Review: With the Fire On High by Elizabeth Acevedo

With a strong heart and an even stronger palate, Emoni is moving through life with a drive and a heart that is seeing her through some tough times. After getting pregnant at fourteen, she had to make some choices.

Whether it’s in the kitchen with a sizzle and a pop, at school or at home with her Babygirl, Emoni’s figuring out this thing called life in a brilliant new young adult magical realism book from Elizabeth Acevedo.


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Published: 7 May 2019

Publisher: HarperTeen

Category: Magical Realism/Young Adult/Contemporary

From the New York Times bestselling author of the National Book Award longlist title The Poet X comes a dazzling novel in prose about a girl with talent, pride, and a drive to feed the soul that keeps her fire burning bright.

Ever since she got pregnant freshman year, Emoni Santiago’s life has been about making the tough decisions—doing what has to be done for her daughter and her abuela. The one place she can let all that go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness.

Even though she dreams of working as a chef after she graduates, Emoni knows that it’s not worth her time to pursue the impossible. Yet despite the rules she thinks she has to play by, once Emoni starts cooking, her only choice is to let her talent break free.

Rating: 5 Stars

Rep: Afro-Latina MC (Puerto-Rican/Black), Lesbian side character

It was next to impossible to put down With the Heat on High. The style in which the book was written made it easy to consume, to absorb the events of Emoni’s life as she went through living her life as a mother, as a granddaughter, as a student, as a prospective chef. The short chapters were all encompassing and never felt like they were missing anything.

Emoni talks about a lot of things in her narrative, such as the changes in her life when she became pregnant. Not just the physical changes, but the other ones: how people saw her, treated her as a pregnant teen; what school & the workload was like, etc. All those outside forces that had nothing to do with physical influences.

A good thing about this book is how it handles sex and relationships. There’s one specific sex scene between Emoni and Tyrone (Babygirl’s father) that’s an example of how things don’t have to be perfect. Emoni’s first time is awkward. There’s laughing at the wrong time, fumbling. It shows how it’s okay to feel things you didn’t expect, that the books or movies don’t necessarily tell you the truth about being intimate.

Emoni’s relationship with Malachi is another aspect of how WTFOH handled intimacy. Their relationship has a basis of respect, of knowing boundaries that are talked about and understood. There’s a back and forth between the two of them that I enjoyed, from when they met on the first day of school through to graduation. There’s a level of intimacy that develops which culminates on a school trip that highlights how much Malachi respects Emoni’s reservations.

Acevedo also takes the time to touch on something with her Afro-Latina MC.

And why, Malachi, did you not think I was ‘Black-black’?”

“Well, your last name is Santiago, you’re light-skinned, and your hair’s wild curly. I assumed you were Spanish,” he says, pulling on a strand. I swat at his hand.

“Boy, don’t touch me,” I say. “My father is Puerto Rican and he’s darker than my mom was, and her whole family is straight-from-the-Carolinas Black. And her hair was just as curly as mine. Not all Black women, or Latinas, look the same.”

There’s a recurring theme that comes up where Emoni talks about her identity as a Black woman. Malachi is the person we see question her most directly about it when he meets her, but Emoni has more than a couple of moments where she reflects about how people are always expecting her to teach them about her identity, where she comes from, where her people are from or why her skin is the color it is, her hair as curly.

This stuff is complicated. But it’s like I’m some long-division problem folks keep wanting to parcel into pieces, and they don’t hear me when I say: I don’t reduce, homies. The whole of me is Black. The whole of me is whole.

Beyond that, Emoni also talks about her neighborhood in Philly, how there’s news reports about how “dangerous” it is, but that those kinds of things come from the people that don’t live there, don’t know the Papis and the citizens that walks the streets day in and out.

On the one hand, people are scared to come over here because they say this part of town is dangerous, “undeveloped,” and a part of me thinks, good, keep out, then. But everyone knows that the good things like farmers’ markets, and updated grocery stores, and consistent trash pickup only happen when outsiders move in.

These reflections were, I thought, an interesting inspection about the fine line between community improvement and gentrification. How there’s a world view that outsiders have that is toxic but that if they visit, they could bring with them things that will keep the good parts alive. It’s a wicked balancing act, making things work without destroying the culture, because there’s people that think they know better when really it’s that they think their way is better and then they end up obliterating something precious.

I want to be able to take care of my own and the only thing I would want to study is culinary arts, but why try to learn that in a school when I could learn it in a real restaurant where I’m making money instead of spending it?”

Oh my god, the cooking in this book is such a shining thing. I’m usually a recipe follower, but Emoni is an instinctive cook and it works for her. There’s almost a mystic touch to Emoni’s cooking, as evidenced by several instances where she puts her feelings into creating a dish from whatever she finds in the pantry and whoever eats it has a memory conjured up that they thought they’d long forgotten.

