallucinogenic mushrooms. There is much use of pills and alcohol by one of the adults in the story as a coping mechanism for chronic pain and trauma.

Serial kidnapping and murder: part of the story centers around an active serial kidnapper and killer. There is also murder depicted throughout, sometimes on the page and sometimes off, including the murder of two of the children’s parents, which takes place in dialogue and is not explicitly on the page.

Child abuse: central to the story is a depiction of violence experienced by a child.

Domestic violence, intimidation, and emotional abuse: also central to the story is long-term domestic violence and its attendant cycle. This is mostly off stage, however there are several scenes of emotional manipulation and intimidation, and one scene that contains stalking and breaking and entering and a physical altercation.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Estelle Laure, the author of This Raging Light and But Then I Came Back believes in love, magic, and the power of facing hard truths. She has a BA in Theatre Arts and an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Young Adults, and she lives in Taos, New Mexico, with her family. Her work is translated widely around the world.

Author’s social handles
o Twitter: @starlaure
o Instagram: @estellelaurebooks

BUY YOUR COPY OF MAYHEM HERE: https://wednesdaybooks.com/galaxies-and-kingdom/mayhem/

Don’t Read the Comments by Eric Smith – Blog Tour Stop Review

Don’t Read the Comments
Eric Smith
On Sale Date: January 28, 2020
9781335016027, 1335016023
Hardcover
$18.99 USD, $23.99 CAD
Ages 13 And Up
368 pages

SUMMARY

Divya Sharma is a queen. Or she is when she’s playing Reclaim the Sun, the year’s hottest online game. Divya—better known as popular streaming gamer D1V—regularly leads her #AngstArmada on quests through the game’s vast and gorgeous virtual universe. But for Divya, this is more than just a game. Out in the real world, she’s trading her rising-star status for sponsorships to help her struggling single mom pay the rent.

Gaming is basically Aaron Jericho’s entire life. Much to his mother’s frustration, Aaron has zero interest in becoming a doctor like her, and spends his free time writing games for a local developer. At least he can escape into Reclaim the Sun—and with a trillion worlds to explore, disappearing should be easy. But to his surprise, he somehow ends up on the same remote planet as celebrity gamer D1V.

At home, Divya and Aaron grapple with their problems alone, but in the game, they have each other to face infinite new worlds…and the growing legion of trolls populating them. Soon the virtual harassment seeps into reality when a group called the Vox Populi begin launching real-world doxxing campaigns, threatening Aaron’s dreams and Divya’s actual life. The online trolls think they can drive her out of the game, but everything and everyone Divya cares about is on the line…

And she isn’t going down without a fight.


I honestly won’t have too much to say but this book was so delightful and fun!

WHAT I LIKED

  • DIVYA AND AARON – Both of the main characters are truly likable and feel so much like the teen I used to be. Which is super nerdy and trying so hard. I liked that both of their stories centered around these wanting to achieve their dreams but also wanting to support their families because its harder than it looks.
  • Both Divya and Aaron are teens of color (Divya is
  • Divya loves her mom and I do too (love Divya’s mom and my mom that is)
  • I overall just really liked the family element in this story.
  • I also love reading about supportive friendships (my fave being Divya and Rebekah)
  • THE REFERENCES!!! I adored the video game references (shouout to Garrus the Cat!) There’s also references to bookstagram and some popular YA titles! Overall the references were well done, relevant, and not forced.
  • Also shoutout to the author for referencing the very good game Remember Me!!!!
  • Cute romance that isn’t a big focus but it still amused me
  • The conflict between Divya/Aaron and their harassers is well done and important given concern over racism and sexism within the gaming community which is something that needs to be addressed towards teens especially going into these communities and being bullied.
  • The video game itself Reclaim the Sun sounds so cool. It’s this open world sci-fi adventure game. I wish I could play it.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE

  • I can’t play Reclaim the Sun in real life

Anyways that’s my review and if you like video games and want more YA about it, it’s OUT NOW!!!

BUY IT HERE:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Dont-Read-Comments-Eric-Smith/dp/1335016023
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dont-read-the-comments-eric-smith/1131303425#/
Books-A-Million: https://www.booksamillion.com/p/Dont-Read-Comments/Eric-Smith/9781335016027?id=7715580291810
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/don-t-read-the-comments
Indie Bound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781335016027
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Eric_Smith_Don_t_Read_the_Comments?id=Go6PDwAAQBAJ

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eric Smith is an author, prolific book blogger, and literary agent from New Jersey, currently living in Philadelphia. Smith cohosts Book Riot’s newest podcast, HEY YA, with non-fiction YA author Kelly Jensen. He can regularly be found writing for Book Riot’s blog, as well as Barnes & Noble’s Teen Reads blog, Paste Magazine, and Publishing Crawl. Smith also has a growing Twitter platform of over 40,000 followers (@ericsmithrocks).

SOCIAL LINKS:

Author website: https://www.ericsmithrocks.com/
Twitter: @ericsmithrocks
Instagram: @ericsmithrocks
Facebook: @ericsmithwrites

Tweet Cute by Emma Lord – Blog Tour / Review

Thanks to the publisher for inviting me on this blog tour and to NetGalley for providing the eARC.

Tweet Cute by Emma Lord
Release Date: January 21, 2020
Genre(s): YA Contemporary Romance
BUY IT HERE

EARLY PRAISE

Tweet Cute delivers in every possible way: a perfect enemies-to-lovers romance, a whip-smart plotline, and endearingly real characters. I devoured it.” – Francesca Zappia, author of Eliza and Her Monsters

“Sweet and fun! An adorable debut that updates a classic romantic trope with a buzzy twist.” – Jenn Bennett, author of Alex, Approximately and Serious Moonlight

“A witty rom-com reinvention for the Twitter age, Tweet Cute pairs delicious online rivalry with deeply relatable insights on family pressure and growing up. This fresh, funny read had us hitting ‘favorite’ from page one.” – Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka, authors of Always Never Yours and If I’m Being Honest 

SYNOPSIS

Meet Pepper, swim team captain, chronic overachiever, and all-around perfectionist. Her family may be falling apart, but their massive fast-food chain is booming — mainly thanks to Pepper, who is barely managing to juggle real life while secretly running Big League Burger’s massive Twitter account. 

Enter Jack, class clown and constant thorn in Pepper’s side. When he isn’t trying to duck out of his obscenely popular twin’s shadow, he’s busy working in his family’s deli. His relationship with the business that holds his future might be love/hate, but when Big League Burger steals his grandma’s iconic grilled cheese recipe, he’ll do whatever it takes to take them down, one tweet at a time. 

All’s fair in love and cheese — that is, until Pepper and Jack’s spat turns into a viral Twitter war. Little do they know, while they’re publicly duking it out with snarky memes and retweet battles, they’re also falling for each other in real life — on an anonymous chat app Jack built. 

As their relationship deepens and their online shenanigans escalate — people on the internet are shipping them?? — their battle gets more and more personal, until even these two rivals can’t ignore they were destined for the most unexpected, awkward, all-the-feels romance that neither of them expected.


TWEET CUTE delivers a fresh take on the ever-so classic and swoonworthy hate to love romance trope à la You’ve Got Mail but with Twitter instead of AOL and glorious amounts of mouthwatering descriptions of food. It not only gives us one of the cutest romances I’ve read in a long while, but also delves into the teen sphere of social media and pressures of being in high school expertly.

CHARACTERS

Our protagonists, Pepper and Jack (aka Pepperjack, aka my favorite cheese to put on my grilled cheese btw) are both fleshed out enough so that we are not only invested in them getting together but also who they are as their own people.

