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Come On In Anthology – Thoughts and Doodles

Come On In Anthology – Thoughts and Doodles

WELCOME From some of the most exciting bestselling and up-and-coming YA authors writing today…journey from Ecuador to New York City and Argentina to Utah, from Australia to Harlem and India to New Jersey, from Fiji, America, Mexico and more… Come On In. With characters who 

Review: The Story of Mina Lee – The Monotony of the Great American Dream

Review: The Story of Mina Lee – The Monotony of the Great American Dream

Title: The Last Story of Mina LeeAuthor: Nancy Jooyoun KimPublisher: Park Row Books Genre(s): Fiction, Historical FictionSubject(s)/Themes(s): Asian-American immigrantsRepresentation: Korean MCs (ownvoices) Release Date: September 1st, 2020Page Count: 384 (hardback)Rating: 4.0/10 Margot Lee’s mother, Mina, isn’t returning her calls. It’s a mystery to twenty-six-year-old Margot, 

Mini Reviews (and a Reading Woe): The Shadows by Alex North & Red Heir by Lisa Henry

Mini Reviews (and a Reading Woe): The Shadows by Alex North & Red Heir by Lisa Henry

How does one…read a book?

If anyone has suggestions, please feel free to mail out a note to my brain detailing step-by-step instructions, as the poor thing has clearly forgotten. Which, turns out, is a bit of an inconvenience when you’re trying to run a book blog.

It’s not that I don’t have the time – quite the opposite, really. It’s not that I don’t have a good selection of books to read, or that I’m not excited to get to them – because I have and I do. It’s just that I open a book, read the first couple of chapters, and then think, “Oh look, squirrel!” and proceed to chase the squirrel instead. And in this case the squirrel is a text message or a cute YouTube video or a dark blotch on my ceiling that I swear is a spider. I feel like, at this point, if I were stuck in a 10 ft x 10 ft room with nothing but the clothes on my back, some water, and a Kindle on my lap, I would still manage to find an excuse to NOT read.

Sigh. It’s a maddening puzzle, my friends. But one I’m determined to crack this month. There are so many incredible-sounding books coming out in the next couple of months, and I do not want to miss them.

In the meantime, here are a few mini reviews that I’ve been procrastinating on!

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Title:
The Shadows
Author:
Alex North
Publisher:
Celadon Books

Genre(s): Mystery, Thriller
Subject(s)/Themes(s): Childhood, Dreams
Representation: N/A

Release Date: July 7th, 2020
Page Count: 326 (hardback)

Rating: 7.0/10

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You knew a teenager like Charlie Crabtree. A dark imagination, a sinister smile–always on the outside of the group. Some part of you suspected he might be capable of doing something awful. Twenty-five years ago, Crabtree did just that, committing a murder so shocking that it’s attracted that strange kind of infamy that only exists on the darkest corners of the internet–and inspired more than one copycat.

Paul Adams remembers the case all too well: Crabtree–and his victim–were Paul’s friends. Paul has slowly put his life back together. But now his mother, old and suffering from dementia, has taken a turn for the worse. Though every inch of him resists, it is time to come home.

It’s not long before things start to go wrong. Paul learns that Detective Amanda Beck is investigating another copycat that has struck in the nearby town of Featherbank. His mother is distressed, insistent that there’s something in the house. And someone is following him. Which reminds him of the most unsettling thing about that awful day twenty-five years ago.

It wasn’t just the murder.

It was the fact that afterward, Charlie Crabtree was never seen again…

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The Shadows is less of a thriller-horror than what the blurb suggests, and a more reflective story of a man who returns home to reconcile with a traumatic past. It’s got the tone of rifling through a box of old photographs, with all the tension and melancholia that accompanies it, which I absolutely vibe with – sad trips into the fictional past are my jam – but it wasn’t quite the skin-crawling experience I was hoping for.

It is, however, still a solid atmosphere-driven tale and, in a weird way, there’s this magical lustre to it. Maybe it’s just that my brain has a tendency to categorize all stories involving dreams as fantasy-adjacent, but this feels like it exists in that grey narrative space between reality and not-quite. It’s in the way that the characters long for things they know they can’t have, and long for them hard enough to stitch their own world, their own stories, into existence. And I love it when stories do that – grounded in the real world but still dangling a thread of “But what if?”

