15 Sept 2023

Science Fiction and Fantasy Fridays: THIS SPELLS DISASTER by Tori Anne Martin (Spotlight)

15 September 5 Comments

Science Fiction and Fantasy Fridays introduces readers who are unfamiliar with the Adult SF/F genre to books, authors, and discussions all about the vast expanse of the world of Adult SF/F!


Author: Tori Anne Martin
Series: N/A
Source: eARC via publisher
Publisher: Berkley Romance
Publication Date: September 12, 2023
Representation: lesbian

Fake dating gets a magical twist in this enchanting queer romantic comedy where a witch worries that the real feelings brewing between her and her crush were sparked by an accidental love potion, and the only way out of the disastrous spell is a healthy dose of the truth--drink up, witches.

Potion maker and self-proclaimed "messy witch" Morgan Greenwood is sure she was hexed at birth. Not only did she drunkenly offer to fake date the woman of her dreams during the biennial New England Witches' festival, but Rory Sandler, spellcasting champion and brilliant elemental witch--for reasons known only to the Goddess--accepted. It's like every good luck spell Morgan ever cast came through at once, and it doesn't take a crystal ball to predict this charade will end with a broken heart.

Or is the magic between them real? As Morgan and Rory prepare to fool everyone at the festival, their relationship starts to feel a whole lot less fake--right until Morgan realizes she might have screwed up the common relaxation potion she made for Rory and given her a love potion instead, breaking one of the most sacred Witch Council Laws.

To fulfill her promise to Rory, Morgan must somehow keep playing pretend while under the watchful eyes of Rory's family and legion of fans. But to break the love potion, she'll also have to prove how incompatible she and Rory really are. For a screwup like her, ruining their relationship should be easy--except every day, Morgan is becoming more bewitched by Rory herself.


Have you read this series? What was your favourite part?

5 Sept 2023

Spotlight: RUFF RIDERS: RESCUE UR FUREVER FRIEND by Karen Ruben (Guest Post)

05 September 0 Comments
Today I'm spotlighting a release for the day:


This novel is by Karen Ruben and is based on a true rescue story of her dog Ruby! Learn more about this middle grade, heartwarming story below.


Author: Karen Ruben
Series: N/A
Source: eARC via Author
Publisher: Koehler Books
Publication Date: September 5, 2023

Eleven-year-old Olivia Thomas longs for a dog of her own, but her reluctant parents don't think that she is responsible enough. When she hears about an abandoned dog with a litter of puppies in the forest, she and her friend April, along with their new tech-savvy friend, Quinn, leap into action.

Teaming up with local volunteer animal rescue Rescue Ur Furever Friend, they work on a plan. Olivia is determined to see the project through, but she'll have to focus and rally lots of people to help. And they may not succeed. Is she prepared to fail? And if she's successful, will her parents see that she is ready to take care of a puppy? Through teamwork, family, and community, Olivia learns that anything important is worth the effort.
Amazon | Chapters

The Importance of Rescuing

The bond I formed with my own rescue dog, Ruby, inspired me to write RUFF Riders and share the incredible journey she took from being born to an uncertain future, to her furever home, with my family. Through this book, I hope to raise awareness for the urgent need for fostering, adopting a rescue and community support in the world of animal rescue.

The heartwarming tale of RUFF Riders is inspired by Ruby, my beloved dog, whose true rescue story touched her deeply. Ruby was born in a shed hidden within the woods of Angier, North Carolina, and was subsequently adopted through Rescue Ur Furever Friend, an animal rescue organization. Throughout the adoption process, I encountered startling facts about the plight of shelter animals, leading her to embark on a mission to raise awareness and rally support for the desperate need for responsible adoptions, donations, and most importantly, fostering of rescued puppies and dogs. 

Statistics reveal the urgent nature of this cause: every year, six million dogs and cats enter animal shelters or rescues, with at least one million euthanized due to insufficient funding and space in under-resourced shelters. I believe that educating the public about the distinction between animal shelters and rescues, as well as inspiring individuals to volunteer as foster caretakers, can significantly transform the lives of these innocent animals. Fostering not only provides temporary homes but also offers families the opportunity to assess their readiness for permanent pet ownership.

