Book Reviews, diverse books, LGBTQIA+, YA

Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee Review

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I enjoyed the story for sure. I had a hard time not questioning the logistics of the world but questions aside it is really interesting. A solar flare gave a lot of people powers. Meta Humans galore. They are classed at different levels with the higher level becoming superheroes. It is really interesting but felt like I needed more detail still.

I love the representation in the story. I don’t read many books with bisexual main characters in this kind of genre. Jess is also an Asian protagonist. I’m all about superhero stories with QPOC characters. It was great to see how her family’s background affected their life in different ways.I also like the way the main relationship went overall. It was a cute pairing. Felt a bit too fluffy for the story at times but it was nice.

There was too hinting sometimes. I figured out a lot of things really easily. I think the first reveal that Jess has no clue about is something that yeah the reader is probably supposed to figure out. If not it was okay that I did. It was a type of dramatic irony knowing the thing that Jess didn’t.I feel like the other reveals may have had too much laid out too, though. I wanted less predictable in those later chapters.

So Jess has it pretty rough in this book after things really kick off. The twist and turns n her life are a lot to handle and she really handles it pretty well. I also felt like there was a definite hero journey for her that coincided with her deciding she wanted to be her own person. She wasn’t going to live in the shadow of her family or just do what they wanted her to do in order to get by.She is going to do things for herself.

There also is a trans character in this story named Bells. It looks like he will be the main character of the sequel. I’m excited to see the continuation of the group’s story in the following book for sure.

I really wish more had happened by the end of this one or that more have been accomplished. Even knowing that there will be another book I was a bit dissatisfied with the end. The sequel does come out this year so I hope I’m able to get it sooner rather than later. It looks like it will be focusing on Bells like I said. I am glad I read this. Jess is a great main character and I hope she and everyone else makes some major progress dealing with the situation they are all in next time.

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Gay romance

Wrapped Together by Annabeth Albert

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For a stationery store owner, the holidays are great for business. But for Hollis Alcott, Christmas reminds him of the tragic events of three years past, and the last thing he wants to do is take part in Portland’s over-abundance of festive cheer. But Sawyer Murphy, a hunky gift shop owner whose brother is married to Hollis’s sister, has made it his mission to pluck Hollis out of his holiday blues. And his plan is beginning to work. Wrapped in the warm glow of newfound passion, the former business rivals hit up Portland’s finest holiday traditions—and Hollis’s icy attitude begins to melt like snowflakes on his tongue. But he isn’t sure he can trust anyone with the only gift he has—his heart—without breaking it like an antique ornament. Unless he can find the courage to take a leap with the one lover he never expected.

I read Wrapped Together during the A Very Merry Readathon and really enjoyed it like I have with many other Annabeth Albert books this year. This was a part of the Portland Heat series. Each book is a standalone following different characters. This really got me interested in reading the rest of the books in the series.

The couple of characters we follow have a history together that is a little messy. There are misconceptions they have to dance around. Hollis is the character whose perspective we follow throughout and a lot of the time he annoyed me because I couldn’t figure out why he couldn’t let Sawyer in more.

Eventually, I could see that Hollis is stuck in a lot of ways. he hasn’t moved on from a tragedy in his family and hasn’t shifted in personality either. Because of this, he doesn’t see how much Sawyer has changed or even entertain the idea that Sawyer has changed.

This story had a good infusion of flashbacks. I’m usually not a flashback fan in stories.I liked the pace of the relationship developing. Hollis and Sawyer get into BDSM lightly and that was cool to see them explore that together. I do think the slow burn is worth it once they can figure things out together. Also loved the parts involving any of their family.

This is a nice story where someone needs to find their holiday spirit again. I really enjoyed it. The epilogue was cute even if it was a bit much.  Definitely, recommend you check out this book and more stories from Annabeth Albert.

 

Book Reviews, LGBTQIA+, YA

Last Seen Leaving by Caleb Roehrig | Book Review

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Flynn’s girlfriend, January, is missing. The cops are asking questions he can’t answer, and her friends are telling stories that don’t add up. All eyes are on Flynn—as January’s boyfriend, he must know something.

But Flynn has a secret of his own. And as he struggles to uncover the truth about January’s disappearance, he must also face the truth about himself.

