The Match by Sarah Adams

The Match by Sarah Adams
Published: 5.30.20 via KindleUnlimited
Genre: Adult RomCom
Details: 284 pages – Paperbook, Kindle, Audiobook
Rating: 4 Stars
Series: It Happened in Charleston #1

Disclaimer: This book was read voluntarily by me via KindleUnlimited. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

SYNOPSIS

Having worked for Southern Service Paws for a few years now, I like to think I’m prepared for just about any client meeting under the sun. I am dead wrong.

The day I meet with single dad, Jacob Broaden, about potentially matching his daughter with one of our service dogs, I learn a few valuable lessons.

1) Always set my alarm clock.
2) Single dads are way hotter than I previously thought.
3) It is possible to go from fantasizing about kissing someone to wishing they would be run over by a truck in a matter of two minutes.

Unfortunately, I don’t hold that opinion of him for very long. Not when he shows me a different side of himself—one that’s sweet as maple syrup and hot as apple pie fresh out of the oven.

Too bad this guy is so far out of my league that I shouldn’t even be allowed to enter the game. Jake doesn’t seem to get that memo though. And after a few days of working closely with him and his daughter, he starts looking at me with fire in his eyes, making me dream of something I probably shouldn’t…

A family.

REVIEW

I started this book as my nightly read when I’m falling asleep. I sometimes struggle with enemies to lovers tropes because sometimes the characters can seriously be nasty to each other and it frustrates me. This book had so much balance. The tension is mainly from misunderstandings but are quickly resolved – one the the things I love about sweet romances!

Evie is strong, independent, and determined…. until you get her around her parents. She comes from a well to do family and she’s trying to break away. She loves working with service dogs and matching them to families and yet they refuse to support her. I don’t honestly know if the author needed to make Evie so tortured by them emotionally. She does things so out of character that it just didn’t make sense (spoilers below). Jake was pretty on brand as the misunderstood bad boy but it made it better because we got his POV as well. We could see that his motives were strictly to protect his daughter ad even when he was being an absolute dipshit, it made you go “aww Jake no!!” I rooted for Him and Evie through the whole thing!

Overall, this sweet, quick enemies to lovers romance is sure to sweep you away! This book is not smutty but it does have some steamy moments and lots of flirting!

There is one main critique that I need to add. There is like ZERO diversity. I went into this hoping that a 2020 book would have some diverse characters and alas, everyone is basically straight, white, and rich. Boo.


SPOILERS:

Okay, Evie’s parents can go jump off a bridge. The way that she catered to them after knowing they were toxic garbage made me so mad. It went against everything that Evie was working hard to overcome. At one point, her mom invites herself to a benefit for the service dogs, after trying to force her to marry this douche Tyler.. she says:

“Now that I think about it, it was selfish for me not to invite them in the first place.” She got so worried that she wouldn’t impress them that she said, “Might as well play the game and blend into their lifestyle.” NO! You don’t need their blood money! You want to get away from them! Why dress up to be like people you don’t want to be? She even told Jake to not talk at dinner – she says it was because she didn’t want him to have ammo used against him but that’s still bullshit!

Jake: “Did you say keep my mouth shut? Surely I didn’t hear that right.”
Evie: “Yep, seal it up.”

WHAT? I would be fucking furious y’all. FUCKING FURIOUS. Then Jake for whatever reason got all butthurt like he’s not good enough for Evie which to me was just a plot device because he’s a pretty confident guy but what the fuck. He was all breaking up with her because his man-ego got hurt. LOL Pass


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

SARAH ADAMS (AUTHOR)

Born and raised in Nashville TN, Sarah Adams loves her family, warm days, and making people smile. 

Sarah has dreamed of being a writer since she was a girl, but finally wrote her first novel when her daughters were napping and she no longer had any excuses to put it off.    

Sarah is a coffee addict, a British history nerd, a mom of two daughters, married to her best friend, and an indecisive introvert. Her hope is to always write stories that make you laugh, maybe even cry; but always leave you happier than when you started reading.


Rachael @rqdreads on Instagram!

All My Rage by Sabaa Tahir

All My Rage by Sabaa Tahir
Published: 3.1.22 by PenguinTeen/RazorBill
Genre: YA Contemporary
Details: 384 pages, Hardcover, Paperback, E-Book, Audio
Rating: 5 Stars
Series: Standalone

Disclaimer: PenguinTeen sent me this graphic novel in exchange for an honest review. I accepted and reviewed this book voluntarily. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Content warnings at the end of the review.

SYNOPSIS

Lahore, Pakistan. Then.
Misbah is a dreamer and storyteller, newly married to Toufiq in an arranged match. After their young life is shaken by tragedy, they come to the United States and open the Cloud’s Rest Inn Motel, hoping for a new start.

Juniper, California. Now.
Salahudin and Noor are more than best friends; they are family. Growing up as outcasts in the small desert town of Juniper, California, they understand each other the way no one else does. Until The Fight, which destroys their bond with the swift fury of a star exploding.

Now, Sal scrambles to run the family motel as his mother Misbah’s health fails and his grieving father loses himself to alcoholism. Noor, meanwhile, walks a harrowing tightrope: working at her wrathful uncle’s liquor store while hiding the fact that she’s applying to college so she can escape him—and Juniper—forever.

When Sal’s attempts to save the motel spiral out of control, he and Noor must ask themselves what friendship is worth—and what it takes to defeat the monsters in their pasts and the ones in their midst.

