A Match Made for Thanksgiving by Jackie Lau & Friendsgiving, A Short by Nako

Monday, November 30, 2020

 Hey Ya'll! Hope you had a good weekend and didn't spend all your money...

Anyolways, I read these two books over the Thanksgiving weekend. There will also be a discussion on the podcast about the books as well. Let's get into it shall we? 

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Published: October 8, 2019

Jackie Lau Books

Series: Holidays With The Wongs #1

Format: eBook (Kindle)

Genre: Contemporary Romance

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Available: BN | Amazon 

Heat Level: 💥💥💥💥

O.M.GEE! Nick’s family was funny af with a whole side of petty. I want them for relatives, lmao.


Imagine your family setting every kid up for a blind date...on Thanksgiving?! Well, that’s what happens to Nick and his siblings this holiday, lols. Also, it seems Nick’s brother is set up with Lily...his one night stand from a heated night in Toronto. The one night stand he can’t seem to get out of his head.


I enjoyed this. It’s another one of Jackie Lau's books I thought was low angst (I only read two, lols). Anyolways, we don't get much drama. Lily has some slight self esteem issues going on that were left over from her previous relationship (her ex called her boring...to her face) and Nick initially doesn’t want to give up his playboy status (but Lily put that good good on him so...mind changed quickly, lmao). But this author doesn’t have either Nick or Lily sit in their feelings long. After a quick conversation, the small issue is resolved. I thought Nick and Lily were good together on page and I have nothing bad to say about them. Nick’s family will keep you invested in this book because chile, they were my kind of nosy and crazy! They didn’t give two figs about them adult kids complaining, they just kept up with the petty and laughs. It was good shit. 


Now, I do feel like after the family Thanksgiving hook up (which was like 64%), the story kind of loses its shine but Jackie Lau does a fantastic job of still keeping readers invested. Nick’s family showing up at his apartment while Lily is there sick...chile, lols. I also like how J. Lau lets both Nick and Lily talk about how growing up Chinese in a predominantly white town in Canada was traumatizing for them both and how it affected how they currently moved in the world.


If you’re a fan of petty intruding families and a lovely Thanksgiving romance, then add A Match Made for Thanksgiving to your reading list.


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Published: November 26, 2019
NakeExpo Presents
Series: No
Format: eBook (Kindle)
Genre: Women's Fiction

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Available: Amazon
Heat: None

This read more along the lines of women’s fiction then romance. 


Ashley buys a huge house after divorcing her husband. It’s now Thanksgiving and after seeing her ex make what she felt was a shady post on Instagram, she spirals deeper into a depressive mood. Unexpectedly, her door bells rings and these strange women are standing on her porch asking if they can have their yearly Friendsgiving dinner in her home. Why...you ask? Because their friend who started the tradition passed away from Cancer used to live there and they want to continue with it. Ashley is initially not swayed but decides to let the ladies have their dinner. After a few awkward moments between Ashley and the ladies, the story takes a turn towards the past as the ladies remember their friend and how she bought them all together.


I enjoyed this book for what it was. Nako tells the story of women, their friendships and how their differences can bring about whole healthy relationships.
What was good in this book for me was Ashley realizing that divorcing her husband was something she needed to do for her. Now, what didn't work. I felt like we lose focus on Ashley once the ladies take a stroll down memory lane. Also, I do feel like the book got a whole lot of preachy at times and for this reader that is a major turn off. However, it doesn't take away from the story, it just makes me have very serious eye rolling moments.


If you're a fan of women's fiction with Christian tones, then this may be your read.


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The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Published: August 4, 2020

Crown Publishing

Series: NA

Format: eBook (ARC)

Genre: Science Fiction

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Available: BN | Amazon | IndieBound

Cara lives in a world where multiverse travel is possible. She would know, as a traverser  she travels to different Earth’s collecting data. Thing is, she can’t travel to an Earth where she already exists. There are 382 of them...Cara has died on all except 8.

Cara manages. She doesn't much like the company she works for, she knows they are using her and people like her:

"The needed trash people. Poor black and brown people. People somehow on the 'wrong side' of the wall, even though they were the ones who built it. People brought for labor, or came for refuge, or who were here before the first neoliberal surveyed this land and thought to build a paradise. People who’d already thought this was paradise. They needed my people. They needed me."

