Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet Review (#Blogtour)

Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet Review (#Blogtour)

By Laekan Zea Kemp

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Print Length: 384 pages

Release Year: 2021

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary 

Available for pre-order on Amazon and B&N

Special thanks to HearOurVoicesBT for providing me with an ARC and allowing me to participate in this tour.

As an aspiring pastry chef, Penelope Prado has always dreamed of opening her own pastelería next to her father’s restaurant, Nacho’s Tacos. But her mom and dad have different plans — leaving Pen to choose between disappointing her traditional Mexican-American parents or following her own path. When she confesses a secret she’s been keeping, her world is sent into a tailspin. But then she meets a cute new hire at Nacho’s who sees through her hard exterior and asks the questions she’s been too afraid to ask herself.

Xander Amaro has been searching for home since he was a little boy. For him, a job at Nacho’s is an opportunity for just that — a chance at a normal life, to settle in at his abuelo’s, and to find the father who left him behind. But when both the restaurant and Xander’s immigrant status are threatened, he will do whatever it takes to protect his new found family and himself.

Together, Pen and Xander must navigate first love and discovering where they belong — both within their families and their fiercely loyal Chicanx community — in order to save the place they all call home. (Goodreads)

Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet is yet again another one of those books I wish I had when I was younger. While it’s a considerably short and easy read it still manages to be stock full of hard-hitting and relatable topics and representation of a culture and lifestyle I’m intimately familiar with. Kemp presents this concept in a way that is undeniably relatable to those who have lived similar lives while also managing to write a book that can reach a much wider audience– opening the door for others to learn about life in the chicanx community and the struggles that come from being an immigrant. 

The book includes two characters with considerably different circumstances but a similar outlook on life. The book deals with issues ranging from the struggles of being a young undocumented immigrant to finding the courage to follow your dreams at the expense of your parents. Both come with hard expectations the characters must overcome ultimately making this a very emotional read. 

I often saw myself and people I know in the characters of this book. The sense of familiarity making it a definite comfort read. I imagine this book will be so for many people, and I hope it manages to reach all that deserve it. I recommend this book to everyone, especially those going through similar struggles. This book makes you feel seen in such a beautiful way.

Subjective Rating

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Objective Rating

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Final Rating

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Illusion Connect Review

Developer: Superprism Technology Co., Ltd

Age Rating: 12+

Size: 2.4 GB

Price Range: Free (with in-app purchases)

Available on iOS and Android

Illusion Connect is an overall well-made and entertaining game for even the most casual player. The game allows players to progress at a reasonable pace without hitting an impassable paywall. Additionally, the game boasts real-time PVP battles, so you can battle your friends directly. Considering the type of game this is the real-time battle run considerably smooth and fast-paced for those who don’t have a lot of playtimes but still want to play games with their friends. 

With a wide range of characters to choose from and a gameplay format that provides players with plenty to do while advancing at a reasonable pace, Illusion Connect is practically a perfect JRPG. It includes additional gameplay that is entirely optional as well, but if you choose to participate it will only benefit you more. 

I recommend this game for anyone looking for a game to enjoy in the long term, that, as of writing this, seems unlikely to join many other similar games fate. This game is so good it’s going to be sticking around for a while.

Subjective Rating

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Objective Rating

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Final Rating

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Mercurial Review

Mercurial Review

By Naomi Hughes

Publisher: Independent 

Print Length: 412 pages

Release Year: 2021

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Avg. Goodreads Rating: 4.02

Available on Amazon and B&N

Everyone in the Alloyed Empire fears the Destroyer. The metal in her blood gives her incendiary powers, and the coldness in her heart makes her the empress’s perfect weapon…until a rebel attack leaves her with no magic and no memories.

Her bodyguard, Tal, has long since regretted his idealistic hope of saving the Destroyer. Now that she’s powerless he can finally end her reign of terror—if he can stop himself from falling for the wicked, funny, utterly unfamiliar girl she’s become.