This magical realism was such a fascinating element because her abuela talks about Emoni’s hands and how they work with food. Emoni also encounters a chef during her apprenticeship on a school trip who talks about how, whether she calls it magic or not, she’s got a something with food, with her knowing how to use this or that with spices that brings pleasure to whoever eats her meals.

Referencing the quote above: while Emoni is in her Advisory (homeroom) class, there’s a teacher who’s encouraging her to go to college, one with a culinary program. It creates some conflict for Emoni because she’s not sure if she should go to college or if she can, not least because of her grades, but also because of Babygirl. There’s the question of money, childcare, and a dozen other things. I liked this quote because I thought she had a point. Not everyone (professional chef wise) goes to culinary school. There are some that actually advise against it and suggest that real life experience in a kitchen is more helpful and a lot less expensive. Emoni makes her own decision and the journey to it makes for good reading.

There are SO MANY elements to this books. There are the “recipes” that are included (inspired by Emoni’s instinctual method of cooking). There are the relationships, familial and friends. There are questions that range from what to do when you find yourself in a position like Emoni’s, where you have to decide how best to provide for someone other than yourself. It’s a whole big bag of complicated, With the Fire on High, and it is such a good bag of enjoyable complicated that I can’t wait until it’s time for me to read this story again. Elizabeth Acevedo did an amazing job with this book and I can’t recommend it enough.

Favorite Quotes


sometimes focusing on what you can control is the only way to lessen the pang in your chest when you think about the things you can’t.


I love Ms. Fuentes, but sometimes she says real stupid shit. “I think there are lots of ways to ‘make something’ of yourself and still support your family. College isn’t the only way.”


’Buela has a way of letting you know she cares for you—and that she’ll also beat that ass if you act up.


I whisper all the everything I know she can be and the ways I’ll fight for her to be them. I want her to know her entire life her mommy may not have been much but that her moms did everything so that she could be an accumulation of the best dreams.


“My mother always told me one of the hardest things to be in a hungry world is a parent. But sometimes I think it’s being an older brother. To know exactly what your sibling needs and not have the age or strength to know any way to get it for them.”



I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Quotes included are from an advanced reader copy and may not reflect the finalized copy.

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


Review: The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza by Shaun David Hutchinson

Shaun David Hutchinson has a way of coming up with concepts that, at first, sound like there’s no way that could work. Then, when you pick the book up, you find a text that has humor, snark, theological conjecture, and a cast that makes you debate morals more than any cast I’ve ever encountered before.

Whether you think it’s possible the world will end or not, buckle up while Elena Mendoza tries to figure out what to do when she’s given the responsibility of saving humanity by a line of guiding objects including the Starbucks siren, Lego Gandalf, and Baby Cthulhu.


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Published: 6 February 2018

Publisher: Simon Schuster Audio

Category: Young Adult/Fantasy/LGBT+/Sci-Fi

From the critically acclaimed author of We Are the Ants and At the Edge of the Universe comes a mind-bending, riveting novel about a teen who was born to a virgin mother and realizes she has the power to heal—but that power comes at a huge cost.

Sixteen-year-old Elena Mendoza is the product of a virgin birth.

This can be scientifically explained (it’s called parthenogenesis), but what can’t be explained is how Elena is able to heal Freddie, the girl she’s had a crush on for years, from a gunshot wound in a Starbucks parking lot. Or why the boy who shot Freddie, David Combs, disappeared from the same parking lot minutes later after getting sucked up into the clouds. What also can’t be explained are the talking girl on the front of a tampon box, or the reasons that David Combs shot Freddie in the first place.

As more unbelievable things occur, and Elena continues to perform miracles, the only remaining explanation is the least logical of all—that the world is actually coming to an end, and Elena is possibly the only one who can do something about it.

Rating: 4 Stars

CW: suicidal ideation/bullying, gun violence

Rep: bisexual Cuban MC, bisexual LI, asexual questioning Muslim Middle Eastern SC

There are a lot of layers to this book and I’m not sure whether this is one that you can really be done thinking about too quickly. There are a lot of questions regarding life and death, consent, belief, and so on. They aren’t necessarily separate topics either, as Elena figures out with the help of her friend Fadil, who helps her by talking about the situation of her healing, the resulting Rapturing, Elena’s voices, etc., from his point of view regarding his religion.

Another interesting facet of The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza actually has to do with the universe in which it takes place. I’ve only read one previous book by Hutchinson (The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley), so I could only pick up on that particular line, but throughout there were Easter eggs from previous works from the author. Elena mentions a boy who hid in a hospital undetected after his family died (Andrew), she meets a boy named Tommy at a bookshop (At the Edge of the Universe, I believe). I’m sure there are more, but there sheer size of Hutchinson’s literary universe makes the books interesting because it puts the events thereof under a new scope when you consider the supernatural events that happen.

