Review: The Voting Booth by Brandy Colbert

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Expected publication: July 7th 2020
Marva Sheridan was born ready for this day. She’s always been driven to make a difference in the world, and what better way than to vote in her first election?
Duke Crenshaw is do done with this election. He just wants to get voting over with so he can prepare for his band’s first paying gig tonight.
Only problem? Duke can’t vote.
When Marva sees Duke turned away from their polling place, she takes it upon herself to make sure his vote is counted. She hasn’t spent months doorbelling and registering voters just to see someone denied their right. And that’s how their whirlwind day begins, rushing from precinct to precinct, cutting school, waiting in endless lines, turned away time and again, trying to do one simple thing: vote. They may have started out as strangers, but as Duke and Marva team up to beat a rigged system (and find Marva’s missing cat), it’s clear that there’s more to their connection than a shared mission for democracy.
Romantic and triumphant, The Voting Booth is proof that you can’t sit around waiting for the world to change? But some things are just meant to be.

This book is everything I want from a Young Adult contemporary book and more. It’s absolutely fantastic in every single way.
I’ve been having a hard time really loving YA books the past few years, struggling to find many YA books as enjoyable as I once did. I’ve been starting each YA book with high hopes but often finishing the book disappointed. That was not the case with The Voting Booth. It caught my attention right away and I read the whole book in just a day. It was surprisingly a quick read and I never wanted it to end. From the characters to the plot, this book was wonderful.
Both of the main characters were so well written and very likable. I loved the diversity so much and the unique plot really made this book such a one of a kind read. I’ve loved seeing so much added diversity in YA the past couple of years and The Voting Booth brings so much to the YA genre.
I honestly can’t think of anything negative about this book. I enjoyed it so much and this is definitely one of my favorite books of 2020.

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Review: The Circus Rose by Betsy Cornwell

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Expected publication: June 16th 2020

A queer retelling of “Snow White and Rose Red” in which teenage twins battle evil religious extremists to save their loves and their circus family.

Twins Rosie and Ivory have grown up at their ringmaster mother’s knee, and after years on the road, they’re returning to Port End, the closest place to home they know. Yet something has changed in the bustling city: fundamentalist flyers paper the walls and preachers fill the squares, warning of shadows falling over the land. The circus prepares a triumphant homecoming show, full of lights and spectacle that could chase away even the darkest shadow. But during Rosie’s tightrope act, disaster strikes.

In this lush, sensuous novel interwoven with themes of social justice and found family, it’s up to Ivory and her magician love—with the help of a dancing bear—to track down an evil priest and save their circus family before it’s too late. 

I read Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell years ago when it was first released and I loved it so much. I hadn’t gotten around to picking up her other releases but when I seen the synopsis for The Circus Rose, I knew I had to read it and I was so excited.
I loved the writing style so much. It was beautiful and the alternating styles of the chapters, one character’s perspective is written in poetry, was really interesting. I didn’t love the poetry chapters but they were very unique.
The one thing that I feel really holds this book back is how aimlessly the plot wanders and nothing really happens throughout the book. I honestly couldn’t tell you what the actual plot is because there isn’t one. The writing style and the fun atmosphere of the setting gives this book life but the complete lack of plot drags it down.

Review: The Wife Who Knew Too Much by Michele Campbell

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Expected publication: June 9th 2020 

Tabitha Girard had her heart broken years ago by Connor Ford. He was preppy and handsome. She was a pool girl at his country club. Their affair should have been a summer fling. But it meant everything to Tabitha.

Years later, Connor comes back into Tabitha’s life—older, richer, and desperately unhappy. He married for money, a wealthy, neurotic, controlling woman whom he never loved. He has always loved Tabitha.

When Connor’s wife Nina takes her own life, he’s free. He can finally be with Tabitha. Nina’s home, Windswept, can be theirs. It seems to be a perfect ending to a fairy tale romance that began so many years ago. But then, Tabitha finds a diary. “I’m writing this to raise an alarm in the event of my untimely death,” it begins. “If I die unexpectedly, it was foul play, and Connor was behind it. Connor—and her.”

Who is Connor Ford? Why did he marry Nina? Is Tabitha his true love, or a convenient affair? As the police investigate Nina’s death, is she a convenient suspect?

As Tabitha is drawn deeper into the dark glamour of a life she is ill-prepared for, it becomes clear to her that what a wife knows can kill her. 

This book has given me so many different feelings. I feel so conflicted about a few aspects of the plot but overall, it’s a pretty great read.
I wasn’t a fan of the main character, Tabitha from the beginning. I disliked her the entire book and is probably one of the dumbest main characters I’ve ever read about. That being said, I doubt the entire plot would have been even remotely possible if the main character wasn’t so gullible and dumb. It was often tedious to read from Tabitha’s perspective but it wasn’t bad enough that I wanted to quit reading.
I also was not a fan of Connor, obviously. From the the very beginning, we know him as a cheater and he blames his behavior on his wife, toxically painting Nina as the villain, thats she’s responsible for his terrible behavior and cheating ways. There more about him that I hate but tom keep the review spoiler free, I won’t go into detail.
The choices him and Tabitha make individually and together are incredibly terrible and stupid but also made the book pretty engaging, similar to the way reality tv shows are engaging.
I really enjoyed reading from Nina’s perspective. She was more interesting than Tabitha and Connor put together and I wish more of the book was from her perspective.
The plot twists were interesting and mildly surprising. The characters do lead you believe you know what happened and it’s pretty impossible to not make the obvious assumptions.
The pace was actually really good, I was very impressed. It wasn’t slow and I didn’t think anything was rushed, even at the end. I read the whole book pretty quickly and I even looked forward to reading each time I picked the book up.
Overall, very impressive read. I didn’t enjoy the main characters but that didn’t take away anything from the reading experience. I really enjoyed Nina’s perspective and the overall plot and pace was wonderful. I really enjoyed this book and since I read this as a digital copy, I look forward to the release so I can pick up a physical copy.

Review: The Court of Miracles by Kester Grant

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Expected publication: June 2nd 2020

Les Misérables meets Six of Crows in this page-turning adventure as a young thief finds herself going head to head with leaders of Paris’s criminal underground in the wake of the French Revolution.

In the violent urban jungle of an alternate 1828 Paris, the French Revolution has failed and the city is divided between merciless royalty and nine underworld criminal guilds, known as the Court of Miracles. Eponine (Nina) Thénardier is a talented cat burglar and member of the Thieves Guild. Nina’s life is midnight robberies, avoiding her father’s fists, and watching over her naïve adopted sister, Cosette (Ettie). When Ettie attracts the eye of the Tiger–the ruthless lord of the Guild of Flesh–Nina is caught in a desperate race to keep the younger girl safe. Her vow takes her from the city’s dark underbelly to the glittering court of Louis XVII. And it also forces Nina to make a terrible choice–protect Ettie and set off a brutal war between the guilds, or forever lose her sister to the Tiger.

I’ve been craving a Young Adult fantasy novel thats actually original and has great world building for so long and The Court of Miracles has supplied the solution. With a little bit of a slow start, I was worried this was going to be equipped with long, drawn out plot that was going to take a turn into boring. The plot does pick up though and its worth the slow beginning.
The writing style is my favorite part about The Court of Miracles. It’s beautifully written and makes this book stand out from the mass of YA fantasy out there.
There’s a wonderful cast of characters and even though I never became deeply invested in the characters, I really enjoyed them. I really loved the main character and, in my opinion, she makes this book stand out so much.
If you’re not much into romance being forced into every single book, The Court of Miracles is for you. I really appreciated how there wasn’t much in this book and what little there is, isn’t unnecessarily forced into the plot.

Review: The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall

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Expected publication: May 5th 2020

A desperate orphan turned pirate and a rebellious imperial daughter find a connection on the high seas in a rich, riveting fantasy set in a world divided by colonialism and threaded with magic.

Aboard the pirate ship Dove, Flora the girl takes on the identity of Florian the man to earn the respect and protection of the crew. For Flora, former starving urchin, the brutal life of a pirate is about survival: don’t trust, don’t stick out, and don’t feel. But on this voyage, as the pirates prepare to sell their unsuspecting passengers into slavery, Flora is drawn to the Lady Evelyn Hasegawa, who is en route to a dreaded arranged marriage with her own casket in tow. Flora doesn’t expect to be taken under Evelyn’s wing, and Evelyn doesn’t expect to find such a deep bond with the pirate Florian.

Soon the unlikely pair set in motion a wild escape that will free a captured mermaid (coveted for her blood, which causes men to have visions and lose memories) and involve the mysterious Pirate Supreme, an opportunistic witch, and the all-encompassing Sea itself. Deftly entwining swashbuckling action and Asian folklore in a land dominated by an imperial class, Maggie Tokuda-Hall’s inventive debut novel conjures a diverse cast of characters seeking mastery over their fates while searching for answers to big questions about identity, equality, and love. 


This book is SO GOOD. I wasn’t expecting it to be amazing as it is and I’m blown away.
The diversity, the representation, the plot, the characters, everything about this book is 10/10.
I did assume from the cover that this was middle grade, which it is definitely not. This book isn’t slow at all and the action starts right away, which I loved. It’s fast paced without being rushed and the plot is so engaging, I would being reading for hours and never get bored.
I loved the characters so much. I enjoyed the diversity and representation so much. I can’t remember the last time I read a diverse fantasy YA book thatI enjoyed so much.
The writing was wonderful and the concept was fantastic. I honestly have nothing negative to say about this book, I enjoyed it so much. It’s been such a long time since I’ve loved a YA book so much and The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea is everything I needed from a YA book and more. I highly recommend picking up a copy.

Review: Little Secrets by Jennifer Hillier

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From the author of Jar of Hearts, a mother driven to the edge by the disappearance of her son learns her husband is having an affair with the woman who might have kidnapped him.
Four hundred and eighty seconds. That’s how long it took for someone to steal Marin Machado’s four-year-old son.

Marin had the perfect life. Married to her college sweetheart, she owns a chain of upscale hair salons, and Derek runs his own company. They’re admired in their community and are a loving family. Up until the day Sebastian is taken.

A year later, Marin is a shadow of herself. The FBI search has gone cold. The publicity has faded. She and her husband rarely speak. The only thing keeping her going is the unlikely chance that one day Sebastian reappears. She hires a P.I. to pick up where the police left off, but instead of finding him, she discovers that Derek is having an affair with a younger woman.

Kenzie Li is an artist and grad student—Instagram famous—and up to her eyeballs in debt. She knows Derek is married. She also knows he’s rich, and dating him comes with perks: help with bills, trips away, expensive gifts. He isn’t her first rich boyfriend, but she finds herself hoping he’ll be the last. She’s falling for him—and that was never part of the plan.

Discovery of the affair sparks Marin back to life. She’s lost her son; she’s not about to lose her husband, too. Kenzie is an enemy with a face, which means this is a problem Marin can fix. But as she sets a plan in motion, another revelation surfaces. Derek’s lover might know what happened to their son. And so might Derek. 

This is my first book by Jennifer Hillier and it definitely won’t be my last. I absolutely loved Little Secrets. From the first chapter, I was invested and I never wanted to put this book down. I read it in less than 24 hours because it was such a great read.
It wasn’t necessarily packed with action but it wasn’t slow and it was very entertaining and engaging. The pacing was great and the plot twists were unexpected but not outlandish and over the top. The whole plot was written with direction and purpose.
I thought the main character was wonderfully written and flawed enough that she wasn’t plain and boring.
Overall, absolutely fantastic read. I loved everything about it and I’m still in awe at how well written the plot was. I’ve read so many thrillers with poorly executed plot twists and outlandish surprises that don’t make sense. Little Secrets is one of the best thrillers I’ve ever read and it’s definitely one of my favorite books of 2020.

Review: Where the Line Bleeds by Jesmyn Ward

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published December 1st 2006

Set in a rural town on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, Where the Line Bleeds tells the story of fraternal twins Joshua and Christophe, who are graduating high school as the novel begins. The two boys both anticipate and dread their lives as adults. Joshua finds a job working as a dock laborer on the Gulf of Mexico, but Christophe has less luck: Unable to find a job, and desperate to alleviate his family’s poverty, he starts to sell drugs. Joshua does not approve, but his clumsy concern fractures the twins’ relationship. When their long-missing addict father reappears, he provokes a shocking confrontation between himself and the brothers—one that will ultimately damn or save them.

