Top 5 Wednesday: Favorite Urban Fantasy Books


Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam from Thoughts on Tomes and created by Lainey from Gingerreadlainey.

Urban Fantasy is not one of my preferred genres, but it is a good one. I think it’s really interesting to see fantasy elements in everyday settings. The combination is really exciting because it can make you believe in magic in our current surroundings, something that can be hard at times.

These titles are just five of the urban fantasy books or series that I enjoyed reading.


The Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher

I’ve talked about this series before and I really felt like I needed to include it today because, while I haven’t finished it yet, I’ve enjoyed the different fantasy elements set against the background of Chicago. It starts off fairly “simple” with wizards and vampires, but expands to include spirits and the Faerie courts.



Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

This book has an element that I love, in that the main character Richard stumbles into a world beside ours through a door (or, in this case, Door, a resident of London Below). It’s both scary and exciting, to think that there’s a whole fantastical, mysterious world just out of reach. A bit sad, too, because you’ll probably never get there and even if you did, everyone in London Above would cease to remember that you ever existed.


The Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs

I think this was one of the first urban fantasy series I’d ever read besides the Dresden Files. It’s been awhile now and there’s a lot of catching up to do, but I remember loving Mercy because she was one of the first badass characters I’d really enjoyed. Her being a skinwalker is a whole other feature I liked as well, in addition to the vampires and werewolves.


Wicked Lovely series by Melissa Marr

I think I read these somewhere between their initial release, and thus the most fanfare, and the newest crop of faerie books because I don’t remember having anyone to talk to about them. The Wicked Lovely series sticks out as one of the most enjoyable young adult urban fantasy series I read a few years ago. It might be time for a reread.


Shadowshaper series by Daniel Jose Older

Admittedly this isn’t a series I’ve read yet, but it is one of the ones I’m most looking forward to. The covers are gorgeous, I’ve heard a lot of hype about it, and following the author on social media has led me to believe he’s a darn good writer. I look forward to finding out for sure.


Is urban fantasy a genre you read? What are some of your favorite that you think I ought to get to sooner rather than later? Let me know in the comment section below. 🙂






All media (pictures, quotes, etc.) belong to the respective owners and are used here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Could Reread Forever


Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. You can find the most current prompts here.



There are some books that are so good that they stick in my head and my heart. Rereading them reminds me of what I loved about them the first time and multiple rereads help me find new aspects of the story even years after the book was released.

This week’s selections are books that I’ll probably reread forever. The count is a little off, depending on how you count series, so it’s either 5 entries or 15 books. ^^; Oh well.


The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

This series meant so much to me growing up and continues to do so. I realize there are problems within it, particularly in reference to the author and the series going on for too long past Deathly Hallows, but what I got from it over the years can’t be taken away.


A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Tomorrow Will Be Better,

and Joy in the Morning by Betty Smith

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn was assigned summer reading in high school, the same year that Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire came out. Understandably, I wasn’t interested at the time in reading it because, hello! I had the newest Harry to read.

However, a few years ago I tried it again and was stunned by how much I now loved it. It inspired me to seek out the rest of her repertoire, which was sadly pretty small. Of the four novels, these three are my favorite and I try to read them at least once a year, particularly the Brookyln audiobook because the narrator is perfect.



The Shop on Blossom Street by Debbie Macomber

The Blossom Street series is nice enough as a whole, but individually, The Shop on Blossom Street has a lot of personal meaning and importance to me. I can read it time and again because it really embraces knitting culture, seeing beyond first impressions, and heartbreak. Each book in the series has a pattern at the front that corresponds with the story and I knit the baby blanket in this book for my son.


The Dramacon series by Svetlana Chmakova

Svetlana’s Dramacon series is the first manga series I remember reading that had to do with anime convention culture and I instantly fell in love with it. The art is funny, well drawn, and the story compliments it so well. The Ultimate Edition has additional content and overall, I think there’s a lot of depth to the story Svetlana told.



Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Fangirl is one of those books that I enjoy in multiple forms. The audiobook is awesome, the book itself feels really authentic, and overall I’ve read it at least three times so far. There’s some dragging action in the middle, but generally I have a good time with Cath’s story.




All media (pictures, quotes, etc.) belong to the respective owners and are used here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

DNF Review: Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman


Amazon  –  Barnes & Noble  –  Book Depository  –  Goodreads

Published: 27 February 2018

Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers

Category: Fantasy/Young Adult

In the medieval kingdom of Goredd, women are expected to be ladies, men are their protectors, and dragons get to be whomever they want. Tess, stubbornly, is a troublemaker. You can’t make a scene at your sister’s wedding and break a relative’s nose with one punch (no matter how pompous he is) and not suffer the consequences. As her family plans to send her to a nunnery, Tess yanks on her boots and sets out on a journey across the Southlands, alone and pretending to be a boy.