Aside from the main character, the rest of the cast kind of fade into the background. I understand why the author chose to alternate Paul’s chapters with Amanda’s. His narration is so entrenched in old memories and biases, and the detective offers a more outside-in look into everything with better objectivity (the thriller/mystery aspect definitely becomes sharper with her chapters). But I couldn’t help but feel that she’s mostly there to serve as a mirror for all the strangeness that’s going on, and not so much as a fleshed-out character. A narrative device, really, albeit an effective one.

Creepy handprints on the cover notwithstanding, I wouldn’t recommend the book to anyone looking for a high-octane horror story. It’s the quiet exploration of childhood traumas and our compartmentalization of them that truly shines throughout.

Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review


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Title:
Red Heir
Author:
Lisa Henry and Sarah Honey
Publisher:
Self-published

Genre(s): Fantasy, Romance
Subject(s)/Themes(s): Fake royal, Road trip
Representation: Gay MC and side characters

Release Date: July 28th, 2020
Page Count: 234 (ebook)

Rating: 5.0/10

addtogoodreads-script_26_orig

Imprisoned pickpocket Loth isn’t sure why a bunch of idiots just broke into his cell claiming they’re here to rescue the lost prince of Aguillon, and he doesn’t really care. They’re looking for a redheaded prince, and he’s more than happy to play along if it means freedom. Then his cranky cellmate Grub complicates things by claiming to be the prince as well.

Now they’re fleeing across the country and Loth’s stuck sharing a horse and a bedroll with Grub while imitating royalty, eating eel porridge, and dodging swamp monsters and bandits.

Along the way, Loth discovers that there’s more to Grub than meets the eye. Under the dirt and bad attitude, Grub’s not completely awful. He might even be attractive. In fact, Loth has a terrible suspicion that he’s developing feelings, and he’s not sure what to do about that. He’d probably have more luck figuring it out if people would just stop trying to kill them.

Still, at least they’ve got a dragon, right?

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A dwarf, an elf, a human, and an orc crash into a prison where two redheads await. One of them is the lost prince, you see, and these unlikely band of rescuers are determined to snatch him away to safety and earn all the glory. A case of mistaken identity, however, lands the wrong guy as the prince and his cellmate as his grumpy tagalong. Cue adventure.

This was….okay, in every sense of the word. It’s a simple story; it doesn’t do anything particularly new or exciting with the imposter royal trope, the worldbuilding is sparse, and the side characters are cute and provide some extra banter. In terms of queer fantasy adventures, it’s nowhere near the kind of funny that Lightning Struck Heart is, but it definitely has its witty moments.

I was just rather bored with it. I mean, the book knows what it’s about – it’s not meant to be a sprawling fantasy epic – but everything from the characters to the relationship to the plot felt surface-level and derivative compared to other stories that tackle this premise in a more interesting way. It plays safe and doesn’t attempt to be anything it’s not, but damn, I sure wish it’d at least tried.

But if you’re looking for quick and light-hearted fantasy that you want to squeeze inbetween heavier reads, or you just really love red-haired protagonists, then this might be one for you.

Thank you to Gay Romance Reviews and the authors for providing the review copy

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Review: Burn by Patrick Ness – Dragons, Prophecies, and the Cycle of Violence

Review: Burn by Patrick Ness – Dragons, Prophecies, and the Cycle of Violence

Title: Burn Author: Patrick Ness Publisher: Quill Tree Books Genre(s): YA Fantasy, Historical Fiction Subject(s)/Themes(s): War, Discrimination, Dragons Representation: Biracial MC, Gay MC Release Date: June 2nd, 2020 Page Count: 384 (hardback) Rating: 8.0/10   On a cold Sunday evening in early 1957, Sarah Dewhurst 

Review: Mayhem by Estelle Laure – A Gorgeous Chaotic Mess

Title: Mayhem Author: Estelle Laure Publisher: Wednesday Books Genre(s): YA Historical Fiction, Paranormal, Magical Realism Subject(s): Multigenerational, Abuse Release Date: July 14th, 2020 Page Count: 304 (hardback) Rating: 4.0/10 It’s 1987 and unfortunately it’s not all Madonna and cherry lip balm. Mayhem Brayburn has always 

A Tarot Black Lives Matter Reading Bingo

A Tarot Black Lives Matter Reading Bingo


UPDATE: The deadline for the bingo has been extended to December 31!