I read most of this book in one night. I had such a hard time putting it down but I had to sleep. It’s a book that really pulls you in. I have to see how everything will end. I needed Flynn to find out what happened to January. I needed Flynn to figure himself out and find some kind of happiness hopefully in all of this tragedy. It’s a beautiful mixed bag. Mystery, self-discovery, friendship, love, and more.

As Flynn learns more about his girlfriend and the secrets she may have kept it gets harder for Flynn to keep his secret from coming out. Do you see what I did there? I think I’m funny.

This book does deal with a lot of dark topics and there are situations that may upset you. There are characters that will probably tick you off. There are characters that definitely should tick you off. Be prepared for some darker things to happen. It’s a story about someone going missing. Just a warning. Now, to nicer things.

I felt like the love story in this book was great. It’s really more in the background. I didn’t mind that at all. It made sense to me I felt like we were heading in that direction from early on. Their moments had me smiling while everything else in the book had me on the edge of my seat. I needed that. I also love them both to death. 

Roehrig does a great job with diversity in this book. I’m talking race, sexuality, and social class.he shows coming out in a different way than I’ve really seen it in other books as well. I really appreciated seeing something different in that narrative. Sometimes coming out sucks a little or a lot.

I love Flynn’s parents.I felt like they were very present in his life. I liked how they stood up for him. They support him when January goes missing and continues to during the search for her. They felt more important than other side characters and I really enjoyed that.

In my recent Q&A video someone asked me to pick five characters I’d want to be friends with in real life. Flynn is bumping someone off that list. He goes so far to figure out what happens to January in this for one thing. I also just feel like he needs hugs and support. I’d give him those freely.

This book needs a movie or a tv show.I need it. It’s number one on my adaptions wishlist right now. I think it read like a show or movie. I just want all of Tammy Walker’s scenes acted out by someone, please. I live for the drama. I feel bad for what’s she’s going through of course. I just honestly can think of so many actresses that could play her so well.

The last twist of this book had me still thinking about the book days later.I had some issues with January throughout this book but as you learn more about her I think I started to understand her. It’s hard to start another book right now because I’m still in the world of Last Seen Leaving. I will be recommending this book to people so much you all are going to get tired of me mentioning it.

 

Book Reviews, LGBTQIA+, YA

One Man Guy Book Review

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Alek Khederian should have guessed something was wrong when his parents took him to a restaurant. Everyone knows that Armenians never eat out. Between bouts of interrogating the waitress and criticizing the menu, Alek’s parents announce that he’ll be attending summer school in order to bring up his grades. Alek is sure this experience will be the perfect hellish end to his hellish freshman year of high school. He never could’ve predicted that he’d meet someone like Ethan.

Ethan is everything Alek wishes he were: confident, free-spirited, and irreverent. He can’t believe a guy this cool wants to be his friend. And before long, it seems like Ethan wants to be more than friends. Alek has never thought about having a boyfriend—he’s barely ever had a girlfriend—but maybe it’s time to think again.

This book was an interesting experience for me.I stayed up all night reading it. It was 5am when I went back to my room. Right from the beginning, I knew it was going to be an amazing book. The opening is hilarious, fast-paced, and just fun. The rest of the book followed suit for me. It really was  actually funny. There were serious laugh out loud moments for me. I sat in the lobby of my building laughing at four in the morning at parts. The doorman was concerned.

I listen to music when I read often but it’s always great to listen to music featured in the book. So during this book I listened to Rufus Wainright. Alek and Ethan go to see a Rufus concert in the book.He’s Ethan’s favorite artist. It was fantastic listening to Rufus while reading this.I am a little Rufus Wainright obsessed right now because of it.(My boyfriend just said that I’m extremely Rufus obsessed) I listen to a lot of queer artists so I don’t know how I had not listened to him before now.

The families are eccentric and wonderfully written.Alek’s Armenian family were a big part of the book and I loved them. The restaurant scene with Alek’s family at the beginning of the book was amazing.The customs and history you learn in the book are fantastic. Barakiva writes really great family dynamics.I also thought the little bits where we see Becky and Ethan’s family were really great as well. You get to see different kinds of families in this book.