Where Tess is headed is a mystery, even to her. So when she runs into an old friend, it’s a stroke of luck. This friend is a quigutl–a subspecies of dragon–who gives her both a purpose and protection on the road. But Tess is guarding a troubling secret. Her tumultuous past is a heavy burden to carry, and the memories she’s tried to forget threaten to expose her to the world in more ways than one.


DNF @ 23/69%

Caution (highlight for content warning/spoiler-ish note): content relating to the premature birth and death of an infant

I didn’t think it necessary to read the Seraphina books before picking up Tess of the Road, and according to the author via a Goodreads questions, it isn’t strictly required. However, the further I got, the more I had the suspicion that, while designated a “companion” novel, it was more of a rough sequel about secondary characters. There were events that I was in the dark about that seemed to matter a great deal to the underlying story, but did not occur within Tess of the Road. Apparently Hartman’s husband recommends reading Seraphina first, a note I didn’t catch until too late. That book will provide some setup for the world and the creatures that inhabit it.

That being said, I got along alright with the hints and whatnot, making as educated a guess as I could to people and their motivations. I noticed, though, that while the writing was good in and of itself, the plot was…I don’t want to say nonexistent, exactly, but it was lacking the oomph to make it truly interesting. I checked my progress at one point, found myself a quarter of the way into the book, and realized I wasn’t engaged in anyone’s story, not really. Things were happening, the plot moved from point a to b to c, but the journey was dull.

Tess was a complicated character in that I couldn’t figure out whether I liked her or not. There were many times when personality sparkled out of her and others when she said she wanted freedom but relaxed into the constraints placed upon her by family and society. Even after she finally gets on the road (not, as the synopsis says, disguised as a boy at first), she had several instances of doubt and even hope that someone such as her father would come looking for her, happy to find her safe, and take her home. Tess felt very fickle and I wasn’t sure what side of her I was going to see from one moment to the next.


I had to stop reading this book because of something I read when skipping ahead. As I noted above, I found the story written well enough but the journey boring. That being said, I was curious if things would move along, be resolved, etc. and in skipping ahead I read a few pages that sickened me due to personal reasons.


There are hints throughout the book that Tess has “gone wrong”, so to speak. There are rumors she’s a harlot, that she’s behaved badly, etc. The reader learns early on that she was pregnant out of wedlock and that was one of the few points of interest I had in the book. Skipping ahead, I found out that the baby died three days after having been born and the description of his skin, his breathing…it was too hard for me to read, having a son that was born at 26 weeks gestation and nearly not surviving. I didn’t want to continue, knowing that there might be more allusions to that event somewhere unawares in the text.


I may read the Seraphina books at some point in the future, but I will be intensely wary because of the aforementioned pages and how ill I felt after reading them. Perhaps others will find Tess of the Road enjoyable, but I couldn’t.






I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

All media (pictures, quotes, etc.) belong to the respective owners and are used here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Review: The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden


Amazon  –  Barnes & Noble  –  Book Depository  –  Goodreads

Published: 5 December 2017

Publisher: Del Rey

Category: Fantasy/Historical Fiction

The magical adventure begun in The Bear and the Nightingale continues as brave Vasya, now a young woman, is forced to choose between marriage or life in a convent and instead flees her home—but soon finds herself called upon to help defend the city of Moscow when it comes under siege.

Orphaned and cast out as a witch by her village, Vasya’s options are few: resign herself to life in a convent, or allow her older sister to make her a match with a Moscovite prince. Both doom her to life in a tower, cut off from the vast world she longs to explore. So instead she chooses adventure, disguising herself as a boy and riding her horse into the woods. When a battle with some bandits who have been terrorizing the countryside earns her the admiration of the Grand Prince of Moscow, she must carefully guard the secret of her gender to remain in his good graces—even as she realizes his kingdom is under threat from mysterious forces only she will be able to stop.

Rating: 4 Stars

The atmosphere in The Girl in the Tower is a mixture of dark, forbidding, and embodied the spirit of storytelling in a wholly magical manner. The landscape of Russia was beautifully laid out in the forests and the bitter winter weather. Even more so than the physical landscape in regards to atmosphere, it felt like there was a lot of work put into keeping the people authentic. From names and titles to the attitudes, I felt like these were real people coming off the page, though I did need to pay attention because the names changed depending on gender and relationship, more so than other fiction I’ve read.

