Sapphic and Sweet: Honey Girl Review

It has been a minute since I posted a review on here that is not a part of a blog tour. I’m hoping to change that, and I’m going to start with one of my favorite LGBTQ+ reads of the year.

Cather.reads

I loved this book a lot more than I thought I would! I had heard mixed reviews and went in thinking it would just be another contemporary romance, but it turns out that this book was right up my alley.

Not only does this book feature a diverse queer cast, but it has great mental health rep, a positive view on therapy, and a really cute romance.

First of all–I love that Grace has a PhD. This is a personal goal of mine, and I love that everything just doesn’t fall into place for her, especially because she is a character who adheres to routines. I know I’m currently an undergrad student, but I saw way too much of myself in this and will definitely be thinking about this book as I try to finish my bachelor’s and start grad school while avoiding burnout.

Also–as someone who usually ends up reading YA, I loved the drunk married in Vegas and then getting to know each other plotline. it was unique to me, and their relationship unfolded so beautifully and romantically. Also, a big fan of how it wasn’t dually narrated. I think that made Yuki’s character more lovable to me beacause I got to see this mysterious monster-hunting, story-telling girl through the eyes of Grace, which made me fall in love with her just a little bit as well.

Please read this book if you are a college student. Please read this book if you are queer. Please read this book if you just love to read romance.

And if you do pick it up, be sure to tell me what you think!

A Storm Worth Weathering: Hurricane Summer Review and Excerpt!

Have you heard of Hurricane Summer by Asha Bromfield? This newly released debut is stunning, heavy, and worth every moment.

Thank you to Wednesday Books for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review and participation in the blog tour.

Synopsis

In this sweeping debut, Asha Bromfield takes readers to the heart of Jamaica, and into the soul of a girl coming to terms with her family, and herself, set against the backdrop of a hurricane.

Tilla has spent her entire life trying to make her father love her. But every six months, he leaves their family and returns to his true home: the island of Jamaica.

When Tilla’s mother tells her she’ll be spending the summer on the island, Tilla dreads the idea of seeing him again, but longs to discover what life in Jamaica has always held for him.

In an unexpected turn of events, Tilla is forced to face the storm that unravels in her own life as she learns about the dark secrets that lie beyond the veil of paradise―all in the midst of an impending hurricane.

Hurricane Summer is a powerful coming of age story that deals with colorism, classism, young love, the father-daughter dynamic―and what it means to discover your own voice in the center of complete destruction.

Review

CW: sexism, racism, sexual assault, religious shame

Hurricane Summer is a book that happens like a storm. Tilla is sent with her sister to live with their father on the island of Jamaica for the summer. Their mother is concerned because it is hurricane season, but their father wants them there anyways. Staying with relatives out in the country, Tilla is thrown into a world where she does not feel welcome. While her sister is a child and is allowed to be free, as a young woman Tilla is seen as something dangerous. By even so much as daring to look at a boy, she is given the label of slut, something that she cannot seem to shake, no matter how pure her intentions are.

The writing is beautiful and I was immediately swept away. I was unable to put it down. Tilla is a character with a perspective that I wanted to hear. The other characters were also well-written, with a dynamic of friends and foes. I wish that there had been better female friendships, but it is understandable why the other girls saw Tilla as the ‘enemy’ and treated her like an outsider. There is a culture of religious shame that goes against all the women in this book. When you divide a group of people, it is difficult for them to bond together against that system. The other girls that Tilla interacts with use this culture of shame to attack her instead of bonding together to help defeat it. I also loved how the hurricane was both real and metaphorical. While they combat the storm in real life, Tilla understands who she can become despite the horrible things that have happened to her.

I loved this book, even despite the heartache that it causes. Tilla is shamed, abused, and has to learn to find her voice. It tells the beautiful story of finding who you are and emerging from a storm victorious despite the scars.

Please make sure you read content warnings before picking up this book to make sure it is right for you. If you do read this book, I hope you love it as much as I do.

@cather.reads on instagram

Excerpt

We touch down at 1:46 p.m. local time.

Warm air floods the plane as the doors open, and the sweet aroma of fruit wafts in the air. Passengers race to grab their bags as the thick accent comes over the PA once again:

“Ladiez and gentle-mon, welcome to Kingston, Jamaica. It iz a beautiful day here on the island, and we wish you nothing but irie on your travels. It has been our pleasure to have you on board. As always, thank you for flying Air Jamaica.”