Pepper is an overachieving, perfectionist, people-pleaser. But she’s more than just what other people project onto her and what she in turns projects onto herself. Her character arc focus on how her need to fit in kind of stunts her relationships with others such as her mom and her sister Paige and her “rival” Pooja. Jack is the jokester who doesn’t take things too seriously because he expects people not to especially over his “golden son” twin brother Ethan. Both have insecurities as most teenagers do and the relatability of their struggles hits home with me. Pepper’s especially because Much like myself as a teen, Pepper focused hard on extracurricular activities and AP and honors classes despite not knowing what she actually wants to do when she sets off for college. (Fun fact I’m not in college right now because I still don’t know what I want to do).

The other characters are indeed as enjoyable but I wish could have been fleshed out more. Particularly Pooja (Pepper’s rival who actually may have been a true friend to her if she’d realize the truth) and Ethan, who has a boyfriend! Both offer representation that the main characters don’t (Pooja is Indian and Ethan has a boyfriend but it’s not confirmed whether he’s gay/bi/pan). The parents are both intriguing and complex. But I personally loved Grandma Belly. She reminded me of my own grandmother with her crassness.

STORY

Set in a fully realized NYC, there’s three plot lines running through the story. 1) The Twitter War which was fun and added conflict. 2) Pepper and Jack’s blossoming romance in the anonymous Weazel app he created but THEY DON’T KNOW!! 3) Pepper and Jack’s blossoming romance IRL which adds that nice juicy slow burn factor with awkward teenage flirting and communication breakdown.

I was interested to see how these storylines would thread together in what could have been a messy execution but its seamlessly done. It never felt like too much to take in.

I also have to point that this book is FOR TEENS. There are some contemporary YA novels that struggle to capture the modern teen interest but TWEET CUTE succeeds with its use and positive attitude to towards social media and meme culture. Emma Lord understands her audience and its shows.

FINAL THOUGHTS

I highly recommend this if you want to start your year of off with quick, easy to read and devour fluff filled romance.

👍👍👍👍


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Emma Lord is a digital media editor and writer living in New York City, where she spends whatever time she isn’t writing either running or belting show tunes in community theater. She graduated from the University of Virginia with a major in psychology and a minor in how to tilt your computer screen so nobody will notice you updating your fan fiction from the back row. She was raised on glitter, grilled cheese, and a whole lot of love. Her sun sign is Hufflepuff, but she is a Gryffindor rising. TWEET CUTE is her debut novel. You can find her geeking out online at @dilemmalord on Twitter.

Thanks for reading! Comment down below if you’re interested in TWEET CUTE and please recommend me some fluffy romances you love!

Dangerous Alliance by Jennieke Cohen Blog Tour / Review + Favorite Quotes + Playlist + Giveaway!

Dangerous Alliance: An Austentacious Romance by Jennieke Cohen

Publisher: HarperTeen

Release Date: December 3rd 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Historical, Romance,Fiction

SYNOPSIS

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue meets Jane Austen in this witty, winking historical romance with a dash of mystery!

Lady Victoria Aston has everything she could want: an older sister happily wed, the future of her family estate secure, and ample opportunity to while her time away in the fields around her home.

But now Vicky must marry—or find herself and her family destitute. Armed only with the wisdom she has gained from her beloved novels by Jane Austen, she enters society’s treacherous season.

Sadly, Miss Austen has little to say about Vicky’s exact circumstances: whether the roguish Mr. Carmichael is indeed a scoundrel, if her former best friend, Tom Sherborne, is out for her dowry or for her heart, or even how to fend off the attentions of the foppish Mr. Silby, he of the unfortunate fashion sensibility.

Most unfortunately of all, Vicky’s books are silent on the topic of the mysterious accidents cropping up around her…ones that could prevent her from surviving until her wedding day.

LINKS

GOODREADS
AMAZON
BOOK DEPOSITORY
B&N
iTUNES
KOBO
GOOGLE BOOKS

REVIEW

An Austentacious romance indeed. Dangerous Alliance caught my eye ever since I saw the Publisher’s Weekly announcement. I love a good regency era romance especially one that is carries the spirit of Austen herself.

Victoria a.k.a. Vicky is a huge Austen fan and her favorite character is Lizzie Bennet from Pride & Prejudice. But she also takes advice from the lessons other Austen characters learned such as in Sense & Sensibility and Emma. Vicky is an enigma of a character, not afraid to get dirty while yearning for more, wanting her life to much like an Austen character’s while also coming to grips with the realities of life in Regency society. Vicky is witty, charming, and just overall a solid main character.

Two big components of an Austen novel are: the suitors and the family dynamic, both which Cohen delivers on. This has childhood friends-to lost friendship-to lovers trope which is a trope I’m not typically fond of but it works so well here because Tom is just as much a part of the story as Vicky. He’s faced trauma and tragedies but so charming and sympathetic. Vicky’s sister Althea was another favorite character of mine. She gave me huge Jane Bennet vibes whom I think is such a great character. I always love the sister characters in Austen’s novel and this one is no exception.

While this novel does follow along with the comedy of manners style that Austen herself is known for, the touches of realism such as divorce, abuse, treatment and expectations of young women to marry added a lot of depth to the story. The novel is well-developed and researched and I found myself fascinated by what I learned.

If you’re a fan of Austen and regency era romances this is one to check out! I sincerely hope that Cohen writes more Regency era romances along the lines of this one. I cannot wait to see this author does next regardless.

FAVORITE QUOTES

Now time to share some quotes that I liked whether they be meaningful or even funny.

“As her sister, Althea, often said: planning was the mark of an evolved individual”

“To be fond of dancing was a certain step towards falling in love”

“You’re not like Mr. Darcy. And I wouldn’t have you be. You’re you. And I wouldn’t trade you for a dozen perfect gentlemen.”

“Of the countless embarrassing moments in all her seventeen years, this one secured the prize for most ghastly.”

“She would always love Miss Austen’s stories, but after all that had transpired, Vicky no longer believe life could be summed up by one author’s perspective of the world. For why else would so many books exist if not to impart different truths about life and all its complexities?”

PLAYLIST

Here is my playlist. I decided that this would be a modern twist on what a Regency era teen would maybe listen to while reading or falling in love. There’s some pop and some indie.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jennieke Cohen (JEN-ih-kah CO-en) is used to people mispronouncing her name and tries to spare her fictional characters the same problem. Jennieke writes historical fiction for young adults inspired by real people and events because life is often stranger than fiction. She studied English history at Cambridge University and has a master’s degree in professional writing from the University of Southern California. Jennieke loves exploring new locales but always returns home to Northern California where the summers are hot, the winters are mild, and life is casual.

WHERE TO FIND HER

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18001955.Jennieke_Cohen

Website: https://www.jenniekecohen.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Jennieke_Cohen

Blog: https://www.jenniekecohen.com/blog

Pinterest:https://www.pinterest.es/jenniekec/boards/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jennieke_cohen/


Be sure to check out the entire blog tour schedule here!

Thanks so much to The Fantastic Flying Book Club for letting me in on this blog tour and also thanks to the publisher for providing me with an eARC via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

The Fantastic Flying Book Club

GIVEAWAY!!!

Prize: Win (1) of (2) copies of DANGEROUS ALLIANCE by Jennieke Cohen (US Only)

Starts: 27th November 2019
Ends: 11th December 2019

a Rafflecopter giveaway https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/d9681b86433/?

My Most Anticipated Horror, Thriller, Mystery Books of 2020 – Part Three

This is the final one of these posts and this time its’ the rest of the 2020 releases but the ones that as of me typing this up, have no covers. But y’all know we should never judge a book by its cover because I think most of these have so much promise.