Now the relationship. Ethan and Alek are so freaking cute. I was so surprised at how well the relationship formed. It was kind of quick , but not really. It was quick but didn’t bother me like it could have. It just worked well. They are really different individual characters. I think Ethan needs more order in his life and Alek needed some freedom to learn who he really was.They are good for each other.I loved it.

I really am glad I picked this up from the library. It was so good. I want to get my own copy. I want an adaption of it so much. This would be such a great comedic movie. I could not help but think that throughout this. It would be so good. It’s at the top of my books I want adapted list right now.

 

 

 

 

Book Reviews, LGBTQIA+, YA

Seven Ways We Lie by Riley Redgate

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Paloma High School is ordinary by anyone’s standards. It’s got the same cliques, the same prejudices, the same suspect cafeteria food. And like every high school, every student has something to hide—from Kat, the thespian who conceals her trust issues onstage, to Valentine, the neurotic genius who’s planted the seed of a school scandal.

When that scandal bubbles over, and rumors of a teacher-student affair surface, everyone starts hunting for someone to blame. For the seven unlikely allies at the heart of it all, the collision of their seven ordinary-seeming lives results in extraordinary change.

I really loved this book.Seven students each representing a deadly sin. That got me interested immediately. I love studying the seven deadly sins. The episode with the sins on charmed was one of my faves.It’s just a fun concept. Figuring out which one each student represented was fun for me too. Some are more obvious than others for sure.

I felt like the story made it pretty obvious which student is a part of the affair pretty early. I thought that might take away something from the story,but really you get to see everyone else around that person reacting to them without really knowing them. It was interesting. Especially since one of the seven does know who it is from the beginning.

Let’s quickly go over some of the characters. I want to talk about some of the diversity in the book. Some other things I appreciated as well.

I loved Valentine Simmons. He’s so blunt. He’s not trying to be funny but completely cracked me up at times. Loved his arc. He changes a bit from where we see him at the beginning to where he is at the end of the book. Also, he’s ASEXUAL. They don’t say the word,but he is. Looking for more books with Asexual characters then check this one out.

The other queer character is one that I loved as well. Lucas is Pansexual. He is awesome. I had some reservations going into the book because I was told he was the character that represented greed. Could have been problematic, but it wasn’t. He really represented greed when it came to money and wanting luxurious things specifically. That aspect of him didn’t factor into his being pansexual at all. Loved the conversations around pansexuality in this because it was realistic. It’s not easy to explain to people and sometimes people don’t get it.

I liked the message the book had about how people treat girls that sleep around differently than boys that do. The character that represented lust was overall a really strong character in this book to me.She didn’t let herself care what people thought of her but didn’t let people take things too far either. Also really liked where her story ended up at the end.

Matt is half  latino. His mother speaks Spanish at times in the book I believe. I thought that was really cool. You really see he comes from a mixed background in this. Also really liked his character overall. he had one slip up where I was like that’s not cool,but he actually redeems himself, unlike some people. This leads us to my least favorite character.

I hated Claire. I got to the point in the book where I decided she was irredeemable really early. I didn’t think that would be the most annoying deadly sin to read, but it was. She’s the complete worst.I would not forgive her for the things she did in this book if I were her friends. The attempt of a turnaround for her did not land well at the end. Not enough time to make it work in her last two chapters honestly. I’d rather get another Valentine, Juniper, or Lucas chapter. Even another Olivia chapter, which we didn’t need. We had plenty of those. I’d still prefer more over Claire’s existence.

So I loved this book. I had the one character I hated throughout. A sort of mystery where you wonder when will everyone find out.A few very poetic chapters. Lots of drama. A little bit of romance. Some really great LGBTQIA + characters. A dash of feminism. This book was completely for me. Definitely, recommend that people try it out. This was an Overdrive library read for me. It’s going on the list of books I need to buy because I want to own this book.

 

Book Reviews

Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz

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Etta is tired of dealing with all of the labels and categories that seem so important to everyone else in her small Nebraska hometown.