Cara sits between two worlds. Wiley City and Ashtown. 

Not only does Cara go against the rule of not interacting with your doppelganger, she suddenly finds herself caught in between a violent and deadly rivalry between brothers. 

The worldbuilding here was extremely well done. A bit hard to follow initially (because there is much going on) but still stellar. This author's ability to keep the pace moving while giving us such a flawed character in Cara and those she interacted with is something rare you see in this genre. Micaiah Johnson also doesn’t shy away from dark and gritty. The intersectionality of racism and classism is palpable on page. 

If you’re a fan of high range science fiction-fantasy, then I highly recommend adding A Space Between Worlds to your reading list with a quickness.

*Thank you to publisher for the opportunity to read/review.

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Netflix All Nighters | Svaha, The Sixth Finger

Monday, November 23, 2020

 


Svaha, The Sixth Finger
2019
2h, 3m
Suspense, Horror

I caught this movie after watching an Christmas holiday movie (don't ask, I'm weird that way at times...). Anyolways, I asked myself if it was going to be horror when it started because it had those kind of vibes but....I kept on watching.

This movie tells the story of religion, cults, good and evil. Twins girls are born, one good the other evil....but there is a twist here. A pastor who is trying to prove that what seems like an religious organization is really a cult uncovers an evil even his skeptical self can't fathom. He slowly finds out that the cult, the twins and a string of young murdered girls are all intertwined.

I finished this movie with my mouth hanging open because I was literally shocked at its ending and that's because I couldn't figure anything out until the end. The different plots going on in Svaha were well done. The twists and turns were...something. The idea that one of the twins was born to defeat the true evil in the story blew me away. I was kind of sad at the ending because damn...really? If I'm being cryptic here, it's done on purpose because I don't want to give away spoilers. Just know that the horror and suspense in this movie are blended maybe too well....

I took Svaha to be more suspenseful but trust me, the scary isn't skimmed on at all. All and all, I thought this was a pretty good movie to watch for a Netflix binge. Now, it is long and that element takes away from some of the movie a bit but I would still recommend it for the horror suspense crowd. 

*cw/tw: violence, gore, suicide.
**Also, this is a subtitled movie (Korean with English subtitles).

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His Grumpy Childhood Friend by Jackie Lau

Thursday, November 19, 2020

 

Published: October 27, 2020

Jackie Lau Books

Series: Cider Bar Sisters #2

Format: eBook (Nook)

Genre: Contemporary Romance

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Available: BN | Amazon | IndieBound

Heat: 💥💥💥💥

Okay, I really enjoyed this book. Charlotte and Mike have been added to my top couples list. 


In His Grumpy Childhood Friend, Charlotte and Mike meet again after 20 yrs...of not seeing one another. Charlotte is a grump after my own cold dead heart. After an embarrassing break up with her ex and a five year dry spell, she’s interested in dating again...in comes Mike. See Charlotte doesn’t mind dating, she just doesn’t like people… or outside much. She needs someone who is used to her way of doing things…again in comes Mike. 

She Wanted someone who got her and accepted her caffeine addiction, hatred of humanity, and lack of general good nature.

Mike, who has had a huge crush on Charlotte since they were kids, agrees to be her “practice date”. He would do just about anything to get to be around her again even when his feelings for her go beyond their initial agreement, even when old feelings of not being enough surface. All Mike wants is to be there for Charlotte. He was such a cinnamon roll.

Twenty years had passed since he was last here, but this tree had barely changed. He'd changed, though. 

This was truly a good story. I love that Jackie Lau didn’t give us over the top drama even though both Charlotte and Mike had their issues….Mike more than Charlotte.


Me waiting for the unnecessary mess:


What made this story for me was the easy vibes between our couple. Their banter was so much fun, it's like what dates should be. They were so comfortable with each other without it being all forced and weird. Their transitions from childhood friends, to adults fake dating, to a real couple was done well and with care. It was good to see that the author allowed both characters to sit in their feelings especially Mike. We don't see that much grace in men characters in romance that much, its good to see it when its on page.


All and all, with the backdrop of good food (I probably need to get to Canada again soon), great friends and family, His Grumpy Childhood Friend was a beautiful read and I look forward to reading more of this author's work. 