This is not a fast reading book. Normally I have issues with stories that take forever to get anywhere, but there are instances of when a slow burn plot can be done well: Memoirs of a Geisha, Rin Chupecho’s The Bone Witch series, and now Katherine Arden’s Winternight trilogy. I noticed it when I read The Bear and the Nightingale last year and can confidently add the series, most recently with The Girl in the Tower being published, to the list of successful slow burns.

The narrative opens with Sasha, Vasya’s priest brother, and the horror of bandits that seem supernatural in nature and in their capacity for terrorizing the Russian countryside. Then there is some backtracking to Vasya and Solovey’s beginning as travelers and what she’s been doing, how she’s come to meet up with Sasha at a monastery. Nothing is easy and there is always a sense of dread, which made the reading a bit uneasy, but at the same time amazing.

Sometimes Vasya was foolish, always stubborn, but overall I was reminded of what I liked about her from the first book. While the journey was difficult, protecting herself from a life chosen for her, she was determined to find it and her own life. Her strength was present at all times and you could see how much it cost her to brave the world rather than succumb to marriage or a convent.

Solovey was my favorite character: a strong, noble, enormous horse that was companion and mount to Vasya. He was in turns funny and stern and had quite the love of porridge. Morozko was also beguiling and I enjoyed the interactions between him and Vasya. He understood much more of the world and tried to impart this knowledge on Vasya while at the same time allowing her to learn on her own terms, even if that sometime lead to almost deadly pursuits.

I would recommend reading The Girl in the Tower soon after reading The Bear and the Nightingale because it will be easier to remember characters introduced in the first novel and prevent confusion in the second.






I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

All media (pictures, quotes, etc.) belong to the respective owners and are used here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Start Here: The Blog Tour – A Review




Order Start Here in paperback (PH only): PH Print Preorder Form

Published: 13 February 2018

Category: Romance/Contemporary/LGBTQ+

Book Cover Design: Dani Hernandez

Additional Photography: Alexandra Urrea & Chachic Fernandez

Edited by Ronald S. Lim and Brigitte Bautista. Featuring short stories by Agay Llanera, H. Bentham, Ella Banta, Danice Sison, Yeyet Soriano, Barbie Barbieto, Katt Briones, Bobbi Moran, Motzie Dapul, and Brigitte Bautista. This anthology contains M/M, F/F, F/NB romance stories with happy endings. Some stories have a high heat level.

There’s a first time for everything. Gatecrashing a KPop concert with an oppa in a business suit. Taking shelter from the storm with the girl you’ve been meaning to shake off. That kiss that blurs the line between friendship and something more. A one-night stand (or, is it?) with your best friend from across the hallway.
Dive into these 10 stories of first encounters – unapologetically queer, happy endings required, with a smattering of that signature #romanceclass kilig. Whether you’re recalling your own firsts or out there looking for one, there’s a story in here for you.
So, go on.
Turn the page.
Start here.

Collection Rating:

In the Moonlight by Agay Llanera

Seventeen-year-old Caleb has been burned by a previous relationship. While on vacation, he meets Ezra of the sculpted calves and disarming smile, who surprises him with a moonlight kiss. Caleb retreats–and regrets his decision. Thanks to the internet, he knows where to find his summer crush, but the more pressing question is, will Caleb have the courage to bare his heart again?

Rating: 5 Stars

Caleb and Ezra are two of the most adorable boys I’ve read about in recent memory. Their story has everything: vacation romance, nerves, and what might be true love winning in the end. Caleb had to contend with coming to terms with feelings for someone he wasn’t sure he ever see again. Ezra, though we don’t hear things from his side, seemed to have to deal with potential feelings for an ex. Would he hold onto the past or would he look to the future with Caleb?

The writing was excellent and though it ends, it ends on a sweet note and smiles all around.


Come Full Circle by Bobbi Moran

You know you’re in love when you put somebody else’s happiness before yours. But waiting for fifteen years for someone to realize you are THE ONE may be taking this to the extreme.

Rating: 3 Stars

The story of unrequited love has potential for sadness and hurt. There was some of that in this tale, but there was also a nice enough ending wherein things blossomed over the years for Alana and Marion.

The reason this isn’t rated higher is for a couple of reasons. Primarily, I felt the writing style was stilted and told in a manner that suggested Alana was relating this tale back to Marion when she no longer remembered it herself or had passed on. There was no such conclusion, though, so it turned out to just be an awkward storytelling style.