I gently shake Mia awake as Patois begins to pour out all around us. I grab our backpacks from the cabin, and we throw them over our shoulders before trudging off the plane.

As we make our way through the busy airport, we are sur- rounded by a sea of rich, dark skin. I feel courageous as we navigate through the brown and black bodies, and I can’t help but wonder if the feeling of belonging is why Dad loves it so much here.

Once we clear at customs, we continue our trek through the massive airport. All around us, people smile and laugh, and there is a mellowness to their pace. Most of the women wear bright colors and intricate braids in their hair, Afros, or long locks down their backs. An array of sandals and flip-flops

highlight all the bright painted toenails as Mia and I weave through the crowd.

“Stay close!” I yell, grabbing on to her hand. When we find the exit, I grow nervous knowing what awaits us on the other side. I look to Mia. “You have everything?”

She nods.

“Okay,” I whisper to myself. “Let’s do this.”

With our suitcases lugging behind us, we spill out of the doors and into the hot sun. The heat immediately consumes me, and it is amplified by the chaos and noise that surrounds us. The streets are packed. Loud horns blare, and people yell back and forth in thick, heavy Patois accents. Men argue on the side of the road, their dialect harsh as they negotiate the rates for local shuttle buses. Along the roads, merchants sell colorful beaded jewelry and fruit so ripe that I can taste it in the air. Women wear beautiful head wraps and sell plantains and provisions, bartering back and forth with eager travelers. People spew out of overcrowded taxis, desperate to catch their flights as others hop in, desperate to get home. The sun pierces my skin as the humidity and gas fumes fill my lungs. The ac- tion is overwhelming, and I feel like a fish out of water. As we wait by the curb, there is no sight of our father.

“What if he forgot?” Mia asks.

“He wouldn’t,” I reply. “Mom just talked to him.” “What if he got the time mixed up?”

“He’ll be here.”

But the truth is, when it comes to our father, I can never be sure.

I fight with this idea as five minutes turn into ten, and ten into twenty.

The heat blazes, and sweat drips down my stomach. I check my watch: forty-two minutes.

I pull my pink hoodie over my head to reveal a white tank top, tying the hoodie around my waist to better manage the heat. Without my phone, I have no way of contacting him to see where he is.

But he said he’d be here. He gave us his word.

Fifty-six minutes later, our father is nowhere to be found. My eyes frantically search the crowd as I ponder how much his word is truly worth. Time and time again, he has proven that the answer is not much. I turn to Mia, ready to tell her to head back inside. Worry graces her face for the first time since we left. Her carefree attitude fades as the concern of a nine-year-old takes over. I can’t stand to see her like this, and I’ll do whatever it takes to escape the feeling that is bubbling inside of me.

We’ll take the first plane out.

“Mi, Dad’s not coming. Let’s go back insid—”

“Yow! Tilla!” A deep voice interrupts me mid-sentence. I whip my head around to find my father standing a few

feet away with two freshly sliced pineapple drinks in hand. “Daddy!” Mia screams. She drops her things on the curb

and sprints toward him. My heart does somersaults.

One glimpse of my father and I am a child again.

Meet the Author

Asha Bromfield is an actress, singer, and writer of Afro-Jamaican descent. She is known for her role as Melody Jones, drummer of Josie and the Pussycats in CW’s Riverdale. She also stars as Zadie Wells in Netflix’s hit show, Locke and Key. Asha is a proud ambassador for the Dove Self-Esteem Project, and she currently lives in Toronto where she is pursuing a degree in Communications. In her spare time, she loves studying astrology, wearing crystals, burning sage, and baking vegan desserts. Hurricane Summer is her debut novel.

social media:

Twitter: @ashabrom

Instagram: @ashabrom

Where you can find this book:

Click to purchase

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Celestial bodies and Rebellion: Testament of the Stars blog tour and review!

Testament of the Stars 

by Alexandra Beaumont 

Release Date: April 26, 2021

Publisher: Gurt Dog Press
Genre: LGBTQIA+ Dark Fantasy

Goodreads 

Publisher Website 

Order here:

Barnes & Noble

Amazon

Synopsis:

Astrologers govern the lives of both the blessed from the plateau of Gemynd and the downtrodden from the farming lands of Rask.