Everywhere she turns, someone feels she’s too fringe for the fringe. Not gay enough for the Dykes, her ex-clique, thanks to a recent relationship with a boy; not tiny and white enough for ballet, her first passion; and not sick enough to look anorexic (partially thanks to recovery). Etta doesn’t fit anywhere— until she meets Bianca, the straight, white, Christian, and seriously sick girl in Etta’s therapy group. Both girls are auditioning for Brentwood, a prestigious New York theater academy that is so not Nebraska. Bianca seems like Etta’s salvation, but how can Etta be saved by a girl who needs saving herself?

The latest powerful, original novel from Hannah Moskowitz is the story about living in and outside communities and stereotypes, and defining your own identity.

I really related to Etta on many levels. Definitely, that feeling of not enough this to fit here. Being in a community and out of it at the same time. It’s a rough place to be in. I really loved reading this story of Etta figuring out who she is, where she fits in, and really where she wants to fit in. It’s a long journey for her. Being able to move away from the people in your life that aren’t good for you and toward the people who will be.

I absolutely loved reading a book with a well-written bisexual main character.The biphobia she experiences in this book was so realistic. I’ve seen comments and attitudes like what you see in this book from people in the queer communities before. It’s so frustrating watching Etta go through it in the book and how she’s really used to it. She’s not even as angry about it as she could be.

Plus Etta is black. That’s awesome for me. I definitely need more QPOC in the books I read as a QPOC myself. I thought the class issues brought in were interesting. Etta and her family have more money than some other people. She can afford the really nice private school and all that.unlike James and Bianca.

I related to James a lot too in this. At one point in the book, I realized I was really invested in multiple characters and thought the book was going to leave me completely shattered. If it didn’t end well, for Etta, James, and Bianca I did not think I would handle it well. I came out of the book okay, though. I got emotional. I was invested when bad things happened,but overall I’m okay.

I also used to dance and totally understood Etta’s not feeling she fit in that world.Especially in ballet. I feel like things are changing there,but I don’t know how much and how fast. Then there’s the depiction of Etta’s  eating disorder and Bianca’s. It was done so well.I have/had an eating disorder and didn’t feel triggered by this like I have other books. I’m further along than I was a few years back ,but I honestly think this was because of how great Hannah Moskowitz. I still feel liked I’d be triggered by one YA book, in particular, dealing with eating disorders that I won’t name if I read it now. This one just worked.

I really appreciate what Moskowitz has done with this book. What she has told us with the story and these great characters. I definitely will look into more books by this author after having enjoyed this book so much.

Book Reviews

The Before Now and After Then by Peter Monn

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Danny Goldstein has always lived in the shadow of his identical, twin brother Sam. But when a hurricane of events forces him into the spotlight, he starts to realize that the only thing he’s truly afraid of is himself.

With the help of his costume changing friend Cher, a famous gay uncle with a mysterious past of his own, two aging punk rocker parents and Rusty, the boy who will become his something to live for, Danny begins to realize that the music of the heart is truly the soundtrack for living.

For a book with such a dark thing starting it off there was a lot of great humor. Moments that really made me laugh. I like when books can do that and still hit you emotionally. Seeing Danny’s grieving process and his family’s grieving process over the course of this book was really interesting to me. I feel like is in one state for so long he never lets himself really move past it until it just breaks through. I thought it was well done.

The romance was way too fast.I much prefer lust to romance stories over instalove. I think it’s more realistic. It’s not just too fast for the MC Danny. It’s both of them falling way too fast and it didn’t work for me.I tried to let myself live with the cheesiness of the romance around the middle,but I think I couldn’t because Rusty and Danny are so emotive.The way they show their anger, sadness,love, etc. I kept thinking it’s been less than a week. Please chill out. I don’t even think their chemistry was that strong honestly.

Speaking of emotions, though.There are moments where things escalated in like a snap of a finger. Things happened so quickly. I liked some of those moments,but other times wanted things to be drawn out a bit more. A particular argument in the book is one of those moments. I felt it would have had more effect if drawn out.It didn’t really have an effect at all to me with how fast it was over.

Uncle Alex is fantastic. Loved thinking about his story and the book he wrote that became so popular. Plus what happened at the end with him. I didn’t see it coming at all and probably should have.i thought something completely different was happening so I couldn’t see the signs. Everyone should have  a cool gay uncle. I want to be a cool gay uncle.