#NotYourGrandmasBingo

Hello my hippest of friends! Hope you are all having a fabulous day. If so, it is about to get even more fabulous, for today I’m unveiling the Tarot Black Lives Matter book bingo, presented by The Tarot Sequence fandom. This is s reading challenge event running from July 6 to December 6 December 31 aimed to help us discover, read, and support Black authors and their work.

Absolutely ZERO knowledge of The Tarot Sequence series is required in order to participate, as the event is meant to be, first and foremost, a celebration of Black voices within the book community. It’s a chance to show our love for Black authors, especially queer Black authors, and encourage each other to read more diversely and smartly, to read beyond the reaches of our comfort genres, and further educate ourselves on the subjects that are raised in these stories. And most importantly, to make that a habit, not just a one-off.

We have created a bingo card with each square corresponding to a tarot-specific prompt (the 22 Major Arcana, plus a few custom additions). After reading a book that fulfills said prompt, you can cross it out. For each filled square you will gain ONE (1) entry, with a bonus entry if the book is LGBTQ+, into a raffle for some incredible prizes detailed below. For each line of five squares in a row that is completed, you will gain an additional THREE (3) entries. By completing the entire grid, you’ll gain a bonus of SIX (6) entries. The overall number of squares you’ve filled out will count towards your ranking, which comes with a cool badge that you can show off for bragging rights.

You can go for as few or as many squares as you want, and you’re welcome to do update posts, TBRs posts, reviews, recommendation lists, and share on your blog and other social media using #TarotBLMBingo.



Rules

  • Books must be written (or co-written) by Black authors.
  • Unless specified, books can be fiction or non-fiction; prose, verse, or graphic novel.
  • Only one square may be filled by a re-read, and each book can only be used once. Multiple books by the same author is perfectly okay!
  • After each book, we highly encourage you to write a review (or draw or film–get creative!) and share on Goodreads, Amazon, and social media (please do NOT tag authors in negative reviews). 
  • Email your bingo cards to tarotsequenceevents@gmail.com, along with country of residence (for prize purposes) and, if you’re comfortable sharing, social media usernames (so that we know to tag you in winner announcement posts).

End date: December 6 December 31 (11:59 PM PST)

For more info, please refer to the guidebook pdf attached at the end of the post, which will go into all the prompts, prizes, and more in detail.



Prizes (International + US)

All prizes, unless specified, are available for international participants. And you can, of course, opt out of the prize draw while still participating in the bingo.


  • Grand Prize: A BIG special prize that will be revealed closer to the end date

  • Three Winners: A book purchase up to $30 from a Black author (Book Depository or if in US, from a Black-owned bookstore) 

  • Two winners (US only): A copy of K.D. Edwards’ The Hanged Man (The Tarot Sequence 2)

  • One Winner: A book sleeve

  • One winner (US only): A mini book bundle containing a paperback of Check Please Vol. 2, Fragile Remedy bookmarks, and a small curated tea package

  • One winner: An art commission of anything and anyone (with or without background) by artist @JakeShandy

  • One winner: A podfic up to 10k words (any fandom, requires permission from fic author, preferably no NSFW). Offered by Sam @HeartS530. (Note: a podfic is a fanmade audio recording of a fanfic)

  • One winner: A significant recurring cameo in Book 3 of K.D. Edwards’ The Tarot Sequence



Rankings


5 SQUARES COMPLETE – Elemental


5 SQUARES COMPLETE – Dragon

10 SQUARES COMPLETE – Principality


15 SQUARES COMPLETE – Companion


20 SQUARES COMPLETE – Arcana



Relevant Files and Graphics


Drive Folder (containing all graphics, cards, guidebook): https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/17CVKuhTHw_kx9-PhWjvETb__TCpdT00n?usp=sharing


I hope you can find the time to join us! And if you have any questions you can leave them here below in the comments or contact me on Twitter @aildreda, or email directly at tarotsequenceevents@gmail.com.