REVIEW

Where do I even begin? All My Rage made me angry but so incredibly hopeful. It was 300+ pages of pain that I didn’t know I needed. I found myself frequently crying because her writing is so powerful. This is a book that captures grief and loss, betrayal and forgiveness, rage and peace. AMR captured the essence of what the “American Dream” looked like to those who had to fight against all odds to create it. While I am not Pakistani and I am not Muslim, I connected with the racism, xenophobia, and expectations that come with children who have immigrant parents.

Watching Salahudin struggle to keep the only stability in his life from slipping through his fingers was enough to make me crack in half. Noor struggling to prove to herself that she’s worthy of a good life despite the odds filled me so deeply with pain that I just wanted to hold her through the pages. Resonating with Misbah while she made mistakes and trying so hard to fix them made me look at how I view motherhood.

This book explores how vulnerable we are, even to those who are closest to us… and how even the smallest betrayal can change the course of your life forever. Salahudin, Noor, and Misbah open their souls to us through this novel and really shows us how far we are willing to go for those that we love. It shows us how even people with the best intentions make mistakes – but it’s through that love that keeps our bonds strong.

Content Warnings:
Mentioned: Child sexual assault
Described: Drug overdose, drug dealing, death of parent, financial instability, law enforcement
Graphic: Child abuse, alcoholism, bullying, racism, Islamophobia


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

SABAA TAHIR (AUTHOR)

#1 New York Times bestselling author of the An Ember in the Ashes series, which has been translated into over thirty-five languages. She grew up in California’s Mojave Desert at her family’s eighteen-room motel. There, she spent her time devouring fantasy novels, raiding her brother’s comic book stash, and playing guitar badly. She began writing An Ember in the Ashes while working nights as a newspaper editor. She likes thunderous indie rock, garish socks, and all things nerd.

A professional author since 2015 and a journalist before that, Sabaa’s books have sold more than a million copies worldwide, are New York Times and international bestsellers, and have been honored by TIME Magazine on a list of the 100 best fantasy books of all time. Her work has appeared on numerous best books of the year lists including: Amazon, Buzzfeed, The New York Public Library, Indigo, Barnes & Noble, Hypable, Paste, Bustle, LA Weekly, The Wall Street Journal, TIME and Entertainment Weekly.


Rachael @rqdreads on Instagram!

Amethyst: Princess of Gemworld by Shannon and Dean Hale

Amethyst: Princess of Gemworld by Shannon and Deal Hale, Illustrated by Asiah Fulmore
Published: 11.9.21 by DC Comics
Genre: Middle Grade Graphic Novel
Details: 156 pages, Paperback, E-Book
Rating: 5 Stars
Series: Book 1

Disclaimer: DC Comics sent me this graphic novel in exchange for an honest review. I accepted and reviewed this book voluntarily. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Content warnings at the end of the review.

SYNOPSIS
Amaya, princess of House Amethyst in Gemworld, is something of a troublemaker. She and her brother have great fun together until a magical prank goes much too far and her parents ground her…to Earth! They hope a whole week in the mundane world will teach her that magic is a privilege…and maybe washing dishes by hand will help her realize the palace servants should be respected.

Three years later, Amy has settled into middle school and ordinary life. She doesn’t remember any other home. So when a prince of the realm brings her home and restores her magical destiny, how will she cope?

REVIEW

Let me begin this review by discussing the themes of this story – which includes self discovery, the dedication of friendship, standing up for what is right, and learning that privilege is power. I enjoyed this middle grade graphic novel as it was the perfect gateway into superheroes for young and/or reluctant readers! This story packed a punch right from the get go as we see Amaya growing up extremely pampered and spoiled – causing trouble wherever she goes. She gets one heck of a reality check when she is sent to earth as a punishment – sans her magic. When something goes wrong, Amaya gets stuck on Earth with her mage Aunt and they forget about magic. Amaya acclimates to her new environment relatively quickly, making friends and warding off enemies in middle school. I loved the age appropriate and modernized language (including doing the floss!), eliminating toxic masculinity through their friend Topaz, found families, and showing strong, powerful girls kicking butt!

The illustrations are fun and colorful! Sure to attract the eye of many types of readers. I found that teaching my kids to read and being excited about reading came in the form of graphic novels! They peak their interest and gives them context to the limited words and world building that comes with the territory of these types of stories. I loved the bright bold colors, I loved the diversity of the characters and I think the illustrator nailed it!

I gave this story 5 stars because 1) it’s meant for middle grade readers and 2) I don’t rate as an adult for books not targeted for me. I rate according to whether or not myself back in that age would have loved it. I truly believe that I would have enjoyed this story. My 9 year old read it in one sitting!

content warnings: bullying, threats of mild violence, divorce, amnesia


ABOUT THE AUTHORS/ILLUSTRATORS

SHANNON HALE (AUTHOR)

New York Times best selling author Shannon Hale started writing books at age ten and never stopped, eventually earning an MFA in Creative Writing. After nineteen years of writing and many rejections, she published The Goose Girl, the first in her award-winning Books of Bayern series. She has since published 30+ books for young readers including the Newbery Honor winner Princess Academy and its two sequels; multiple award winner Book of a Thousand Days; and graphic novel memoirs Real Friends, Best Friends, and Friends Forever (with LeUyen Pham). With frequent collaborator LeUyen Pham, she created the adorable picture book Itty-Bitty Kitty-Corn. Her novels for the adult crowd include Austenland (now a major motion picture starring Keri Russell). Shannon and her husband Dean Hale have collaborated on several projects, such as Eisner-nominee Rapunzel’s Revenge (with Nathan Hale); early chapter book series The Princess in Black (with LeUyen Pham); two novels about the unbeatable Marvel superhero, Squirrel Girl; and the DC graphic novel Diana: Princess of the Amazons (with Victoria Ying). They live with their four children and two cat overlords near Salt Lake City, Utah.