The second reason is that I didn’t realize that Alana, unnamed up to a certain point, was female. Her character is introduced as playing Captain Von Trapp to Marion’s Maria and without any other identifiers, I thought she was male. We only find out that their school was an all-girls academy at the end of the story, so I couldn’t have used that to deduce Alana’s gender.

The friendship was certainly enduring and the locales were nicely described. I wish some events had had more attention paid them, but overall it was an alright story.


Gorgeous by Motzie Dapul:

New love in New York with a twist!
Two home-grown Filipinos fall in love after a chance meeting on a train to Little Manila in Queens, NY. They learn, over time spent enjoying the colorful culture of New York City’s streets, that they are, by all accounts, perfect for each other—before some unexpected baggage and a surprising history threatens to tear them apart.
Some things just don’t heal with time alone, but sometimes it’s only when it hurts that you know it’s worth trying for.

Rating: 2-3 Stars

I can’t decide if I liked this story very much or if it falls on the lower end of the scale for me. The writing was alright, perfectly adequate, but I didn’t get a spark of interest while I was reading it.

The character whose point of view is our window into the story, I wasn’t sure of her name even at the end of everything. There was one person, CJ, that called her mars, but that seemed more like a nickname or a pet name than her name with a capital N. Mars was an interestingly described character. She was plus size, sex positive, and her aesthetic was attractive (pink hair, unique hairstyle, piercings, etc.).

Jays, Mars’s love interest, was the most complex character, I think. Apparently an old classmate of Mars, Jays had a certain manner in high school that was adverse to Mars and now, in their mid-20’s, not realizing who she is, has fallen in love. Coming to terms with their feelings tugged a bit on my heartstrings and I wish we could have heard more from their point of view.

As much as I liked these two, I couldn’t really get into Gorgeous. I didn’t feel the soul of the story and while it might technically written well, it fell flat for me.


Shipping Included by Danice Sison

Two cute guys sneak into a K-pop concert. Neither one could be called a fan of the music, but by the end of the night, they might just find themselves with a new favorite song and a few romantic possibilities.

Rating: 5 Stars

Kiko was the best brother. He might be the type to tease Kyra, his sister, for her love of K-Pop, but he was supportive. He watches K-dramas with her, he gets into liking some of the songs and bands even! When Kyra wants to go to a mega K-pop concert, he protests at the price, but is impressed when Kyra is determined to get there by saving her allowance, even going so far as to take whatever side jobs he can so he can help her with the balance. Such a supportive sibling relationship was refreshing.

What I loved, besides the passion for K-pop that was evident, was that this was the story that brought in both points of view from the intended couple. It was easy to get into both Kiko and David’s heads, see what they were thinking or feeling, whether it was working extra hard to give their sister a gift (Kiko) or embracing their kind-of-secret interests and sharing them with their niece (David).

There was so much energy in the writing, in creating KPOPOCALYPSE as the main setting, that I was brought back to the anime conventions that I attended until a couple years ago. It brought a smile to my face, feeling like I was immersing myself in that world once again.


Delubyo by Barbie Barbieto

Pebbles has a strict four-month rule when it comes to relationships. But she’s about to find out what happens when you meet a woman who defies all your ideas of how long the space between endings and beginnings should be.

Rating: 2.5 Stars

To start, I can tell this writing was not for me. The style is objectively good, but to my mind it didn’t fully embrace the story it was trying to tell.

The author tells us that Pebbles has a policy regarding relationships, but it didn’t feel like we saw that. It was more “tell tell tell”. Whatever relationship Pebbles was intended to have with Gab in the end, it didn’t feel fully formed. Her about face in terms of relationship length and intimacy was sudden and I didn’t get the sense that it was authentic.


The Other Story by H. Bentham

A bored twenty-something goes to a sex club he frequently visits to while away the night and find that love sometimes comes at unexpected places.

Rating: 3 Stars

Marcus and Pablo’s story was more than a little bit steamy. After meeting at a sex club, and hitting it off rather well, they find they have things in common and begin a long and seemingly lovely relationship.

It’s clear that they’re together for a long time and I think they were really nice. I think this story could have benefited from some more detail because the scope of their relationship was painted with broad strokes. It was the one story that I think I could have seen as being a full length novel and would have been pleased to see it.

I’ll admit the sex scene made me a bit uncomfortable, but that has to do with my personal identity & preferences. It seemed well written and could be enjoyed by people who like their stories hot and steamy.


Blooms and Hues by Ella Banta

Experience love in color and flowers.