Nyx was furious when her brother, Tal, abandoned her to protect a tyrant. Now, she hones herself as a rebel assassin until she can kill the Destroyer and rescue Tal. But the closer she gets, the more she realizes the entire empire hinges on the decisions the three of them will make… (Goodreads)

I absolutely adored this book! I enjoyed the characters and the overall grey morality behind their motivations. They were realistically conflicted with hard decisions and none of them was really good. It was interesting to have multiple points of views that drastically affect how the character feels and approached the conflict. 

This story is definitely character-driven complemented by a uniquely fascinating magic system. Hughes does also set up the world quite well but doesn’t venture far from what is necessary. This book manages to include a relatively complex magic system for a YA book but manages to define its parameters without falling into the pit of info-dump despair. 

This book is one that deserves much more attention than it’ll probably get. It truly delivers when it promises a story for fans of the Grishaverse, and sets the foundations for a series with the potential to be as successful.

Subjective Rating

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Objective Rating

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Final Rating

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Act Your Age, Eve Brown Mini-View

By Talia Hibbert

Publisher: Avon

Print Length: 400 pages

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Release Date March 9, 2021

Special thanks to Avon and HearOurVoices Book Tours for providing me with an ARC and allowing me to participate in this blog tour.

Eve Brown is a certified hot mess. No matter how hard she strives to do right, her life always goes horribly wrong—so she’s given up trying. But when her personal brand of chaos ruins an expensive wedding (someone had to liberate those poor doves), her parents draw the line. It’s time for Eve to grow up and prove herself—even though she’s not entirely sure how…

Jacob Wayne is in control. Always. The bed and breakfast owner’s on a mission to dominate the hospitality industry—and he expects nothing less than perfection. So when a purple-haired tornado of a woman turns up out of the blue to interview for his open chef position, he tells her the brutal truth: not a chance in hell. Then she hits him with her car—supposedly by accident. Yeah, right.

Now his arm is broken, his B&B is understaffed, and the dangerously unpredictable Eve is fluttering around, trying to help. Before long, she’s infiltrated his work, his kitchen—and his spare bedroom. Jacob hates everything about it. Or rather, he should. Sunny, chaotic Eve is his natural-born nemesis, but the longer these two enemies spend in close quarters, the more their animosity turns into something else. Like Eve, the heat between them is impossible to ignore—and it’s melting Jacob’s frosty exterior. (Goodreads)

Hibbert is back at it again making you fall in love with yet another Brown sister. Eve is just as charming as her older sisters Chloe and Dani, and full of life and spunk. Once again we are pulled into an absolutely adorable and hilarious love story with the perfect touch of spice. It’s hard not to fall in love with characters so full of love, sass, and life. And bless Hibbert for once again presenting us with total relationship goals once again!

Subjective Rating

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Objective Rating

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Final Rating

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Aether Ones Review (#BlogTour)

Aether Ones Review (#BlogTour)

By Wendi Coffman-Porter

Publisher: Brown Books Publishing Group

Print Length: 349 pages

Release Year: 2020

Genre: Science-Fiction, Fantasy

Avg. Goodreads Rating: 4.31

Available on Amazon

Special thanks to Brown Book Publishing for providing me with a copy of this book and TheWriteReads for allowing me to participate in this tour.

Leilani Falconi is a top agent for the Imperial Investigative Service, tasked with policing the veil between two realities. Long ago, the Great Sundering tore the universe into two mirrored halves; aether space, which progressed using magical energy or eldrich, and kuldain, which advanced via electromagnetic technology.

But now a series of suspicious deaths stretching back more than a decade has the agent trapped directly between secretive bureaucracies and their peoples. If she can’t solve the mysterious crimes in time, existence as she knows it could erupt into chaos. (Goodreads)

Every so often I come across a book that I struggle to get through. A big part of that was my own fault as I struggled to focus on what was going on. I’m glad I pushed through though because I ended up really enjoying this read. This book sort of felt like returning home after a long time away. Science fiction holds a special place in my heart but for whatever reason, I haven’t found myself reading much of it as of late. Aether Ones was the perfect return to the genre, as it blends fantasy and science fiction seamlessly. 