DEAN HALE (AUTHOR)

Dean Hale is the coauthor of the award-winning graphic novels Rapunzel’s Revenge and Calamity Jack and Scapegoat, his picture book debut. He lives in Utah with his wife and co-author, Shannon, and their children. 

ASIAH FULMORE (ILLUSTRATOR)

AAsiah Fulmore is a freelance illustrator who currently lives in Columbia, South Carolina, with her two dogs, Ali and Ash. She spends her free time reading and loves to travel. If she got the chance to visit Gemworld, she’d hang with House Ruby, because they have the best food, obviously!


Rachael @rqdreads on Instagram!

House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland

House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland
Published: 4.6.21 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Genre: YA Paranormal Horror
Details: 304 Pages, Print, E-Book, Audio
Rating: 5 Stars
Series: Standalone

REVIEW

Disclaimer: I borrowed my audiobook copy from the local library. I read and reviewed this book voluntarily. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Content warnings at the end of the review.

“I’d realized there were scarier things in the world than the monsters that lived in my nightmares.”

I wanted nothing more than to find a book that I could immerse myself into. I asked everyone for recommendations on a book that would sweep me away. I was driving home and thought, maybe I should try the audiobook. So many people have told me that the audiobook is incredible and they were not wrong. Haunting, creepy, unputdownable. The prose is captivating and intoxicating, so much so that my husband listened with me and the binged it the next day. This is a story about love, loss, heartbreak, and the bonds that people share… what someone is willing to do for the ones they love. I will think for a very long time.

Something is wrong with the Hollow sisters. Iris, Vivi, and Grey disappeared without a trace, returning a month later with no memory, hair and eyes different colors, and a half moon scar at the base of their throats. Seventeen year old Iris spends her time attending her lavish private school, trying to stay away from the public eye, while her sisters rebelled. She becomes frightened as she’s being followed by a horned man (historically having stalkers due to their unsolved disappearance as children). When Grey goes missing under mysterious circumstances, Iris and Vivi begin following the increasingly bizarre trail of breadcrumbs left for them, unraveling the past that they desperately want to forget.

I seriously could not put this book down. Once I started, I realized how dark and atmospheric this book was going to be. The narrator, Eleanor Bennett, was phenomenal. I honestly don’t know if I will ever reread the physical copy of this because it is THAT good. I immediately felt connected to the Hollow sisters. Their shared pain, their dedication to one another, their love… Iris states many times that she would be nothing without them and you can tell that they all have a strange, yet beautiful obsession with one another. I really appreciated the conversational style Sutherland used. It’s rare that I read a book and think, “this is exactly what it would sound like if this were real…” It felt like real young adults having real young adult conversations and it helped me feel connected to the story. The narrator did an incredible job at controlling the tone of the story.

Side characters were well fleshed out and felt as if they all had their own places within this story. Cate, their mother, was overbearing, protective, and sometimes cruel in conversation with the sisters. Vivi and Grey both struggled with Iris’ blind loyalty to Cate. At one point, Vivi stated, “that’s a pretty heaven burden to bear, being everything for someone,” when Iris says she wants Cate to move with her when she goes to University. The horned masked stalker/villain had such an interesting back story that honestly I did not see that coming. And Tyler – what an addition to this twisting tale. So often we find significant others, co-workers, classmate etc being used as a throwaway plot device and I did not feel this way at all.

House of Hollow is by far the most atmospheric book I’ve ever read; Sutherland deserves five stars for world building alone. Once I started listening to the details of the story, I was hooked, whisked away to this creepy town. The author loved to use descriptive words, especially about the smell of things and places to really set the tone. Scent is such a huge factor in whether or not something is “grotesque” and she really understood that concept and used it to her advantage to make you believe you too could smell the rotting decay. It definitely is not for weak stomachs.

As far as horrors go, this wasn’t a book that made me feel like I couldn’t sleep but it was chilling enough to make me look over my shoulder when I was alone in the kitchen. This standalone YA paranormal horror really does mess with you mentally as you never are quite sure if the narrator is is reliable or not. If you are a fan of Stranger Things, a deep and rich prose, and world building that will make you question your own reality, then this book is for you.

Content Warnings: suicide and suicidal ideations, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, child death, parental death, self harm, stalking, violence, attempted rape, murder, gore


SPOILERS

Let’s talk about Cate for a second. At first, I thought – how could she be so cold to her children. How could a mother deny comfort and love. It broke me to pieces when she told Iris not to call her “mama” and to refer to her only as her first name… but you soon begin to understand why. I really appreciated the fact that she understood that her daughters were gone but she would rather have something rather than nothing, and she did remain dedicated to them (except for Grey 🌚)

The scene with Tyler reuniting with my sister was possibly the saddest scene in the entire story. I have to give mad props to Sutherland for making me feel this gut wrenching feeling about a side character and leaving it as one of the most memorable scenes. I also loved that Tyler was a Korean supermodel. I’m not biased or anything (okay I am because I am Korean), but the representation felt nice and not forced.

Speaking of representation, QUEER CHARACTERS! It was such an amazing surprise for me to find out that Iris was Bi and Vivi was a lesbian. I also loved that that was normalized and not used as a plot device or some part of a painful story regarding their sexuality.

The ambiguous ending leaves me BEGGING for more. It reminds me of the end of Stranger Things at each seasons end. You can close that book forever always wondering where your beloved characters go, or you can pick up with the little snippets left behind and write more stories. I want Tyler to come back!!!


Rachael

Small Favors By Erin A. Craig

Small Favors by Erin A. Craig
Published: 7.27.21 by Delacorte Press
Genre: YA Historical Fantasy, Horror, Paranormal Fantasy, Rumpelstiltskin Retelling
Details: 480 Pages, Print, E-Book, Audio
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Series: Standalone

REVIEW

Disclaimer: First and foremost, I would like to thank Penguin Random House Audio for providing me a complimentary audiobook of Small Favors in exchange for an honest review! Content warnings at the end of the review.

Ellerie Downing, a beekeepers daughter, lives in the quiet, isolated town of Amity Falls, where the townsfolk work hard at making sure everyone succeeds after early settlers fought off devilish creatures that lived in the woods. This dark, atmospheric, young adult horror opens up to a bloody end to a failed supply run, making everyone question the motives of the neighbors they’ve vowed to protect. Soon after, bad omens plague them; animals are maimed and deformed, crops are destroyed, and a catastrophic event sows mistrust within this community. Fearing starvation through the winter, lack of medical supplies, low ammunition, and a stranger appearing from the woods draws concerned feelings from the town. Being stuck within the borders of this creepy forest, with visitors being rare, makes the arrival of a strange boy all the more concerning. This book provides a very claustrophobic atmosphere which adds to the intensity of the plot. It also added psychological thrill which kept me listening until late into the night!

That being said, the character development and overall plot had some holes which made me lose some interest in the story. The behavior of Ellerie’s 8 year old sister was unconvincing, the narrator made her sound like she was 4 which frustrated me a bit as I always have trouble with authors/narrators not understand the tone of children they add to their stories. This being a Rumpelstiltskin retelling held true, with mystical creatures offering small favors in exchange for a little mayhem within the town, though we don’t learn much about the monsters until the very end, and even then it was slightly anticlimactic.

Overall, I enjoyed this story. My teenage self would give this a 3.5 star and would recommend this to anyone who enjoyed House of Salt and Sorrows, The Hollow Places, Rules for Vanishing, and other YA horror!

Content Warnings: pet/animal euthanasia, farm animal death, familial death, self harm/blood magic, fear of starvation, fire/severe burns


SPOILERS

Sam, Ellerie’s brother, was a throwaway character. He was extremely under developed and used as a plot device, even at the end. There was zero closure for his motives, leaving you with many questions about why he made the choices that he did. It frustrated me that there wasn’t much clarity for Ellerie and she was just okay with her brother being a jerk even until his death. Essentially going 🤷🏻‍♀️ immediately after his death scene (this was the same reaction Rebecca, his pregnant ex girlfriend had after learning that he’s dead). This frustrated me because it was completely for shock and it felt like having no emotional resolution for him (whether that be good or bad) was cheap. He was a character that the author could abuse and then forget about and critically, it just doesn’t sit well for character development.

The plot revolves around the townsfolk and how everyone works so hard to make sure they all succeed through the harsh winter, so when the town goes up in flames, Ellerie turns her back to the mayhem and then rides off to find her parents which were also used as a plot device and forgotten about as well.

The main villain was easily defeated, in a very unrealistic way (yes I know this is fantasy but there are certain things that you just shake your head at) and didn’t provide many answers to Ellerie’s desperate questions. Ellerie also makes choices that are completely useless and just made the book seem to drag. The paranormal elements of the book seemed disjointed within the story and was more-so confusing than it was revealing. The “small favors” parts of the book were not explored, just explained quickly – we don’t really get to see/read about WHAT the small favors actually were or why, just that it was happening. There were little instances like this that turned me off a bit when it started off with great potential.


Rachael

The Full Moon

People always say that strange things happen during a full moon. I firmly believe that the lunar cycle changes us, either temporarily, or perhaps more permanently. Children can begin acting wildly, interesting occurrences going bump in the night, maybe a mood shift for yourself; a new idea or hobby will develop, mental clarity for a tough situation, or it’s just your time to release some pent up physical/mental energy. Our most recent full moon brought on a desperate need for change.

This change came in the form of rebranding my blog to fit where my life is going, motivation to deep clean areas of my house that gave me stress, being more aware of how my words and feelings can affect others, especially my husband and kids.

So here we are, besties. I’ve got something brand new and I think being able to have a space I love to share all of my interests, not just my bookish ones, will give me more sense of peace and creativity than when this was just for books.

Come along with me and explore the darkest parts of the forest.

Nothing is too peculiar here.


~ Rachael

In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren

Read on 11.10.20 – 4 Stars

In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren
Genre:
 Adult Fiction
Publisher: GalleryBooks
Publication Date: 
10.6.20
Rating: 4 Stars

Synopsis:

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…but not for Maelyn Jones. She’s living with her parents, hates her going-nowhere job, and has just made a romantic error of epic proportions.