Happy reading! <3

Joint Rainbow Review: Felix Ever After | Return of the Kathy (Again)

Joint Rainbow Review: Felix Ever After | Return of the Kathy (Again)

Hello everyone! I come out of hiding once again like an anxious little mole. The thing I learned about staying home during this darkest timeline is that “extra free time” comes with a HUGE disclaimer that’s deviously written in tiny scrawl, and in Papyrus to 

Review + Giveaway (US): They Went Left – Beautifully Written But Incomplete

Review + Giveaway (US): They Went Left – Beautifully Written But Incomplete

  Title: They Went Left Author: Monica Hesse Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers Genre(s): YA Historical Fiction Subject(s): WW2, Holocaust, Mental Health, Siblings Release Date: April 7th, 2020 Page Count: 384 (hardback) Rating: 6.0/10       I admit, I’m not exactly in 

Mini Reviews: Untamed Shore & Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing – A Shark and a Wolf Walk(?) into a Bar

Mini Reviews: Untamed Shore & Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing – A Shark and a Wolf Walk(?) into a Bar

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Publisher: Agora Books
Genre(s):
Historical Fiction, Crime
Release Date: February 21st, 2020
Page Count: 339 (hardback)

Rating: 6.5/10

This is an odd one. One of those books that send your brain into a bit of a lull. And I enjoyed it (with a faint question mark attached). But I think I enjoyed it as I’d enjoy sitting on a boat in the middle of a lake for five hours, fishing line cast out, the sun dipping in and out, and catching a single minnow at the end of it all. I can’t decide whether it was meditative or just plain dull, but then I remember that it was a nice day and the birds were singing, so I decide on the former. I probably wouldn’t try it again, but I appreciate the one experience.

It’s an atmosphere-driven book first, character second, and plot third. Moreno-Garcia shows why she’s one of the best when it comes to immersive settings. Baja California is a slow and stifling shoreside town and you can practically feel the heat emanating through the pages as you read. It’s no big city offering glitzy displays of culture, but small places can have just as much character and magnetism, and this story shows that. And Viridiana is a realistic, if unlikable, product of such a place: a little impulsive, a little adventurous, and teeth-grindingly naive. The book definitely works better as her coming-of-age story than a thrilling crime novel because the latter aspects, with the American tourists and their secret troubles, rather underwhelming and a side attraction to the Viridiana Show.

Overall, it’s a lazy immersive sprawl of a story that was worth the read but nothing that really stayed with me afterwards. A brief, quiet fling.

 

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Series: Big Bad Wolf 4
Publisher:
Carina Press
Genre(s):
Paranormal, LGBTQ Romance
Release Date: March 2nd, 2020
Page Count: 268 (paperback)

Rating: 7.5/10

Two of my most pressing questions in the last few years (pre-COVIDapocalypse): 1) When will Blackpink get the respect they’re due from their company? and 2) When will Charlie Adhara release a mediocre book?

The answer is probably the same for both.

We are sitting at book 4 in the Big Bad Wolf series, and I continue to be impressed and delighted by Adhara’s ability to write consistently at the top of the game. She dives into the shapeshifter trope with fresh eyes, creating characters who feel like real people navigating traumas and insecurities, not cardboard cutouts doling out conflict for conflict’s sake, and each book adds new lines and shading to the image that is Park and Cooper. And that continues here. An undercover mission to a couples resort. Murder upon murders. Cooper figuring out that there are so many layers to a relationship, and huh, isn’t that a scary thing, but also a massively wonderful thing?

It wasn’t the strongest of the series in terms of plot and secondary characters, but “not my favourite” for a BBW story equals “really friggin good” for most other paranormal romances. Overall, a solid, solid entry to the next chapter of Cooper’s life.

Expect an overdue Why You Need to Read this Series post in the next week or so!

 

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Review: Dragon Age Tevinter Nights – Burn, Thedas, Burn

Review: Dragon Age Tevinter Nights – Burn, Thedas, Burn

Title: Dragon Age: Tevinter Nights Author(s): Patrick Weekes, Sylvia Fektekuty, John Epler, Lukas Kristjanson, Brianne Battye, Caitlin Sullivan Kelly, Courtney Woods, Ryan Cormier, Arone LaBray Publisher: Tor Books Genre(s): Epic Fantasy, Game-to-Novel Subject(s): Gods, LGBTQ+ Release Date: March 10th, 2020 Page Count: 496 (paperback) Rating: