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.

Review: The Stars in Her Eyes by C.M. Albert

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Published March 27th 2019

One woman. Three men. Some things are best kept secret.

When Creslyn Knight auditions for the role of a life time, she never expects three things:
1.To know the casting director—intimately.
2.To be insanely attracted to the three stand-in actors at the audition.
3.That she’d soon be putting her morals to the test when her resolve weakens.

Acting is in Creslyn’s blood, and she’s focused her sights on one thing: landing the role of a lifetime. But she’s always been told that everything comes at a cost. The casting director names his when he tells her she must make him believe she can surrender to a harem of men, or he can’t justify giving her the lead role.

Determined to prove him wrong and show him she can tap into a passion that deep, Creslyn throws herself into rehearsals. But the fine line between script and reality soon starts to blur, leading her and three men into unchartered territory. The only problem? She has a jealous roommate, a disgruntled mother, and a string of paparazzi hot on her trail, making Creslyn question the cost of everything.

In a world where some things are best kept secret, is the price of fame too high when it comes to the heart?

The Stars in Her Eyes is a new adult, steamy contemporary romance that features all the heat you expect from a multi-partner romance, with a storyline and HEA readers crave with a contemporary love story. Finally, the best of both worlds! 

It’s been a long time since I’ve read a super fluffy romance and that’s definitely what The Stars in Her Eyes is. The writing style was good, the characters were fun but the toxic way some of the male characters treated Creslyn wasn’t okay to me. Like I said, it’s been a long time since I’ve read a book like this so I’m a little disappointed after all this time, it’s still normal for male characters to be this toxic in this genre.
The plot was pretty unique and it was also a very quick read.
Overall, it’s a fun romance read. It’s definitely not meant to be taken seriously or to be read critically. If you look to deep, there’s flaws but for a quick, light read, it was enjoyable.

Review: Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Expected publication: June 30th 2020 

He is trying to poison me. You must come for me, Noemí. You have to save me.

After receiving a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find — her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region.

Noemí is also an unlikely rescuer: She’s a glamorous debutante, and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But she’s also tough, smart, and has an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: Not of her cousin’s new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemí; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemi’s dreams with visions of blood and doom.

Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family’s youngest son. Shy and gentle, he seems to want to help Noemí, but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family’s past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family’s once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemí digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness.

And Noemí, mesmerized by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to ever leave this enigmatic house behind.

I was so excited to read Mexican Gothic. I don’t remember the last time I had so much hype to read a book and I was so overjoyed when the publisher sent me over an early copy.
This was the first book by Silvia Moreno-Garcia that I’ve read but as soon as I finished Mexican Gothic, I knew I had to pick up her other books right away.
I loved everything about this book. The writing is absolutely stunning and captivating. I adored the main character so much! She was well written, determined, and so much fun to read about.
The plot was so unique and mysterious, I never wanted to put this book down. It was such a one of a kind read, I won’t be forgetting Mexican Gothic anytime soon.

Review: Soul Land by Natalia Clarke

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Expected publication: March 28th 2020

‘A spiritual love affair with the land’

This collection of poems is a result of the author’s spiritual journey and reveals a powerful personal account through a deep and profound connection to the land of Scotland. Both emotional and touching, with universal themes of nature and love at the centre, the author portrays a transformational effect of stunning Scottish landscapes on the soul and life as a whole. Engaging in an emotional struggle to bring spiritual and earthly together, this eloquent collection is written with devotion and reverence and offers an exploration of a spiritual identity through the land. Through the poems, the author shows how the beauty of natural places can be soothing and hopeful in times of turmoil. At its heart, this volume is a spiritual love story between the land and the author, exploring the elements of nature as they are in the wild, as well as in our souls.

I’ve read a decent amount of poetry, especially in the last couple of months, and Soul Land was very unique from all the others I’ve read. I really enjoyed how descriptive the poems were and the beautiful picture the author painted with each poem. It was surprisingly very short so it was a quick, fun read.

Review: The Girl of Hawthorn and Glass by Adan Jerreat-Poole

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Expected publication: May 16th 202

Even teenage assassins have dreams.

Eli isn’t just a teenage girl — she’s a made-thing the witches created to hunt down ghosts in the human world. Trained to kill with her seven magical blades, Eli is a flawless machine, a deadly assassin. But when an assignment goes wrong, Eli starts to question everything she was taught about both worlds, the Coven, and her tyrannical witch-mother.

Worried that she’ll be unmade for her mistake, Eli gets caught up with a group of human and witch renegades, and is given the most difficult and dangerous task in the worlds: capture the Heart of the Coven. With the help of two humans, one motorcycle, and a girl who smells like the sea, Eli is going to get answers — and earn her freedom.

I was so excited for this book, I wanted to like it, I gave it so many chances. But this book, in my opinion, is not even close to be ready to be published. This reads like a first draft. I like the overall concept, which is why I gave it two stars, but everything else needs work. The plot is confusing, not completely thought out, lacks any kind of direction. Even after finishing this book, I don’t know what actually happened. I couldn’t explain the storyline at all.
I really appreciated the non-binary characters (overall good LBGTQ+ representation), but none of the characters seemed complete. I couldn’t connect or relate to any of them and they lacked character building. No one seemed to have their own personality.
Overall, I didn’t like this one at all. I feel like this book is far from being ready to publish, regardless that I read this as an ARC. With some editing, I think this book could be good.

Review: A Strangely Wrapped Gift by Emily Byrnes & Lizzy Duga

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Published October 21st 2017

In these pages, you will find journeys from childhood to today, from mental illness to recovery, from heartbreak to heart growth, from hopelessness to empowerment, and from the ocean to the stars.

It’s so difficult for me to review poetry, it’s so personal to the author, and even if I don’t connect with it, it doesn’t mean someone else won’t. I loved the themes of this collection. Love, loss, mental health, recovery, and LGBTQ+.

The style was unique and even though it wasn’t a style I prefer, I liked that it was unique. I also liked the consistency through out the book, there’s wasn’t any noticeable filler poems. Because of the style, I couldn’t really connect deeply with the entire book but I could relate to the themes and I appreciated the consistency.

Review: The Night Swim by Megan Goldin

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Expected publication : August 4th, 2020

In this new thriller from the author of The Escape Room, a podcast host covering a controversial trial in a small town becomes obsessed with a brutal crime that took place there years before.

After the first season of her true crime podcast became an overnight sensation and set an innocent man free, Rachel Krall is now a household name―and the last hope for thousands of people seeking justice. But she’s used to being recognized for her voice, not her face. Which makes it all the more unsettling when she finds a note on her car windshield, addressed to her, begging for help.

The small town of Neapolis is being torn apart by a devastating rape trial. The town’s golden boy, a swimmer destined for Olympic greatness, has been accused of raping a high school student, the beloved granddaughter of the police chief. Under pressure to make Season Three a success, Rachel throws herself into interviewing and investigating―but the mysterious letters keep showing up in unexpected places. Someone is following her, and she won’t stop until Rachel finds out what happened to her sister twenty-five years ago. Officially, Jenny Stills tragically drowned, but the letters insists she was murdered―and when Rachel starts asking questions, nobody seems to want to answer. The past and present start to collide as Rachel uncovers startling connections between the two cases that will change the course of the trial and the lives of everyone involved.

Electrifying and propulsive, The Night Swim asks: What is the price of a reputation? Can a small town ever right the wrongs of its past? And what really happened to Jenny? 

Even though I liked this book, it didn’t live up to the expectations I had from the extreme positive reviews I’ve seen. I was expecting to love this book so much but it didn’t steal my heart like I thought it would.

I really liked the plot, it was well written in my opinion. Especially since it focuses on such a serious crime, I personally felt like it was handled well by the author. Obviously, if you’re triggered by the subject of rape, this isn’t the book for you. It is a difficult subject to read about, I had to take some time away from it at times, but it was sensitively handled by the author.

I liked the characters, I just wasn’t extremely invested in them. I didn’t feel super connected. I also wasn’t super connected to the story. I couldn’t get invested and I felt like because the chapters jumped from different perspectives, I never had time to settle into the story.

Overall, The Night Swim was a good read but not my favorite. I would’ve liked it more if there was only one perspective but I know that’s just a personal preference. If you like thrillers and mysteries, you might really enjoy this book.

Review: The Voting Booth by Brandy Colbert


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.