RUFF Riders delivers a powerful message, encouraging readers to FOSTER, ADOPT A RESCUE, AND/OR DONATE to their local animal rescues. The novel follows eleven-year-old Olivia Thomas, who dreams of having a dog but faces hesitant parents who question her level of responsibility. When she learns about an abandoned dog and her puppies delivered in a nearby forest, Olivia, along with her friend April and tech-savvy companion, Quinn, initiates a rescue operation that ultimately involves the press and her community. Teaming up with Rescue Ur Furever Friend, a local volunteer animal rescue group, they embark on a challenging journey that requires unwavering determination and community support. 

Accompanied by a menu of community service options that appear as plot points in the story, and detailed on my website, book club questions printed at the back of the book are designed to get families to think about what strengths they can use to engage in meaningful activities related to animal rescue. I aim to inspire multi-generation book clubs for parents, grandparents and kids 8+. 

Through empathy, teamwork, and responsibility, RUFF Riders encourages readers to recognize that every effort, no matter how small, contributes to the greater cause of saving animal’s lives. A portion of the proceeds from RUFF Riders will be donated to Rescue Ur Forever Friend (NC RUFF) in Garner, North Carolina, a remarkable organization dedicated to rescuing and finding forever homes for countless animals in need.

I invite readers to join me in supporting NC RUFF by visiting their website, www.ncruff.org and exploring avenues of contribution, including fostering, adopting a rescue, and making monetary or in-kind donations.

Pick this up today!

4 Sept 2023

Blog Tour: PRIDE & PREJUDICE & PITTSBURGH by Rachael Lippincott

04 September 0 Comments
I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND PITTSBURGH by Rachel Lippincott Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours.

Check out my post and make sure to enter the giveaway!


Author: Rachael Lippincott
Series: N/A
Source: eARC via Publisher
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: August 29, 2023

Overall Rating:
Diversity Rating:

Representation: lesbian main character, bisexual main character

From the New York Times bestselling coauthor of Five Feet Apart and She Gets the Girl comes a fresh and inventive sapphic romantic comedy that’s What If It’s Us meets Bridgerton.

What if you found a once-in-a-lifetime love…just not in your lifetime?

Audrey Cameron has lost her spark. But after getting dumped by her first love and waitlisted at her dream art school all in one week, she has no intention of putting her heart on the line again to get it back. So when local curmudgeon Mr. Montgomery walks into her family’s Pittsburgh convenience store saying he can help her, Audrey doesn’t know what she’s expecting…but it’s definitely not that she’ll be transported back to 1812 to become a Regency romance heroine.

Lucy Sinclair isn’t expecting to find an oddly dressed girl claiming to be from two hundred years in the future on her family’s estate. But she has to admit it’s a welcome distraction from being courted by a man her father expects her to marry—who offers a future she couldn’t be less interested in. Not that anyone has cared about what or who she’s interested in since her mother died, taking Lucy’s spark with her.

While the two girls try to understand what’s happening and how to send Audrey home, their sparks make a comeback in a most unexpected way. Because as they both try over and over to fall for their suitors and the happily-ever-afters everyone expects of them, they find instead they don’t have to try at all to fall for each other.

But can a most unexpected love story survive even more impossible circumstances?
Amazon (affiliate)
Content Warnings: death of a parent, parental abuse, parental neglect, homophobia (ish), alcohol consumption, abusive relationships, toxic relationships

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book and chose to review it. This in no way impacts my opinion.

I will say that I did think a LOT about how I hoped everyone didn't get sick during their time travelling because of germs, but this was DELIGHTFUL.

This time travel book was really well done and I enjoyed seeing how the two characters came to understand one another and grow together. I appreciated Audrey's growth into understanding just how different things were but also how people didn't quite see her how she was in the past and present.

The romance was well developed, and while there was some "insta-love," it had time to come to fruition. I thought there was a good sense of what love meant and how to find it. I thought having three "suitors" was a bit much but it still made for an interesting read.

All the side characters had good depth, but not as much nuance as I would have liked. But this was definitely made up for by Lucy and Audrey! I really liked seeing them develop, learn about themselves, and each other. They brought out the best in one another and I really enjoyed it.

The references might eventually date this book, but it was so cute and I just squealed the whole time! Definitely a pick up if you like time travel and Jane Austen.

Rachael Lippincott is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of
Five Feet Apart. She holds a BA in English writing from the University of Pittsburgh. Originally from Bucks County, Pennsylvania, she currently resides in Pittsburgh with her wife and their dog, Hank.

Connect with the Author
Website | Twitter | Instagram | TikTok | Goodreads | Amazon

1 lucky winner will win a finished copy of PRIDE & PREJUDICE & PITTSBURGH, US Only.
Ends September 12 th , midnight EST.

Are you going to pick this one up?

30 Aug 2023

Blog Tour: THE SHAPE OF TIME by Ryan Calejo (Review)

30 August 1 Comments
I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on THE SHAPE OF TIME by Ryan Calejo Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours.

Check out my post and make sure to enter the giveaway!


Author: Ryan Calejo
Series: Rymworld Arcana #1
Source: ARC via Publisher
Publisher: Amulet Books
Publication Date: September 12, 2023

Overall Rating:
Diversity Rating:

Representation: Black main character, Black side characters

First in the middle-grade mind-bending Rymworld Arcana adventure series from award-winning author Ryan Calejo, The Shape of Time is destined to be an instant classic.

Fourteen-year-old Antares De La Vega is a natural born adventurer. He dreams of journeying across burning deserts, trekking through wild and uncharted jungles, sailing the farthest reaches of the seas—and yet, he’s never even stepped foot outside of South Florida. But that all changes when strange creatures come leaping out of lightning bolts to kidnap him.

Locked away in a secret prison in the middle of the Bermuda Triangle, Antares meets fourteen-year-old Magdavellía, a mysterious and iron-willed girl who opens his eyes to a shocking that this world is a far different place than he’s been led to believe. He learns of the existence of the Flat Earth Society, an ancient secret order, whose main function is to keep the world beyond the great Ice Wall a mystery—a land known as Rymworld. But Rymworld is in trouble. Led by a nameless evil, a sinister group of mystics seek to seize control over its only true time itself.

Antares and Magdavellía must set out beyond the edges of any map to discover the a lost and forgotten island where there is rumored to exist a legendary artifact—a mythical compass that just might hold the key to foiling the mystics’ plans. Following a series of intricately concealed clues left behind by Magdavellía’s parents (clues Antares seems to be the key to unlocking), they must wield both geometry and alchemy, outsmart molemen and mermaids, and outrun fiendish outer space aliens––all while attempting to solve a riddle as old and mystifying as the sun.

Includes Black-and-White Illustrations
Amazon (affiliate)
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book and chose to review it. This in no way impacts my opinion.

This was a wonderful middle grade read! It definitely has the ability to become an instant classic and it showcases a great Black main character.

The story immediately had my attention and I was constantly wondering what would happen next. I loved how the different time characters were introduced and then used throughout the story. 

It follows some typical tropes while adding some unique world building and a nice range of characters. I thought it had some elements of A Wrinkle In Time (one of my favourite books growing up) and that made me enjoy it even more. I felt nostalgic for this book while reading it and can't wait to pass it along to my niece!

Overall this was a great, engaging read, perfect for middle graders who love science fiction or you want to break them into the genre!

Ryan Calejo is an award-winning author born and raised in sunny
south Florida. His critically acclaimed Charlie Hernández series has been featured in half a dozen state reading lists and has earned starred reviews from Booklist and Kirkus, was a Texas Bluebonnet Master List Selection, and won an International Latino Book Award, a Sunshine State Young Readers Award, and a Florida Book Award (Gold Medal). He lives in Miami.

Connect with the Author

2 winners will receive a finished copy of THE SHAPE OF TIME, US Only.
Ends October 3rd, midnight EST.

Are you going to pick this one up?