At first glance, the protagonist, Leilani Falconi, comes off as a little too powerful and a little too perfect. This doesn’t last long though, as she quickly proves that while she is a formidable opponent she is far from perfect and can find herself in some pretty sticky situations. She manages to both come off like the badass woman many of us wish we could be while also be real and flawed; not always making the best decisions. She’s a protagonist we can expect a lot from in the future with the knowledge that she has the power to follow through.

Aether Ones is fast-paced and well-handled mixed of incredibly researched sci-fi and the perfect touch of fantastical elements. At times it can be a little hard to follow but still manages to be entertaining none the less. This is one of those books you just buckle up for and enjoy the ride. Hell, take the ride more than once!

Subjective Rating

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Objective Rating

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Final Rating

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Strange Medicine Review

Strange Medicine Review

By Mike Russell

Publisher: StrangeBooks

Print Length: 146 pages

Release Year: 2016

Genre: Fiction, Short Stories

Avg. Goodreads Rating: 4.04

Available on Amazon

This book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

We recommend the following prescription: Strange Medicine – weird and wonderful stories for all that ails you. Strange Medicine is a fantastic collection of extraordinary tales of transformation by UK weird-fiction author Mike Russell. If you love the strange, surreal and unusual or if you are just looking for something different, Strange Medicine is for you. (Goodreads)

Being the second short story collection that I’ve read (third book overall) by writer Mike Russell, Strange Medicine is precisely the sort of book to get me out of a reading slump successfully. This book did an exceptional job of doing so, just the medicine I needed. It was just the thing I needed to throw me back into the surrealist dream-like world of Russell’s mind.

One thing that has continually surprised me about these collections is that every story leaves you thinking. At the end of every story, I couldn’t help but find myself contemplating them days after. I consider this one of the author’s highest achievements: the sheer ability to take over a reader’s mind. 

While otherness is a continual theme in Russell’s work, Strange Medicine takes the time to explore themes as grand as the relationship between man and the universe (“Mr. Dennis and the Universe”) to the concept of existence (“Mime”). It wouldn’t be difficult for Russel to send someone through one hell of an existential crisis. In saying that I’m pretty sure had a couple while reading this collection.

Russell proves to be a talented writer, especially when it comes to short-form fiction. Dali had paint, Hausmann had… glue? And Russell has words.

Subjective Rating

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Objective Rating

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Final Rating

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Bad Habits Review (#BlogTour)

Bad Habits Review (#BlogTour)

By Flynn Meaney

Publisher: Penguin

Print Length: 320

Release Year: 2021

Genre: YA Contemporary 

Avg. Goodreads Rating: 3.68

Available on Amazon

Special thanks to Penguin UK and TheWriteReads Tours for allowing me to participate in this tour and for providing me with an eARC.

Alex is a rebel from the tip of her purple fauxhawk to the toes of her biker boots. She’s tried everything she can think of to get expelled from her strict Catholic boarding school. Nothing has worked so far – but now, Alex has a new plan.

Tired of the sexism she sees in every corner of St Mary’s, Alex decides to stage the school’s first ever production of The Vagina Monologues. Which is going to be a challenge, as no one else at St Mary’s can even bear to say the word ‘vagina’ out loud . . . (Goodreads)

Meaney delivers exactly what is promised on the back of the book– Bad Habits is an undeniably hilarious and unapologetically feminist book that will, without a doubt, inspire young women to advocate for themselves and their beliefs. There is no hesitation as Bad Habits takes centre stage brazenly show outdated patriarchal ideals who’s boss. 

It’s not often that I pick up a book that manages to have me laughing out loud from page one, making this book absolutely enjoyable from the get-go. Bad Habits starts off in the middle of the action, maintaining a fast but comfortable pace throughout. From the beginning, it slaps you with the unfair realities of women (especially in the overly-patriarchal setting of Catholic school) and fearlessly challenges those ideologies. There is no subtlety in this book’s approach to exploring feminist ideals as it takes an approach equally as vicious as that of the main character Alex as she works to produce St. Mary’s first-ever production of The Vagina Monologues. 