Rating: 4 Stars

I loved the visuals in Blooms and Hues. From the paper Pat used in his sketches to the endless kinds of flowers in Haya’s shop and garden, the scenes unrolled before my eyes and enveloped me. Flowers, their scents and colors, are a powerful too in storytelling.

Things moved rather quickly and while that would usually be off putting, Pat and Haya didn’t become the end all be all couple. The beginning is there and you could see how things might develop, but for now, a sweet beginning was all that was needed.


Another First by Yeyet Soriano:

Jess finally gets to have a long-delayed romantic get-away to Bohol with her hot but busy boyfriend Matteo. Beautiful resort, check! Romantic ambiance, check!
But wait . . . Lily Rose, the resort’s resident singer and self-proclaimed mermaid, is distracting the hell out of everyone.

Rating: 2.5 Stars

Once again, I found the visuals in this story amazing. Jesslyn and Lily Rose going on different adventures, making memories, and having experiences from zip lining to visiting animal sanctuaries.

The people, though, less than impressed me. I thought that they were rather one dimensional and I didn’t much care about their endings, except to say that they were easy. There wasn’t tension on the page, not really. It was mostly stuff that existed before the story started and the reader was told.


Luck From the Skies by Katt Briones

Asher Lee knew from the beginning that he was going to win the teen model search, but didn’t expect to share the title with his biggest competitor, Chan Valiente. Previously threatened by his former adversary’s talent and looks, Asher kept his walls up, only to find them crumbling down with Chan’s charms.
Would Asher be brave enough to take the leap and actually find his chance at love? Or will he and Chan remain to be a fan-made bromance?



Lemon Drop Friday by Brigitte Bautista

Tala has been secretly in love with her best friend Liv for years. Living right across the hallway, she has seen through Liv’s revolving door of Friday one-night stands. The rule: they always say goodbye in the morning. But, what happens when a rainy Friday night leads Tala to Liv’s apartment in what looks like another one-night stand?



I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

All media (pictures, quotes, etc.) belong to the respective owners and are used here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I’ve Decided I’m No Longer Interested In Reading


Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. You can find the most current prompts here.



With a TBR like mine (my want-to-read shelf as of this post has 957 books on it), there comes the need for culling because of a few things. Some books were sequels that I added because I put the whole series on at once. Some plots that were at once appealing to me have since fallen off my interest list. News has come to light about an author and I do not want to support them any longer.

This week’s topic is all about the books that I no longer want to read and while it is by no means complete, these are the first ten books that came to mind.



Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

I got this book years ago because I thought it might be interesting. However, the show then came out and I heard so many distasteful things about how the events of the book were distorted and exploited that it left me with a mental bad taste. I know the book was different so I might have at one time wanted to pick it up again.

Then a lot of information about Jay Asher and his horrific behavior toward readers and others became known publicly and I was no longer interested in supporting this author in any way shape or form.



The Maze Runner by James Dashner

As popular as this book is, I didn’t get around to reading it when the first book came out. I did try it once and hated the writing style within a page or two. I have no interest in trying again, it was that boring. It doesn’t help the author has come up on the list of sexual assault/harassment perpetrators via SLJ.



The Fifty Shades of Grey series by E.L. James

Hahahahaha…NOPE. I tried once and it was so poorly written that I’m not giving this series any more shots. Bad writing, terrible representation of the BDSM community, and disgusting character actions re: assault…there is no conceivable way I can see people thinking this is a good book.



We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach

I can’t remember why I’ve been trying to get rid of this book, but I do remember putting it on the list of books I really don’t want to read.


Anything by Sherman Alexie

Just…no. If you’ve proven to be a bad human, then why should I put your words in my head?



2 Suns Rising by Tristina Wright

The first book in the Nightshade Saga bored me to tears and induced skimming sessions. No interest in reading the second book.



Tower of Dawn by Sarah J.  Maas

I’ve only read the first Throne of Glass book and it was kind of difficult to read. The action was so slow that I had to restart the book at least twice before finally plowing through. I can’t really see getting through to the sixth book in the series, especially since I’ve heard the quality of the series goes down the further you get.



How to Murder Your Life by Cat Marnell

I literally have no idea why this book is on my Kindle. Apparently I bought it in August of 2017, but why?? I tried reading it recently and it’s terrible. :/ I definitely don’t want to read it anymore.


The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan

I wanted to read this, once upon a time, but the longer I consider it, the more I realize that the series has gotten too long for the amount of interest I had in in.


The Sisterhood series by Ann Brashares

I apparently read the first book in this series in 2014, but I couldn’t tell  you a damn thing about it. Anything I remember is from the films. I just don’t have any pull toward these books anymore.






All media (pictures, quotes, etc.) belong to the respective owners and are used here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.


Review: The Witch Doesn’t Burn in This One by Amanda Lovelace


Amazon  –  Barnes & Noble  –  Book Depository  –  Goodreads

Published: 6 March 2018

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing

Category: Poetry/Feminism

The witch: supernaturally powerful, inscrutably independent, and now—indestructible. These moving, relatable poems encourage resilience and embolden women to take control of their own stories. Enemies try to judge, oppress, and marginalize her, but the witch doesn’t burn in this one.
Rating: 4 Stars
Caution warning: from the author: “sensitive material relating to: child abuse, intimate partner abuse, sexual assault, eating disorders, trauma, death, murder, violence, fire, menstruation, transphobia, and more.”

Amanda Lovelace renewed my love of poetry with her first collection of poems, The Princess Saves Herself in This One. The amount of Post-its I used to mark up the meaningful parts baffles the mind. When I saw that her second book, The Witch Doesn’t Burn in This One, was available on NetGalley I leaped at the chance to experience more of her intense, personal, beautiful words.

haven’t you

ever wished

you could


in the ashes

of everyone who

ever doubted your worth

& scoffed at

your words?


There are a lot of topics covered within the pages of this book and it’s done so eloquently. Amanda knows words and her craft is executed well. There are poems where the meaning is deeper, some where it’s surface level. There are lines that jump out at you for the accuracy they give.


they don’t even know what’s coming. how cute.


I found a strong feminist voice coming through on the page. It faced off against toxic masculinity, against societal expectations; for women, for yourself. The content isn’t only about the here and now. The Witch Doesn’t Burn in This One reaches back in time and traces the path that women have carved out of history to the modern day and offers a view of how the present, the future, can be.


they scratched it

out the history books,

but on all the

great innovations

you will find

scorch marks

in the shape of

a woman’s

magnificent handprint.

do not forget:

we need to be

the history books


– women are libraries about to burst


There are moments that could be difficult to read and more than could be impactful, that will remind you that there is magic within, a fire that can ignite and inspire, consume, and empower.


“burn whoever tries to burn you.”

                                – coven rule #2






I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

All media (pictures, quotes, etc.) belong to the respective owners and are used here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

DNF Review: Artemis by Andy Weir


Amazon  –  Barnes & Noble  –  Book Depository  –  Goodreads

Published: 14 November 2017

Publisher: Crown Publishing Group

Category: Science Fiction

Jazz Bashara is a criminal.

Well, sort of. Life on Artemis, the first and only city on the moon, is tough if you’re not a rich tourist or an eccentric billionaire. So smuggling in the occasional harmless bit of contraband barely counts, right? Not when you’ve got debts to pay and your job as a porter barely covers the rent.

Everything changes when Jazz sees the chance to commit the perfect crime, with a reward too lucrative to turn down. But pulling off the impossible is just the start of her problems, as she learns that she’s stepped square into a conspiracy for control of Artemis itself—and that now, her only chance at survival lies in a gambit even riskier than the first.

Rating: DNF @ Pg. 78

I wanted to like this book for two primary reasons. The first was that the narrator of the book is Rosario Dawson, one of my favorite actors currently working. The second reason was that the plot sounded really cool. A heist of sorts on the moon? Neat!

However, the tone of the book and that of the writer led to me putting it down around page 78.

Why? The narrator, Jazz, was nice enough as a character until the author slid in lines that made her talk down to the readers. I felt condescended to more than once. There was a scene in particular when Jazz is buying clothes and mentions a niqab, then proceeding to say that the reader needn’t bother continuing to pretend like that know what that is. Seriously? Yes, in fact, I did know before reading this book, but even if I hadn’t, why would you phrase something in this manner?

That scene was actually really problematic for me not only because of what Jazz says to the reader, but also the comment she makes about buying a niqab and wearing it paired with a hijab: it’s a great way to wear a mask without arousing suspicions. I wanted to throw the book because in the current climate, WHY THE F*** would you say that? It’s incredibly insensitive and furthers the belief that religious women wearing one are underhanded or something.

Something else I noticed was that either the author or the editor was really inconsistent when talking about clothes from Kenya or Saudi Arabia. When Jazz meets the head of Artemis, the Kenyan woman is wearing a dhuku, a type of head wrapping. No explanation is put in parentheses, you just learn that in context clues. However, any time a item of Saudi clothing comes up, such as the religious head wear that Jazz’s father wears, there’s an explanation that details what it is. I can’t see that there was a reason for this and the inconsistency was off putting.

The sheer amount of detail jam packed into Artemis is amazing. I am assuming that the author knows what they’re talking about or they researched a whole lot because every other page there was an explanation of how the air filters worked or something other piece of trivia about the Artemis colony surviving on the moon. Getting to know how things work is great, but for great swaths of writing I felt like I was reading a technical manual and it was not a fun one. I could feel myself getting bored long before the horrible comments about Jazz’s niqab.

I’ve haven’t read Andy Weir’s other book, The Martian, so I can’t say for myself whether this is typical of his writing, but I can’t recommend Artemis. I listened to the audiobook partly and even Rosario Dawson’s reading couldn’t save it. A unique problem there is that her accents didn’t come across well; they sounded to me like she wasn’t putting in the effort I’d expect to learn what these voices should really sound like.

Artemis gets a big nope from me.






I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

All media (pictures, quotes, etc.) belong to the respective owners and are used here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Payback On Poplar Lane Blog Tour: Review + Playlist

Payback on Poplar Blog

Thank you to Friya Bankwalla for organizing the Payback on Poplar Lane Blog Tour.

I never got into the lemonade stand business myself as a kid (not a busy enough neighborhood), but I remember reading about kids in books making them and I did see actual stands in other neighborhoods. Still do, as a matter of fact. When I read the synopsis for Payback on Poplar Lane, comped as Shark Tank but for kids, I thought it would be a laugh to see what these two rival entrepreneurs got up to.


Amazon  –  Barnes & Noble  –  Book Depository  –  Goodreads

Published: 30 January 2018

Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers

Category: Childrens/Humor

ABC’s Shark Tank meets The Terrible Two when two sixth grade entrepreneurs compete to become top mogul on their block.

Twelve-year-old Peter Gronkowski prides himself on being a professional businessman. Tired of the cliched lemonade stands that line his block, he decides to start a better business with the help of an intern. But his intern of choice, the quiet and writerly Rachel Chambers, turns out to be more than he bargained for. Rachel is innovative, resourceful, driven–and when she’s had enough of Peter’s overbearing management style, she decides to start a competing empire next door. As their rivalry and sabotage tactics become more outrageous–Slander! Espionage! Lemonade threats!–Peter and Rachel ultimately learn the hard way that “nothing gold can stay” and that friendship is more important than money.

Alternating perspectives reveal what really motivates each character to win. And Peter’s memos and “business tips” as well as excerpts from Rachel’s melodramatic novel-in-progress generate fresh hilarity and tension at every page turn. Payback on Poplar Lane is a pitch-perfect comedy with heart, reminiscent of your favorite classic middle-grade series.

Rating: 4 Stars

Remember when you were a kid and started your own business? Even if you didn’t, the image of a kid’s lemonade stand should be easily imaginable and what happens in Payback on Poplar Lane goes far beyond a simple drink stand.

While there was a lot of humor in the book, there were also a lot of scenes that made me equal parts sad and frustrated. Peter is overbearing in his business practices and recitations of “business tips”, but when it’s his turn to tell the story, you get insight into why he is the way he is. His father was laid off and this spurned in Peter the need to be successful, to help his family, and I think he took it a little far and forgot to be a kid, but I understood the feeling. Peter’s family might not be as poor as some, but the changes they had to make, such as drinking non-name brands and not having dinner out anymore, would certainly be a shock to a kid’s system, their sense of continuity. Peter is so preoccupied with protecting himself, with “stepping up as breadwinner of the family”, that he takes on far too much for a child and forgets to experience life as a kid while he still can.

I didn’t like Peter at all because he tended to be too harsh and critical, particularly of his father, but I understood where he was coming from.

Where he and Rachel had some similarities was in their worry about how others regarded them. For Peter it was how much money his family had, how they had leftover nights and he couldn’t go to the Poplar Prep school. For Rachel, it was in regards to her quite nature and the desire to blend in.

As Payback on Poplar Lane begins, Rachel is really withdrawn, both with her contemporaries and with her best friend. It affects her in relationships, such as the unfortunate one she develops when she becomes Peter’s intern. However, her strength starts to shine when she realizes that she wants to matter and it’s not just about mattering to others. It’s about standing up for herself, for her ideas, and the hard work she puts into what she’s involved in, whether a fortune telling business or an interactive “gold” digging adventure.

