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text 2020-04-29 01:47
Final Snakes & Ladders Book
A Phoenix First Must Burn: Sixteen Stories of Black Girl Magic, Resistance, and Hope - Patrice Caldwell

This was a very good anthology and a great way to end Snakes & Ladders.

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review 2020-03-20 02:38
Bone Crier's Moon
Bone Crier's Moon - Kathryn Purdie

Bone Criers ferried the souls of the dead to the afterlife so that they didn't remain and feed upon the living. To assist in the task of ferrying the souls, they drew upon the powers of animals whose bones they wore after slaying them. But to be granted the power to ferry the dead, the Bone Crier had to kill their one true love. Ailesse had trained her whole life to take over the Bone Criers. Now she just had to summon and kill her true love.


The start of Bone Crier's Moon was my favorite part. Ailesse and her best friend, Sabine, are on a hunt for a shark so that Ailesse can gain the abilities of the shark. Their fight was fun and the dynamic between Ailesse and Sabine was engaging immediately. And the concept of this group of women gaining the powers of the animals they defeated in battle was a fun one.


Unfortunately, there's a third POV outside of Ailesse and Sabine - Bastien. He's not as interesting as them. Bastien's hellbent on revenge because a Bone Crier killed his father as he watched. Completely understandable that he'd be upset about that and would want to wipe out the Bone Criers who go around sacrificing men. His head just wasn't interesting to be in. Especially when he and Ailesse were hit with insta-love. I didn't even understand why they suddenly loved each other. They both went from literally wanting to killing one another to loving each other very quickly. They just did not click for me.


I also could not understand the actions of Jules at one point in the book. She just got firsthand proof that Ailesse had been telling the truth about Bone Criers ferrying the souls of the dead and had been told that if this doesn't happen, the souls will remain and feed on the living.

So she proceeded to take the bones Ailesse needed to see the dead and which gave her her powers, leaving Ailesse defenseless when she's surrounded by the dead who are attacking, even though Jules believed that if Ailesse died Bastien, someone Jules supposedly loved, died too, and the tool the Bone Criers needed to ferry the souls to the afterlife and ran away. As expected, Ailesse ended up almost dying and the dead terrorized the town and people started getting sick as the dead fed on them.

(spoiler show)

I did not understand what she expected to happen or what her plan was. It felt like the book just need the problem to not be resolved right then, so Jules had to act stupid so that the plot could be drawn out longer.


Everything involving the Bone Criers was far more intriguing than the romance. Unfortunately, the romance took up quite a bit of focus once it got started.

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review 2020-01-16 04:14
Evvie Drake Starts Over
Evvie Drake Starts Over - Linda Holmes

Evvie was in the process of leaving her husband, as in had the bag packed and was about to drive away, when she got the call that he had been in an accident and died in the hospital. Since she hadn't told anyone she was leaving him, this put Evvie in a weird position as everyone around her mourned the man who treated her terribly.


Dean was a major-league pitcher who now had the yips and was struggling with what to do now. He decided to take his childhood friend, Andy (who was also Evvie's best friend), up on an offer to stay for a few months and rented out the apartment in Evvie's house at Andy's suggestion.


This was a fun read, despite dealing with a main character coming to terms with the fact that she was in an emotionally abusive relationship, which was impressive. I really liked watching Evvie figure out how to navigate relationships with other people after the emotional damage caused by her husband. Evvie started the book fairly isolated with only Andy as a friend. I liked their friendship and how it was tested over the course of the book, but I was also happy to see Evvie become friends with Andy's girlfriend, Monica. There was not a lot of Monica, but she was lovely whenever she showed up. Evvie also learned how to establish boundaries with people who cause her pain for her own mental health. Evvie's journey to healing was my favorite part of the book by far.


Of course, there was also Dean and Evvie's relationship. The two of them were rather sweet. I liked how, while they could help one another, neither of them were the cure for the other's problems.