When Einya reluctantly joins the settlement’s ruling star-cult, she thinks only of the rights it will give her: the permission to marry her Raskian lover. Instead she is thrown onto a treacherous path of betrayal and political strife, trapped within the cult persecuting Rask.

Forced to drink the blood of the stars and steal their thoughts, Einya ends up at the heart of a fierce rebellion, caught between a fight for freedom and the strange luring power of the stars.

Excerpt:

Time crept by for Einya Arden. Locked in the astrologer’s cave for thirty days in preparation for this moment, left blindfolded, so she learnt to feel the fallen Stars without seeing them. They were so close, they felt like her own shadow, but she still didn’t feel ready to join the settlement’s star-worshipping cult.

“Initiates, your day has come. Astrologers, enter.” 

Einya flinched a little as the clear voice rang out, breaking the long silence. Sounds of shuffling leather shoes echoed through the cavern, breaking the long silence as the established astrologers sidled in. She twitched as bodies bustled by, knocking against her where she knelt. Soft hands brushed her cheeks, before tugging away the blindfold. She couldn’t make out the face of the person who’d done it, as cracks of sunshine splintered around the gap in the door that led into the cave, blurring her vision in the sudden light.

Shadows of shapes slowly emerged, her vision settling. What now? Slowly she stumbled to her feet and tried to slow her breaths, watching the other initiates cluster together. 

“Over there,” a voice boomed behind her. Einya jumped again, and turned to see the face of an astrologer looming over her. His strong hands jostled her into a line with the other initiates, the press of their bodies surging all around her. Too close, she stumbled over strangers’ feet clumsily. 

A font etched with constellations and two carved faces dominated the middle of the Astrologers’ Cavern. Each initiate ahead of her stepped up to it and lowered their head. What happened then, she couldn’t tell in the darkness. Gulping nervously, Einya shuffled forward in the line until she stood before the font, gripping the stone handles. 

She looked up, the Astrologer-Elect standing ahead of her with an imperious glare across the cave. 

“Drink the star-blood,” he commanded.

Einya’s breath hitched, and she looked down to avoid the man’s gaze. The ‘star-blood’ undulated with translucent colours in the cauldron. What would happen when she drank it? Behind the stone bowl, two pitted fallen Stars they called the star-rocks dominated the chamber and grinned down at her in the flickering torchlight.

Was this really everything her ten-year struggle had led to? The freedoms of rank were all that she wanted: to marry and live as she chose. But at what cost? Now she stood between the Stars that had fallen into Gemynd a hundred years ago with disappointment tingling through her. Where were the magnificent glowing beacons of truth the Astrologer-Elect proselytised about? All she saw were dull grey rocks.

The rock floor was slick with frost, her bare feet almost slipping as she took the final step up to the lip of the font. She looked up, longingly glancing at the door to the sunlit courtyard beyond.

Egg-shell whites of all the other astrologers’ eyes reflected the low torchlight, hanging like glowing orbs in the darkness.

The clipped voice of the Astrologer-Elect grated through the cavern again; his deep-gouged wrinkles heavy-set in a frown. “Initiate Arden, mix your blood in and then imbibe the blood of the Stars. Become one of us. Do not delay your ascension. There is no choice for you now.”

Einya dragged in a shuddering breath, bile rising in her throat. Her fingers fumbled with the clasp holding her dagger in place as she tugged it free from the frigid leather. She raked the knife across her palm. Plunging her hand into the cauldron, the liquid seared her flesh as she scooped it up and raised it to her lips.

Review:

The pages of this book reveal an epic fantasy revolving around themes of race, love, and politics. I liked to see these dynamics play out in a unique fantasy setting. I wish there was more worldbuilding details, and I feel like character descriptions were somewhat lacking, but the world was captivating and filled with many interesting revelations.

I enjoyed how the characters interacted with each other and weighed their relationships to different people while making their decisions. There are sibling relationships and a lesbian love triangle (which is definitely not something you see every day).

Definitely pick this up if you like reading about queernormative fantasy societies, politics, and racial tension. You most likely will not be disapointed.

About the Author:

Alexandra was raised on fairy tales, folklore and legends. She followed adventures at every turn: exploring the old parts of London, taking part in medieval re-enactments, and writing in every spare moment.

When not writing, Alexandra has a wanderlust for exploring new places, roaming the countryside and taking part in Live Action Fantasy Role Play. (Meaning she’s often covered in mud, grass and leaves.) Her passion for exploring new worlds drives her creative endeavours.