The kids, from the two main characters to the wide cast of side characters, were fun and modern. They were a pleasure to read about because I didn’t get bored or bogged down with any of them. The adults as side characters were not a big part of the story in action, but their presence was felt: Peter’s father and his job struggles, Rachel’s deceased mother, etc. Everyone had a reason for being on the page and I liked that.

Payback on Poplar Lane was a fun middle grade read that will appeal to a wide readership.


Spotify Playlist


While creating this playlist, I wanted to take not only from the Payback on Poplar Lane text directly but from the atmosphere created by the novel. From Rachel’s bravery in wanting to sing If I Were King of the Forest due to newfound courage to the overall feeling of kid business, particularly if they were in the summer time, each song has a levity that I think describes in music the feeling you’ll get from Rachel and Peter’s story.

My personal favorite is Devil in Disguise by Elvis Presley. My first thought was it being used for the film Lilo & Stitch when Lilo is showing Stitch around town. The parallel between them and Rachel dealing with Peter had me chuckling.


Blog Tour Schedule for PAYBACK ON POPLAR LANE

February 6 – The Reading Nook Reviews – Review
February 7 – Crafty Moms Share – Review
February 8 – Hazel’s Blog – Review
February 9 – Librariel Book Reviews – Review
February 12 – Dazzled by Books – Review
February 13 – Elegancess – Review
February 14 – Gypsy Road – Review
February 15 – Pink Polka Dots – Review
February 16 – The Hermit Librarian – Playlist

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

All media (pictures, quotes, etc.) belong to the respective owners and are used here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

YAReads Blog Tour: Crossed Fire by Kim Baccellia



Recently released in December 2017, Crossed Fire continues the story of Stephanie Stewart, who’s totally average…except she helps the souls of dead girls cross over to the Other Side. Complicated enough, but things get even more challenging when more girls turn out to have powers like hers and she’s the one to help them figure out how to wield them.

Thank you to YAReads Blog Tours for having me as a spotlight host for the newest book in the Crossed series. Below is information for both titles in the series thus far, as well as a Rafflecopter giveaway with the chance to win your own copies of Kim Baccellia’s paranormal young adult books.


Crossed Fire (Crossed Series #2)


Amazon  –  Goodreads  –  Kobo

Published: 18 December 2017

Publisher: Lachesis Publishing Inc

Category: Young Adult/Fantasy/Paranormal

Stephanie Stewart is a typical sixteen-year-old girl—she loves hanging out with her friends, going to concerts, and sipping mocha lattes. Yup. Just your average teenager . . . Except for one difference—she can see and talk to the dead. In fact, Stephanie helps dead girls who who’ve been murdered or killed, cross over. Just as Stephanie is getting used to her unique “gift”, her mom stumbles into some dangerous witchcraft that backfires and triggers similar abilities in Stephanie’s best friend Cura, and nemesis Hillary. Stephanie already has enough trouble trying to maintain a “normal” life between school and her cute boyfriend Dylan, who happens to have a supernatural talent all his own. But now she has to help her friend Cura and her “frenemy” Hillary cope with their new-found powers as well as cross over two murdered cheerleaders and battle an evil demon who wants to use Stephanie’s supernatural strengths as a free pass to The Other Side. And she needs to do it all while still getting her term papers in on time. She’s definitely going to need an extra-large mocha latte for this.


Crossed Out (Crossed Series #1)



Amazon  –  Goodreads

Published: 17 May 2010

Publisher: Lachesis Publishing

Category: Young Adult/Fantasy/Paranormal


Following the light can’t be that hard, right? So why don’t the dead just do it and leave Stephanie Stewart alone? However nothing is ever as simple as it should be, as Stephanie learns when her hidden ‘gift’ becomes more than a nuisance, quickly turning into a liability. If she can’t learn to trust someone with her secret, the world as she knows it will go to hell. Literally. But if she doesn’t choose wisely, she might just end up learning firsthand how hard it is to follow that light. Because she’s next on the list to be crossed out.


About the Author


Kim Baccellia has always been a sucker for the paranormal. She blames it on her families’ love for such things as having picnics at cemeteries, visiting psychics, and reading her mother’s copies of the daily horoscope. In middle school, Kim wrote a horoscope column for the school newspaper. It was a huge hit!

A member of RWA, Kim is currently putting the finishing touches on a YA multicultural thriller. She lives in Southern California with her husband and son.



Rafflecopter Giveaway


Winner will receive: (1) ebook of Crossed Out & a print copy of Crossed Fire plus swag; US only

a Rafflecopter giveaway






All media (pictures, quotes, etc.) belong to the respective owners and are used here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.