Cher is interesting. So is her mother. I don’t know what to say about her after all this. There are a couple conversations I wished I’d seen on her end. She’s a really colorful character in an interesting situation. I think Danny is so focused on Rusty that I miss some things going on with her, unfortunately.

Danny’s moms may be one of my favorite moms I’ve read in a book. She’s honestly just so great .She stands up for her kids and his boyfriend. Even when the romance moves way too fast and she knows it too you’ll. She also just rocks. Definitely a cool mom. Not like the one in Mean Girls , though.

Rusty is Venezuelan. I liked seeing elements in his life that made sense for his character. His family was great to read.I had some issues with his character that may have just stemmed from the  messiness of how fast this relationship went. I really liked him for a lot in the beginning. Not right at the beginning. At their first real conversation, I liked him. Not fully sure why it didn’t stay that way for me. I’ve been trying to figure it out. I think I wanted to see more of who he was.

From the beginning, I thought this would be Danny’s journey to finding himself.Getting his own identity instead of just following someone else.I just didn’t feel like he fully got there. I couldn’t see it.There were “breakthroughs” in the story that didn’t work. It lined up nicely with things in his process of grieving. I felt like his personality was still tied into Rusty too much. Maybe that’s just because of how crazy obsessed and in love his was in that week. I don’t know.

I did love one thing that was a standout in Danny’s personality. He didn’t want to let his sexuality define him. He does something at the beginning that might contradict that and I think that may have just been a result of him not really knowing himself then. When others try to define him by it Danny rejects that. It reminded me of Astrid from Ask The Passengers and Simon from Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda in some ways. It’s a quality I like to see in characters and made me like Danny more.  I still don’t feel like he developed much of an understanding of himself or a personality of his own that I could see by the end,but I think he was on his way.

I did have some issues with the book but overall really enjoyed it.I’d definitely recommend it to some people.

LGBTQIA+

Queer Booktuber Recommendations

In this first recommendation video of the day, I’ll be giving you links to five Booktubers  that frequently feature LGBTQIA+ books on their channels. These books are at a variety of different levels including Middle Grade, YA,and Adult books.Also putting clips of some of my favorite queer lit related videos from these Booktubers.There will definitely be more recommendations like this one to come on this blog and on my Booktube channel in the future.

PerpetualPages

She is one of the most eloquent people I follow on Youtube. I love the way she talks about books and the way she approaches issues in books that concern her. Go check out her channel for some really amazing videos. Below she talks about the problems with the main thing in Queer Lit being coming out narratives and then goes on to talk about what Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertali does right in concerns to that (Spoiler Free).

Sonahaazrah 

Ivan has tons of great videos discussing different aspects of LGBTQIA+  literature and the way LGBTQIA+ books are addressed by cishet people on Booktube and in other media. Ivan also created The Angry Queer Booktag which more people should definitely do. Watch his video right here.

 

WoolfsWhistle

Nicole has so much great content on her channel. Go look through her past videos to see discussions on what classifies as LGBTQ literature. You can also watch her queer book wrap-ups where she talks about queer books that she has read. Soon she will be doing a series where she talks about queer historical fiction books. You can watch her video where she talks about the importance of the genre right here.

TeaLeavesandBookBindings

Ashley is the best. She is always talking about great queer books on her channel.She seeks out books that are diverse in other ways as well.Check out her contribution to a discussion of queer books on Booktube and how it’s addressed. She also goes through all the queer books she owned and had read at the time she filmed this video.

 George Lester

George created a fantastic tag video that several queer Booktubers have done including me. It’s the A to Z LGBTQ books tag.Watch his list of 26 Queer book recommendations and search Youtube for the recommendations of some others who have done the tag on Youtube.

 

 

 

Book Reviews

The Cat In The Cradle Book Review

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Dueling with mad magicians, battling possessed beasts, and surviving endless hostile landscapes? Easy. Loving someone you weren’t supposed to? That was hard. A faceless killer terrorizes the five lands, extinguishing from great distances the lives of even the most powerful men. It is from this murderer that Dylan is forced to flee. Only Tyjinn, a brash and unpredictable bodyguard, stands between Dylan and certain death. Rather than play it safe, Tyjinn makes an unusual proposal; to hunt the hunter. This isn’t the only unorthodox idea he puts forth as an attraction blooms between the two young men. In the midst of uncountable obstacles and unforgiving odds, can Dylan really afford to recognize his own feelings?

