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Review: We Are All Birds of Uganda by Hafsa Zayyan

We Are All Birds of Uganda by Hafsa Zayyan

Recommended: sure
For others who forget that immigrants are not always American nor coming to America; for a culture blend of India, Uganda, and England; for a story of characters who are flawed and human, for unclear answers to legitimate problems. It’ll make you think, y’all.

Summary

1960s UGANDA. Hasan struggles to keep his family business afloat following the sudden death of his wife. As he begins to put his shattered life back together piece by piece, a new regime seizes power, and a wave of rising prejudice threatens to sweep away everything he has built.

Present-day LONDON. Sameer, a young high-flying lawyer, senses an emptiness in what he thought was the life of his dreams. Called back to his family home by an unexpected tragedy, Sameer begins to find the missing pieces of himself not in his future plans, but in a heritage he never knew.

Moving between two continents over a troubled century, We Are All Birds of Uganda is an immensely resonant novel that explores racial tensions, generational divides and what it means to belong.

Thoughts

Well I had to wait a month to get a copy of this book from across the country, and I’m glad it felt like it was worth the effort. There was so much in this. It’s roughly two parts, separated by geography or time depending on how you look at it.

What surprised me the most was how about a hundred pages in I realized I didn’t particularly like any of the main characters. They all carried traits that were hard to empathize about: ungrateful; uncompromising; unforgiving. And yet none were uninteresting! This is a story of flawed characters who are extraordinarily human.

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DNF Review: The Break-Up Book Club by Wendy Wax

The Break-Up Book Club by Wendy Wax
Verdict: I knew I should’ve stopped at the first page. PS I swear in this review…

Recommended: nooo
If you want a book-club themed book there are many better. Too many characters and all with weak stories that I didn’t care about

Summary

On paper, Jazmine, Judith, Erin and Sara have little in common – they’re very different people leading very different lives. And yet at book club meetings in an historic carriage house turned bookstore, they bond over a shared love of reading (and more than a little wine) as well as the growing realization that their lives are not turning out like they expected.

Former tennis star Jazmine is a top sports agent balancing a career and single motherhood. Judith is an empty nester questioning her marriage and the supporting role she chose. Erin’s high school sweetheart and fianc� develops a bad case of cold feet, and Sara’s husband takes a job out of town saddling Sara with a difficult mother-in-law who believes her son could have done better – not exactly the roommate most women dream of.

With the help of books, laughter, and the joy of ever evolving friendships, Jazmine, Judith, Erin and Sara find the courage to navigate new and surprising chapters of their lives as they seek their own versions of happily-ever-after.

Thoughts

DNF @ ~70%, but wasn’t a fan from page one.

I stopped bothering with this one officially at page 323 (about 70%), but I had checked out way before that. The last 75 pages I read was a lot of skimming and reading only the bits with the few characters I actually liked. I disliked this book on the literal first page when it threw shade at my home state. It did not improve.

This had so many characters that I felt like I never grew to actually care about any of them. It didn’t help that I was vastly uninterested in most of their stories anyway, but even the two I did care a bit about were so briefly visited that it wasn’t nearly enough to keep me interested.

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ARC Review: Red Thread of Fate by Lyn Liao Butler

Red Thread of Fate by Lyn Liao Butler
Expected Release Date: February 8, 2022

Recommended: sure
For a drama that has a bit of everything, and yet doesn’t feel like it’s crammed too full of things; for a strong focus on family and forgiveness (of others, yourself, the world…)

Summary

Two days before Tam and Tony Kwan receive their letter of acceptance for the son they are adopting from China, Tony and his estranged cousin Mia are killed unexpectedly in an accident. A shell-shocked Tam learns she is named the guardian to Mia’s five-year-old daughter, Angela. With no other family around, Tam has no choice but to agree to take in the girl she hasn’t seen since the child was an infant.

Overwhelmed by her life suddenly being upended, Tam must also decide if she will complete the adoption on her own and bring home the son waiting for her in a Chinese orphanage. But when a long-concealed secret comes to light just as she and Angela start to bond, their fragile family is threatened. As Tam begins to unravel the events of Tony and Mia’s past in China, she discovers the true meaning of love and the threads that bind her to the family she is fated to have.

Thoughts

There’s a lot in this story, all on a winding path through Tam’s tangled heart. Tam starts her story with us by losing her husband Tony in a really sick accident. But then there’s the confusion surrounding why he lied to her about where he was and who he was with just before he died. Tam is left with hurt and anger and grief and fear all at once. Add in the suspicions on the people who killed her husband and whether it was truly an accident or not to give a dash of mystery to the story. Really what we end up with is a story of grief, love, forgiveness, family, and a little bit of a murder investigation.

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Review: This Is How You Vagina: All About Your Vajayjay and Why You Probably Shouldn’t Call It That by Nicole E. Williams

This Is How You Vagina: All About Your Vajayjay and Why You Probably Shouldn’t Call It That by Nicole E. Williams

Recommended: yes!
1. For people with vaginas
2. For people without vaginas (just be careful not to get too jealous)

Summary

In This Is How You Vagina, Dr. Nicole Williams presents readers with a much-needed education on the history, science, and attitudes of the most fascinating and misunderstood part of the female anatomy: the vagina. She covers valuable information about sexual function, childbirth, and physiology and provides answers to her patients’ (and probably your) most asked questions. She matter-of-factly dispels the most common myths and misinformation concerning female genitalia, including—

• No, your vagina doesn’t need steaming 
• Those panty liners are unnecessary—your vagina needs to breathe
• It’s actually perfectly normal for your vagina to have an odor—consider it your personal brand

This book is an easy-to-understand guide, complete with illustrations, for women to explore and understand their vaginas in a way they never have before. You will learn what’s normal and what’s not, including that, yes, yours is most certainly normal too.

This is How You Vagina is essential reading for anyone who is looking to better understand the form and function of this most majestic and fascinating organ.

Thoughts

Disclaimer: this is the weirdest review I’ve probably ever written. I’m also not sure it’s a review. Enjoy..?

I was excited to read this book because I know basically zero things about my vagina. How is it shaped? How does it WORK? How can I get it to feel great? What do I do when it feels terrible? And because I’m always a reader first, I of course sought out a book. Just call me Hermione.

I now have some answers to those questions, and damn if I don’t feel so great about that. I’m so happy to finally understand my body better! My current state and my future state! I’ve had SO many questions about menopause and was like, well it’s a while off I guess I’ll deal with it then. And yet, if I take care of myself now, I can make that transition a hell of a lot easier on myself. Basically I need to keep having lots of sex. Thanks Doc. 😏

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Review: Spark (Fire Within #4) by Ella M. Lee

Spark by Ella M. Lee
Here’s book 1, book 2, and book 3!

Recommended: yo, if you’ve come this far into the series you’re OBVIOUSLY not stopping here. YES READ IT!!!!

Summary

It’s been nearly a year since the extraordinary but devastating creation of Lightning Clan, and Fiona Ember is still reeling from starting over yet again—without her closest friend. Although the clan has painstakingly continued their work of taming the persnickety magic, Fiona is having a hard time embracing her new power and letting the past go.

But when a message arrives from Sky Clan inviting Fiona, Nicolas, and Ryan to a conclave of the pinnacle members from all nine clans, she can no longer ignore her newfound place in the magical world. The other clans will be looking for answers about the new magic, and not all the questions will be easy.

To make things more difficult, anomalies have appeared in Lightning’s sanctum that could change everything magicians have ever known to be true about magic—if only Lightning could puzzle out their exact nature.

Thoughts

After the ending of the third book, I think there’s no surprise that there’s a lot going on at the start of this one, and primarily sad things. Chaotic things. Grief features heavily, so brace yourself because it’s really really tough at times how raw it was. I cried a lot at the end of the last book, and this one was no different. Ella M Lee has a string attached directly to my tear ducts.

My suspicions about what this book would entail were 50% correct. I predicted one of the main plot points, but that was about it. The details of how things occurred, the resolutions of several other large problems, and the very last pages were all fitting with the characters and the decisions they would make. After binge reading 4 books in this fabulous series, I feel really attached with the characters and their lives. It was really hard at times when characters made decisions that were SO in tune with who they are, but absolutely broke my heart for them to make.