Where the Line Bleeds is unforgettable for the intense clarity of how the main relationships are rendered: the love but growing tension between the twins; their devotion to the slowly failing grandmother to raised them, and the sense of obligation they feel toward her; and most of all, the alternating pain, bewilderment, anger, and yearning they feel for the parents who abandoned them—their mother for a new life in the big city of Atlanta, and their father for drugs, prison, and even harsher debasements.

I’m so surprised by how much I really enjoyed this book.
It tells such a raw, honest story and I couldn’t help but become invested from the first chapter. The writing is so great and the author is so talented. I felt the plot was very authentic and didn’t shy away from being gritty. The plot itself wasn’t action packed but I didn’t think it was boring or unbearably slow. It was very engaging and I read the entire book in just a one sitting.

Review: From Scratch: A Memoir of Love, Sicily, and Finding Home by Tembi Locke

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Published April 30th 2019

A poignant and transporting cross-cultural love story set against the lush backdrop of the Sicilian countryside, where one woman discovers the healing powers of food, family, and unexpected grace in her darkest hour.

It was love at first sight when Tembi met professional chef, Saro, on a street in Florence. There was just one problem: Saro’s traditional Sicilian family did not approve of him marrying a black American woman, an actress no less. However, the couple, heartbroken but undeterred, forges on. They build a happy life in Los Angeles, with fulfilling careers, deep friendships and the love of their lives: a baby girl they adopt at birth. Eventually, they reconcile with Saro’s family just as he faces a formidable cancer that will consume all their dreams.

From Scratch chronicles three summers Tembi spends in Sicily with her daughter, Zoela, as she begins to piece together a life without her husband in his tiny hometown hamlet of farmers. Where once Tembi was estranged from Saro’s family and his origins, now she finds solace and nourishment—literally and spiritually—at her mother in law’s table. In the Sicilian countryside, she discovers the healing gifts of simple fresh food, the embrace of a close knit community, and timeless traditions and wisdom that light a path forward. All along the way she reflects on her and Saro’s incredible romance—an indelible love story that leaps off the pages.

In Sicily, it is said that every story begins with a marriage or a death—in Tembi Locke’s case, it is both. Her story is about loss, but it’s really about love found. Her story is about travel, but it’s really about finding a home. It is about food, but it’s really about chasing flavor as an act of remembrance. From Scratch is for anyone who has dared to reach for big love, fought for what mattered most, and needed a powerful reminder that life is…delicious. 

This book was so beautiful. I loved every aspect of it and it was so touching.
From Scratch really brought out so many emotions while I was reading it and I didn’t ever want to put it down. I was very surprised but how wonderful the writing style was and every word left so sincere and I could tell how much love and passion went into creating this book.

Review: spilled sugar by Jessyca Thibault

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Published November 17th 2019

I’m too sweet to handle salt and sugar gets old fast… “spilled sugar” is the poetic story of how something bitter can seem sweet, until the truth spills out. Book 2 in the Bittersweet Memories series follows “unsweetened.” From the author of “doll eyes,” “glass girl,” “plastic heart,” and “Forever Mark.”

I’ve loved all of Jessyca Thibault’s books and Spilled Sugar is no exception.
Jessyca is such an amazingly talented writer and each of her poetry collections are uniquely beautiful. The overall quality of each poem is notable and the consistency throughout this book is wonderful. I didn’t feel like there was any filler poems or pages of lesser quality. Each page is full of honest emotions that are transformed into beautiful works of art.

Review: Yellow by Alannah Radburn

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Published April 9th 2017

This book is a collection of poems. Yellow explores the feelings of love, happiness, heartbreak, grief, resilience and healing. It is an homage to the author’s most recent relationship. Strong feminist and LGBT+ undertones emanate from within the pages. Though it celebrates a relationship between two women, its themes and emotions are universal.

This is one of the best poetry books I’ve ever read. I loved it so much.
I could really feel the passion and honesty in the words and each poem was so well written. The quality of the whole collection is fantastic. Each line is beautifully written and full of the author’s emotions.
I highly recommend picking up a copy if you’re interested to poetry.