But perhaps worst of all, this is the last Christmas Mae will be at her favorite place in the world—the snowy Utah cabin where she and her family have spent every holiday since she was born, along with two other beloved families. Mentally melting down as she drives away from the cabin for the final time, Mae throws out what she thinks is a simple plea to the universe: Please. Show me what will make me happy.

The next thing she knows, tires screech and metal collides, everything goes black. But when Mae gasps awake…she’s on an airplane bound for Utah, where she begins the same holiday all over again. With one hilarious disaster after another sending her back to the plane, Mae must figure out how to break free of the strange time loop—and finally get her true love under the mistletoe.

Jam-packed with yuletide cheer, an unforgettable cast of characters, and Christina Lauren’s trademark “downright hilarious” (Helen Hoang, author of The Bride Test) hijinks, this swoon-worthy romantic read will make you believe in the power of wishes and the magic of the holidays.



Disclaimer: This book was purchased by me and reviewed by choice. This in no way sways my opinions, all thoughts expressed are my own.


REVIEW

This book was binge-worthy! My cousin checked out a copy at the library and I had recently purchased it with a giftcard I received and let me tell you, it got me ready for Christmas! We read it in two days! I was trying so hard to save this for December but after reading The Unhoneymooners and Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating, I couldn’t resist once it was in my hands.

This hilarious romantic comedy is wholesome from start to finish. That’s one thing I have loved with the few Christina Lauren books I have read, there’s always a climax but it’s never one that makes you feel so totally twisted in the gut. I struggle sometimes reading books where it feels like it’s ripping my heart out and I stress so hard with anxiety. I know I can feel safe reading their books and just wish it would never end!

Maelyn is such a relatable character, with real life millennial problems that most of us are going through right now. Her one escape is to this snowy cabin that her and her family go to, as well as two other families for the holiday! Upon making a GRAVE mistake, Maelyn is forced to relive her Christmas vacation over and over and over again until she hopefully gets it right!

Rating: The cozy, Christmas feel is to die for. I love how interesting and different the characters were, I loved the normalization of LGBT families, and I really loved the sex-positive, safe sex approach to the romance. I love how funny and loving this group is with each other. This is definitely a book I will be rereading every single year for the holidays. My only real critique was the fact that sometimes I felt like the characters were not written for their ages. Miles, Maelyn’s younger brother – I thought he was 7, not 17 multiple times. Maelyn could easily have been 21 or younger (minus the drinking). I also wish we got more information on the *magic* that creates her time loop!

Thank you so much for reading my review! This book is available now for purchase! You can click this link to find it at a local bookstore near you!

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A Golden Fury by Samantha Cohoe – Blog Tour

Welcome to my blog tour stop for A Golden Fury by Samantha Cohoe! This book was gifted to me by St. Martin’s Press and Wednesday Books! Today I’ll be sharing with you the synopsis, early praise, and an excerpt! This book releases on 10.13.20 and is available for pre-order now! Click HERE to get your copy ordered today!


SYNOPSIS

Thea Hope longs to be an alchemist out of the shadow of her famous mother. The two of them are close to creating the legendary Philosopher’s Stone—whose properties include immortality and can turn any metal into gold—but just when the promise of the Stone’s riches is in their grasp, Thea’s mother destroys the Stone in a sudden fit of violent madness.

While combing through her mother’s notes, Thea learns that there’s a curse on the Stone that causes anyone who tries to make it to lose their sanity. With the threat of the French Revolution looming, Thea is sent to Oxford for her safety, to live with the father who doesn’t know she exists.

But in Oxford, there are alchemists after the Stone who don’t believe Thea’s warning about the curse—instead, they’ll stop at nothing to steal Thea’s knowledge of how to create the Stone. But Thea can only run for so long, and soon she will have to choose: create the Stone and sacrifice her sanity, or let the people she loves die.


Early praise for A Golden Fury

“Cohoe transmutes the legend of the Philosopher’s Stone into a dark, intoxicating tale of ambition, obsession, and sacrifice. Prepare for a magic that will consume you.” – Rosamund Hodge, New York Times bestselling author of Cruel Beauty and Bright Smoke, Cold Fire

“Steeped in mystery and magic, Samantha Cohoe’s A Golden Fury immerses readers in beautifully rendered world where magic and science mix, and where the intoxication of power can be deadly. Whip-smart Thea is a heroine readers will root for.” – Lisa Maxwell, New York Times bestselling author of The Last Magician

Below you will find an excerpt provided by the publisher for me to share! This teaser enticed me to go ahead and pre-order my copy! Click the link or the download button for the PDF!


About the Author

Samantha Cohoe writes historically-inspired young adult fantasy. She was raised in San Luis Obispo, California, where she enjoyed an idyllic childhood of beach trips, omnivorous reading, and writing stories brimming with adverbs. She currently lives in Denver with her family and divides her time among teaching Latin, mothering, writing, reading, and deleting adverbs. A Golden Fury is her debut novel.

Thank you so much for joining me today for my blog tour! I hope you enjoy A Golden Fury!!

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Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles Blog Tour


Blog Tour Banner_Use before 8.25

Welcome to my blog tour stop for Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles

This fantastic YA Fantasy is published by Wednesday Books. It is available for purchase on 8.25.20 but can be pre-ordered now! You can purchase this book HERE or at any participating retailers in store or online!