While I’m a softie and I cried a lot as always, this was still full of hope and drama and excitement. The bulk of the book takes place during a clan event, so there was a lot to learn about some of the other clans we haven’t seen as much of yet. The politicking was also on full display, along with some intriguing new rules of the magic world. The world-building and lore and rules of magic are a core draw for me for any fantasy novel, and Lee delivered in this installment. The knowledge building aligned us with Fiona as she learned through it all as well.

And of course, we FINALLY get to learn about Lightning magic!! Yo, it’s cool as shit. Promise: it does not disappoint.

This book is best defined by the word bittersweet. While I could have immediately dove into book 5, and absolutely wanted to, I paused here to just let it sit for a little while. This whole arc was extremely intense and I wanted to soak in all the questions, because I can never experience these for the first time again (barring some horrible amnesiac event which I hope does not occur). And I can say that after a few weeks of finishing this book (in two days…), I’m still thinking about it and marveling at how very extremely good it is.

I’m ready for book five.

Break my heart again, Lee.

Thank you to Booksirens and Ella M Lee for a free digital copy. This is my honest review!

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ARC Review: No Ex Before Marriage by Portia MacIntosh (1/11/22!)

No Ex Before Marriage by Portia MacIntosh
Expected Release Date: January 11, 2022

Recommended: sure
For characters who might make you cackle in delight every now and then, for a plot that flirts with absurdity just enough to make you smile, for a slow wind into more serious territory where you’re there without realizing when it went from silly to somber

It’s not over until someone says ‘I do’…
While her friends join the “Wife Club” one by one, Poppy feels like that part of her life is done and dusted. Already married and divorced she’s not desperate to go through all that again.

But what if her divorce never actually went through…?

After a shock revelation Poppy not only discovers she is still married, but that Zac is about to have his second wedding!

Coming face to face with her (almost) ex-husband after six years apart is never going to be easy. And when Zac panics and tells his new wife-to-be that Poppy is family, things can’t get much worse as she is welcomed with open arms as part of the wedding party!

As the memories flood back, can Poppy really leave the past where it is? And can she watch the first love of her life walk down the aisle to say ‘I do’ once again?

Thoughts

I think the simplest way to sum this up is by saying that if you read the blurb and it makes you smile and think it sounds like something you might enjoy, you probably will. It definitely delivered, even though going into it I was like “how on earth will they explain that this guy introduced her as his cousin when that would be SO stupid of him??” And yet, in the moment, I was totally on board and thinking that the only way out of the situation was to pretend they were cousins. Yep.

This is a romance of course, and I’d say that the romance in it was a definite slow-burn and honestly a little bit secondary to the main issues of the relationships. Since Poppy and Zac have already had a relationship built and even been married, that initial falling in love stuff happened more or less off screen. We get some nostalgia and reminiscing, but no real flashbacks. So if you’re coming into this hoping for steamy or swoon-worthy moments, you’re probably not going to be satisfied. It’s more of an element to the character’s story rather than the singular focus.

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Review: King of Battle and Blood by Scarlett St. Clair

King of Battle and Blood by Scarlett St. Clair

Recommended: yes
if you’re fine with a TON of explicit sex scenes, but also it resolves into a pretty damn good story (that still has a lot of sex scenes)

Their Union Is His Revenge.

Isolde de Lara considers her wedding day her death day. To end a years-long war, she is to marry vampire king, Adrian Aleksandr Vasiliev, and kill him. ⠀

But her assassination attempt is thwarted and Adrian threatens that if Isolde tries kill him again, he will raise her as the undead. Faced with the possibility of becoming the thing she hates most, Isolde seeks other ways to defy him and survive the brutal vampire court. ⠀

Except it isn’t the court she fears most—it’s Adrain. Despite their undeniable chemistry, she wonders why the king——fierce, savage, merciless—chose her as consort. ⠀

The answer will shatter her world.

Thoughts

OKAY, first of all, I don’t know if all of the author’s books are like this and I just had no idea, but the first half of this book is basically just erotica with a light vampire theme. There’s several scenes of masturbation, filthy talk, sexual tension, and yes, sex. The word clit is said 13 times, starting as soon as chapter two. (Thrust is also said 13 times, but once is referencing a pivotal violent moment rather than sex, so look forward to that, too!)

So it’s a LOT of sex stuff (cough chapter six cough), but it’s also preeetty satisfying sex stuff. Jus’ saying — it wasn’t exactly a con for the book. xD But a heads up because this would have been real awkward had I been reading on public transport like I used to all the time.

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Review: Ashes (Fire Within #3) by Ella M. Lee

Ashes by Ella M. Lee
Verdict: THE BEST ONE YET
(book one here and book two here!)

Summary

After several shocking near-deaths and an even more shocking resurrection, Fiona is more determined than ever to unravel the mystery behind who is targeting her group and why. And after finding out some startling information about her infamous boyfriend’s bloody past, she is eager to come to terms with dating someone so driven to complete his goals.

As Fiona’s group edges closer to completing Nicolas’s and Daniel’s ambitious plans to change the magical world forever, they will need to work harder than ever to navigate problems with new magic and interference from old enemies…

Thoughts

Ella M Lee’s acknowledgements for this book start off like this: “I cried a lot while writing Ashes. I think you can imagine why.”

YUP I CAN, because I was still crying when I read the acknowledgments. In fact at one point while I was sobbing my way through the last quarter of this book, my boyfriend asked for help with something and I had to preface to him that yes, I was crying, but only because this book was SO GOOD. And twenty minutes later when he came upstairs, he was incredulous that I was still crying over this book. It’s just that masterfully done, y’all.

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ARC Review: Must Love Books by Shauna Robinson (1/18/22)

Must Love Books by Shauna Robinson
Expected Release Date: January 18, 2022

Recommended: yes!
For an MC who makes truly questionable decisions, for some honest struggles, for a look at the publishing world and whether or not it can make a reader jaded, honestly not much here for the romance

Prepare yourself for a L O N G review because I have so much to share about this book!!! 🥰

Summary

When Nora landed an editorial assistant position at Parsons Press, it was her first step towards The Dream Job. Because, honestly, is there anything dreamier than making books for a living? But after five years of lunch orders, finicky authors, and per my last emails, Nora has come to one grand conclusion: Dream Jobs do not exist.

With her life spiraling and the Parsons staff sinking, Nora gets hit with even worse news. Parsons is cutting her already unlivable salary. Unable to afford her rent and without even the novels she once loved as a comfort, Nora decides to moonlight for a rival publisher to make ends meet…and maybe poach some Parsons authors along the way.

But when Andrew Santos, a bestselling Parsons author no one can afford to lose is thrown into the mix, Nora has to decide where her loyalties lie. Her new Dream Job, ever-optimistic Andrew, or…herself and her future.

Thoughts

I love this book for the intense look at the happiness in career success (and in general) that the main character Nora has. Sure, it’s billed as a romance, but it’s really more like a self-discovery or identity read to me. Nora’s romance shows her how much she’s missing romance in other parts of her lives: career, hobbies, friends. Once one element of her life starts to glow, she realizes how dingy and dull the others are. That more than anything is her motivation to seek change.

If you’ve ever been in a job that made you hate your life, this book will be immensely relatable. So many of the thoughts Nora has sound like they’re pulled directly from my head circa four years ago. And if you currently hate your job, this book might be a breath of air that you can draw inspiration from (or at least live vicariously through).

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Review: The Keeper of Night by Kylie Lee Baker

The Keeper of Night by Kylie Lee Baker

Recommended: yes, for now…
for a quick pace with lots of travel and violence, for a deep dive into the folklore and beliefs of death around the world, for a morally grey characters (and a really boring sidekick)

Summary

Half British Reaper, half Japanese Shinigami, Ren Scarborough has been collecting souls in the London streets for centuries. Expected to obey the harsh hierarchy of the Reapers who despise her, Ren conceals her emotions and avoids her tormentors as best she can.

When her failure to control her Shinigami abilities drives Ren out of London, she flees to Japan to seek the acceptance she’s never gotten from her fellow Reapers. Accompanied by her younger brother, the only being on earth to care for her, Ren enters the Japanese underworld to serve the Goddess of Death… only to learn that here, too, she must prove herself worthy. Determined to earn respect, Ren accepts an impossible task—find and eliminate three dangerous Yokai demons—and learns how far she’ll go to claim her place at Death’s side.

Thoughts

This book was EXCELLENT, until I read the epilogue. I might be the only one who thinks so, because I am bored by paladins and righteousness, but I was cheering the whole way though and fully committed to the characters and series —

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