This book has a really interesting magic system. Ten different kinds of magic recognized by color. All with two components. I was very happy that we were able to find out what each color did and meet the oligarchs that control the colors to get a sense of all the magic in this world by the end.Of course, we definitely don’t see all that they can do, though.I’m sure we will see more of it actively in the second book. I really loved how different and eccentric the Oligarchs were. It makes me wonder how each of them became Oligarchs.

This book is so fast for the majority of the first a hundred or so pages. It’s action, action, action. Dylan does not really get a moment to rest for long without something happening. The pace evens out a bit around midway through the book I’d say. As more and more about what’s happening to the Oligarchs is revealed and about who the villain is. You get some time to process things along with Dylan and try to figure out how the group will be able to survive all this. At the end, I definitely thought things sped up again. Really right around Lali’s last chapter focusing on her.

I liked the romance in this book. I kind of ship it,but that might just be because it’s queer and magical. For the majority of the book you really can’t tell how things could work out between them and I liked that. Dylan’s fear of coming out because of his past experience has him push Tyjinn away. Then when he might be ready to stop doing that Tyjinn kind of flips the switch on him and the readers. Definitely didn’t expect that kind of story arc for Tyjinn. I think I wasn’t super invested because of my opinions on Tyjinn shifting so much throughout the book. There also isn’t a lot of time devoted to their relationship growth because so much is happening plot-wise, which I really was fine with.

Dylan’s reaction to a certain death wasn’t explored enough for me. I knew the character had a connection and major past experiences with Dylan and it didn’t seem like it affected him as much as it should. It may be because of the circumstances of the death and the way that Dylan learned of the death or just how much else was going on. Still, felt it should have been more.I don’t know.

Lali’s character is a badass no doubt about that and there are definitely some interesting layers to her.I really actually liked the first chapter we were given focusing on her. At first, it seemed random to me. It’s pretty focused on Dylan entirely before that. I just wanted more since we were getting her perspective in these little bursts throughout the book. There are big periods between things happening for her. It could be a little disorienting. To be for her last solo point in the book for her is also pretty disorienting for her as well honesty. I definitely loved seeing Lali’s application of orange magic as the book went on. Orange magic interest me from the first time it was mentioned in the book. I wanted to know what it was and how it was used.

Excited to see where things go in the second book. Really not sure where they will go after thisJust hoping everyone survives.

Book Reviews

ARC Review: How Not To Summon Your True Love

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This story has an ASEXUAL PROTAGONIST! I was so excited to read this. I didn’t even know that there would be a road trip in it, which I love to read.Queer road trip books are the best. Then there is also a little magic and witchcraft.  This hit on a lot of things I like to read and I was pleasantly surprised by it.

I really liked Cy as a character.You can see how he’s been affected by his past relationships. Everyone seeks out sex when he doesn’t want that.When he cast the spell he doesn’t think it will actually work. Partially because he doesn’t believe magic exist and largely because he does not think he has a true love.He starts to believe it can never work with someone because sex is so important to people. I found myself rooting for him from the beginning.

I liked Cy’s reaction to finding out about magic. Cy has the ability to come up with different options for himself pretty fast. He’s not impulsive at all. He takes his time to make up his mind, but he isn’t running around like a chicken with its head cut off. He’s thoughtful, but not panicked. Even when most people would be. Not the typical protagonist I have read.

I liked Cy’s relationship with Dig. It was a much more relaxed pairing than I’ve seen in some stories lately. I felt like it worked really well. I’d ship it. I was for the entire thing. I also liked that there was no pressure for a relationship between   the two because of the spell cast in the beginning.A spell telling you that your someone’s true love can be a little too big of a push, but I didn’t think that affected them at all as they bonded.

I do wish we could have seen some more magic.The conversations Cy has about it with Dig seem really interesting to me. I have so many theories and questions about the world of the book. The territory dynamics reminded me of something I usually see when it comes to werewolf stories and I sort of loved seeing witches being so territorial. I’d definitely love to read more in this world. Someone needs to make that happen.

 

I received this ARC from NetGalley. The book will be published on March 16th of this year.