SYNOPSIS:

In a city covered in ice and ruin, a group of magicians face off in a daring game of magical feats to find the next headliner of the Conquering Circus, only to find themselves under the threat of an unseen danger striking behind the scenes.

As each act becomes more and more risky and the number of missing magicians piles up, three are forced to reckon with their secrets before the darkness comes for them next.

The Star: Kallia, a powerful showgirl out to prove she’s the best no matter the cost

The Master: Jack, the enigmatic keeper of the club, and more than one lie told

The Magician: Demarco, the brooding judge with a dark past he can no longer hide

Where Dreams Descend is the startling and romantic first book in Janella Angeles’ debut Kingdom of Cards fantasy duology where magic is both celebrated and feared, and no heart is left unscathed.


DISCLAIMER: This book was gifted to me by Wednesday Books and St. Martin’s Press to read and review. This in no way impacts my review as all thoughts and opinions are my own.


REVIEW

This book is captivating. I read and listened to this book via audio and I absolutely adored the narration! I truly brought the characters to life for me. Where Dreams Descend is such a mix of magic, suspense, mystery, slow burn romance, thrill… I think this book does an excellent job of blending fantasy and reality, so much so that it’s difficult to put down. There’s so much wonder when you’re reading, so many questions left unanswered. Where Dreams Descend is the first book in the Kingdom of Cards duology and I cannot wait for book 2.

The descriptions written by Janella Angeles are so enticing and sometimes creepy (eek!) It makes me want to step into this book and live it with the characters so I can explore this world too. I feel that the characters are well rounded, complicated, some likable, some not (but in a good way), with a level of suspicion of who the good guys and bad guys truly are. I was extremely invested in the character’s story arcs by the end and was devastated with that ending! I appreciated the fact that it explores social issues such as gender inequality and breaking down social norms/barriers.

The writing style is very intoxicating. It reminds me of The Night Circus with the excitement of Caraval, but is different enough that it stands out on it’s own. Comparing it doesn’t necessarily seem fair. It was so easy to get swept away. I don’t want to reveal too much, I feel like even explaining who the characters are will give things away as this book deserves a full reading experience without spoilers. It starts off slow (much like that slow burn romance) and the pace picks up when the mystery unfolds and you will not want to stop.

Thank you so much to Wednesday Books and Macmillan Audio for providing me the audio access early so I could read and ENJOY. This book was 5 STARS for me I am already begging for the next installment!


Mei Lin Barral Photography_Janella AngelesJANELLA ANGELES is a Filipino-American author who got her start in writing through consuming glorious amounts of fanfiction at a young age—which eventually led to openning a few of her own, and later on, creating original stories from her imagination. A lifelong lover of books, she’s lucky enough to be working in the business of publishing them on top of writing them. She currently resides in Massachusetts, where she’s most likely to be found listening to musicals on repeat and daydreaming too much for her own good. Where Dreams Descend is her first book.

Social LinksTwitter: @Janella_Angeles // Instagram: @Janella_Angeles

Early Praise:
“Janella Angeles steals the 2020 show with her fiercely imagined debut starring larger than life characters, a dangerous world alive with magic, and a dizzying dose of grab-a-fainting-couch-and-swoon-away romance!” – Roshani Chokshi, New York Times bestselling author of The Gilded Wolves

Where Dreams Descend is a glamorous dark gem of a tale, sparkling with romance, magic, and intrigue. Readers will be captivated by prima donna Kallia as the mystery is slowly unmasked. Bravissima!” – Julie C. Dao, author of Forest of a Thousand Lanterns

“Lavish and opulent in a way that feels warmly familiar yet demands your attention. There are secrets upon secrets, a girl who’s boldly ambitious, and truly riveting stage magic. I didn’t want the show to stop.” – Emily A. Duncan, New York Times bestselling author of Wicked Saints

“Vibrant imagery, jaw-dropping set pieces, sizzling romantic tension, and unstoppable heroine Kallia bring this ambitious debut novel to spectacular life. Fans of Caraval and The Night Circus will be delighted!” – Claire Legrand, New York Times bestselling author of Furyborn  

“[A] spellbinding melody of a book, and the true magic is how Angeles puts all the best parts of an enrapturing theatrical performance onto paper and ink. From the gripping twists in the first pages all the way to the final, heartbreaking crescendo, Where Dreams Descend will surge you to your feet in a standing ovation.” – Sara Raasch, New York Times bestselling author of the Snow Like Ashes trilogy


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Lobizona by Romina Garber Blog Tour

Lobizona_BlogTourBanner_Use on+after 8.4

Welcome to the Lobizona blog Tour!

Hey guys! I was supposed to post this on Aug 1 but life slipped me by! So instead of a preorder push, I’ll be sharing it as AVAILABLE NOW! CLICK HERE TO BUY

Thank you so much to St. Martin’s Press, Wednesday Books, and Romina Garber for the free book to read and review! This was a 5 star read for me. It was intense, full of power, and heartbreakingly beautiful. Romina truly has a way with words.


About Lobizona

Some people ARE illegal.

Lobizonas do NOT exist.

Both of these statements are false.

Manuela Azul has been crammed into an existence that feels too small for her. As an undocumented immigrant who’s on the run from her father’s Argentine crime-family, Manu is confined to a small apartment and a small life in Miami, Florida.