*cw: traumatic childhood in regards to emotional abuse.


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A Little Bit of Karma by ReShonda Tate Billingsley

Tuesday, November 17, 2020


Published: September 29, 2020

Gallery Books

Series: NA

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Genre: Adult Fiction

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Available: BN | Amazon | Indie Bound

I’ll admit that this book had its “very” interesting parts. Jay and Shannon LoveJoy are a power couple who are having marriage woes. After finding out that Jay has cheated, Shannon is hurt and wants out. But the couple gets caught up in a game of conspiracy and murder. Seems, an affair won’t be the only thing that sinks this marriage. 


I feel like this story had potential but eventually, that potential went astray. The first half of this book was good...still a bit wonky but good. Readers go through the motions along with the LoveJoys as they try to figure out where their marriage stands. It seemed like we had a clear path until we get to the murder mystery. This second half to the ending had no rhyme or reason, it seemed like the reader was thrown for a loop just as well as the characters. We went from who dunnit, to we know who dunnit, to oh nope not that one to wtaf. The ridiculousness of the kidnapping/murder plot was a mess and then to have this couple turn to sleuths while their marriage was on fire was... a bit much but this author does drama well so if you’re of that sort like I am at times, well...


What grinded my gears in the book was the toxicity of LoveJoy’s marriage. Shannon was hurt by her husband’s cheating as she should have been but her best friend and everyone around her kept telling her to stay even though her husband was a cheating jackass, a dumb one at that. Listen you don’t need bad friends along with a bad mate….get rid of all of them. And then Jay and his double talk was annoying as hell. He took responsibility for his affair but also blamed Shannon, I just...

And lawd, the Christian undertones. Listen, God doesn’t want you staying in a bad relationship running around trying to clear your name because you want a honest marriage….this couple is exactly why shows like SNAPPED are a thing. 


All and all, if chaotic stories and predictable endings are your thing; then A Little Bit of Karma may be your kind of read.


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Ring Shout by P. Djeli Clark

Monday, November 16, 2020


Published: October 13, 2020
Tor Publishing
Series: NA
Format: Physical ARC
Genre: Horror, Historical Fiction
Available: BN | Amazon 
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I finished this book in one sitting (well once I sat down with it fully) and was blown away. This author has a way of telling stories and its in a good way. P. Djeli Clark takes the movie The Birth of a Nation, the Klan, Black resistance fighters and mix them all with a whole lot of monsters and Gullah folklore. Horror elements has perfect blends here as well. 

Marsye Boudreaux and her crew fight Klan and Ku Kluxes alike and in their eyes, there isn't really much difference in their appearance...one just wears their monster suit better. Marsye has been chosen as champion and is given a blessed sword to assist her in her fight against monsters but she is still fighting her demons and the guilt of not being able to save her own family. That anger builds over time and the enemy sees a chance to take advantage. Question is will Marsye succumb to a darkness that will surely swallow her and the world whole? 

I am stunned at this story...honestly, I'm fascinated by it. The world building and character development was meticulous and this is a novella.

This author was able to weave an amazing story while telling us a story and kudos! The references of Gullah folklore and its speech throughout the read was spectacular as well. I do wish however that there was some kind of dictionary provided to give us some idea of what Nana Jean was saying. 

I think what made this story for me at least, is the characters themselves. Marsye and her friends were an amazing team but their individual stories bound them together in ways that only Black women can understand. And the other cast of characters were a perfect pairing to their badassness. The other thing that makes Ring Shout is the horror elements. Horror should creep up on you and remind you why you should be scared in the first place. With the backdrop of old age racism and a people's folklore, this book does that and more. 

All and all, I enjoyed Ring Shout and P. Djeli Clark told a story I won't forget for a while. 
Add this to your Library NoW!