25 Aug 2023

Science Fiction and Fantasy Fridays: IN CHARM'S WAY by Lana Harper (Excerpt)

25 August 0 Comments
Science Fiction and Fantasy Fridays introduces readers who are unfamiliar with the Adult SF/F genre to books, authors, and discussions all about the vast expanse of the world of Adult SF/F!


Author: Lana Harper
Series: The Witches of Thistle Grove #4
Source: eARC via Publisher
Publisher: Berkley Books
Publication Date: August 22, 2023

A witch struggling to regain what she has lost casts a forbidden spell—only to discover much more than she expected, in this enchanting new rom-com by New York Times bestselling author Lana Harper.

Six months after having been hit by a power surge that nearly obliterated her memory, Delilah Harlow is still picking up the pieces. Her once diamond-sharp mind has become shaky and unreliable, and bristly, self-sufficient Delilah is forced to rely on friends, family, and her raven familiar for help. In an effort to reclaim her wits and former independence, she casts a dangerous blood spell meant to harness power with healing capacities.

While the spell does restore clarity, it also unexpectedly turns Delilah into an irresistible beacon for the kind of malevolent supernatural creatures that have never before ventured into Thistle Grove. One night—just as things are about to go terribly sideways with a rogue succubus—a mysterious stranger appears in the nick of time to save Delilah's soul.

Gorgeous, sultry, and as dangerous as the knives she carries, Catriona Quinn is a hunter of monsters—and half-human, half-fae herself, she is the kind of sly and morally gray creature Delilah would normally find horrifying. Though Delilah balks at the idea of a partnership, she has no choice but to roll the dice on their collaboration. As the two delve deeper into the power that underlies Thistle Grove, they uncover not only the town's hidden history but also a risky attraction that could upend Delilah's entire life.

Flames and stars, living in this town could be exhausting.

I sank down by the tree's base, pebbles and blades of grass pressing imprints into my bare knees. Then I closed my eyes and reached for the flower, cupping my hands around it without grazing the petals.

Sensing the flow of magic, Montalban brought her focus to bear on the spell, too, facilitating my work with it. She couldn't make me stronger than I was; that wasn't how familiars helped. But her added attention was like a lens held to the sun-anything I cast, she rendered finer and more precise.

Like most magically imbued flora, viridians couldn't just be plucked by mundane means. They needed to be harvested with the use of a particular preservation spell, to keep their potency intact. Magical botany was like that; infinitely fascinating and challenging, and also finicky as fuck. Hence, why I loved it. It demanded expertise and finesse, a deep understanding of theories and disciplines that the other Thistle Grove families largely cast aside in favor of relying on their natural talents. Even the Thorns didn't bother with it much, given their affinity for magically coaxing plants into simply doing whatever it was they wanted them to do.

But arcane knowledge, and its practical applications . . . that was where Harlows shone.

Especially this Harlow.

I took a slow breath, twitching my fingers into the delicate position called for by the spell, lips parting to speak the incantation. The words floated into my mind's eye in swooping antique copperplate; I could even picture the yellowed page upon which the rhyming couplets had been inked.

Then the entirety of the charm sluiced out of my head like water sliding through a sieve.

All of it, vanished in an instant. The words themselves, the lovely script, the aged grain of the paper. Where the memory had lived, there was now nothing. A cold and empty darkness, a void like a miniature black hole whorling in my head.

The panic that gushed through me was instantaneous, a prickling flood that engulfed me from the crown of my head to the tips of my toes, a flurry of icy pins sinking into my skin. And even worse was the terrible sense of dislocation that accompanied it, as if the entire world had spun wildly on its axis around me before falling back into place subtly misaligned. I'd known that spell, only moments ago. Now, I didn't. It was simply gone, lost, as if it had been plucked directly out of my head by some merciless, meticulous set of tweezers.

"Crawwww!" Montalban croaked into my ear, shifting fretfully from foot to foot as my distress seeped into her.

"I'm okay," I managed, through the terrible tightening in my throat. "It's okay."

But it wasn't. It felt nauseatingly like existing in two realities at once. One in which I was the old Delilah, a living library, a vast and unimpeachable repository of arcane information. And another in which I was a tabula rasa, almost no one at all. Just a facsimile of a person rather than anybody real and whole.

The dissonance of it was horrifying, a primal terror unlike anything I'd ever experienced before. The way, I imagined, some people might fear death, that ultimate disintegration of self if you truly believed nothing else came after.

Though to me, the idea of living with a mind that couldn't be trusted felt worse than even the possibility of a truly final oblivion.

I sank back onto my haunches, wrapping my arms around my chest. Goose bumps had erupted along the expanse of my skin, and I broke into a clammy sweat despite the buzzy warmth of the air, the humid heat that permeated the forest from the lake. "It's okay," I whispered to myself under my breath, rocking back and forth, feeling abysmally pathetic and weak even as Montalban nuzzled my cheek, desperate to provide some comfort. "You're alright. Try to relax and let it pass over you. Like a reed in the river, remember? Don't fight against the current, because the current always wins."

Sometimes, the simple relaxation mantra Ivy had improvised for me from her meditation practice worked, bleeding off some of the panic. Other times, it did absolute fuck all.

The worst part was that no one understood why this was still happening to me. As a Harlow recordkeeper, I should have been shielded from a conventional oblivion glamour in the first place. Given our role as the memory keepers of our community, Thistle Grove's formal occult historians, we were all bespelled to be immune to such attacks. But Nina's form of the spell had been superpowered, whipped to unfathomable heights by the kernel of divinity that had been lodged inside her, the deity's favor she'd been granted by Belisama.

Why that entitled Blackmoore bitch had been deemed deserving of a goddess's favor in the first place was still beyond me.

In any case, even after the mega-glamour dissolved-helped along by my cousin Emmy's and my uncle James's efforts-I wasn't rid of it entirely. Six months later, I still sometimes lost memories like this, little aftershocks of oblivion riving through me even after all this time. Other times, I reached for knowledge that I should have had-that I knew I'd once possessed-only to discover an utter, sucking absence in its place. As if some vestigial remnant of the spell lurked inside me like a malevolent parasite, a magical malaria that only occasionally reared up.

The lost memories did return sometimes, if I relaxed enough in the moment, or if I was able to revisit their original source-reread the page that held the charm, pore over the missing diagram. But sometimes they simply didn't, as if my brain had been rewired and was now inured to retaining that piece of information. And it was all horribly unpredictable. Just when I'd begun to tentatively hope that I might be on the upswing, I'd tumble into yet another mental vortex, a churning quagmire where I'd once reliably found the diamond edges of my mind.

But the self-soothing methods Ivy had taught me were always worth at least a try. I repeated the sappy "reed in a river" mantra to myself several more times-trying my damnedest not to feel like someone who'd ever wear Spiritual Gangster apparel in earnest-all the while inhaling deliberately through my nose and exhaling out of my mouth. The familiar smell of Lady's Lake calmed me, too, the distinctive scent of the magic that rolled off the water and through the woods, coursing down the mountainside to wash over the town. It was the strongest up here, an intoxicating smell like some layered incense. Earthy and musky and sweet, redolent of frankincense and myrrh laced with amber and oakmoss.

As a Harlow, my sense of the lake's magic was both more intimate and more acute than that of members of the other families-and the flow of it up here, so close to its wellspring, reassured me. Left me safe in the knowledge that I was still Delilah of Thistle Grove, on her knees on Hallows Hill with her beloved familiar on her shoulder. A Harlow witch exactly where she belonged.

Abruptly, the harvesting charm slid back into my mind. A little frayed around the edges, some of the words blurring in and out of sight, as if my memory were a dulled lens that had lost some of its focus. But it was back, restored, intact enough that I would be able to use it to collect the viridian.

"Oh, thank you," I breathed on a tremulous sigh, my limbs turning jellied with relief, unsure whom I was even thanking. Ivy's mantra, the goddess Belisama, the magic itself? When it came down to it, it didn't really matter.

Sometimes, you had to take the smallest of victories and run with them.

Sometimes, they were all you had to cling to.

Excerpted from In Charm's Way by Lana Harper Copyright © 2023 by Lana Harper. Excerpted by permission of Berkley. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Have you read this series? What was your favourite part?

21 Aug 2023


21 August 0 Comments


Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Series: N/A
Source: Book of the Month
Publisher: Knopf
Publication Date: July 5, 2022

Overall Rating:
Diversity Rating:

Representation: Korean-American characters, gay side characters, Jewish characters

In this exhilarating novel, two friends--often in love, but never lovers--come together as creative partners in the world of video game design, where success brings them fame, joy, tragedy, duplicity, and, ultimately, a kind of immortality.

On a bitter-cold day, in the December of his junior year at Harvard, Sam Masur exits a subway car and sees, amid the hordes of people waiting on the platform, Sadie Green. He calls her name. For a moment, she pretends she hasn't heard him, but then, she turns, and a game begins: a legendary collaboration that will launch them to stardom. These friends, intimates since childhood, borrow money, beg favors, and, before even graduating college, they have created their first blockbuster, Ichigo. Overnight, the world is theirs. Not even twenty-five years old, Sam and Sadie are brilliant, successful, and rich, but these qualities won't protect them from their own creative ambitions or the betrayals of their hearts.

Spanning thirty years, from Cambridge, Massachusetts, to Venice Beach, California, and lands in between and far beyond, Gabrielle Zevin's Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow is a dazzling and intricately imagined novel that examines the multifarious nature of identity, disability, failure, the redemptive possibilities in play, and above all, our need to connect: to be loved and to love. Yes, it is a love story, but it is not one you have read before.
Amazon | Chapters
Content Warning: Teacher-student relationship, Suicide, Childhood cancer, Death of a parent, Workplace shooting, Car accident, Harry Potter reference (brief), Hospital settings, Chronic Pain, Health Neglect, Racism, Slurs, Homophobia, Amputation, Discussions around Appropriation, Abortion, Abuse, Dubious consent, Dissociating, Blood, Disordered Eating, Fatphobia, 911 mention, Captivity, Vomit, Gun Violence, Sexism, Sexual Assault

I thought this was a time travel book so my bad for going into this with a completely different headspace than what it actually ended up being. I love video games and the details that went into this around development, design, and marketing were really interesting. But then... the relationship aspect was not what I wanted.

In terms of the writing, I didn't enjoy the "flash forwards" and interview scripts. So much of the writing and narration of this book felt out of place because it jumped through storylines, through perspectives, and through time without much meaning behind it. There was also a lot of flowery writing when it could have easily been said in a much shorter and concise way. The interviews never actually made sense in the greater context either because when we got to that point in time, we never saw the interview happen or even the conversations of those interviews happen with the characters. Nothing to lead up to that or be a part of it in the storytelling, so it just felt weird to include it.

But my biggest gripe is around how the book handled all of the content warnings I listed.

The book tried to handle several topics around racism, homophobia, and the government in general, but it always felt like it missed. It seemingly was dealt with and downplayed in different ways. Sam could never quite understand why Sadie was upset about not being seen as the developer/programmer and the "well we'll fix legalizing same-sex marriage by having it in our video game" only to have that be the cause of the workplace shooting was.... an interesting way to frame it.

I also thought they rug swept the conversations around appropriation as a "well if we had made this in a different time maybe we wouldn't have done this." And the whole conversation about new generations being comfortable talking about their trauma and how their trauma is part of their creative outlet, which was made to seem like it was said sarcastically or with distaste, made me super uncomfortable. Why shouldn't people use their trauma to fuel them forward instead of being capsized by it?

And to cap it all off, any time any of these things were mentioned (like Sam being overly possessive, the homophobia and shooter scenario, Dov literally sexually assaulting Sadie, etc.) were brushed off by the narrative. Yeah, they "acknowledged" it but then everyone just moved forward as if it didn't happen. Sadie and Dov remained FRIENDS because of how much the narration jumped through hoops to not acknowledge the sexual assault and downplay the abuse - physical, emotional, and position of power - that Dov had over Sadie.

I feel like I read a completely different book from everyone else, if I'm being honest. There was nothing compelling in this story to me.

Have you read this book? Are you going to pick this up?