Bad Habits tackles many important and relevant issues regarding female sex. Addressing issue ranging from the dangers of insufficient sex-ed and the demonization of the female anatomy. Why is the word ‘vagina’ such a big deal? That is the question repeated throughout the novel as we follow Alex challenge the limits of her Catholic private school and work as a purple-haired fairy godmother to girls ignorant of their own sexuality. These themes are handled with a tasteful directness that women deserve and need.

This book is a delightful read for every young girl. The protagonist and her best friend are both good influences in different ways, and the book does a good job reminding the reader how important it is to understand your own body as well as your unbridled societal potential. This is a book I only could only have wished for when I was younger, and am so happy for future feminist’s when they are able to get their hands of this fun book!

Subjective Rating

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Objective Rating

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Final Rating

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

A Search for Starlight Review

A Search for Starlight Review

By James Maxwell

Publisher: 47North

Print Length: 332 pages

Release Year: 2021

Genre: Science-Fiction, Fantasy

Avg. Goodreads Rating: 4.34

Available on Amazon and B&N

Special thanks to 47North for providing me with an ARC.

Beyond the firewall lies a greater threat than Taimin and Selena could have foreseen.

Taimin and Selena have destroyed the firewall that once trapped them in their dangerous wasteland. But with their hard-fought freedom now comes a greater threat.

Outside the wasteland, under the same two scorching suns, live the bonded. This powerful ancient enemy will unleash a destructive war on the wasteland’s inhabitants, and Taimin knows it’s a fight they cannot win.

When Zorn comes under attack, Selena uses all her power as a mystic to protect the white city. Meanwhile Taimin’s path takes him to Agravida, the capital of the advanced bonded civilization—where he must work fast to find a weakness in a seemingly unbeatable enemy.

To save everyone in the wasteland from certain death, Taimin and Selena seek to contact their ancestors in the stars. But will they reach them in time, and will their help be enough to turn the tide? The existence of the world is in their hands…  (Goodreads)

A Search for Starlight is one of those books that I just could not wait to get my hands on. I found the first two books in this series to be incredibly enjoyable, but I could not imagine how the series would come to an end. Maxwell does not disappoint, providing us with a satisfying ending to an overall fantastic series. 

This book, like a number of books I’ve read recently, manages to do a lot in a relatively short amount of pages. Maxwell managers to do everything we readers expected as well as everything we didn’t. As a reader, this book was often unputdownable because with every section came new concerns and potential solutions. The book is undeniably realistic in its ongoing insistence to make the characters fail. Maxwell manages to bring forth an SFF entry almost entirely devoid of dues ex machina. Which is a true testament of storytelling prowess. 

Overall well-paced this book manages to seamlessly alternate between info-heavy scenes, action, and downtime; giving the reader plenty of time to process what is going on and understand the various complexities of the story. Loose ends are tied neatly and the book does a good job communicating its sub-plots in relation to the over-arching one. This led to this being a very satisfying ending to a great series. 

I recommend this book to all SFF fans, but primarily those newer to the genre. While it has a lot of the same elements as other SFF series, The Firewall Trilogy is much easier to follow, making this a great entry-level series for both young adults and adults alike. I fully intend on exploring more of Maxwell’s works as well as anything he may release in the future.

Subjective Rating

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Objective Rating

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Final Rating

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

All the Tides of Fate Review

All the Tides of Fate Review

By Adalyn Grace

Publisher: Imprint

Print Length: 368 pages

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Release Date: February 2, 2021

Available for pre-order on Amazon and B&N

Special thanks to Imprint for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Through blood and sacrifice, Amora Montara has conquered a rebellion and taken her rightful place as queen of Visidia. Now, with the islands in turmoil and the people questioning her authority, Amora cannot allow anyone to see her weaknesses.

No one can know about the curse in her bloodline. No one can know that she’s lost her magic. No one can know the truth about the boy who holds the missing half of her soul.
To save herself and Visidia, Amora embarks on a desperate quest for a mythical artifact that could fix everything―but it comes at a terrible cost. As she tries to balance her loyalty to her people, her crew, and the desires of her heart, Amora will soon discover that the power to rule might destroy her. (Goodreads)

After being pleasantly surprised by All the Stars and Teeth, I went into All the Tides of Fate thoroughly excited to see how the duology would come to a close. While I’ll admit my exact expectations weren’t met I was not let down. All the Tides of Fate is an enjoyable read especially for readers who tend to get a little too emotionally invested in the lives of the characters more so than the actual plot. 

The story of All the Tides of Fate does not differ too much from its predecessor in that they both involve a seafaring island-hopping adventure with high stakes. What sets this book apart from the one before is its deeper focus on the characters. All the Stars and Teeth focused more on developing this unique world and its circumstances. All the Tides of Fate uses those well-developed foundations as an opportunity to focus on the characters. While there is an external plot, the focus deeply revolves around the characters’ thoughts, actions, and reactions to the events that transpire. By the end of the first book, I was invested so invested in the characters that it didn’t take me long to want to delve deeper into their growing selves and relationships.

Ultimately this duology doesn’t end in your typical Young Adult fashion. Without going into too much detail, I’ll just say: idealistic ending who?

I recommend this book, the whole series really, to any who just need to escape reality and go on an adventure and maybe, just maybe, you’ll learn something about yourself or the world around you along the way.

Subjective Rating

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Objective Rating

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Final Rating

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

White Trash Warlock Review (#BlogTour)

White Trash Warlock Review (#BlogTour)

By David R. Slayton

Publisher: Blackstone Publishing

Print Length: 320 pages

Release Year: 2020

Genre: LGBT Urban-Fantasy

Avg. Goodreads Rating: 4.12

Available on Amazon and B&N

Guthrie was a good place to be from, but it wasn’t a great place to live, not when you were like Adam, in all the ways Adam was like Adam.

Adam Binder hasn’t spoken to his brother in years, not since Bobby had him committed to a psych ward for hearing voices. When a murderous spirit possesses Bobby’s wife and disrupts the perfect life he’s built away from Oklahoma, he’s forced to ask for his little brother’s help. Adam is happy to escape the trailer park and get the chance to say I told you so, but he arrives in Denver to find the local magicians dead.

It isn’t long before Adam is the spirit’s next target. To survive the confrontation, he’ll have to risk bargaining with powers he’d rather avoid, including his first love, the elf who broke his heart.

The Binder brothers don’t realize that they’re unwitting pawns in a game played by immortals. Death herself wants the spirit’s head, and she’s willing to destroy their family to reap it. (Goodreads)

Special thanks to theWriteReads for giving me the opportunity to participate in this tour and to the author for providing me with a copy of the book!

White Trash Warlock is an exceptional small book that packs a major punch. While it may not look as large and intimidating as many of its SFF cousins, it’s stuffed with enough charm and character to rival even the thickest of tomes. 

Boasting an alarmingly vast world with a complete magic system and the sociopolitical dynamic between the witches and the unseen world. White Trash Warlock manages to cram so many ideas together in a coherent fashion. The writing is easy to follow and simplistic in its approach to illustrating the story. The author does take some creative liberties, utilizing descriptions unique to himself. The reading experience of this book is exciting, well-paced and fresh, making it one of those hard-to-put-down volumes. 

The story explores a wealth of themes ranging from otherness to loss. With well fleshed out characters, the themes are thoroughly examined from multiple angles as well as through the characters realistic thoughts, actions and reactions. For me, as a witchy homosexual with questionable family relations, I was pleasantly surprised with how deeply I related to the protagonist Adam. All the characters are quite exceptional though, even outside their role in the story. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and fully intend on continuing with the series. For fans of SFF who want a lighter read that still packs a punch, this book is for you.

Subjective Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Objective Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Final Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.