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


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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


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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.


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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)


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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)



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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.


Review: S.T.A.G.S. by M.A. Bennett


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Published: 13 February 2018

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Category: Young Adult/Mystery/Thriller

One deadly weekend.

At St. Aidan the Great School, or S.T.A.G.S., new things–and new people–are to be avoided. Unfortunately, Greer MacDonald, token scholarship student, is very much a new person. She has just transferred to S.T.A.G.S., and finds herself ignored at best and mocked at worst by the school’s most admired circle of friends, the Medievals.

So imagine Greer’s surprise when this very group invites her to an exclusive weekend retreat at the private estate of the parents of their unofficial leader, Henry de Warlencourt. It’s billed as a weekend of “huntin’ shootin’ fishin’,” and rumor has it that the invitee who most impresses the group will be given the privilege of becoming a Medieval themselves.

As the weekend begins to take shape, however, it becomes apparent that beyond the luxurious trappings–the fancy clothes the maid lays out on Greer’s bed, the elaborate multicourse dinners held in the Great Hall–there are predators lurking, and they’re out for blood. . . .

Rating: 4 Stars

Caution: detailed scene of hunting & cleaning of the kill.

S.T.A.G.S. has a great set-up for a thriller/mystery book, or a film even. There were a lot of classic elements leaning the book toward it, such as the elite group of students, the lack of phone/Internet usage, and so on. The setting especially, from the remote St. Aidan the Great’s School to the manor house belonging to Henry’s family, was well crafted to make the story as a whole even creepier.

Written in first person, the story is told by Greer, a outcast of sorts looking in on the Medievals, a group of six super popular and rich boys and girls. The events of the book are told from a future the reader is working toward. The course of the story unfolds as Greer tells them to us, so while oddities abound and behaviors are analyzed, it’s all from her singular view, lending a slant to it that the reader must decide to believe or question.

Greer is that person who, in horror movies, is set-up as the intelligent character here to talk sense into the other future victims, but ends up being just as dumb as they are (check out the dark hallways, go in the basement after a mysterious noise, etc.). She thought a lot about the differences between herself and the rich Medieval kids and rather than strengthening her character, her observations came across as almost snobby, as if she were proud of sussing these people out.

M.A. Bennett used Greer’s personality and the first person perspective of the novel to make an interesting point regarding society. All manner of sin is covered up by a pretty face. Not just the face evident to have swayed Greer; even after she discovers what the Medievals are up to, the attention paid to her by Henry and the sumptuous glamour of his estate shake her off course, temporarily winning her over and endangering the plan she, Shafeen, and Nel came up with to lay bare the nasty history of this popular group. Their elitism, the thing that protected them for centuries, echoes the real world crimes that the rich and powerful are able to get away with.

As wicked as Henry and his predecessors were, he did espouse some ideas about the nature or technology and the loss of the past that resonated with me. Technology moves so quickly that traditions can be lost if they’re not respected and cared for. Progress can be a good thing, but embracing it fully and ignoring what brought civilization to the future can be dangerous. Some comments were made about the reliance on tech that people have in this age, from young people aspiring to nothing more than a YouTube career to the current state of American politics where a reality-t.v. star with no government experience is now at the head of the establishment.

I liked the times when Greer made film references relevant to her current situation. Her and her dad bonded over films and it was clear their watched list was quite long. There were also some discussions that cropped up between Greer and the others, such as the one about tech and the Medievals abstention from most of it. The discourse on what tech has given and what it has poisoned had good points as well as fanciful, almost deluded ones. The conversation could easily turn from the characters in the book to real world discussions.

The ending was not quite obvious, but it didn’t surprise me. The eerie feeling of having won in a horror movie, only to realize that time hasn’t healed anything at all. There are still remnants of the old order and whatever the heroes thought they’d accomplished, whatever they thought they’d done to win, was worthless because at the end of the tunnel was no light, only more darkness and evil. Greer might escape St. Aidan’s School, but at what cost? The future is grim and there’s no certainty for anyone except for the Order of the Stag.






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 Enjoyed With My Valentine


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.



This week’s topic is Love Freebie: books with romance, OTPs, sexy times, etc. However, I’m not huge on romance in books and sexy times…well, no thank you to say the least.

Instead, I chose to list ten books I’ve enjoyed with my Valentine. We’ve been reading together for almost twelve years and read quite a lot, usually me pushing books at him and increasing his TBR to the point of bursting. *lol*

I hope some of these titles will be ones you want to share with your Valentine, romantic or not.



Fushigi Yûgi: The Mysterious Play by Yu Watase



Inkheart by Cornelia Funke



Stardust: Being a Romance Within the Realms of Faerie by Neil Gaiman


Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling



The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman



Eragon by Christopher Paolini


The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher



Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell



Tsubasa: RESERVoir Chronicle by CLAMP



The Game by Diana Wynn Jones


As you can see, we’re quite the fans of fantasy, epic or contemporary. 🙂 What are some books you’d share with your Valentine? Let me know in the comment section.






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

Rich In Variety Blog Tour: The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang


Rich in Variety Tours has once again put together a splendid blog tour, this time for Jen Wang’s The Prince and the Dressmaker. A skillfully illustrated graphic novel, it tells the story of Frances, an apprentice seamstress, and her meeting of and interactions with the crown prince, Sebastian. There’s a lot to learn for both of them, both in their ambitions and in their identities, so I hope that you all will come to like this book just as much as I did.

Peppered throughout my review are Valentine’s that embrace the story and utilize the beautiful illustrations you can expect in the novel itself. Please, enjoy!



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Published: 13 February 2018

Publisher: First Second

Category: Graphic Novel/Young Adult/LGBT+

Paris, at the dawn of the modern age:

Prince Sebastian is looking for a bride―or rather, his parents are looking for one for him. Sebastian is too busy hiding his secret life from everyone. At night he puts on daring dresses and takes Paris by storm as the fabulous Lady Crystallia―the hottest fashion icon in the world capital of fashion!

Sebastian’s secret weapon (and best friend) is the brilliant dressmaker Frances―one of only two people who know the truth: sometimes this boy wears dresses. But Frances dreams of greatness, and being someone’s secret weapon means being a secret. Forever. How long can Frances defer her dreams to protect a friend? Jen Wang weaves an exuberantly romantic tale of identity, young love, art, and family. A fairy tale for any age, The Prince and the Dressmaker will steal your heart.

Rating:  4 Stars

With a gorgeous art style, author/illustrator Jen Wang draws in the reader to a beautiful fairy tale of love and identity. Colors and her soft edged art style converge to make a book that was visually appealing and satisfactory in a narrative sense.

Prince Sebastian deals with many things in The Prince and the Dressmaker, primarily the expectations of his parents, the king and queen of Belgium, and what those duties mean for his personal identity. He finds himself comfortable and craving dresses, costuming himself in secret with old dresses of his mother’s until he meets Frances, a seamstress with dreams of her own. With her help, he’s able to become Lady Crystallia, a gorgeous fashion icon whose confidence soars in Frances’s creations.

The tug-of-war that exists within Sebastian, his identity versus parental/societal expectations, was very much at the forefront of the story. He explains to Frances that, at times, wearing dresses makes him feel not like Prince Sebastian, but more like a princess. That conversation leads me to believe that Sebastian is genderfluid. The feelings of sadness, joy, and satisfaction were felt painfully well as I read of his trying to figure out his identity, protecting so that he, and by extension those he loves, won’t be harmed, whether by ridicule or something else.




Frances has an equally detailed story line. As it begins, she is a seamstress among many at a small shop until, following the wishes of the wearer of a gown rather than the one paying for it, she crafts a dress that attracts the notice of Sebastian. With him, she is able to create more elaborate and flashy gowns that she was unable to in her previous, more conservative employ. However, she still has much to learn as she establishes what her dream is and what she needs to do to make it happen. Whether that is continuing to help Sebastian and remain a secret herself, or working with the son of a department store creator to create a line for the masses, it’s up to her to decide where her path lies, made somewhat complicated by her growing feelings for Sebastian.




There were several scenes that were particularly fun, a breath of ease among more serious panels. When Frances and Sebastian meet, their vacation together, the fashion show at the department store in particular.

In the end, through a series of sometimes cruel, sometimes sad, but ever after companionable and happy, both the prince and the dressmaker are able to grow more into their true selves. Finding that place, finding out who they can trust, made for a happily ever after.





Blog Tour Schedule

February 12th

Harker – The Hermit Librarian

Rachel – Life of a Female Bibliophile

February 13th

Bhavya – Books N Calm

Naadhira – Legenbooksdary

February 14th

Lili – Utopia State of Mind

Ceillie – CandidCeillie

February 15th

Brooke – The Layaway Dragon

Imani – Introvert Problems

February 16th

Chloe – Blushing Bibliophile

Danielle – Poetry Books YA




I received a copy of this book as part of the Rich in Variety Blog Tour & 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.