Going back to what I said earlier about how this book has layers (then in regards to themes), the characters in this books were pretty rich. No one was just a good person or just a bad guy. Even the people that you might allocate to those roles had moments that could give you pause and make you think about how much of a person we really know, whether we’re the reader in a situation or the main character. Elena figures this out as she searches for answers to many questions, whether it’s to the reasons behind her powers or the motivations behind the actions of people she encounters in her quest.

While you’re reading and enjoyed the aforementioned aspects, also keep an eye out for pertinent political jabs that are at once humorous, truthful, and slightly depressing with regards to the American political arena at the time The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza was published. As someone living in the depths of it, it brought a smile to my face because it wasn’t cheap, but well crafted.



I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Quotes included are from an advanced reader copy and may not reflect the finalized copy.

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


Blog Tour for The Whispers by Greg Howard – Review & Aesthetic


Riley has a strong belief in the Whispers: fairies that will grant you your heart’s desire if you offer a tribute. He needs to believe in them because his mama has been missing for months now and if he doesn’t believe…what then?

Greg Howard’s middle grade debut novel was a well written, heart breaking example of how sometimes the belief we hold on to is all we have in the face of something far more devastating, but that processing, growing up, whatever you want to call it, is also possible.


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Published: 15 January 2019

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

Category: Middle Grade/LGBT+/Fantasy

A middle grade debut that’s a heartrending coming-of-age tale, perfect for fans of Bridge to Terabithia and Counting By 7s.

Eleven-year-old Riley believes in the whispers, magical fairies that will grant you wishes if you leave them tributes. Riley has a lot of wishes. He wishes bullies at school would stop picking on him. He wishes Dylan, his 8th grade crush, liked him, and Riley wishes he would stop wetting the bed. But most of all, Riley wishes for his mom to come back home. She disappeared a few months ago, and Riley is determined to crack the case. He even meets with a detective, Frank, to go over his witness statement time and time again.

Frustrated with the lack of progress in the investigation, Riley decides to take matters into his own hands. So he goes on a camping trip with his friend Gary to find the whispers and ask them to bring his mom back home. But Riley doesn’t realize the trip will shake the foundation of everything that he believes in forever.

Rating: 4 Stars

CW: bullying, anti-gay terminology/homophobia, child abuse, animal death, talk about segregation behavior

There was an expectation I had about The Whispers going into reading it and while I might have held onto them for awhile, when Riley was telling us about his Mama singing to him, the games they would play, and the stories she would share with him, it wasn’t long before a sense of foreboding took over.

While Riley has a sense of wonder and a belief in the fantastical, there’s also

This was a good, solid read that I kept wanting to pick up, even when I had to set it aside for other tasks. Even when I thought I knew where the story was going (that sense of foreboding I mentioned? yeah, it only gets stronger as you go), I had to know for sure. I had to know how Riley was going to figure things out: how he was going to handle living with his dad, who seemed to hate him since Mama vanished; his classmates, who teased him for liking stuff he “shouldn’t” like; his crush on his nextdoor neighbor, Dylan. There’s a lot going on beneath the surface for Riley and while he might seem single minded, there’s also a lot of confusion boiling up inside that creates tension for him and whoever’s reading about him.

Riley’s life in a South Carolina town is complex. He’s eleven years old and figuring things out, such as how he feels about those around him, particularly who he wants to kiss. This is complicated by the sermons he hears at church and what the Brothers and Sisters from church say when they think he can’t hear. From an adult perspective, it was even more heartbreaking to realize what they meant and I wanted to shake these people for being so cruel to a child.

There’s also an interesting method of storytelling wherein Riley sees things from a certain point of view. Some readers might be able to guess at particular plot points in advance and thereby guess as the story progresses, but if not, at the end you can look back and see how Riley’s perspective and that of those around him differ and makes it almost like there were two stories going on simultaneously.

The emotional impact of The Whispers cannot be understated. It’s quite good and I think there will be quite an audience for it. I’m not sure if the writing style will be for everyone in the middle grade audience because as much as I liked it, I’m not 100% that younger readers will stick with it through the early stages. I’d certainly encourage them too, though, because it’s well worth it. Provide tissues, though, for the finals scenes and readers of all ages.


the whispers - aesthetic


This is an aesthetic I put together to celebrate The Whispers and its review on The Hermit Librarian. It’s the first official aesthetic I’ve ever done. The images highlight key moments or feelings in the book that stood out to me. If you’ve read Greg’s book, do you remember which ones I mean? If not, see if you can pick them out when you go on Riley’s adventure with him to find the Whispers.


About the Author


greg howard

Greg Howard grew up near the coast of South Carolina. His hometown of Georgetown is known as the “Ghost Capital of the South” (seriously…there’s a sign), and was always a great source of material for his overactive imagination. Raised in a staunchly religious home, Greg escaped into the arts: singing, playing piano, acting, writing songs, and making up stories. Currently, Greg resides in Nashville, Tennessee, with his husband, Steve, and their three rescued fur babies Molly, Toby, and Riley.