Click on the titles to to add to your Goodreads TBR! Also feel free to tell me some 2020 releases like these that I may have overlooked.


HARROW LAKE BY KAT ELLIS

A YA horror-thriller in which the daughter of a famous movie director is swept up in real-life terror when she’s sent to the sinister small town where his most iconic movie was filmed, and she questions whether she’ll ever get out alive. Publication is set for summer 2020.

MY THOUGHTS

This basically sounds like a Friday the 13th style story and I couldn’t be any more thrilled. I’m always in the mood for a slasher story in YA. 🔪

CEMETERY BOYS BY AIDEN THOMAS

Yadriel has summoned a ghost, and he can’t get rid him.

Bestowed by the ancient gods of Maya, Yadriel and the gifted members of his Latinx community can see spirits: women have the power to heal bodies and souls, while men can release lost spirits to the afterlife. But Yadriel, a trans boy, has never been able to perform the tasks of the brujas – because he is a brujo.

When his cousin suddenly dies, Yadriel takes matters into his own hands and successfully summons a ghost. The only problem is, it’s not his cousin, it’s Julian Diaz, the resident bad boy of his high school. Worse, he’s pissed about his death and demands answers.

Yadriel agrees to help Julian discover how he died. In exchange, Julian will let Yadriel release his spirit, finally proving himself a brujo. But the longer Yadriel spends with Julian, the less Yadriel wants to let him go, and time is running out.

MY THOUGHTS

This book is #ownvoices for queer, Latinx, and trans rep which is so awesome. I’m always looking for more stories about brujería ever since I read Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova. I also love a good ghost story. 👻

HORRID BY KATRINA LENO

A girl who loves Agatha Christie. A girl who loves spooky stuff and mysteries… until that spooky stuff starts happening to her.

MY THOUGHTS

This is a pretty vague and short synopsis but I’ve heard amazing things about Katrina Leno’s previous thriller novel, You Must Not Miss. I’m also anticipating this because of it being inspired by Agatha Christie. From further inquiry into this, it’s also set in Maine which is Stephen King’s favorite spooky setting for his stories. 💀

A SONG BELOW WATER BY BETHANY C. MORROW

The Originals meets Nic Stone’s Dear Martin in Bethany C. Morrow’s debut YA, A Song Below Water, about two best friends discovering their magical identities against the challenges of today’s racism and sexism.

Tavia is already at odds with the world, forced to keep her siren identity under wraps in a society that wants to keep her kind under lock and key. Nevermind she’s also stuck in Portland, Oregon, a city with only a handful of black folk and even fewer of those with magical powers. At least she has her bestie Effie by her side as they tackle high school drama, family secrets, and unrequited crushes.

But everything changes in the aftermath of a siren murder trial that rocks the nation; the girls’ favorite Internet fashion icon reveals she’s also a siren, and the news rips through their community. Tensions escalate when Effie starts being haunted by demons from her past, and Tavia accidentally lets out her magical voice during a police stop. No secret seems safe anymore—soon Portland won’t be either.

MY THOUGHTS

Did I mention how great it is that we’re getting more stories about characters of color in spooky, fantasy stories? The Originals comp caught me by surprise but also this has black girl sirens. BLACK GIRL SIRENS! 🧜🏿‍♀️

THOSE WHO PREY BY JENNIFER MOFFETT

THOSE WHO PREY is a YA thriller about a shy college freshman who is seduced into joining a campus cult, leading her on a deadly mission trip to Italy. Publication is scheduled for fall 2020 (Atheneum, Simon & Schuster).

MY THOUGHTS

If you’ve been following me long enough you should know that I like reading about cults and secret societies. I’m also quite interested in the Italy aspect of this and how this all going to unfold. But anyways, CULTS! 😈

THE FELL OF DARK BY CALEB ROEHRIG

The only thing August Pfeiffer hates more than algebra is living in a vampire town. Located at a nexus of mystical energy fields, Fulton Heights is practically an electromagnet for supernatural drama. And when a mysterious (and annoyingly hot) vampire boy arrives with a cryptic warning, Auggie suddenly finds himself at the center of it. An ancient and terrible power is returning to the earthly realm, and somehow Auggie seems to be the only one who can stop it.

MY THOUGHTS

VAMPIRE TOWN? SUPERNATURAL DRAMA? HOT VAMPIRE BOY? QUEER REP? I’M SOLD. 💕

BURN OUR BODIES DOWN BY RORY POWER

Stuck in a rundown apartment in the Middle of Nowhere, Nebraska, Margot has spent her whole life trying to get closer to her secretive, mercurial mother. When she discovers the name of her mother’s hometown, Phalene, she thinks she’s found the key. But Phalene is home to a hundred secrets, hidden between the floorboards of her grandmother’s farmhouse, buried under the cornfields. And if Margot’s not careful, she’ll end up buried there, too.

MY THOUGHTS

The ominous vibes I get from reading this are 👌🏻. According to the author this is about a complex grandmother/mother/daughter relationship and angst. The MC is a lesbian. And a lot of corn. 🌽

FLY BY NIGHT BY TARA O’CONNOR

Fly by Night tells the story of Dee, who suspects a magical creature may be responsible for her sister’s mysterious disappearance. But in her investigation, she discovers that the culprit may be less supernatural than she fears.

MY THOUGHTS

II’m usually always tempted to read a book if it has the same of a favorite song by a book I like (Rush). This sounds like an X-File episode in the making. 🦇

RUINSONG BY JULIA EMBER

Pitched as This Savage Song meets The Phantom of the Opera. Set in a world where magic is sung, a gifted teen girl is forced by a tyrannical queen to use her powerful voice to maintain control over a kingdom. Meanwhile, a girl who grew up in the palace with her tries to encourage her to use her voice to fight back, while the two wrestle with their feelings for each other.

MY THOUGHTS

F/F hate to love!! Phantom!! AHHHHH!!! 🎼

A BETTER BAD IDEA BY LAURIE DEVORE

Pitched as End of the F****** World meets Sadie. When Evelyn Peters burns down her home to protect her sister from the threat inside its walls, she’s forced to go on the run with Ashton Harper, the boyfriend of the dead girl Evelyn once desperately wanted to be. Publication is scheduled for 2020.

MY THOUGHTS

This book has the audacity to be compared as two of my favorite things from the past couple of years. This book tempts me so much with its power. 🔥

I HOPE YOU’RE LISTENING BY TOM RYAN

Ten years after witnessing her best friend’s kidnapping, a teen copes by anonymously launching a podcast to help solve missing persons cases, but when a new abduction is revealed to have links to the original case, she has to decide how much she is willing to reveal to discover the truth

MY THOUGHTS

Another podcast related thriller 👌🏻🎧👌🏻


So that’s the last of these spooky/creepy reads posts for the year. As I’ve said in the previous two related posts, feel free to comment down below some I may have missed and what your thoughts are on these. 🎃

THANKS FOR READING

My Most Anticipated Horror & Thrillers Books for 2020 – Part Two

Part two of my need to tell everyone about spooky reads. 2020 features a wide spectrum of interesting horror/dark concepts from thrillers, dark fantasy, retellings, and other creepy stuff. 2020 is also the year for queer & POC rep in these kind of stories and I couldn’t be happier. You’ll notice most of these books feature both kinds of representation.

If you see anything you want to add to your TBR just click on the titles and it’ll take you to Goodreads!

WITCHES OF ASH AND RUIN BY E. LATIMER

COVER DESIGN BY PHIL BUCHANAN

Modern witchcraft blends with ancient Celtic mythology in an epic clash of witches and gods, perfect for fans of V.E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic trilogy and A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES.