Author links:
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/abeaumontwrites/ 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ABeaumontWriter

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ABeaumontWrites

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/57677564-testament-of-the-stars 

Website: https://abeaumont75.wixsite.com/home 

Publisher: https://gurtdogpress.com/d-b-mckenzie/ 

Blood Worth: Release tour and review

Blood Worth by D.B. McKenzie

Release Date: March 31, 2021

Publisher: Gurt Dog Press
Genre: LGBTQIA+ Urban Fantasy/Horror

Content warnings: Violence, gore, homophobia, elements of racism, mental health issues

Goodreads 

Publisher Website 

Order here:

Smashwords 

Amazon

Synopsis:

The pills only help if the monsters aren’t real. Sadly, Devon McKenzie figured that out a little too late.

Running from his homophobic father and a mental diagnosis he’s unwilling to accept, Devon finds himself in Sudbury where the people are friendly, the parks are quiet and a looming shadow cast by the local Centre taints the idyllic village life.

Unfortunately for Devon, the Centre is his only hope of maintaining his new-found freedom.

Selling his blood to an organization that no one seemed to truly know anything about wasn’t very high on his list of things to do but after signing a contract, Devon finds himself as bound to the Centre as the poor souls that came before him.

The contract promised money and security, it didn’t say a thing about dead donors, a mysterious shadow dog that was definitely a wolf, or the return of horrific visions that Devon thought he’d buried when he’d left the psychiatric institution that his parents had sent him to years ago.

As the Centre’s secrets continue to grow, Devon begins to realize that Sudbury isn’t the quaint little village he believed it to be. Monsters linger behind every gentle smile and the more Devon digs, the weaker his grip on his sanity becomes.

With another donor’s life hanging in the balance, Devon finds himself in a race against time to figure out what the Centre is truly hiding before it’s too late for all of them.

But the only truth that exists in the quiet town of Sudbury, is that what you see isn’t always what you get and a few drops of blood may be worth more than humanity could possibly imagine.

Review

This book did not disappoint! I was looking for a queer urban fantasy surrounding blood and monsters, and that is what I got. The writing was phenomenal and reading it was a breeze and I still understood everything that was going on. The characters are varied and vivid, providing a cast that you can root for. Devon and Tara are a dynamic duo who can take on the world. Devon has a big heart, trusting others even though the world has hurt him one too many times, and Tara is the friend that he needs to get him through this new adventure in a place he has never been before.

This is a delightfully creepy book with queer characters and enough monsters to satiate anyone’s craving for urban horror.

@cather.reads

Excerpt:

Devon’s mom used to tease him that he would cut off his nose to spite his face, but he also knew when to swallow his pride. While the Centre would never be his first choice for employment, turning down Mr McAllister’s offer would have been beyond foolish. So Devon washed away any lingering resentment in his morning shower, then dug through his bag until he found something office-worthy to wear.

Tara’s semi-serious expression cracked when she caught sight of him. Her smile went a long way to ease the paranoia that clawed its way to life the second he stepped through the door, disguised as tenseness in his neck and shoulders.

“I didn’t expect to see you back so soon,” she greeted and Devon could only offer her a shrug. He didn’t remember saying goodbye to her the day before, so he wasn’t surprised that she thought he wouldn’t return.

Honestly, Devon barely remembered leaving the building.

What he did remember was cashing his check, handing in his deposit and moving his stuff out of the motel, before booking into a hotel that allowed for long stays and didn’t make his skin crawl.

On the way to the hotel, following the directions that the motel clerk had reluctantly given him, Devon had stopped only once to dump the familiar bottle of Clozapine pills that he’d unknowingly packed, before resuming his journey. He’d ordered room service from his new room, showered until his skin started to wrinkle and then collapsed onto a bed so soft, he’d flirted with the idea of never moving again.

He wasn’t going to tell Tara all that so instead, he offered her a rueful grin.

“I’m not dumb enough to turn down a job,” he responded, watching in amusement as Tara all but vibrated in her seat.

“So does that mean you’ll be working with me then?” she queried, beaming when Devon nodded. “That’s awesome, I’ve been praying for someone closer to my age ever since they told me Sophia had gotten the boot. Though to be fair, I’d have settled for anyone who wasn’t Sophia.”