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Claiming His Bollywood Cinderella: A Passionate Fairytale Retelling by Tara Pammi

Wednesday, November 11, 2020


Published: November 1, 2020

Harlequin Presents

Series: Born Into Bollywood #1

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Available: BN | Amazon

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Heat: 💥💥💥

While working for his grandmother (Daadi), Naina meets Vikram, a huge Bollywood star and she meets him in the most embarrassing manner...acting out one of his roles. This doesn’t bode over well. Still, Vikram is intrigued by his grandmother's younger assistant especially at a time when he is feeling...at his loneliest. After a masked one night stand and a sort of tremulous “work” trip in Maldives; Vikram and Naina realize that maybe they may need one another…


For the most part, I enjoyed this book. There was almost little to no drama between our couple however, Naina’s self depreciation talk really wore on my nerves….a whole lot. Like yeah, Vikram was a big Bollywood star and sure his family was film industry royalty but the way this woman talked down about herself throughout this read was exhausting. And I didn’t much appreciate the way the author kind of (not really) skimmed out of not letting her face her issues. Her mother and step-sister were absolutely using her, she for sure allowed people to take advantage of her and when Vikram challenged her on said issues, she harshly insulted him. As you can see, she got on my nerves early. And I could put this towards Naina being in her early twenties...young...but I won’t because I don’t feel like it, lols. She knew she was a walking door-mat, she just stubbornly refused to see it. I would have like to have seen a resolution to her family's drama but we didn't get it and well, that's unfortunate.


BUT I loved that Vikram was our grumpy hero and not grumpy in a disrespectful asshole way (because there is a difference…). The man was having a midlife crisis, he is tiredt of the celebrity lifestyle, he is tiredt of being responsible for his families wealth...the man was fucking lonely and he owned it. Grumpy men are becoming like my favs in romance and that might attribute to me being grumpy as well but...you know, to each its own. lols. I honestly would have preferred an older woman or a woman closer to his age or of his age but here we are…


Anyolways, Claiming His Bollywood Cinderella was an agreeable quick read. I enjoyed the mentions of Indian culture and the kind of low angst of its romance. If you're into fairy tales and all that, then this may be right up your alley. 


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The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson

Monday, November 9, 2020

Hey Ya'll! Happy Monday. It's been a whole week or so since I read a damn book or pretty much did much of anything productive. This last week has been stressful as hell, some change have come but...chile, we still have a ways to go. Anyolway's I'm here with my thoughts on The Year of The Witching by Alexis Henderson...an okay read for me but more on that below. 

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Published: July 2020
Penguin Random House/Ace 
Series: NA
Format: eBook (Library Borrow)
Genre: Young Adult 
            Historical Fiction
            Horror
Available: BN | Amazon 
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I think what took the excitement of reading this book away from me wasn't exactly the length, it was a whole lot going on in The Year of the Witching and it slowed the momentum of the reading for me considerably. This story didn't pick up until I was more than half way finished with it. It seemed like parts gained speed and then suddenly deflated. 

The gist of the book is that the Prophet (old dirty white man) has control and has his pick of the young girls in Bethel. He takes many wives but he isn't the only man to do so. The women in this town suffer abuse (physical and sexual) at the hands of men and this goes on for generations then there is the infiltration of the Witches and a Holy War (basically white men killing women based on their illogical religious beliefs). Immanuelle soon discovers that through her Father's blood, she is a descendant of powerful witches and it is she, through her family's powerful blood who will save Bethel. 

There were plenty of eye-rolling moments for me here. While I did think Immanuelle was a strong character, this book tended to lean heavily into typical YA themes...the girl had too many too stupid to live moments for my tastes. And I get it, its horror and that genre has plenty of those. 

I also tend to side eye books that have the word "feminist" in it because Black women in those stories tend to be the ones sacrificing themselves for the good of everyone else and this happens in TYOTW. Immanulle is the biracial daughter of one of the town's many shunned women; her mother fell in love with a Black man and the product of that love is Immauelle. I hated the fact that Immanulle felt the need to sacrifice herself for that crazy town and I get it, her mother's family and you know that saying of not everyone is bad...
BUT there was a powerful statement in this book by Immanulle's fathers mother:
"Good people don't bow their heads and bite their tongues while other good people suffer. Good people are not complicit".
And this is what I felt like the people in Bethel were...complicit. And don't even get me started on how the Black people in this "town" were treated because a Black woman was the face of evil just irked me to no end. 

Ugh, let me end this. By the end of The Year of The Witching, I'm not sure how I feel about it. It's an okay read, good horror gothic themes but there were too many things in here that just didn't sit right in my soul so I'll leave it at...yeah, it was an okay read. 

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