Seventeen-year-old Dayna Walsh is struggling to cope with her somatic OCD; the aftermath of being outed as bisexual in her conservative Irish town; and the return of her long-absent mother, who barely seems like a parent. But all that really matters to her is ascending and finally, finally becoming a full witch-plans that are complicated when another coven, rumored to have a sordid history with black magic, arrives in town with premonitions of death. Dayna immediately finds herself at odds with the bewitchingly frustrating Meiner King, the granddaughter of their coven leader.

And then a witch turns up murdered at a local sacred site, along with the blood symbol of the Butcher of Manchester-an infamous serial killer whose trail has long gone cold. The killer’s motives are enmeshed in a complex web of witches and gods, and Dayna and Meiner soon find themselves at the center of it all. If they don’t stop the Butcher, one of them will be next.

With razor-sharp prose and achingly real characters, E. Latimer crafts a sweeping, mesmerizing story of dark magic and brutal mythology set against a backdrop of contemporary Ireland that’s impossible to put down.

MY THOUGHTS

#ownvoices rep for OCD and bi rep! Celtic mythology and witchcraft! Sounds fun! On a side note I do have some mixed feelings about the fact that the character is outed HOWEVER I’m glad that it actually states in the synopsis instead of people having to find out without warning, so applaud whomever wrote the synopsis for that.

WHEN WE WERE MAGIC BY SARAH GAILEY

A sly, witchy dark comedy about four teens whose magic goes wildly awry from Magic for Liars author Sarah Gailey, who Chuck Wendig calls an “author to watch.”

Keeping your magic a secret is hard. Being in love with your best friend is harder.

Alexis has always been able to rely on two things: her best friends, and the magic powers they all share. Their secret is what brought them together, and their love for each other is unshakeable—even when that love is complicated. Complicated by problems like jealousy, or insecurity, or lust. Or love.

That unshakeable, complicated love is one of the only things that doesn’t change on prom night.

When accidental magic goes sideways and a boy winds up dead, Alexis and her friends come together to try to right a terrible wrong. Their first attempt fails—and their second attempt fails even harder. Left with the remains of their failed spells and more consequences than anyone could have predicted, each of them must find a way to live with their part of the story.

MY THOUGHTS

MORE QUEER WITCH STORIES! Also I enjoy dark comedy which I know is very niche but if that is your cup of tea, join the club.

FOREST OF SOULS BY LORI M. LEE

COVER DESIGN BY LAURA BENTON AND ART BY CHARLIE BOWATER

Danger lurks within the roots of Forest of Souls, an epic, unrelenting tale of destiny and sisterhood, perfect for fans of Naomi Novik and Susan Dennard.

Sirscha Ashwyn comes from nothing, but she’s intent on becoming something. After years of training to become the queen’s next royal spy, her plans are derailed when shamans attack and kill her best friend Saengo.

And then Sirscha, somehow, restores Saengo to life.

Unveiled as the first lightwender in living memory, Sirscha is summoned to the domain of the Spider King. For centuries, he has used his influence over the Dead Wood—an ancient forest possessed by souls—to enforce peace between the kingdoms. Now, with the trees growing wild and untamed, only a lightwender can restrain them. As war looms, Sirscha must master her newly awakened abilities before the trees shatter the brittle peace, or worse, claim Saengo, the friend she would die for.

MY THOUGHTS

Forest of Souls seems to lean more towards the fantasy genre but it still gives off horror vibes so it fits the bill. Spiders are spooky y’all. According to the author “this book features Asian-coded characters being warriors and shamans, queens and mentors, villains and friends, all within a secondary world fantasy.” Also I’m in love with the cover! So haunting and gorgeous.

GHOST WOOD SONG BY ERICA WATERS

COVER DESIGN BY JENNA STEMPEL-LOBELL & ART BY ALIX NORTHRUP

Shady Grove is her father’s daughter, through and through. She inherited his riotous, curly hair, his devotion to bluegrass, and his ability to call ghosts from the grave with his fiddle.

That cursed instrument drowned with him, though, when his car went off the road, taking with it the whispering ghosts, nightmares, and the grief and obsession that forced her daddy to play.

But Shady’s brother was just accused of murder, and so she has a choice to make: unearth the fiddle that sang her father to the grave and speak to the dead to clear her brother’s name, or watch the only family she has left splinter to pieces.

The ghosts have secrets to keep, but Shady will make those old bones sing.

MY THOUGHTS

A Southern gothic story and it apparently takes place in Florida and features a Bi MC.

WHERE DREAMS DESCEND BY JANELLA ANGELES

COVER DESIGN BY KERRI RESNICK & ART BY MICAELA ALCAINO

A debut fantasy duology pitched as The Phantom of the Opera meets Moulin Rouge, the story follows Hellfire House’s star showgirl who, haunted by a dark past, must enter a magician’s competition in order to secure her freedom from the handsome, enigmatic keeper of the club, even as mysterious accidents seem to plague her every move.

MY THOUGHTS

Not much to go on but Phantom meets Moulin Rouge is a very great way to get to read this. I’ve had this on my TBR ever since it was announced so I’ve been dedicated to this book for a long time. Also support Filipino authors!

YOU’RE NEXT BY KYLIE SCHACTE

When a girl with a troubled history of finding dead bodies investigates the murder of her ex, she uncovers a plot to put herself—and everyone she loves—on the list of who’s next.

Flora Calhoun has a reputation for sticking her nose where it doesn’t belong. After stumbling upon a classmate’s body years ago, the trauma of that discovery and the police’s failure to find the killer has haunted her ever since. One night, she gets a midnight text from Ava McQueen, the beautiful girl who had ignited Flora’s heart last summer, then never spoke to her again.

Just in time to witness Ava’s death from a gunshot wound, Flora is set on a path of rage and vengeance for all the dead girls whose killer is never found. Her tunnel-visioned sleuthing leads to valuable clues about a shocking conspiracy involving her school and beyond, but also earns her sinister threats from the murderer. She has a choice—to give up the hunt for answers, or keep digging and risk her loved ones’ lives. Either way, Flora will regret the consequences. Who’s next on the killer’s list?

MY THOUGHTS

So I am going to point out that there’s already a great horror film called You’re Next that I really like but this obviously seems to be very different. Also there seems to be some sapphic vibes so even better.

BLOOD COUNTESS BY LANA POPOVIC

A historical YA horror novel based on the infamous real-life inspiration for Countess Dracula

In 17th century Hungary, Anna Darvulia has just begun working as a scullery maid for the young and glamorous Countess Elizabeth Báthory. When Elizabeth takes a liking to Anna, she’s vaulted to the dream role of chambermaid, a far cry from the filthy servants’ quarters below. She receives wages generous enough to provide for her family, and the Countess begins to groom Anna as her friend and confidante. It’s not long before Anna falls completely under the Countess’s spell—and the Countess takes full advantage. Isolated from her former friends, family, and fiancé, Anna realizes she’s not a friend but a prisoner of the increasingly cruel Elizabeth. Then come the murders, and Anna knows it’s only a matter of time before the Blood Countess turns on her, too.

MY THOUGHTS

Historical YA horror is all I ever wanted and Elizabeth Bathory is the perfect subject.

THE SILENCE OF BONES BY JUNE HUR

COVER DESIGN BY KATIE KLIM & ART BY KASIQ JUNGWOO

I have a mouth, but I mustn’t speak;
Ears, but I mustn’t hear;
Eyes, but I mustn’t see.

1800, Joseon (Korea). Homesick and orphaned sixteen-year-old Seol is living out the ancient curse: “May you live in interesting times.” Indentured to the police bureau, she’s been tasked with assisting a well-respected young inspector with the investigation into the politically charged murder of a noblewoman.

As they delve deeper into the dead woman’s secrets, Seol forms an unlikely bond of friendship with the inspector. But her loyalty is tested when he becomes the prime suspect, and Seol may be the only one capable of discovering what truly happened on the night of the murder.

But in a land where silence and obedience are valued above all else, curiosity can be deadly.

June Hur’s elegant and haunting debut The Silence of Bones is a bloody tale perfect for fans of Kerri Maniscalco and Renée Ahdieh.

MY THOUGHTS

This sounds so refreshing. A murder mystery set in 1800s Korea. This by far is one of the most interesting premises for a mystery I’ve read in a while. I also have to give props to the cover. The shades of blue make this feel so noir-ish.

FROZEN BEAUTY BY LEXA HILLYER

BEFORE
Everyone out in Devil’s Lake, Michigan, knows the three Malloy sisters: perfect big sister Kit; tomboy Tessa, who shares more with Kit than most people realize; and Lilly, the baby of the family, determined to make her own mark. Yet as close as they are, there are certain things sisters don’t tell one another. And one of them is keeping a secret that will turn their little world inside out.

NOW
No one knows exactly what happened to Kit in the woods that night—all they have are a constellation of facts: icy blue lips and fingers cold to the touch, a lacy bra, an abandoned pick-up truck with keys still in the ignition. Still, Tessa, even in her fog of grief, is certain that her sister’s killer wasn’t Boyd, the boy next door whom they’ve all loved in their own way. There are too many details that don’t add up, too many secrets still tucked away.

But no matter how fiercely she searches for answers, at the core of that complicated night is a truth that’s heartbreakingly simple.

Told in lush, haunting prose, Frozen Beauty is a story of the intoxicating power of first love, the deep bonds of sisterhood, and a shocking death that will forever change the living

MY THOUGHTS

Horror stories with sisters is a great combination. I wasn’t even sure what genre this was until actually looking into the synopsis, but this sounds quite haunting indeed.

I KILLED ZOE SPANOS BY KIT FRICK

COVER DESIGN BY DEBRA SFETSIOS-CONOVER & ART BY LEVENTE SZABO

What happened to Zoe won’t stay buried.

When Anna Cicconi arrives in the small Hamptons village of Herron Mills for a summer nanny gig, she has high hopes for a fresh start. What she finds instead is a community on edge after the disappearance of Zoe Spanos, a local girl who has been missing since New Year’s Eve. Anna bears an eerie resemblance to Zoe, and her mere presence in town stirs up still-raw feelings about the unsolved case. As Anna delves deeper into the mystery, stepping further and further into Zoe’s life, she becomes increasingly convinced that she and Zoe are connected—and that she knows what happened on New Year’s.

Two months later, Zoe’s body is found in a nearby lake, and Anna is charged with manslaughter. But Anna’s confession’s is riddled with holes, and Martina Green, teen host of the Missing Zoe podcast, isn’t satisfied. Did Anna really kill Zoe? And if not, can Martina’s podcast uncover the truth?

Inspired by Serial and Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, this thrilling story of psychological suspense is told in three interwoven timelines, including the transcript of a fictionalized true crime podcast.  ‘

MY THOUGHTS

I’ve had this on my TBR since it was known originally as Windermere. It’s interesting to see that podcasts have made their way into YA novels. I loved that aspect in Sadie by Courtney Summers, and I hope it works here too.

THE DARK TIDE BY ALICIA JASINSKA

COVER DESIGN BY NICOLE HOWER & ART BY HELEN CRAWFORD WHITE

A fast-paced, well-plotted fantasy retelling of an ancient Scottish fairy tale ballad, this exciting debut will appeal to fans of Stephanie Garber’s CARAVAL, Shea Ernshaw’s THE WICKED DEEP, and Kendare Blake’s THREE DARK CROWNS.

Every year on Walpurgis Night, Caldella’s Witch Queen lures a young boy back to her palace. An innocent life to be sacrificed on the full moon to keep the island city from sinking.

Convinced her handsome brother is going to be taken, sixteen-year-old Lina Kirk enlists the help of the mysterious Tomas Lin, her secret crush, and the only boy to ever escape from the palace. Working together they protect her brother, but draw the Queen’s attention. When the Queen spirits Tomas away instead, Lina blames herself and determines to go after him.

Caught breaking into the palace, the Queen offers Lina a deal: she will let Tomas go, if, of course, Lina agrees to take his place. Lina accepts, with a month before the full moon, surely she can find some way to escape. But the Queen is nothing like she envisioned, and Lina is not at all what the Queen expected. Against their will, they find themselves falling for each other. As water floods Caldella’s streets and the dark tide demands its sacrifice, they must choose who to save: themselves, each other, or the island city relying on them both.

MY THOUGHTS

Sapphic. Witches. Scottish Fariy Tale. Enemies to lovers. What more can I say?

RED HOOD BY ELANA K. ARNOLD

You are alone in the woods, seen only by the unblinking yellow moon. Your hands are empty. You are nearly naked.

And the wolf is angry.

Since her grandmother became her caretaker when she was four years old, Bisou Martel has lived a quiet life in a little house in Seattle. She’s kept mostly to herself. She’s been good. But then comes the night of homecoming, when she finds herself running for her life over roots and between trees, a fury of claws and teeth behind her. A wolf attacks. Bisou fights back. A new moon rises. And with it, questions. About the blood in Bisou’s past and on her hands as she stumbles home. About broken boys and vicious wolves. About girls lost in the woods—frightened, but not alone.

Elana K. Arnold, National Book Award finalist and author of the Printz Honor book Damsel, returns with a dark, engrossing, blood-drenched tale of the familiar threats to female power—and one girl’s journey to regain it.

MY THOUGHTS

Getting real here but I don’t often seek out retellings but I do find myself enjoying them especially if they subvert the original story’s ideas and themes and challenge them. This being a Little Red Riding Hood retelling, this has the opportunity to be fantastic or messy. This does sound promising.

THE SHADOWS BETWEEN US BY TRICIA LEVENSELLER

Alessandra is tired of being overlooked, but she has a plan to gain power:

1) Woo the Shadow King.
2) Marry him.
3) Kill him and take his kingdom for herself.

No one knows the extent of the freshly crowned Shadow King’s power. Some say he can command the shadows that swirl around him to do his bidding. Others say they speak to him, whispering the thoughts of his enemies. Regardless, Alessandra knows what she deserves, and she’s going to do everything within her power to get it.

But Alessandra’s not the only one trying to kill the king. As attempts on his life are made, she finds herself trying to keep him alive long enough for him to make her his queen—all while struggling not to lose her heart. After all, who better for a Shadow King than a cunning, villainous queen?

MY THOUGHTS

This sounds like it’ll enemies to lovers and also full of morally grey characters so I’m into that stuff. Especially a female lead who is morally grey.

SEVEN DEADLY SHADOWS BY COURTNEY ALAMEDA & VALYNNE E. MAETANI

COVER DESIGN BY ERIN FITZSIMMONS & ART BY SAM WEBER

Kira Fujikawa has always been a girl on the fringe. Bullied by her peers and ignored by her parents, the only place Kira’s ever felt at home is at her grandfather’s Shinto shrine, where she trains to be a priestess.

But Kira’s life is shattered on the night her family’s shrine is attacked by a vicious band of yokai demons. With the help of Shiro—the shrine’s gorgeous half-fox, half-boy kitsune—Kira discovers that her shrine harbors an ancient artifact of great power . . . one the yokai and their demon lord, Shuten-doji, will use to bring down an everlasting darkness upon the world.