Goodreads | Twitter | Website



Tour Schedule


Week One

January 14 – Novel Novice – Creative Instagram Picture + Spotlight

January 15 – Pages Unbound – Author Q&A

January 16 – Bookish Connoisseur – Creative Instagram Picture

January 17 – Velarisreads – Review

January 18 – The Desert Bibliophile – Playlist

Week Two

January 21 – Bookish Bug – Review + Creative Instagram Picture

January 22 – A Bronx Latina Reads – Review

January 23 – Buttons Book Reviews – Author Q&A

January 24 – The Hermit Librarian – Review + Book Aesthetic

January 25 – Andy Winder – Author Guest Post





I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Quotes included are from an advanced reader copy and may not reflect the finalized copy.

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


Audiobook Review: Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde, Read by Cat Gould & Sarah Mollo-Christensen

I’ve been a bit nostalgic for anime and conventions lately, so what better way to nurse that feeling than to revisit one of my favorite geek related books, Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde.

I originally reviewed this book back in April of 2017 (you can see my review of an ARC copy of the novel here) and absolutely loved it. This review is specifically to update my thoughts about the book as it pertains to the audiobook edition with some additional commentary that I might have not written as well in the first edition of the review.



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Published: 31 July 2018 (originally published 14 March 2017)

Publisher: Tantor Audio

Category: Contemporary/Young Adult/LGBT+

Three friends, two love stories, one convention: this fun, feminist love letter to geek culture is all about fandom, friendship, and finding the courage to be yourself.

Charlie likes to stand out. She’s a vlogger and actress promoting her first movie at SupaCon, and this is her chance to show fans she’s over her public breakup with co-star Reese Ryan. When internet-famous cool-girl actress Alyssa Huntington arrives as a surprise guest, it seems Charlie’s long-time crush on her isn’t as one-sided as she thought.

Taylor likes to blend in. Her brain is wired differently, making her fear change. And there’s one thing in her life she knows will never change: her friendship with her best guy friend Jamie—no matter how much she may secretly want it to. But when she hears about a fan contest for her favorite fandom, she starts to rethink her rules on playing it safe.

Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde, chosen by readers like you for Macmillan’s young adult imprint Swoon Reads, is an empowering novel for anyone who has ever felt that fandom is family.

Rating: 5 Stars

CW: biphobia, body shaming, panic attacks

Rep: bisexual Chinese-Australian MC, plus-size Autistic MC, Mental health rep also inc. social anxiety & depression

What I liked a lot about the audio book was that the production didn’t ignore the characters who were Australian. This is the first time I can remember listening to a book with Australian characters who actually got Australian voices. It was a refreshing listen.

Charlie’s chapters, as she’s navigating interviews at SupaCon (a version of San Diego Comic Con), has some poignant commentary on the way women are viewed in the media. There’s a scene where she and Reese, her co-star and ex-boyfriend, are being interviewed. While Reece gets an in-depth question about method & his role, she gets asked about her diet & workout routine. 🙄

Taylor runs up against her share of difficulties from a fan perspective within the geek community. During the course of SupaCon she enters a Queen Firestone Fan Contest and overhears a fellow contestant make disparaging remarks about her that include body shaming and how she (Taylor) can’t be a true Firestone fan because of what she looks like. This is an important moment for Taylor, and for the readership of Queens of Geek, because while she’s having a reflection upon her feelings about her body and talking it through on her Tumblr, the audience sees just how ludicrous such sentiments are. Your body/appearance has no relation to what your interest in a fandom can be. If you want to cosplay, be a fan, etc., then do the thing. Enjoy the game, the book, the movie, whatever. Don’t let the haters get you down.

Queens of Geek bears up well under repeat readings, so I think it will be good for new readers and repeat readers alike, particularly those that enjoy the atmosphere of anime/comic conventions.






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


Rockstar Book Tours Presents: Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus – A Review


Secrets are intriguing, until they turn deadly.

Karen M. McManus, author of the NYT Bestseller One of Us is Lying, returns to the genre with the story of Echo Falls, a small town where once a girl goes missing, they tend to never come home. Ellery and Ezra Corcoran have ties to the community: their aunt was one such girl, twenty years ago.

What will this mean when new crimes start again? Vandalism, a new disappearance that might be connected to both Ellery’s aunt and one much more recently. Is it all one big coincidence that this is happening when the Cocoran twins have just moved to town? Ellery’s got a mind for criminal justice and she, along with her twin brother Ezra and local Malcolm Kelly, aren’t going to let things stand by.


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Published: 8 January 2018

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Category: Mystery/Young Adult/Contemporary

Echo Ridge is small-town America. Ellery’s never been there, but she’s heard all about it. Her aunt went missing there at age seventeen. And only five years ago, a homecoming queen put the town on the map when she was killed. Now Ellery has to move there to live with a grandmother she barely knows.
The town is picture-perfect, but it’s hiding secrets. And before school even begins for Ellery, someone’s declared open season on homecoming, promising to make it as dangerous as it was five years ago. Then, almost as if to prove it, another girl goes missing.
Ellery knows all about secrets. Her mother has them; her grandmother does too. And the longer she’s in Echo Ridge, the clearer it becomes that everyone there is hiding something. The thing is, secrets are dangerous–and most people aren’t good at keeping them. Which is why in Echo Ridge, it’s safest to keep your secrets to yourself.

Rating: 4 Stars

CW: drug abuse (off page)

Rep: bisexual Korean SC, biracial MC/secondary character (twins) (ambiguous Latinx)

I’ve wanted to read Karen M. McManus’s work for awhile now because I’ve heard good things about her talent for crafting a well written thriller. Like Ellery, I share an interest in criminal justice stories, though I prefer mine to be fictional while her interests like more in the true crime direction.

What I ended up reading in Two Can Keep A Secret made me sure it was worth the wait. McManus’s set up of the town of Echo Ridge was hauntingly familiar to me as someone who lives in a small town, particularly one in the area of New England. From the descriptions of the environment in the late summer and fall to the interactions of townspeople, I thought that the author got the details right for this story. There was one passage in particular when a character talks about how your family, in a town that small, can end up getting known for either the best thing a family member has done or the worst.

Malcolm Kelly knows that better than anyone. One of the main characters in TCKAS, he’s in a tough situation. His brother Declan was the primary suspect when his girlfriend, Lacey, was murdered five years ago. Though there was no evidence, speculation made the family social pariahs. Declan left town while Malcolm & his mother were on the verge of financial ruin until Alicia Kelly (Mom) married Peter Nilsson, one of the richest men in town who “saved” them from social destitution. Malcolm’s step sister, Katrin, doesn’t make things easier with her elitist attitude toward him and his mother.

Ellery Corcoran, the primary main character, has an intense interest in true crime that ends up causing her a lot of trouble when put to the test in her actual life. After she and her twin brother, Ezra, move to her grandmother’s home while their mother is in rehab following a drug induced car crash, she’s stuck in her mom’s hometown with her twin brother, a town with a dark history. Girls tend to go missing and get murdered in Echo Falls. Five years after the last one, someone’s vandalism of the local cultural center promises an anniversary crime much, much worse than the last murder: that of Lacey, for which Declan, Malcolm’s brother, is still suspected.

There are a lot of threads to start the story off and they only become more entangled as the book progresses. There are a lot of ways the plot could have gone and I liked that McManus didn’t lean too heavily one way or the other. Sometimes in thrillers, if they’re done poorly, an author’s hand is tipped early and that makes the rest of the book a chore. This is not the case here, where I found myself interested in the characters as well as the mystery of who committed the various crimes around Echo Ridge. These characters, these people, felt well developed and intriguing, even if not everyone spent as much time on the page as others.

While you might expect that there would be a dark cloud over most of the book. McManus did inject some humor into the story as well, including one of my favorite quotes that comes from Ezra Corcoran:

I have a really strong feeling that on Wednesdays, they wear pink.

The Mean Girls quote just set the scene in the high school lunchroom off perfectly. lol

Two Can Keep A Secret is a well paced thriller that I think very few readers will want to put down. The secrets in Echo Ridge beg to be revealed and the very last line of the book is especially killer.


About the Author


KMcManus Color

As a kid I used to write books when I was supposed to be playing outside, and not much has changed. I’m a marketing and communications professional who also writes Young Adult contemporary and fantasy fiction in Cambridge, MA.

When not writing or working I love to travel, and along with my nine-year old son I’ve ridden horses in Colombia and bicycles through Paris. A member of SCBWI, I hold a bachelor’s degree in English from the College of the Holy Cross and a master’s degree in Journalism from Northeastern University. Which I have never, ever used professionally.


Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Instagram



About the Giveaway


3 winners will receive a finished copy of TWO CAN KEEP A SECRET (US Only)


a Rafflecopter giveaway



Tour Schedule


Week One:

1/1/2019- Lifestyle of Me– Review

1/2/2019- Paper Reader– Review

1/3/2019- Adventures Thru Wonderland– Review

1/4/2019- Here’s to Happy Endings– Review


Week Two:

1/7/2019- Pink Polka Dot Books– Review

1/8/2019- Do You Dog-ear?– Review

1/9/2019- Adventures and Reading– Review

1/10/2019- The Phantom Paragrapher– Review

1/11/2019- Book Dragon Lair– Review


Week Three:

1/14/2019- A Gingerly Review– Review

1/15/2019- Confessions of a YA Reader– Review

1/16/2019- Sweet Southern Home– Review

1/17/2019- Simply Daniel Radcliffe– Review

1/18/2019- The Hermit Librarian– Review


Week Four:

1/21/2019- Smada’s Book Smack– Review

1/22/2019- Owl always Be Reading– Review

1/23/2019- BookHounds YA– Review

1/24/2019- Popthebutterfly Reads– Review

1/25/2019- Eli to the nth– Review


Week Five:

1/28/2019- The Clever Reader– Review

1/29/2019- All the Ups and Downs– Review

1/30/2019- Two Points of Interest– Review

1/31/2019- EatingbetweenthelinesINC– Review




I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Quotes included are from an advanced reader copy and may not reflect the finalized copy.

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

Waiting on Wednesday: We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal

While my earlier post today was about Disappointing Reads, this one is much happier. Waiting on Wednesday is all about a book I’m enthusiastic about, one I can’t wait to get my hands on. A world I’m looking forward to sinking into, new characters I want to meet, and so on.

This week’s featured book is We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal, a Young Adult Fantasy set in a world inspired by Arabia.


Waiting on Wednesday


Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event created by Breaking the Spine in which we highlight a title we’re looking forward to reading. You can find their website here.



Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Goodreads | Indiebound

Published: 14 May 2019

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Category: Fantasy/Young Adult

People lived because she killed.
People died because he lived.

Zafira is the Hunter, disguising herself as a man when she braves the cursed forest of the Arz to feed her people. Nasir is the Prince of Death, assassinating those foolish enough to defy his autocratic father, the king. If Zafira was exposed as a girl, all of her achievements would be rejected; if Nasir displayed his compassion, his father would punish him in the most brutal of ways.

Both are legends in the kingdom of Arawiya—but neither wants to be.

War is brewing in Arawiya, and the Arz sweeps closer with each passing day, engulfing the land in shadow. When Zafira embarks on a quest to uncover a lost artifact that can restore magic to her suffering world and stop the Arz, Nasir is sent by the king on a similar mission: retrieve the artifact and kill the Hunter. But an ancient evil stirs as their journey unfolds—and the prize they seek may pose a threat greater than either can imagine.

Set in a world inspired by ancient Arabia.


I’ve had the privilege to read a sample of this book and think the writing is quite good. The summary alone sounds interesting, what with two main characters who have lives that they must fight against, stakes that are incredibly high, and lives that depend upon them, whether their own or familial.

Hafsah’s writing is going to create such a world that will bring in readers that will fall in love with the characters that everyone will be talking about them. Besides the main characters, I’m also super intrigued by the Arz, the dark forest that is encroaching upon the world. It feels like there’s so much behind this, so much potential, that I can’t wait to read more.

I know May is only a few months away, but right now it feels like ages! Here’s hoping this year passes by quickly and we can all find ourselves talking about We Hunt the Flame together asap!






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Top 5 Wednesday: Most Disappointing Reads of 2018

Not every read is going to be a success for me. It’s a hard fact to swallow, but there it is. This week for Top 5 Wednesday, I’m sharing with you some titles that, while they may not have been published in 2018, I did read last year and was disappointed in.

One way or another, whether by hype or my own expectations, I was let down. Have you read any of these titles? Did they disappoint you as well or, perhaps, did you enjoy them? Let’s chat in the comment section below. 🙂



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



White Rabbit by Caleb Roehrig

My Review: 1 Star


I went into this expecting a really twisty murder mystery. It didn’t really live up to that. I thought that the relationships were way too problematic and the mystery just bleh.



It’s a Book by Lane Smith

My Rating: 2.5 Stars


I thought this book would be a celebration of books. What it turned out to be was, I thought, a rather patronizing read that was anti–books-in-any-other-format-than-physical.



Reign of the Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh

My Review: 2 Stars


This book was a case of visually stunning, characteristically flat. I couldn’t get into it with any of the cast, but especially Odessa, the main person the reader is meant to be following through the action. She was difficult to like or remember, her relationships & connections to side characters lackluster, and aside from all that, the pacing of the book at large suffered.



Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody

My Review: 2.5 Stars


I really wanted to like Ace of Shades because the premise sounded like books I’d enjoyed in the past. The pacing and the flip flopping personality of one of the dual perspectives (Enne) bothered me a lot, though, and I thought it was too dry a story to interest me in spending any more time in this world.



To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

My Review


When I read the description for this book, a story about a siren princess, I was expecting a certain something. I liked the promise of a bloodthirsty princess that hunted princes, even of the prince that has been seeking revenge for humanity.

That wasn’t really what ended up being in the book, though. Lira fell so far short of being what a siren is mythologically speaking that I can’t think of any word but disappointed. There was also something off about the pacing (what a common theme among these books!) because the action bunched up until the last 13% and WHOOSH!