Devon fought hard to resist the vindictive urge to snort, recalling the way that the previous receptionist had almost made him leave before he had even signed up. If his circumstances had been different, he definitely wouldn’t have stuck around long enough to get a contract.

“I think I met her.”

Tara’s eyes widened before narrowing. “And you didn’t run screaming into the night? If that’s not proof that you’ll fit in here, I don’t know what is.”

“I haven’t even done an interview yet,” Devon pointed out, but Tara waved him off.

“If you weren’t asked to do one when they offered you the job, then I doubt they’ll make you sit through one now. That’s how I got in. I was sort of floundering, didn’t know what I was going to do with my life. This place was my last resort,” she said and suddenly Devon understood the soft look she’d given him on the way to Mr McAllister’s office.

About the Author:

D.B. McKenzie is a 30 year old university undergraduate of Jamaican descent and has been writing for over twenty years. Her main interests in writing are geared towards horror and fantasy, heavily influenced by the works of Neil Gaiman, Frank Herbert and Dean Koontz.

Her short horror piece Still Waters has been published by Black Hare Press in the anthology OCEANS.

Author links:
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/d.b.mckenzie_writes/ 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/db_mckenzie

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/20961425.D_B_McKenzie

Publisher: https://gurtdogpress.com/d-b-mckenzie/

Thanks for stopping by and be sure to check out this phenomenal book!

A Cure for Humanity: Blog Tour, review, and giveaway!

A Cure for Humanity by A. L. Haringrey

Release Date: February 28, 2021

Publisher: Gurt Dog Press
Genre: LGBTQIA+ Urban Fantasy

Content warnings: Gore, violence, fictional racism

Goodreads 

Publisher Website 

Order here:

Smashwords 

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Synopsis:

In every story, humans are the weaker species. They are defeated. They fall. They become cattle. 

Of course, this is absurd.  

In the real world, humans survive and conquer. They remain the dominant species.  

For Gyldan Crawford, this is a blessing and a curse. Working for a man who sells tools to regulate vampires and werewolves means Gyldan can provide for his household. But, as the only human living in the house, his choice of profession has always been a sore point… until his friends decide to make use of his position to fight back. 

Gyldan is forced to keep several plates spinning—one that makes him the perfect personal assistant to his boss, Albion Saint-Richter; one that supports his friends in taking down his employer; and one that keeps his intimate relationship with Albion a secret. He really doesn’t have time for another plate to be added to his frantic performance. But when an unknown entity starts killing off Albion’s competitors, the rumour mill starts churning: is the murderer a vampire, a werewolf, or a human?  

Excerpt:

“His legs locked. His jaw clenched, demanding that he didn’t scream in terror. His arms went slack, sending packets of food tumbling to the floor. For all the world, Gyldan could do nothing but stare back at the four eyes glinting in the gloom. Crimson in colour, save for a starburst of green around the irises, Gyldan only realised that all four eyes belonged to one being when each one blinked in unison.

Then, they rose. Even if his jaw hadn’t locked, Gyldan knew he would not be able to scream, his mouth and throat drying as he tilted his head to follow the creature.

Vampire. Vampire. Wild vampire, his mind stammered. Run. Gyldan. Get out of there.

He couldn’t move.

   But it could.” 

@cather.reads

Review:

From a gripping title, to a captivating cover, and a brilliant synopsis, I was absolutely hooked before page one! And past page one, this book lived up to the hype. Welcome to a world where humans suddenly had to adapt to vampires and werewolves, creating ways to control them that might not actually be in humanity’s best interest. Enter a fantastic group of friends, each with their own vibrant personalities and tragic backstories, who have to learn to trust each other in a world that is keeping them constantly on their toes.

This book has heists, moral dilemmas, and a struggle between what is right and wrong that is captivating from page one!

INSTAGRAM GIVEAWAY:

Win one signed paperback copy or one e-book copy of A Cure For Humanity by A.L. Haringrey. There will be one winner of each prize, and the giveaway is international.

For the chance to win, follow A.L. Haringrey on Instagram (@a.l.haringrey) as well as Gurt Dog Press (@gurtdogpress) , share and tag in your Instagram story. For an extra entry, also add A Cure For Humanity on your Goodreads and leave a comment on this post with your username.

About the Author:

A.L. Haringrey is a British author and occasional archer. She lives with her better half and her lizard son somewhere not nearly close enough to the sea for her liking. She has a degree in English Language and currently works as a copy editor and copywriter.

Ms Haringrey loves a good fantasy book, especially when it dips its toes into the paranormal or supernatural side of things. However, having grown tired of saturated tropes—especially concerning vampires and werewolves—she decided to write her own stories. She started publishing on Wattpad and ended up winning numerous user-run awards. Her works have also been featured on some of Wattpad’s ambassador profiles.

When she’s not writing books, Ms Haringrey can often be found trying to get several arrows to land somewhere close to the middle of a target, drinking far too much coffee, or playing video games.

Author links:
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/a.l.haringrey/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/alharingrey

Wattpad: https://www.wattpad.com/user/alharingrey 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/alharingrey

Publisher: https://gurtdogpress.com/a-l-haringrey/

Wordcraft and Whimsy: Amelia Unabridged Blog Tour and Review

Synopsis:

Eighteen-year-old Amelia Griffin is obsessed with the famous Orman Chronicles, written by the young and reclusive prodigy N. E. Endsley. They’re the books that brought her and her best friend Jenna together after Amelia’s father left and her family imploded. So when Amelia and Jenna get the opportunity to attend a book festival with Endsley in attendance, Amelia is ecstatic. It’s the perfect way to start off their last summer before college.

In a heartbeat, everything goes horribly wrong. When Jenna gets a chance to meet the author and Amelia doesn’t, the two have a blowout fight like they’ve never experienced. And before Amelia has a chance to mend things, Jenna is killed in a freak car accident. Grief-stricken, and without her best friend to guide her, Amelia questions everything she had planned for the future.

When a mysterious, rare edition of the Orman Chronicles arrives, Amelia is convinced that it somehow came from Jenna. Tracking the book to an obscure but enchanting bookstore in Michigan, Amelia is shocked to find herself face-to-face with the enigmatic and handsome N. E. Endsley himself, the reason for Amelia’s and Jenna’s fight and perhaps the clue to what Jenna wanted to tell her all along.

Ashley Schumacher’s devastating and beautiful debut, Amelia Unabridged, is about finding hope and strength within yourself, and maybe, just maybe, falling in love while you do it.

(Goodreads)

Cather.reads

Review:

This book holds a lot of important messages told on the background of a beautiful storyscape. Amelia comes from what can be considered a broken family. Her dad left when she was young and her mom is a shell of who she used to be. Amelia meets a girl who becomes her best friend and through her Amelia finds the family that she needs. But then tragedy strikes and Amelia has to figure out who gets to write her story and where she truly belongs.

A quick side note: this book came at a perfect time when I was looking for more divorced parents in Young Adult fiction. I think it does a good job of representing how divorce can impact children long after the separation.

The prose is beautiful, the characters are vibrant and flawed, and I loved the conclusion. The romance is well done and doesn’t overpower the other messages of the book. I think Amelia and Nolan both show great character development, and together they show the reader the power of a good story–especially the one that you get to write yourself.

ASHLEY SCHUMACHER is a young adult author with a degree in creative writing from the University of North Texas. She lives in a small town with her antisocial but lovable husband and more books than is strictly necessary. When she’s not reading or writing, you can find her belting Disney or Broadway songs, protecting her snacks from her greedy golden retriever, hand embroidering, or playing Mario Kart. Amelia Unabridged is her first novel. She lives in Dallas, Texas. (Goodreads)

Find this book:

Goodreads

Wednesday Books

Family of Magic: The House in the Cerulean Sea review

If you haven’t read this book yet, what are you doing?

@cather.reads

Linus Baker is a caseworker for an organization that keeps tabs on magical children. He’s the best in the field, so when he is given a top secret mission he expects it to go the exact same as the others.

I was absolutely blown away by this story. Linus is a lovable character. He’s older, overweight, and working in a dead end job. You can sense that he is secretly a dreamer, but has long since shelved all his longings for adventure or even a vacation. The children at the orphanage that he visits are equally adorable and full of life and fierce love. Linus stumbles upon a family.

The book is also incredibly well written. It has been a long time since I was completely transported into the world of a story. But I saw everything so vividly and was moved to tears on multiple occasions.

This is a book worth reading. There’s diversity, there’s themes of family and anti-racism, and a beautiful world that you can get lost in.

If you haven’t read this book, you should fix that right away.