Unable to face the Shuten-doji and his minions on her own, Kira enlists the aid of seven ruthless shinigami—or death gods—to help stop the brutal destruction of humankind. But some of the death gods aren’t everything they initially seemed, nor as loyal to Kira’s cause as they first appeared.

With war drawing nearer by the day, Kira realizes that if this unlikely band of heroes is going to survive, they’re going to have to learn to work together, confront their demons, and rise as one to face an army of unimaginable evil.

MY THOUGHTS

YAY for more Japanese inspired supernatural stories. I know Courtney Alameda is known for her horror stories so I’m hoping to see that in this.

ALL YOUR TWISTED SECRETS BY DIANA URBAN

This thrilling debut, reminiscent of new fan favorites like One of Us Is Lying and the beloved classics by Agatha Christie, will leave readers guessing until the explosive ending.

Welcome to dinner, and again, congratulations on being selected. Now you must do the selecting.

What do the queen bee, star athlete, valedictorian, stoner, loner, and music geek all have in common? They were all invited to a scholarship dinner, only to discover it’s a trap. Someone has locked them into a room with a bomb, a syringe filled with poison, and a note saying they have an hour to pick someone to kill … or else everyone dies.

Amber Prescott is determined to get her classmates and herself out of the room alive, but that might be easier said than done. No one knows how they’re all connected or who would want them dead. As they retrace the events over the past year that might have triggered their captor’s ultimatum, it becomes clear that everyone is hiding something. And with the clock ticking down, confusion turns into fear, and fear morphs into panic as they race to answer the biggest question: Who will they choose to die?

MY THOUGHTS

Okay this isn’t a book that high up on my TBR but its still a thriller and sometimes that’s all I need to know.

VAMPIRES NEVER GET OLD EDITED BY ZORAIDA CORDOVA & NATALIE C. PARKER

A YA fantasy anthology featuring fresh takes on old souls with vampire stories.

MY THOUGHTS

Vampires are here to stay y’all. Also the title is so perfect. I see a lot of great authors here and I can’t wait to see the different vampire stories we’ll get.

INK IN THE BLOOD BY KIM SKEJKAL

A lush, dark YA fantasy debut that weaves together tattoo magic, faith, and eccentric theater in a world where lies are currency and ink is a weapon, perfect for fans of Leigh Bardugo and Kendare Blake.

Celia Sand and her best friend, Anya Burtoni, are inklings for the esteemed religion of Profeta. Using magic, they tattoo followers with beautiful images that represent the Divine’s will and guide the actions of the recipients. It’s considered a noble calling, but ten years into their servitude Celia and Anya know the truth: Profeta is built on lies, the tattooed orders strip away freedom, and the revered temple is actually a brutal, torturous prison.

Their opportunity to escape arrives with the Rabble Mob, a traveling theater troupe. Using their inkling abilities for performance instead of propaganda, Celia and Anya are content for the first time . . . until they realize who followed them. The Divine they never believed in is very real, very angry, and determined to use Celia, Anya, and the Rabble Mob’s now-infamous stage to spread her deceitful influence even further.

To protect their new family from the wrath of a malicious deity and the zealots who work in her name, Celia and Anya must unmask the biggest lie of all—Profeta itself.

MY THOUGHTS

Tattoo magic? This sounds so bizarre but so fascinating.

LITTLE CREEPING THINGS BY CHELSEA ICHASO

When she was a child, Cassidy Pratt accidentally started a fire that killed her neighbor. At least, that’s what she’s been told. She can’t remember anything from that day, and her town’s bullies, particularly the cruel and beautiful Melody Davenport, have never let her live it down.

But then Melody goes missing, and Cassidy thinks she may have information. She knows she should go to the cops, but she recently joked about how much she’d like to get rid of Melody. She even planned out the perfect way to do it. And then she gets a chilling text from an unknown number: I’m so glad we’re in this together.

Now it’s up to Cassidy to figure out what really happened before the truth behind Melody’s disappearance sets the whole town ablaze.

MY THOUGHTS

Of course to really scare me just throw a creepy doll on the cover. If I’ve learned anything from scary stories about kid’s toys is to not mess with creepy baby dolls.

You’d Be Mine by Erin Hahn: A Country Song in Book Form

You’d Be Mine by Erin Hahn

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Annie Mathers is America’s sweetheart and heir to a country music legacy full of all the things her Gran warned her about. Superstar Clay Coolidge is most definitely going to end up one of those things. 

But unfortunately for Clay, if he can’t convince Annie to join his summer tour, his music label is going to drop him. That’s what happens when your bad boy image turns into bad boy reality. Annie has been avoiding the spotlight after her parents’ tragic death, except on her skyrocketing YouTube channel. Clay’s label wants to land Annie, and Clay has to make it happen. 

Swayed by Clay’s undeniable charm and good looks, Annie and her band agree to join the tour. From the start fans want them to be more than just tour mates, and Annie and Clay can’t help but wonder if the fans are right. But if there’s one part of fame Annie wants nothing to do with, it’s a high-profile relationship. She had a front row seat to her parents’ volatile marriage and isn’t interested in repeating history. If only she could convince her heart that Clay, with his painful past and head over heels inducing tenor, isn’t worth the risk.


Content Warnings: alcoholism, self harm, suicide, substance abuse, death of loved ones, panic attack description

I went into this not expecting to love it as much as I do now but WOW. I’m so blown away by this story and here are some reason why y’all should read it. This book itself is like a country song: full of tragedy, swoon-y and angsty romance and heartbreak and sassy southern attitude.

  • SUMMER ROMANCE – This is a perfect summer read and there’s always about romances that take place during the summer that feel so different
  • MUSIC – A major part of this is about the country music industry and going on tour which is something I’ve been looking to read. I love reading about bands and I wish Under the Willows (Annie’s band with her cousin Kacey and best friend Jason) would actually exist. Also the songs in here are powerful and fun and I hope one day they will actually be performed.
  • ANNIE + CLAY– Annie Mathers is a cinnamon roll who is also sassy and has a lot of agency throughout the book which was very refreshing to see in a romance heroine. Then there’s the bad boy sinnamon roll Clay who is also a sort of cinnamon roll. I love that this book isn’t just about their angsty, swoony romance but also about each of their stories and how they need to look into their past and current selves to be together.
  • SUPPORTIVE FRIENDS – Both Annie and Clay have supportive groups behind them such as Kacey (nice Kacey Musgraves reference!!!) and Jason (one of my favorites) and Clay’s best friend Fitz who has everyone’s back. I would trust that man with my life.
  • TEARS WILL FALL – This book has so many poignant and real and dark moments of vulnerability, tragic backstories, and emotional development. I cried a lot. But that just showed how invested I became in these characters and their lives.
  • DOLLY PARTON CAMEO – I won’t say when she shows up but Dolly is here and of course its a wonderful lil cameo.

One thing I didn’t like: the lack of yee haws in this book. DISAPPOINTED!!!

But seriously this book is AMAZING. Like all the good country songs, You’d Be Mine has crooning lovers, tragic tales, southern sass, and everyone having a good time.

If you are a fan of A Star is Born, country music, summer romances, and just a solid story, read You’d Be Mine which is out now!

2019 Anthologies TBR

Last year in around this same time I did a post about 2018 YA anthologies I was excited for and this year has even more great anthologies to anticipate.

Much like last year this year’s anthologies are filled with diverse voices and unique themes.

EDIT 3/9/2019: I added a few more that I discovered after some more research!

Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America edited by Ibi Zoboi

I’m excited to read an #ownvoices Black anthology and this features some of my new favorite authors: Renee Watson and Brandy Colbert! This book is already out as of typing this!

Black Enough is a star-studded anthology edited by National Book Award finalist Ibi Zoboi that will delve into the closeted thoughts, hidden experiences, and daily struggles of black teens across the country. From a spectrum of backgrounds—urban and rural, wealthy and poor, mixed race, immigrants, and more—Black Enough showcases diversity within diversity.

Whether it’s New York Times bestselling author Jason Reynolds writing about #blackboyjoy or Newbery Honor-winning author Renee Watson talking about black girls at camp in Portland, or emerging author Jay Coles’s story about two cowboys kissing in the south—Black Enough is an essential collection full of captivating coming-of-age stories about what it’s like to be young and black in America.


Hungry Hearts: 13 Tales of
Food & Love
edited by Caroline Tung Richmond & Elsie Chapman

What’s better than an anthology about food? An anthology about food featuring diverse voices and cultures and family! I know I’m going to be super hungry while reading this one but it sounds so worth it.

From some of your favorite bestselling and critically acclaimed authors—including Sandhya Menon, Anna-Marie McLemore, and Rin Chupeco—comes a collection of interconnected short stories that explore the intersection of family, culture, and food in the lives of thirteen teens.

A shy teenager attempts to express how she really feels through the confections she makes at her family’s pasteleria. A tourist from Montenegro desperately seeks a magic soup dumpling that could cure his fear of death. An aspiring chef realizes that butter and soul are the key ingredients to win a cooking competition that could win him the money to save his mother’s life.

Welcome to Hungry Hearts Row, where the answers to most of life’s hard questions are kneaded, rolled, baked. Where a typical greeting is, “Have you had anything to eat?” Where magic and food and love are sometimes one and the same.

Told in interconnected short stories, Hungry Hearts explores the many meanings food can take on beyond mere nourishment. It can symbolize love and despair, family and culture, belonging and home.


Color Outside the Lines
edited by Sangu Mandanna

This one is all about interracial relationships and I’m already hearing great things about the stories. I think my most anticipated one is Tara Sim’s which features a F/F Hades x Persephone retelling with Persephone as a Indian MC.

Daniel Ehrenhaft at Soho Teen has bought Sangu Mandanna’s Color Outside the Lines, a YA anthology centered around interracial relationships and the complicated, rewarding and sometimes hilarious dynamics between friends, family, and first loves. The collection features Anna-Marie McLemore, Elsie Chapman, Karuna Riazi, Lydia Kang, L.L. McKinney, Lori M. Lee, Lauren Gibaldi, Tara Sim, Eric Smith, Caroline Tung Richmond, Kelly Zekas, Tarun Shanker, Samira Ahmed and Adam Silvera, and more. Publication is set for fall 2019; Eric Smith at P.S. Literary brokered the deal for world rights.


His Hideous Heart
edited by Dahlia Adler

Edgar Allan Poe reimaginings !!! I don’t really know what else to say but this wow I’m super pumped for this and it also comes out on my birthday.

Thirteen of YA’s most celebrated names reimagine Edgar Allan Poe’s most surprising, unsettling, and popular tales for a new generation.

Edgar Allan Poe may be a hundred and fifty years beyond this world, but the themes of his beloved works have much in common with modern young adult fiction. Whether the stories are familiar to readers or discovered for the first time, readers will revel in Edgar Allan Poe’s classic tales, and how they’ve been brought to life in 13 unique and unforgettable ways.

Contributors include Kendare Blake (reimagining “Metzengerstein”), Rin Chupeco (“The Murders in the Rue Morge”), Lamar Giles (“The Oval Portrait”), Tessa Gratton (“Annabel Lee”), Tiffany D. Jackson (“The Cask of Amontillado”), Stephanie Kuehn (“The Tell-Tale Heart”), Emily Lloyd-Jones (“The Purloined Letter”), Hillary Monahan (“The Masque of the Red Death”), Marieke Nijkamp (“Hop-Frog”), Caleb Roehrig (“The Pit and the Pendulum”), and Fran Wilde (“The Fall of the House of Usher”).


Take the Mic: Fictional Stories of Everyday Resistance
edited by Bethany C. Morrow

A very timely and relevant anthology about resistance. I love the power that this cover exudes.

A young adult anthology featuring fictional stories of everyday resistance.

You might be the kind of person who stands up to online trolls.
Or who marches to protest injustice.

Perhaps you are #DisabledAndCute and dancing around your living room, alive and proud.

Or perhaps you are the trans mentor that you wish you had when you were younger.

Maybe you call out false allies, or stand up to loved ones. 

Maybe you speak your truth and drop the mic, or maybe you take it with you when you leave.

This anthology features fictional stories–in poems, prose, and art–that reflect a slice of the varied and limitless ways that readers like you resist every day. TAKE THE MIC’s powerful collection of stories features work by literary luminaries and emerging talent alike, including Newbery-winner Jason Reynolds, New York Times bestseller Samira Ahmed, anthologist and contributor Bethany C. Morrow, Darcie Little Badger, Jem Yoshioka, Keah Brown, Laura Silverman, L.D. Lewis, Sofia Quintero, Ray Stoeve, Yamile Mendez, and Connie Sun, with cover and interior art by Richie Pope.

It’s a Whole Spiel edited
by Katherine Locke & Laura Silverman

Another #ownvoices anthology featuring Jewish writers!! I also really love covers that have a bunch of people on them.

Knopf has acquired It’s a Whole Spiel, a YA anthology by Jewish writers, edited by Katherine Locke and Laura Silverman. With contributions from #ownvoices authors including David Levithan, Nova Ren Suma, and more, the anthology will contain contemporary stories with Jewish protagonists who are diverse in sexuality, ability, race, and level of religious observance. Publication is planned for fall 2019.


Hope y’all enjoyed this little post and made your TBR get a bit bigger. Also feel free to suggest some anthologies I missed coming out this year or from previous years!

An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson – A Mini Review

An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

an enchantment of ravens cover

A skilled painter must stand up to the ancient power of the faerie courts—even as she falls in love with a faerie prince—in this gorgeous debut novel.

Isobel is a prodigy portrait artist with a dangerous set of clients: the sinister fair folk, immortal creatures who cannot bake bread, weave cloth, or put a pen to paper without crumbling to dust. They crave human Craft with a terrible thirst, and Isobel’s paintings are highly prized. But when she receives her first royal patron—Rook, the autumn prince—she makes a terrible mistake. She paints mortal sorrow in his eyes—a weakness that could cost him his life.

Furious and devastated, Rook spirits her away to the autumnlands to stand trial for her crime. Waylaid by the Wild Hunt’s ghostly hounds, the tainted influence of the Alder King, and hideous monsters risen from barrow mounds, Isobel and Rook depend on one another for survival. Their alliance blossoms into trust, then love—and that love violates the fair folks’ ruthless laws. Now both of their lives are forfeit, unless Isobel can use her skill as an artist to fight the fairy courts. Because secretly, her Craft represents a threat the fair folk have never faced in all the millennia of their unchanging lives: for the first time, her portraits have the power to make them feel. 

8.5/10 Ravens (4.5/5 STARS)

Featuring one of the most stunning covers I’ve ever graced my eyes upon, An Enchantment of Ravens is an enchanting tale of true love, whimsical faerie antics and the beauty of humanity through art and passion.

While this is a relatively short novel, coming in at 300 pages long, this still gave enough of a story to feel satisfying. I also think that the short-length gave helped its world-building feel less overwhelming to me. There wasn’t too much or too little of it. The writing was also so flowery and immersive. I loved Margaret Rogerson’s descriptions of Whimsy and the seasonal lands of faerie.

I adored the characters in this, especially Isobel and Rook, the main couple of the story. Isobel was a great heroine, with a down-to-earth personality and a passion for art that made her easy to root for. Rook is a typical prince like character, arrogant, charming, and trying to prove himself but he’s also a very sweet, genuine nice guy who respects Isobel.

The side characters were each interesting in their own ways. My favorite was Gadfly for numerous spoiler-y reasons but I appreciated him a lot. I also enjoyed Isobel’s family, her aunt Emma and her goat sisters, March and May (yes goat sisters). They had a mystical charm to the story even without the mischievous and trickster faeries that lurked in the latter half of the story.

I have to be honest and say that Isobel and Rook are indeed very much an insta-love couple, but I can like a cliche such as that when it’s executed well, and it is here. The romance was charming and also one of the healthiest relationships I’ve read in a fantasy novel. There’s a discussion that the characters have about consent that this very nuanced and I appreciated seeing brought up.

The only downsides I had with An Enchantment of Ravens was the pacing and the fact that I wish there was a sequel to this story. (I NEED MORE OF THIS SWEET ROMANCE Y’ALL)

If you want to read a story that involves magical fae and a wonderfully executed romance with autumnal vibes, check this one out!

I can’t wait to read the next book that Margaret Rogerson writes and see what other worlds she comes up with next! 🙂

How to Make a Wish by Ashley Herring Blake // Review

htmaw review logo 2

DISCLAIMERS

  • Please read my Rating System before reading this review

  • SPOILER TALK

  • Content Warning for following: parental neglect, emotional abuse, verbal abuse, mention of sexual assault, character posting another character’s private messages online without consent, contains sex scenes


SYNOPSIS

All seventeen year-old Grace Glasser wants is her own life. A normal life in which she sleeps in the same bed for longer than three months and doesn’t have to scrounge for spare change to make sure the electric bill is paid. Emotionally trapped by her unreliable mother, Maggie, and the tiny cape on which she lives, she focuses on her best friend, her upcoming audition for a top music school in New York, and surviving Maggie’s latest boyfriend—who happens to be Grace’s own ex-boyfriend’s father.

Her attempts to lay low until she graduates are disrupted when she meets Eva, a girl with her own share of ghosts she’s trying to outrun. Grief-stricken and lonely, Eva pulls Grace into midnight adventures and feelings Grace never planned on. When Eva tells Grace she likes girls, both of their worlds open up. But, united by loss, Eva also shares a connection with Maggie. As Grace’s mother spirals downward, both girls must figure out how to love and how to move on.


If you’re looking for a bittersweet and emotional summer romance read, this is the book for you!

WHY I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS BOOK

+ Deals With Toxic Parent/Child Relationships in a Nuanced Way

One of the main parts of HTMAW, is the complicated dynamic between Grace and her mother, Maggie. Maggie is an alcoholic and by the end of this story, may also have a mental disorder. Maggie is a flawed human being who does try her best, but still puts a lot of emotional labor onto Grace. She tends to put Grace in a lot of dangerous and harmful situations such as taking her to a club and moving her to stranger’s houses. She is also emotionally manipulative towards Grace, which leads to Grace’s ambivalent feelings concerning her mother.

This was one of the hardest things for me to read, because I can understand the imbalance and toxic-ness of a parent/child relationship where the parent is emotionally abusive. I felt the struggle that Grace felt in deciding to make her own decisions and to move on from her parent and to understand that its okay to remove yourself from an person like that, even though you may still love them.

+ F/F Romance

My main reason for reading this one, because I haven’t read many books about F/F romances. Grace and Eva have an adorable, slow-burn romance. I appreciate that they get to know each other first, and also connect emotionally. There’s also a sex scene in this which I appreciated so much.

Eva is also a very well developed love interest. She is her own character that has an arc as well, with dealing with the death of her mother, her first relationship with a girl, and also her deciding to realize her dream of being a dancer.

They both support each other and understand what it means to lose happiness but to also regain happiness.

Also they are still together at the end of this book, so it’s a happy ending for a gay couple!! YAY!

+ Grief

“Sadness is awkward. Grief is awkward. A missing mother is awkward, no matter what form that missing takes. And no one likes awkward. No one knows what to do with it unless you’re the person used to receiving all those averted gazes.”

Both Grace and Eva miss their mothers in different ways but both feel a similar pain and sadness about their mothers. I’ve felt those feelings before and its hurts. To get kind of personal here, again, I recently lost an important member of my family and their passing away has not only affected me but my whole family. Now we are focused on learning how to move on and get used to the fact that they are gone. Reading this after it happened made me feel better in some ways.

The way that Ashley Herring Blake writes about how the girls deal with their grief was so emotional and real for me. I related more so to Eva’s approach, by avoiding people and coloring in her adult coloring book.

+ Platonic M/F Friendship

I absolutely ADORED Grace’s friendship with her best friend, Luca. I love that they didn’t have any unrequited feelings between either of them and it was so refreshing. They were both very supportive of each other and even though they did have a minor falling out, they both made up and apologized and continued to support each other. He also supports her sexuality and doesn’t make her feel uncomfortable.

Luca himself is a really wonderfully funny and adorable guy. I feel like he’s a great example of a male character done right. While he does have his moments, I feel like he’s very much against the grain of the numerous toxic masculine characters that unfortunately is in a lot of YA.

+ The Bi REP + Sexuality 

“For a long time, when I was a little younger, I thought that was how every girl saw other girls— this mix between beauty and awe and curiosity, a thin layer of lust just underneath. Took until I was fourteen to realize that no, the way I thought about other girls was a little different.”

Grace identifies as bisexual in this and I loved when I saw it on the pages. I know that not everyone is comfortable with labeling, but sometimes seeing someone like Grace say that she is bisexual means so much. Most of my favorite quotes from HTMAW are about Grace and her bisexuality.

I also appreciated the masturbation scene because its a perfectly normal thing and it should be normalized in YA.

+ Writing & Tone

While I can appreciate very flowery and vivid writing, I enjoyed Ashley Herring Blake’s simplistic but also emotionally-packed writing. The tone of this felt great too, because its this mix of, emotional and

+ Moving On & Self-Care

By the end, Grace decides to make herself a happier and healthier person.

Just a minor thing to add was the way the characters found ways to take care of themselves, such as Grace hanging out with Luca and eating pizza fries (I want some of those btw), Grace playing her piano, Eva coloring in her coloring book. Just those little things to treat yourself is so nice to see.


FAVORITE QUOTES


NEXT TO READ BY ASHLEY HERRING BLAKE

GIRL MADE OF STARS

AVAILABLE NOW

girl made of stars

SYNOPSIS

“I need Owen to explain this. Because yes, I do know that Owen would never do that, but I also know Hannah would never lie about something like that.”

Mara and Owen are about as close as twins can get. So when Mara’s friend Hannah accuses Owen of rape, Mara doesn’t know what to think. Can the brother she loves really be guilty of such a violent crime? Torn between the family she loves and her own sense of right and wrong, Mara is feeling lost, and it doesn’t help that things have been strained with her ex-girlfriend and best friend since childhood, Charlie.

As Mara, Hannah, and Charlie navigate this new terrain, Mara must face a trauma from her own past and decide where Charlie fits in her future. With sensitivity and openness, this timely novel confronts the difficult questions surrounding consent, victim blaming, and sexual assault.


Thanks for reading! Comment down below some of your favorite F/F romances or just any LGBTQAIP+ book with a MC that you think I should add to my TBR.

Sav