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Top 10 Tuesday: New-to-Me Authors I Read In 2018

One of the best things about reading is finding new stories. While I have favorite authors, there’s only so much time in a day and they can’t keep up with my reading appetite (writing books takes time!). So, what else is fun about reading? Finding new authors!

2018 was a great year for being introduced to new writers and their literary works. This post has a mix of traditional books and graphic novels, as well as genres. Hopefully when you have read through this post, you’ll be inspired to add these authors and their stories to your TBR.



Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Artsy Reader Girl. Upcoming topics and past TTT topics can be found here.


Ceillie Simkiss (Learning Curves series)


Ceillie introduced me to two of my favorite new favorite women in literature: Elena and Cora. This series of novellas and short stories is diverse and full of life, bringing to life not only the main characters but their families as well. To date there are three books/collections in the series: Learning Curves (Learning Curves #1), The Ghosts of Halloween (Learning Curves #1.5), and Wrapped Up in You (Learning Curves #2).


Robin Talley (Pulp)


I’d heard of Robin previously, but 2018 was the year that I finally picked up a book by Robin to read for myself. It was a very good book, but it was also a hard one to read, considering that a good chunk of it took place in the 1950’s and the main character in that time was a closeted, just-figuring-out-she’s-a-lesbian teen.


Laura E. Weymouth (The Light Between the Worlds)


I don’t remember exactly when I started following Laura on Twitter, but I loved her feed so much, so it might have been before I got around to reading her book. She’s such a great personality online and her writing is so otherworldly. It has a depth to it that while at times familiar also has an eerie unfamiliarity that grabs you because you just have to know what happens to the characters. That’s why I loved The Light Between the Worlds so much and look forward to Laura’s next stories.


Martha Wells (All Systems Red)


Martha’s book All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries #1) introduced me to one of my favorite new characters of 2018, Murderbot. They are so relatable and so vastly interesting, I can’t believe I’m so late to this series! Martha’s writing was engaging and created such a sympathetic character ing Murderbot that I was instantly sad when the story was over and craved more of their thoughts, their quest for knowledge, whether it was about the next serial story installment or just what it means to be who/what they are.


Nnedi Okorafor (Binti)


Nnedi is someone I’ve followed for awhile online because I find her to be an amazing speaker. I picked up Binti in 2018 because it was recommended as a good place to start for reading her books, plus it’s getting a bindup soon so it’s getting a bit more press. The audiobook of this is amazing, so I’d totally recommend listening to it if you get the chance (Robin Miles is fabulous as the narrator).


Cassandra Khaw (These Deathless Bones)


I think this particular story (These Deathless Bones) was recommended to me via a email and wow! I am so glad I read it and discovered Cassandra’s writing. It was so incredibly atmospheric and creepy. I want to read everything Cassandra writes, it was that good. ❤


Molly Knox Ostertag (The Witch Boy)


If you know me, you’ll know how much I love manga, comics, and graphic novels. Last year I read my fair share and one of my favorites was The Witch Boy by Molly Ostertag. Shapeshifters and witches take the stage in a society where boys learn to be one thing and girls the other, but the main character of the story wants to be something different. What will his family think? The art is beautiful, the story does have some heartache, and there is a sequel!


Claire Kann (Let’s Talk About Love)


Claire’s story about Alice, a biromantic asexual Black girl, was one of the most familiar stories I read last year. It cemented her as a writer I had to to auto-read in the future.


Seanan McGuire (Wayward Children series, etc.)


Of all the authors on this list, Seanan is probably the one whose catalog I most widely ended up reading. After reading Every Heart A Doorway, I fell in love with her books and read all of the Wayward Children books that were published at the time. Then I went through her other books and started looking for what others I might enjoy, starting with some short stories and her Girl in the Green Silk Gown series. There are a LOT more, but it’s been a LOT of fun, this journey. 😀


Jen Wang (The Prince and the Dressmaker)


Jen is an illustrator of immense talent. I found her work through The Prince and the Dressmaker, a graphic novel about a genderfluid prince and a dressmaker. Their story has so many different visual elements to it that it’s a pure feast for the eyes as well as a literary one.




Were there any authors you read in 2018 that were new to you? What books/stories/etc. of theirs would you want to share with others? Let me know in the comment section below! 🙂






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Review: Spider-Gwen: Ghost-Spider (2018-) #1 by Seanan McGuire (Author), Rosi Kampe (Illustrator), Bengal (Illustrator)

As a fan of Seanan McGuire, I knew I’d have to pick up any comic that she’d written. This is especially true after I recently saw the movie, Into the Spider-verse, and fell in love with just about every version of the Spider therein. There’s an immense back catalogue to work through and, obviously, new comics such as the Ghost-Spider series to work through, so thankfully I’ve got at least one of my favorite authors as a place to more or less start.