Time Travel and Christmas Cheer: In a Holidaze Review

In a Holidaze was all the rage this past holiday season. You could not scroll through bookstagram without seeing a post talking about this new release from Christina Lauren. While this review is undoubtedly late (I never finish my Christmas reads on time), I would like to share my own thoughts on this fan favorite.

3/5 stars

Synopsis

In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren tells the story of Mae. She celebrates Christmas every year with her family and their college friends in a cabin in Utah. She is seasonably unhappy, both with work and her love life. When she gets sent back in time, she realizes she might have a chance to do this holiday over and find out just what will make her happy after all.

Review

This is not my first experience reading Christina Lauren. I absolutely loved Autoboyography. While this book is certainly Adult and not Young Adult, I went in with the expectation that it would be pretty well done.

And let’s be honest, it was well done. The characters were varied and lovable. It’s obvious what our main character wants and what she is struggling with. The romance did not come out of the blue, and even though there technically is a love triangle, it’s not too complicated.

However, it was still the romance that I liked the least about this book. The relationship was certainly rushed (if you’ve read it, the epilogue is where I really felt uncomfortable with how fast). There was also some victim blaming where Mae is accused of leading someone on when she did literally nothing. There were apologies, but it didn’t seem to quite make up for it happening in the first place.

Other than all those small issues, this was a heartwarming book meant to spread holiday cheer.

Trigger Warnings:

sexual content

You may also like: Autoboyography | Let it Snow

Unraveled: Release Day and Giveaway!

Unraveled is a fantastical story by Claire Olivia Golden that releases today!

Synopsis

Aurora Davis, expert crocheter, lives an ordinary life… until a mysterious crochet shawl appears at the store where she works, Yarn Emporium. The Briars and Roses Shawl, which claimed the life of its previous owner, pulls Auri under its spell. Unable to stop crocheting, she embarks on a quest to break the curse.

Catherine Bishop has a hard enough time fighting her OCD every day without a curse being thrown into the mix. But when her beloved grandmother dies, Cat suspects there’s something more to her death. Her investigation leads her to Auri… whom she’s been crushing on for months. 

Auri and Cat plunge into a magical world where ancient curses tangle together and faeries seek revenge. As they navigate Feylinn and their blossoming romance, it soon becomes clear that Auri is in serious danger…and her life isn’t the only one at stake.

@cather.reads

Unraveled by Claire Olivia Golden

Release Date: December 14, 2020

Publisher: Gurt Dog Press
Genre: LGBTQIA+ YA Fantasy

Content warnings: Abduction, drugging, suicide, anxiety and OCD, mental health prejudice

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Giveaway:

Win one of two e-book copies of Unraveled and a signed and personalized bookplate, plus a crochet bookmark from the author. International giveaway.
For the chance to win, follow Clarie Olivia Golden on Instagram @onceuponayarn, as well as Gurt Dog Press @gurtdogpress, share and tag in your Instagram story.

For an extra entry, also add Unraveled on your Goodreads and leave a comment on this post with your username that you added it with!

Review:

This book came at a good time for me! I always get back into knitting and crocheting around the holidays, so there was nothing better than working on a sweater while reading about cursed crocheting projects. I found myself loving both of the main characters. Cat and Auri are both relatable and unique in their own ways. Cat has OCD and I appreciated how it was explained so that we understood what was happening, but the book was not about her “overcoming” her mental illness or hiding it from those she loved. There is also sapphic rep, which was done perfectly!

Not only did this book have fantastic representation, it had a great storyline. The characters are all interconnected and their relationships are believable. I found it a little confusing when they discovered that faeries were actually real and some of the worldbuilding there, but overall it was done well and I liked the way that the author put her own twist on the themes that we see in fairytales.

Overall, this is a fantastic read, and I hope that you get a chance to check it out.

Excerpt:

“How are you so calm?” I asked.

She laughed incredulously. “Do you actually think that about me?”

“You just seem so… unflappable.”

“My God, Auri, you have no idea. Can I tell you something?” I nodded. She bit her lip, dropped her gaze to the ground, and said, “I have really bad OCD. I’m not calm at all. I’m a mess inside, all the time. I don’t even know what calm feels like.”

I had never met anyone with OCD before. “I didn’t know,” I said. “You really do seem so calm to me.”

“It’s not something I tell a lot of people.”