The book was just nice. When there were problems, people would talk it out (even if it sometimes took a little bit of time to get them back in a room together). And I loved how the story also focused on Evvie healing, even if the path wasn't always the straight line she'd like it to be.

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review 2018-09-16 22:26
The Boyfriend Bracket
The Boyfriend Bracket - Kate Evangelista

Stella has had a crush on Will, her big brother's best friend for years. However, because of the two of them, she's been unable to date anyone since they chase off any guys who might try. The two of them have just graduated, leaving Stella finally free to date. With the help of her best friend, Franklin, the two concoct a plan to get a Stella a boyfriend - the Boyfriend Bracket. But when Will ends up being around a lot more often than expected, Stella finds herself focusing on him more than any of the guys in the bracket.


I picked this book up for the "boyfriend bracket" concept, so it was disappointing to see just how early on it was dropped. The little the book did have of it was rushed through or told in summary after the fact. The majority of the guys were never even on page. I knew what direction the book was ultimately going to take based on the synopsis, but I thought the eponymous bracket would at least play a bigger role in the book.


The romance didn't particularly do it for me. Will had spent years chasing other guys away from Stella because he didn't want anyone else to have her, even though he had no intention of asking her out at that point. He goes along with overprotective and possessive behavior on Stella's brother's part to keep other guys away from her. I'm just not a fan of that type of behavior.


I was disappointed the book quickly discarded a unique premise for a romance with the big brother's best friend who participated in overprotective and possessive behaviors. The tossing of the unique premise wouldn't have necessarily ruined the book for me since I love a good romantic comedy regardless of how cliched it is. But throw in an overprotective/possessive love interest and there has to be some incredibly strong writing with some killer chemistry to sell the story to me. And this just didn't deliver.

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review 2018-08-13 01:15
A Million Junes
A Million Junes - Emily Henry

The O'Donnells and the Angerts have hated each other for generations. June O'Donnell was ready to keep that hatred going and avoid the Angerts, but that plan got wrecked when she literally ran into Saul Angert who had just returned to town. The two were drawn to one another despite June's best efforts to not be attracted to an Angert, and their time together caused June to begin to question everything she knew about their families' pasts. With a curse hanging over their heads, the two must work together to learn the truth before the curse strikes their families again.


I fell in love with June shortly into the book. She's very sarcastic and had me cracking up with her banter with her best friend, Hannah, and Saul. Hannah and Saul also had great lines and won me over quickly. The three of them were fun to follow and watch interact with one another. I loved June and Hannah's friendship. The two of them were very different from one another, but were so close and constantly caring and worrying about each other. June kept Hannah in the loop on the supernatural shenanigans that were happening to her. They felt like best friends.


And June and Saul hit it off right away with the banter too. June felt like she had to hate him because he was an Angert, but she couldn't help but be charmed by him from their very first meeting, so she covered her confused feelings with sarcasm and teasing which Saul was more than capable of matching. They were pretty adorable.


The supernatural elements started off low-key. June was revealed to be able to see a couple ghosts that haunt her lands right from the start with one of those ghosts being a sign of danger to come. A conversation between June and Saul revealed a few more magical elements of the O'Donnell's land like coywolves that take shoes, but don't touch the chickens. But after Saul and June meet, June got her first vision of the past when she returned home. The visions played out sporadically across the story, slowly revealing the mystery of what started the feud between the two families generations ago, but also forcing Saul and June to face the losses they've had in their lives.


More than anything, this was a story about grief and learning to move on from it. The use of a family feud spanning generations really helped to demonstrate how holding onto pain just continued the cycle for the families again and again. This theme really came through with the reveal of what started the feud and what was behind the curse of the families.


With compelling characters and plenty of humor, A Million Junes managed to charm me immediately. It wasn't all laughs since both June and Saul were coming to terms with loss in their family and the event of started the family feud was not a happy once, but the book balanced the pain and humor well so that the grief was never overwhelming. It was a beautiful read.

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