Amazon | Goodreads 

Published: 24 October 2018

Publisher: Marvel

Category: Sequential Art/Superheros

A SPIDER-GEDDON TIE IN! What? You thought we were done with Gwen Stacy after the first two landmark volumes of her series?! GET OUTTA HERE. It’s a whole new spin on Gwen and her world of Earth-65, brought to you by none other than SEANAN MCGUIRE & ROSI KÄMPE! We pick up with Gwen right where we left her – fighting crime through her home reality, unaware that it sits on the precipice of interdimensional calamity! Someone’s gonna be late to band practice…

Rating: 4 Stars

I liked that, even though I haven’t read the preceding comics, I was able to get into this issue pretty well. There are asterisks next to key moments of dialogue that clue me into what issues I need to check out, which was something I appreciated. When you get into one series and realize there’s a LOT to wade through if you’re going backwards, it really helps to have the writer give you a hand.

That being said, Gwen’s been through a lot and is getting back into her life in her dimension at a rough time. Freshly out of prison, she’s trying to decide where her alter ego and her human identity separate when someone from her past comes to her for aid. The other Spiders are in danger and that leads to a conflict which strands Gwen in a unfamiliar world. That’s saying something considering all the action she’s been through in her past.

It almost sounds like there’s too much to digest in a single issue, but the action flowed smoothly for me. There were familiar characters such as Gwen herself, Harry Osborn, and Spider Ham, as well as a baddie that I’m fairly certain is new? I could be wrong, but anyway, the tension this character added was just the right amount for issue one. It lead to a cliffhanger that definitely made me interested in getting the next issue.

Art wise, the colors are quite nice and the lines are clean. The style is a good one that makes it easy to track the action without being too busy. The colors, as I mentioned, are nice because there’s a good balance between the bright and the dark, blending well in the shadows and the light of the cityscapes Gwen traverses.

Have you read any of Spider-Gwen’s previous adventures? What about this one? Let me know in the comment section below. 🙂




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Audiobook Review: Salt Fat Acid Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking by Samin Nosrat

Books about food are an endless garden of recipes and methods and techniques, some far more complicated than others. Samrin Nosrat, in this that can act as a companion to her new Netflix show, narrates it all with a warm poise that embraces the reader and engages your interest in all the elements of cooking knowledge she shares.


Amazon | Audible | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Goodreads | Indiebound |

Published: 22 August 2017 (originally published 25 April 2017)

Publisher: Simon Schuster Audio

Category: Food & Drink/Nonfiction/Science

Now a Netflix series!

Winner of the 2018 James Beard Award for Best General Cookbook and multiple ICAP Cookbook Awards 

Samin Nosrat reads “The Four Elements of Good Cooking,” Part One of her New York Times bestseller Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking

A visionary new master class in cooking that distills decades of professional experience into just four simple elements, from the woman declared “America’s next great cooking teacher” by Alice Waters.

In the tradition of The Joy of Cooking and How to Cook Everythingcomes Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, an ambitious new approach to cooking by a major new culinary voice. Chef and writer Samin Nosrat has taught everyone from professional chefs to middle school kids to author Michael Pollan to cook using her revolutionary, yet simple, philosophy. Master the use of just four elements—Salt, which enhances flavor; Fat, which delivers flavor and generates texture; Acid, which balances flavor; and Heat, which ultimately determines the texture of food—and anything you cook will be delicious. By explaining the hows and whys of good cooking, Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat will teach and inspire a new generation of cooks how to confidently make better decisions in the kitchen and cook delicious meals with any ingredients, anywhere, at any time.

Echoing Samin’s own journey from culinary novice to award-winning chef, Salt, Fat Acid, Heat immediately bridges the gap between home and professional kitchens. With a lighthearted approach to kitchen science, Samin demystifies the four elements of good cooking for everyone.

Rating: 4 Stars

Samin navigates her way through the culinary landscape of seasoning, in particular salt, educating as she goes, without becoming pretentious. Always mindful that the reader/listener may not be a professional or educated in the myriad of ways in which salt can be used, she espouses the different types and the best ways in which they can be used based on personal experience.

She lets the homecook know that their senses are the ones to be trusted. Her guidelines and the teachings of others are great bases, but it is your taste, your intuition, which is truly important if you want to make a memorable dish.

While I enjoyed the audiobook because it was narrated by Samin herself, and her voice was a truly soothing one, I would recommend picking up a physical or e-copy at the same time because there are recipes included at the back that are not read aloud in this version. Otherwise, I think the text benefits from being read aloud because it’s like being taught by the chef herself, like she’s right there in the room with you imparting all this wisdom. You can’t get that from print on the page in the same way.

Samin is an interesting chef and I hope to see more books from her in the future. Her viewpoint on cooking is a relaxing on in the face of more stuffy ones and one that I think I would like to take to heart in my own kitchen.





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