Until Manu’s protective bubble is shattered.

Her surrogate grandmother is attacked, lifelong lies are exposed, and her mother is arrested by ICE. Without a home, without answers, and finally without shackles, Manu investigates the only clue she has about her past—a mysterious “Z” emblem—which leads her to a secret world buried within our own. A world connected to her dead father and his criminal past. A world straight out of Argentine folklore, where the seventh consecutive daughter is born a bruja and the seventh consecutive son is a lobizón, a werewolf. A world where her unusual eyes allow her to belong.

As Manu uncovers her own story and traces her real heritage all the way back to a cursed city in Argentina, she learns it’s not just her U.S. residency that’s illegal. . . .it’s her entire existence.

Excerpt

I awaken with a jolt.

It takes me a moment to register that I’ve been out for three days. I can tell by the well-rested feeling in my bones—I don’t sleep this well any other time of the month.

The first thing I’m aware of as I sit up  is an urgent need  to use the bathroom. My muscles are heavy from lack of use, and it takes some concentration to keep my steps light so I won’t wake Ma or Perla. I leave the lights off to avoid meeting my gaze in the mirror, and after tossing out my heavy-duty period pad and replacing it with a tampon, I tiptoe back to Ma’s and my room.

I’m always disoriented after lunaritis, so I feel separate from my waking life as I survey my teetering stacks of journals and used books, Ma’s yoga mat and collection of weights, and the posters on the wall of the planets and constellations I hope to visit one day.

After a moment, my shoulders slump in disappointment.

This month has officially peaked.

I yank the bleach-stained blue sheets off the mattress and slide out the pillows from their cases, balling up the bedding to wash later. My body feels like a crumpled piece of paper that needs to be stretched, so I plant my feet together in the tiny area between the bed and the door, and I raise my hands and arch my back, lengthening my spine disc by disc. The pull on my tendons releases stored tension, and I exhale in relief.

Something tugs at my consciousness, an unresolved riddle that must have timed out when I surfaced . . . but the harder I focus, the quicker I forget. Swinging my head forward, I reach down to touch my toes and stretch my spine the other way—

My ears pop so hard, I gasp.

I stumble back to the mattress, and I cradle my head in my hands as a rush of noise invades my mind. The buzzing of a fly in the window blinds, the gunning of a car engine on the street below, the groaning of our building’s prehistoric eleva- tor. Each sound is so crisp, it’s like a filter was just peeled back from my hearing.

My pulse picks up as I slide my hands away from my temples to trace the outlines of my ears. I think the top parts feel a little . . . pointier.

I ignore the tingling in my eardrums as I cut through the living room to the kitchen, and I fill a stained green bowl with cold water. Ma’s asleep on the turquoise couch because we don’t share our bed this time of the month. She says I thrash around too much in my drugged dreams.

I carefully shut the apartment door behind me as I step out into the building’s hallway, and I crack open our neighbor’s window to slide the bowl through. A black cat leaps over to lap up the drink.

“Hola, Mimitos,” I say, stroking his velvety head. Since we’re both confined to this building, I hear him meowing any time his owner, Fanny, forgets to feed him. I think she’s going senile.

“I’ll take you up with me later, after lunch. And I’ll bring you some turkey,” I add, shutting the window again quickly. I usually let him come with me, but I prefer to spend the morn- ings after lunaritis alone. Even if I’m no longer dreaming, I’m not awake either.

My heart is still beating unusually fast as I clamber up six flights of stairs. But I savor the burn of my sedentary muscles, and when at last I reach the highest point, I swing open the door to the rooftop.

It’s not quite morning yet, and the sky looks like blue- tinged steel. Surrounding me are balconies festooned with colorful clotheslines, broken-down properties with boarded- up windows, fuzzy-leaved palm trees reaching up from the pitted streets . . . and in the distance, the ground and sky blur where the Atlantic swallows the horizon.

El Retiro is a rundown apartment complex with all elderly residents—mostly Cuban, Colombian, Venezuelan, Nicara- guan, and Argentine immigrants. There’s just one slow, loud elevator in the building, and since I’m the youngest person here, I never use it in case someone else needs it.

I came up here hoping for a breath of fresh air, but since it’s summertime, there’s no caress of a breeze to greet me. Just the suffocating embrace of Miami’s humidity.

Smothering me.

I close my eyes and take in deep gulps of musty oxygen, trying to push the dread down to where it can’t touch me. The way Perla taught me to do whenever I get anxious.

My metamorphosis started this year. I first felt something was different four full moons ago, when I no longer needed to squint to study the ground from up here. I simply opened my eyes to perfect vision.

The following month, my hair thickened so much that I had to buy bigger clips to pin it back. Next menstrual cycle came the growth spurt that left my jeans three inches too short, and last lunaritis I awoke with such a heightened sense of smell that I could sniff out what Ma and Perla had for dinner all three nights I was out.

It’s bad enough to feel the outside world pressing in on me, but now even my insides are spinning out of my control.

As Perla’s breathing exercises relax my thoughts, I begin  to feel the stirrings of my dreamworld calling me back. I slide onto the rooftop’s ledge and lie back along the warm cement, my body as stagnant as the stale air. A dragon-shaped cloud comes apart like cotton, and I let my gaze drift with Miami’s hypnotic sky, trying to call up the dream’s details before they fade . . .

What Ma and Perla don’t know about the Septis is they don’t simply sedate me for sixty hours—they transport me.

Every lunaritis, I visit the same nameless land of magic and mist and monsters. There’s the golden grass that ticks off time by turning silver as the day ages; the black-leafed trees that can cry up storms, their dewdrop tears rolling down their bark to form rivers; the colorful waterfalls that warn onlookers of oncoming danger; the hope-sucking Sombras that dwell in darkness and attach like parasitic shadows . . .

And the Citadel.

It’s a place I instinctively know I’m not allowed to go, yet I’m always trying to get to. Whenever I think I’m going to make it inside, I wake up with a start.

Picturing the black stone wall, I see the thorny ivy that twines across its surface like a nest of guardian snakes, slith- ering and bunching up wherever it senses a threat.

The sharper the image, the sleepier I feel, like I’m slowly sliding back into my dream, until I reach my hand out tenta- tively. If I could just move faster than the ivy, I could finally grip the opal doorknob before the thorns—

Howling breaks my reverie.

I blink, and the dream disappears as I spring to sitting and scour the battered buildings. For a moment, I’m sure I heard a wolf.

My spine locks at the sight of a far more dangerous threat: A cop car is careening in the distance, its lights flashing and siren wailing. Even though the black-and-white is still too far away to see me, I leap down from the ledge and take cover behind it, the old mantra running through my mind.

Don’t come here, don’t come here, don’t come here.

A familiar claustrophobia claws at my skin, an affliction forged of rage and shame and powerlessness that’s been my companion as long as I’ve been in this country. Ma tells me I should let her worry about this stuff and only concern myself with studying, so when our papers come through, I can take my GED and one day make it to NASA—but it’s impossible not to worry when I’m constantly having to hide.

My muscles don’t uncoil until the siren’s howling fades and the police are gone, but the morning’s spell of stillness has broken. A door slams, and I instinctively turn toward the pink building across the street that’s tattooed with territorial graf- fiti. Where the alternate version of me lives.

I call her Other Manu.

The first thing I ever noticed about her was her Argentine fútbol jersey: #10 Lionel Messi. Then I saw her face and real- ized we look a lot alike. I was reading Borges at the time, and it ocurred to me that she and I could be the same person in overlapping parallel universes.

But it’s an older man and not Other Manu who lopes down the street. She wouldn’t be up this early on a Sunday anyway. I arch my back again, and thankfully this time, the only pop I hear is in my joints.

The sun’s golden glare is strong enough that I almost wish I had my sunglasses. But this rooftop is sacred to me because it’s the only place where Ma doesn’t make me wear them, since no one else comes up here.

I’m reaching for the stairwell door when I hear it.

Faint footsteps are growing louder, like someone’s racing up. My heart shoots into my throat, and I leap around the corner right as the door swings open.

The person who steps out is too light on their feet to be someone who lives here. No El Retiro resident could make it up the stairs that fast. I flatten myself against the wall.

“Creo que encontré algo, pero por ahora no quiero decir nada.”

Whenever Ma is upset with me, I have a habit of translat- ing her words into English without processing them. I asked Perla about it to see if it’s a common bilingual thing, and she said it’s probably my way of keeping Ma’s anger at a distance; if I can deconstruct her words into language—something de- tached that can be studied and dissected—I can strip them of their charge.

As my anxiety kicks in, my mind goes into automatic trans- lation mode: I think I found something, but I don’t want to say anything yet.

The woman or girl (it’s hard to tell her age) has a deep, throaty voice that’s sultry and soulful, yet her singsongy accent is unquestionably Argentine. Or Uruguayan. They sound similar.

My cheek is pressed to the wall as I make myself as flat as possible, in case she crosses my line of vision.

“Si tengo razón, me harán la capitana más joven en la his- toria de los Cazadores.”

If I’m right, they’ll make me the youngest captain in the history of the . . . Cazadores? That means hunters.

In my eight years living here, I’ve never seen another per- son on this rooftop. Curious, I edge closer, but I don’t dare peek around the corner. I want to see this stranger’s face, but not badly enough to let her see mine.

“¿El encuentro es ahora? Che, Nacho, ¿vos no me podrías cubrir?”

Is the meeting right now? Couldn’t you cover for me, Nacho?

The che and vos sound like Argentinespeak. What if it’s Other Manu?

The exciting possibility brings me a half step closer, and now my nose is inches from rounding the corner. Maybe I can sneak a peek without her noticing.

“Okay,” I hear her say, and her voice sounds like she’s just a few paces away.

I suck in a quick inhale, and before I can overthink it, I pop my head out—

And see the door swinging shut.

I scramble over and tug it open, desperate to spot even a hint of her hair, any clue at all to confirm it was Other Manu— but she’s already gone.

All that remains is a wisp of red smoke that vanishes with the swiftness of a morning cloud.


ROMINA GARBER (pen name Romina Russell) is a New York Times and international bestselling author. Originally from Argentina, she landed her first writing gig as a teen—a weekly column for the Miami Herald that was later nationally syndicated—and she hasn’t stopped writing since. Her books include Lobizona. When she’s not working on a 

Romina Garber_Credit Drew Bordeauxnovel, Romina can be found producing movie trailers, taking photographs, or daydreaming about buying a new drum set. She is a graduate of Harvard College and a Virgo to the core.

You can find Romina at:


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