“Thank you for sharing that with me,” I said, trying to catch her eyes. “You don’t have to be embarrassed. It’s brave of you, telling me that.”

Her eyes flicked up for a split second. “I’m the furthest thing from brave.”

“I don’t know what OCD is like, but I know you have to be strong to fight it. That seems pretty brave to me.”

Her lip trembled. “Nobody’s ever said that before.”

“Well, they should.” What was this rush of protective feeling that washed over me? “Maybe you can tell me about it, sometime. If you want to. If you ever need someone to talk to.”

“Nobody’s ever asked before.”

“Then you need to get a better group of friends, because you deserve people who care.”

About the Author:

Claire Olivia Golden likes books, yarn, and the Oxford comma. She graduated summa cum laude from Portland State University in 2020 with a B.A. in French and English. Now she works as a full-time crochet designer for KnitCrate and, consequently, has more yarn than she knows what to do with. She believes that magic exists everywhere if you just look hard enough, and that life is more fun when you enjoy the little things.

Author links:

Author site: http://claireoliviagolden.com 

Instagram: http://instagram.com/onceuponayarn 

Twitter: http://twitter.com/claireogolden 

Crochet designs: https://www.ravelry.com/designers/claire-olivia-golden 

Collaboration with KnitCrate

My full-time job is product development for the yarn subscription company KnitCrate. I partnered with them to create an Unraveled kit, with a signed copy of the book and all the yarn necessary to make the “Unraveled Shawl.” This will be available for purchase through the KnitCrate website and they will promote on their social media as well. The kit releases on January 1.

Matching my Top Ten Songs in 2020 with Books!

I love listening to music and reading, so what’s better than combining the two? I always listen to music while reading, and sometimes songs remind me of a certain story.

10. Cleopatra by The Lumineers + Circe by Madeline Miller

Circe is a story about a goddess who loves and is loved, but is also betrayed by those she trusts. However, she sees the positive things and ends up having a good life. It reflects the narrative found in Cleopatra.

9. Crooked Teeth by Death Cab for Cutie + We are Lost and Found by Helene Dunbar

Crooked Teeth reminds me of living in a city and everything being messed up around you, and We are Lost and Found fits that description quite well. It’s a story set in the 80s in New York City where the main characters navigate relationships, being queer, and the rising fear of AIDS.

8. Tim I Wish You Were Born a Girl by Of Montreal + The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

This song is a friends-to-lovers anthem. Even though The Gentleman’s Guide happens centuries earlier than the song, the sentiments are the same. Monty and Percy are the perfect parallel.

7. No Children by The Mountain Goats + Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Nothing fits a song about falling out of love and wishing harm on the other than Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. This is one of the best thrillers I’ve read this year, and this song always reminds me of it.

6. The Ground Walks, with Time in a Box by Modest Mouse + A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking

This entire song is about humanity evolving and becoming something better. The science-minded lyrics remind me of reading through A Brief History of Time earlier this year.

5. Holland, 1945 by Neutral Milk Hotel + Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

Maybe it’s because this is the only book that I read that fits the time period of the song, but the chaotic nature of this song also matches the chaos of Catch-22.

4. This Year by The Mountain Goats + Mostly Harmless by Douglas Adams

While this song is the theme of 2020 in general (I am gonna make it through this year if it kills me…), it also reminds me of Mostly Harmless–the last book of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy that I read this year. It’s chaotic and filled with a lot of near-death experiences.

3. Missed the Boat by Modest Mouse + Radio Silence by Alice Oseman

Radio Silence is filled with characters who “miss the boat” and don’t fulfil society’s expectations of them. The beauty of this book is that they learn to not let these expectations confine them.

2. King of Carrot Flowers Pt. 1 by Neutral Milk Hotel + Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

A song about dysfunctional families and a book filled with dysfunctional monster hunters? I think a correlation can be drawn. While Ninth House is dark academia and Neutral Milk Hotel is in its own lonesome category–I think the chaos and the existentialism go well together.

  1. New Slang by The Shins + I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak

Nothing can compare to this song except for my favorite book. While the match is not perfect, there are elements in both that make me love them more. New Slang is about being lost and finding a way out, and while I am the Messenger is about finding your place, there’s still that feeling of being misguided and needing an escape in the book as well.

Thank you for reading through this short little post. I hope you enjoyed looking through your own spotify wrapped as well!

Happy reading, and I hope you have a good ending to your 2020.

Cath